This is a report of the resolutions of the Interim Steering Committee (ISC) held on 3 September 2018.
The decisions were arrived at after weighing whether to rush preparations towards the Inaugural General Assembly of 21-22 September and risk losing legitimacy and credibility required of a body of national stature as NWASA or to create more time to address challenges that may otherwise sabotage substantial milestones achieved thus far. What are the challenges and milestones?
In the three months of its existence since its establishment on 25 May 2018 at the Kwa-Langa Estate, Midrand, NWASA has d great milestones that other structures, especially the particular one set by government years ago towards the establishment of a writers outfit like NWASA, have failed to carry out this task. Members should guard against sacrificing NWASA’s great feat for temporary convenience because the organisation is meant or destined to be a life-long heritage project that shall be bequeathed to the next generations in a better South Africa and an egalitarian global world. The milestones are the following:
The ISC has managed to collapse and unify two separate writers’ initiatives to build a solid membership base under one umbrella. These bodies are the ex-COSAW members with an online following of 106 supporters and the National Writers Forum WhatsApp group with a following of 65.
Currently, NWASA membership stands at 92 registered members drawn from a wide range of the social fabric. This membership base reflects a fair balance of aspirant and established writers.
Among the latter are world-renowned authors like Professors Njabulo S Ndebele, Mike Van Graan and Nana Walter Kefuoe Chakela.
Recently, other literary luminaries like Prof. Andries Oliphant and Dr. Mongane Wally Serote have pledged interests to take up membership and serve NWASA in capacities convenient to it and them personally.
Dr. Don Mattera has also made himself available to mentor aspirant writers on behalf of NWASA.
NWASA has managed to attract members from the following African countries: Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Nigeria.
Organised literary entities have also pledged to officially affiliate to NWASA as associate members. They are Timbuktu Book Club in Limpopo, CEM Publishers in Gauteng, and Lisahluma Skills Development Services in the Eastern Cape.
Some organisations are soon expected to close shop and join NWASA in individual capacities while others are set to swell NWASA ranks as affiliates.
Membership breakdown per provinces is as follows: Eastern Cape 13; Free State 12; Gauteng 32; KwaZulu-Natal 4; Limpopo 13, Mpumalanga 1; Northern Cape 3; North West 9; and Western Cape 4.
The existence of NWASA has also not escaped the attention of other government related entities which have since come forward to pledge support in kind. These are: the Department of Arts and Culture which sponsored the 25th May 2018 Colloquium and currently intends to fund the Inaugural General Assembly; the South African State Theatre has officially offered the use of its facilities for free for NWASA’s launch as well as making office space available for its National Headquarters on monthly rental basis; and the Moral Regeneration – under the stewardship of Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa – has also shown interest in partnering with NWASA on its activities.
1.3 Registration of NWASA
On 13 August 2018, NWASA successfully registered with the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) of the Republic of South Africa as a Non Profit-Making Company (NPC) registration number 2017/272254/08 under the official name: National Writers Association of South Africa. This is after it had bought the status of a shell company that was registered on 20 June 2017.
1.4. Bank Account
On 31 August 2018, the ISC opened a bank account as per the details:
Nedbank, Branch Code: 198765 (Hatfield)
Account type: Current
Account Number: 1176645099
Henceforth, this is the only official account NWASA uses for all its financial transactions that include but not limited to membership payment, sponsorship, donations, etc.
1.5 Nominations to the National Steering Committee
The entire August month was reserved for nominations for 5 Executive positions and 6 Additional Members as per its Constitution. The approach was that once nominations for all positions are made, the names of candidates will constitute a ballot paper that is going to be used for elections during the Inaugural General Assembly. To date, the process is partially complete for the 5 Executive Positions but not completed for Additional members.
1.6 Adoption of Interim Constitution and Amendment
On 25 May 2018, the ISC adopted an Interim Constitution and set up an amendment process. The amended version is ready for ratification by the Inaugural General Assembly.
1.7 Literary Activities
NWASA has been invited to participate in various literary activities; some of which have passed and other still forthcoming. Some of the latter will be highlighted shortly.
