#VoicesForChange
An editorial from our Custodian in Clanwilliam  – Jan Oosthuisen

All over South Africa, more and more local small-town stories of hope are being circulated for the world to see. As a local pastor, organisational enabler and community bridge-builder I am inspired by stories like Jaco Hyman, owner of Build-It in Marble Hall, Bethal, Middleburg, Dennilton, and Groblersdal driving a family values campaign #lagkrag #strengthjoy – making people happy give you strength.  This drive to serve people till they laugh with happiness is one of the primary reasons for his success.

From filling pot-holes to repainting playgrounds, fixing roadsigns, tree-felling, gardening and general maintenance… the community of Senekal is rallying together to restore themselves, and their small town.[i]That after an almost bloody recent stand-off between local farmers and the EFF.

Then there are grand stories of an exceptionally huge vision from Phillip Jonker and the Jakes Gerwel Entrepreneurship School in Bonnievale![ii] All inspiring stories of collaboration and local practical physical impact!

One keeps the government accountable through active participation, not spectator criticism from a distance. 

During one of the several community-building events initiated by the Faith-Based Leaders in Clanwilliam, the slogan was birthed “If one holds hands no one can point a finger”

Why a Social Compact?

Figure 1 Clanwilliam Community Pray for Rain 28 February 2018

Without agreement on a mutually beneficial desired future and the network of nation builders interlacing strong relationships of trust over time towards achieving these goals together, all is lost!!! We will remain operating in silos, stuck in entrenched inequality, opposing ideological worldviews, contestational politics, and continued self-interest.

Most communities are facing enormous challenges with disintegrating infrastructure disparity and some cases total collapse.[i] Post Covid Economic challenges and unemployment, and the hidden reality that many people in South Africa are unemployable![ii]  On top of that there is the escalation of the mounting informal settlements crisis!

Rapid Urban Sprawl is simply too immense or complicated for the government or any organization to solve adequately independent from the other. Therefore, cooperation between interested and affected people and groups is vital if the problems are to be addressed coherently. More importantly, “Collaboration relies on trust, inclusion, and constructive engagement to achieve a broad common purpose. It does not use advocacy, exclusion, and power over others to achieve its ends.” [iii]

Figure 2 Complex social depravity in informal settlements

A whole NEW Approach

Social compacts are not just another formal structure and organisation. It is a new approach and seeks to help all stakeholders to fulfil their respective mandate in a more collaborative way.

A major breakthrough in understanding how to manage complex multi-stakeholder situations and programs has come through the field of systems theory. Systems thinking is a way of helping people to see the overall structures, patterns and cycles in systems, rather than seeing only specific events or elements. It allows the identification of solutions that simultaneously address different problem areas and leverage improvement throughout the wider system.[i]

Social compacts or collaborative partnerships are not about who controls the collaboration; it is more about a collaboration of collaboratives moving in the same direction.  It is a movement, based on common core values, like the sanctity of life and dignity of all, strong levels of consistent transparency, respect and honour, long-term sustainable development towards the maturity of humanity to take responsibility, earn to give, passionate work ethic and reciprocate the fortitude received.

It is important to note though, that social compacts are not anti-anything, or more specific not anti-government.  At the beginning of the first collaborative community meetings in Clanwilliam, the agreement was:  We want to work with everyone; we want to live together in peace; we do not want to exclude anyone; we do not want to fight with anyone.

A repeated call from the President

President Ramaphosa calls for social compacts to partner – January 8th State to the nation address 2020.

  1. We call on civil society formations to continue to champion the values of our democratic constitution, to fight for social justice and equality, intensify the campaign for ethical governance and hold those in positions of authority to account.
  2. We call on faith-based organisations and leaders to continue to provide spiritual and moral guidance to society, challenge crime, corruption and violence, and care for the poor, the marginalised and the mistreated.
  3. We call on all farmers, farmworkers and traditional leaders to work together in support of meaningful land and agrarian reform, build relations of trust and respect within rural communities, and significantly expand food production and ensure food security.

International Consensus

World Economic Forum: New Social Covenant. [ii]

The concept of collaboration seems to also be a worldwide phenomenon.  The WEF tabled a range of documents on the idea of “A new Social Covenant” based on 3 common values.

  • The dignity of the human person, whatever their race, gender, background or beliefs
  • The importance of a common good that transcends individual interests
  • The need for stewardship – a concern not just for ourselves but for posterity

The new social covenant replaces the old broken civil contract with father type elder leaders in communities, who already have earned the trust of the community and show a willingness to advocate for the rights of the whole town nor just the right of one grouping.

