As the continent progresses in key areas, Mo Ibrahim, philanthropist and founder of Mo Ibrahim Foundation, says we need to move decisively away from both Afro-optimistic and Afro-pessimistic headlines.
The Foundation published the ‘2013 Ibrahim Index of African Governance’, an index which tells us that the outlook is mixed and that neither Afro-pessimism nor Afro-optimism does justice to modern Africa.
An honest assessment of the continent as supported by the index reveals that governance trends in Africa are both complex and diverse. It further notes that Africa's many achievements, but it should also include a pragmatic acknowledgement of the distance Africa has to go.
To read the article titled “Africa needs to move towards Afro-realism,” click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee member and Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, has criticised opposition parties and non-governmental organisations for telling foreign countries that South Africa has failed since democracy.
Gigaba told the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) that, "All around us, the opportunists, the pessimists, the opposition and the counter-revolutionists are telling us what we have achieved in the last 19 years has been nothing and this revolution faces its inevitable doom."
He further states that some opposition leaders have went to countries like the United States and spoke ill of development in South Africa in aims of getting money from them.
To read article titled, “Gigaba criticises doomsayers,” click here.Source:SABC News
The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) says it will not appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal's dismissal of its challenge to e-tolls.
OUTA chairperson, Wayne Duvenage, states that the organisation will not appeal the judgment as it is constrained by lack of funding.
Duvenage notes that to appeal, OUTA will need R3.3 million and can no longer afford to appeal, adding that despite that, the organisation will never stop denouncing the e-tolls.
To read article titled “OUTA abandons e-toll court fight” click here.Source:IOL News
The Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) says that ZANU-PF uses memoranda's of understanding to ensure that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) do not have total autonomy when implementing programmes.
COTRAD programmes manager at advocacy group, Zivanai Muzorodzi, says that while NGOs want to conduct their activities impartially, his experiences in the Masvingo Province have shown that this is not always possible.
Muzorodzi explains that, "Every organisation that wants to implement a programme in the community is made to sign a memorandum of understanding,” argues that this is a trick that ZANU-PF uses to ensure that all NGOs follow lines of communication crafted by the party.
To read the article titled, “NGOs forced to work with ZANU-PF structures,” click here.Source:All Africa
Parliament's transport portfolio committee on transport says Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance’s (OUTA) call for motorists not to pay for e-tolls in Gauteng defies the Constitution.
The committee has urged both e-tolling critics to demonstrate their respect for the law by accepting the decision made by the courts.
"The committee is concerned that these two organisations are encouraging citizens not to abide by an Act of Parliament and thus defy the Constitution of the country," states Ruth Bhengu, committee chairperson.
To read the article titled, “Parliamentary committee condemns Outa, COSATU's e-tolls reaction”, click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
Freedom Under Law (FUL) says the cases of former crime intelligence head General Richard Mdluli and Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, though unrelated, have highlighted what it calls “a disturbing trend of cover ups”.
FUL's former Constitutional Court Judge, Johan Kriegler, says both cases relate to very senior people in very responsible positions being involved in allegations of very serious misconduct.
“Those charges are then withdrawn against them for reasons that appear to an outsider just weird, inexplicable. We in FUL said these look odd. This cannot be right. We are entitled to know what happened.” - FUL.
To read the article titled ‘Hlophe, Mdluli cases highlight trend of cover-ups: FUL’, click here.Source:SABC News
- Gender equality and women’s rights are guaranteed in most Southern African constitutions but these do not result in substantive equality for women. Among other struggles, women remain unequal, under-represented at all levels of decision-making and experience high levels of gender based violence (GBV). These conditions obstruct women from realising their human rights.
On paper, all countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have strong provisions on gender equality and equity. In addition, 13 countries, except Mauritius and Botswana have signed and ratified the SADC Gender Protocol (SGP), and are in the process of domesticating the provisions. SADC countries have also committed to other continental and global instruments promoting human and women’s rights. These include the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW 1979), the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) and the United Nations Millennium Declaration (2000) that spells out the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In practice however, these instruments and their clauses are compromised by a lack of political will, slow implementation of key pieces of legislation that promote gender equality, and flagrant abuses of human and women’s rights.
