• Tell Minister Mboweni a 20% sugary drinks tax is long overdue
    Liquid forms of sugar, such as those found in sugary drinks, are absorbed more quickly by the body and increase our risk of diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease and different kinds of cancers [1]. Research also suggests that non-communicable diseases like type-2 diabetes increase the risk of death from COVID-19 [2]. It’s clear that increasing the Sugary Drinks Tax to 20% could help improve our people's health. We have an opportunity to help achieve this goal. This month, Minister Mboweni will be delivering the 2021 Budget Speech. If enough of us come together, we can remind the Minister that he has the public support necessary to increase the Sugary Drinks Tax. In October 2019, together with the Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA), we delivered over 11,000 signatures calling on Tito Mboweni to increase the Sugary Drinks Tax from 11% to 20%. If we can keep up the pressure, the Minister may have no choice but to prioritise our peoples’ health, rather than profits of the Food and Beverage Industry. [1] Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Després J-P, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages, obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease risk. Circulation 2010;121(11):1356-64 [2] Prevention and control of non-communicable diseases in the COVID-19 response, Kluge HHP, Wickramasinghe K, Rippin HL, et al for The Lancet 2020 (epub 8 May 2020).
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  • Call on SA Government to Back Mass Farmer Strike in India!
    Since the 26th of November 2020, tens of thousands of farmers have camped near the border of New Delhi, the Indian capital. On that day, an alliance of national trade union federations called a nationwide strike which converged with a march on Delhi by the All India Kisan Sangharsh Co-ordination Committee (AIKSCC), a united front of over 250 farmer organisations. Large parts of the country came to a halt as direct action was undertaken. Protesting farmers were met with unacceptable police brutality - blockades, teargas, baton charges and water cannons - in a bid to prevent them from reaching the centre of Delhi. In South Africa we are all too familiar with the use of brutal police tactics to suppress popular protest and we condemn the use of these tactics against our comrades in India. The striking farmers have declared that they will not return home and the strike will not cease until the agriculture laws are repealed entirely. They will not be moved and we salute their resolve. India’s agriculture industry employs more than half of its population of nearly 1.4 billion people. The country is in the middle of an unprecedented economic decline, experiencing the worst recession in nearly 30 years. Socio-economic inequality is staggering. As South Africans we are also aware of how closely-linked unemployment and socio-economic inequality is to hunger. India’s new agriculture laws were passed despite a lack of consultation with agriculture experts and the leaders of farmer organisations. These laws threaten the acquisition of produce by state-run organisations at a fixed Minimum Support Price. What this means is that small producers have little bargaining power in the free market system and fear that large corporations will take advantage of this, forcing farmers to sell their produce at a lower price than the price which had previously been guaranteed to them by the government. The laws come at a time where there is increasing conflict and disagreement between farmers and the state, on account of the government turning a blind eye to farmers’ demands for better crop prices, additional loan waivers and irrigation systems to guarantee water in times of drought. They are also framed by the horrific numbers of Indian farmers who have been driven to suicide by debt. All of this is happening within the context of carbon capitalism which is putting the future of humanity in jeopardy and exposing the most vulnerable among us to the effects of the climate crisis. In South Africa, in India and across the world, corporations are not the solution – they are part of the problem. The methods of small scale farmers across the world will not only feed the people, but will also build resilience in the face of the climate crisis. The protection of the knowledge and practices of indigenous communities at the forefront of this movement is also paramount. In the face of oppression and systems of exploitation that stretch across borders, it is necessary for us to globalize resistance and join hands to push back against oppressive policies which threaten the lives of the most vulnerable. Amandla! Inquilab Zindabad!
