- ‘The South African Child Gauge’ is the only publication in the country that provides an annual snap-shot of the status of South Africa’s children. Published by the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, this publication tracks South Africa’s progress towards realising children’s rights. The latest issue focuses on the theme ‘Healthy children: From survival to optimal development‘.
For more information, click here.
- Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities, Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, has called on South Africans to reject some traditional customs which she says are patriarchal and only serve to discriminate against women.
Mayende-Sibiya says women should be empowered and their role in nation-building should be appreciated.
Mayende-Sibiya says her department is in the process of ensuring that it gets a full staff complement in order to operate at full capacity and seriously deal with issues that affect women.
To read the article titled, “South Africans urged to reject patriarchal customs,” click here.Source:SABC News
- Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund (NMCF) says it did not receive the ‘diamonds’ Naomi Campbell, the British model, testified she gave to its former director, Jeremy Ratcliffe.
NMCF spokesperson, Oupa Ngwenya, says the Fund is unable to locate Ratcliffe, who is no longer its chief executive but a trustee, by phone.
Meanwhile, Campbell, who stated that Ratcliffe intended to use the stones for charity, added that she called him a year ago to ask what he had done with the stones, and he told her he still had them.
To read the article titled, “Mandela charity denies having Taylor diamonds,” click here.Source:The Citizen
- The Centre for Civil Society at the University of KwaZulu-Natal has urged government to create more jobs, build more houses and change its foreign policy to end xenophobia.
The Centre’s Patrick Bond points out that, “More and more refugees from Zimbabwe, Somalia and other parts of Africa are pouring into South Africa and are creating havoc in the country.”
“We simply cannot say, because the sparks that create these infernos of anger are unpredictable. We do know, however, that the underlying causes have not changed since 2008, namely unemployment, housing shortages,” argues Bond.
To read the article titled, “Create jobs to stop xenophobia: Prof,” click here.
- The National Lotteries Board has announced new regulations extend the reach of grants from the National Lottery Distribution Fund.
The new regulations mandate that 50 percent of money in the fund be used for specific priority areas to get the proceeds of the National Lottery to reinforce the government's efforts to relieve poverty and build a more equal society.
National Lotteries Board spokesperson, Sershan Naidoo, says that, "This new regulation does not preclude initiatives that don't fall within the remit; it simply guarantees an allocation to the poorest of the poor, as recognised by the minister."
In the same vein, CAF Southern Africa CEO, Colleen du Toit, says that though the areas highlighted are all critical, these are ‘functions that should be the responsibility of the developmental state’. Du Toit acknowledged the intent to make the application process easier, but said that management and administration remain a real problem.
To read the article titled, “Lotto rules to 'extend the reach' of grants,” click here.Source:All Africa
- The days of limited and expensive international bandwidth in South Africa are over as the EASSy cable became the second submarine cable to launch on the East coast of Africa.
MTN's Trevor Martin's, who also serves as the EASSy consortium's chairperson, has announced that the cable has come in ahead of schedule and almost 10 percent under its US$300 million budget.
The 10 000 kilometre cable lands in South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar, the Comores, Tanzania, Kenya, Somaliland, Djibouti and Sudan and connects with multiple Asian and European cables in Djibouti and Sudan.
To read the article titled, “EASSy cable open for business,” click here.Source:Mail&Guardian
- Environmentalists have served an application to controversial mining house Coal of Africa, as well as the Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, to stop activities at a proposed coalmine near Mapungubwe immediately.
The application served on Limpopo Coal, the subsidiary of Coal of Africa, is an attempt by the environmentalists to limit what has already been described an irreversible environmental damage.
The Mapungubwe Action Group (MAG), an umbrella group consisting out of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists, Peace Parks Foundation, WWF, Birdlife of South Africa and the Wilderness Foundation of South Africa, is driving the court action.
To read the article titled, “Mapungubwe Action Group take aim at mining firm,” click here.Source:Mail&Guardian
- Press Release
6 August 2010
A free press is essential to democracy, transparency and the attainment of equality
We are organisations that campaign for social justice. The success of our work is dependent on respect for the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. The right to free expression and freedom of the press and other media are essential components of democracy. That is why they are contained in the Bill of Rights. They are one of the essential means by which all people in South Africa, especially the vulnerable, exploited and poor, can hold government and the powerful private business sector to account.
