Monthly Archives: May 2017

Work together to keep children safe

Pretoria � The Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Paul Mashatile, has called on communities to work together with law enforcement to keep children safe.

On Wednesday, MEC Mashatile condemned alleged syndicates reported to be responsible for the spike in child abductions across the province.

On 1 June, many countries all over the world will celebrate the International Day for the Protection of Children. South Africa is currently observing child Protection Week.

As we observe this day in our country, let us pay special attention to the current threats that see so many children go missing daily. We can ill-afford to sit back and fold our arms at a time when our children need us now more than ever, MEC Mashatile said.

He urged mayors and councillors to engage in awareness and other campaigns that promote child safety and abuse.

If we are to turn the situation around and rid our society of the scourge of child abuse and killings, we have to make this day and the Child Protection Week count by uniting as communities and work together with law enforcement agencies in the continuing fight for the safety of our children at home, schools and on our streets, MEC Mashatile said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

UN HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON WATER MEETS IN SOUTH AFRICA

JOHANNESBURG, A panel constituted of high level leaders from several countries around the world is meeting in South Africa to thrash out ways in which water use can be harnessed to aid efforts to save every valuable drop of the precious natural resource.

As host country of the United Nation's Valuing Water Regional Consultation, South Africa called on the world leaders to make meaningful inputs into the draft document on Valuing Water Principles. It is envisioned that the final document will contribute majorly to the work of governments to save water.

South Africa has been chosen as the first country to host the High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) Regional Consultation to solicit views from all segments of the water stakeholder community and beyond, including agriculture, energy and other sectors, on how water can be better valued.

The consultations, which are also expected to take part in other regions in the world, will culminate in the presentation of a report on valuing water, which will be presented to the UN General Assembly in September this year. The members of the HLPW include Heads of State and Government from Australia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, South Africa and Tajikistan.

Speaking at the consultation on Tuesday in Boksburg, about 25 kilometres east of here, South African Public Service and Administration Minister Faith Muthambi said the consultations were a platform for government representatives and organizations to share national perspectives and positions on the critical issue of water.

Water, Muthambi said, is a cross-cutting matter as it speaks to all aspects of development and is linked to different policy positions and legislative imperatives that must be considered in decision-making.

It is my submission that we engage honestly, while raising awareness on the harmful impacts of illegal usage of water and violation of laws, regulations and legislations to ensure that no one is left behind in the decisions that will come out of this process, said Muthambi, who was addressing the meeting on behalf of Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.

World Bank Special Advisor Patrick Vincent Verkooijen warned that the pressure on water was rising and that urgent action was required. The World Bank recently released a report titled "High and Dry", which indicated that if left unchecked, water would become more scarce, polluted and much more unpredictable in the years to come.

The report warned that some regions would see their growth rate decline to 6.0 per cent by 2050 and the economic growth rate would decline by 60 per cent.

Water scarcity is a major threat to economic growth. However, the world has agreed on a different pathway. Led by South Africa in 2011 in Durban, the world agreed in 2015 and in 2017 to sustainable water development goals That's the vision and that's the aspiration," said VerKooijen.

The world needs to transform the way it manages water. It requires political engagement at the level of Heads of States and Government, ministers of finance and planning, agriculture, energy, health and other parts of government, as well as key public-private and civil society stakeholders in order to galvanise action at the scale and speed required."

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

South Africa: Ladysmith Police Appeal for Assistance to Locate ...

Ladysmith police station would like to make an appeal to the members of the community regarding a missing person, Fikile Regina Dlamini (71) of Ladysmith. She was last seen by her family members on 23 of April 2017 at Steadville, J area, Ladysmith. She is about 1.24m in height, slim in built, black medium length hair. She was wearing a brown dress, white takkies, and a red jacket.

Source: South African Police Service

IOM Head: People Smugglers Make $35 Billion a Year on Migrant Crisis

ESTORIL, PORTUGAL � People smugglers make about $35 billion a year worldwide and they are driving the tragedy of migrants who die trying to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) told Reuters on Wednesday.

Increasing numbers of desperate migrants fleeing from Africa and elsewhere due to conflicts and humanitarian crises are dying as they attempt to reach Europe via Libya, coaxed to do so by smugglers as they wait in detention centers.

The death toll of people crossing the Mediterranean has reached 1,700 so far this year before the summer when many more often make the journey, compared to 3,700 for all of 2015 and 5,000 last year, said IOM head William Lacy Swing.

"Now, let's be careful because those are the people we know who died, how many other bodies are submerged in the Mediterranean or buried in the sands of the Sahara?" he said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference on migration.

"That's the tragedy and this is why we are so concerned to try to caution migrants about smugglers. The smugglers are really the big problem. It's about $35 billion a year [that people smugglers make] and we know they're making lots of money across the Mediterranean."

People smuggling now represents the third-largest business for international criminals, after gun and drug trafficking, he said.

Libya has become a major point of departure for migrants from Africa, where lawlessness is spreading six years after the fall of strongman Muammar Gaddafi and migrants say conditions at government-run migrant centers are terrible.