Much as the ISC was able to bring some cohesion in its activities based on the selflessness and sacrifices of some members, it however didn’t manage to maximise its performance due to challenges related to geographical placements of some members and lack of resources. These have made some members to resign and others not to attend meetings; resulting in few meetings abandoned due to lack of quorums. The impact of the scenario is evident in the following:
There are still gaps or imbalances in demographic representations on NWASA membership as reflected in the statistics earlier. The ISC is of the view that this doesn’t bode well for an organisation of national stature like NWASA. Therefore, concerted efforts still ought to be made to recruit members in those areas in particular and in others in general to achieve a fair spread.
Other demographic aspects such as gender, race, age, geographic spread, and so forth must be fairly spread in its membership base and organisational structures.
2.2 Demographic representation in NWASA structures and activities
Against the above scenario, there are some imbalances in terms of demographic representation in NWASA’s structures and activities that need proactive interventions. One particular area where is this noticeable is in the nomination process for the NSC.
2.3 Tax Number and Clearance Certificate
NWASA is required by law to possess a tax number and clearance certificate to receive funding from government for its activities. Regrettably, the slow progress on the relevant application to the South African Revenue Services (SARS) on the part of the ISC has adversely impacted preparations for the Inaugural launch.
2.4 Lack of resources
The ISC experienced extreme difficulties to fulfill its mandate to the maximum due to lack of finances and other resources such as office space and administrative accessories. As a result, to a large extent it relies on the personal goodwill in kind and money of some of its members to operate.
3. Decision on the postponement of the Inaugural General Assembly
Faced with the stark reality of a likelihood that the Inaugural launch scheduled for 21-22 September at the State Theatre in Pretoria could not be fairly attended by registered members in light of the scenario above, the ISC resolved to postpone the event to a date yet to be determined in November 2018 after urgent discussions with stakeholders with stakeholders like the State Theatre and DAC. This would give the ISC and general members and opportunity to heighten commitment and participation to achieve the outstanding issues:
Membership recruitment is all provinces to be escalated by the ISC and members to ensure that the organisation has sizeable footprints in all provinces.
Members are now encouraged to pay for membership now that NWASA has a bank account. Once paid, a member must submit proof of payment to the ISC with name, initial and membership no as reference. For instance, NawaL MN2. MN stands for Member Number that appears next to your name on the membership list that is frequently sent to members as and when it is updated.
Meanwhile, the secretary-general will look into the provisional of membership cards and name tag apparatus to be issued during the Inaugural launch. This is subject to the availability of funds.
3.2 Provincial coordination
While there has been progress in provinces where there are some members identified as coordinators, none have submitted official reports to the secretariat detailing strategies for membership recruitment and programme of action for the year 2018. Members in all provinces are urged to communicate amongst themselves to identify and confirm provincial coordinators who will then submit monthly reports to the ISC about organisational building in the areas. This will include how they envisage a number of members at a particular period to be transported to the Inaugural General Assembly.
3.3. Nominations for NSC leadership
Given the fact that some members may have missed the opportunity to participate in the nomination process as a result of having joined recently, nominations have been extended by exactly one month from the date of the decision (03 September to 03 October).
The names of candidates already nominated for the 5 Executive Positions and Additional Members will be retained for seconding/acceptance and decline while new nominations are also allowed to be made using the same guidelines. It is important for members to appreciate that rules are made to be complied with. And unless members express individual difficulties with the system adopted with request for special deviation to accommodate their particular peculiarities, all members are requested to adhere to the guidelines. This is a point the ISC dread to compromise and open the process to queries that may be even expressed legally.
The secretary-general will henceforth issue the nomination template on which members to activate nominations. No further extension will be made after the cut-off date.
3.4 Amendment of the Constitution
Extension for Constitutional amendment is made for the same time period as the nominations. Inputs in this regard are to be submitted to Abdul Mogale at firstname.lastname@example.org and Frank Meintjies at email@example.com
3.5 Submissions on topic of national/continental/international significance
Part of the programme of the Inaugural launch would be commission to deliberate and pass resolutions on various topics of national/continental/international importance. These resolutions, forming part of NWASA’s campaigns, will be communicated to the public through the media and other means. Some of the topics could be on the following themes: education curricula, language, national symbols and geographical names, celebrations of literary icons (next year is the centenary of Es’kia Mphahlele), position of literature in cultural policy, literature screening on SABC channels, etc.
