According to Alex Bell, efforts by Zimbabwean civil society groups to push a human rights agenda at the international diamond trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), are being undermined by some of the key beneficiaries of the sector, including ZANU PF.
Bell states that the KP’s civil society wing have been fighting a drawn out battle to pressure the monitoring group to reform, in order to better fight diamond trade-linked human rights abuses.
He further says that the most recent plenary session of the KP again failed to take these reforms on board, with the views expressed by the civil society members of the body instead being criticised as ‘malicious’.
To read the article titled, “ZANU PF involved in undermining civil society diamond fight,” click here.Source:SW Radio Africa
An 83-year-old woman from Mbekweni township in Paarl, Western Cape has been honoured by her peers for her outstanding service in her community.
The honour is part of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign.
Nelly 'Makhulu' Johnson has been caring for abused children in her community for the past 40 years.
To read the article titled, “Western Cape granny honoured for community work,” click here.Source:SABC News
Rights groups in Swaziland have called for the amendment of a terrorism law they view is aimed at silencing opposition.
According to Voice of America, an external broadcasting institution of the United States, activists expressed concern over the 15 arrests made under the Suppression of Terrorism Act in the last two months, with detainees being beaten up and given death threats.
The groups believe there is a need to amend the act in order to open up freedom of expression.
To read the article titled, “Swazi activists decry terrorism law - report,” click here.Source:News 24
The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) condemns an apparent assault of a multimedia journalist, allegedly by a member of President Jacob Zuma's VIP protection unit.
SANEF states that it expects civil servants particularly those escorting the President to respect the rights and duties of the media.
Eyewitness News journalist, Reinart Toerien has since opened a case of common assault against Zuma's VIP unit.
To read the article titled, “SANEF condemns attack on journalist,” click hereSource:News 24
According to Zak Yacoob, a retired Constitutional Court judge, freedom from poverty in the South African context is one of the most important freedoms.
Delivering the fifth annual Helen Suzman memorial lecture in Johannesburg, Yacoob, said that as South Africa's democracy moved towards its 20th anniversary, far too many of its citizens still suffer from poverty.
"Unless we reach a situation where all of us agree on a particular minimum level of humanity and a particular threshold at [which] people would be able to live, and unless we commit ourselves to that, we will be doomed to disaster," he warned.
To read the article titled, “Freedom from poverty important - judge,” click here.Source:News 24
According to Wagdy Sawahel, while a fierce debate rages about fracking in South Africa and elsewhere, the Botswana government has been silently pushing ahead with plans to produce natural gas, keeping the country in the dark as it grants concessions over vast tracts of land, including half of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve - the ancestral home of the San.
Sawahel says that a new documentary film - the High Cost of Cheap Gas - has uncovered incontrovertible evidence that drilling and fracking are underway in Botswana and that international companies are planning massive gas operations in the future.
However, he says that there has been little attempt to inform the public, despite growing international concerns about the harmful effects of natural gas production.
To read the article titled, “Fracking the Kalahari,” click here.Source:All Africa
The South African Informal Trader's Forum (SAITF) has announced plans to take the City of Johannesburg to court over the removal of informal traders in the Johannesburg central business district (CBD).
In a press statement, SAITF states that the court action followed weeks of speaking to the city in order to find solutions to the evictions of traders.
"The City of Johannesburg, in its clean sweep operation, removed illegal and legal traders regardless of whether one was in possession of a permit, lease or not," it states.
To read the article titled, “Informal traders to take City of Joburg to court,” click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
The South African National Editors' Forum (SANEF) has urged President Jacob Zuma not to sign the Protection of State Information Bill (Secrecy Bill) into law in its current form.
In a press statement, SANEF states that it is concerned with the “…provisions that allow for broad classification of information, including that which has nothing to do with security of the state,” as well as delegating authority to ambiguous state officials to classify information.
The organisation believes that the Bill criminalises the ownership and dissemination of classified state information, even if such information is in the public interest.
To read the article titled, “SANEF urges Zuma not to sign info bill,” click here.Source:IOL News
Brazil has called Internet privacy a world priority a day after it and Germany submitted a joint United Nations (UN) text on the issue in reaction to massive United States (US) cyber spying.
Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, argues that privacy on the Internet is part of human rights and its protection must receive priority treatment in UN discussions.
She further stresses that, "The right to privacy cannot be subjected to arbitrary interference, as shown by allegations of [US] spying.”.
To read article titled, “Right to privacy must be UN priority,” click here.Source:News 24
When families and communities fail children, the government is left with the job of caring for them. Often non-governemental organisations (NGOs), such as Childline, carry out this responsibility - but they are struggling to survive.
In Diepsloot, where the bodies of cousins Yonelisa Mali, two and Zandile Mali, three, were found in a public toilet this week - Childline could only field one social worker.
The cousins' bodies were found near the spot where Anelisa Mkhondo, five, was found dumped and murdered last month.
Joan Van Niekerk, advocacy and training manager for Childline, says the situation was dire. The organisation works to protect children from all forms of violence.
Though it is ‘grateful’ for government funding, Van Niekerk says it covered only a third of the organisation's services nationally.
"There is money in this country, it just doesn't go to the services that are so urgently needed," said Van Niekerk.
"What you have is [President Jacob] Zuma spending R238-million on his Nkandla residence while he earns a president's salary. But just 10 kilometres from his home you have children who do not have enough to eat."
Childline recently cut its staff complement. North West had the highest retrenchment rate but there were also job losses in other provinces such as Northern Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
In Western Cape, Childline had to sell its property just to survive.
Van Niekerk says Diepsloot was not the only Childline office with only one worker. Many small offices in KwaZulu-Natal are in the same situation.
According to a summary report by the Financial and Fiscal Commission, there are about 900 000 orphans in South Africa and the state has an obligation to provide them with social services.
"Many NGOs are facing serious financial difficulties as a result of the increase in the demand for their services, coupled with a decline in external and government funding in recent years," the report says.
"Delays in transfers from the government threaten their very existence and their ability to deliver services."
Social Development spokesperson Lumka Oliphant says R5 billion had been budgeted for NGO funding this year.
The police have offered a R100 000 reward for information about the whereabouts of the suspected killer of the Mali children.
Police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said the suspect, who is in his 30s, is about 1.7 metres tall and light-skinned.
This story has been updated to reflect the correct amount budgeted bythe Department Social Development for NGO funding this year.
- Nashira Davids is a journalist for The Times, and Graeme Hosken is a senior reporter at Sunday Times. This article first appeared on the Times Live website, www.timeslive.co.za.