By: Minister Lindiew Sisulu and Dr Makaziwe Mandela
Johannesburg - Our spirit of ubuntu “I am, because you are” is what we’re known for as Africans, it is our strength, and in a time that has called on us to isolate, it has never been more prevalent. You see, ubuntu transcends barriers and uplifts communities across borders. It is the idea that we should work together no matter the circumstance, to ensure that nobody is left behind and our shared humanity is sufficient to hold us accountable.
In 2020 we have had to truly tap into the spirit of ubuntu, even in a time that has called on us to stay apart. This year we have all experienced a significant shift in our lives as we know it. Our basic needs have evolved drastically to match the realities of the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While we have been faced with huge restrictions on the way we live, the pandemic has also resulted in individuals being cut off from loved ones and numerous livelihoods threatened. The intensity of national lockdown restrictions has deepened our reliance for staying connected virtually with each other through the phone, via Zoom or other online platforms. Impressively, telecommunication companies rapidly upped their efforts in response to this change in our daily needs, from working or educating at home to helping us overcome social isolation.
Vodacom launched Africa’s first commercial mobile 5G network in South Africa in May 2020, which allowed its mobile subscribers to accommodate the substantial increase in data demand during lockdown at its most stringent level yet. It has been encouraging to hear about Vodacom’s investment to the tune of tens of millions of rands to expand their coverage in remote areas benefiting millions of people who reside in townships and deep rural areas of our country.
Another area of growing concern has been the ongoing limitation on the potential of women and girls, caused by a lack of access to sanitary products which can have a huge impact on students’ access to education, future employment opportunities, as well as their mental and physical health. To date, over 1 million girls have benefited from South Africa’s Menstrual Health commitment, and six South African provinces have launched or initiated menstrual health management education programmes.
While a few provinces have faced procurement-related complications that have inhibited napkins and pads from being delivered, Global Citizen continues to work with our partners on the ground to remedy these issues and begin the equitable distribution of sanitary products to these specific regions.
The Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 (Mandela 100) placed a spotlight on a number of key issue areas faced by hundreds of thousands of people every day, such as education, healthcare and sanitation to name but a few. The event called on leaders to take action to eradicate these issues.
In the two years since Mandela 100, an impressive $3.9 billion of the total $7.2 billion in commitments made on the day has been disbursed to those in need, affecting the lives of 105.4 million people to date.
This means that half of the total commitments and pledges made at the inaugural Mandela 100 festival have already been disbursed, and we must recognise this as the commendable effort that it is. Simultaneously, we must keep Tata Madiba’s words in mind; “the truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free”.
Despite unprecedented challenges such as the global pandemic that has disrupted development progress in many parts of the world, the fulfilment of these commitments champion Nelson Mandela's call to “be the generation to end extreme poverty”.
Notably, South Africa, among other developing nations and emerging markets, have managed to contain the spread of the virus far more than other regions despite the setback of limited resources to meet our most pressing Covid-19 related demands. As such it remains critical, now more than ever, to boost the resilience of public health systems and implement reforms that will support sustainable growth once the health crisis abates.
Global Citizen has consistently worked with partners throughout the year to ensure that, although the unprecedented effects of the pandemic persist, commitments that were made at Mandela 100 were delivered on or diverted to meet Covid-19 demands.
With this in mind, it is important to highlight the formidable impact made by our biggest commitment-makers from Mandela 100. We salute their dedication to ending extreme poverty no matter what unpredictable global crisis may arise.
PEPFAR South Africa’s $1.4 billion commitment helped provide 3.8 million people living with HIV with antiretroviral therapy, while providing resources to help South Africa combat Covid-19. The government of South Africa delivered $11.1 million in free sanitary care for girls across the nation as part of its commitment to menstrual health.
CISCO helped prepare 4.5 million people to work in the digital economy, with plans to work with 28 400 instructors at 11 800 learning institutions across 180 countries in 2021.
The World Bank exceeded its $1 billion commitment to increase investments toward Human Capital Projects in 2020, disbursing an incredible $7.8 billion for 78 projects throughout Africa and Vodacom launched Africa’s first commercial mobile 5G network in South Africa in May 2020, helping to connect 95 2581 homes and businesses in rural and urban communities.
The challenges faced by some commitment-makers should not be overlooked and should be acknowledged as setbacks to achieving and fulfilling all pledges and commitments set for this year.Covid-19
The human race is experiencing a pivotal moment where the actions we make today will most certainly define our future. We can only rise to face global challenges if we rise together, we can only make significant changes if all hands are on deck, and we can only end global poverty if we work together as partners.
As Tata Madiba aptly put it "when the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing?"
South Africa has been pivotal in the fight against Covid-19 and continues to play a leadership role in driving equitable access to tests, treatments and diagnostics while also ensuring that once developed, vaccines are available to everyone, everywhere.
In this decade of action and accountability, Global Citizen will continue to play an active role in supporting global efforts to end the pandemic and to end extreme poverty by 2030.
Global Citizen is the world's largest movement of action takers and impact makers dedicated to ending extreme poverty by 2030. With over 11 million monthly advocates, our voices have the power to drive lasting change around sustainability, equality, and humanity. We post, tweet, message, vote, sign, and call to inspire those who can make things happen to act — government leaders, businesses, philanthropists, artists, and citizens — together improving lives. By downloading our app, Global Citizens learn about the systemic causes of extreme poverty, take action on those issues, and earn rewards with tickets to concerts, events, and experiences all over the world. To date, the actions of our community, along with high-level advocacy efforts and work with partners, has resulted in commitments and policy announcements from leaders valued at over $48 billion, affecting the lives of more than 880 million people. For more information, visit GlobalCitizen.org.