• Minister Motshekga, keep South African schools as alcohol-free zones!!
    This is an issue that affects everyone in our society - learners, educators, school admin staff, and anyone who has, or will have, a child in the school system. There is a saying that 'it takes a village to raise a child'. Well, it takes a caring society to protect its children from exposure to the risk of harm. Alcohol use is already a major problem in our country. Schools in some communities already face the challenge of having large numbers of liquor outlets around them and very close to them. Some already have problems with alcohol being used on their premises. Making it possible for schools to have liquor for the purpose of fund-raising simply increases the risks for all of those at schools - learners, educators, admin staff, and even family members who interact with the school. If schools have a problem raising funds, government and society must work with them to address it in other ways - allowing schools to raise money through liquor is not the answer. We should be better than that as a society, as South Africans. We call on you to join us in urging the government to scrap the sections in the BELA Bill which will allow liquor on school premises and at school events. Support the call for a complete ban on liquor on school premises (except for personal use by staff who live on school property). Demand better funding models for our schools so that all children have access to quality education in a safe and protected environment. Fly a blue ribbon at your school in support of the campaign; wear blue ribbons as a group as you participate in school activities. Write to the Minister at [email protected] to tell her what you think of the alcohol clauses in the BELA Bill. Write to the Portfolio Committee in Parliament by 15 June to register your opposition to the alcohol clauses in the Bill - Mr Llewellyn Brown, the Committee Secretary via email: [email protected] or online at https://forms.gle/MoC6AdbdQyYPk3Y49 or via WhatsApp: +27 60 550 9848. Mr Llewellyn Brown can be reached on 083 709 8450 for enquiries. Download the BELA Bill from https://www.parliament.gov.za/storage/app/media/Bills/2022/B2_2022_Basic_Education_Laws_Amendment_Bill/B2_2022_Basic_Education_Laws_Amendment_Bill.pdf Together we can win this one!
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  • Minister Patel - reject the EU & US ‘bad deal’ - this deal does not save lives!
    After 17.5 months of dragging their feet, negotiations are currently underway to reach a quick ‘deal’ at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on the TRIPS WAIVER proposal - boldly led by South Africa and India since October 2020. MInister Patel is in charge of the negotiations for South Africa. The leaked text of the proposed ‘deal’ shows they are not negotiating a waiver, as originally requested, but rather, conditions and clarifications, which after this much time and deaths, represents a poor compromise. It will be a shame if Minister Patel supports the bad deal contained in the leaked text. He should not. The leaked text represents the interests of the EU and the US and other vested interests. It is a very bad ‘deal’ that does almost nothing to advance the demand for equitable access to vaccines (and other health products) for the majority of the world’s population - and yet the poorest and most marginalised everywhere have suffered the worst effects of the pandemic. The South African Government should REJECT this deal which is related to the ongoing TRIPS Waiver negotiations for fairer access to COVID-19 technologies for everyone, everywhere. We call on organisations and individuals in South Africa to sign onto an ‘Open Letter’ to Minister Patel and the South African Government. You can read and sign the letter here: https://forms.gle/GTT9kmf9nECFfSF86 For more information on the leaked text and reactions to it, please see: https://healthjusticeinitiative.org.za/2022/03/24/trips-waiver-negotiations-leaked-text/
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  • Demand Minister Godongwana increase the Sugary Drinks Tax to 20%
    Greedy companies want to stop the sugary drinks tax to protect their profits. Many of these same companies have a history of dishonesty which it comes to the economic impact of a tax on sugary drinks. The sugar industry has exaggerated their statistics when it comes to the claims they make about the Sugary Drinks Tax causing job losses when research from Trade and Industry Policy Strategies finds otherwise [1]. 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. If enough of us come together, we can remind the Minister that he has the public support necessary to increase the Sugary Drinks Tax. [1] SA’s proposed sugar tax: claims about calories & job losses checked: https://africacheck.org/fact-checks/reports/sas-proposed-sugar-tax-claims-about-calories-job-losses-checked
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  • Victory: YOU Magazine must cancel their Nestle event. Put child nutrition first.