Morphogenetic Developmental Approach

Prof. Deon Pretorius is a seasoned thought-leader in this field in South Africa, particularly because of his work in the Sunday River valley.[iii]  In his own words:

A Social Compact /social contract is a commitment by people in a society or community to life together in accordance with an agreement that establishes a set of moral, political and other rules of behaviour. There is also the version of the social contract (based on the thinking of John Lock) that includes the idea that life, liberty, and property are given to us by nature and shouldn’t be taken away. Locke’s states that people form governments in order to protect these rights, but in order for that to work, people have to follow the laws the government makes. It is not just about the relationship between government and citizens but about all the different sectors and all citizens. In fact, I think that we have to adopt a so-called pluralist approach which acknowledges both the diversity of interests and common interest. So … many parties, many diverse interests and perspectives united by the common goal of Inclusive Well-Being. The implication of the commitment to Inclusive Well-Being is that the Social Compact must provide statements about how different parties will differently and similarly contribute to Inclusive Well-Being.

One should also beware not to take a romantic idealistic quick-fix type of approach to social compacts and collaboration.  Social Compacts should be a long term generational strategy. Listen to Prof. Deon’s most recent discussion on RSG “Mooi Dorp” interview about the recent unrest (May 2022) in the Sunday River Valley. [iv]

How do we partner well?

What is the first steps?

This question beckons a complete essay, decertation or study particularly in SA against the background of our divisive and traumatic past.  The following pointers from Andrew Borraine (EDP) are taken from experience and not theory.  Andrew helped Clanwilliam’s bridgebuilders to take the first steps by introducing the following thoughts.

  1. Leaving your jacket at the door. (Not industrial dispute)
  2. Listening (how well can you listen instead of how well one speak) Listen without judgement
  3. We need not agree on everything to work together.
  4. Partnering is a verb. Service level agreement, formal fiduciary structures, mandates, M.O.U’s comes later.
  5. Do not try to do too many things together.
  6. Step into the action as quickly as possible. Build trust in action.
  7. Partnering begins at home, how strong is your own partnering within your own sphere.
  8. Relationship matter – the strength of the relationships determines the level of resilience. Connect, communicate, collaborate.

Mentors For Change; Prof Nick Binedell (GIBS and Intransformation) and Andrew Borrain (EDP) have been valuable support for the Clanwilliam Collaborative, giving advice, or linking us with the right resources.  According to Prof. Nick who has seen the disparity in many small towns as he travelled extensively throughout SA, the only hope for our country is small communities getting it right. These achievable outcomes can fire a flame of hope throughout the Country toward inclusive nation-building.

More examples of Collaborative Initiatives in SA

An Agricultural Thinktank of problem-solving bridge builders, nation builders, and concerned business leaders held a Christ-centered Bridgebuilding Land summit three times in, Sandton, Middelburg and Paarl in 2019.[v]

The Agricultural Weekblad started the movement with the Problem Solution Summit held in August 2018, and in Ceres 14-15 November 2019 the PALS Witzenberg Symposium. [vi]

Gerrit van Vuuren and the PALS Witzenberg Land Reform Initiative.[vii]

Small Town Regenerative Strategy COGTA[viii]

Western Cape Development Partnership EDP – Changemaker Town Network[ix]

Intransformation Network. [x]

Barend La Grange – Senekal, Coligny, Kroonstad. [xi] South Africa Day (Revd Dr Thabo Cecil Makgoba) [xii]

Biblical Justification:

Some people point a finger at the FBO (Faith-Based Organisations) in SA, for their seeming absence in the social-economic development sphere.  Some Churches may feel they are replaced by NGOs and Primary Healthy care, and the wellness revolution.  FBOs are formally not mentioned in the United Nations SDG’s 2030 because they seek not to exclude anyone based on religious affiliation.  There is proof, however, that FBOs can play a vital role in Sustainable Development as the neutral facilitator, and trusted convenors to bring all sector stakeholders together.  The Early Church was known for its care of ALL widows, orphans, and the poor.[xiii]  Prof Ignatius Swart in several papers advocates the important role of the Church with regards to social capital that exist within the church but also its effectiveness in “bonding” “bridging” and “linking” social capital.[xiv]

Moreover, I believe the church should lead in best practice redemptive profitable enterprises governed by the ‘Economics of Mutuality’ – the sharing of benefits and development of human, social and environmental capital. [xv]

4The queen of Sheba was impressed by Solomon’s wisdom5, the palace he built, the food on his table, his officials’ way of sitting on, the ministry and dress code of his table maids and his waiters, as well as the burnt offerings Solomon sacrificed at the temple of the Lord. All this made her gasp at her breath. (1 Kings 10:4-5) May President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza and off course all the International visitors and tourists who will visit our town gasp at their breaths, as they see the employers taking care of their employees, and how everyone in the town started taking responsibility for building, and not breaking down.

