May 8, 2011

Mzansi Penya Barcelonista writes to the Press Ombudsman: a small matter of a c

Filed under: manifesto — newritings @ 6:34 am

An open letter to the Press Ombudsman

bra joe

the ombudsman



Mail: PO Box 47221, PARKLANDS, 2121
Street: St Davids’s Park, 2nd Floor, 7 St Davids Place, Parktown, JOHANNESBURG
Tel: (011) 484 3618 / 3612
Fax: (011) 484 3619

Mr Joe Thloloe

Mail: PO Box 47221, PARKLANDS, 2121
Street: St Davids’s Park, 2nd Floor, 7 St Davids Place, Parktown, JOHANNESBURG
Tel: (011) 484 3618 / 3612
Fax: (011) 484 3619

Contact Person

Hi bra Joe
Hope this email finds you in good health. As discussed this morning, I have penned a few sentences to get the ball rolling.
Yours for a free and responsive media
In solidarity
Hassen Lorgat

Ps. FC Barcelona plays Shaktar Donetsk tomorrow night (Tuesday 12 April 2011) and we hope to read about our team!

The small matter of a c

This morning I called a friend and comrade, the Press Ombudsman Joe Tholoe, to ask him if there was a forum where the public could engage with the fourth estate on matters of concern to the broader public. Since football is more than a game, I proceeded to tell him that I was asked to call and complain to him on behalf of the FC Barcelona’s official supporters club in South Africa known as Mzansi Penya Barcelonista. The complaints in the main evolves about the fact that our media seemingly continues to be trapped in old colonial loyalties when it comes to football, covering the English Premier League, and granting scant coverage to Spanish football league despite their players being the reigning Football World Cup champs. BBVA Spanish Football League popularly known as La Liga, however, cannot be ignored when it comes to watching and reading about the UEFA Champions League, which has thrown up some problems of how some teams are reported/covered.

And this brings me to how journalists report on FC Barcelona, popularly known as Barça. Yet for some strange reasons news editors persist in calling the team Barca, with the hard sound of k, pronounced as Barka. In my letter to one of the newspapers, seeking to get another view to an obviously pro Arsenal Carlos Amato, during February 2011, I suggested to the editor / senior that the paper considers using the Catalan ç, Needless to say, the response was not published, as was the case of many of others who wrote in. One of those “unpublished writers” informed me that Amato replied to him,bilaterally, thereby missing a great opportunity to engage the public on matters of mutual concern. In my case, the reply I got included a firm “but we don’t do sedillas here.”

From then onwards I scanned a range of our newspapers and from City Press, Mail and Guardian, Citizen, to Sunday Times – all have fuelled public ignorance on this as these examples reveal:

The Citizen newspaper,
Saturday 9 april 2011
Real, Barca prepared for possibilities
The New Age,
25 Feb, 2011 “Bruised Barca face tough Mallorca test”
The Times,
Barca do haka to promote rugby match
Page 26, March 2, 2011
The Times
Barca and Madrid wait on Messi, Ronaldo injuries
Apr 1, 2011 9:21 AM | By Paul Logothetis, Sapa-AP
Mon Apr 11 12:56:06 SAST 2011
Barca clashes overshadow Real’s encounter with Bilbao
08-Apr-2011 | Reuters
IOL group
United to play Barca on pre-season tour
March 29 2011
City press
Messi the key to Barca success
2011-03-10 11:09
Mail and Guardian
United, Barcelona close in on last four
Chris Wright, Paris, France – April 07 2011 07:40
The heading uses the club’s full name but the same mistake is included, thus:
“The only downside for Barca came when Iniesta earned a yellow card, which means he will miss the second leg through suspension.”


As I was beginning to despair, one weekend, over coffee, I spotted it. For the first time ever in a South African newspaper: the cedilla. Wow, on a closer look from a Rosebank Cofee shop, I found that it was the Weekend Argus (IOL group) headline which used this: “Villareal could be a tough test for Barça” (April 2, 2011, page 25)

My excitement, however, was limited when I went to their website only to find a repeat of the old error suggesting that what I saw was either an apparition or simply an aberration as I found: Barca lose key defenders – 7 Mar 2011… of La liga with a 1-0 win over Zaragoza at the weekend and now they turn their ….

This all could be remedied if all editors simply got with the programme: we are living in a global village, and the use of a cedilla is not undermining of the English language. If, however, it is too much of a cultural bridge to cross, I suggest that our editors think of using an S, as many other newspapers are actually doing. Ole, an Argentinian sports paper does this as you can see:
“En Barsa, Messi tiene a jugadores de su nivel”

Simply meaning: At Barsa – Messi has players of his level

If the editors think we are wrong – go and test the word with your readers: then return and tell me if we are barca-ing up the wrong tree.

PS. The response to the article to which I refer above….

