JOHANNESBURG - Government's past focus on building settlements outside economic hubs is to the detriment of the poor who live there, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale says. At the official launch of the Tau Village, in Pretoria's busy Struben street, Sexwale says inner-city housing is a reality. "This is a method, it is a pointer, it lies at the heart of what we are saying," Sexwale says, addressing a gathering on the roof-top of the four-storey building. "We want to move from the concept of human settlements to reality." He says that, in the past, the poor were relocated to human settlements and townships far from resources, such as employment, hospitals, schools and shops. "What happens with that type of social planning of the past is that we continue to erode the most critical parts of someone's salary," says Sexwale. The building that housed Tau Village was once a slum and drug den that was forced to close owing to human trafficking and prostitution.
EAST LONDON - The mere recognition of women's rights is not enough, President Jacob Zuma says. "The laws in our statute books are not enough. They will become truly meaningful when they create a tangible improvement in the lives of women," he told a National Women's Day celebration in East London. Zuma says that government's primary focus is to improve access to socioeconomic rights as enshrined in the country's Constitution. He says that government is focused on socio-economic rights because the emancipation of women cannot be separated from the fight to eradicate poverty and to improve access to basic services. "For scores of poor women, emancipation means access to electricity, water, decent shelter; access to income-generating activities or decent jobs, roads and transport, and education and training for themselves and their children." Zuma says the need to hasten the entry and participation of women in decision-making processes and positions in the country should be highlighted. The Women's Charter for Effective Quality, adopted in February 1994, is a reminder that, conventionally, democracy and human rights have been defined and interpreted in terms of men's experiences, he says. Zuma says society and its institutions have been structured for the primary benefit of men. He adds that the tenth Commission on Employment Equity Report, released by the Department of Labour, also reveals that transformation in the workplace continues to be very slow.
JOHANNESBURG - Media houses need to be regulated as they tend to go overboard at times, President Jacob Zuma says, in defending the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal. "The media that says that this is a restriction on us, we are the watchdog of the people - they were never elected. They need to be governed themselves because, at times, they go overboard on the rights." Zuma says that the media cannot be the only body that understood rights. "We at the African National Conrgess (ANC), we believe we do. We fought for the rights. We understand what are the rights. The constitution talks about the privacy of people. At times things that are private are not made private in the manner in which the reportings are done." The ANC raised the possibility of a Media Appeals Tribunal (MAT) during its national conference in Polokwane in 2007. It resolved to conduct an investigation into the possible establishment of an MAT. This investigation was to be "directed at examining the principle of an MAT and the associated modalities for implementation". According to the resolution: "Conference notes that the creation of a MAT will strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory institutions (Press Ombudsman/Press Council) in the public interest." Th ANC says that it does not want to curtail press freedom with the tribunal, but that the print media did not seem committed to transformation. Meanwhile, ANC heavyweight Tokyo Sexwale has come out in strong support of media freedom at a leadership summit in Johannesburg. "[Nelson] Mandela's style of leadership . . . speaks about the freedom of expression, but, most importantly, also the freedom of the media," Sexwale says at the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit, where he praises the anti-apartheid icon's style of leadership. Sexwale, who is also Human Settlements Minister, says that he wanted to use the opportunity to take his own "leadership stance" about the media. He says that "a lot of heat" had been generated around the media in the past few days, in an apparent reference to the ruling ANC's proposal to set up a Media Appeals Tribunal for print media, which has been vocally supported by the ANC Youth League.
Africa & the world
BONN - United Nations climate talks move backwards rather than forwards toward a hoped-for deal later this year as nations make slow progress on pledges to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and add more proposals to the working document. As talks in Bonn on a new climate treaty drew to an end, the frustration of delegates with the process was clearly felt, and a deal in Mexico this year seems unlikely. The meeting was the penultimate one before a meeting set for the end of November, in Cancun, Mexico. "I came to Bonn hopeful of a deal in Cancun, but, at this point I am very concerned as I have seen some countries walking back from the progress made in Copenhagen," says Jonathan Pershing, the US deputy special climate envoy. A new climate text under discussion has increased to 34 pages, from 17, as new proposals are added or old ones reinserted. It is a blueprint to guide negotiators in overcoming rifts between rich and poor nations when they meet again at the next session in October, in Tianjin, China. The European Union's co-lead negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger, accuses some countries of adding text in a "tit for tat" way. "It is important in Tianjin to turn that spirit around." UN climate chief Christiana Figueres says that this is the last chance for countries to add to the text.
WASHINGTON - The World Bank has urged countries to refrain from imposing policies that could trigger a new global food price crisis as drought-hit Russia says that it could extend a grain export ban into next year. World Bank MD Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala says that the sharp spike in grain prices since last week has not yet amounted to a crisis, but emphasises that increased food price volatility will hurt poorer countries. She says that the poverty-fighting institution will activate a food fund when the World Bank board, currently in recess, reconvenes, in early September, in case the situation worsens.
KIGALI - Rwandan President Paul Kagame wins 93% of the vote in an election that opponents say is marred by repression and violence. The bush war veteran won 4 638 560 votes from a total of 5 178 492 registered voters in the central African country, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) says. Kagame, widely lauded for rebuilding Rwanda and establishing peace in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, won the last election in 2003 by a similar margin. "We are very happy with the conduct of the electoral process, from the campaign to the voting itself. We did not get reports of intimidation from anywhere," says Charles Munyaneza, executive secretary of the electoral body. The vote count is provisional, pending its signing-off by the Supreme Court. Turnout for the election was more than 95% in all the nation's five provinces. Kagame's nearest rival, Jean Damascene Ntawukuliryayo of the Social Democratic Party, won 5%. Prosper Higiro of the Liberal Party garnered just over 1% and Alvera Mukabaramba of the Party for Peace and Concord 0,4%. Opponents say that the other candidates were a democratic smokescreen and stooges of Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). They also say that the campaign playing field had been uneven, with three would-be opposition candidates prevented from registering to contest the ballot.