As South Africans observe national Women’s Day on 9 August 2014 the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) Bill that aims to give effect to gender equality provisions in the Constitution is currently on hold. WEGE’s key provisions address the “social development’ of women, via education and training aimed at eradicating gender-based discrimination and violence and increasing education around access to healthcare. The other key focus area is equal representation and empowerment of women through the progressive realisation of a minimum of 50 percent representation and ‘meaningful participation’ of women in public and private decision-making structures, including businesses and political parties. There are specific provisions that address the socio-economic empowerment of rural women and women with disabilities.
Recent developments on the WEGE are of concern. The Bill has been referred back to Parliament from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The NCOP asked how the Bill was linked to other legislation meant to address women empowerment as previous legislation had failed on that objective. What then, was the guarantee that the Bill would be effective?
The 2014 Human Rights Watch World Report highlights concerns about human rights abuses in Angola that contradict the provisions in the Constitution as well as other human rights commitments made by the country.
In early April 2014, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, visited Angola at the invitation of the government. During her visit, Pillay raised a wide array of human rights concerns, including media restrictions and freedom of expression; the state’s use of excessive force to repress protests; mistreatment and sexual violence against migrants; forced evictions; and violations of economic and social rights. Pillay’s visit shone a spotlight on Angola’s human rights record, which is mostly ignored by regional and international partners in favour of strengthening trade links.
Another key challenge in most SADC countries are the contradictions emerging from dual legal systems either through the formal recognition of customary law or common practice. As a result women are treated as minors and do not enjoy the rights guaranteed in the countries’ constitutions. Muna Ndulo, professor of law and director of the Cornell University's Institute for African Development, also chairperson of the board of Gender Links, discusses the impact of dual legal systems in the Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies.
The sources of law in most African countries are customary law, the common law and legislation (both colonial and post-independence). In a typical African country, the great majority of the people conduct their personal activities in accordance with and subject to customary law, which has a great impact on matters such as marriage, inheritance and traditional authority. Customary laws were developed in an era dominated by patriarchy, some of its norms conflict with human rights norms that guarantee equality between men and women.
While recognising the role of legislation in reform, it is argued that the courts have an important role to play in ensuring that customary laws are reviewed and developed to ensure that they conform to human rights law and contribute to the promotion of equality between men and women. The guiding principle should be that customary law is living law and therefore cannot be static and must account for the changing lived experiences of the people it aims to serve.
Ndulo states that many constitutions recognise the application of customary law without resolving its conflict with human rights provisions. He uses the Zambia Constitution as an example to illustrate ‘claw back’ clauses that qualify and compromise constitutional provisions on equality and non-discrimination.
The new Tanzania Constitution is proposing far reaching changes including press freedom; the public's right to access information; education for all; greater representation for women in politics; and the adoption of a federal system of government.
The draft guarantees women 50 percent representation in Parliament, an increase from the current 30 percent quota. At present, women parliamentarians are appointed to special seats by parties. Under the proposed Constitution, political parties would lose the power to nominate women to parliamentary seats and instead, voters in every province would elect two parliamentarians, of who one has to be a woman.
Moving forward all SADC countries must make constitutions living documents that change women’s lived reality and ensure equal rights for women.
- Kubi Rama is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Gender Links. This article is part of the Gender Links News Service special series on Women’s Month.
Learners who trashed the Johannesburg City Centre during a protest blame supporters of the Economic Freedom Fighters for the scuffle with vendors and shop owners.
The march led by the Congress of South Students (COSAS) deteriorated after their memorandum of grievances relating to improvement of school conditions was handed over to the Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi.
COSAS president general, Collin Malatji, says they are not certain if the four learners who were taken to hospital were their members, despite the organisation being known for such behaviour in the past.
To read the article titled, “COSAS causes havoc in Joburg CBD,” click here.Source:SABC News
Former Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) director of operations, Letlapa Mphahlele, says having the second phase of the Truth and the Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is like a call for another fuss and a call for another circus.
Mphahlele, who argues that the first phase of the TRC was seriously flawed, points out that: "Over 80 percent of the applicants for amnesty were actually indigenous Africans. What does it tell you? It tells you that we were our own oppressors and we were our own exploiters."
He maintains that the real culprits did not appear before the TRC.
To read the article titled, “Second phase of TRC is a call for another circus: Mphahlele,” click here.Source:SABC News
- Do we live in a world where powerful men in government, powerful men in business and powerful men in army uniforms conspire to smash popular dissent to the growing inequality?
When the Forbes magazine - not the representative of the world's poor - quotes an Oxfam report, released at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos meeting this year, that raises the obscenity of inequality - then it is time the world’s rich and powerful stand up and answer some serious questions.
