Several leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), speaking at the organisation's summit in Lilongwe, called on member states to adopt the principle of universal testing for HIV, rather than leaving it up to each citizen to decide whether to take an HIV test or not.
Among those who called for universal testing were the Presidents of Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Robert Mugabe and Joseph Kabila, and the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
They argue that the AIDS pandemic is such a serious public health threat, that it is no longer an option to allow people to decide for themselves whether they will be tested, and whether they will be treated if they turn out to be HIV-positive.
To read the article titled, “SADC considers universal HIV testing,” click here.Source:All Africa
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) has noted with suspicion the press statement of 21 August 2013, where South African National Roads Agency’s (SANRAL) spokesperson, Vusi Mona, attacks the Democratic Alliance (DA) use of e-Tolls for political gain. Mona is reported to have said the following: "The DA is using e-tolling as an electioneering strategy and is continuously misrepresenting the facts to win votes in next year's elections and SANRAL is not going to entertain politics."
OUTA chairperson, Wayne Duvenage, says that statements of this nature are seriously worrying as they start to blur the line of separation between party and state. "Sanral is an organ of state," he said. "Its job is to provide services to citizens irrespective of their political affiliation," he added. "By making statements on the political activities of a political party, SANRAL is drawing an organ of state into the political arena and therefore undermining our democracy."
Duvenage said that all political parties were free to comment on the actions of state-owned enterprises (SOE), be it e-Tolls, arms procurement, energy generation, state expenditure on private properties etc. This is the space of political and civil action entities that forms part of healthy democratic discourse. "If the DA, Agang [Agang South Africa], UDM [United Democratic Movement] or other political entities are able to convince voters that they would be able direct Sanral or other SOE’s in a manner more beneficial to the country’s citizens that the current ruling party, they are quite entitled to do so," he said.
"Likewise, the ANC [African National Congress] or any other political party is free to argue a similar points. What is not acceptable is for state-run organs themselves to become politically aligned. They should answer the queries and give facts but never enter the space of political mudslinging."
Mr Mona then ends his attack on the DA with the following confusing comment "We understand the politicking but we are not interested in it." Why then attack the DA’s politicking behaviour if indeed they understand it and are not interested in it? OUTA expresses serious concern at Sanral’s statements and regular misrepresentation of facts, which has become a liability for this State Owned Entity. Duvenage says "SANRAL’s attempts as an SOE to enter the political fray is just another milestone in a series of public relations mishaps which includes the following recent dubious and misleading statements:
- On 31 July, Mona stated that the number of toll gantries required at e-Tag rates to reach the (R450) cap was around 301 or roughly 2 760 kilometres on the e-Toll roads, whereas this figure is closer to almost half that number at 164 gantries and 1 600 kilometres;
- In June 2013, Mona denied that money from the GFIP e-tolling project would directly fund and benefit Austria’s Kapsch TraffiCom, whereas that company's own press release to the international investor community confirmed this was the case, to the tune of over R670 million per annum;
- Again, in June 2013, Mr Mona stated that at the end of April 2013, SANRAL had sales of 250 000 e-tags and following their recent ‘successful’ marketing campaign, e-Tag sales had been boosted by over 100 percent in six weeks, taking their e-Tag sales up to 600 000 by mid-June;
- However, the Department of Transport had announced a year earlier in April 2012, their eTag sales had reached over 500 000 and this number had crept up to 600 000 by December 2012.
For more information contact:
Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance
Mobile: 082 884 6652
For more about the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance, refer to www.outa.co.za/site/
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleasesDate published:22/08/2013Organisation:Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance
The Communication Workers Union (CWU) has with reservations noted the shortlisted candidates for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board.
We acknowledge that these are capable men and women but of course not all of them.
As CWU, we do not want to be economical with the truth. We are extremely disappointed by the inclusion in the shortlisted list of candidates who were part of the Board that was disbanded by the President of the country. They were in the previous board that, in our view, nearly collapsed our Public Broadcaster because of what appears to be undercurrents of factional battles for narrow interests. As a result the country witnessed the unprecedented snowballing of resignations that plunged the corporation into paralysis and zigzagging. To bring them back to the SABC board will be like expecting a fish to climb a tree as this will take South Africans back to the old SABC that did not work because their modus operandi embarrassed the whole country and nearly destroyed the corporation.
We therefore urge our parliament to be cautious when it considers permanent SABC board members. Truth be told, some of the names that were in the previous board, and now in the shortlisted list, did not have capacity to lead our Public Broadcaster considering the way they conducted themselves and handled issues in the previous Board in pursuit of multiple conservative agendas and we request parliament not to recommend them to lead our Public Broadcaster again. We have to focus on achieving bigger things and the vehicle to achieving these is a Board that is constituted by men and women who are able to think out of the box and who are man-centred as opposed to being self-centred.