This week Mzilikazi wa Afrika, a Sunday Times journalist, was arrested in Rosebank Johannesburg. The circumstances, manner and cause of his arrest all seem to point to intimidation by the state and attempts to suppress freedom of expression.
The arrest follows the exposure by the Sunday Times of questionable dealings by the National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele. It comes during a national debate over proposed legislation to curtail press freedom, i.e. proposals for a new Protection of Information Act, changes to the Criminal Procedure Act and the ANC's proposals to establish a media tribunal.
We therefore unequivocally condemn the arrest of wa Afrika.
The media in South Africa, as anywhere else in the world, is very powerful and influential. We are not blind to its many shortcomings. The quality of journalism in South Africa is often mediocre. Newspapers, magazines and television sometimes make serious errors, permit unethical advertising and sometimes make false charges against individuals.
We are concerned that the main media houses are overly concentrated in the hands of a few large corporations and consequently primarily represent the interests of a relatively small affluent portion of the population, thereby paying insufficient attention to the interests of poor and working class people.
There is undoubtedly a need for a better, more equal and more socially responsible media. There is a need for an informed public debate about the media, which the media should listen to. There is a need to democratise the media. There is a need for civil society oversight of the SABC to ensure that it is truly a public and politically independent broadcaster. There is a need to re-examine the institutions that are meant to govern the media and protect people from it abusing its power. There is a need to strengthen and enforce media ethics and to examine how this can be done.
But having said all this we restate that the non-negotiable starting point for this discussion is agreement that a free press plays a critical role in holding government, the private sector and their media competitors to account. Draconian anti-media legislation will make this impossible.
Over recent years there have been many occasions when serious media investigation and publication has helped to root out corruption and, expose wrongdoing and unethical conduct. This is vital to the reconstruction of SA. Thus the exposure and ultimate conviction of corrupt former Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, was a direct result of investigative work by the Mail & Guardian and others. Thabo Mbeki's deadly AIDS denialism was justifiably the source of media condemnation. The media's role in highlighting campaigns for social justice is also critical, for example the shortage of school libraries, the rollout of an unsafe circumcision device in Kwazulu-Natal, the failure to provide private toilets in parts of Khayelitsha, the harassment faced by sex workers and hate crimes against foreigners, women and gays and lesbians.
Unfortunately, we believe the crackdown on the media being encouraged by parts of government, some in the ANC and probably influential ‘tenderpreneurs’ and predatory elites is not aimed at improving the quality and responsibility of the media, or making it more equal. Instead it is aimed at hiding corruption, frustrating accountability and covering up service delivery failure. These are problems that now permeate every level of government; at national level, in all nine provinces and in most districts.
The Constitution was won by the sweat and blood of people who opposed and defeated apartheid censorship and repression. A brave, even if unfree, media played a part in this. We therefore wish to issue a warning to the Cabinet and all those groups and individuals that we will campaign against all attempts to undermine press freedom and the Constitution. We are committed to equality, social justice and honest government. We will defend the Bill of Rights. We will not be intimidated and we will not stand by and let the erosion of our fundamental freedoms happen.
Released by (in alphabetical order): Abahlali baseMjondolo, AIDC, Anti Privatisation Forum, Equal Education, Landless People's Movement, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP), Rural Network, Social Justice Coalition, SECTION27, Students for Law and Social Justice, SWEAT, Treatment Action Campaign, Unemployed People's Movement, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign.
Abahlali baseMjondolo, together with with Landless People's Movement (Gauteng), the Rural Network (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, is part of the Poor People's Alliance - a national network of democratic membership based poor people's movements.
Abahlali baseMjondolo http://www.abahlali.org
Khayelitsha Struggles http://www.khayelitshastruggles.com/
Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign http://antieviction.org.za/
To contact Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban please email abahlalibasemjonfolo [at] telkom.sa.net or phone 031 - 304 6420
To contact Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cape Town please email abmwesterncape [at] abahlali.org or phone Mzonke Poni on 073 246 2036
To contact the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, also in Cape Town, email aec [at] antieviction.org.za or phone Ashraf Cassiem at 076 186 1408.
To contact the Landless People's Movement in Gauteng email Bongani Xezwi at bongani.xezwi [at] gmail.com or phone Maureen Mnisi on 082 337 4514.
