Day 4: Movements

Activity 11: Leadership in these times – Lessons from Limpopo community leaders

1 hour 30 minutes


To help us to:

  • Draw lessons from activist leaders in Limpopo communities
  • Critically reflect on leadership, the qualities of leaders and what it means for Social Change and leadership development

Task 1
Journaling time: Review the short profiles of Limpopo Community Leaders in 2022

(30 minutes) 

We will start with quiet reading and reflection time that looks at the set of eight short profiles of Limpopo Community Leaders in 2022, that appear on the pages following this activity. 

Using your journal, reflect briefly on key features of each of their life stories and see if you can quickly pick out: 

  • What is their particular leadership style?
  • What are the principles that underpin their leadership?
  • What are their triumphs? 
  • What are their trials or difficulties?
  • What stands out for you about them as a leader? 

Task 2
Group work: Challenges for community leadership in these times?

(40 minutes) 

We will have four groups that will look at one angle of leadership and hear from Fellows what they found: 

  • Group 1: Leadership styles
  • Group 2: Principles
  • Group 3: Triumphs
  • Group 4: Trials or difficulties

In your group, use flipcharts to answer these questions in a way that allows for brief summary report backs: 

  1. Discuss what you each found on the angle of leadership that you are assigned, for each of these Limpopo community leaders
  2. What is common and what is different between them and why?
  3. What do you carry away as lessons for your own leadership? 

Task 3
Plenary: Key learning on leadership

(20 minutes) 

In plenary, the facilitator will offer a summary of what stands out from the discussions and posters as key learning on leadership. 

Activist Leaders Profiles – Limpopo Communities 2022

Eric Tshitangano

Having cut his teeth politically in the struggles of rural and small-scale farmers in the Vhembe area in Tshipata. Tshitangano is a formidable activist who has been active in the local struggles in his village Mianzwi. He has for the past 10 years been working with his community-based activists who have been looking into the provision of basic services such as roads water and sanitation through challenging and engaging government. He has in the past contested for local elections offices as an independent candidate, as a member of the PAC and lately as a member of the EFF.

Tshitangano is often seen in the streets and in community social events (especially football tournaments) where young people are found and engaging them about the social responsibility each one of us have. He is of the belief that the youth are the cornerstone of the future and without them the country is doomed. 

Phoebe Faith Mahlokwane

Phoebe is an anti-drug community-based activist who is fighting against the pandemic of drugs and alcohol abuse in her community.

After helping her younger brother Japhta, 27, kick the habit and upon realising the extent of nyaope addiction in their area, Mahlokwane embarked on a project that has put her at loggerheads with peddlers of drugs. So far, she has been working with youth and pastors in her community on this project. 

Mahlokwane holds Bachelor of Arts in community and health psychology works with a team of youths from her church on the project in a bid to save lives. Her activism as she defines it is based off the need to build a better country that functions. She is based in Elandskraal township in Limpopo. 

Avhapfani Muhanelwa

Avhapfani is a manager of Tshilidzini Society for the Care of the Aged which seeks to provide care for the older people and those who don’t have family to tend to their needs as they grow older. They are provided with healthy meals, exercise, medical check-ups for chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and educational talks on how to take good care of themselves at home.

Established in 1984, the centre provided an alternative to drinking alcohol as a past-time in a region with few programmes for the elderly. The centre in Tshisaulu village outside Thohoyandou has more than one hundred elderly people over the age of 60 registered on their books. Before lockdown restrictions, they used to gather at the centre from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. But they are currently working on full capacity again since the national state of disaster was called off.

She is of the belief that makhulu ndi Tshiulu ri tamba ri tshi gonya, a Tshivenḓa saying which means that the older generation are a key part and parcel of our society and thus should not be treated with contempt because of their age. She also believes that as a society we have lost the social fabric of Ubuntu and care for one another, one thing that her activism seeks to restore. 

Tacia Mukwevho (Denzhe-Lwamutsha Place of Care) 

Tacia Mukwevho is a community-based activist in the rural village of Lwamondo who a manager of Denzhe LA Mutsha place of Care in Lwamondo is. The aim of the organisation has been provision of services to elderly individuals in the community who have been isolated and not getting any old age care. 

Tacia’s activism is focused on old age people since there is lack of care when they get old and frail. Of late during the pandemic her organisation has been involved in assisting older citizens with registering for the Covid vaccines.  The aim of the organisation also includes integration of the elderly people into today’s way of life helping them with access to information and services. She believes that it is vital as this helps them navigate through the modern world. 

Her leadership principles are since as society we owe it to each other to show ultimate humanity to each other and care. 

Mkateko Maluleke

Mkateko is a community based acitivist and a coordinator of The Dumela Development Forum (DDF). The forum aim is to fight against corruption and advance the interests of community members. Based in the Dumela Community under the Collins Chabane Municipality. The forum primary aims, and objectives is to fight against corruption and misuse of funds from the government elected officials. Since its formation in 2019 it has been involved in community protests for water provision and library building in the community. In November 2019 the forum submitted a memorandum t to the office of the premier in relation to the delayed building of a community library. 