Not foreign concept in African Culture – Ilima – Cooperation

Ilima refers to an African cooperative enterprise which was a holistic communal lifestyle within African communities and kingdoms.  It originates from the collective tilling of the fields for the planting of various crops. This involved all members of the community. Each family contributed whatever it can contribute from personal, oxen, implements, seeds, food, etc. This ensured that all fields are tilled and planted for each and every family. The families and community work together cooperatively supporting one another up to the period of harvesting. [xvi]

The benefit to Local Government:

“Khawuleza” which means hurry up in isiXhosa, is the name for a new district coordination model which seeks to “improve the coherence and effect of government service delivery and development”. Our initiative gives us the lead, to negotiate funding for sewage works, housing, and expansion of service delivery as an organised collective of South African citizens.[xvii] Local Municipality finds an ally in Private Sector who is trying to solve the town’s challenges together.  (Public, Private, People Partnerships) [xviii]

It is interesting to note that many government departments are now restrategizing to more public participation, multi-department, a sectorial approach like COGTA and the Western Cape Health & Wellness department.

Advantages for Business & Producers

An inclusive and Integrated Development Forum gives us the scale of impact to unlock international and national social impact/CSI funding.

The Business Sector’s financial involvement proves its social responsibility to potential markets and the Government.

Avoid duplication and strengthen each individual organization through sound cross-pollination/sharing of auxiliary resources.

Businesspeople get the tax benefit of section 18a, as well as BBBEE points for their donations.

Accountability and sustainability of projects are better managed under the transparency of one structure.

Prevent Protests. Combat crime through social upliftment and economic inclusion.  This collaborative initiative allows small towns to proactively anticipate any community protest situation.

Promote productivity among the workforce through joint off-site whole-person development.

Benefits for Community

Collective bargaining group.

Community prioritises what should receive first attention.

Community is part of all processes and takes ownership to work on solutions themselves.

Possibility of winning through training and participation, trust and being included in the value chain.

Community is formalized in their respective diverse represented groups, so no one is excluded.

Community holds themselves responsible at all levels within the framework of good relationships and reciprocal respectful citizenship.

Common development agenda leading to joint action.

Opportunity to work together despite potential differences.

Shared risks and rewards.

Discovery of hidden resources here in the locality.

Improved communication between sectors.

Improved public participation.

The Speed of trust is fortified through practically succeeding together.

Strengthen the ability of all partners to deliver on their respective mandates through collaborative action

Overcome sectors, departments, civil society and government working in silos.

Restore and heal divisive historic trauma with local collaborative successes.

A cross-sector partnership draws from local expertise available to strengthen weak capacity in Local Government.

For a Cross-sector partnership to work all residents, producers and businesspeople contributes proportionally.  ALL MUST GIVE.  Local ownership and responsibility eventually replace the entitlement culture.

What does the Social Compact look like for my locality?

Many will argue that it takes a crisis to bring unity.  Each community will find its own uniting factor, like community safety, economic or social development or health and well-being.  Recently at the External Health Indaba held in Capetown, hosted by the MEC of health Prof. Nomafrench Mbombo 29 April 2022.  Our Workgroup facilitated by Dr. Saadiq Kariem,  suggested a single integrated community forum that engages with the whole of Government, with subcommittees for Health, Safety, Business, Government, and Education.  On the 29th of February COGTA launched the Small-Town Regenerative Strategy a huge step in that direction.

In Clanwilliam, my opinion is that the basis of unity; is Community social-economic Development as effective prevention of further collapse, potential service delivery protests and escalating crime.

That is why I am committed to my role as a Custodian for ChangeMakersHub.  I resonate with the value statement; driven by Purpose, Inclusivity, and Integrity for Impact, as it provides the ideal non-partisan, safe platform for Collaboration for change for good in Clanwilliam.

