Newsflashes

14 May, 2009
The Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement, a NGO working towards improving the living conditions of shack dwellers, is challenging the KwaZulu-Natal’s Slums Act in the Constitutional Court. Abahlali baseMjondolo spokesperson, Mnikelo Ndabankulu, points out that, “The Act was imposed by the KwaZulu-Natal department of housing. This act was imposed against the will of the poor who the government is meant to serve. It is a clear attack on the poor."
14 May, 2009
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has confirmed that one of its employees has been killed in renewed shelling of Tamil Tiger-held territory in north-east Sri Lanka. ICRC's spokesperson in Colombo, Sarasi Wijeratne, said the the deceased and his mother were killed after they were hit by a shell. The organisation did not say who was responsible for the attack. Sri Lankan authorities have fiercely denied they are using heavy weapons.
14 May, 2009
Women’s rights group Gender Links has condemned both the Democratic Alliance leader, Helen Zille and the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) for the “sexist slurs”. Gender Links executive director, Colleen Lowe-Morna, criticised Zille, the Western Cape premier who came under fire for her all-male executive council, and the ANCYL, who accused Zille of sleeping around with these executive members, for their mud-slinging match.
14 May, 2009
International aid agency, Oxfam, has warned that the United Nations-backed plans to attack Hutu rebels in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo will lead to civilian deaths and widespread suffering. Oxfam believes the plan will lead to a repeat of the January situation in which civilians were killed and 250 000 displaced when Rwandan and Congolese troops joined forces to target the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
14 May, 2009
Vodacom has launched the HTC Magic Android-based phone just a few days after MTN announced it will be providing the HTC Dream which also runs the Google operating system. Android is developed by Google and is maintained by the Open Handset Alliance and as an operating system; it is available to third-party handset vendors. So far, only HTC has Android-based phones available.
14 May, 2009
The Sudanese government has announced that it will allow applications from new international NGOs to operate in the western Darfur region, filling the gap left when the government expelled 13 agencies. The announcement comes as the UN’s Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes, continued a trip to the country, meeting leaders in the semi-autonomous southern region.
14 May, 2009
The Department Water and Environmental Affairs (DWEA) has released its first annual report on the quality of drinking water. The report shows that only 22 of the country’s 284 municipalities achieved more than 95% compliance with the management of quality standards.
14 May, 2009
Software piracy on personal computers (PCs) in South Africa rose marginally from 34% to 35 percent between 2007 and 2008, resulting in a R3,1 billion loss for the industry. This is according to an annual global PC software piracy study released by the Business Software Alliance. Industrial Development Corporation’s associate vice-president of IT markets, Marcel Warmerdam, points out that one of the reasons for the increase in software piracy is the growth of the PC market.
14 May, 2009
The Department of Local Government in Gauteng has suspended its planned removal of Zimbabwean refugees from the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg for now. Department spokesperson, Daniel Ramarumo, says they are working as a task team to relocate the Zimbabweans as soon as possible. Ramarumo states that deals reached with the five locations have been cancelled because their fees to accommodate the refugees were very high. He says the department is appealing to companies and individuals to come on board to help address the situation.
14 May, 2009
The United States Coalition for Child Survival has warned that diarrhoea might wreak havoc in poor countries in Africa. The organisation points out that the disease is already killing 1.6 million children a year in these countries. It says millions of babies between birth and the age of five die, mostly from preventable diseases. It further estimates that over half a million women in poor countries also die from pregnancy-related diseases, due to unsafe drinking water and malnutrition.
13 May, 2009
Prominent Venezuelan NGOs have warned that a bill being drafted by lawmakers loyal to President Hugo Chavez could be used to financially strangle groups that criticize the government. Liliana Ortega, who leads the human rights group, Cofavic, points out that the bill puts in danger the existence of organisations that make the government uncomfortable.
12 May, 2009
Zimbabwean journalists want the country's new unity government to scrap tough media laws which critics say President Robert Mugabe has used to muzzle his opponents. The move follows a demand from western donors that the unity government carry out wider political and media reforms before they can commit funding to the country’s economic recovery programme.
12 May, 2009
Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 7, its new-generation computer operating system, will be available before the end of 2009. Senior vice president of the Windows Business at Microsoft, Bill Veghte, points out that the company is anticipating that the next version of its client operating system, Windows 7, will be available to customers in time for the holiday shopping season. Last week, Microsoft released a nearly-final version of Window 7 known as Windows 7 Release Candidate and invited feedback from the public.
12 May, 2009
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has welcomed the appointment of new health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi. However, TAC’s Rebecca Hodes points out that, “... Motsoaledi has to work hard to be able to deliver on the national strategic plan which aims to provide 80 percent of people living by 2011 with HIV with treatment.” Hodes says Motsoaledi must eradicate the antiretroviral (ARV) waiting list because people are dying of opportunistic infections as a result of low immune systems.
12 May, 2009
The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has trained about 20 traditional healers on subjects such as mental illness, depression and suicide. SADAG says 72 percent of black South Africans consult traditional healers before seeing medical doctors for conditions such as schizophrenia and HIV and AIDS. “If traditional healers understand mental illness it will be easier for them to refer their patients to doctors or counsellors,” says SADAG manager, Lefate Makunyane.

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