Maluleke has since the times of covid with his organisation been working on organizing food stalls for the needy and those who were affected by covid. The forum has also raised funds for the program throughout the lockdown period. This has also helped Maluleke and his comrades to keep their organisation intact as they have shown during difficult times that they are one with the people. 

David Magagani

The community of Giyani launched in 2014 a community forum structure aimed at ensuring service delivery from the municipality, amid the continuation of water problems caused by the alleged poor management of water services in the municipality.

The structure, which was founded by David Magagani as chairperson, and consists of 16 executive members from different areas in and around Giyani, is called the Greater Giyani Development Forum. According to Magagani the leaders of this movement are leaders of the community who aim to defend their interests and make sure that water and other services which are vital for development are provided in the community. 

According to Magagani, the forum would tackle corruption in the municipality by pushing for a consistent supply of water and quality services for the projects that are managed by the municipality.

For years the Greater Giyani Local Municipality has been enduring chronic water shortages, stemming from a multi-billion-rand waterworks project in the area that, after seven years, is not even halfway complete. Residents face a lengthy wait, as the water authority is requesting a further R1.1-billion to complete the project. These are the challenges that Magagani and his fellow Activists have been confronting for several years. 

Mphatheleni Makaulule (Dzomo La Mupo) 

Mphatheleni Makaulule was brought up in Vuvha-Serville, a village of the VhaVenda tribe of northern South Africa. She has a deep passion for the culture and traditions of her people and has watched the fast attrition of her culture as westernisation and modernisation have engulfed her community. While increasingly the local youth believe that the elders, aged of the community are ‘uneducated’ in the western tradition and have nothing to offer them, Mphatheleni has spent countless hours sitting with the elders, or ‘libraries of knowledge” as she calls them, learning about social and ecological governance.

From 2000 she has been engaging the school children and teachers for elder to transfer the indigenous knowledge, and thus how she established a traditional homestead inside indigenous forests which was named Luvhola Cultural Village.

In 2006, Mphathe met with the African Biodiversity Network, network which have been working together to seek African solutions to the ecological and socio-economic challenges that face the continent. African Biodiversity Network introduced Mphathe to Gaia Foundation.

In 2007 she founded Mupo Foundation and co-founded Dzomo la Mupo (“Voice of Mupo”), a community-based organisation, based on the work she was doing with communities to revive their confidence and stand firm against some of the threats to their culture and livelihoods, such as destruction of sacred sites, defending the African rights on the indigenous spiritual paths and traditional healing, and then threats of mining projects in the region.

The Dzomo la Mupo, which was first registered as Mupo Foundation, is the voice of Mupo. Members of Dzomo la Mupo are the voices of Mother Earth and her communities.

Margarette Molomo

Molomo is the chairperson of the Mining and Environmental Justice Community Network of South Africa and coordinator of her community-based organisation, the Kopano Formation Committee, which is an organisation which coordinates groups whose rights have been impacted by mining in the region operating since 2012.

Molomo aided the community of Mokopane in a dispute with a platinum mining company which attempted to operate on land used by the community of Mokopane, Limpopo, without their consent. Additionally, the mine was conducting mining operations on land designated for agricultural purposes and in areas which contained some of the community’s graves. Molomo and MEJCON sought to protect the community’s rights by lodging legal appeals and undertaking court processes.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, while Molomo’s work was made significantly more difficult due to the inability to gather to protest and the lack of communication infrastructure in rural regions of South Africa, she has worked to raise awareness of the traditional practices and responsibilities of women in Limpopo villages, many of which have also been made more difficult or impossible because of the pandemic. She has especially highlighted the concern that mining companies may take advantage of the inability of villagers to exercise their cultural rights by further encroaching on ancestral lands and traditionally important sites.

Molomo has been active in advocacy for women’s rights, including women’s ability to cultivate food and preserve their traditions. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected African women’s traditional daily survival activities, which include gathering food and water for cooking and heating during the winter season. Due to the disruption, these practices and efforts have been fragmented, as they have been unable to carry out activities such as traveling to town to sell harvests for income. Restrictions on movement have also curtailed cultural rituals such as the visiting of mountains for annual initiation rites, the collection of herbs for the rain ritual, and the visiting of graveyards, which are important to the community but especially women. Molomo’s community has fought to protect heritage sites from mining considering this challenge.

Molomo has called to attention the tremendous impact the suspension of daily survival activities has had, not only on the entire community, but particularly on the wellbeing of women. Molomo has also emphasised the burdens women face from environmental impacts of non-compliant mining operations, given that women are often left to look after relatives who fall sick due to contaminated air and water. Additionally, due to mining activity, women will have to walk further distances to fetch water as nearby boreholes are dried up, and the mining dust generated by such operations leads to endless cleaning chores at home.