After visiting Libya in March, Lacy Swing said his organization is "all ready to go" and return international staff to Libya to work at migrant centers but has so far not been allowed to do so by the United Nations.

On Tuesday, the IOM and U.N. refugee agency UNCHR presented plans in Geneva on boosting operations in Libya. Lacy Swing said the IOM was ready to help the government with Libya's own internally displaced people and work in migration centers.

He said Europe's migrant crisis has been aggravated by what he called "unprecedented anti-migrant sentiment, fueled now by suspicions that some of those fleeing terrorism might be terrorists themselves."

But he urged governments to try to address the root causes of migration � conflicts, water shortages and big disparities between rich and poor countries.

"In my lifetime I have never known a situation quite like today, because you have nine armed conflicts and humanitarian emergencies from West Africa to the Himalayas," he said.

He said Europe needs to come up with a comprehensive plan on migration "but I don't see it happening any time in the near future, but we'll do everything we can to support them on it."

Lacy Swing stressed that "migration is not an issue to be solved, it's a human reality that has to be managed or governed."

"We know that historically, migration has always been overwhelmingly positive."

Source: Voice of America

Thank you for not smoking

Pretoria � The South African Health Department has joined the rest of the world in marking World No Tobacco Day (WNTD).

The day falls within a month-long crusade, which is held under the banner 'Anti-Tobacco Campaign Month'. Its aim is to raise awareness and educate people about the health dangers associated with tobacco use.

The Health Department said on Wednesday that World No Tobacco Day is a platform to promote healthy lifestyles, decrease morbidity and improve life expectancy.

On 31 May each year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and affiliated partners mark WNTD by raising the multiple serious health risks linked to tobacco use, in addition to campaigning for the introduction of more efficient policies that will help to decrease worldwide tobacco consumption.

For WNTD, all smokers around the world are encouraged to abstain from all types of tobacco consumption on 31 May for a 24-hour period.

Smoking remains South Africa's leading cause of preventable illness and deaths from lung cancer, and a major contributor to tuberculosis and heart disease. Smoking also reduces the life expectancy of a smoker on average by 10 years, said the department.

However, the department said not only smokers are at risk for disease that affect the heart and blood vessels due to tobacco. Smoke is also harmful to those who breathe second-hand smoke.

WHO estimates that in 2012, tobacco killed about six million people worldwide, of whom 600 000 were non-smokers killed by inhaling environmental tobacco smoke. In particular, children are at great risk of having an increased frequency of respiratory symptoms and infections, and decreased lung function. Smoking during pregnancy can cause a baby to be born prematurely or at low birth weight.

According to the World Bank, there are fewer smokers in South Africa today than there were in 2000, with about 19% of the population over the age of 15 smoking in 2015, compared to 24% of the population in 2000. This is largely attributed to the government measures introduced since the dawn of democracy to control tobacco use.

While considerable gains have been made in reducing tobacco use over the past 23 years, the Health Department said tobacco use and its determinants need to be monitored to ensure that tobacco control strategies remain effective.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Water and Sanitation hosts Integrated Water Quality Symposium

DWS hosts the Integrated Water Quality Symposium

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) is today hosting a symposium on one of the critical business aspects of the department, aptly titled Integrated Water Quality Symposium, whose theme is: Taking Innovation Into Practice.

The objectives of the symposium are: to create awareness of the Integrated Water Quality Management (IWQM), share innovative experiences that can support IWQM, and to enable discussions about aspects that require coordination towards strengthening approaches to IWQM.

Part of the expected outcomes for the symposium include a need to institutionalise water quality in the sector, as well as a need for water quality management to be on the agenda of all departments, i.e. government broadly. It is also important for IWQM to be people-centric.

IWQM has trans-boundary imperatives as South Africa shares some of its water courses with neighbouring countries. Partnerships are also important in ensuring IWQM as water users are diverse. Water as a critical driver to all socio-economic development therefore requires administrative fairness and implementability of IWQM. It is imperative to look at IWQM as a developmental issue.

The IWQM is also a determining factor towards the polluter pays principle with implications for all polluters. The DWS hopes that this process will give impetus towards an informed public. The IWQM information has to be publicly available, ensuring that knowledge must be shared.

It is important to note that good water quality is fundamental to food and energy security, economic growth, human health, healthy ecosystems, job creation and positive cost of doing business, to name but a few.

IWQM is negatively impacted upon by examples such as uncontrolled discharges from abandoned mines and mine dumps, as well as non-compliance to water use license prescripts. The most predominant constituents of the negative impact include but are not restricted to nutrients, salts, microbial contamination and urban runoff and litter.

There are further challenges of lack of coordination and alignment of efforts meant to reduce these negative impacts.

The symposium and other activities married to it are meant to look at the revision of the current DWS WQM policies commenced in 2015.

Out of this process part of the expected legislative implications will include but are not restricted to the categorisation of polluting industries, based on risk, as well as the creation of a pollution register.

