• Provide basic services to informal settlements
    “When we think about using the toilet, we feel dirty. We feel like we don’t have human dignity, but we have nowhere else to live, so we just have to make the best of it. This is why we are building our own toilets.” Margret Mabene, Mzondi resident. Just recently, reports surfaced that people living in Mzondi informal settlement, Ivory Park, had started a crowdfund so that they could build toilets [1]. This desperation exists across many informal settlements that are scattered across South Africa's cities. Despite this, many people living in informal settlements are overlooked in service provision. There is a growing demand for living space around cities, and South Africa has housing backlogs. People living in informal settlements have rights. The need to grant them access to water and sanitation is a human rights issue. South Africa has the laws that force municipalities to provide basic services. Abahlali BaseMjondolo, in their Harry Gwala court case against the City of Ekurhuleni, are a good example of how people living in informal settlements have used the law to defend their rights. In this case, the people successfully argued that Ekurhuleni had a statutory obligation in terms of the Water Services Act, which requires a safe albeit temporary toilet for each stand, including in informal settlements [2]. It is important for ordinary South Africans to stand in solidarity with those who are marginalised. This is important for the advancement of justice and equity, ideals that are enshried in our Constitution. People living in informal settlements deserve dignity, like all human beings, irrespective of their material condition. [1] Community tries crowd funding to get toilets, Zoe Postman for GroundUp News. March 13, 2018. [2] The right to basic services in informal settlements: Notes on Harry Gwala High Court hearing 12 December 2008, Abahlali BaseMjondolo. Dec 15, 2008.
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  • Raise standards, don't lower pass marks
    Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga proposed to lower the school pass mark for Grades 7,8 and 9 in public schools to help review the entire General Educations and Training Band (GET) phase [1]. Currently, learners who get below 50% in their home language are not allowed to progress to the next grade. A minimum pass rate of 40% means that learners will be promoted while not knowing 60% of their work content. This proposal promotes mediocrity lowers expectations for learners to progress and sets them up for failure in the future when they have to enter tertiary education and standards are higher. Government should look at improving the environment of teaching and address failing infrastructure. This is a quick-fix solution that will merely increase the number of learners who progress through school. It is common knowledge across Mzansi that classes are overcrowded. On top of that, there is an increasing expectation on parents to help their children with homework. [1] https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/Local/Hillcrest-Fever/are-we-setting-the-bar-too-low-20180313
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  • Tell DUT to pay workers decent living wages and end the strike
    DUT staff moral is at its lowest because of the failure by management and the council to resolve this matter in a timely and respectful manner. Staff also deserve a decent salary for their living, it is a violation of their rights when they are ignored by the Vice Chancellor, management and the Council as well. This frustrates staff, and as a result they are withholding their labour and the whole university is badly affected. We want our kids to study and we want staff that will attend to our student needs in a manner that truly affirms that DUT is a student centred university of which right now is not the case. The strike is affecting students in so many ways. One of the students, Sphamandla Gumede, when interviewed by Independent News said, "it makes me very angry. At home they don’t understand why we haven’t started studying. They are thinking I am coming to university to just waste money." https://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/dut-strike-leaves-students-despondent-13300671
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  • We demand the FPB reinstates the classification rating of 16LS to the film Inxeba - The Wound
    We demand that LGBTQ+ stories be heard. This is an important film, the story of which needs to be heard. Banning this important film reeks of homophobia. We will no longer stand for this abuse of the LGBTQ+ community. Do we also have to burn things and threaten people with murder in order to get our way? South Africa's LGBTQ+ community is still being bullied, this time by traditional leaders and FPB, silencing LGBTQ+ stories and keeping LGBTQ+ people in the closet. We will not accept this. SA's Constitution protects LGBTQ+ rights, but it seems we still need to fight to have a simple story like this told. While this story is set against a traditional Xhosa backdrop, it is a universal story that speaks to all of us, and based on the many awards this film has won, to the world.