To contact the Rural Network in KwaZulu-Natal contact email ruralnetwork.kzn[ at] gmail.com or phone Reverend Mavuso on 072 279 2634.
AbM Facebook Group:http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&gid=19659923423
AEC Facebook Group:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Western-Cape-Anti-Eviction-Campaign-AEC/8432492420
Abahlali baseMjondolo Solidarity Campaign Network UK
Abahlali baseMjondolo Solidarity Group Namibia http://respectnamibia.ning.com/groups/group/show?id=3153753%3AGroup%3A60...
Solidarity with Abahlali baseMjondolo in Italy http://clandestino.carta.org/category/mondiali
Solidarity with the Poor People's Alliance in Germany http://akkrise.wordpress.com/sudafrika/
Land & Freedom!Date published:06/08/2010Organisation:Social Justice Organisations
- Press Release
6 August 2010
The FXI views recent developments in the media environment as cause for considerable concern.
Amidst renewed calls for a media appeals tribunal by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and its alliance partner the South African Communist Party (SACP), various incidents over the recent past have exacerbated fears about attempts by the state to gain greater control over the media. At the other end of the spectrum, concerns have been voiced about journalistic professionalism and inept attempts to control media workers from within media organisations. All this comes at a time when several pieces of legislation currently under consideration by the state could seriously limit freedom of expression and particularly, freedom of the media. The most draconian of these is potentially the Protection of Information Bill currently before parliament, on which the FXI has made submissions, and which was analysed in a separate press release.
The day after his story exposing alleged irregularities in tender proceedings within the police service was published, Sunday Times journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika was arrested at his workplace by a large contingent of policemen. Combined with the insistence by members of government that the Protection of Information Bill should be passed despite its sweeping ambit and its potential to severely limit the scope of investigative journalism, wa Afrika’s arrest has widely been interpreted as a threat to media freedom and a harbinger of future attempts to limit the press. Wa Afrika has since been released on bail.
Secondly, the ANC has published a discussion document on “Media Transformation, Ownership and Diversity”, in which calls for a media appeals tribunal are re-iterated. The SACP’s General Secretary, Blade Nzimande, has also called for a “a media tribunal that will hold journalists accountable” and for punitive measures against journalists who publish false reports.
The Times newspaper, under the headline “Jail Journalists- Nzimande”, misrepresented Nzimande’s statement, and subsequently issued a weak retraction. By contrast, in the same week, the Business Day newspaper prominently featured a front-page apology to a cabinet minister for publishing a story from a single uncorroborated source.
Several of the criticisms regarding monopolies on media ownership and the need to ensure that media practitioners adhere to a code of ethics are valid ones. Media practitioners are not above the law and must operate within the parameters of responsibility and accountability, acknowledging mistakes with dignity and grace when these occur. They must also be able to function without fear of political intimidation or punishment when what they report is not flattering to those in power.
The FXI does not believe that the proposed legislation currently being considered presents appropriate solutions to the problems noted here. Nor is a state-controlled media appeals tribunal the answer. Instead, such measures will create new problems that could further impact the right of the South African public to access a diverse range of independent media who can operate without fear, favour or prejudice.
Rather, criticisms of the current Press Ombud’s Office need to be constructively addressed in order to strengthen the Ombud and enable it to be more proactive. An analysis of best practice in countries that enjoy a vibrant and diverse media environment might be useful in this regard.
Various high-ranking members of government have attempted to reassure practitioners that the proposed legislation and other measures are not intended to limit free expression and independent media. While this may be so, governments and domestic polity change, but laws often endure through various administrations. Legislation such as the Protection of Information Bill, which would confer extremely wide-ranging powers to classify information on the pretext of ‘national interest’, could potentially be used by a more conservative future administration for repressive purposes. In the southern African region alone, there are sobering examples that highlight the manipulation of existing laws by regimes seeking to limit free expression and independent media. South Africans need to be vigilant to ensure that no law enters the statute books that could, at some point, be used to suppress the hard-won freedoms that comprise our Bill of Rights.
