Bua Briefs 3 of 2012

8 March 2012

Human Rights Day – 21 March 2012

Theme: Working together to promote unity in diversity and human dignity for all.

Human Rights Day is a national day that is commemorated annually on 21 March to remind South Africans about the sacrifices that accompanied the struggle for the attainment of democracy in South Africa.

South Africans worked tirelessly for the transformation of our country to an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law.

The massacres in Sharpeville and Langa continue to serve as a historical reminder to all of us to make an effort towards protecting human rights and dignity.
Following the Sharpeville massacre, the United Nations declared 21 March the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Human Rights Day seeks to educate all South Africans about their human rights and obligations and make citizens aware of government services and programmes which give effect to ensuring that their human rights become a lived reality.

The Constitution places a requirement on the Government to give effect to the Bill of Rights through the enactment of relevant legislation. The Constitution also creates various institutions for the protection of South Africa's constitutional democracy. These include the Office of the Public Protector, the Commission on Gender Equality, the Human Rights Commission and the Commission for the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities.

On 21 March 2012, President Jacob Zuma is expected to go on a walkabout at the Walter Sisulu Square in Kliptown, Soweto. The President will then proceed to the Walter Sisulu Hall to deliver a public lecture. Some 1 600 people are expected to attend.

Key messages Supporting statements
This year marks the 16th anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, which gives full expression to our democratic ideals.
  • South Africa is a democratic country founded on a constitution that lays the basis for the construction of a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and prosperous society based on justice, equality, the rule of law and the inalienable human rights of all.
  • The Constitution is South Africa’s fundamental vision statement, which guarantees the rights of every South African and guides the policies of government and its actions.
  • The Bill of Rights in the Constitution is the cornerstone of democracy in South Africa. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
  • The Bill of Rights is instrumental in realising the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.
Access to basic services restores the dignity of people.
  • Government programmes have ensured that backlogs are addressed and that access to basic service has improved.
    • In 1994, only 62% of households had access to running water; by 2010, 94% of households had access to running water.
    • In 1994, only 50% of households had access to decent sanitation; by 2010, 80% of households had access to decent sanitation.
    • In 1994, only 51% of households had access to electricity; by 2010, 75% of households had access to electricity.
  • Government has announced a one-billion rand guarantee fund to promote access to housing loans to ensure that more South Africans have access to housing.
  • Education, health and social assistance remain the largest categories of government expenditure, demonstrating a commitment to improve the lives of our people.
  • Government investment on social grants to protect the most vulnerable members of society against abject poverty now stands at R105 billion. These include child support grants, free basic water and electricity services and the School Nutrition Programme.
  • During 2011, a total of 365 000 people were employed. This is the country’s best performance since the recession of 2008.
  • Government departments have adopted a joint multidisciplinary approach to deal with the cancer of corruption, which undermines the realisation of the ideal of a better life for all South Africans.
Government is committed to the protection of vulnerable groups against victimisation.
  • Government continues to roll out Thuthuzela Care Centres, the one-stop facilities introduced as a critical part of South Africa’s anti-rape strategy, to reduce secondary victimisation, improve conviction rates and reduce the cycle time for finalisation of cases.
  • Victim-friendly interview rooms are being set up at police stations across the country to allow for victims of crime to be handled in a more sensitive manner. By the end of 2011, over 900 victim-friendly rooms were established.
  • Government’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster is drafting a strategy to address gender-based violence against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community.
  • A joint task team to address gender based and sexual orientation-based violence against the LGBTI community was established under the leadership of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in September 2011.
  • Crime statistics released in September 2011 indicate that overall serious crime levels decreased by 5%. For the first time in eight years, the murder rate dropped by 6,5%, attempted murder decreased by 12,2% and sexual offences had also reflected a decrease of 4,4%.
Significant progress has been made since the end of apartheid in 1994 in fulfilling the rights of children in South Africa.
  • New laws, progressive public spending and reorganisation of administrative systems have contributed to accelerating the fulfillment of rights. For example, millions of children are benefiting from the Child Support Grant through the extension of the age of eligibility and an extensive outreach programme by the State.
  • Recent changes in government’s response to HIV have also been far-reaching, including state provision of treatment for all HIV-infected infants at government-run health facilities, and provision of treatment and care to HIV-positive pregnant women earlier in their pregnancies to prevent new paediatric infections.
  • Near-universal access to primary education has been achieved and government is increasingly focusing on the improvement of the quality of education.
  • The Children’s Act, 2005 and the Child Justice Act, 2008 provide a solid foundation for advancing child protection in the country.


National Water Week 5 – 11 March 2012

Every year during the month of March, the Department of Water Affairs celebrates National Water Week in South Africa, which also features World Water Day on 22 March.

The primary aim of this campaign is to raise awareness among South Africans about the role of water in social and economic development, including the need to get citizens to change their attitudes towards water use. The campaign emphasises water conservation as one of the major interventions that South Africans need to appreciate if we are to guarantee water security and availability for the country. It also highlights the centrality of water as a resource in the well-being of both the environment and the people. 

March is also Human Rights Month in South Africa and as such, 21 March will see the country celebrating human rights achievements. This contributes to the National Water Week Campaign by placing emphasis on water being a human right in this country, as enshrined in our Constitution.
Government upholds its constitutional duty to provide water services and other basic services to South Africans for sustainable livelihoods. The Water Week Campaign will also focus on the human rights aspect of water, which emphasises the angle that such a right is accompanied by a responsibility to conserve and respect it.