In partnership with Michelle Korevaar, we tried to work closely with everyone, starting with the people on the ground level.  Data were collected from an online questionnaire, existing data from Dr Ruben Richard’s facilitation of key stakeholders during 3 meetings; municipal and Stats SA data; and selected discussion forums and formal structures like the CPF, CDF, Business Chamber and Tourism.

It is essential to build real trust, and this was done through activities that people could all participate in, actions that got the whole community to work together on physical change projects.

One of these projects was the Flower Festival.  In only two weeks local schools and entertainers, the Wildflower Association, Tourism, Business Chamber, Aquatic club, Municipality and community launched the #Blooming Amazing Flower Festival in September 2021! It was a rounding success, as visitors flocked to Clanwilliam to not only see the beautiful wildflowers but also meet with the blooming amazing people from our Town.

ChangeMakersHub built trust by demonstrating the HOW. Many long hours of building connected relationships with individuals from all walks of life and organisations across sectors; giving orientation, education and skill development; education on recycling. The action transpired in real diverse community participation; making Ecobricks, “Waentjies van Hoop” empowering micro recycling entrepreneurs, propagation and greening with indigenous plants, Artisan craft making with local women as well as children; expanding their horizons to their own potential.

The end-result is a living tangible legacy, incorporated into the build and plant of the ChangeMakers Legacy Garden.

I see great potential in the pilot proof of concept of the ChangeMakersHub Circular Economy Model.  Bridging the very real divide of awareness and education on the facts around waste management, opportunities for recycling entrepreneurs, re-using and upcycling, incorporating this element into craftsmanship and artisan work to develop earning opportunities to those willing to go through our Train The trainer Skills development programme.

Importantly, the ChangeMakersHub Website serves the local Changemakers by promoting their programs, within a peer-review framework, and connecting them with the relevant resources to improve what they are doing!

The ultimate goal of a social compact is to restore and rebuilt the social fibre of a local community. Without a healthy social fibre of mutual honour and respect most interventions feels like trying to fill the bath without the plug.


[i] https://www.goodthingsguy.com/environment/senekal-continue-to-inspire-sa-by-working-together-to-heal-their-town/

[ii] https://www.jgt.co.za/about-us

[i] https://www.cogta.gov.za/cgta_2016/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/IUDF-INFRASTRUCTURE-PAPER.pdf

[ii] https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2021-09-01-unemployment-and-the-unemployable-the-scale-the-smoke-and-mirrors-the-realities-and-the-solutions/

[iii] https://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?4263/Stakeholder-Collaboration-Building-Bridges-for-Conservation

[i] https://learningforsustainability.net/post/complicated-complex/

[ii] http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GAC_NewSocialCovenant_Report_2014.pdf

[iii] https://www.srvc.co.za

[iv] https://www.rsg.co.za/rsg/potgooi-resultaat/?_sft_category=my-mooi-dorp-potgooi&post_date=20220501

[v] https://landsummit.co.za https://landsummit.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/14-Models-.pdf

[vi] https://www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/die-grond-oplossing-boere-se-perspektief-20180706

[vii] http://wpals.co.za

[viii] https://www.cogta.gov.za/index.php/2022/02/21/small-town-regeneration-strategy/

[ix] https://wcedp.co.za

[x] http://www.intransformation.org.za/2021/10/01/clanwilliam-development-partnership-brings-community-closer/

[xi] https://www.vryeweekblad.com/nuusa-en-politiek/2021-06-03-ons-groot-sa-regruk-dossier-1-6-stories-oor-hoop-handevat-en-slaggate/?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR0NEvR3zRdqu1A4PLVKicPxPDQOVughry3Ug2y2g2N8pgxKfN_AcP4ULdU#Echobox=1622775871

[xii] https://southafricaday.org.za/

[xiii] Dreyer, W., 2011. Praktiese ekklesiologie en bedieningspraktyk met verwysing na die Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika (Afrikaans).

[xiv] Swart, Ignatius. “Social Capital, Religious Social Capital and the Missing Element of Religious Ritual.” Religion and Theology 24.3-4 (2017): 221–249. Web.

[xv] Roche, B. and Jakub, J., n.d. Completing capitalism.

[xvi] Mkhangeli Manfred Matomela, former MEC Education EC.

[xvii] https://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2019-08-22-ramaphosas-khawuleza-model-everything-you-need-to-know/

[xviii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7373498/

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