Category Archives: South Africa

South Africa: Protesters demand action on violence against women

699FC421-E2A4-4475-92D2-E0AF30BEAF98Demonstrators took to the streets of Cape Town on Friday to protest violence against women [Guillem Sartorio/AFP]

Thousands of protesters wearing all-black, brandishing placards and singing apartheid-era struggle songs took to the streets of Johannesburg to demonstrate against what they called a scourge of femicide in South Africa.

Friday’s demonstrations, which police said were attended by 4,000 people in the Sandton neighbourhood, followed weeks of renewed activism and protests against gender-based violence in the country.

The move has been brought to the forefront of South African society after 19-year-old Nene Mrwetyana was raped and murdered in August by a post office employee Luyanda Botha.

Both told police he struggled to kill Mrwetyana, a University of Cape Town student, after luring her to the Clareinch Post Office in the Western Cape to rape her.

“Society has failed women at every level,” said an eight-month pregnant protester, Alex Fitzgerald.

“We have failed them in a legal sense, on a societal sense, in our community and in our churches. Every institution in South Africa has failed to protect women. It’s become so endemic in our society that people somehow think this is the norm,” she said.

Lindelwe Nxumalo, another protester who stood on a blocked-off street in the city centre, said Mrwetyana “had her entire life ahead of her, like so many women that are treated like this by the men in South Africa”.

Nxumalo wore a T-shirt that read #AmINext, the hashtag demonstrators have rallied behind.

Demanding change

The protest, which was organised by a coalition of gender rights activist organisations, culminated in a march to the city’s financial capital and the headquarters of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

There, the attendees demanded that South Africa’s corporate sector provides funding and detailed plans to assist with combatting gender-based violence, carrying placards that read “I don’t want to die with my legs open” and “Actions not words”.

Marching and dancing up and down streets adjacent to the JSE, the protesters brought parts of South Africa’s financial capital to a standstill.

“The pain the women in this country are feeling is palpable. I completely understand the need to be heard,” Nicky Newton-King, JSE’s CEO, told reporters as she accepted a memorandum of demands.

“The important point of this though is to how we mobilise the correct business response to what is a complete tragedy for this country. We have committed to take this to big business and devise how to respond appropriately,” she added as some jeered in the crowd.

The demonstration comes a day after police released official crime statistics showing a countrywide murder rate of 58 a day, a 3.4 percent increase in a year.

During the previous period, for every 100,000 women in South Africa, an average of 15.2 were murdered, according to government data.

The statistics do not provide a breakdown of the motive behind the murder of women, so it is not possible to say how many were killed because they were female.

A World Health Organization (WHO) report in 2016 indicated South Africa had the fourth-highest female interpersonal violence death rate out of the 183 countries listed, behind only Honduras, Jamaica and Lesotho.

Incidents involving sexual violence and assault have also spiked 4.6 percent year on year with a total of 41,583 reported cases of rape in the 2018-19 financial year, according to South African Police Service statistics.

Although this could be higher as a Rhodes University study suggests that only about 10 percent of all rapes are reported to the police.

The numbers also do not paint an accurate reflection of other vulnerable groups in the LBGTQI community too suffering disproportionate violence in South Africa.

“Patriarchy is so strong that it isn’t only straight women that get it. Men think they can do what they like, when they like in this country,” said another protester, Litha Malula, wearing a black beret.

Government response

The government has been criticised for a lax approach towards crime affecting women and children, even after President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation last week in the wake of the public outcry, promising tougher action against perpetrators of sexual violence and the national publication of a sex offenders register.

“Cyril isn’t serious!” read one angry banner draped at the protest on Friday.

Ramaphosa has since cancelled his scheduled trip to address the United Nations General Assembly next week to concentrate on “critical domestic matters”, according to a statement released by the presidency.

Ramaphosa will now address an urgent joint sitting of parliament and the national council of provinces on Wednesday, the first of its kind since former President Thabo Mbeki fired his then-deputy Jacob Zuma in 2005.

But many protesters fear tougher laws or other similar government initiatives would not deter offenders or change anything.

Academics have pointed to the high levels of unemployment, inequality and poverty as a major contributing factor to the violence directed towards women.

The unemployment rate is 29 percent in a struggling economy, which is expecting meagre growth in 2019.

“Its all leading to a general desperation in society,” said Lisa Vetten, of the University of Witwatersrand Institute for Social and Economic Research.

“The disenfranchised cannot exert much power and what that often translates to is people using violence to express their frustration,” she said.

To change the atmosphere of violence, the issues at its root must also be confronted by the men of South Africa, protester Tefo Tlale said.

“Women don’t feel safe. They don’t feel like this is their country. As a black African man, women are not seen as equal decision-makers or having a critical role to play in society,” said Tlale, who was among the crowd gathered outside the JSE.

“We have to undo that learning and ensure the next generation don’t grow up in a society where they think they are better just because they are men,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/south-africa-protesters-demand-action-violence-women-190913132640008.html

 

We Have Seen The Future of Water, And It Is Cape Town

by Peter H. Gleick
Guest Writer
Huffington Post (2/9/2018)

Morgana Wingard via Getty Images
Cape Town residents queue to refill water bottles on Jan. 30, 2018. Diminishing water supplies may soon lead to the taps being turned off for the four million inhabitants of Cape Town. (Morgana Wingard via Getty Images)

Cape Town is parched. Severe drought and high water use have collided in South Africa’s second largest city, and unless the drought breaks, residents may run out of water in the next few months when there simply isn’t enough water left to supply the drinking water taps.