Another point on the great FC Barcelona
Carlos Amato’s Barca need a klap (17 Feb) prompted me to reply
I am a South African, and cannot separate politics and sport. And as South African too, I love sport that is beautifully played, and it is these two reasons that brought me to FC Barcelona. They are a team that is socially engaged, and true to their roots, and today still serve as a symbol of their town, state and people. Organising under the theme Més que un Club, more than a club, and subjecting their leadership to deep, daily public scrutiny and praise (depending how the team is doing) is something very rarely seen in SA.
The team is owned by its members which is a rare thing in SA too. Going to the Nou Camp is a family outing because you are likely to sit next to young women, a grandfather with a grandson on his lap. How many teams are owned by communities or trusts in SA? None. And what is more, most of them care very little about the fans, seeing them simply as bums on seats. Our journalists do not tell us this story as they churn out week in and week out, scores and spurious analysis on the matches which do not educate the fans-readers. Amato is a good journalist, but I think he misreads Barça. The Barça style of playing is empowering as it gives hope to smaller humans and must give hope to our more skillful South African players, men and women. Watching recently Banyana Banyana vs Nigeria in the East Rand, I was struck by how, if they learned to play like FC Barcelona’s method, they would do much better. Passing the ball around, playing for each other, and when the ball is lost, like a brakkie, two, three players will surround a much bigger player and steal the ball from him. This team, and their method, has allowed the likes of Xavi , Messi, Iniesta -“all shorties”- to making the short list for being the world’s best players. Also, if Amato looks closely, as Guardiola explained in a training course of Spanish FA coaches, there is method in their madness. They pass, pass, seemingly without risk and before you know it, other players are in place… and it’s a goal! On Sunday night, 20 February, Guardiola marked his 100th game in charge. The score sheet? In the 100 games in charge of FC Barcelona he has broken most records, in particular after last night’s victory over Athletic Bilbao, they have scored a massive 276 goals conceding only 71 goals against -less than one a game. Can such a team be boring?
Ps . can you please use the Catalan ç?
Hassen Lorgat is a social activist, and lived in Barcelona for two years upto 2009. He is a member of the official supporters club of FC Barcelona in South Africa, Mzansi Penya Barcelonista, on Facebook and blogosphere


January 4, 2011


Filed under: manifesto — newritings @ 9:38 am

I found this tribute written in a magazine I use to write for. I thought I will share it with you. If you want to write to the Abu Asvat Institute, contact the Secretary Mr Jerry Waja:

Dr Asvat
for the people

LEARN and TEACH, number 1, 1989

Tribute of Dr Asvat.

A great man is dead. Murdered. Shot dead in cold blood.His name was Dr Abu-Baker Asvat — and his death has left a great pain and sadness in the hearts of all who knew him. It is not often that you find somebody who believes that his people come first, above everything. Above politics. Above money. Above himself, even. Dr Asvat was one such person. He gave his whole life to the care of his people — the sick, the disabled, the homeless, the squatters, and the poor.

Dr Asvat — known as Abu to his friends — was a true doctor. Often, he gave medical treatment to his patients for free. Sometimes, he dug deep into his own pockets to help poor people with food and accommodation. Always, he gave his time — at all hours of the night and day.


Dr Asvat was murdered by an unknown gunman on 27 January this year. He was killed while working at his surgery in Rockville, Soweto.

Immediately, messages of grief started to pour in.

The National Medical and Dental Association (Namda) wrote: “His assassination is a tragic loss to all the people of South Africa.” The Health Workers’ Association (HWA) said: “South Africa has lost a true son of the soil. But through his death, a new commitment will be born among all health workers.”

At a memorial service in Soweto, the President of COSATU, Elijah Barayi said: “Dr Asvat’s memory will live on in the minds of the people. Dr Asvat cared for our families and our children. Acts of violence like his murder will not destroy our wish to be free.”

But even sadder were the words of the doctor’s patients. One patient said: “Dr Asvat could not hurt a fly. He was like a father to the hundreds of people he served.”

Another old pensioner added: “The killers thought they were killing the doctor, but they did not know that they were really killing a people that is already down on its knees. His death has left us dead too.”


Dr Asvat’s long-time friend and nurse, Ma Albertina Sisulu, also wept. But she could not talk about her grief — she is a banned person and newspapers cannot report her words.

For many years, Ma Sisulu and Dr Asvat worked together nursing the sick and the needy and giving comfort to the poor. Some people thought this was a strange friendship because Dr Asvat and Ma Sisulu belonged to different political organisations.

Dr Asvat was a member of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO). Albertina Sisulu is one of the presidents of the United Democratic Front (UDF). But their different political beliefs did not matter to them. For them, the most important thing was to serve the community in the way they knew best — with generous love and care.

Ma Sisulu was at the clinic when the doctor was murdered. She was the first person to rush to his side after the shooting.

It was not the first attack on the doctor’s life. Two years ago, two knifemen tried to kill him. The doctor fought off his attackers and he was cut on the mouth. A few months later, he was attacked again, this time by a right-wing gunman. Luckily, the doctor was able to stop him.

Afterwards, Dr Asvat said: “It was the closest I have come to looking at death in the face. But it will not stop me from serving the community.”


