Newsflashes

23 January, 2009
South Africa may soon start manufacturing its own antiretroviral drugs to give more people living with HIV a chance to access the life-saving medication. This was announced by Parliament’s deputy speaker, Nozizwe Madlala- Routledge. Speaking at the opening of a training session for parliamentarians from east and southern Africa on improving access to antiretrovirals, Madlala-Routledge, expressed concern that, “The high cost of drugs is making it impossible for people to access the drugs.”
23 January, 2009
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on African leaders to intervene in Zimbabwe's political deadlock, saying Robert Mugabe's government is responsible for the country's humanitarian crisis. HRW wants the African Union (AU), which meets in Ethiopia in next week, to step into regional mediation efforts which it says have failed to solve the political stand-off or act against rights abuses.
23 January, 2009
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has added its voice to a coalition of civil society organisations calling for a revision of the presidential pardon process to address politically motivated crimes. SAHRC chairperson, Jody Kollapen, says that if a special mechanism is set up to complete the unfinished business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), that mechanism should follow the philosophy and architecture of the TRC.
23 January, 2009
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has assured South Africans that it is prepared for any date for the elections. IEC chairperson, Brigalia Bam, told NGOs and FBOs that the commission has put all the necessary steps in place to ensure that the elections will be free and fair. Bam says that unlike in other elections, 1 648 189 people have registered for the first time, with 77,9 percent of the new registrations falling in the youth category, which is in the 18 to 29 age bracket.
23 January, 2009
Eskom says that while costs for its two new power plants had risen on the back of volatile commodity markets, they will be completed on time. Company spokesperson, Fani Zulu, points out that the costs for the Medupi power station had risen to R100 billion from previous estimates of R84-billion. Costs for Kusile are now estimated at R111 billion, up from previous forecasts of R80 billion.
23 January, 2009
A member of the Elders, Graça Machel, has criticised Southern African leaders for failing to save Zimbabweans from a government which she says has “lost all legitimacy.” Speaking at the launch of the Save Zimbabwe Now campaign, Machel pointed out that like ZANU-PF, other liberation movements in Southern Africa are following the same route. "What has happened in the meantime in Zimbabwe? Those colleagues of mine from yesterday now brutalise their own people simply because the people consciously voted them out”, she said.
21 January, 2009
Eight Israeli human hights organisations are demanding an investigation into the conduct of the army during the war in Gaza. ‘We call on the government's legal adviser to act now to the establishment of an independent investigative expertise that can not be questioned,’ the NGO wrote in a statement. While noting that Israel had been subjected to Palestinian rocket attacks from Ghaza against civilians, which is a serious violation of international law, the NGOs believe that it does not give Israel the right to do the same thing.
21 January, 2009
Three NGOs in Zimbabwe have distributed cholera prevention kits to residents in Harare. Action Aid, Oxfam and the Methodist Development and Relief Agency distributed soap, aqua tablets and information fliers to residents to prevent the disease that has already claimed the lives of more than 2 000 Zimbabweans. Action Aid cholera response coordinator, George Matonhodze, points out that disadvantaged people and those living on the outskirts of the city were receiving less support and lacked knowledge about the disease.
20 January, 2009
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has condemned the deportation of a Cape Town musician who was kicked out of China due to her HIV-positive status. The woman, who refused to be named, has since returned to Cape Town after she was allegedly ordered by the Chinese authorities to leave that country when her blood tests showed she was HIV-positive. TAC has described the singer's deportation a "gross human rights violation" and a "setback" to the prevention and anti-stigmatisation campaigning doneby AIDS activists.
20 January, 2009
Black Sash, a social and human rights NGO, has urged 14-year-olds who need financial support to apply for grants before the school year gets underway. In a press statement, Black Sash reminded vulnerable youngsters that they could apply for the child support grant even if they did not have an identity document or birth certificate. It says children are also entitled to receive Social Relief of Distress while they wait for their approved application to be processed.
20 January, 2009
Chief Justice Pius Langa has slammed attacks against the judiciary, saying they impugn one of the pillars of our democracy. Addressing the media ahead of this weekend’s inaugural World Conference on Constitutional Justice, Langa pointed out that while he expects people to scrutinise their judgments, this criticism must not "jeopardise or impugn the integrity or dignity of the judgment."
20 January, 2009
Neotel, South Africa's second network operator, has launched its first dedicated broadband offering, NeoFlex Data. The product, styled as a "multi-user Internet solution", is aimed at small office and home users and expected to compete with Telkom's ADSL. Head of Neotel's consumer business unit, Mukul Sharma says, "These packages are extremely cost effective and should easily cater for the internet requirements of small businesses and high-end consumers.
19 January, 2009
Telecommunications company MTN and Neotel have announced that they will co-build a long-distance fibre optic network connecting major centres around the country. MTN director, Kim Lowry says, "This co-build agreement with Neotel marks the biggest collaboration in the South African telecommunications industry, and is a defining moment in the history of the country."
19 January, 2009
Human Rights Watch (HRW) has described South Africa’s commitment to addressing the barriers to the enjoyment of human rights as “inadequate”. HRW also singled out the country as a global human rights offender saying that it used its temporary seat on the UN Security Council to protect human rights offenders, notably Sudan and Zimbabwe.
19 January, 2009
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) says pregnant girls aged between 15 and 19 account for 70 000 of the 500 000 deaths related to childbirth complications worldwide. UNICEF executive director, Ann Veneman, points out that forced marriages are a contributing factor to girls’ vulnerability to early pregnant, contracting HIV and being sexually abused. She was speaking at the launch of the 2009 State of the World’s Children in Johannesburg.

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