• Pres. Ramaphosa must use presidential pardon to #FreeMartha now!
    Martha Libuseng Marumo is a survivor of domestic violence. She spent many years of her marriage trying to keep herself safe from her sexually and physically abusive husband. After years of trying to get help from the police to escape this violence, Martha was told by them that they could not help her because “it is a family matter” [1]. In the end, after many attempts to free herself she took the law into her own hands and killed her husband. In 2005 she was given a life sentence for killing her husband in defense of herself and her children. She recently shared details of her story at the National Gender-based Violence (GBV) summit on how her husband would beat her, force himself on to her, and take away her agency as a woman. Martha’s story isn’t unique but is one of many tragic examples of how the justice system fails women, and other survivors of gender-based violence. Everyday women interact with this unjust system when they try to escape violent and abusive situations. Enough is enough! A recent police report also showed that 59% of South Africans feel dissatisfied with the courts [2]. Our country needs to fix this system that stigmatises survivors and lets perpetrators walk free. It’s time that the judicial system chooses a side: does it care about survivors or does it protect perpetrators?
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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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  • Say No to Nuclear Plans in Thyspunt by 31 July 2021
    South Africans have until 31 July to say no to a Nuclear Installation Site Licence (NISL) application. Late last year we objected to the building of a new nuclear plant at Duynefontein near the existing Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant. Now Eskom has applied for yet another new site license for Thyspunt, located in the Eastern Cape, to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) Board. South Africa cannot afford and doesn't need [1] unsafe [2] and unnecessary nuclear power. Object to Eskom’s plans before it’s too late. Nuclear power is dangerous, unhealthy and costly. Nuclear plants – big or small – are very expensive to set up, often with cost overruns and construction delays. The cost of the decommissioning of these plants is also prohibitively costly. 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. Nuclear power is not needed for our energy grid now or in the future. Especially during the Covid-19 crisis, we should not be looking at procurement of one of the most expensive forms of energy. The most recent Energy plan, IRP 2019, does not show the 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 close to the plants at risk. Consider 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.” We should instead move toward a just energy transition, investing in and supporting renewable energy 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. 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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  • 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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  • The CCMA must open and stop failing workers #OPENCCMACAMPAIGN
    Right now, workers are more vulnerable than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in job losses, rising cost of living and workers who have been unfairly dismissed and treated need the services of the CCMA to help them get justice. The CCMA must be functioning well so that workers can depend on the institution to fight labour issues. But the CCMA has closed its doors on vulnerable workers and expects workers to refer their case online, which is inaccessible to those who need the most support. The Casual Workers Advice Office (CWAO) has reported that the CCMA is outsourcing things like printing forms to internet cafes around their offices, where there have been incidents of people being charged R40 to refer their case [2]. This is a service the CCMA is supposed to provide for free [3]. The #OpenCCMACampaign is an initiative of 40 organisations. Our aim is to fight to transform the CCMA into an organisation that respects workers and is guided by social justice. The #OpenCCMACampaign will embark on a series of planned actions to challenge planned budget cuts to the CCMA, among other demands. Various actions have taken place throughout the year. We have protested at various CCMA offices [4] and will continue to do so. The CCMA has also threatened the CWAO with legal action for exposing these dodgy operations. We take this action against our partner organisation seriously. But this will not stop us from challenging budget cuts to the CCMA and their own anti-worker actions. Many workers depend on the CCMA to leave the institution’s future in the hands of the bosses and the leaders of the NEDLAC federations. On 30 March, a CCMA statement noted that although R90.1 million has already been deducted from its 2020/21 budget, the projected cuts over three years have been reduced from over R600 million to R301 million. It also confirmed that part-time commissioners would begin to hear cases again, starting from 1 April. None of these changes addresses our core demands for an immediate reversal of the budget cut; for a significant expansion of the CCMA budget; for the full-reopening of the CCMA’s walk-in facilities; for the permanent employment of all part-time commissioners, and for a total transformation of the culture and practices of the institution which have become explicitly anti-worker. We note that the crisis engulfing the CCMA will not be resolved through ‘stakeholder’ meetings and press briefings. We call on all progressive worker organisations to abandon the politics that drives them to look for a ‘seat at the negotiating table’ instead of joining forces with other worker organisations on the ground. [1] http://www.labour.gov.za/employment-and-labour-welcomes-siu-probe [2] https://twitter.com/CWAO_ZA/status/1369599779781611523?s=20 [3] Workers pay for CCMA services that were once free, Masego Mafata and Liezl Human for GroundUp, April 2021 [4] https://twitter.com/CcmaOpen/status/1374674101915283457?s=20
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  • Stop Facebook forcing us to give up our personal info to use WhatsApp
    When Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, their CEO Mark Zuckerberg said: “We are absolutely not going to change plans around WhatsApp and the way it uses user data. WhatsApp is going to operate completely autonomously.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lied. They went ahead and updated WhatsApp’s terms and conditions in 2016, Facebook gave itself access to a wide range of our personal data without our permission. Now, we only have until 15th May until Whatsapp goes back on their word and forces users to opt-in to their terms and conditions. This cannot be allowed. The South African law protects us as users and places emphasis on our protection against companies and corporates that infringe on our privacy laws. “The POPI Act broadly requires businesses to limit their use of personal data, get consent before using it, and let users withdraw their consent later on [1].” Whatsapp completely disregards this act and leaves users with no form of consent before or after signing into the terms and conditions. Mzansi recently introduced new laws to protect people's personal information. “The POPI Act broadly requires businesses to limit their use of personal data, get consent before using it, and let users withdraw their consent later on [1].” Many aspects of POPI are similar to European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has helped protect people in Europe from companies using their personal information without their consent. Billions of people around the world use Facebook services - Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram - in order to connect with friends and family. WhatsApp is the main company world wide with over 2 billion users. This gives Facebook the power to coerce people to share their personal information so they can profit even more than they have. [1] South Africa's POPI Act: https://www.freeprivacypolicy.com/blog/popi/#:~:text=The%20POPI%20Act%20broadly%20requires,done%20in%20a%20Privacy%20Policy.
