Newsflashes

20 February, 2009
According to Statistics South Africa, the gross income earned by the farming sector during the financial year ending 28 February 2007 was R79,5 billion. Stats SA project manager, Moses Mnyaka, who released the key findings of the census of commercial agriculture 2007, says that there is a comparable increase of 49,2 percent from the R53,3 billion gross income recorded in the 2002 survey.
20 February, 2009
The Eastern Cape Housing Department says it will spend about R100 million on repairing over 1 000 defective RDP houses. Department spokesperson, Lwandile Sicwetsha, points out that work has resumed on fixing the defective houses in the Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo district municipalities, which were built after 1994. Sicwetsha says that the money came from the R552 million remaining in the department's budget for flagship projects, existing projects and new projects.
20 February, 2009
The Department of Health and Social Development in Limpopo has admitted that it is losing the war on cholera. It says the number of new cholera cases is still rising despite efforts to curb the spread of the disease. Department spokesperson, Phuti Seloba, says that there were 30 new cases recorded this week, bringngs to 4538 the total number of cases that have been seen since the outbreak of the disease in November last year.
20 February, 2009
AgriSA says genetically modified (GM) maize crops grew by 10 000 hectares and South Africa remains the eighth biggest producer of GM foods in the world.
20 February, 2009
The International Land Coalition has warned that big purchases of African land by richer countries in a drive for food security could fuel unrest if the rights of local farmers are not taken into consideration. The director of the Coalition, Madiodio Niasse, says there is a general lack of transparency in international land transactions that need to be addressed. "Since the middle of 2008, there has been this huge international trend of purchasing land abroad", he says.
18 February, 2009
Jordan is considering revisiting a controversial civil society law that local and international rights groups have criticised for taking too much control over the funding, registration and monitoring activities of NGOs. The country’s parliament hastily endorsed the law last year, drawing the ire of the NGOs, which said they were not even consulted when the law was drafted.
18 February, 2009
Research undertaken by the International Organisation on Migration (IOM) has found that 50 percent of undocumented migrants have experienced rape and robbery in Musina. “Migrants, particularly undocumented ones, are vulnerable to various kinds of abuse, and the majority of the victims do not report the cases to the police, either because of fear of arrest or they simply do not know where to seek assistance”, says IOM’s Yuki Kushimiro.
18 February, 2009
The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) has warned that fraud and corruption in the African National Congress (ANC) could compromise the rule of law in the country.
17 February, 2009
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) says the Zimbabwean cholera epidemic, which has now claimed about 3 400 lives, is part of the country's public health crisis. MSF international president, Christophe Fournier points out that, "It is only the most visible manifestation of a much broader problem in the whole country."
17 February, 2009
The GSMA mobile phone industry association has announced an agreement among 17 mobile phone operators and major handset makers to standardise chargers by 2012.  The move means no matter what brand of phone you buy, the chargers should be interchangeable, making it possible to charge a phone from any available charger even if you leave yours at home.
17 February, 2009
Scientists have warned that the use of crop-based biofuels could speed up rather than slow down global warming by fuelling the destruction of rainforests. They say once heralded as the answer to oil, biofuels have become increasingly controversial because of their impact on food prices and the amount of energy it takes to produce them. They argue that biofuels have the potential to pump far more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than they could possibly save as a replacement for fossil fuels.
17 February, 2009
The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has renewed its efforts to have the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) articles of association amended in line with legislation and to remove government interference in the broadcaster. The FXI believes that the articles are unlawful and unconstitutional and should be amended. The organisation says that unless this is done by the end of March 2009, it will seek a court order compelling the Minister oCommunications and the SABC to do so.
17 February, 2009
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has denied comments attributed to it that Nigeria is not among countries in Sub-Sahara Africa capable of attaining Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. The comments come after Tuyi Mebawondu, who was referred to as UNDP consultant, said that UNDP did not reckon with Nigeria as one of the Sub-Saharan African countries capable of attaining any of the MDGs in 2015.
17 February, 2009
The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has condemned the shooting of a Pretoria News journalist by police during a demonstration at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). In a press statement, the organisation called on the Independent Complaints Directorate to investigate the incident. "Our information is that police fired rubber bullets indiscriminately at protesters after a member of the protesting crowd threw an object at them," says SANEF.
17 February, 2009
The Sekhukhune District Municipality in Limpopo says it needs about R6 billion for the supply of clean water and sanitation to its 1,3 million people in order to fight the spread of cholera. The municipality’s manager, Ishmael Kgetjepe points out that the shortage of toilets in rural areas often forced villagers to use open fields to relieve themselves. He argues that when it rains the excrement is washed into rivers, contaminating them. Kgetejepe says that the money is needed to improve the situation.

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