• 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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  • #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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  • UNIVERSITIES TO ISSUE OWING STUDENTS GRADUATE CERTIFICATES
    1. This will help many students enter the job market. 2. Universities' financial sustainability will improve as more graduates get jobs and start paying-off their debts. 3. This will also reduce the social burden on the government of giving out grants as more people are employed. 4. This will contribute to the NDP and the GDP of South Africa.
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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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  • Demand Corona Relief Fund be set up for precarious workers during the Lockdown
    Precarious workers make use of mass transport systems (taxis and buses) to get to and from work, areas the WHO and National Department of Health have deemed as high risk for infection. Furthermore, domestic workers and health care workers work in intimate spaces with people who are at high risk of COVID-19 infection, such as the elderly and people who have travelled to and from high-risk countries. However, due to the legacy of inequality, we continue to live in, these are the very same workers who will not be paid – and cannot afford – to self-quarantine. Without income, they also cannot afford healthy food or medication, making them even more vulnerable. We commend the Government for communicating around COVID-19, however, gaps remain in addressing the anxiety, fear and stigma related to infection. On top of the fear of dying, vulnerable workers reside in communities where the potential is high for stigmatisation and discrimination in the event of self-quarantine or being identified as having the virus. We believe that a successful response to COVID-19 requires unity among all who live in South Africa, and we aim to be part of a unified solution. That unified response, however, requires Government to take bold and deliberate steps to ensure that the most vulnerable members of society are cared for and have their dignity and livelihoods secured. COVID-19 will exacerbate inequality among the working class of this country as they do not have the choice to ‘work from home’ and they are subject to ‘no work no pay’ labour conditions. This is compounded by the fact that domestic workers and informal workers particularly still do not have access to the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA) that other COVID-19 affected formal workers have. This means that domestic workers and informal workers cannot claim compensation in the event that they contract COVID-19 while at work. Given that we are officially under a national state of disaster, Mr President, we call for expedited access to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) for domestic workers and informal workers.
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    Created by Coalition of Unions, Formal and Informal Workers, Organisations, Activists and other Allies
  • Help recruit Minister Mkhize as an ally in our fight for 20% sugary drinks tax
    Last year, when Dr Zweli Mkhize was appointed as our new Minister of Health, we ran a welcome campaign to help ensure the fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) was high on his agenda. Late last year Minister Mkhize attended a Diabetes awareness event where he was asked if he supports the World Health Organisation’s recommended 20% sugary drinks tax. His spokesperson Dr Lwazi Manzi responded stating that Minister Mkhize supports the principle of the sugary drinks tax. Dr Manzi said that: “The minister cannot proclaim on the actual number as that is the business of Treasury [but] he supports the principle of the sugar tax,” [1]. So what does this mean for our campaign? The good news is that the minister has not only acknowledged that diabetes needs to be priority, but he has also stated that reducing sugar in drinks and consumable foods is important. This sends a message that the minister of health could be an ally. We need all the allies we can find because we are up against greedy companies like Coca Cola who want to protect their profits and are fighting against the sugary drinks tax. Minister Mkhize may do more to support a stronger sugary drinks tax if we show him that there is enough public support. If enough of us come together and send messages of support, it could help convince him to use his position as a member of Cabinet to call on Treasury to increase the sugary drinks tax to 20%. With Finance Minister Tito Mboweni preparing to deliver his Budget Speech on the 26th of February, we have a window of opportunity to recruit Health Minister Mkhize to convince Treasury to put our nation's health first. In the words of the Health Minister, “Every South African has been affected by diabetes- whether directly or indirectly. For those who have experienced or witnessed the complications of this deadly disease, it can be devastating and disruptive for families and communities.” [2] Let’s make sure Minister Mkhize knows that if he’s serious about fighting NCDs, he will have to implement a stronger sugary drinks tax. [1] https://health-e.org.za/2019/11/19/health-minister-supports-the-reduction-of-sugar-in-sweetened-beverages/ [2] https://health-e.org.za/2019/11/14/world-diabetes-day-2019/
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  • Tell Thembeni Mhlongo to build a public creche in Windsor West
    It is unrealistic to expect that community members in poor and low income areas will be able to provide suitable crèche’s in line with the requirements of the Department. The particular requirements in infrastructure, safety regulations, health standards, teacher qualifications, and high standards of education and as well as capacitated organisations are an unrealistic expectation for these communities. This was echoed by the words of crèche principal, Georginah Hloka in a meeting held on the 29th of October 2019 with the Department of Social Development, Department of Health and the Department of Education in Tembisa Township [1]. How can crèche owners then provide adequate toilets, proper infrastructure, provisions for disabled children, nutritious food, qualified teachers, physical safety features and adequate space for children if community members cannot even afford to pay a R1000?This then means that the whole idea of private crèche’s can never really work in poor and low income communities [2]. Research shows that the improvement of pre-school learning in the country came when grade R learners were incorporated into the public school system and became housed in primary schools [3]. Grade R is however only for five year olds and six year olds. This means that, for poorer communities, provision of pre-school education by the public government is better than that of private providers. The same is not true for affluent neighbourhoods however. This is why we are calling for the Gauteng’s Head of the department of social development to rather build public crèche’s as private crèche’s are not sustainable in poorer areas. What is moreover disturbing about the poor quality of pre-school education for black children is that the children who of the race group that needs the most support in order to reduce rates of inequality in the future as they are shaped by race and gender, are the children whose development is being stunted all the more. Research shows that poor nutrition, poor learning environment and low standards of teaching are the main cause of why children from poor backgrounds generally perform worse than children from upper and middle classes[4]. The DSD MEC needs to stop this plight and push for decision making to rather build public crèche’s as opposed to trying to shift the responsibility of educating the poor to community members who are structurally unable to play this role. [1] Township crèches must now register, says government: https://www.sowetanlive.co.za/news/south-africa/2019-10-29-township-crches-must-now-register-says-government/ [2] Raising South Africa: informal crèches are desperate for aid: https://www.groundup.org.za/article/raising-south-africa-informal-creches-are-desperate-aid/ [3] impact of the introduction of grade R on learning outcomes: http://resep.sun.ac.za/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Grade-R-Evaluation-1-3-25-Final-Unpublished-Report-13-06-17.pdf [4] Challenges of the Early Development Sector in South Africa by Michaela Ashley Cooper, Eric Atmore and Lauren Van Niekerk 2012. The Journal of Early Childhood Development Journal. The University of Johannesburg.
