South Africa

South Africa

  • SANEF Rejects the Proposed Tribunal

    The South African National Editor’s Forum (SANEF) has expressed its ‘strong rejection’ of renewed proposals for a state-appointed tribunal and a growing slate of new legislation that is ‘hostile’ to the free flow of information to South Africans.

    In a statement following its annual general meeting in Johannesburg, SANEF points out that the proposed tribunal will go against the existing system of self-regulation which involves the media and members of the public, and will be unconstitutional.

    In addition, SANEF expressed its support for the Press Council Code of Conduct and encouraged editors to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to violations.

    To read the article titled, “SA editors reject ANC media tribunal proposal,” click here.
    Sunday Times
  • Communications Minister 'Releases' DG

    Communications Minister, Siphiwe Nyanda, has released the department’s director-general, Mamodupi Mohlala, from her contract with immediate effect.

    In a press statement, the department spokesperson, Tiyani Rikhotso, points out that, “In the process of trying to find solutions to the challenges, it subsequently became apparent that trust between the minister (Siphiwe Nyanda) and the director general has broken down irretrievably."

    Rikhotso denied that Mohlala was released from her contract because of tender issues mentioned in the media, adding that the department recently faced a number of challenges relating to internal processes and procedure.

    To read the article titled, “Minister forces DG out,” click here.
  • Participation Required: Academic Study Into Open-Source Software Usage by South African NGOs am a student and fellow civil-society employee working towards my Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree in Information Systems at the University of Cape Town (UCT). I am working on a research assignment as part of these studies. This blog is intended to inform and request your participation in this research as it will allow me to gain an understanding of the experiences of South African NGOs in terms of software selection and use. As incentive I have a R250 gift voucher that will go to one lucky survey participant.

    I kindly request you to participate in this research by completing the survey questionnaire found here: SURVEY LINK. Your input is very important and will remain anonymous. If you know of a partner NGO that may be willing to participate, please forward them this link. My research purpose is to understand the selection and use of software by South African NGOs (with a focus on open source software adoption). As previously mentioned your participation will remain completely anonymous and the hope is that a national view of software selection by the NGO sector will be possible.

    The collective findings of this study will be captured in a report that will be presented to the University of Cape Town for academic purposes. The findings may also be published in an academic journal or presented at a conference if the information is deemed of academic value.

    Completing the questionnaire should take no longer than 20 minutes.

    Important: You do not have to complete the survey questionnaire. Participation is voluntary. However, by participating you will be eligible for a R250 gift voucher or gift of the equivalent amount. One participant will be contacted and will receive this gift.

    For more information please contact the following:

    Gregory Rowles (Researcher)

    Prof. JP Van Belle (Research Supervisor)


  • Scientists Proclaim Breakthrough in HIV Prevention

    Scientists have proclaimed a breakthrough in research into the use of an antiretroviral microbicide which they say could prevent more than 500 000 new HIV infections in South Africa alone over the next decade.

    The scientists say that an experiment with a trial group of South African women shows that those who used a vaginal gel containing tenofovir, an antiretroviral drug, were 39 percent less likely to become infected with HIV during sex than those who did not use it.

    They say the gel is also 51 percent effective in preventing genital herpes infections in the women participating in the trial, noting that women with genital herpes run a high risk of HIV infection.

    To read the article titled, “Scientists proclaim breakthrough in HIV prevention,” click here.
    All Africa
  • NMF Speaks Out Against Xenophobia

    The Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) has expressed concern about rumours surfacing that there are negative sentiments arising towards non-nationals in South Africa.

    NMF chief executive, Achmat Dangor, points out that South Africans should not blame other people for their troubles.

    He blames the aggressive and hostile policies of the apartheid regime, which he says have undermined the economic development of the neighbouring countries.

    To read the article titled, “Mandela Foundation speaks out against xenophobia,” click here.
  • Abandoned Children on the Increase in SA

    More than 2 000 children are abandoned annually in South Africa because of AIDS, poverty, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies, according to Child Welfare South Africa (CWSA).

    The organisation has also revealed that mothers, particularly economic migrants and asylum seekers from neighbouring countries, are abandoning their children in big numbers at hospitals after birth.

    Acting Gauteng coordinator of CWSA, Megan Briede, has been quoted as saying that between 2000 and 2300 cases of child abandonment and neglect have been recorded over the last three years, an increase of between eight percent and 10 percent year on year.

    To read the article titled, “More than 2 000 kids abandoned annually,” click here.

    Sunday Times
  • World Cup Experience to be Used to Improve Housing

    The Department of Human Settlements says it will use the experience gained during construction of World Cup stadiums to improve the delivery of houses by 2030.

    Minister Tokyo Sexwale, points out that, “I have declared that by 2030 children who are born this year should be able to access houses and flats.”

    Sexwale says his businesses had benefited from the construction of the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, adding that in return, the businesses will build more than 50 000 houses as a social investment.

