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Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, delivered the 2013/4 National Budget to Parliament on 27 February 2013 in Cape Town. This year’s budget was overshadowed by a number of development challenges including the recent de-registration of an estimated 36 000 NGOs and the closure of many others due to lack of donor funding, the shortage of textbooks in disadvantaged schools, increasing incidents of gender-based violence, and the pending introduction of e-tolls, among others.  
With the State of the Nation Address and the 2013/14 Budget speech behind us, we now more than before have a gripping awareness that the South African reality is one that will need a lot more input before it is what we as South Africans need it to be.  
By Caroline Lowings On 7 February 2013, a stellar panel of leading education thought leaders united on stage for the 'No Excuses Schools' conversation event at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. The panel included:
It is that time of the year again. Following the State of the Nation speech by President Zuma on 14 February 2013, the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, will deliver the 2013/4 National Budget speech on Wednesday, 27 February 2013, in Cape Town. As in the past few years, SANGONeT will once again produce a special edition of our weekly NGO Pulse e-newsletter to highlight various civil society responses to the National Budget.
On 14 February 2013, President Zuma delivered the State of the Nation Address to Parliament. For many NGOs and activists, Zuma and the government should invest in intensifying the fight against corruption and gender-based violence, improving education, stimulating job creation and tackling the many socio-economic hardships faced by the poor - since they pose a serious threat to the future of the country’s 19-year old democracy.
2012 has been a tough year for civil society. Those funding cuts that we’d been warned of since the crash in 2008, were keenly felt. The President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) wrapped up its second five year programme, the Europeans curtailed their investments, the United Kingdom Department of International Development (DIFID) restructured. The retraction in international funding was exacerbated by instability in local funding as the National Lottery in trying to get its house in order, struggled to deliver on its grant mandate.
A couple of weeks ago, I was visiting Trudie, a child care worker in one of our trauma houses for young girls. As manager of childcare services I have a pretty good idea of each child’s situation and what they require in terms of care. Jeanette, a 13-year-old girl, who has been with us for just over a year was hovering in the background and trying to get our attention. I suggested to Trudie that she attend to the child. She turned around, gave Jeanette one look and ordered: “Jeanette, go to your room at once.” I was stunned. Why so harsh? And more, why did the child obey?
The phrase ‘it starts with the person in the mirror’ is often used as a call to action. A way of telling us we should be the change we want to see. It’s a cliché that’s inspired many into doing some great things, be it cleaning up their environment or even volunteering for a good cause. But I believe we only grasp the phrase at surface level, ignoring the deeper meaning it possesses. When we think of the person in the mirror we shouldn’t only translate it as a call to action, we should start by thinking about our motives and interrogating why we want to take action.
The Minimum Standards on Shelters for Abused Women recognises that ‘shelters represent an absolutely critical point of crisis intervention’ and places a duty on the Department of Social Development to ensure that shelter interventions are able to meet basic needs and provide support, counselling and skills development to women. In order to deliver quality services however, shelters must have adequate resources.

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