South Africa

Initiative to Help Slash Illiteracy

The Stellenbosch University has announced a new initiative to help slash illiteracy rates in South Africa.

The organisation ‘Words Open Worlds’ or ‘WOW’, which has been distributing books in rural and disadvantaged communities, has reached around 30 000 people since the beginning of 2011.

WOW’s Fiona Van Kerwel says too many South Africans are simply not able to lay their hands on books.

“The main problem is South Africa I would say is the accessibility of people to resources,” Van Kerwel.

Call for Zuma to Act Against Corruption

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) is urging President Jacob Zuma to step up the fight against corruption.

In a press statement, CASAC spokesperson, Masutane Modjadji, points out that the organisation has noted the president's affirmation of the government's commitment to the fight against corruption in his address to media owners last week.

Modjadji argues that, "The recognition that corruption undermines the government's ability to deliver on its mandate to the people of South Africa is a rallying call to steadfastly combat it.”

NGO Warns Government on Circumcision

A medical advocacy group, Medical Rights Advocacy Network, has warned that the KwaZulu-Natal health department's decision to allow circumcisions at state hospitals will fuel an illicit trade in foreskins.

The group’s Dr Uttam Govind has written to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, KwaZulu-Natal premier Dr Zweli Mkhize and health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, urging them to stop the planned circumcision programme, which starts in April 2012.

SA Healthcare System Fails Pregnant Women

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that a lack of oversight and accountability by the government has resulted in an increase in cases of abuse and death of pregnant women.

HRW researcher, Agnes Odhiambo, points out that, "The South African healthcare system has failed women during the critical time of childbirth, and the government has admitted this."

Odhiambo warns that despite the country’s good intentions, policies and strategies on paper will not save women's lives without strong accountability systems to make sure policies are carried out.

Renting RDP Homes Worries Municipality

The Buffalo City Metro Municipality has received a number of complaints about recipients of RDP houses profiting illegally from their subsidised homes.

The municipality spokesperson, Samkelo Gqeba, points out that, "As part of its housing education campaigns, the metro discourages people from selling or renting because this impacts negatively on government's efforts to curb informal settlements."

Gceba states that of major concern is what is going to happen when work is finally complete on two major housing projects in the metro.

SA Urged to Rethink Nuclear Energy

Greenpeace has urged the Minister of Energy to reconsider the role of nuclear energy in South Africa and put a moratorium on any new nuclear reactors at least until the safety implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have been fully evaluated.

In its new report ‘The True Cost of Nuclear Power in South Africa’, presented to the Department of Energy, Greenpeace discusses social and economic impacts of the country's nuclear programme in the past, and examines the benefits of a nuclear-free future.

UN: COP17 Preparations on Track

The United Nations representatives say preparations for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17) conference to be held in Durban, are going smoothly.

Conference coordinator, Salwa Dallalah, is quoted as saying that, “We are moving very well and we are on target. We will finish our work soon.”

A United Nations delegation, the departments of environmental affairs and international relations, and the city of Durban were briefing media on the state of readiness for the conference.

Whites Dominate Top Management in SA

According to the Commission on Employment Equity, whites still occupy 73.6 percent of top management positions in South Africa.

According to the Commission’s 11th annual report released this week, blacks make up 12.7 percent of top management, Indians 6.8 percent and coloureds 4.6 percent.

In the same vein, Labour Minister, Mildred Oliphant, has expressed her disappointed at the slow pace of reform at top management. "We really have to take drastic measures to deal with the situation," she explains.

Men, Women, Urged to End Patriarchy

South African Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe, says that changing patriarchal attitudes are one of the main gender-related problems in the country.

In a speech prepared for delivery at Women’s Month conference in Boksburg, east of Johannesburg, Motlanthe called on both men and women to work in partnership to change these attitudes and practices.

Police Murder Rate Decline – SAIRR

The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) says the number of murdered police officers has declined by 61.9 percent since 1994.

In a press statement, SAIRR points out that, "This is contrary to some sentiment expressed in the past week that South Africa's police officers are being murdered at an ever greater rate."

The Institute states that while every murder of a police officer is a tragedy, it is necessary to point out that considerable progress has been made in reducing the number of killings.

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