Source: Government of South Africa

South Sudan Soldiers Face Trial for Deadly Hotel Rampage

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN � South Sudanese soldiers accused of a horrific attack on foreign aid workers during the country's civil war are facing trial almost a year later, with the possibility of a death sentence.

Twelve of the 20 soldiers accused of rape, torture, killing and looting during the attack on the Terrain hotel compound were in court Tuesday. The assault came during fresh fighting in the capital, Juba, in July.

An investigation by The Associated Press last year showed that dozens of soldiers broke into the compound and terrorized residents and staff while the nearby United Nations peacekeeping mission did not respond to pleas for help. Five foreigners reported being gang-raped, and one local journalist was shot in the head and killed as others were forced to watch.

The trial is a test of South Sudan's ability to hold its soldiers accountable. It is expected to last several weeks, with the next court date scheduled for June 6.

If convicted of rape, the soldiers could face up to 14 years in prison. If convicted of murder, they could be sentenced to death.

The prosecution said it "absolutely" has the necessary evidence to convict the accused, citing testimony from witnesses and victims including an American man who was shot in the leg.

South Sudan's military marked the start of the trial by announcing it is committed to "human rights, the rule of law and the transparency of the legal system."

The start of the trial comes shortly after a new U.N report that exposed potential war crimes by the army in soldiers' targeting and killing of dozens of South Sudanese civilians. The international community has repeatedly expressed concern about impunity for widespread abuses in the civil war, which is well into its fourth year and has left tens of thousands dead.

Source: Voice of America

SA youth encouraged to volunteer

Pretoria - While youth unemployment remains a challenge that faces South Africa and many parts of the world, young people are encouraged to consider volunteering their time to acquire more skills and help reshape the country.

The South African and Flemish governments on Tuesday held the first Youth Volunteer Network Conference in Pretoria, which forms part of a 20-year celebration of joint cooperation between the two governments. The partnership was established in 1996.

The conference was held under the theme, 'Increasing Youth Volunteering in Civil Society Organisations'.

Addressing delegates at the conference, Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Buti Manamela, said South Africa's partnership with the Flemish government has been deep and anchored in the area of youth policy. Government has identified youth volunteering within the context of national youth service as a key platform to drive social cohesion and the nation building agenda.

Over the years, we have jointly explored youth recreation development, local youth policy, youth and the arts and youth volunteering.

All the themes incorporated civil society involvement, participation by research organisations, the development of youth workers and joint funding from the Flemish and South African governments, said the Deputy Minister.

He also commended the contribution made by the civil society organisations to the development of youth.

Civil society has shaped the content of the cooperation and has often anchored collaboration. The cooperation over the last two decades would not have been successful without the involvement of civil society. Their participation has ensured that the cooperation is vibrant and remains relevant to youth development challenges, he said.

The two governments agreed on a new framework for the 2015 - 2020 cooperation. The framework is based on upscaling and promoting youth volunteering in civil society organisations.

Building blocks to upscale youth volunteering

The Deputy Minister said the cooperation will be based on four building blocks that will upscale and promote youth volunteering. These include capacity building, knowledge generation, marketing and communication, and lobbying and advocacy.

According to Deputy Minister Manamela, capacity building focuses on strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations and volunteers in order to increase the quality of the youth volunteer experience and the quantity of young volunteers.

The main activities involve the operationalization of the recommendations of the project evaluation, mentorship and the development of a manual for volunteers.

We are concerned about the resource allocation to civil society organisations for the funding of youth service programmes. The framework recognises this impediment.

Within the tight fiscal environment that we find ourselves in, we will make a principled, evidence based argument for more public and private resources to support youth service programmes, said the Deputy Minister.

Revised NYS Programme Framework

The Deputy Minister said the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation will in the next month or two submit the revised National Youth Service (NYS) Programme Framework to the relevant Cabinet Committee and to Cabinet for approval.

Following the approval of the framework, he said, the NYDA will roll out an exciting communications programme for a repositioned National Youth Service Programme for the youth of South Africa.

He said the National Youth Service Unit will be ready to support government and civil society with training and technical support in the development and implementation of youth service programmes.

Volunteerism a platform to access skills development

Representing the Flemish government, Minister for Culture, Youth and Media Affairs, Sven Gatz, said he was a volunteer from the age of 16 until he was in his late 20s.

Gatz said he had learnt that there is an automatic educational surplus to volunteering, in that volunteers are involved in various projects and activities in which they have to learn.

Chairperson of the Board of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), Sifiso Mtshweni, said South African youth should be at the centre of everything that government and civil society do.

He said about 66% of the South African population is youth, which means that the inheritors of the nation's wealth is the youth.

Mtshweni said South African youth, like some in other countries, faces the challenge of unemployment, poverty and lack of access to quality education.

He said government has put youth at the centre of its developmental agenda through the National Development Plan of 2030.

The youth represents a powerful resource for our country, provided effective youth focused programmes are implemented so that the youth can become active members of society, said Mtshweni.

He said in the absence of employment, volunteerism provides a platform to access skills development.

Source: South African Government News Agency