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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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  • Stop Johannesburg's R50 recycling fee that threatens reclaimers' livelihood
    Starting from 1 July, residents living in houses worth more than R350 000 could potentially pay a R50 “recycling fee” if the City of Johannesburg’s proposed waste management tariff is approved. The City said that the R50 additional levy will go to Pikitup to extend a separation at source ([email protected]) programme which has already been piloted in a few suburbs in Johannesburg. The City places the bill at the feet of “affluent” residents to extend the [email protected] pilot programme yet provides no research or statistics to support it. Residents are expected to buy into a system they know nothing about despite having very little trust in the government to provide services and use the money for its intended purpose. Not only does this recycling fee raise more questions and concerns for residents, it is a grave threat to the livelihood of reclaimers who depend on the collection of recyclables for their daily living. The extension of this project will decrease reclaimers’ access to bins which will significantly decrease their income. Reclaimers collect between 80 - 90 % of used packaging collected for recycling, saving municipalities millions of rands per year. The contribution of reclaimers cannot be overlooked or underestimated. There are alternatives to the City's proposal. As African Reclaimers Organisation (ARO), we have been piloting our own [email protected] programme, where we work directly with residents in Brixton and Auckland Park who separate materials for us. Instead of destroying our jobs, Pikitup should expand our pilot across the city. We call on residents to: 1. Sign this petition to stop the recycling fee and protect reclaimers’ jobs 2. Object to the recycling fee by completing this IDP comment form: https://share.hsforms.com/1xa2Cg-qnRxajkHAoDwsivw469tl (deadline is 8 May 2021) 3. Get in contact with ARO on Facebook/ Instagram or email to see how we can develop a resident-reclaimer [email protected] programme in your area No recycling without reclaimers! Social media: @africanreclaimers Email: [email protected]
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  • Bring back + increase R350 SRD grant until it's turned into Basic Income Support
    Time has run out for the R350 SRD grant, but our leaders are feeling the pressure. Finance Minister Mboweni and National Treasury are already under fire for delivering an anti-poor austerity* budget and have ignored our urgent plea to extend the R350 SRD Grant. There is already some support for our demands. One of Parliament's Appropriations Committee members, Mr Qayiso, said the “Rate of unemployment is so high...it has reached an alarming crisis. It [Extending the SRD] is a fair request and must be considered” [1]. Other Members of Parliament also voiced their support [2] after we ensured that members of the committees on finance and appropriations heard directly from those who will be hit hardest by the decision to cut the R350 SRD grant; low-income Black women [3]. Theresa Linden, one of the campaign supporters, told Members of Parliament that “We are struggling, we are still sitting in a lockdown and not getting full salaries...hope Treasury can see that and help the people in South Africa to alleviate the poverty”. Small jobs here and there are not enough to put enough food on the table, and many jobs don’t pay enough. Our leaders can not guarantee good jobs for everyone, but they can guarantee Basic Income Support so our people can live with dignity. It’s been nearly 20 years since the Taylor Commissions Report recommended a Basic Income Grant [4]. We are sick of our leaders being all talk and no action. The R350 SRD grant is a stepping stone to implementing the decades’ overdue Basic Income Support for those aged 18 to 59. Over a quarter of a million people have added their names demanding Basic Income Support is urgently implemented [5]. [1] Standing Committee on Appropriations Public Hearings 12 March 2021 via Parliament of the Republic of South Africa Youtube Channel. [2] Joint Meeting: Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance, 3 March 2021 via Parliament of the Republic of South Africa Youtube Channel. [3] https://fb.watch/4j7AZtEtI5/ [4] Basic Income Grant: Briefing and Economic Feasibility - Social Development, 13 November 2002 [5] https://awethu.amandla.mobi/petitions/basic-income-support-for-aged-18-to-59-now *Austerity refers to strict and harsh decisions and policies that cut social spending that a government can put in place to deal with debt
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  • Call on the North West Provincial Government to release the Mafereka Commission Report
    Help us strengthen the voices of the Bapo Ba Mogale community in their quest to make the findings of the Mafereka Commission report public. We need your support today! Our demand: We call upon the North West premier to release the Mafereka Commission Report. A report that will assist the Bapo Ba Mogale community in establishing a proper governance structure. The Mafareka Commission is one of many commissions of inquiry established by the North West Province to fact-find the existence of a rightful traditional leadership. Commissions of inquiry should advance values of accountability and participatory democracy. In the absence of transparency, affected communities and interested parties are unable to engage the findings of the commission and the purpose of the commission becomes compromised. [1] https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/nw-silence-on-mafereka-report-infuriates-mining-communities-2/ [2] https://www.corruptionwatch.org.za/mining-communities-lack-proper-governance-and-support/
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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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