3.5 Literary journal
Sometimes this year on NWASA WhatsApp site, members discuss the possibility of the establishment of an online literary journal with two possible names: Pikoko and Calabash. Concrete proposal to be sent to the GA for adoption.
3.6. Deployments to sub-committees, Boards, and Patrons
Recently, notice was circulated to members by the ISC with the intention the intention to endorse structures such as sub-committees, board and patrons at the Inaugural launch with relevant personnel. Request was made to members to modify and/or endorse the names of the sub-committees and also allow for nominations or volunteers for deployment to them. The sub-committees are: Organisation Building & Membership, Editorial & Publishing, Media & Public Relations, Mentoring Commissaries, Programming and Projects, and Fund Raising.
Nominations and volunteers are required for the Board and Patrons, respectively. Deployment to these two separate bodies is not necessary confined to people who are NWASA members. They can also be citizens of high standing from sectors such as culture, academia, business, and government.
3.7 Literary Activities for 2018
NWASA has received invitations to various activities since its inception. Some of the activities have past and others are oncoming. The latter are highlighted for deployment purposes. People who are in the media field are free to publicise these events.
3.7(a) 7th Annual Polokwane Literary Fair
Molebatsi Masedi and Limpopo members to attend and represent NWASA at the event.
3.7(b) SA Book Fair Week.
The DAC has invited NWASA to the AUTHORS’ CORNER KIPPIES – NEWTOWN CULTURAL PRECINCT, Rich information and support for authors wishing to be published from Saturday 8 September 10:00 – 17:00 & Sunday 9 September 10:00 – 13:00.
Barbara Schreiner has been mandate to lead and coordinate NWASA representation/delegation and participation in this programme. Members who are interested in forming part of this collective that will participate in this programme in any part of the country are requested to forward their names to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive entry tickets from the DAC’s Dr. Zola Peter at ZolaP@dac.gov.za
3.7(b) 06 September 2018 – Launch of Barry Gilder’s Book
Nana Walter Kefuoe Chakela to attend and represent NWASA at this occasion. Members are encouraged to provide their names to email@example.com
3.7 (c) 8 September 2018 – Soweto Children’s Africa Musical Arts Festival
The University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Indigenous Instrumental Music and Dance, courtesy of NWASA member Dr. Sonkanise A. David Nkosi, has invited NWASA to set up a stall on books in indigenous languages and also to deploy authors to represent it. Volunteers are encouraged to formally confirm attendance with the SG at firstname.lastname@example.org
SG to liaise with Mpho Matsitle about the possibility of designing a pull-up banner and flyers for NWASA. Any other graphic designers are also encouraged to avail themselves for assistance.
3.7 (d) 12 September – Dr. Vusi Mahlasela’s second Honourary Doctorate graduation at the KZN University.
The SG to provide academic support to Dr. Mahlasela towards the success of the event.
3.7(e) 13 September – Launch of Ari Sitas’s Book.
Barbara Schreiner to represent NWASA and members interest to join her are requested to send their join to email@example.com
3.7(f) 13 September – BRICS
The National Institute for Humanities and the Social Sciences and Chair of BRICS Think Tank, Ari Sitas, who is also a NWASA member, has invited NWASA to cohost the afternoon session of its BRICS programme showcasing Madhan Gopal Singh; the Sufi poet, composer, singer and philosopher (with his musical group) and a range of undisclosed others.
Lebogang Nawa and Nana Chakela to represent NWASA. Members interested to join them lease send names to firstname.lastname@example.org
3.7(g) 24 September 2018 – Colloquium on the African Calendar
NWASA intends to hold a colloquium on this date at the State Theatre in a form of a lecture by a NWASA member on the topic of the African calendar and its meaning to literature. The event will be publicised once the name of the member is confirmed.
For queries and contribution to this report, please contact the SG at any of NWASA’s electronic outlets.
Issued by the Secretary-General, Dr. Lebogang L Nawa on behalf of the ISC, 4 September 2018.