    The majority of mothers and guardians in Mzansi are unable to afford nutritious food for their babies and children, let alone put food on the table [1]. On top of this, mothers and guardians are constantly bombarded by marketing by food companies to sell their ultra-processed products which are packed full of sugar. Food companies like Nestle have undermined breastfeeding promotion in the past, so the Department of Health put in place regulations to limit how companies advertise and promote their products. These regulations were put in place to help protect mothers, guardians, babies and children from these companies. But Nestle’s latest marketing campaign violates these regulations meant to safeguard the nutrition and health of Mzansi’s children, at a time when three million children have been affected by hunger in recent months [2]. This is unacceptable. If we are going to start changing this situation, we must challenge companies who put their profits before people's health. [1] Household affordability index, Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group, 28 July 2021 [2] Food crisis: 2.5 million South Africans experience hunger ‘every day’, By Nic Spaull and Mark Tomlinson for Daily Maverick, 26 May 2021
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  • Stand with the families of Life Esidimeni
    Despite promises of a monument, and government officials vowing to apologise to each individual grieving family, government has done nothing. We, in support of the bereaved family members, demand accountability for the violations of human rights of mental healthcare users in the province and call on government to admit its wrongdoings publicly through the construction of the “Living Monument” and the five focused facilities to be attached to existing clinics in all five regions in Gauteng, as envisaged by the Life Esidimeni Family Committee. A formal inquest into the deaths due to the Gauteng Mental Health Marathon Project will begin in Pretoria on 19 July 2021. A Judge will assess evidence surrounding each of the mental healthcare users’ deaths and make recommendations about potential criminal liability on the part of government officials and NGO owners. While we want those responsible for this atrocity to be put in jail, we acknowledge that mental healthcare users in the province remain vulnerable and under-supported due to an uncaring government that has failed to prioritise their needs. This issue needs more visibility, as society’s treatment of people with mental illness is currently characterised by stigma and silence, which make life harder for mental healthcare users and their loved ones. A monument will contribute to efforts to combat stigma against mental healthcare users. We cannot turn a blind eye to the needs of some of the most vulnerable groups of people in our society. They are our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We need a memorial to ensure this never happens again, and so that the memories of the lives lost in the Life Esidimeni tragedy is never forgotten. Never again can such a tragedy occur in our land.
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  • Tell these rich countries + companies to put people before profit by pausing patents
    In Mzansi, as infections rise again, it is now clear that we won’t reach our goal of vaccinating 41 million people by the end of 2021 [2]. We are behind schedule with vaccinations, not only because of issues with the roll-out, but because the world is not manufacturing vaccines fast enough, and rich countries are at the front of the queue. It didn’t have to be this way. Earlier in the year over 100 countries supported temporarily waiving patents on COVID-19 medical tools and technologies [3]. But rich countries, like the United Kingdom which has vaccinated half of its adults with two vaccine doses [4], sided with pharmaceutical companies by putting profits before people. The tide is shifting. After a lot of public pressure, President Biden of the United States has come out in support of the COVID-19 vaccine patent waiver on World Trade Organisations rules [5]. Spain and Italy also support the waiver on COVID-19 vaccine patents [6] [7]. [1] TRIPS Council regular meetings: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/trips_e/intel6_e.htm [2] SA is not reaching herd immunity. Our new goal is containment – here’s how it works: https://bhekisisa.org/resources/2021-06-03-sa-is-not-reaching-herd-immunity-our-new-goal-is-containment-heres-how-it-works/ [3] Countries obstructing COVID-19 patent waiver must allow negotiations to start: https://www.msf.org/countries-obstructing-covid-19-patent-waiver-must-allow-negotiations [4] Over half of UK adults vaccinated with the second dose: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/over-half-of-uk-adults-vaccinated-with-second-dose [5] ] U.S. reverses stance, backs giving poorer countries access to COVID vaccine patents. Reuters. 6 May 2021. [6] Spain backs vaccine patent waiver, calls for more international cooperation. Reuters. 7 May 2021. [7] EU ‘ready to discuss’ COVID vaccine patent waiver, says von der Leyen. Aasra Bramdeo for SABC News. 6 May 2021.
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  • #ThePeopleSay #WakeUpSA: Raising our voices against state capture and corruption
    We have elected leaders and bestowed on them the responsibility to govern, to enable us to achieve a better life for all – not themselves. We, as people of South Africa, have a right to know in whose interests’ decisions – supposedly in "our” name – were and continue to be made. The culture of secrecy and impunity must come to an end if our democracy is to thrive. Transparency and accountability are non-negotiable, as too are the requirements for transformative actions to address the injustices that remain embedded in our social, economic and political systems. Our constitution is revolutionary in its design, but the values and vision that it prescribes can only materialise if embraced by the state through which it is enacted. As people of this country, we all support the value and vision in the Constitution which protects the rights of the people in our country, it is the bedrock of our democracy and foundation of the rule of law. We, the undersigned, support/endorse this open letter to raise our voices in solidarity against state capture and impunity, and to say now is the time for us to be heard. The realities of the current moment cannot be met with silence and complacency. #ThePeopleSay #Wake-Up SA! Civil Society endorsements: Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC) Centre for Applied Legal Studies (CALS) Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) Corruption Watch (CW) Dullah Omar Institute (DOI) Equal Education (EE) Freedom Under Law (FUL) Legal Resources Centre (LRC) My Vote Counts (MVC) Open Secrets Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) Section27 (S27) Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) Right2Know (R2K)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Pledge Solidarity with Eastern Cape Community Health Workers
    We can no longer tolerate a situation where our state, far from being an example of good labour practice, is responsible for the casualisation of work and the exploitation of the mainly women workers who are leading grassroots healthcare provision in our communities. CHW’s demands, in the Eastern Cape and in the rest of the country, for secure employment and a living wage must be met, with immediate effect. We note the recent permanent employment of CHW in Gauteng as a step in the right direction and hereby demand an end to regional disparities in the pay, recognition and integration of CHW into the workforce of the National Department of Health.
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