Daily Archives: June 12, 2017

North West Legislature debates 20 Years of Constitution and ...

NW Legislature to Hold a Sitting Debate to Commemorate 20 Years of the Constitution and 20 Years since the Establishment of NCOP

On Tuesday, 13 June 2017, the Speaker of the North West Provincial Legislature, Hon. Sussana Dantjie, will be presiding over a Sitting debate to Commemorate 20 years of the Constitution and 20 years since the establishment of the National Council of Provinces, (NCOP).

Amongst other objectives, the Sitting aims to pay tribute to political masterminds, negotiators and drafters (pioneers) of the Constitution; celebrate two decades of South Africa's first democratic Constitution and the achievements in political; social, economic, freedom and human rights; and the rule of law to all South Africans.

All members of political parties will be debating on the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the certification of the final Constitution and highlight the second decade since inception of the NCOP. Amongst others, the debate will focus on the role the Legislature in a Constitutional democracy and will include reflections and experiences in the constitution-drafting process.

Source: Government of South Africa

Falling Cocoa Prices Threaten Child Labor Spike in Ghana, Ivory Coast

DAKAR � A drop in global cocoa prices threatens to undermine efforts to stamp out child labor in Ghana and Ivory Coast, the world's two biggest growers, as falling incomes could force farmers to send their children to work, charities said on Monday.

More than two million children are estimated to work in the cocoa industry across the two West African nations, where they carry heavy loads, spray pesticides and fell trees using sharp tools, according to the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI).

The countries' governments, civil society groups and some of the world's top chocolate producers have in recent years ramped up efforts to tackle child labor in supply chains, invest in cocoa growing communities, and get more children into school.

Yet the economies of Ghana and Ivory Coast, which together account for more than 60 percent of the world's cocoa supply, have been hit hard by a sharp drop in world prices that have seen cocoa futures plummet by around a third since last summer.

"If these low prices translate into lower incomes for poor families, and household poverty gets worse, we are worried that the risk of child labor will increase," Nick Weatherill, executive director of ICI, told Reuters.

Children could be taken out of school if their families can no longer pay the costs, and many may be made to work on cocoa farms if growers cannot afford to employ laborers, he added.

"The drop in prices does create greater vulnerability ... [due to] further demand in an already strained landscape," Ruth Dearnley, chief executive officer of Stop The Traffik, said as charities and activists marked World Day Against Child Labor.

Since reports of child labor on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast emerged in the late 1990s, the chocolate industry has been under pressure to prove its beans are not cultivated by children.

The ICI said its child labor monitoring and remediation system (CLMRS), which it has established in the supply chains of cocoa giants Cargill and Nestle, expanded last year to cover about 60,000 cocoa farming households in Ghana and Ivory Coast.

A report earlier this year by Stop the Traffik which analyzed the sustainability efforts of some of the world's leading chocolate companies found that Nestle had the best CLMRS and was the most transparent at reporting cases of child labor.

"Whilst the drop in cocoa prices could potentially undermine civil society efforts to date ... the reality is that these efforts are more critical than ever," Dearnley added.

Source: Voice of America

Angola: Funds urgently needed as Congolese refugee influx overwhelms ...

As refugees fleeing violence and communal tensions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo continue to arrive in neighbouring Angola, the United Nations refugee agency has appealed for more resources to cope with the influx and to provide those coming with the support they urgently need.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), some 30,000 people have arrived in Angola's Lunda Norte province since April and there are fears that the number could reach 50,000, with about 300-500 people arriving daily.

Angola is providing a warm welcome, but reception centres accommodating refugees, are full beyond their capacity and basic services cannot be maintained without immediate donor support, said Valentin Tapsoba, the UNHCR's Africa Bureau Director, in a news release today.

He added that the refugees are traumatized and humanitarian agencies require urgent support to ensure that life-saving assistance and protection can be provided to those in need.

The arrivals have mostly been from the Kasai provinces in the DRC, where they were at risk of serious human rights violations and abuses, including physical mutilation, killing, sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention in inhumane conditions.

The Kasais were the location of the discovery of some 42 mass graves, in April by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The discoveries further underscored the gravity of the situation.

About 1.3 million people remain displaced internally in the DRC.

Those reaching Angola also expressed fear returning back unless the situation allows for safe and dignified return, noted UNHCR in the release.