Finally, Avusa Media has suspended journalist Mawande Jack, president of the Mandela Bay Media Association, reportedly for recruiting co-workers into the Communications Workers Union (CWU), and distributing union materials to co-workers. Reports indicate that this is not the first time Avusa in the Eastern Cape has moved to limit the rights of its employees to join unions and participate in their activities. A picket protest was organised outside Avusa’s Port Elizabeth offices in solidarity with Mr Jack on Thursday and Friday. Given the fears of state-driven limitations on freedom of expression noted above, it is ironic that a major media house is seemingly intent on limiting the rights of its own employees. The FXI urges all media organs to uphold the constitutional rights of employees, including the rights to freedom of association and to freely access and impart information.
The FXI is committed to protecting and advancing the right to freedom of expression, as enshrined in the South African constitution, together with the associated rights to access and impart information, and to freedom of the media.
Enquiries: Ayesha Kajee, Executive Director, Freedom of Expression Institute
Phone: 083 500 74 86Date published:06/08/2010Organisation:Freedom of Expression Institute
- Press Release
9 August 2010
Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is deeply concerned about the disproportionate and unbalanced accusations about the print media and its journalists made by the ANC in its discussion document: 2010 - Media Transformation, ownership and diversity.
MMA acknowledges that there are key issues facing the print media:
- Concentration of ownership vs. the need for diversity of ownership
- Commercial imperatives and sensationalism at the expense of the public interest
- The need to strengthen the current self-regulatory system
- Equality and accessibility
- Media freedom accompanied by responsible and ethical reporting
The document unambiguously accuses the media of irresponsible and unfair reporting. However it could be accused of doing the very thing that it condemns, making unsubstantiated accusations:
- It suggests that Parliament would appoint those sitting on a MAT: “this will guarantee independence, transparency, accountability and fairness” (point 106). This argument is flawed as Parliament is currently dominated by the ANC and as such, is naturally weighted in favour of this party and its policies.
- The document asserts that the Press Ombudsman is not independent as he is a former journalist. It suggests he therefore demonstrates bias towards the media (point 98). However it provides no proof to back up this assertion, such as past rulings by the Press Ombudsman that would point to an inherent bias.
- The ANC claims that citizens have complained to it that they have been victims of unfair and unsatisfactory decisions by the system currently in place (point 88). Again there are no statistics or other evidence provided to support this claim.
- According to this document a “…cursory scan on the print media reveals an astonishing degree of dishonesty, lack of professional integrity and lack of independence. Editorials distancing the paper from these acts and apologies which are never given due prominence and mostly which has to be forced through the press ombudsman are not sufficient in dealing with this ill” (point 58). That the ANC concedes that this serious allegation is based on a “cursory glance” is simply unacceptable. It is MMA’s experience, after 17 years monitoring the media, that while violations occur, for the most part these allegations are simply untrue. However to ensure that we have a clear picture of media behaviour MMA is about to begin a monitoring project that will give us concrete evidence about media performance, identifying failures as well as strengths, which ought to form the basis of future change.
The document says: “As South Africans we know the full meaning of unregulated power and unbridled capitalism of the barons experienced by other societies through time” (point 59 and 60). However this is one side of the argument. We also know only too well the dangers of the over-regulation of print media.
Commercial imperatives and sensationalism must not be at the expense of the public interest and a diversity of views. However this concept must not be used as a means to condone undue control of the media. Self regulation needs to be strengthened rather than South Africa adopting a course of action that will, inadvertently or otherwise, muzzle the media. There must be a clear distinction between the media’s democratic role of being a watchdog of those in power and on the other hand irresponsible and unethical reporting.
Of course the media could do better. MMA supports efforts to improve and encourage greater public ownership of the press code, to ensure that the public is empowered to access an effective and transparent complaints procedure and that justice is done and is seen to be done.
A popular legal adage says “hard cases make bad law”. We need to make sure that a minority of instances of questionable, sensational or dubious reporting does not lead us to adopt a course of action that future generations will regret. Media is essential to the development and deepening of democracy, and a media with faults is better than a media muzzled.
For further comment please contact:
- William Bird +27 (0)82 887 1370
- Prinola Govendin +27 (0)72 708 1320
Director & Ashoka Fellow
Media Monitoring Africa
Media Monitoring Project
Mb: +2782 887 1370
Tel: +2711 788 1278
Fax: +2711 788 1289
PO Box 1560
Parklands 2121, Johannesburg
South AfricaDate published:09/08/2010Organisation:Media Monitoring Africa