Transformation of the corporation in the context of what the masses of our people expect from an interventionist developmental state that is biased to the working class and the poor should, in our view, be the magic word here.
For more information contact:
Communication Workers Union
Mobile: 082 759 0900
For more about the Communication Workers Union, refer to www.cwu.org.za.
To view other NGO press releases, refer to www.ngopulse.org/group/home-page/pressreleasesDate published:22/08/2013Organisation:Communication Workers Union
- As the anniversary of the Marikana massacre dawns, this week has also seen the anniversary of one of the watershed moments in the resistance movement during the 1980s – also led by the workers. One can only hope that this latest watershed can be managed by extraordinary leadership that can guide us to much-needed development in our country, without further bloodshed.
Two events, separated by two-and-a-half decades, define our journey to democracy.
One year ago I wrote: “The headlines scream, 'Marikana Massacre'; 'Killing Fields of Rustenburg'. Radio and television talk shows and social media all display the anger and expose the psyche of a nation badly wounded. The bloodiest security operation since the end of Apartheid has left us shocked and asking what went wrong. The reality is, many things went wrong. Way too many things went wrong, for way too long now.”
I journey back to 1987, the year of worker discontent. It had been less than a decade since black workers had a legal right to join trade unions. Starting from small beginnings the various strands had come together into a fighting force united by the repression of a brutal regime and the exploding anger against an arbitrary and exploitative cheap labour system, ruled by an authoritarian management system.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), barely two years old, the product of painstaking discussions, did not have the luxury of birth pangs. Its launch prophecy, to ‘rise like a giant to confront all that stood in its way’, had become a magnet for workers. It plunged into battle.
The country was on fire. Tens of thousands of retail and railway workers had launched rolling mass action that year, fuelled by the COSATU Living Wage campaign. Seeing COSATU as the most serious internal threat to its power, the Apartheid state, masterminded by its Minister of Police, imploded our headquarters in one of the most powerful explosive blasts, hoping to permanently disrupt our logistics and organisational capacity. But we were undeterred. We would not be cowed.
Years of organisation building, education training had built an army of tens of thousands of COSATU shop stewards connected by an umbilical cord to needs, aspirations and hopes of workers on the shop floor. We were ready. We stood fist to fist ready to slug it out in spite of many leaders being victimised, detained and offices bombed. Our survival was driven from the ground. We did not run our organisation through press conferences. There was no twitter or Facebook.
9 August 1987 was a cold morning. The frost hung in the air like a second skin. We were tense. It was our moment of storming the Bastille of Apartheid. A total of 360 000 mine workers marched over the shaft floor in disciplined regiments. What followed in the next 21 days shook the foundations of Apartheid. Close to 50 000 workers were dismissed and shipped back to the homelands and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, their leaders blacklisted forever. This was our life. Going on strike often meant that or death. It was a conscious choice.
While we lost the battle, it was a watershed that would define the war and the eventual negotiations process. The system was ready to implode. A political stalemate had been reached, on the shop floor and in the country. Our choice was a descent into a full-scale racial civil war of a scorched earth or a political negotiation.
Thankfully, guided by the extraordinary leadership of Nelson Mandela on our side, we chose the latter.
Turn the clock 25 years to 16 August 2012, and what we have is Marikana. It is the pinnacle of a growing ferment in our land. The people in our workplaces, townships, rural areas and squatter camps are bitter that democracy has not delivered the fruits that they see a tiny elite enjoying. Our leaders across the spectrum are not talking to our people, they are not working with them systematically to solve their problems, in providing the hope that one day, even in their children’s lives, things will be better. It is a debilitating threat not from enemies outside, but those who lurk within our bosom.
Thousands of workers are deserting our COSATU unions. They have lost trust in their branch leaders. I have been in many places where I am personally told: ‘Comrade, we do not see union organisers. We do not know what is happening in our union. Our leaders are too involved in politics and we do not get the services and education we did in the past.’
It is true. Union leadership is more engaged in looking up to the political jockeying than down to the base of its members where its real strength on the shop floor gives it voice. We cannot hide the disunity and divisions that cripple COSATU today.
Alongside millions of South Africans I feel bitterly disappointed. There is a deep-seated anger growing in the country. And yet the leaders are not at the coal face. People feel robbed of their voices and powerless.
In the absence of strong, legitimate political organisation in the communities, they see violence as the only language their leaders will listen to. It is a vicious cycle that sees our people burning down any institution representing the state, whether a school, a library or a public building.