    To read the article titled, “SA to use WCup experience to improve housing delivery,” click here.
    The Citizen
  • The Code is Embraced by South Africa’s Tourism Sector to Combat and Prevent Child Sexual Exploitation

    South Africa. At least 40 000 children in South Africa are exploited as child prostitutes each year.  The number of trafficked and exploited children is not known. Tourists, visiting businessmen and locals, sexually abuse and exploit these trafficked and enslaved children.

    Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) has brought the Child-Protection Code of Conduct (The Code) to South Africa. The Code is an instrument of self-regulation and corporate social responsibility, which provides increased protection to children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. Thirty South African tourism businesses have signed The Code. This commitment requires adherence to six criteria that have been found to effectively prevent and combat commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC):

    1. Establish an ethical policy regarding commercial sexual exploitation of children
    2. Train personnel in the country of origin and travel destinations
    3. Introduce a clause in contracts with suppliers, stating a common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children
    4. Provide information to travelers by means of catalogues, brochures, in-flight films, ticket-slips, home pages, etc
    5. Provide information to local “key persons” at the destinations
    6. Report annually.

    Although South Africa is not a renowned child trafficking destination, certain realities in South Africa create the perfect backdrop for the exploitation of children:  the inflow of tourists, the ease with which people can cross its borders, high poverty levels and the lack of a specific anti-human trafficking law. South Africa has not yet made all forms of human trafficking illegal.  These deficiencies allow trafficked and exploited children into South Africa where they remain largely undetected and perpetrators escape punishment.

    South Africa’s tourism businesses have shown their commitment to prevent and help exploited children by signing and implementing The Code.  These businesses have been training their staff, repudiating the sexual exploitation of children and educating their customers with posters and flyers. These two events in Johannesburg (8 June) and Cape Town (9 June) showcased thirty signatories, mainly South African companies that are new to The Code: 

    Abang Africa Trust, Avis, Bickley House and Antrim Villa, Budget, Cape Grace, Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), Cape Town Tourism, City Lodge Hotels Ltd., City Sightseeing, Coral International Cape Town, Don Suites, Europcar, Fairfield Tours South Africa, First Car Rental, Greenways Hotel, Hotel le Vendome, Hertz, Peech Hotel, Peermont Hotels and Casinos, Protea Hotels, Radisson Hotels & Resorts, Southern Sun, Spier, Taj Cape Town, The Backpack and Africa Travel Centre, Thebe Tourism Group, Tourvest Group, Westin Grand Cape Town Arabella Quays and Winchester Mansions.
  • Infrastructure Investment Means More than Buildings

    Part of improving the levels of quality in education and health is providing infrastructure that responds to global needs in terms of skills, technology and sports.

    One of the critical success factors to the growth of the South African economy is infrastructure investment. Key areas of government expenditure, which account for more than half of the total public sector infrastructure investment and incorporate all spheres, are: provincial and local roads, bulk water infrastructure and water supply networks, energy distribution, housing, schools and clinics, business centres, sports facilities, and multi-purpose government service centres, including police stations, courts and correctional facilities.

    This is still, to a large extent, catering to the basic needs of previously disadvantaged communities in rural areas and townships, which represent the majority of the population in South Africa.

    South Africa, as a developing economy, needs to start responding to the pressures of being a global player by producing the highest levels of quality in education and health as one of its primary objectives. Part of improving these levels of quality is providing infrastructure that responds to global needs in terms of skills, technology, sports, etc. In the case of education, much focus has been on eradicating classrooms under trees and on providing sanitation in schools.

    Through coordinated partnerships with government, business is able to offer much-needed support to this part of their corporate social investment initiatives. An example is the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund and the De Beers Fund, both in partnership with the Limpopo Department of Education through the Rural Schools Programme.

    In 2009, this programme was able to provide not only classrooms but waterborne toilets, water tanks and boreholes, science laboratories, libraries, computer centres, cooking areas and administration blocks. With these facilities, children can focus on learning, teachers are afforded a good working environment and cooking for children is done in hygienic environments. The next step of the programme could be to provide actual equipment for the facilities provided i.e. computers, laboratory equipment, projectors, etc. This would ensure that even a school in the most rural part of Limpopo Province would be able to access the World Wide Web, perform experiments and embark on research projects, among other things.

    However, infrastructure alone is not a complete solution without capacity-building of the teachers and parents. In most cases, a school’s success is dependent on the involvement of parents in their children’s education, as well as the ability of the education system to support the teachers.

    Leadership is the single biggest success factor in a school; therefore, principals and school governing bodies need serious development interventions if South African schools are to compete at a global level. These interventions, therefore, need to be part of the deliverables when embarking on infrastructure projects. Infrastructure projects in this context should include the social aspects of that particular environment as project success factors, and not just a building.

