Sibanye Stillwater’s Rustenburg Social Renewal And Development Programme InitiativeChristopher Franklin
Sibanye Stillwater (Sibanye), in collaboration with Umsizi Sustainable Social Solutions (Umsizi) and faith-based leaders comprising the Greater Rustenburg Pastors Forum (GRPF), have initiated a Gender Based Violence (GBV) response initiative which was launched on 9 February 2023. This initiative recognises the prevalence of GBV and its debilitating effects on our society, especially girls and women, and seeks to empower faith-based leaders with knowledge and tools to effectively take an active role in reducing GBV within the Greater Rustenburg communities. Sibanye, through Umsizi, will empower faith- based leaders to become advocates against this evil pandemic, by equiping them with capacities and tools to bring about sustained change in social behaviours and culture, influencing prevailing attitudes and systems, and moving towards creating safer spaces at places of worship for the care and counselling for survivirs of GBV. The response from leaders comprising of the GRPF was overwhelmingly positive, with over 50 churches wholeheartedly committing to partner in the Sibanye and Umsizi GBV Response Initiative as agents of renewal in their communities.
The primary goal of the Sibanye GBV Response Initiative is to create “Safe Homes and Safe Communities” through promoting multi-stakeholder collaboration for greater impact in responding to gender based violence prevalence, with faith-based leaders and churches being the primary partners. The initiative recognizes the need to address the social, cultural and spiritual root causes of gender inequalities and resultant gender based violence as critical to achieving GBV awareness/education, prevention, care and advocacy objectives. Such response necessitates attitude change regarding gender and GBV, appropriate competencies built in religious leaders, and knowledge and skills gained for enhanced capacity to bring about the desired change.
The Sibanye and Umsizi process will mobilise and build the capacity of faith-based leaders in facilitating GBV and other Social Recovery interventions in the target communities, through a series of knowledge-building workshops, running from February to September 2023. The process will also empower leaders to deal with a multitude of social ills linked to GBV, such as addiction to drugs and alcohol, mental illness, and equips them to reliably and effectively work through these issues.
The first Sibanye and Umsizi GBV response initiative was implemented in the Marikana communities during the course of 2022, as part of the Marikana Social Renewal Programme. Partnering with faith-based leaders, Umsizi demonstrated the intricate connection between spiritual and social relationships, and how, as moral change agents, faith leaders not only have a mandate to advocate for positive social values, but also to take the lead in protecting vulnerable members of their communities. This, coupled with necessary knowledge and skills, is critical for collaborative responses that contribute to reconciliation, restored relationships, healing, harmony, safe and peaceful communities. The Marikana GBV Initiative has been overwhelmingly successful with faith-based leaders taking decisive action to implement their GBV response plans to create safe homes and safe communities through local churches. The Rustenburg GBV Response Initiative will be based on the success of the Marikana initiative.
Beyond the need for uniting leaders in the pursuit of social renewal, there is a great need for local economic revitalisation and creation of livelihood opportunities for households in local communities. To this end, Sibanye Stillwater appointed Umsizi, with their implementation partner SocioTech, to implement the Broad-Based Livelihoods (BBL) programme in the greater Rustenburg communities. The BBL empowers households and communities to embark on developing their own livelihoods based on sustainable food production, business and income generation activities. The Sibanye BBL has already provided economic opportunities to over 1,000 households in nine communities in the Marikana region, resulting in sustainable socio-economic benefit and impact, which has reduced poverty and brought renewed hope for many. The success of the BBL programme will now be extended to host communities surrounding the Sibanye Rustenburg mining operations. Together with the GBV Response Initiative, the BBL will bring widespread economic and livelihood development opportunities for many.