Marikana is but a festering sore on the body politic of our country. These are not issues that a judicial commission will resolve. It requires political action first and foremost from our political and union leaders. There are some tough choices to make.
Like we had in the 1990s, to set up a National Peace Accord to deal with a torrent of violence as covert forces sought to destabilise the transition. It was a roadmap based on a set of political principles that established freedom of speech and assembly. But it had the structures that brought together the contesting parties and the state especially the security forces. We had a roadmap that instilled confidence in our communities, compelled us to work together in structures that brought the key protagonists together and created a battalion of peace monitors drawn from all parties that ensured we isolated those who sought to deepen the divisions amongst our people.
My greatest fear is that the massacre at Marikana has become the watershed of our post-Apartheid journey. It has wrought untold physical, financial and psychological damage on all sides and on our social fabric. But if this is not acknowledged and we continue our drift towards the shrill language of divisive finger pointing and muddled leadership and we will end up where we were in 1990.
My greatest hope is that in these extraordinary times, we ask that extraordinary leaders rise from our ranks and take those extraordinary actions to put our country back to the path we set to deliver the better life that we promised our people in 1994. As the proverbial Phoenix, we will rise from burning ashes of broken promises and rebuild the trust with our citizens. And to do this with the absence of political arrogance and with a humility and an honesty that compels us to serve not the interests of leaders but the interests of our people.
- 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.
A strong advice has gone out to Malawi government authorities to deploy more people to monitor the implementation of subsidy programme to curb corruption, favouritism and bias that have soiled the implementation of the programme since its inception.
Executive director of the local NGO, Future Planning for the Child, Douglas Ng’oma gave the advice during Kalondolondo meeting in Malawi’ northern district of Karonga, where he accused Ministry of Agriculture of failing its work in monitoring the programme.
The organisation states that its research findings show that 80 percent of people said agriculture extension workers in the communities and other responsible people are not doing their job of monitoring the programme properly. “…the program is marred by corruption in both selection of the beneficiaries because some names have been missing from the last list from ministry of agriculture,” explains Ng’oma.
To read the article titled, “NGO faults Malawi gov’t on implementation of subsidy programme,” click here.Source:Nyasa Times
Dozens of African health ministers and Chinese health officials this month gathered at the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Development in Beijing, China, to map out new efforts to support Africa’s long-term health progress and shape the future of China-Africa health cooperation.
This was the first-ever meeting of health ministers under the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) since it was established in 2000, demonstrating the highest level of political commitment to tackle Africa’s most pressing health challenges together.
The meeting culminated in the launch of the Beijing Declaration of the Ministerial Forum on China-Africa Health Development, which sets a roadmap for jointly addressing key health challenges across Africa, including malaria, schistosomiasis, HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, immunisation and vaccine preventable diseases.
To read the article titled, “Chinese and African leaders herald a new era of health cooperation,” click here.Source:The Patriotic Vanguard
Sudanese-born billionaire, Mo Ibrahim, has castigated Africa's ageing leaders for crowding out young blood.
The philanthropist, who also founded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, argues that the average age of leaders on the African continent is around 60 years, yet half of the population was under the age of 19.
Speaking at a lecture in honour of Nelson Mandela, the businessman drew comparisons between African and American leaders, where President Barack Obama became president at the 47 whereas former President, Bill Clinton, became president when he was 46.
To read the article titled, “Ibrahim blasts Africa's ageing leaders,” click here.Source:News 24
An international non-governmental organisation that monitors the performance of the United Nations (UN), UN Watch, has called for a boycott of the upcoming UN tourism meeting being hosted by Zimbabwe this month.
UN Watch monitoring group, which has called for a high level boycott of the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly begins on 26 August 2013, with Zimbabwe and Zambia co-hosting the globally significant event.
The group's executive director, Hillel Neuer, has been quoted as saying that UN is ‘legitimising’ Robert Mugabe regime and they just ended, deeply flawed elections that saw Mugabe re-elected as President.
To read the article titled, “UN watchdog urges international boycott of 'disgraceful' Zim meeting,” click here.Source:All Africa
Scores of NGOs from Southern Africa are stepping up pressure on the regional body, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), to discuss the disputed Zimbabwe elections at a summit scheduled for Malawi this week.
One of the civil society organisations, Action Support Centre, has been quoted as saying that the NGOs are also planning demonstrations across the region, starting with one in Cape Town.
The call from the civic groups comes as President Robert Mugabe has received congratulatory messages mainly from his traditional supporters in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe.