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  • Decriminalise sex work now! Don’t let this moment pass
    Sex work is work, and right now sex workers are calling for solidarity to keep them safe by supporting the call for the full decriminalisation of adult sex work. Some in Parliament support this call and if enough of us make public submissions before the 26th February 2018, we could change the lives of sex workers. Like many other people, Nosipho uses her profession to support herself and her family, to further her studies, to save up for her future and to gain financial freedom and security [1]. But because sex work is criminalised in Mzansi, she and many others, face unsafe working conditions where they face corrupt police who want bribes or rape sex workers in exchange for not being arrested. https://www.youtube.com/embed/dg4l3X9rJHw?ecver=1 This video explains the 4 possible legal models for sex work and why South African sex workers want the full decriminalisation of sex work. Despite the overwhelming evidence showing the ongoing harm caused by criminalisation, the much anticipated sex work report by the South African Law Reform Commission (SALRC) recommends that sex work remains a criminal offence [2]. Now, for the first time in decades, there's a real chance for change. Sex workers and women’s rights groups, like SWEAT and Sisonke, have loudly condemned the report. Parliament's Multi-Party Women's Caucus noted the flaws of the report [3] and the chairperson of the Caucus stressing that the full decriminalisation of sex work is the only model that respects the rights of sex workers [4]. In just a few days, the Women’s Caucus could help determine what the future looks like for people like Nosipho. If we don’t speak out against this horrendous report sex workers may be sent back into danger. There’s only a few days left to make submissions responding to the report. Make sure to send yours through by the 26th February 2018. [1], I am a sex worker: criminalising my work puts me in danger, Nosipho Vidima for GroundUp News, June 14, 2017. [2] Parliament's women's caucus to host sex work summit, Jeanette Chabalala for News24. Feb 9, 2018. [3] Sex work report on prostitution rejected, Nicola Daniels for Independent News. May 30, 2017. [4] Multi-Party Women's Caucus disappointed about law reform commission report on adult prostitution, Ms Masefele Story Morutoa. June 1, 2017.
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  • Provide transport to former Mhlwazi Primary School learners now!
    As part of its rationalisation of schools in the province, the Eastern Cape Department of Education closed down 136 schools[1]. Mhlwazi Primary School was on of the schools that were affected by the mergers during the rationalisation of schools in the Eastern Cape and was formally closed down in February 2017. Learners from this school were sent to Ryno Secondary School, a school 40 kms away from where they live [2]. The Department of Education promised to provide transport for the learners. This was done sporadically so much so that some learners missed some of their final exams [3]. Nokhanyo, a mother to 2 of the pupils says that only 3 pages have been used in all their books. It came as a shock, that all their children passed. This sabotages the learners’ education grossly. Parents cannot even go to school to enquire about their children's progress because its far. This year again none of these learners have been to school because there hasn’t been any scholar transport provided. On the 6th February, 15 parents went to the District office in Engcobo to enquire. They were told to find their own transport for February and March because the department could only provide transport from April [3]. Nolindile Deku said her five children are stuck at home instead of being at school. "This is very sad for us parents. Everyday my children ask me the same question – when are they going to go back to school - and I don't have answers." Another parent, Nokhanyo Sombo, said, "Since January we have been in and out of department offices seeking help but no one is willing to help us. They are not feeling our pain because their children are at school." Those that do attend have to wake up at 3am everyday to start their journey to Ryno Secondary School,a journey that takes almost 2hrs as parents cannot afford to pay for transport [4]. [1] http://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2017/06/01/136-schools-province-close-soon/ [2], [3] https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/no-school-for-eastern-cape-village-children-20180207 [4] https://www.pressreader.com/south-africa/daily-dispatch/20180208/281633895691384
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  • Deny Katie Hopkins entry into South Africa
    Katie Hopkins is a white supremacist, a bigot and a racist. Not only does she want to come into South Africa to cover a story that has no factual basis, ie that the farm murders are white genocide and ethnic cleansing of white people, she has also sent offensive tweets about our decorated world champion and athlete Caster Semenya. In the same way that Home Affairs denied homophobic Steven Anderson entry last year, we expect the Department to follow suit in denying Katie Hopkins entry. We already have enough racists to deal with from within our borders.
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  • Stop the demolition of homes in Newcastle
    **UPDATE: The Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled today that the families may not be moved to unstable structures. The Hadebe home in Newcastle, Kwa Zulu Natal will be demolished by Ikhwezi Mining on Friday 15 December 2017. The mine is after the coal in the ground. The Hadebe's and 11 other families were represented by the Department of Land and Rural Affairs who have recently pulled out of the case. The Habede family and its community will be headed to the Pietermaritzburg High Court today, 13 Decemeber 2017, without legal representation. The case will be heard and if the mine wins, these families will spend Christmas in unstable iron structures. https://www.facebook.com/groundWorkSA/posts/2236639909695404
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  • Stop #RhodesWar on Womxn Activists Now!
    #RhodesWar has been trending since Monday, 11 December, as the public became aware of two female students banned for life from UCKAR because they participated in anti-rape protests in April 2016. The outrageous treatment of student activists at UCKAR who are being systematically excluded and victimized for bringing attention to the failures of management to address the flagrant rape culture on that campus can not be tolerated. We must make sure that womxn activists are not punished for speaking out, taking action and challenging patriarchy in institutions of higher learning and elsewhere. Further this latest attack on student activists represents a wider trend where student leaders are being pushed out of universities for daring to challenge patriarchy, capitalism and calling for decolonised education. These limits placed on hard-won democratic freedoms like the right to protest must be challenged. We must fight for the students who risk everything to fight for us!