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  • Say No to Nuclear Energy plans by 5th February
    Nuclear power is dangerous, unhealthy and costly. We should instead move toward a just energy transition, investing in and supporting renewable energy (RE) sources. Not only is RE able to create a more inclusive energy landscape – giving formerly-excluded communities more of a chance to be part of the economy – the risks associated with RE are significantly less. Nuclear plants – big or small – are very expensive to set up, often with cost overruns and construction delays. There are a number of reasons to create a groundswell of opposition against nuclear for South Africa’s energy mix. 1. As history has taught us, new nuclear procurement is where large scale corruption can, and has, taken place. In this instance, little to no information has been provided to the public on the cost and feasibility of new nuclear energy. Transparency is needed to build back public trust after past illegal and unconstitutional nuclear deals. 2. Nuclear power is not needed for our energy grid now or in the future. Especially during the covid crisis, we should not be looking at procurement of one of the most expensive forms of energy, but rather investment in more critical areas of need such as vaccines, education and employment. 3. The most recent Energy plan, IRP 2019, does not show necessity for the procurement of nuclear energy. Also no-one can guarantee 100% safety with nuclear energy. Radiation and radioactive waste created at nuclear power stations are extremely toxic. More nuclear power could put the health of workers – most-likely younger people – and communities at risk. Consider for a moment what Electrical Engineer Hilton Trollip points out, “We absolutely do not need Koeberg to avoid load shedding. There are documented and proven sustainable electric systems that can run very well without nuclear and even without coal.” Why then, is our government not more serious or committed to the #JustEnergyTransition? Nuclear is not the long-term solution South Africa needs to resolve the energy crisis, and it certainly will do much less for the economy than renewable energy. References https://ewn.co.za/2017/04/26/western-cape-high-court-rules-sa-nuclear-deal-unlawful-and-unconstitutional https://theconversation.com/why-decommissioning-south-africas-koeberg-nuclear-plant-wont-be-easy-89888#:~:text=The%20potential%20cost%20of%20decommissioning,UK%20model%20at%20R76%20billion https://www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/safety-concerns-over-koeberg-nuclear-plant-as-cape-town-tremors-grow-in-intensity-74d7b088-2840-41ee-a8a7-a40fa83451ee
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  • #ShiftTheDate for the matric rewrite registration
    Because of the disruptions to the 2020 school year, these Second Chance opportunities are going to be more important than ever to help young people to achieve the very valuable matric qualification. Learners in the Class of 2020 must be given every chance of successfully registering for these opportunities. It is unacceptable that the registration date for Second Chance mid-year examinations has not been changed to accommodate the later than usual release of the matric results. The Class of 2020 faced an immensely challenging school year. Let us not further disadvantage them. We, therefore, call on the Department of Basic Education to extend the registration deadline for the Second Chance May/June 2021 examinations. This request has precedent. In 2019, when the Class of 2018 received their matric results on 4 January, the Department of Basic Education extended the registration deadline – from 31 January to 18 February [3] – for those who wanted a second chance to write matric exams. We call on the department to do so again in 2021. [1] https://www.education.gov.za/Curriculum/SeniorCertificate/SCRegistration.aspx [2] https://www.eservices.gov.za/ [3]https://www.education.gov.za/Newsroom/MediaReleases/tabid/347/ctl/Details/mid/8128/ItemID/5986/Default.aspx
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  • Stop your alcohol ban court challenges and unite behind government's COVID-19 effort
    Put people before profit South Africans have emerged from the second wave of COVID-19 infections and deaths which started in November 2020 and drew to a close towards the end of January. One of the steps taken to reduce the spread of the virus and to limit unnecessary demand on hospital facilities was to suspend the transportation and sale of alcohol. This, together with other measures, helped to stem the virus, so much so that the infection and death rates are down and the suspension of access to alcohol has been limited. Health workers are exhausted. They are working hard and long hours to treat COVID-19 patients. They themselves are being infected by the virus, with some even losing their lives. They need our support. The temporary ban on the sale of alcohol offered them vital protection. South African Breweries (SAB), Vinpro (representing winemakers) and others have responded by going to court to challenge government’s right to suspend the transportation and sale of alcohol, even though the evidence shows that such suspensions, together with other measures like night-time curfews, have helped to stop the spread of the virus, to keep people in South Africa safe from alcohol-related harm, and to allow hospital workers to focus on COVID-19 cases. Although we support the right to protest and to use the courts to ensure rights are protected, we do not think these court cases are the solution to addressing our collective challenge in dealing with the pandemic. Since 2016, the South African government has had an updated National Liquor Policy and a draft Liquor Amendment Bill which contain new provisions for regulating the distribution