More Than Peace (MTP) is a coalition of churches and like-minded individuals and organisations, primarily located in the Western Cape province of South Africa, who are committed to working in practical ways towards the establishment of peace and social justice in South Africa and with partners across the continent of Africa. MTP was established in 2015 by the South African Christian Leaders Initiative (SACLI), Christ Church Kenilworth, The Warehouse Trust and Mennonite Central Committee.
MTP is a Public Benefit Organisation (Reg No. 930063576) and registered non-profit company (Reg No. 2017/187736/08).
The development of democratic societies rooted in the practices of building trust, collaboration, and non-violence in order to transform conflict and heal trauma caused by legacies of social, economic and spatial injustice, increasing inequality and engineered privilege, to establishing peace, transformative justice and reconciliation.
To work with the local church and key partners to foster healthy relationships and trust between stakeholders involved in conflict by facilitating dialogues in which the inter-generational, historical and continuous visible and invisible forms of direct, symbolic, systemic, cultural and spatial oppression, injustice, violence and trauma— are shared, heard, and addressed collaboratively at an individual, collective, structural, and cultural level.
MTP seeks to develop and promote active citizenship – a combination of knowledge, attitude, skills and actions that aim to contribute to building and maintaining a healthy democratic society. We seek to empower communities through the local church, one of the few remaining trusted institutions in South Africa and across the continent, to pursue justice, establish peace and nurture reconciliation for all.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, MTP partnered with the SAHRC to establish a Section 11 Monitoring Committee as an essential service to promote and protect human rights across the country. MTP administrated the accreditation and training members of more than 220 civil society organisations across all 9 provinces and supported the real-time reporting of a range of causes of unrest, conflict and serious human rights violations including state and private security repression and violence, detention of minors in holding cells, dispensation of SASSA grants, unlawful housing and land evictions and removals, and the victimization and displacement of homeless people.
A vital aspect to building a just and accountable democracy is the active participation of local communities in election monitoring, which helps promote and support longer-term, community-based strategies to detect and resolve unrest, conflict and violence.
In 2018 MTP was accredited by the IEC and trained and deployed the largest domestic observer mission in the Western Cape comprising of Christian, Muslim and Jewish members of faith communities. The groups were deployed and coordinated across the province covering 100 polling stations from opening to the completion of the vote count. Our report to the IEC is available here.
Since 2019, MTP has partnered with Tearfund, a Christian relief and development INGO, to develop the role of faith leaders in deepening democracy, reducing conflict dynamics and promoting peace pre, during and post Elections. We trained more than 300 faith leaders in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Burundi between 2019-2020 and are currently training faith leaders in Ivory Coast with plans for Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Chad in the pipeline. Reports from the training are here: Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Burundi.
To learn more about our work, our training and opportunities to participate in deepening democracy, transforming conflict and building a just peace, please get in touch!
Bearing witness to build a just peace
Since the first human cases of COVID-19 were reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019, 109 million global cases of COVID-19 have been recorded and 2,42 million people have died. South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) reported its first confirmed case on March 5, 2020 and as of February 17, 2021, 48,313 people have died in South Africa. We are mourning the 14th highest number of deaths in the world.
This deadly virus continues to spread at a terrifying rate denying us the opportunity to be with loved ones in their illness and death and physically together in our grief. Streamed funerals, WhatsApp groups, and social media platforms have become altars in the cloud around which we gather each day to gravely honour and bear witness to each precious life that was made flesh and lived among us.
Bearing witness is a way to process and share an experience, to express and receive empathy or support. It makes sure that an experience, usually a painful one, is heard, seen, acknowledged and affirmed. As Maya Angelou described it, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”
Since 2016, More Than Peace has learnt that bearing witness is essential to the work of building a just and sustainable peace in South Africa.
We train and deploy observers across local communities to public meetings, protests, and multi-stakeholder engagements, where intergenerational causes and consequences of systemic injustice and unequal access to resources, power, and basic services are being voiced and accountability sought by citizens.
