• Call for Anti-Poverty and Environmental Targets

    Leading development experts and the United Kingdom's international NGO community are urging that country’s government to provide leadership in helping to build the international political will required to accelerate progress towards meeting the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    They are also calling on the country to establish a new universal post-2015 development framework that links poverty eradication and environmental sustainability.

    As world leaders prepare to come together at the UN Special Event towards achieving the MDGs taking place in New York on 25 September 2013, they are calling for the spotlight to remain focused on how global efforts can improve the lives of the world's poorest and most marginalised communities, now and in the future.

    To read the article titled, “UK government must ensure momentum builds to create a new and ambitious set of anti-poverty and environmental targets,” click here .

    All Africa
  • SADC Questions Fairness of Zimbabwe Poll

    The Southern African Development Community (SADC) says that the fairness of Zimbabwe's election is questionable because the voters' roll was distributed by the national electoral commission too late for it to be verified.

    Tanzanian Foreign Affairs Minister and head of the SADC election observer mission, Bernard Membe, points out that, "If the voters' roll isn't made available on time, the fairness of the election is brought into question."

    Membe adds that overall however, the polls were free, peaceful and generally credible.

    To read the article titled, “SADC questions fairness of Zimbabwe poll,” click here.

    Times Live
  • CSOs Reject Attempts to Reform Pensions Scheme

    Zambian civil society organisations (CSOs) have opposed attempts by the ruling Patriotic Front to reform the Public Service Pension scheme.

    Speaking on behalf of the CSOs rights activist, Guess Nyirenda, says the move will disadvantage the pensioners.

    "Why does government want to change? Who have they consulted? In whose interest are they doing this? We all know now that they have run out of money due to their extravagance and they cannot find money to meet many pending statutory obligations," he complained.

    To read the article titled, “CSOs reject PF attempts to reform pensions scheme,” click here.

    All Africa
  • OUTA Aligned to the DA - SANRAL

    The South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL) says that the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) has confirmed ‘suspicion’ that it has aligned itself to the Democratic Alliance (DA).

    SANRAL spokesperson, Vusi Mona, points out that, “Road users are not interested in the politics but the facts, which we have continuously provided.”

    Mona reacting to a statement OUTA in which its chairperson, Wayne Duvenage, said that SANRAL’s move to ‘enter the political fray’ in the e-toll debacle was a seriously worrying factor.

    To read the article titled, “OUTA and SANRAL’s fire more salvos,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • UN Body Predicts Growth of Tourism in Africa

    The United Nations (UN) top tourism body, UN World Tourism Organisation, predicts that tourists visiting Africa will triple by 2030.

    The agency points out that the current tourists’ arrivals on the continent stand at 52 million per year, far below potential.

    The body is holding its 20th general assembly in the resort area Victoria Falls on the Zambia and Zimbabwe border where rural tourism is making an impact.

    To read the article titled, “Africa's tourism sector will triple by 2030: UN,” click here.

    SABC News
  • NGO Comments on the ‘Spy Tapes’ Saga

    The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) says that the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) downplaying of a court order to hand over President Jacob Zuma ‘spy tapes’ is another sign of the lack of a permanent head of the NPA.

    CASAC’s Lawson Naidoo, who argues that a proper head who is beyond political influence is very important, points out that, “…there is a sense of foot-dragging taking place and this calls into question the integrity of the NPA and whether they are acting out their constitutional mandate.”

    Meanwhile senior political analyst at Political Analysis South Africa, Fabian Scherer, says the case is proof that the NPA is subject to ‘the whims of politicians’ and the court order is evidence of a need for drastic changes within.

    To read the article titled, “Spy tape handover due,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • SADC to Push for Universal HIV Testing

    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.

    All Africa
  • OUTA Questions SANRAL for Entering Political Frey

    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.
    "A major reason for the public’s rejection of e-tolling has been the failure of SANRAL to engage and communicate openly and honestly with the public", states Duvenage. "SANRAL now has to increase their marking and public relations budget by over 200 percent to R85 m per annum in order to rectify its shattered integrity and poor image, yet they continue to shoot themselves in the foot by making such rash and misleading statements on a regular basis. The public have lost faith in this once credible organ of the state and will not succumb to their spin doctor tactics and self-gratifying publications and press inserts," concluded Duvenage.
    For more information contact:
    Wayne Duvenage
    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/pressreleases

    Date published: 
    Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance
  • Communication Workers Union on Shortlisting of SABC Board Members

    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:

    Matankana Mothapo
    Communication Workers Union
    National Spokesperson
    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/pressreleases

    Date published: 
    Communication Workers Union
  • Cry, the Beloved Country; Cry, the Beloved Federation

    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.
    Jay Naidoo
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