Newsflashes

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.
19 January, 2009
The Save our SABC Coalition has come out in support of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), urging President Kgalema Motlanthe to sign the Broadcasting Amendment Bill as soon as possible. “The president needs to sign the Broadcasting Amendment Bill as soon as possible so that an investigation of the SABC board could start right away”, says Coalition spokesperson, Kate Skinner.
19 January, 2009
The National Peoples Movement, a political party against gays and lesbians, is to contest this year’s general elections. The party president, Aubrey Mbatha, says, “Gays and lesbians are ungodly and sinful, but so are laws allowing children to abort without their parents’ consent, and we oppose the banning of corporal punishment at schools and homes.” The National Peoples Movement, which claims to be lobbying for a theocratic democracy, was launched in KwaZulu-Natal four years ago.
19 January, 2009
Afriforum youth says the rights of matriculants who have yet to receive their matric results were being violated. Speaking in Pretoria after a handful of the class of 2008 students protested outside the Department of Education offices, Afriforum youth chairperson, Ernst Roets, described the delay of the matric results as an infringement of students’ rights. The matriculants handed over a memorandum requesting the department to identify persons responsible for the delay in releasing the results and to take disciplinary steps against them.
14 January, 2009
Poverty action group, the Anti Eviction Campaign (AEC), is planning a nationwide boycott of the upcoming general elections and is campaigning for others to follow its lead. Western Cape Provincial AEC Coordinator, Mncedisi Twala, points out that: "Our people have been voting from April 1994. [But] We have never had a fruitful result out of those elections, because all that we see is corruption, nepotism and the promotion of the private sector."
13 January, 2009
Mpumalanga Health and Social Development will donate school uniforms to 10,000 poor children before the end of this month to help parents who can't afford to buy them. The department spokesperson, Abie Ndlela, points out that: "The department acknowledges that going back to school can be very costly, especially with school uniform prices soaring." Ndlela thanked social workers and community development workers for helping the department identify poor children who need school uniforms and food parcels.
13 January, 2009
The Eastern Cape housing department has announced that unemployed graduates will soon be trained to assist the province’s rural communities on how to access government funds for housing. Ddepartment spokesperson, Lwandile Sicwetsha says the move follows the department’s launch of a R3.6 million “housing education consumer” project aimed at helping communities gain access to subsidy programmes.
13 January, 2009
South African state power company Eskom plans to start operating wind turbines this year to boost the country’s supply of electricity. Eskom spokesperson, Fani Zulu, points out that, "We are looking at building 50 wind turbines with two megawatts each before the end of this year across the country... . It is a little more expensive than generating electricity by coal, but by all means it is a worthwhile cost." 
13 January, 2009
South African President Kgalema Motlanthe says that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has underscored the urgent need to reform the United Nations (UN).   “I agree that the UN, and the UN Security Council in particular, is in need of urgent reform in order to become more representative of the world’s population", says Motlanthe.
13 January, 2009
Nigerian CSOs have been offered an opportunity for better involvement in policy formulation and implementation. The offer was made by the special adviser to the president on relations with the civil society, Chineme Ume-Ezeoke, who set a new agenda for CSOs to help foster a robust relationship between the groups and government.
13 January, 2009
Education minister Naledi Pandor says South Africa should have the final 2008 matric examination pass rate by the end of this month, when her department expects to have finished its investigations into about 700 allegations of examination irregularities. Pandor expressed concern about the delay in the release of the results, particularly those for whom continuous assessments were not handed in to the provincial authorities on time.
13 January, 2009
High poverty rates and low education levels are contributing to increased vulnerability to HIV/AIDS in Yemen, especially among commercial sex workers. This is according to the Integrated Care Association for People Living with HIV. The organisation’s secretary-general, Abdul-Hafed al-Ward, points out that most cases of HIV/AIDS involve people with low incomes. Al-Ward maintains that, “Poverty and HIV/AIDS go together and wherever the former exists so does the latter."

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