On 1st December South Africa observed the 30th Annual World Aids Day. This year the theme was ‘Know your Status.’ This is an important consideration as it is estimated that about 9.4 million people living with HIV/Aids worldwide do not know their status. On the other hand, positively, statistics show that 75% do know it, equating to 19m people, compared to 67% in 2015.
This week brought news of two very significant and positive developments as far as standards of good governance in South Africa are concerned. One of them attracted headline coverage while the other – in its way just as important – seems to have caused little more than a ripple in the media.
At around 09.30 this morning, the senior management of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) sat down in a conference room at the Townhouse Hotel to brief members of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport on the ongoing spate of burnings of Metrorail trains in Cape Town. PRASA claims to have a plan to tackle the problem.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, and Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, participated in the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit in New York to mark the centenary of Mr Mandela’s birth on 18th July 1918.
The death penalty was suspended in SA in February 1990, and finally abolished by the Constitutional Court in 1995. Before its suspension, SA had one of the highest rates of judicial execution in the world,1 with over 3000 people hanged between 1959 and 1989.
In 2015 Pope Francis declared 1st September to be World Day of Prayer for the Care for Creation in the Catholic Church, allying it with Orthodox Church, which has marked the same day since 1989. This year, as usual, the Pope has released a short message, the theme of which is particularly apposite for us in drought-prone southern Africa: Water.
On 9th July, 180 civil society groups active in the field of migration issued a joint statement ahead of the sixth and final round of discussions on the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), due to take place in New York. This followed 18 months of negotiation stressing the need for states to adopt a comprehensive approach to human mobility and for enhanced co-operation globally. It is interesting to note that the bulk of the issues raised in the statement by the 180 organisations have a strong resonance with the official Roman Catholic position.
On 17th May 2018, Minister Naledi Pandor delivered the Budget for the Department of Higher Education.
She prefaced her remarks by underlining three important imperatives that have shaped this budget. Firstly, the impact of the #feesmustfall and the decolonisation of higher education protests over the past three years; secondly, the need to produce skilled graduates well able to play a role in knowledge creation in different spheres, and thus contribute to inclusive economic growth; and thirdly, the increasing focus on the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ and its implications for the business and education sectors.
After the almost tsunami-like wave of euphoria that greeted Jacob Zuma’s handover of the reins of leadership to Cyril Ramaphosa, a wave boosted by the latter’s strong State of the Nation Address, it was inevitable that a measure of realpolitik would intrude at some stage.
The first law of holes states that, if you find yourself in one, stop digging. Wednesday’s budget speech seems to have been a fairly sincere attempt to do just that.
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