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  • Tell Finance Minister to fully fund the IPID
    Many women in South Africa have been victims of rape, murder and robbery by the hands that are meant to protect them, and not enough is being actively done to protect them. [3] To restore trust between the police and women, The IPID must be fully independent of SAPS. It’s the IPID’s duty to be ‘watchdogs’ over unlawful acts by the police. But they’ve failed to do this possibly because of the level of dependence on SAPS. To this day, not one police officer has been arrested for shooting at the Marikana miners. The Farlam Commision of Inquiry revealed nothing but poor leadership from the Saps, resulting in lives lost and no justice served.[4] The Finance Minister is currently working on his budget speech for February, there is no better time to act. We have a chance to ensure IPID is fully independent. If we don’t act now, we may have to wait another year for the next budget. References: [1] http://www.ipid.gov.za/sites/default/files/documents/121764%20IPID%20Annual%20Report%20FULL.pdf [2] https://joburgeastexpress.co.za/38927/ipid-how-to-report-a-case-against-officers/ [3] https://citizen.co.za/news/1572102/woman-raped-by-two-men-in-jmpd-uniform/ [4] https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-08-16-sa-still-waiting-for-action-on-farlam-commission-findings/
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  • Add your name to assist Wits students owing more than R20 000 to register
    Lungelo Malevu, holding a BSc in Biological Sciences is one of many from Wits University who currently have historical debt “I owe R135 893.28 and the university has withheld my degree and I only have access to my unofficial transcript. This is a challenge because I cannot apply for a number of jobs since there is no proof that I have completed my degree” Portia Mosime, hoping to register for her final year in Psychology “my mother is unemployed but we survive through the money she makes from her vegetable garden which supplies her community with fresh veggies, however she makes less than R500 a month this is not enough to cover the outstanding debt at Wits amounting to R76 117.81” Students often financially excluded from institutions of higher learning are black female students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. They account for close to 58% in universities and 57% in TVET colleges [4]. The lack of access to funding opportunities for higher learning affects them the most. Following the efforts made by the SRC and other important organizations, these testimonies should motivate people to add their names to this campaign to put more pressure on the financial committee (FinCo) as they are the ones responsible for determining the fees to be paid by students. Ultimately this should end the unequal access to institutions of higher learning affecting poor black South African youth. The efforts by NSFAS and other funding schemes can only assist a certain number of students, this further reduces the rate at which graduates enter the job market. Despite unemployment rates being high, the critical work of doctors and nurses requires a surplus of recent graduates based on the demands of the job. If a medical degree student fails to clear their historic debt they cannot graduate and enter the job market, potentially changing people’s lives. These dreams end up not being a reality. Therefore, the more support this campaign gains, the fight against academic exclusion due to finances is kept alive, students around this time are in distress and often end up further getting themselves into more debt and stress way before the academic year starts. Adding your name to this campaign at this moment ensures that the relevant decision makers can act now and implement these demands before the month comes to an end. This means that students with historic debt can continue with their studies. References [1] Wits Vuvuzela, 2019 Accessed here: https://www.wits.ac.za/registration/returning-undergraduate-students/ [2] Takalani Sioga for the Wits Vuvuzela. 3 August 2018. Accessed here: https://www.witsvuvuzela.com/2018/08/03/nsfas-tells-2019-applicants-to-wait/ [3] Michael Pedro for EWN, 2019. Accessed here: https://www.google.com/amp/s//ewn.co.za/2019/03/24/dhet-allocates-r697m-to-nsfas-to-settle-historic-debt-owed-to-universities/amp [4] South African Market. 12 November 2019 Category: Education accessed here: https://www.southafricanmi.com/education-statistics.html
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  • Demand SABC refunds the top 10 song of the year voters
    The SABC started the selection process for "song of the year 2019" and opened voting lines to listeners even though they already knew that they did not have an agreement with the concept owners of "song of the year". The concept owners took the SABC to court to stop this. The Court then instructed the SABC to not air "song of the year 2019", resulting in a loss for all those who had already voted. It is false advertising and unfair to those who voted that the SABC has taken their money but did not deliver a song of the year countdown.
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  • Make the sex offenders list public
    South Africa has the highest rates of rape and gender based violence. Women and children are not safe in homes, schools, university campuses, churches, at work - basically everywhere. We need to know who amongst us are convicted sex offenders so that we can protect ourselves There are raging protests all over the country, hashtags. We are tired of talking, this is one action that can help us deal with this scourge head on. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has, in terms of Chapter 6 of the Act, implemented the National Register for Sex Offenders on 30th June 2009. The Register contains information of people who have been convicted of sexual offences against children and mentally disabled people. Currently, the Register is not available to the public, only employers can access it. If the Registry's intention is to protect children and mentally disabled people against sex offenders why is it not accessible to the public?
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