and sale of alcohol. The Policy and the Bill are based on the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol . The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the harmful use of alcohol contributes disproportionately to the number of trauma admissions in hospitals across South Africa, especially over weekends. We are therefore in urgent need of permanent new measures to regulate alcohol in order to save lives, money and jobs. Only 31% of people in South Africa aged 15 and above actually drink alcohol. But, when they do, the majority of them drink heavily and in a way that is harmful to themselves and others. The alcohol industry depends on this binge-drinking to make their substantial profits, hence their resistance to the current ban and to alcohol regulation in general. OUR CALL TO INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANISATIONS IN CIVIL SOCIETY, AS WELL AS PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS AND RESEARCHERS ** Help us send a message to SA Breweries, Vinpro and others, calling on them to drop their court actions because “our lives are more important than their profits”. ** Join us in assuring government that we all support their efforts to manage alcohol in the interests of protecting us from harm during the pandemic. ** Add your voice to the call for the urgent passing of the Liquor Amendment Bill as a major step forward in the ongoing struggle for a healthy and safe South Africa. The immediate adoption of the Bill will help to bring alcohol-related harm levels down by promoting safer drinking practices; it will also reduce the need for emergency alcohol sale suspensions now and in the future. THIS PETITION IS SUPPORTED BY SAAPA SA ALLIANCE PARTNERS, INCLUDING: Cancer Association of South Africa; Children's Institute; Gateway Health Institute; Gun Free South Africa; Hlanganisa Institute for Development in Southern Africa; Observatory Ratepayers Association; People's Health Movement; Smoking and Alcohol Harms Alleviation and Rehabilitation Association; South Africans Against Drinking and Driving; Teddy Bear Foundation for Abused Children; Yeoville Bellevue Ratepayers Association
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  • Stop another nuclear plant. Send your objection
    No one can guarantee that nuclear power stations are 100% safe. Radiation and radioactive waste created at nuclear power stations are extremely toxic and linked to different cancers and severe health issues [1]. Former workers of the Pelindaba Nuclear Research Facility were exposed to radiation and chemicals. Many have died from cancer while waiting for compensation [2] [3] [4]. More nuclear power could put the health of workers and communities at risk. Eskom’s own study showed that new nuclear power was “both unnecessary and costly” [5]. Electrical Engineer Hilton Trollip has also pointed out that “We absolutely do not need Koeberg to avoid load shedding. There are documented and proven sustainable electric systems that can run very well without nuclear and even without coal” [6]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L8m5odIxt4&feature=youtu.be In 2017 the Department of Environmental Affairs granted Eskom permission to build a new nuclear power station near Koeberg. But thanks to the work of activists and organisations like Earthlife Africa, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and Greenpeace, an appeal was launched to try to reverse this decision by the Department of Environmental Affairs [7]. This slowed down Eskom's nuclear plans. We only have until this Sunday 15 November to submit comments objecting to the departments Environmental Impact Assessment, which gave Eskom permission to build a new nuclear power station. If enough of us send in emails in support of the appeal, the Minister of Environment may have no choice but to listen to us, and put our people's health and safety first. [1] Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2 (2006) National Research Council (US) Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Level of Ionizing Radiation. Washington, D.C. : National Academies Press, c2006 [2] Apartheid’s Nuclear Shame. Mandy de Waal and Jon Pienaar for Ground Up 27 June 2014 [3] Nuclear Energy Impact in South Africa: public hearings https://pmg.org.za/committee-meeting/9013/ [4] When all hope finally fades away. Sheree Bega for Independent Online 23 June 2018 [5] Eskom’s latest work on energy policy plan rejects nuclear. Chris Yelland News 25 November 24 2017 [6] Is the government prepared to prevent a nuclear disaster? Bizcommunity 8 October 2020 [7] The Appeal Authority: The Honourable Minister of Environmental Affairs. Authorisation Registration Number (12/12/20/994) http://safcei.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/5-March-2018-ELA-JHB-Greenpeace-Africa-SAFCEI-Nuclear-1-Appeal-Annexures-A-J.pdf
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  • Justice for the brutal murders of Makoena Mabusela and Tebogo Mphuti #justice4maksandted
    Gender-based violence has become rampant in South Africa. Women and children are brutally murdered daily. We cannot continue to go on like everything is normal. IT IS TIME TO TAKE A STAND AGAINST GBV. The government and private sector have to come together and remove the systemic barriers to gender equality and advocate for behavioural change in order to turn the tide that has made violence against women and children a societal norm. The two women who were brutally murdered had families and children. They were part of a community who were highly dependant on them. We need to build a justice system that women and children will feel confident in. We need a legal framework that will stand firmly against GBV and be in full support of women and children. The deaths of all these extraordinary women will not be in vain.