Key messages Supporting statements
South Africa is a water- scarce country, and its water resources are finite.
  • South Africa is a water-scarce country, which depends much for its water on rainfall patterns.
  • The country cannot afford an uncoordinated programme of blue-sky water-thirsty projects.
  • Our country needs to be prudent in the management of this resource since the primary source is rainfall, which cannot be guaranteed.
  • We share this problem with the rest of the sub- region and continent, which places an even greater strain on the shared water resources.
  • The building of dams, while important for water security, cannot in themselves adequately respond to the challenge of our dependence on rainfall patterns.
The demand for water is increasing due to rapid economic growth, population growth and other social development needs.
  • Government, led by the Department of Water Affairs (DWA), is committed to ensuring that there is sufficient water, in both quantitative and qualitative terms, to support South Africa’s path of growth and development.
  • While there must be sufficient water for the country to achieve its economic growth target, every person in South Africa must have access to potable water. These two goals must be achieved by not compromising the ecological sustainability of the resource.
  • South Africa has identified critical industries to bolster the country to achieving high levels of economic growth. Industries such as mining and agriculture which account for a sizeable contribution in our economy depend on the provision of water to sustain themselves and their operations.
  • The provision of free basic water and sanitation services form the bedrock of the programme to uplift the lives of the poor majority in the country.
  • Since 1994, we have serviced more than 18 million people with water and more than nine million people with access to basic sanitation.
The threat of climate change and environmental degradation is also a challenge for the future availability of water resources.
  • Economies both in Africa and the world are already experiencing the effects of climate change in their distribution of rainfall and as a result the water resources in their countries.
  • There is close collaboration between the DWA, the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to develop robust strategies to monitor, analyse and adapt to the water-related impact of climate change.
  • The DWA, the South African Water Research Commission and the Council for Geoscience (are working to investigate the potential for using groundwater and artificial recharge as part of the strategy for adapting to climate-change impact.
  • The DWA is working to upgrade water-resource management systems to monitor changes, in order to plan effective adaptive measures.
We must increase our efforts towards enforcement and compliance of water laws to guarantee water security and the sustainability of the resource.
  • Government is working to increase its capacity to deal with the enduring problem of illegal water use.
  • Other challenges such as pollution and general waste water works are also receiving attention in dealing with the scourge of water quality in the country.
  • During Water Week, government will be going around the country in what has been aptly termed, “Blitz Week” to crack down on culprits who are involved in these acts.
Conservation and water-use efficiency will ensure that South Africa survives the much talked about water crisis.
  • Government calls on all South Africans to “Play Your Part” part in water conservation and efficiency, in averting what is potentially a devastating crisis for the country.
  • All South Africans have a right and responsibility to secure and safeguard this crucial resource.



Infrastructure development

Gauteng moves to bolster capacity ahead of R30,6-billion infrastructure roll-out
Gauteng Finance MEC, Mandla Nkomfe, has announced that the province would deal with incapacity and infrastructure underspending when unveiling a R30,6-billion infrastructure roll-out as part of a three-year expenditure plan. Other initiatives are also underway to employ greater numbers of technical staff at departments, such as education, health and infrastructure development and roads and transport as well as to establish relationships with private-sector organisations that could help bolster the province's planning, project-management and contract-management capacity.


Alcohol advertisements
The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, is set to forge ahead with his campaign to ban alcohol advertisements. Minister Motsoaledi noted that a number of people were in hospital, with some being disabled, due to excessive intake of alcohol. He said the move was in a bid to reduce the number of non-communicable diseases caused mostly by cigarettes, alcohol and lack of exercise.


Construction on massive vehicle plant to begin soon

China's leading auto manufacturer, First Automobile Works' (FAW), has signed a contract for the construction of a multi-million rand Chinese vehicle manufacturing plant in the Eastern Cape. FAW's decision to build the plant in South Africa is one of the biggest manufacturing investments by China in the country so far. Once completed, the truck assembly facility is expected to create between 500 and 800 jobs, with more jobs being created when the company starts producing an additional 30 000 passenger vehicles annually.

Global study examines state of business innovation in South Africa
South African business executives have identified the energy and healthcare sectors as those that can benefit the most from innovation, and requested government support in research and development (R&D). Findings from the second GE Innovation Barometer found that 86% of South African business leaders believed that innovation "is the best way to create jobs". Sixty-two per cent of South African respondents expressed confidence with the allocation towards R&D while 32% of South African respondents expressed satisfaction with the allocation to job creation.

Job creation

Government making strides in creating jobs in rural areas
Government has taken initiatives to create jobs and work opportunities through the implementation of different initiatives in rural areas. The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr Gugile Nkwinti, said initiatives to improve employment opportunities and economic livelihoods included the implementation of the Aquaculture Programme and the Inland Fisheries Programme that will be launched during this financial year.

Trade and industry

R1-billion metal coating plant opened
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies, opened the R1-billion metal coating facility in Cato Ridge, KwaZulu-Natal. Minister Davies emphasised the linkages between infrastructure development and manufacturing and highlighted that investment projects that enhanced productive capacity such as the metal coating facility be noted and supported. The Minister said the event was testimony to the important partnership that had been built between business and government and the role that business was playing towards the country's economic and industrial development.

Safety and security

Stipend for Metro Police trainees
Five hundred newly recruited Tshwane Metro Police trainees are to get a monthly stipend of R3 000. The group will undergo training with the intention of progressing, on completion of the programme, to a level where they can be appointed permanently as fully fledged constables at a higher salary.

International relations

South Africa, Egypt solidify relations
South Africa has reaffirmed its commitment to working with Egypt in their process towards democratic rule. The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, was in Egypt to consolidate bilateral relations between the two countries. South Africa views Egypt as a strategic partner on the African continent at both bilateral and multilateral level.