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  • Help Icasa ensure data only expires after 3 years
    We all hate it when data bundles we have bought, are taken away from us after 30 days, or when our data bundle runs out and the networks don't tell us, so it chows our airtime because we are being charged out of bundle rates. Or the fact that those of us who have the least money can only afford small bundles which expire even faster. For too long companies have made up their own rules and ripped us off. But thanks to our Data Must Fall campaign and other voices, ICASA our regulator has published draft regulations that, if implemented in final form, will prevent networks from expiring users’ data for up to 36 months [1]. The likes of MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom mobile are furious with Icasa, and are crying poor, but we know the truth, and we can ensure people power supports Icasa's bold moves. Icasa is asking for public comment on their draft regulations, the deadline is the 3rd January. We need to cease the moment, and demonstrate enough public support for these regulations, so that these greedy companies don’t find a way to undermine our campaign demands. We need to build on the momentum gained by the Competition Commission launching an Inquiry into the high price of data. For three years our community has fought for justice in many ways. Today, let’s once again come together to ensure that the Competition Commission acts to ensure that network providers don’t profiteer on the backs of those who can only afford the smallest data bundles. Consumers get discounts for purchasing many other basic goods in bulk and pay premiums for buying in small sachets. One of the underlying reasons for these price differences is that it costs more to package and distribute these goods in small quantities. Data is not a product at all. The costs of supplying data reside largely in the billions of rands of investment in the mobile infrastructure and the cable backbone that supports it. How this cost is distributed amongst consumers is in the hands of the operators. In principle there is no reason why data should not cost the same whether bought in small or large quantities. The only additional cost of providing small bundles for operators rests on the billing and associated communication costs. ICASA should demand that operators justify the costs associated with small bundles. At the moment the ratio between the best value package and the worst on Vodacom for 30 day bundles is 1:20 on MTN is 1:29 on Cell C is 1:40 and on Telkom Mobile is 1:10. While we support Icasa’s move to ensure data bundles only expire after 3 years, we only support this being implemented if ICASA ensures companies don’t then remove smaller data bundles that low-income earners can afford, or remove these bundles altogether. Basically, Icasa while ensuring data bundles don’t expire for 3 years, must ensure this does not come at the cost of low-income consumers.
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  • DA MPs in the National Council of Provinces, vote yes to pass the Health Promotion Levy
    Diabetes is the leading cause of death for South African women [2], yet the beverage industry is desperately trying to delay and further water down the sugary drinks tax (Health Promotion Levy). BevSA and Coca-Cola’s job losses scaremongering has been exposed as exaggerated [1] and self serving [3]. A recent study showed that 3/4s of adult South Africans believe that government is doing the right thing when it makes and enforces policy to discourage the consumption of sugary beverages and junk foods [4]. We can’t underestimate how far the likes of Coca-Cola will go to protect their profits at the expense of our health. Leaked Coca-Cola executive emails show that the company has managed to get a “seat at the table in on-going regulatory discussions with the Ministry of Health” and has been fighting the tax [5]. BevSA and Coca-Cola also managed to keep health experts and advocates out of the NEDLAC process. Treasury seems to be standing up against companies like Coca-Cola and announced that the sugary drinks tax is likely to be introduced in April 2018. Treasury Deputy Director General Ismail Momoniat went one step further, acknowledging the criticism from the health sector regarding the watering down of the sugary drinks tax, stating that they would “... increase the tax until we get the result we need” [6]. [2] Diabetes - the silent killer. Amy Green for Health-e News August 15, 2017 [3] SA’s proposed sugar tax: claims about calories & job losses checked. Kate Wilkinson & Vinayak Bhardwaj for Africa Check August 2016 [4] 70% of South Africans support sugar tax - Genesis study August 31, 2017 http://www.genesis-analytics.com/news/2017/70-of-sa-suppports-sugar-tax-genesis-study [5] New #CokeLeak: Soda Tax Opposition in 8 More Countries. https://medium.com/cokeleak/new-cokeleak-soda-tax-opposition-in-8-more-countries-a53e2df3d8e4 [6] Sugary drinks tax set for April next year. Kerry Cullinan for Health-E News September 2017
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  • Sign The Petition:Refurbish Mahwereleng Hotel Into Youthful Creative Lifestyle Hotel&Business Centre
    As a community of Mokopane with high levels of youth unemployment, low skills level, major tourism potential, political challenges and also low paying jobs, we need to assist government to save ourselves by creating our own opportunities in partnership with our local state offices by persuading them to support us. We can be the masters of our own visions and future if only we are given the simple support we require Mahwelereng can be internationally great and local community can benefit a lot more from the mines and passing traffic if we are allowed to be more creatives in business and leverage our combined skills away from politics - we can be great.
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