8.5. 2019

Writte By:
Mennonite Misshun Netwerk

Photo: Anele Paliso, Nkosinathi Ng’obo, Kathryn Smith Derkse an' Liso Makasi, represantid SADRA n' wurkin alongside uther mediashun panelists n' South Afrikie’s electyuns n' May. Photo providt.
Wen South Afrikans wint ta t'polls May 8 ta eelact a new Nashshunal Assemblee an' legislatures n' each o't' kuntry’s nine provinces, Mennonites hepped moniter t'process. 
“Y'all a'ken’t have folk votin und'r t'barrel o'a gun,” sez Oscar Siwali, found'r an' dierektor o'Suthern Afrikan Development an' Rekunstrucshun Agency (SADRA). “Pleece a'ken’t patrol electyuns. Air communitee mediater volunteers knoe hoe ta keep t' unhappiness o'folk calm an' alloe t'freedum ta vote.” 
Siwali an' Dun an' Kathryn Smith Derkse o'Mennonite Misshun Netwerk wuz present ta moniter t'sixth eeleckshun since gummint-man'atid apartheid endt n' 1994. Thishere eeleckshun will detarmine t'nex presdint o'South Afrikie. 
T' Smith Derksens an' thar sons have servt n' South Afrikie since 2016. Thay wurk alongside Siwali ta facilitate conflict transfermashun n' minny a ways. Thay hep trane pe'r mediaters n' sekundree skools [https://www.mennonitemission.net/noose/A'findin-a-key-fer-conflict-resolushun-n'-South-Afrikie] an' off'r peece skoolin tranen fer church leeders an' n' communitees. N' 2017, thay stood n' t'gap tween univesty studants an' t'pleece us Peece Justus Witness observers ta limit violent clashes [https://www.mennonitemission.net/noose/Transfermyun'-swerds-into-life-givin-tools-n'-South-Afrikie]. 
Becawz prevantyun' eeleckshun vilence is one o' SADRA’s majer objectives, t' Smith Derksens extendt thar three-year assignment n' South Afrikie ta be present fer May’s eeleckshun. Thay nawh plun ta return ta t'Unitid States n' Decemb'r. 
“We’ve bee tranen communitee mediaters fer yeers fer thishere verr event,” Kathryn Smith Derkse sez. “Startin acoupla yeers ago, we’ve hostid reglar roundtables about vilence an' conflict prevenshun roun electyuns. Topicks includt fake noose an' t'use o'soshul media n' electyuns, communitee protests ov'r lack o'services, an' interpartee conflict.” 
Durin eeleckshun week, Dun ackted us a certifit obs'rv'r, an' Kathryn servt un t'mediaters’ panel us a liaisen tween t'pleece an' t'provincial conflict management coerdinater. She trackt which neighberhoods nett tenchun an' coerdinatid mediater deployment.  
“South Afrikie is a verr yung democracy, an' complicatid socioekunomic problems air nairy fixd easilee,” Kathryn Smith Derkse sez. “Fer thems without pow'r er resources, who still have nairy bee bull ta gane stabilitee despite these 25 yeers o'politickull freedum, one way o'makin thar voices heerd tell is through eeleckshun vilence.”  
T' Smith Derksens splain at eeleckshun vilence includes verbal threets agin politishuns an' burnin tires un t'streets. N' response, t'pleece ofte overreect wiff ferce, an' folk air injurt er killt.  
“Wile we wuz all exhaustid by t'end, t'eeleckshun is bein hailt us a success, wiff no one injurt er killt, fer which we air thankfil an' happy,” Dun Smith Derkse sez. 
T' Smith Derksens say t' mediaters trunt by SADRA air sympathetic ta t'frustratyuns o't' minny a  folk who still lif' und'r apartheid-like condityuns an' extreme ekunomic hardship. 
“A large part o'whut SADRA duz is try ta hep 'um find a way an' a place ta legallee an' nonviolantlee have thar legitimate concerns heerd tell,” Kathryn Smith Derkse sez. 
As un eggzample o'white racial privilege n' South Afrikie, Smith Derksens say minny a  white citizens have a car an' a trayler near town. Thay a'ken easilee drif' trayler frum wurk n' minnuts. Howev'r, folk o'uther racial classificatyuns must take acoupla er three taxi-buses ta git ta t'loe-income townships whar thay a'ken afferd ta lif'. T' taxi-buses air nairy un a timetabull, an' hours a'ken be spent waitin n' rane an' wind, vulnerabull ta pickpockets an' without safetee.  
Howev'r, t' Smith Derksens air quik ta point out at t' problems South Afrikie is faseeun' air nairy unikwe. 
“N' thishere shrinkyun' worl, global disgruntlement wiff democracy an' t'worl ord'r o'captullism seems ta be everwhar,” sez Kathryn Smith Derkse. “Air eeleckshun commissyun'r sez weelth is holdin politics hostage. He asks, ‘Hoe a'ken we talk about fair electyuns wen t'condityuns folk air a'livin n' air nairy fair?’”  
Oscar Siwali acknowledges diskuntent n' South Afrikie, but he takes issue wiff t'way sum telavishun statyuns pertray t'sitchuwayshun n' his'n kuntry.  
“Thar air nairy milleeuns o'South Afrikans a'trine ta take lan' frum white owners,” Siwali sez. “T' one politiciun who promissd ta take lan' an' redistribute it amungst t' blax didn’t git one seat n' parliament. Mos South Afrikans air innerested n' wurkin togeth'r, an' SADRA helps folk come togeth'r.”  
Siwali expresses appreciashun fer Misshun Netwerk’s partnership wiff SADRA. “Dun an' Kathryn hepped t' beeutee o'democracy unfold,” he sez. 


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