The presence of impartial observers supports the interactions and dynamics between those present – citizens, politicians, government officials, state security, private security and public and private sector role-players. It increases accountability amongst the stakeholders and helps diffuse tensions and reduce conflict dynamics.
In cases where conflict and possible violence arise, observers may help the role players de-escalate the conflict using essential mediation skills, contacting trusted third parties such as local community and faith leaders, officials from institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission, experienced conflict practitioners to provide a dialogical intervention, and liasing with municipal officials, senior SAPS officers and others in oversight.
Training and deploying Election Observers in SA and across Africa
Since 2016, MTP has been training and deploying election observers to monitor and report on electoral integrity, to strengthen civil society’s capacity to promote citizen participation, to support voter education, to engage in advocacy and foster governmental accountability within and throughout the election cycle.
In 2019, MTP was accredited by the IEC for the National and Provincial Elections in 2019 and trained and deployed more than 100 observers in the Western Cape.
Between 2018 – 2021, MTP has trained more than 300 faith leaders in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Burundi, Ivory Coast and Chad in Electoral monitoring towards deepening democracy, reducing conflict dynamics and building peace in partnership with Tearfund. Over the next 3 years, we will continue to develop our training online and in country across the continent together.
Establishing a National Electoral Observer Network
In partnership with the Albert Luthuli Foundation, part of the NFDI – National Foundations Dialogues Initiative – MTP is developing a National Electoral Observer Network to monitor elections in South Africa. We welcome applications from civil society organisations and networks.
- Sign up for Election Observer training
- Become an Accredited Observer
- Monitor elections in your local community or across an area
- Report in real-time to a rapid response task team
- Recruit others from your local and social networks – faith, CAN, LEAN, street, school, university, work…
Bearing witness during COVID-19
In the wake of President Ramaphosa’s announcement declaring a State of Disaster, MTP was invited by the South African Human Rights Commission to assist in establishing a Section 11 Monitoring Committee in accordance with their Act to monitor the protection and promotion of human rights across the country and report any violations to the SAHRC for investigation.
‘Since I was nominated by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and subsequently appointed by the President, I cannot describe in words the assistance that the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has received from More Than Peace (MTP).
The list of engagements is too long however it includes monitoring in very serious environments —situations of unrest, evictions, protests etc. One of the most valuable contribution is that of mediation in very volatile situations across the Western Cape. During COVID-19 MTP has played a critical role in assisting the SAHRC in recruiting organisations from civil society, more than 220 comprising of more than 500 monitors across the country from all walks of life.
MTP assisted with the administration and prepared and delivered their online training. Throughout the lock-down, MTP coordinated the deployment and reporting of the monitors via Provincial WhatsApp groups and their interactions with the SAHRC Provincial Managers and myself. Funding for the training, coordination and administration was secured by members of the MTP coalition via a Nordic Peace-building Foundation. These monitors continue to play a vital role in monitoring human rights during the Lock Down period.’
Concerns were soon realised within days of the lockdown, as SAPS, Law Enforcement and SANDF members were recorded forcing people living in working class and poorer communities into humiliating positions, kicking, slapping, whipping and shooting citizens with rubber bullets and live ammunition for alleged contraventions of the Disaster Management Act Regulations. As hundreds of elderly and disabled people queued to collect SASSA grants, SAPS responded by firing water cannons to enforce social distancing.
South Africa is the most economically unequal country in the world with urban areas starkly divided along racial lines. COVID-19 lock down measures exposed these inequalities and disproportionately affected those whose lives bear witness to South Africa’s intergenerational socio-economic and spatial inequalities and injustices.
The regulations were untenable for those living in overcrowded housing in densely populated areas, without adequate access to water, toilets, and sanitation. Households reliant on local businesses for daily purchases of food and electricity supplies were forced to risk traveling on public transport and stand for hours in un-managed queues outside supermarkets. The collection of SASSA grants created COVID-19 hotspots as hundreds of citizens queued for days without any queue management system.
