On 27 March, ALPS Community Outreach Manager Mkhuseli Madiba, facilitated a community stakeholder meeting in Zwelihle, Hermanus. The meeting marked the launch of the USAID-funded, ALPS-implemented People to People (P2P) Dialogues project in the community.
Zwelihle is one of 15 sites selected for the P2P project. The 15-month project aims to build social cohesion in South African communities by improving relationships between foreign nationals and locals. ALPS, in partnership with local facilitators and community organisations, will host a series of dialogues in each site that will promote mutual understanding, shared identities, trust, and empathy. The dialogues will follow a research phase conducted by the Safety & Violence Initiative (SaVI) from the University of Cape Town and an extensive community entry process conducted by ALPS.
In response to heightened tension in Zwelihle, ALPS accelerated implementation of the P2P project in the community. This ongoing tension follows an extended period of social unrest in 2018 when protests over land use escalated, resulting the looting and destruction of local shops and displacement of foreign nationals. The stakeholder meeting marks the first P2P forum through which community members were able to discuss the issues brought to light in 2018. The meeting included an introduction to ALPS and the P2P project, a brief community mapping exercise, and a lively discussion about the current social cohesion and integration issues between foreign nationals and South Africans in Zwelihle.
The meeting was well attended. Representatives from a variety of civil society and government organisations were present, including from the Somali and Ethiopian business structures, the Land Party, Zwelihle Renewal, the Deputy Mayor’s Office, Overstrand Unite, the Youth Café, South African businesses, the Pastor’s Forum, and the Community Policing Forum.
ALPS is excited to be working in Zwelihle. The 2018 protests highlighted many issues simmering below the surface, but also paved the way for new opportunities and new directions. Since the protests, community structures have formed to support all local business owners. These support structures are excellent entry points into the community, but they require assistance in terms of business permits, skills training and community integration. ALPS will offer a neutral facilitation role in the community to further improve social relations and enable healthy relationships between foreign nationals and South Africans.