Sustaining life-saving assistance not possible without more funding � UNHCR

In the news release, the UN refugee agency also said that Angola, a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, has historically hosted refugees from its neighbours � including DRC.

Prior to the recent influx, the country housed some 15,600 refugees � including more than 13,400 from the DRC.

However, with arrivals increasing and apprehensions that the situation could get much worse additional funding is urgently needed.

Sustaining life-saving assistance won't be possible without more funding, said UNHCR, noting that together with its partners, some $65 million are required � of which the UN agency needs $35 million (until the end of the year) to reach refugees in remote parts of Angola, who are the most vulnerable.

Current humanitarian efforts are supported with $10 million by the UN Central Emergency Fund, a limited pool of financial resources that provides funding to critical, life-saving humanitarian rapid response and underfunded operations around the globe.

Source: UN News Centre

Firefighters thanked for their brave efforts

Pretoria - Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa has commended firefighters from the Department of Environmental Affairs' Working on Fire (WoF) programme for their brave efforts in providing assistance to fire authorities in the Eastern and Southern Cape.

In one of the largest local deployment of firefighting services, WoF has deployed more than 800 firefighters in Knysna and Natures Valley. About 450 of these firefighters are in Knysna forming the bulk of firefighting efforts in the area.

In the Sarah Baartman District, Working on Fire will have close to 400 firefighters assembled by this afternoon, the department said.

The department said an additional 50 firefighters from Gauteng, flew into Port Elizabeth this morning to bolster firefighting efforts in the Eastern Cape.

The aviation unit of WoF has also been activated with two spotter planes, four helicopters and one Airtractor 802 water bomber supplementing by the South African National Defence Force helicopters deployed in the Southern Cape.

Due to the unpredictable nature and fluidity of wildfires, I encourage local communities to heed all warnings from disaster management officials as our firefighters work swiftly to contain the fires, said Minister Molewa.

Multiple wild fires have engulfed parts of the Southern Cape, in particular the coastal town of Knysna, which led to loss of life and several communities having to evacuate their homes.

The department has expressed condolences to the affected communities in the Southern Cape for the loss of life, injuries and loss of property, and expressed gratitude to the firefighters for their tireless effort on the frontline.

The department said firefighting efforts have been severely hampered by strong gusty winds and with the dry and hot temperatures at times, a number of smaller runaway fires flared up across the greater Knysna area.

Minister Molewa has reiterated the importance for South Africa and Africa as a whole of adapting to climate change, referring to recent natural disasters like the droughts, fires and floods.

The entire country was gripped in one of the most devastating droughts in living memory over the last two to three years with some parts still being severely impacted on by droughts with a negative effect on our economy as a whole.

The Western Cape dams had been reduced to less than 10% of their extractable water before the floods of the last few days.

A similar scenario played itself out in in other parts of the country, with Gauteng being hit by cloudbursts and subsequent flooding.

While the northern parts of the country had heavy rain, in contrast the Western Cape had one of the worst wild fire seasons in more than a decade.

A similar scenario played itself out on a smaller geographical scale in the Western Cape last week, with the western parts of the province receiving heavy rains and the Southern Cape having hot and very windy days which largely lead to the fires getting out of control.

Although we cannot change the weather, we can adapt to it by using our renewable resources such as water and land wisely, said Minister Molewa.

The department's environmental programmes which include Working on Fire, Working for Water, Working for Wetlands, Working for Ecosystems, Working for Land and Working for the Coast all focus on restoring and conserving our water, soil and biodiversity resources.

The aim is to restore our natural landscapes in order to be more resilient to droughts, floods and fires while enhancing the consumptive and non-consumptive use of our resources.

The clearing of invasive alien plants from our catchments and rivers for example not only improves stream flow during dry periods but reduces the risk of flooding by clearing dense stands of invasives that clog up river courses, the Minister said.

Healthy wetlands slow down floods and improve water infiltration and a mosaic of veld ages in fire prone biomes like the fynbos, the savannahs and the grasslands minimizes the risk of disaster fires.

Minister Molewa has reiterated the necessity of respecting the potential impact of fires on the wildland urban and commercial agriculture interface; as a serious build-up of invasive alien plant invasions increases the risk of fire damage.

Working on Fire programme will in due course assess the areas burnt during the fires in the Southern Cape to see where invasive alien plants could have contributed to the severity of the fires and in the process added to the damage.

Source: South African Government News Agency