Open Letter to President Jacob Zuma: Protection of Information Bill

His Excellency Jacob Zuma

President of the Republic of South Africa
Union Buildings
Private Bag X1000,
South Africa

BY FAX: +27 12 323 8246

19 August 2010

Your Excellency,

We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum, which represent 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries, to express our serious concern at two recent moves by the ruling ANC that seriously threaten press freedom in South Africa.

An Unceasing Restlessness

  “In the presence of a member of the Party, the people are silent […] But when the evening comes, away from the village, in the cafes or by the river, the bitter unceasing anger makes itself heard” - Franz Fanon

The time has come for us to give power back to the people. The working poor are exhausted by the cycle of poverty that traps them in informal settlements and townships where seething anger against the state often breaks out into violence and mounting xenophobic attacks as people compete for scarce resources.

Call for Special Courts in Xenophobia Cases

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has recommended to the portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development that government set up special courts to deal with xenophobia-related cases.

The SAHRC, which presented its findings on research into the aftermath of the 2008 xenophobic attacks, found that victims of xenophobia had not received proper justice because there were so few convictions related to the attacks.

Porous Borders Allow Human Trafficking to Flourish

Jose Antonio* admits he has never been employed in the formal sector. For the past ten years, Antonio has plied his trade at Ressano Garcia, the busiest border post between South Africa and Mozambique, assisting undocumented migrants to travel across the border. "It's easy when you have enough money," says Antonio.

Zuma, Youth, Mark Youth Day

President Jacob Zuma has praised the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) for its work in improving the lives of young people, but remained baffled by people who torched public buildings to complain about services.

Speaking during this year’s Youth Day commemoration in Thulamahashe, Mpumalanga, Zuma pointed out that, “It is still baffling as to why someone would torch down a clinic because they do not have a school or destroy a library because the water taps have run dry."

Politicians Stole Billions Since Independence

Nigeria has lost more than US$300 billion to corrupt leaders since independence in 1960. This is according to that country’s chairperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Commission (ICPC), Justice Emmanuel Ayoola.

Ayoola, who spoke at a sensitisation lecture on corruption at the Federal College of Forestry, Jos, said the amount could have made lives ‘much better’ for ordinary Nigerians.

National Planning Commission Announced

President Jacob Zuma has unveiled a new National Planning Commission (NPC), tasked with charting a long-term and cohesive development strategy for the economy.

The NPC, whose 25 members are drawn from as broad a spectrum as possible of industry and society, will be chaired by National Planning Minister, Trevor Manuel.

Zuma points out that, "While each of these areas of work relate to an aspect of government's work, the commission is asked to take an independent, cross-cutting, critical and long-term view."

SA Urged to Tackle Poverty and Unemployment

Independent political analyst, Somadoda Fikeni, says poverty and the high rate of unemployment in the country still poses a huge challenge to South African citizens, 16-years into the country's democracy.

Fikeni points out that while some work has been achieved, unemployment, HIV and education are still the biggest problems the government must work hard to improve.

Global Fund Case Postponed to 2011

The hearing of an appeal of two directors of a Ugandan NGO, Valued Health, against their conviction for embezzling over sh38m from the Global Fund has been delayed until the next session.

Annaliza Mondon and Elizabeth Ngororano embezzled money, which was meant to sensitise Kampala youth on preventing HIV/AIDS.

The two were sentenced to five years imprisonment by Justice John Katutsi for embezzling the money in 2005 as the directors of Valued Health.

Civil Society Briefed on Angolan Constitution

Angolan citizens, representatives of the civil society in Cacuaco district, Luanda, were briefed by the members of the National Assembly (Angolan Parliament) on the Constitution, promulgated on 5 February.

The coordinator of the national commission for Cacuaco, Sérgio Joaquim, informed that the document replaces the Constitutional Law used after the independence of Angola, on 11 November 1975.


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