MASIFUNDISE Development Trust’s transition shifted into fifth gear this week, with five excited interns joining the engaging team.

This move follows hot on the heels of another capacity boost for the civil society organization, with the appointment of Community Liaison Officers and a Project Support Staff member. Community Liaison Officers, Clarence Oliphant and Lindani Ngubane and Abe Koopman, the Project Support Staff member, had been appointed in March and will work in the Kwazulu-Natal and the Northern Cape provinces.

Masifundise office was a buzz on Monday morning as the interns walked through the doors in Mowbray, commencing their six month long internship. The five new interns were welcomed and promptly set out on their journey of discovery and development.

After a long application process, including interviews, the four interns were selected from about 160 aspiring applicants.

The two interns appointed in the Research and Information department are Aphiwe Moshani, an environmental and social activist and UCT Masters candidate working with small-scale fishing communities in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Maia Nangle, a graduate from UCT wishing to be a part of positive change in South Africa.

Joining the Media and Communications department are Sibongiseni Gwebani, a UCT graduate and a social activist whose passion lies with helping others, and Michelle Pietersen, a progressive and conscious writer who previously worked as a political journalist.

The fifth intern, Zabo Gantana, who hails from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, will work in Administration for the next three months.

The appointments of the new recruits form part of Masifundise’s transition, which has seen sweeping changes to the organization with a new strategic framework and programme having been developed for execution. These changes have been welcomed and served as an indication of the progressive trajectory for the organisation.

Looking back on the organisation’s life, it’s clear that Masifundise harbours no fear for transformation. Masifundise was birthed during the turbulent Apartheid Era and started out as providing adult education and literacy support to the black population of the Western Cape in 1980.

In the late 1990s Masifundise took on a new vision, having embarked on an advanced strategic direction, with its focus on working with the small-scale-fishing communities, who by then had been severely marginalised with no legal representation or policy protection.

As an answer to the plight of the fisher people Masifundise in 2004 repositioned itself as an independent trust to support small-scale fishing communities in mobilizing, lobbying and advocating the rights of the fisher people. The period proved to be fruitful with many successes having been achieved; including the formation of the Small-Scale Fishing Policy. This while Masifundise acted as support and secretariat to the community based organization Coastal Links South Africa.

In 2017 Masifundise took a pause to reflect and review.

On the recommendations of three interlinked strategic reviews and external evaluations, a new focus was birthed and a decision was made to concentrate all efforts on working, promoting and strengthening Food Sovereignty in coastal and inland fishing communities in South Africa and globally.

With this in mind Masifundise will next month host a Strategic Forum with more than 80 strategic partners- more than 60 fishers from across the country and about 20 partners in the field – are invited to attend the esteemed gathering of minds on Food Sovereignty in the small-scale fishing sector. The four day workshop will investigate interest and relevant themes like Operation Phakisa and the Blue Economy, Extractivism, Policy Development, Customary Rights and Gender. The annual Strategic Forum will take place in Paarl from May 28, 2019 to May 31, 2019.

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