Governance and democracy

Governance and democracy

  • Sudan Criticised Over Rights Violations

    Amnesty International (AI) says the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) is carrying out a brutal campaign of arbitrary detentions, torture, and mental and physical intimidation against opponents and critics of the government.

    In its latest report, the AI’ Africa programme director, Erwin van der Borght, points out that, “The extensive, multi-pronged assault on the Sudanese people by the security services has left the critics of the government in constant fear of arrest, harassment or worse."

    The organisation further says, "The Sudanese authorities are brutally silencing political opposition and human rights defenders in Sudan through violence and intimidation. NISS agents benefit from total impunity for the human rights violations they continue to commit."

    To read the article titled, “Security service carries out brutal campaign against opponents,” click here.
    All Africa
  • MAG Take Aim at Mining Firm

    Environmentalists have served an application to controversial mining house Coal of Africa, as well as the Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, to stop activities at a proposed coalmine near Mapungubwe immediately.

    The application served on Limpopo Coal, the subsidiary of Coal of Africa, is an attempt by the environmentalists to limit what has already been described an irreversible environmental damage.

    The Mapungubwe Action Group (MAG), an umbrella group consisting out of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the Association of Southern African Professional Archaeologists, Peace Parks Foundation, WWF, Birdlife of South Africa and the Wilderness Foundation of South Africa, is driving the court action.

    To read the article titled, “Mapungubwe Action Group take aim at mining firm,” click here.
  • Social Justice Organisations Denounce the Arrest of Sunday Times Journalist, Mzilikazi wa Afrika

    Press Release

    6 August 2010

    A free press is essential to democracy, transparency and the attainment of equality

    We are organisations that campaign for social justice. The success of our work is dependent on respect for the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights. The right to free expression and freedom of the press and other media are essential components of democracy. That is why they are contained in the Bill of Rights. They are one of the essential means by which all people in South Africa, especially the vulnerable, exploited and poor, can hold government and the powerful private business sector to account.

    This week Mzilikazi wa Afrika, a Sunday Times journalist, was arrested in Rosebank Johannesburg. The circumstances, manner and cause of his arrest all seem to point to intimidation by the state and attempts to suppress freedom of expression.

    The arrest follows the exposure by the Sunday Times of questionable dealings by the National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele. It comes during a national debate over proposed legislation to curtail press freedom, i.e. proposals for a new Protection of Information Act, changes to the Criminal Procedure Act and the ANC's proposals to establish a media tribunal.
    We therefore unequivocally condemn the arrest of wa Afrika.

    The media in South Africa, as anywhere else in the world, is very powerful and influential. We are not blind to its many shortcomings. The quality of journalism in South Africa is often mediocre. Newspapers, magazines and television sometimes make serious errors, permit unethical advertising and sometimes make false charges against individuals.

    We are concerned that the main media houses are overly concentrated in the hands of a few large corporations and consequently primarily represent the interests of a relatively small affluent portion of the population, thereby paying insufficient attention to the interests of poor and working class people.

    There is undoubtedly a need for a better, more equal and more socially responsible media. There is a need for an informed public debate about the media, which the media should listen to. There is a need to democratise the media. There is a need for civil society oversight of the SABC to ensure that it is truly a public and politically independent broadcaster. There is a need to re-examine the institutions that are meant to govern the media and protect people from it abusing its power. There is a need to strengthen and enforce media ethics and to examine how this can be done.

    But having said all this we restate that the non-negotiable starting point for this discussion is agreement that a free press plays a critical role in holding government, the private sector and their media competitors to account. Draconian anti-media legislation will make this impossible.

    Over recent years there have been many occasions when serious media investigation and publication has helped to root out corruption and, expose wrongdoing and unethical conduct. This is vital to the reconstruction of SA. Thus the exposure and ultimate conviction of corrupt former Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, was a direct result of investigative work by the Mail & Guardian and others. Thabo Mbeki's deadly AIDS denialism was justifiably the source of media condemnation. The media's role in highlighting campaigns for social justice is also critical, for example the shortage of school libraries, the rollout of an unsafe circumcision device in Kwazulu-Natal, the failure to provide private toilets in parts of Khayelitsha, the harassment faced by sex workers and hate crimes against foreigners, women and gays and lesbians.

    Unfortunately, we believe the crackdown on the media being encouraged by parts of government, some in the ANC and probably influential ‘tenderpreneurs’ and predatory elites is not aimed at improving the quality and responsibility of the media, or making it more equal. Instead it is aimed at hiding corruption, frustrating accountability and covering up service delivery failure. These are problems that now permeate every level of government; at national level, in all nine provinces and in most districts.

    The Constitution was won by the sweat and blood of people who opposed and defeated apartheid censorship and repression. A brave, even if unfree, media played a part in this. We therefore wish to issue a warning to the Cabinet and all those groups and individuals that we will campaign against all attempts to undermine press freedom and the Constitution. We are committed to equality, social justice and honest government. We will defend the Bill of Rights. We will not be intimidated and we will not stand by and let the erosion of our fundamental freedoms happen.

    Released by (in alphabetical order): Abahlali baseMjondolo, AIDC, Anti Privatisation Forum, Equal Education, Landless People's Movement, Lesbian and Gay Equality Project (LGEP), Rural Network, Social Justice Coalition, SECTION27, Students for Law and Social Justice, SWEAT, Treatment Action Campaign, Unemployed People's Movement, Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign.


