Mobilise communities

Introduction

Organising and mobilising your community is the best way to protect your rights, challenge unfair, corrupt or discriminatory practices, improve access to water, electricity and other services, or remove other barriers to community involvement. Here are some ideas to help you organise in order to reach your goal:

  • Organise by calling a meeting to talk about local problems and find out what others are doing, collect the facts, and discuss how you will make decisions as a group so that you can act together to solve problems.
  • Develop ties with other community based groups, movements or coalitions to add strength and apply more pressure.
  • Build effective ward committees to gather information and put your issues on the municipal council agenda.
  • Identify allies outside government, like human rights NGOs, who are working on the same problems.
  • Monitor the quality of services in your community

The quality of services that you receive is an important community issue and you have the power to demand your rights to basic education, heath water, sanitation and electricity services! Monitor service delivery in your area by attending meetings and monitoring the budget and the IDP process. (For help on how to monitor water or electricity budgets see the reference to the Water budget monitoring education tool on page 106)

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YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW

The Constitution states that you have a right to information.
32(1) Everyone has the right of access to –
    a) any information held by the state; and
    b) any information that is held by another person and that is required for the     exercise or protection of any rights.

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GET THE FACTS

It is important to gather all the facts about a problem. You can do this by researching the problem, gathering evidence by talking to people, or by organising a meeting where everyone can explain how the problem is affecting them. Take notes and list as many details of the problem as possible so that there is a complete picture.
It is important to keep a record of all meetings and attempts to solve a problem. Some people call this a "paper trail".
Keeping a paper trail requires keeping a record of everything related to the issue, including the details of all phone calls, meetings, or other discussions with local government councillors or officials providing local government services. The details must include the date, what was discussed, what commitments were made or not, and what information may have been revealed.

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Find out about the relevant law or policy

Law and policy is important, so talk about it with your comrades before your start a campaign or protest.
When you meet officials, ask for a copy of the law or policies/plans/strategies that apply to your problem. Ask what the municipality has planned to do. Getting this information will help you know where the problem lies. Is your problem because there is no municipal policy, or because the policy is bad, or because the municipality is not following their own plan/policy/by-law?
Your municipality must provide you with the documents you ask for, including policies, plans, strategies, by-laws, regulations, and legislation.