Is this just a cyclical crisis or is it a systemic one? Are the following statistics driving the crises we face today, from economic to ecological, from financial to food and burgeoning youth unemployment and to the many resource conflicts and corruption scandals that plague our world?
- Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population;
- The wealth of the top one percent – the richest people in the world – amounts to US$110 trillion. That is 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population;
- The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world;
- Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.
- The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.
Where does the remaining 99 percent feature in this new age?
I am struck by the ferocious reaction to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) strike. It is described as irresponsible after the economy contracted 0.6 percent in the first quarter after it was alleged that it was caused by a five-month long platinum miners’ strike. Forgotten is that collective bargaining, which includes the right to strike for a living wage, is enshrined in the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In South Africa, it is in the Constitution and has been a cornerstone of the institution of democracy.
Forgotten is the latest employment data, which indicates an unemployment rate of 25.2 percent in terms of the narrow definition and 35.1 percent if the broad definition is used. So is the fact that youth unemployment in the 18-35 range is today over 60 percent. So how has the ratio of dependents to a single breadwinner changed since 1994? I am sure that a single worker is supporting many more dependents than in the 80s.
Forgotten is the fact that many of our public health facilities are in a state of collapse, with civil society organisations like the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) reporting in provinces like the Free State that the crisis means some facilities have no equipment and supplies to conduct life-saving tests and monitoring of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease; stock-outs and shortages of drugs for many chronic conditions such as tuberculosis (TB), HIV, diabetes and epilepsy are the order of the day.
The same applies to many of our township and rural schools. The collapse of public services in many areas means that the extended families of workers incur more expenses going to private health facilities or sending their children to former model C schools in cities.
I can empathise when the NUMSA president, Andrew Chirwa, says that “NUMSA has an obligation to ensure a better standard of living for its members. We have no intention to send South Africa into a recession… but workers are permanently living in a recession even today.”
Similarly, a demand to Eskom for a salary increase of 12 percent should be seen in a context where there is great speculation on how the budget for the Medupi power station has burgeoned from R52 billion in January 2007 to an estimated R145 billion with an overall delay of 48 months today.
How have the companies such as Parsons Brinckerhoff, providing engineering and project management support; Hitachi, supplying the boilers; Alstom, providing the steam turbines; construction companies Murray and Roberts, Basil Read and Aveng; ThyssenKrupp Materials, handling contractors of the coal stockpile yard, benefited?
Can we have a public audit of all these companies, including those whom they have paid, and the names of the shareholders? Many want to know how public money is spent and whether part of that could have gone into improving the workers' wages and working conditions.
Workers in South Africa live in townships like Bekkersdal or Alexandra, in the heart of the richest real estate in Africa. I have been there. It will break your heart: the poverty, the overcrowding, the battle for survival. These residents feel left behind by democracy, surrounded by piles of garbage, exploding slums and dysfunctional schools and clinics.
Families of the poor do not want charity. They do not want a scenario of one in three South Africans living on a social grant. They want the dignity of their labour. Their desperation, as they fail to meet the obligations of a breadwinner, drives wage pressure and is reflected in high levels of alcohol, drug abuse (which leads to high levels of interpersonal violence), the spike in youth delinquency, among other indicators.
We have to redefine our growth path, our governance and our democracy. True democracy must be built through open societies that embrace the rule of law and where public institutions protect the interests of citizens. Our struggle for freedom was a struggle to have a voice. If avenues to free and open dialogue and meaningful participation are closed off and people lose trust in public institutions, then collective bargaining will become politicised.
That is what happened in the past. I see it happening again. The strikes and protests we see sweeping South Africa reveal a fault line in our society - between a small insider elite and the majority. Our new battle is against inequality, lest we forget the fact that the Gini Coefficient (a measure of inequality) reports the stark statistic that South Africa is today the one of the most unequal countries on Earth.
This is the time for a new dialogue in South Africa. A roadmap back to the contract we made with our people in 1994 to ‘deliver a better life’ to all our people, based on our Constitutional commitment to human dignity and justice.
There are tough choices we need to make, before it is too late.
- Jay Naidoo is founding General Secretary of Congress of South African Trade Unions, former Minister in the Mandela Government and Chair of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). You can follow him on Twitter, or visit his Facebook Page or www.jaynaidoo.org.