    There is still a great need to monitor these investments. Monitoring, evaluation and review will play a key role in informing the formulation of further strategies in response to the developmental needs of the South African economy. The goal in education should be to have all schools in South Africa as whole schools, where a child is able to develop academically, socially and physically in interactive classrooms, labs, lecture halls, art studios, libraries, theatre halls and sports fields.

    Tshikululu’s approach to capital building projects and infrastructure investment is one of balance. We combine compassion for the dreams of the community with whom the project is undertaken, and understanding of the challenges inherent in construction. Read more about our capital projects services.

    - Victor Modiba is capital projects consultant to Tshikululu Social Investments.
  • The NonProfit Sector Provides Sustainable Solutions Where Business Fails

    Entrepreneurship has a key role in society, not least in business which exists for profit. But business cannot do everything. It is the non-profit sector (NPO), however, that has the edge in working for the interests of you and me, the ordinary people in the community. So why does business criticise civil society for not operating like a business.

    Along with an obsession about measuring the impact of organisations; the attempted application of King III principles to the nonprofit sector; the emergence of rating agencies to advise donors which organisations are good or bad (against business standards) and complaints about salaries paid to non-profit personnel, there seems to be a misunderstanding of the role of civil society and the contribution it makes to our lives.

    Lest there be any misunderstanding, I must stress that I am not against business or entrepreneurship.  So why am I writing about this? 

    Firstly, while business is a key component of our society and provides jobs and services, there is a great deal that business cannot do. 

    Secondly, I am tired of people making assumptions about the civil society sector so that organisations are only seen through the prism of ‘charity’. There are thousands of civil society organisations and very few are just ‘charities’. 

    Charity implies giving to the needy – providing for the immediate needs of destitute people. Although there are organisations that do this and play an important role, most NGOs run programmes that do not just alleviate needs, but also transform people’s lives. These are development organisations – not charities. 

    And thirdly, the critique that somehow ‘charities’ need to function like businesses is unreasonable. Nonprofits cannot be run like businesses – their whole reason for being is not about profit and production, but about social change. Their trustees or board members do not earn directors’ emoluments; they do their work for social benefit.
    Running a non-profit is as complex, and probably more complex, than running a business because of issues of accountability to a wide range of stakeholders – their board, beneficiaries, donors and the public. There are multiple layers of nuanced relationships and networks on which every non-profit relies for success.  It has far less control on its outcomes than a for-profit as it is dependent on people and relationships outside the organisation, from funding through to social impact.
    It’s time to move on from the antediluvian concept of ‘charity’ as the notion that some rich man’s wife is running a ‘help group’ to keep her busy and therefore charity leaders should not receive fair pay for their work.  And it must be said that excessive salaries are not nearly as common as in business. In fact it is hard to conceive how one can even compare non-profit salaries with the business sector.
    The latter usually offers attractive financial perks such as share options, massive retirement packages, company cars, entertainment allowances. Reports abound of executives who leave their jobs with fat cat ‘bonuses’, let alone those who receive payout deals to cover up their wrongdoing or as part of the political power play.   It is thus astonishing that business people feel they can pontificate on how non-profits should be run.
    In contrast, the way business is practised has led to some of the key problems in the world.

    Two of these, poverty and climate, are based on the concept of extraction, a business principle. Thanks to this, our earth is warming and millions of people have been marginalised and abused with the resultant poverty that is overwhelming us, aggravated by the financial crisis with its genesis in questionable banking practices globally.
    Justifiably it can be asked what happens if a non-profit abuses its funding? The abuse of funds can never be defended and organisations must account for their expenditure and income to donors and stakeholders. However, in comparison to business this is small change. We have just seen the massive corruption in banks and financial services companies, the bedrock of business, which led to the global recession. Are these the practices that the non-profit sector is being asked to emulate?

    Against this civil society can cite significant achievements, done without using business principles. Amongst these are the abolition of slavery (opposed by business), the environmental movement (derided by business as tree huggers), the right to ARV treatment in South Africa and the women’s movement, not forgetting the pressure on the SA government to change in the 1970s and 1980s.
    The belief that those days are over is naive. Who will protect the freedom of the press, who will protect our human rights, who will continue to push the women’s agenda when it has fallen off government’s programme, who will stand against violence against children and who will campaign against global warming? Who is working with the poor to ensure that business people can sleep safe and sound?  Not business. Its role remains profit. Where social responsibility has become a part of operations, it is a side-show and not its core business.

    So is the non-profit sector just an easy scapegoat, maybe because civil society holds business and government to account?

    Non-profits are not just the sum total of their service delivery, but have a social, economic and political role to play. This doesn’t fit the neat little concept of ‘charity’, but is the reality of what is a dynamic and innovative sector doing the non-extractive work of our world. These are not “charities”, but organisations society cannot do without.
    They are not making profit, but they are working for your and my interests.  We should be thankful they exist. Without them, societies descend into darkness.

    Shelagh Gastrow is executive director at Inyathelo – the South African Institute for Advancement. This article first appeared in the Cape Argus newspaper. It is republished here with the permission of the author.
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