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  • Minister Patel must make COVID-19 medicines accessible to all by taking steps to #FixThePatentLaws
    COVID-19 is a global health crisis and one that affects working-class and poor people disproportionately. The world needs bold steps such as this that prioritise the needs of vulnerable populations above profits and above nationalism. Patents, and other intellectual property instruments, can act as obstacles to accessing medicines because they protect manufacturers from competition, keeping the prices of medicines high. This was the case with anti-retroviral therapies (ART) in South Africa in the early 2000s – when hundreds of thousands of people needlessly died because they could not afford the high prices of ART. We cannot allow the same thing to happen with COVID-19. Access to medicines is a critical component of the right to access healthcare. We stand behind our government in its efforts to ensure that developing and middle-income countries are not left behind while wealthy countries secure deals with pharmaceutical companies, and we need Minister Patel and President Ramaphosa to act with urgency to ensure that South Africa has an intellectual property regime that ensures equitable access to life-saving medical products now!
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  • #DocumentUs | Birth Registration and Certificate for All Children
    South Africa is a signatory to a number of international conventions, which give right to every child to a name, nationality and immediate birth registration. This right is further enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution. Section 28 states that ‘Every child has the right to a name and nationality from birth’- regardless of nationality. As a signatory of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, South Africa is obligated to pass and implement laws for the realization of children’s interests, and also duty-bound to protect all children regardless of nationality or documentation status. Despite this, hundreds of children are still being denied this right and has detrimental impact on their everyday lives. A birth certificate is essential for every child. There are however hundreds of children without birth certificates. According to the Department of Basic Education, there are 998 433 undocumented children enrolled in public schools - mainly of whom are without birth certificates. Of these children, the majority (880968) are South African children whose parents, guardians or caregivers have not managed to secure birth certificates for them. Without these documents children are essentially not recognised by the State. This leaves them vulnerable to multiple risks, exploitations and exclusions including: accessing education, health, being excluded from the services of child protection (Social Welfare and Assistance) and are at risk of being stateless. Due to restrictive birth registration policies (including expensive DNA tests) hundreds of children are being denied their constitutional right to birth registration and nationality. Furthermore, as a result of corruption and limited operation capacity (closure of Refugee Reception Offices, Accessibility of Home Affairs offices, long application times, and shortened permit extensions) result in difficulties in applying and extending permits often resulting in expired permits which impact on children who need to be documented. The following organisations endorse this campaign: Refugee Social Service Refugee Rights Centre (NNMU) Lawyers for Human Rights Sophiatown Community Psychological Services
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  • REVIEW DISCRIMINATORY NRF Postgraduate Scholarship and Funding Framework 2021
    For an example chapter 9 of the NDP articulates our weakness by global standards in relation to national research and innovation systems, revealing amongst other things that there has been little increase to public research workforce, PhDs and research outputs. The honourable Minister will be acutely aware that the country’s global competitiveness requires drastic improvement and presently the distribution of research capacity in higher education institutions of learning is still skewed towards white institutions. We recognize that the racial history affected most facets of life, including but not limited to the labour market and education system. As result, the democratic government had a responsibility to reconcile the racial divide in relation to education and training system and labour market. It had to usher a wide scale of reforms of public policies meant to redress the racial past which characterised what scholars called ‘low skills regime’. Thus, we believe that the age restriction imposed on the NRF will have far reaching for South Africans especially the black who aspire to study up to doctoral level.