To read the article titled, “More than 30 regional NGOs petition SADC over Zim elections,” click here.Source:All Africa
- "I have always wanted to represent the people in my area as a ward councillor, but l gave up this dream because I was afraid to contest against men, thinking that I cannot win." Sarah Kulemeka of the Ntcheu district also gave up on this dream because she could not afford the nomination fee.
Many women in Malawi face the same insecurities and financial obstacles, but there is new hope for aspiring female politicians following efforts by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare to educate people about the importance of women in political decision-making positions. Even more hopeful is the Malawi Electoral Commission's (MEC) recent reduction of the nomination fee.
Malawi may be the only country in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) with a female President, but the number of women in senior political positions remains very low.
Women only hold 22 percent of the positions in parliament and 30 percent in cabinet. Government has continually postponed local government elections; the last held back in 2000 resulted in women receiving only eight percent of the positions. Malawi will hold the next local government elections in 2014 along with the parliamentary and presidential elections.
However, with greater political will and continued commitment to the SADC Gender Protocol, although Malawi may not reach the 50 percent target by 2015, the country could achieve and even surpass a 30 percent representation of women.
This is according to the latest research compiled by Gender Links and the Southern Africa Gender Protocol Alliance, who will launch the 2013 SADC Gender Protocol Barometer at the upcoming SADC Heads of State Summit held in Lilongwe, Malawi this month.
The Principle Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, Dr Mary Shawa, says the civic education programme aims at encouraging more women to participate and contest in the forthcoming tripartite elections. With the first phase of voter registration closing on 6 August 2013 and the second phase set to start on 8 August 2013, creating awareness is crucial to building confidence among the female electorate.
"We want more women to contest as Members of Parliament (MPs). We hope that through this programme women will realise that they can also become political leaders in their communities and serve the people," explains Shawa.
In another show of political will and commitment to the 50-50 campaign, the MEC has recently reduced the nomination fee by 25 percent for the female candidates. The discount aims to ensure equal opportunity and to encourage more women to contest in both local government and national elections. The MEC has shown great enthusiasm, urging all political parties to bring more women on board to include them in political processes.
Lilian Patel, United Democratic Front (UDF) National Organising Secretary, who will contest as MP for Mangochi South Constituency, applauds the move to reduce the nomination fees. "In the past, many women failed to contest as MPs and councillors because they could not easily raise the nomination fee. This is a big opportunity for women who want to contest in the forthcoming tripartite elections," explains Patel.
Dr Agustine Magolowondo, a political analyst based in Lilongwe gives a thumbs up to the MEC and Ministry's efforts, but points out that these efforts will be ineffective if the political parties do not join the fight for gender equality. The Post electoral system tends not to favour women's participation since women can only be elected into office through their political parties.
"It is a welcome development because this will open doors for more women to contest in the next elections. However, political parties should also participate in the promotion of women by putting them in different decision-making positions. Political parties should put in deliberate policies that will ensure there is equal presentation of women and men in different party positions," explains Magolowondo.
Although there are no legislated quotas, a number of political parties in Malawi have quotas to increase women's representation within their structures; for example, the United Democratic Front (UDF) endorses a 25 percent quota while the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) commits to 30 percent. However, these do not translate into tangible representation, since not one political party in Malawi boasts female representation of 20 percent or more.
In addition, no country in the region has ever substantially increased women's representation without enforcing special measures. Women constitute 16 percent of parliamentarians and nine percent of councillors in countries without quotas, compared to 38 percent of parliamentarians and 37 percent of councillors in countries with quotas.
Having quotas in place, Lesotho has the highest proportion of women in any area of political decision-making in SADC, with 49 percent women in local government, and Mauritius dramatically increased women's representation from six percent to 26 percent in one election, at local level in December 2012.
Creating awareness and reducing nomination fees undoubtedly contributes to increasing the chances of aspiring women like Kulemeka at the local government level, but without wholehearted commitment from political parties to ensure women hold positions of power in cabinet and parliament, achieving gender equality will remain hamstrung.
The clock is ticking toward the 2014 elections and the 2015 SADC Gender Protocol deadline. Hopefully, with the increased efforts and pressure from civil society organisations, political leaders in Malawi will step up to the plate and forge ahead to achieve 50-50.
The upcoming Heads of State Summit in Lilongwe is a great opportunity for the entire region to turn up the heat and ensure governments put gender equality on high priority, and make certain that by 2015, the SADC regional average of women in political decision-making far exceeds the current 24 percent.
- Dyson Mthawanji is a third year Journalism student at University of Malawi (Polytechnic). This article is part of Gender Link's Opinion and Commentary Service that offers fresh views on everyday news.