The President urged security personnel to be a ‘force of kindness’ but with the exception of some individual officers, the dominant and prevailing culture of aggression, brutality and violence of state security institutions was exposed.
Leadership as demonstrated by Captain Stephanus during a peace march in Hangberg on 21st June 2020, in which more than 400 residents took to the streets to protest the City of Cape Town’s forced removal and demolition of Ginola Philips house on 12th and 19th June 2020.
SAHRC monitors observed Captain Stephanus and members working with the community leaders to plan and uphold an agreed route, demonstrating patience, empathy and negotiation skills to diffuse and resolve tensions and anger when the Ward Councilor and City officials did not attend to receive a Memorandum of Demands. The community leaders presented the memorandum to Rev Annie Kirke on behalf of the SAHRC to deliver to the City of Cape Town.
Civil society monitoring throughout the lock-down has played a crucial role in reporting and seeking investigations concerning arrests and detentions of minors in police holding cells, sjamboking of persons arrested for attending protests and gatherings during the lockdown, refusal of SAPS to interview victims of rape and domestic violence, recording and witnessing illegal demolitions and evictions, and the forced removal, detainment and abusive treatment of homeless people.
Strandfontein Homeless Camp
Following the opening of Strandfontein Homeless Camp where 1,600 people were removed from Cape Town’s streets by the City, MTP led an independent team of health, social care, disaster response and human rights experts, including Doctors Without Borders, to conduct an assessment of the camp for submission to the SAHRC.
The 57-page report called for immediate improvements and a phased closure of the camp to be replaced by smaller, specialised sites dedicated to supporting groups with chronic health conditions, substance dependency, those with mental health issues, the frail and elderly and a reintegration plan post lock-down.
Sadly, the City chose to close the camp and transport the majority of people back to the street, however some churches, like St Peter’s Mowbray in partnership with New Hope SA acted quickly to help establish micro sites to assist those returning which are developing into longer-term housing solutions.
In the midst of the horrors of Strandfontein, a beautiful expression of dignity and hope emerged – The Homeless Action Committee – elected from amongst more than 300 people staying in The Haven Tent 2.
MTP had the privilege of seeing this committee emerge, define, articulate and advocate for the needs, rights and future of homeless people. We also had the privilege of presenting with Carlos Mesquita, HAC member, at the Inkathalo Conversations in October 2020 – a public participation process to give recommendations towards the Street People Policy and Strategy for The City of Cape Town.
Crossing boundaries is an essential step in seeking to listen, understand, participate, advocate, and hold one another accountable and responsible for the health of the future we are building.
MTP would like to invite you to participate in building peace financially.
Build a just peace!
South Africa spends more than ZAR 48 billion per annum on Private Security. Imagine what we could achieve if we financially invested in building a just peace together.
SOW PEACE – Give 1% of your income on a weekly, monthly or annual basis to deploy an Election Day Observer – R300.
WATER PEACE- Give 10% of your monthly or annual private security bill towards training local communities in monitoring, conflict intervention and stakeholder dialogue skills – R350 – R1,000 per participant
FEED PEACE – Give a one-off donation towards mediation intervention and stakeholder dialogue facilitation – R600 ph per trainer.
All SA donations are tax deductible. This means that donations you make can be claimed as a qualifying deduction on your 2020/21 Income Tax return.
Individuals and businesses still have time to contribute before the end of the tax year (Saturday, 29th February 2021) and qualify for this deduction.
More Than Peace (MTP) is a registered Public Benefit Organisation with Section 18(A) status (Reg No. 930063576).
Did you know?
- You’re able to reduce your tax liability by donating up to 10% of your annual taxable income.
- Any amount donated over 10% of your taxable income will be carried over to the next year of assessment and thus will not be lost.
- MTP issues Section 18(A) tax certificates annually in April.