South Africa

Secrecy Bill Hearings Move to Bloemfontein

Public hearings on the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) are scheduled to continue in Bloemfontein in the Free State.

Organised by a Parliamentary ad hoc committee, the hearings have already taken place in Gugulethu and Thembalethu in the Western Cape and in Mthatha and Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

In the same vein, committee chairperson, Raseriti Tau, came under fire from opposition parties and activists who said the hearings have been manipulated to mislead the public and manufacture support for the contested draft law.

Staff Memo Rocks Lotto

A memo by National Lotteries Board senior staff claims that former chief executive, Vevek Ram, received pay from a lottery beneficiary with the full knowledge of the board and worked as CEO for 12 years without an employment contract.

The memo from a key national lottery funding committee lifts the lid on new allegations of corruption, incompetence and illegality in the organisation that controls about R3 billion in payouts annually.

South African Democracy Slipping – SAIRR

The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) says that key indicators of democracy in South Africa have slipped since 2008.

SAIRR researcher, Georgina Alexander, points out that the survey, which is based on assessment of three international indexes, found that civil liberties have decreased.

Alexander says the falling scores could be attributed to issues such as media freedom and accountability of public officials.

Call for Policy Framework on Energy

Tongaat Hulett says small-scale farmers would have a better chance of succeeding if the government finalised the regulatory framework enabling independent players to get into the generation of energy, including electricity and biofuels.

Tongaat Hulett chief executive officer, Peter Staude, has warned that the slow pace of consolidating the policy framework for electricity co-generation as well as the biofuels sector is frustrating the industry.

Presidency Uses Social Media Ahead of SoNA

The Presidency says that President Jacob Zuma will use social media to find out what is troubling South Africans ahead of his State of the Nation address on 9 February 2012.

In a press statement, it says that this year, his social networking has expanded to include Facebook, Twitter and e-mail.

Last year, Zuma used Facebook to encourage ordinary citizens to speak directly to him and to highlight the needs of communities.

Orphans Left In Lurch

The Emndeni Skills Development and Orphan Drop-in Centre, which offers activities such as food schemes, farming, business and computer skills to 550 Soweto residents, faces financial crisis.

The Centre’s programme manager, Nomaswazi Mhlaba, who says that they have applied for Lotto funds in January last year, states that, "Normally, it takes up to six months for the whole application and funding process to be completed."

Charities Lose Funding Due to Infighting

Three nonprofit organisations in the skills, social and environmental sectors could have received R58 million had it not been for the infighting between two Lotto bodies.

However, the tensions between the National Lotteries Board (NLB) and the distributing agencies have led to a situation where several NGOs have been unable to access funds.

An internal document also reveals how the NLB reversed a decision by one of the distribution agencies to fund three of the many dependent organisations last year.

NGO Urges Committee to Take Hearings ‘Seriously’

The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) says that given the dire straits in which the Gender Commission finds itself, the parliamentary portfolio committee responsible for the selection of new commissioners has a duty to take the process of public hearings seriously.

OSISA executive director, Sisonke Msimang, points out that the hearings that took place at the end of last week did little to inspire the confidence the commission so badly needs.

Idasa, Black Sash, Face Funding Crisis

Two long-standing organisations, Idasa and the Black Sash, say they are losing millions in funding, forcing them to close down crucial projects and retrench staff.

The two organisations say part of the problem in terms of securing international funding is that South Africa is no longer seen as being among the poorer countries.

Black Sash national director, Marcella Naidoo, points out that, “It’s a pity and a tragedy that we won’t be able to do the substantive work that we’re used to. We have always been resilient but this time, it’s particularly sad.”

Mokonyane Launches Service Delivery Hotline

Gauteng Premier, Nomvula Mokonyane, has launched a service delivery hotline in Pimville, Soweto.

Mokonyane, who described the hotline as an effort to improve communication with residents, stated that, “This platform will enable residents to escalate matters easily.”

She assured residents that agencies, who will operate the hotline from 07h00 to 22h00 each day, are trained to conduct work effectively. In addition, she maintained that a feedback will be issued within a period of three days.


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