Rights Groups Lament Marginalisation in SA

Despite South Africa being lauded as having one of the most liberal Constitutions in the world, rights organisations say many groups remain marginalised.

While the Constitution is designed to protect the rights of all persons, Prince Nofemela who has been blind since 1996, believes the visually impaired continue to suffer human rights abuses.

Nofemela further states that, "Government has not been able to fulfill its mandate of providing shelter for the blind. We are kicked out of the mainstream education system and shoved into a corner...”

Union Defends the Constitutional Court

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) general-secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, has defended the Constitutional Court, which is facing a judicial review by the government.

Vavi points out that, "We remain convinced that there is no basis to reduce the powers of the Constitutional Court to review the decisions of the legislature or executive."

He has been quoted as saying that the Constitutional Court handed down valuable judgments that ‘cemented key socio-economic rights for the working class majority’.

Constitution Not Under Threat – Ramaphosa

The African National Congress (ANC) veteran and former chairperson of the Constitutional Assembly, Cyril Ramaphosa, says South Africa's constitution is not under threat from any political party or individuals.

Speaking at celebrations marking the 15th anniversary of the signing of the constitution at Constitution Hill, in Johannesburg, Ramaphosa, pointed out that, “There is no threat that I perceive. The constitution is a solid and wonderful document. It is an enduring document."

HRW: SA Lesbians Face Abuse

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that the South African lesbians are abused by even those closest to them, a reality that contrasts with the high ideals of the country's Constitution.

In a report released this week, the watchdog group says that, "Lesbians and transgender men live in constant fear of harassment as well as physical and sexual violence."

City of Johannesburg Loses Eviction Case

The Constitutional Court has ordered the City of Johannesburg to provide emergency housing for 86 people to be evicted from a building earmarked for redevelopment in Berea, Johannesburg.

The court also found the city's housing policy is inconsistent with its housing obligation and unconstitutional because it does not provide accommodation for people in an emergency situation.

Sata’s Constitutional Court Hailed

The Operation Young Vote (OYV) has commended Zambian President, Michael Sata, for assuring the nation that his administration is committed to delivering a new Constitution within ninety days.

OYV executive director, Guess Nyirenda, points out that, “The agenda to have the new Constitution within such a short period of time is not only the answer expected by the citizens but also inspiring to Zambians.”

NGO Commends Zuma Over Dismissed Ministers

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) has applauded President Jacob Zuma’s dismissal of Gwen Mahlangu Nkabinde and Sicelo Shiceka from Cabinet

The organisation states that it believes that Zuma has acted appropriately in responding to the reports of the Public Protector regarding the misdemeanours by these two former Ministers.

ANC Will Change the Constitution if Need Be – Minister

The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, says the African National Congress will change the constitution if it proves to be a hindrance to land reform.

Nkwinti argues that, "The Constitution has to help the community to advance. If advancement gets stalled then the Constitution has to be changed."

Nkwinti says that discussions around land reform and restitution needed to be re-opened, adding that the focus of government policy after 1994 was on reconciliation rather than equality and fixing the wrongs of the apartheid era.

Zuma 'Applying His Mind' on Mogoeng

President Jacob Zuma is ‘applying his mind’ on the possible appointment of Judge Mogoeng Mogoeng as South Africa's next chief justice, according to his spokesperson, Mac Maharaj.

However, Maharaj says that there is no timeframe for a public announcement on Zuma’s decision, as some NGOs kept up their campaign to not have Mogoeng appointed.

SAHRC: Sexwale’s Comments Not Hate Speech

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says that comments made by Human Settlements Minister, Tokyo Sexwale, did not constitute hate speech, but were insensitive.
Rights commissioner, Sandi Baai, says that while the comments did not impinge on constitutionally-enshrined human rights, "Those holding public office should think before they make statements".
Baai says the SAHRC had considered whether Sexwale should apologise, but found there were insufficient grounds for this.


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