Newsflashes

10 February, 2009
The Nelson Mandela Foundation has launched an initiative to promote peace in divided communities previously plagued by xenophobic attacks. Head of the dialogue programme, Mothomang Diaho, points out that: “We cannot deny the fact that there have really been traumatised communities and that is why the focus is on those communities where there have been attacks.”
10 February, 2009
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) says it will liaise with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to report threats of violence and intimidation towards journalists. SANEF chairperson, Henry Jeffreys, points out that council members have been particularly concerned about the possibility of violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
10 February, 2009
The Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) has warned that allowing South Africans living abroad to vote will be a “logistical nightmare” and could further delay the announcement of the election date. EISA election and political processes manager, Titi Pitso, points out that: “Logistically it would be a nightmare, it would mean setting up voting stations across the globe... it will impact on the closing date of the voters roll...”
10 February, 2009
Gender activists at the Botswana Council of Non Governmental Organisation Organisations (BOCONGO) have described governments move to regulate traditional brews as “crazy.”  BOCONGO’s Maungo Mooki says that this will result in loss of income for many families. Mooki states that the majority of traditional brewers are women who need the money to send their children to school and keep their families going.
10 February, 2009
A task team made up of women from government and NGOs is expected to finalise a concept paper next week and present it to Cabinet by the end of the month. Minister in the presidency, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, points out that: "The ministry's powers and functions will include policy and legislation, planning coordination, advocacy, programme implementation in areas such as poverty, managing South Africa's international relations and reporting on women and gender and also has its own deputy director."
10 February, 2009
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is disturbed by reports that voters belonging to certain political parties were purged from the voters’ roll. IEC chairperson, Brigalia Bam, has urged parties affected to submit evidence of such irregularities to them.
10 February, 2009
The Pretoria High Court has ruled that South Africans abroad should be allowed to vote. Handing down judgment, Acting Judge Piet Ebersohn ruled that the Electoral Act infringes on the rights of South Africans living abroad. The court ordered the Independent Electoral Commission to change its voting procedures so as to allow South Africans living abroad to vote. The court ruled that the Act "limit" the casting of votes to people temporarily living abroad. It referred the judgment to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.
6 February, 2009
President Kgalema Motlanthe has acknowledged that government is “painfully aware” that abject poverty and the level of inequality are too high. He was delivering his State of the Nation address in Parliament. Motlanthe says that income poverty especially among African and coloured communities has declined, partly as a result of higher rates of employment and access to social grants. He says that: “While the number of grant beneficiaries was 2,5-million in 1999, by 2008 this had increased to 12,4-million.”
6 February, 2009
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHRC) says it wants to relocate Somali refugees in Kenya, citing over-crowdedness. UNHCR deputy commissioner, Craig Johnstone points out that the camp in which the refugees are living hosts more than double the number required. He says the refugee population has grown rapidly in the past two years despite Kenya closing its border with Somalia two years ago.
6 February, 2009
The Minister of Social Development, Zola Skweyiya, has appealed to NGOs not to create a false impression that the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant is accessible by all South Africans, regardless of their economic standing. Skweyiya says, "We appeal further to our traditional and local leaders, NGOs and faith based organisations who are assisting us in identifying and reaching poor households to dispense accurate information about who qualifies for the SRD."
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.”

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