    Abahlali baseMjondolo, together with with Landless People's Movement (Gauteng), the Rural Network (KwaZulu-Natal) and the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, is part of the Poor People's Alliance - a national network of democratic membership based poor people's movements.

    Abahlali baseMjondolo

    Khayelitsha Struggles

    Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign

    To contact Abahlali baseMjondolo in Durban please email abahlalibasemjonfolo [at] or phone 031 - 304 6420

    To contact Abahlali baseMjondolo in Cape Town please email abmwesterncape [at] or phone Mzonke Poni on 073 246 2036

    To contact the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign, also in Cape Town, email aec [at] or phone Ashraf Cassiem at 076 186 1408.

    To contact the Landless People's Movement in Gauteng email Bongani Xezwi at bongani.xezwi [at] or phone Maureen Mnisi on 082 337 4514.

    To contact the Rural Network in KwaZulu-Natal contact email ruralnetwork.kzn[ at] or phone Reverend Mavuso on 072 279 2634.

    AbM Facebook Group:

    AEC Facebook Group:

    Abahlali baseMjondolo Solidarity Campaign Network UK

    Abahlali baseMjondolo Solidarity Group Namibia

    Solidarity with Abahlali baseMjondolo in Italy

    Solidarity with the Poor People's Alliance in Germany

    Dear Mandela

    Land & Freedom!
    Date published: 
    Social Justice Organisations
  • 20 Arrested Over Lesbian Relationships

    Media reports from Zimbabwe say up to 20 Eveline High School girls in Bulawayo have been arrested for practising lesbian relationships.

    Bulawayo acting provincial police spokesperson, assistant inspector, Bekimpilo Ndlovu, points out that, "The matter is very delicate and cannot be discussed at the moment because that might jeopardise our investigations.

    Meanwhile, Carlton club president, Theresa Ndlovu, expressed disappointment at the developments saying her vision is to empower girls through soccer. The girls play for Carlton Football Club.

    To read the article titled, “20 Eveline High school girls arrested for lesbian relationships,” click here.
    The ZimDiaspora
  • Press Tribunal a Blow to Media Freedom – Louw

    The Press Council of South Africa takes issue with a call by the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) for a statutory media appeals tribunal.

    In a press statement, the Council’s chairperson, Raymond Louw, points out that imposing of such a tribunal on the press has nothing to do with promoting press freedom but everything to do with the way the press reports on the conduct of governance, including the conduct of Cabinet ministers and other senior officials of the ANC.

    Louw argues that the ANC and the SACP do not want the public to be told of their poor governance, corruption by ‘tenderpreneurs’ and lavish life-styles, but want the press to report the ANC’s version of what is happening.

    To read the article titled, “Press Council warns against media tribunal,” click here.
  • NGO Calls for Withdrawal of Information Bill

    The South African chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA - SA) has added its voice to those calling for the withdrawal of the Protection of Information Bill.

    MISA – SA says it is deeply concerned about a number of provisions in the Bill which provides for penalties that could ensnare journalists and subject them to jail terms.

    The organisation calls for the withdrawal of the Bill and its framing, after proper consultation with stakeholders such as the media, more narrowly so that the maximum amount of information is still available to the public.

    To read the article titled, “MISA call: Withdraw info bill,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • UAE to Suspend Blackberry Services

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) says it plans to block some messaging and Web services on BlackBerry smartphones.

    The announcement, which comes days after the country warned the device could pose a potential threat to national security and social values, will see BlackBerry messaging, e-mail and web browsing services suspended starting October 11.

    The government has singled out BlackBerry, and not other phones that can access e-mail and the Web, because the devices automatically send users' data to servers overseas, where local laws do not apply.

    To read the article titled, “UAE to block Blackberry services,” click here.
    Sunday Times
  • Zanzibar Holds a Referendum

    Zanzibar held a referendum aimed at forming a coalition after upcoming polls in a bid to neutralise the blood and hatred that have blighted the Tanzanian islands' politics for decades.

    The referendum got under way peacefully on the semi-autonomous territory's two islands of Unguja and Pemba and the principle of a national unity government following 31 October polls was expected to be widely endorsed.

    The referendum seeks approval for an amendment to the constitution that will create two vice president positions to be split between the parties that come first and second in parliamentary polls.

    To read to read the titled, “Zanzibar votes on ‘peace govt’,” click here.
  • Zille Commended Over 50/50 Equity Share

    Agriculture Minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has congratulated Western Cape Premier, Helen Zille, for suggesting a 50/50 equity share scheme between farmers and their workers.

    Speaking at a two-day farm workers’ summit in Somerset West outside of Cape Town, “If Premier Zille is saying 50/50, then it is radical and she deserves a round of applause for that.”

    Zille said in her speech equity share schemes are ‘desirable’ as a model of genuine broad-based black economic empowerment, adding that “When equity share schemes work they are productive, sustainable and offer real empowerment.”

    To read the article titled, “Agriculture: ‘50/50 equity way forward’,” click here.
  • SANEF to Engage ANC on Media Freedom

    The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) will request a meeting with the African National Congress (ANC) to have a ‘decent conversation’ about media freedom.

    SANEF chairperson, Mondli Makhanya, points out that, "There seems to be a huge gulf that has developed between the ANC and the media. We want to sit down with them and a have a decent conversation."

    Makhanya, who says there is no way SANEF will ever be open to the idea of such a tribunal, adds that, "A media tribunal will be unconstitutional and totally against media freedom."

    To read the article titled, “SANEF wants decent talk with ANC,” click here.
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