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  • Tell Netcare, Life Healthcare Group and Mediclinic to protect healthcare workers and save lives
    From 2016 to 2019, Netcare, Life Group, and Mediclinic paid out more to shareholders than they made in profits. They paid out R 19 billion in payouts to shareholders (dividends and share buybacks) in the same period they only made R11 billion in profits. This means that even when these companies were making losses, the shareholders continued to gain millions in wealth. Over the years the pay-outs to shareholders have come at the cost of better healthcare outcomes and better working conditions for healthcare workers. These companies need to step up and show they care about more than shareholder profits. In this time of crisis, we must prioritise the health and wellbeing of all South Africans not just those who are wealthy. Tell Netcare, Mediclinic, and Life that they need to stop shareholder payouts (dividends and share buybacks) till 2022 to ensure that all available resources are prioritized for free regular testing for all healthcare workers, and free medical attention for healthcare workers who contract Covid-19 and adequate (PPEs) for all healthcare workers working in South Africa in public and private facilities. This petition is co-signed by: Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union(YNITU); Oxfam SA; Public Services International (PSI); National Union of Care Workers of South Africa (NUCWOSA); Treatment Action Campaign (TAC); South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), and Amandla.mobi. Reference: A survey was conducted by Oxfam South Africa. Oxfam South Africa surveyed 166 healthcare workers for a month during the period of the 27 July 2020 to 27 August 2020 using two trade union’s databases: The Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union (YNITU) and National Union of Community Healthcare Workers of South Africa (NUCWOSA). The survey was sent via Whatsapp messages directly to the healthcare workers on the database. The survey was sent to healthcare workers in Gauteng, Western Cape, and the Eastern Cape. The survey respondents were mostly nurses (90%), permanent workers (88 %), 86 % in the public sector, and 10 percent in the private sector. A note on the low response rate from private-sector employees is that some respondents that they and their colleagues feared intimidation for participating in the survey. Figures from Department of Health South Africa 13 August 2020 and correct as of 21 August 2020. https://bhekisisa.org/resources/2020-08-14-health-workers-make-up-one-in-20-of-covid-19-cases-in-south-africa-new-data-shows/ Oxfam South Africa. (2020). The Right to Dignified Care Work is a Right to Dignified Health Care For All. https://www.oxfam.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Oxfam_Care4Carers-Report_Final_20200701.pdf
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  • #ApartheidBanks: Justice for Apartheid Economic crime
    An important component of accountability is combating impunity and dismantling the networks and institutions responsible for corporate crime, as there is a link between the institutions that perpetrated these crimes in the past and those responsible for state capture today. Holding these instrumental actors to account, including through prosecution, is a critical step to restoring the Rule of Law in our country today. The Commissioners of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) have issued a separate letter to Adv. Shamila Batohi calling for the NPA to act on this evidence. We recognise that the TRC, in its final report in 2003, called on the NPA to pursue perpetrators not awarded amnesty through a process of ‘bold prosecutions’ of apartheid crimes. This has not happened, in large part because of political interference in the NPA’s work under previous administrations. It is for this reason that prosecutions against these economic criminals and other apartheid-era human rights violators would send a clear signal that the NPA stands firm against impunity. South Africa faces many pressing problems today, including the profiteers of Covid-19 relief and the legacy of recent state capture networks. The corrupt corporations and politicians who profit from these deals have caused pain and suffering to the South African people. They have made us poorer, more unequal and taken away jobs. The legacy of apartheid-era economic criminals is no less severe and important and we demand that the NPA prosecutes these actors without fear or favour. This is a necessary and urgent step towards social justice. The South African Coalition for Transitional Justice (SACTJ) - endorsed by friends of SACTJ and the following organisations: 1. Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) 2. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) 3. Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) 4. Human Rights Media Centre (HRMC) 5. Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) 6. Khulumani Support Group (KSG) 7. (Open Secrets) 8. South African History Archives (SAHA) 9. Violence Prevention Agency (VPA) 
Additional civil society endorsements: 10. Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) 11. Corruption Watch (CW) 12. International Labour Research and Information Group (ILRIG) 13. Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) 14. Legal Resources Centre (LRC) 15. My Vote Counts (MVC) 16. Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) 17. Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) 18. Section27 (S27) 19. Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) 20. Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) 21. Shadow World Investigations (SWI) 22. Unpaid Benefits Campaign (UBC) [1] https://www.opensecrets.org.za/site/wp-content/uploads/Apartheid-Banks.-NPA-Docket.-Annexures-1-26.pdf [2] https://www.opensecrets.org.za/apartheidbanksdocket/
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