NGOs

Zuma A Policy President – Analysts

The appointment of the new minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, was a “big surprise” says Tom Wheeler, a foreign policy expert with the Institute for International Affairs.

Wheeler says that while Nkoana-Mashabane has been an ambassador to Malaysia and to India, she has never worked in the department itself. He adds that she has no knowledge of how things operate.

Slums Act Challenged in the ConCourt

The Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement, a NGO working towards improving the living conditions of shack dwellers, is challenging the KwaZulu-Natal’s Slums Act in the Constitutional Court.

Abahlali baseMjondolo spokesperson, Mnikelo Ndabankulu, points out that, “The Act was imposed by the KwaZulu-Natal department of housing. This act was imposed against the will of the poor who the government is meant to serve. It is a clear attack on the poor."

NGO Worker Killed in Sri Lanka

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed that one of its employees has been killed in renewed shelling of Tamil Tiger-held territory in north-east Sri Lanka.

ICRC's spokesperson in Colombo, Sarasi Wijeratne, said the the deceased and his mother were killed after they were hit by a shell. The organisation did not say who was responsible for the attack.

Sri Lankan authorities have fiercely denied they are using heavy weapons.

Gender Links Condemns DA, ANCYL Sexist Slurs

Women’s rights group Gender Links has condemned both the Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille and the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) for the “sexist slurs”.

Gender Links executive director, Colleen Lowe-Morna, criticised Zille, the Western Cape premier who came under fire for her all-male executive council, and the ANCYL, who accused Zille of sleeping around with these executive members, for their mud-slinging match.

Oxfam Warns UN Against Attacking Rebels

International aid agency, Oxfam, has warned that the United Nations-backed plans to attack Hutu rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo will lead to civilian deaths and widespread suffering.

Oxfam believes the plan will lead to a repeat of the January situation in which civilians were killed and 250 000 displaced when Rwandan and Congolese troops joined forces to target the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.

US NGO Warns Africa of Diarrhoea

The United States Coalition for Child Survival has warned that diarrhoea might wreak havoc in poor countries in Africa.

The organisation points out that the disease is already killing 1.6 million children a year in these countries.

It says millions of babies between birth and the age of five die, mostly from preventable diseases. It further estimates that over half a million women in poor countries also die from pregnancy-related diseases, due to unsafe drinking water and malnutrition.

Venezuelan NGOS Criticise Proposed Law

Prominent Venezuelan NGOs have warned that a bill being drafted by lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez could be used to financially strangle groups that criticize the government.

Liliana Ortega, who leads the human rights group, Cofavic, points out that the bill puts in danger the existence of organisations that make the government uncomfortable.

TAC Welcomes New Health Minister

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has welcomed the appointment of new health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi.

However, TAC’s Rebecca Hodes points out that, “... Motsoaledi has to work hard to be able to deliver on the national strategic plan which aims to provide 80 percent of people living by 2011 with HIV with treatment.”

Hodes says Motsoaledi must eradicate the antiretroviral (ARV) waiting list because people are dying of opportunistic infections as a result of low immune systems.

SADAG Trains Traditional Healers

The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has trained about 20 traditional healers on subjects such as mental illness, depression and suicide.

SADAG says 72 percent of black South Africans consult traditional healers before seeing medical doctors for conditions such as schizophrenia and HIV and AIDS.

“If traditional healers understand mental illness it will be easier for them to refer their patients to doctors or counsellors,” says SADAG manager, Lefate Makunyane.

UN Humanitarian Chief Visits Sudan

The United Nations humanitarian chief, John Holmes, has kicked off a five-day trip to Sudan to assess relief programmes in the south of the African country and its war-stricken Darfur region.

Holmes, under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, is expected to review living conditions for the local populations in areas affected by the expulsions of international NGOs in the western Sudanese region of Darfur.

An estimated 300 000 people have been killed and another 2.7 million have been forced from their homes since 2003 in that region.

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