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‘Goverment’s weaknesses exposed; time for leader to do right’
24 February 2021, 9:48 AM
By Mthandazo Ndlovu Hlahla,  Governance and Strategic Alliances Programme Manager  Oxfam South Africa

COVID-19 crisis has exposed South Africa’s existing weaknesses in health care systems, education and food systems.

Even before the pandemic 13.7 million South Africans, almost a quarter of the population, did not have access to enough food as a result of high levels of unemployment, lack of access to assets such as land or fishing permits, and the high and rising price of food and other essentials. Inequality and discrimination mean that some sections of society such as women – who earn 27 percent less on average then their male counterparts – are more likely to be living with hunger. Since the pandemic and the lockdown the number of hungry people has risen sharply. This is evidenced in numerous reports published by agencies such as Statistics South Africa, NIDS: 2021 and Oxfam South Africa’s report on Hunger entitled, “Not Yet Uhuru” 2020. Child hunger and predominantly amongst African children is on the rise.

Government must invest in reliable food access and distribution partnerships, involving civil society organizations and private sector to speed up the process of reaching millions of hungry South Africans. Investments in food production and small-scale farmers to ensure our food supply during and post COVID-19 is secure must be made. Water distribution and access for farmers must be guaranteed, including targeted procurements of fresh produce from local small holder farmers. Regional and continental bodies should explore investing in regional food stocking and distribute food equitable or according to need during times of crisis.

The problem is particularly acute in urban areas. Millions of informal workers – street traders, cleaners, and delivery drivers – suddenly found themselves out of work with no access to sick pay or unemployment benefit at the same time as the prices of food and other essentials has spiked because of stockpiling and price gouging by supermarkets and other suppliers.

Most households earn their livelihoods through informal trading, subsistence farming, vending, and domestic work. These are the forgotten livelihoods. As a society, we did not invest in people during this pandemic. Municipalities should have but did not consider debt cancellation for over-indebted households. Any caring government would not consider imposing burdening people with further taxes on essential services and goods. Rather cuts in municipal taxes, roll out of free quality water services and investing in strengthening Municipal service delivery capabilities. This will plough back the much-needed cash to families to rebuild and send their children to school, buy food and meet other necessities. To improve access to food, the government should consider suspending any planned food hikes or taxes on food and medical items. It has increasingly become evident that increased public investment in infrastructure development and maintenance is not only dependent on more funds, but funding must tally with sufficient planning and implementation capacity and this requires strengthened role of civil society and collaboration with ethical private sector actors.

The unequal spends on health sees South Africa spend 8.7% of GDP on both public and private health care, which private sector absorbs 4.5% of GDP of to serve only the healthcare needs of 16% of the population. The public sector which serves 84% of the population is then forced to fight for the 4.2% of GDP spent on the public healthcare sector. The inequality in the healthcare sector was exposed most grotesquely during Covid.

A combination of profit-seeking private healthcare entities and under-investment from government has driven unfair practices in the healthcare sector. Salaries for nurses and community healthcare workers have stagnated, and jobs have gradually been stripped of security, predictability and benefits such as health care and a minimum number of guaranteed hours.

The poor treatment of healthcare workers has compromised the quality of healthcare. Resulting in the healthcare system ill-prepared for shocks such as COVID-19. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put into sharp focus and exacerbated a number of inequalities and fragilities that haunt the healthcare system and constrain it from delivering on its Constitutional mandate.

Ultimately, quality and sustainable healthcare can only be achieved through decommodification of services, public investment in infrastructure and on the health labour force to guarantee staffing levels, living-wages, and decent working conditions.

To build a human and people-centered economy, the government should put at the center of its 2021/22 budget agenda, a public policy intervention that tackles the crisis of increasing household debt, unemployment and rising hunger crisis.  Rebuilding an inclusive economy requires fundamental shifts and a reset of the policy agenda. Inclusive people’s economy requires bold and transformative action and one such intervention is that of investing and putting money back into people’s and household pockets, this secures and guarantees not only the socio-economic well-being but could also provide prospects for healthier and resilient communities, particularly in rural and informal urban settlements.

