Newsflashes

6 February, 2009
Education Minister Naledi Pandor has appointed University of the Witwatersrand extraordinary professor of education, Jonathan Jansen, as the new administrator for the beleaguered Mangosuthu University of Technology. Jansen has six months to help the university back onto its feet after what appears to be more than five years of tyrannical rule by suspended vice-chancellor, Aaron Ndlovu.
6 February, 2009
White South Africans are more likely than any other group to vote. This is according to a survey conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council for the Independent Electoral Commission. The survey found that 84 percent of whites will use their vote while coloureds were the least likely to exercise this democratic right. The survey, which was carried out among 4 000 South Africans, also found that 48 percent of the sample spread across all nine provinces are “simply not interested in voting”.
6 February, 2009
According to Statistics South Africa, the estimated consumption of electricity in December 2008 fell by 8.4 percent from December 2007 to 17,556 gigawatt-hours. It says electricity consumed during the fourth quarter of 2008 decreased by 5.1 percent compared with the corresponding quarter of 2007. If further says that for the year 2008, consumption of electricity was affected by numerous factors that led to reduced levels of consumption, such as load shedding. Eskom then went on a drive to encourage users to save on electricity consumption.
3 February, 2009
Oxfam GB, an international NGO working to end poverty and suffering, says that unending negative social-cultural practices also contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in Rwanda. The organisation’s programme coordinator Irene Kaindi, points out that some Rwandans still hold on to outdated traditional beliefs, including for examle that a woman belongs to the entire family.
3 February, 2009
The NGO, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) has expressed concern over increasing cases of torture and various forms of brutalisation against helpless people in Nigeria. PRAWA noted that the brutality and torture being inflicted by some policemen and other security agents was common knowledge. It called on the government and other bodies to find a lasting solution to the problem. Executive director of PRAWA, Uju Agomoh said, "We believe that it is necessary that we do something to address this issue not just complain about it.”
3 February, 2009
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has launched its first journal, described as a barometer of human rights post-apartheid. The Human Rights Journal  is aimed at reviewing the impact of human rights practices in the country with the advent of democracy. The journal includes a review of last year’s electricity crisis, HIVand  AIDS, equality and national security. Emphasis is placed on how these issues affect the poor.
3 February, 2009
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has expressed concern over shortages of antiretrovirals and other medicines in the Free State.
3 February, 2009
Judge President Justice Vuka Tshabalala, has dismissed an application by Abahlali Basejondolo in a case concerning the constitutionality of the Slums Act in the Durban High Court last week. Abahlali Basejondolo argued that the Slums Act is in conflict with the provisions of the Housing Act and the Prevention of the Illegal Eviction Act. It argued that the Slums Act is unconstitutional as it purports to regulate eviction, land tenure and access to land matters, which fall outside the legislative competence of the provincial government.
3 February, 2009
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has appealed for US$1 billion to respond to overlooked emergencies that it said are causing worsening hunger, disease and poverty for women and children, especially in Africa. UNICEF’s Ann Veneman points out that the agency needs 17 percent more money in 2009 than last year because of increased needs in eastern and southern Africa. Veneman states this money will also help the organisation in its efforts to deal with cholera and flood fears, which compound an economic crisis.
3 February, 2009
The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) is investigating African National Congress national executive committee member Tokyo Sexwale, for his alleged derogatory statements. CGE chairperson, Nomboniso Gasa says, “If Mr Sexwale indeed said that, we call on him to retract or apologise for the statements.” Gasa has described the statements as “irresponsible and regrettable”.
3 February, 2009
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) says food aid is now being distributed to 900 000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of Israel's devastating military offensive in the territory. UNRWA’s John Ging, points out, "We have increased the numbers on our food distribution to 900 000 of the one million refugees here."  "We are also distributing millions of dollars of cash assistance to those who have had their house damaged and need temporary shelters," Ging told a press conference.
3 February, 2009
AfriForum has accused the African National Congress (ANC) in the Free State of forcing the University of the Free State (UFS) into appointing a party loyalist as new Rector. AfriForum CEO, Kallie Kriel, has also criticised the disapproval voiced by the ANC spokesperson in that province, Teboho Sikisi, about the shortlist of five candidates and his demand that the so-called "progressive black academic" should be appointed.
3 February, 2009
The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts the number of deaths from the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe at 3 000. WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib, points out that the cholera situationis not under control, but out of control, and it will remain so for the near future. Chaib states that "We're seeing the worst-case scenario of 60 000 [cases] within reach."
3 February, 2009
Sex workers from all around Africa are planning to gather this week at an African Sex Worker Conference, which is aimed at exploring ways to enhance their capacity to defend their human rights. Organisers say the conference will deal with issues of law and law enforcement including how to decrease the number of arbitrary arrests; how to get legal recourse for police brutality and state-sanctioned violence; and how to advocate for the decriminalisation of sex work.
2 February, 2009
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has called for calm following the shooting of three people inNongoma. IEC chief electoral officer, Pansy Tlakula says, “We are obviously concerned because it is going to be very difficult for us to conduct free and fair elections in an atmosphere where there is violence and a lack of political tolerance.” The electoral code of conduct only comes into effect after the president has announced the election date.

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