In response to this looming “Day Zero” currently projected in May? city managers have imposed new and unprecedented restrictions, including limiting residential water use to 50 liters (around 13 gallons) per person per day. They released plans to open 200 community water points to provide emergency water in the event of a shutoff – for four million people. As the crisis worsens, water scarcity will sharpen South Africa’s economic inequalities, inflaming tensions between wealthier and disadvantaged communities.

Cape Town is not alone. Water crises are getting worse all over the world. The past few years have seen more and more extreme droughts and floods around the globe. California just endured the worst five-year drought on record, followed by the wettest year on record. São Paulo, Brazil, recently suffered a severe drought that drastically cut water supplies to its 12 million inhabitants – a drought that also ended in heavy rainfall, which caused extreme flooding. Houston was devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, the most extreme precipitation event to hit any major city in the United States.

Severe droughts and floods. Water rationing. Economic and political disruption. Urban taps running dry. Is this the future of water?

Any city, in building a water system, tries to prepare for extreme weather, including floods and droughts. It also considers estimates of future population growth, projections of water use and a host of other factors. Cape Town’s water system is a relatively sophisticated one, with six major storage reservoirs, pipelines, water treatment plants and an extensive distribution network. Its water managers, and South Africa’s overall water expertise, are among the best in the world.

The problem is that the traditional approach for building and managing water systems rests on two key assumptions. The first is that there is always more supply to be found, somewhere, to satisfy growing populations and growing water demand. The second is that the climate isn’t changing.

Neither of these assumptions is true any longer.

Many regions of the world, as in Cape Town, have reached “peak water” limits and find their traditional sources tapped out. Many rivers are dammed and diverted to the point that they no longer reach the sea. Groundwater is over pumped at rates faster than nature can replenish. And massive long-distance transfers of water from other watersheds are increasingly controversial because of high costs, environmental damages and political disagreements.

Read We Have Seen The Future of Water, And It Is Cape Town


Peter H. Gleick is a climate and water scientist, co-author of The World’s Water, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

New South African alliance calls for Zuma’s exit

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Sister Brigid Rose Tiernan, SNDdeN holds the sign — “Zuma you are accountable.” Photo: Joan Mumau, IHM

AFP

Johannesburg (AFP) – South African opposition parties, religious groups and civil society activists on Thursday launched a new alliance to try to force President Jacob Zuma to step down.

Called the Freedom Movement and backed by retired archbishop Desmond Tutu, it plans to hold a mass rally on April 27, the annual holiday marking South Africa’s first post-apartheid election in 1994.

Zuma’s sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan last month fanned years of public anger over government corruption scandals, record unemployment and slowing economic growth.

“Never before has there been a more urgent need to build unity of purpose to stop South Africa’s current trajectory,” said the movement at its launch in Soweto, a hotbed of the struggle against apartheid.

Tutu, seen as the country’s leading moral authority, said in a tweet that he supported the movement, adding “it is important that we unite as South Africans to bring an end to state capture.”

“State capture” is a term that refer to the alleged corruption among Zuma and his associates.

Tens of thousands of South Africans have in recent weeks staged demonstrations demanding Zuma’s resignation.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance party and several small opposition parties backed the alliance as well as some trade unions and the National Religious Council.

Malema and other political parties must stop ‘the war talk’

Southern Africa Conference of Catholic Bishops
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) has called on all political parties to avoid making statements that could incite election violence and civil war.Bishop Abel Gabuza‚ the chairperson of the SACBC Justice and Peace Commission‚ issued the call on Monday in response to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema‚ who said during a televised interview that if the ANC continues to respond violently to peaceful protests‚ “We will run out of patience very soon and we will remove this government through the barrel of a gun” Continue reading Malema and other political parties must stop ‘the war talk’

STATEMENT ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING: NKANDLA

This morning the Constitutional Court delivered a judgment in the Nkandla Application. In summary the Court found the following:

o   That the recommendations of the Public Protector were binding
o   That the binding nature of the Public Protector’s remedial action is determined on a case-by-case basis with regard to the nature of the dispute
o   That the Public Protector’s remedial action cannot merely be ignored
o   That the National Assembly’s institution of a parallel process was not itself unlawful but that in attempting to replace the binding report of the Public Protector, the National Assembly acted unconstitutionally and in breach of its duty to hold the executive accountable
o   That the President should pay back a reasonable portion of the money spent on non-security upgrades and reprimand the responsible ministers for their role in the project.
o   That the President acted unlawfully and in breach of his constitutional duties to the Republic Continue reading STATEMENT ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULING: NKANDLA

South Africa: Jesuit Institute urges ANC to ‘act for the common good’

Independent Catholic News

The Jesuit Institute has issued the following statement today:

The African National Congress (ANC) has historically shown leadership in challenging times. In the early 90’s the leadership of the ANC courageously took the steps needed to bring South Africa back from the brink of civil war. Now, more than ever since then, the ANC needs to courageously steer the country through a mounting crisis: allegations that President Jacob Zuma ceded his executive power to his rich friends – the Gupta family. These allegations are serious because they are a gross violation of his oath of office in which he promises to devote himself to the well-being of the Republic and all of its people. Continue reading South Africa: Jesuit Institute urges ANC to ‘act for the common good’

South Africa: Zuma delivers “no hope” State of the Nation

African Arguments
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South African President Jacob Zuma has delivered his annual State of the Nation address in the country’s parliament. After more than an hour of disruptions and interruptions, mostly by members of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, Zuma finally got down to business. Or did he?

The Conversation Africa’s Politics and Society editor Thabo Leshilo and Voice of Wits presenter Tsholofelo Semenya put some questions to Professor Susan Booysen. You can listen to the audio or read the transcript below.

(Download) Continue reading South Africa: Zuma delivers “no hope” State of the Nation