The scale of the challenge requires cooperation and collaboration. South African’s expect a budget policy statement that is bold, redistributive and transformative.

Investing in transparency initiatives such as availing resources in support of the oversight bodies such as the Auditor General, Public Protector and SA Human Rights Commission remains an essential element towards building a democratic, ethical and inclusive developmental state. Investments in rural water, connectivity and ICT infrastructure should be prioritized.

By Mthandazo Ndlovu Hlahla,  Governance and Strategic Alliances Programme Manager  Oxfam South Africa

Racist Tik Tok account lands Table View High learner in hot water
19 November 2020, 7:24 PM

The Western Cape Education Department says it has been made aware of social media accounts that contain racist and offensive commentary.

The accounts have been linked to a 15-year-old learner from Table View High School, and another in the name of the school.

Department spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond, says they have engaged with the school and have confirmed that the learner’s account has allegedly been impersonated.

The parents have submitted the learner’s phone to the police and have opened a case of “Defamation of Character.” Arrangements are being made with a digital forensics company to get the content removed.

The school has instructed a lawyer to take up the issue with Tik Tok to get the fake account removed.

EFF’s Ndlozi sticks to his tweet, as social media takes him to task
9 September 2020, 5:14 PM

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has come under social media “fire” for a controversial tweet in defence of party members caught on tape pushing away an ENCA journalist.

The incident happened on Tuesday in Cape Town where journalist, Nobesuthu Hejana is seen covering a story where a group of EFF supporters were protesting the publishing of a racist advert by retailer Clicks. In the clip, eNCA says Hejana was man-handled by EFF members.

Ndlozi tweeted on Wednesday morning saying the push was not harrasment as it was not forceful.

Many have strongly condemned Ndlozi’s words and deem his views as a problem in the fight against GBV.

Another user also had strong words for Ndlozi.

This comes during what some have called an epidemic in the country, as South Africa is dealing with frequent cases of gender-based violence against women and just a few days after women’s month.

Earlier in the week, President Cyril Ramaphosa introduced three Bills to help implement laws that will deal with gender-based violence in the country whilst a woman was allegedly killed by her partner at a police station in the Eastern Cape.

But some have come to Ndlozi’s defence.

Another user seems to be in Ndlozi and the EFF’s defence.

 

Ndlozi later tweeted something contrary to his initial message, but the subsequent tweet seems to have been deleted.

Here is a screenshot of the deleted tweet:

Ndlozi has defended his tweet, going as far as showing a clip from former president Nelson Mandela’s release from Victor Verster in 1990, where visuals of current president Cyril Ramaphosa seemingly touching a journalist as another unidentified man pulls the journalist away from Mandela’s path.

 

 

 

Correctional Services reports 90% COVID-19 recovery rate
27 August 2020, 8:44 PM

The South African Department of Correctional Services has reported a recovery rate of 90.83% from COVID-19 infections in its facilities.

Its latest report reflects that 500 people in its facilities remain positive from the new coronavirus, 197 inmates and 303 officials.

See the official statement:

 

Former Buffalo City Municipality mayor Sindisile Maclean passes away
27 August 2020, 7:01 PM

Eastern Cape ANC stalwart and former mayor of Buffalo City Municipality, Dr Sindisile Maclean has passed away.

The African National Congress (ANC) in the province says Maclean was admitted to hospital two weeks ago.  The cause of death has not been made public.

He served as an Eastern Cape MPL from 1994 to 2000 and was the mayor of Buffalo City municipality from 2000 to 2006.

After his political career, he moved into the academic arena at the University of Fort Hare and later the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth.

Provincial ANC spokesperson, Gift Ngqondi, says the party remembers him for his humility, his abilities as a civil servant, and as a person who embodied an upright social standing.

ANC Eastern Cape statement on Maclean’s passing: 

 

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