South Africa

Union Defends the Constitutional Court

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general-secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, has defended the Constitutional Court, which is facing a judicial review by the government.

Vavi points out that, "We remain convinced that there is no basis to reduce the powers of the Constitutional Court to review the decisions of the legislature or executive."

He has been quoted as saying that the Constitutional Court handed down valuable judgments that ‘cemented key socio-economic rights for the working class majority’.

Lack of Commitment Dooms Africa's Human Rights Court

According an article by Webster Zambara of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights received a total of 10 cases, despite countless human rights violations across the continent.

Zambara says that even the deadline for an essay competition for law students in African universities to promote the court and its activities, has been extended from 31 January to 30 June because of too few takers.

Call to Allocate Percentage of Budget to Women

The Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana, has called for concrete measures to see that part of the national budget is allocated to women, children and people with disabilities.

Xingwana says that gender budgets, which have been introduced over the years in 40 countries around the world, are part of the United Nations-Beijing Platform for Action commitments, which call for an integration of a gender perspective into budgetary decision-making.

DENOSA Welcomes Health Funding

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) has welcomed Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan’s decision to allocate additional funding to health.

In a press statement, the union points out that, "We are delighted that health will receive an additional R12.3 billion over the next three years with R45 million allocated to nursing colleges."

It further describes the move as a good step in dealing with the ‘chronic’ staff shortages in nursing and in ensuring that there was sufficient personnel to deliver healthcare.

Lungisa Criticised for Budget Comments

The Democratic Alliance Youth has criticised the chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Andile Lungisa, for rejecting Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s R376 million budget allocation to the agency.

The Democratic Alliance Youth director, Aimee Franklin, points out that the NYDA has been unable to spend the budget that they have responsibly.

Aimee cites the World Festival of Youth and Students as a prime example of misspending by the NYDA.

Manyi Defends Govt Over Judiciary

The government insists that a proposed assessment of the Constitutional Court's judgments is not an attempt to undermine judicial independence.

Spokesperson, Jimmy Manyi, has been quoted as saying that, “We don't want to review the Constitutional Court, we want to review its powers."

Manyi also states that the assessment is an evaluation of the impact of the country’s jurisprudence on the democratisation process.

Call for Safety Net for the Poor

The issues on people’s minds hours before the 2012/13 National Budget ranged from interests in what he will do for the country, and what he is likely to deliver for individuals. This is according to an article by the New Age’s Gugu Myeni.

Myeni states that a few prickly points on South Africans’ minds include questions on how the Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s plan will speak to President Jacob Zuma’s recently pronounced infrastructure development programme.

Social Grants Recipients to Increase – Gordhan

Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, says the number of South Africans receiving social grants will swell to 16.7 million over the next three years.

Tabling the 2012/13 Budget in Parliament, Gordhan stated that by the end of 2011, nearly 15.3 million people were eligible for social grants, compared to 2.5 million in 1998.

He said despite the rapid growth in the number of beneficiaries, however, spending on social grants will decline as a percentage of GDP -- from 3.5 percent in 2011/12, to 3.2 percent by 2014/15.

Government to Train Farmers

The government will train more than 2 000 small farmers over the next year in cost-effective farming methods.

According to documents tabled with the 2012/13 Budget in Parliament, the Estimates of the National Expenditure says that the farmers will also be advised, by the department of rural development and land reform on which crops to plant.

Police Violence on the Rise – NGO

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) says that police violence appears to be on the rise.

ISS senior researcher, Johan Burger, points out that, “There are on average 100 police officers killed in this country every year and so these are things that go on in the minds of police officials,” he explains.

He adds that this still does not excuse the police from acting outside the law themselves and says that he thinks that this is something that the public would want to have much more assurances on.

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