Serving the community is something that Dr Asvat had been doing for a long time. After he got his degree in medicine in Pakistan, he came back home to Vrededorp where he worked as a doctor. When the government destroyed Vrededorp fifteen years ago, he moved his clinic to Rockville.

In 1979, he joined AZAPO. He became the Secretary of Health for this organisation. He was also a founder member of the Health Workers Association (HWA).

But Dr Asvat was not only interested in health matters. He was the chairperson of the People’s Education Committee in Lenasia. He was also president of the Crescents Cricket Club and vicepresident of the Cricket Association of the Transvaal.

With so much to do, Dr Asvat still found time to be a family man. He was married and had three children. As Namda  wrote: “Abu was a family man committed to his community and people, a man who gave his life for the poor and the have-nots of this land.” Dr Asvat’s good work was rewarded when the Indicator newspaper chose him as the winner of their Human Rights Award in 1988. The Star newspaper nominated him for The Star of the Community1 award in 1988.


Dr Abu-Baker Asvat was laid to rest at Avalon cemetery, under a bridge between Lenasia and Soweto. Six thousand people from all corners of the country and all walks of life came to pay their respects.

Together, Muslims and non-Muslims, nuns and priests, nurses and doctors, blacks and whites, AZAPO and UDF members, COSATU and NACTU officials, bowed their heads in tribute to this great man. They were united in grief and sorrow.

Even in death, Dr Asvat brought people together. He was a bridge-builder— and the finest tribute we can pay him would be to build on the foundations that he so bravely and lovingly laid.


grief— sadness or sorrow

commitment — a person with commitment believes strongly in something and works hard for it

generous — a generous person is somebody who gives a lot

a founder member — one of the first members to start an organisation

March 26, 2010

Some South African music on youtube

Filed under: manifesto,opinion article,Uncategorized — newritings @ 8:06 pm

There are quite a few that you can catch. I wanted to introduce some of my favourites to friends. One I really love, African Market Place by Abdullah Ebrahim (Dollar Brand) from which this picture is the CD cover is not available. Some have only audio,and no live show or promotional videos.


1966 interview Miriam Makeba

1979 inteview Makeba

1966 the click song – miriam makeba

Miriam makeba and paul simon

Abdullah Ebrahim – tuan guru

Abdullah Ebrahim (Dollar Brand) – Mannenberg

scatterlings of africa


soweto gospel choir

ladysmith black mambazo- hello my baby

Ladysmith black mambaso-homeless


sibobgile khumalo – thandos groove

Letta Mbulu and Caiphas Simenya – Diphendule

Hugh Masekela – stimela

winston mankunku ngozi
Winston “Mankunku” Ngozi – Yakhal’ Inkomo

bheki mseleku

busi mhlongo
urbun zulu

busi with jabu
Jabu Khanyile and Busi Mhlongo Live. Ngiyababonga abazali.

Freshly ground

Doo be doo

South Africa – Zim Ngqawana – Qula Kwedini

Lucky Dube (RIP) – The Way it is

Gloria Bosman (world music potpouri)

Pops Mohammed (world music potpouri)

March 13, 2010

Verryn in Solidarity with the poor and working people of Zimbabwe

Filed under: manifesto,Uncategorized — newritings @ 8:14 pm
martin niemoller

solidarity man -Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller

( first written in end January 2010)

The all night prayer vigil said it all. People do care about people who do good, and they will not allow the politics of opportunism to derail their belief that good people need to be supported.

Over last weekend a dozen odd friends of Paul Verryn’s met to discuss the hatchet job that was being perpetrated against the bishop, from various quarters, from within and outside the church. We met to organize and speak out against the gross injustices that is being orchestrated, and tell the media and public at large that the issue is not the Bishop but the lack of help for the refugees, the poor and the homeless in Joburg and the other cities.

IN 2006 I wrote a letter to The Star, lamenting the quality of journalism especially when it came to the marginalized and poor. IN this case, I specifically referred to the case of the Central Methodist Church and its work with the refugees, most but not all from Zimbabwe.

Then I complained that the journalists were fighting the victims and letting Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF off lightly. I will review some of the media coverage and conclude that the media, in general have failed to see the big picture for a long time, and have allowed not only their comrade Bob to get away with rape and murder but they have also let our provincial and local governments get away with gross scape-goating.

I then suggested after the article that I was responding to, I suspected that stories of sex and money will be forthcoming. I am sorry to say that 3 years on, this has happened. Media speculation and innuendo, used by some journalists have presented the bishop in a bad light implying some strange complicity of the Bishop in the survival actions of some refugees.

The media have also failed to fully consider that “warts and all”that this small church in the heart of the city of Gold is almost the only refuge for homeless persons – foreigners and national. Importantly, the media have ignored the City’s recent commitment to cleaning up Joburg, which ruthless means dealing with “foreigners”, who are seen to be a sore to the eyes for our beloved tourist visitors to the African 2010 Fifa World Cup.

All in all,the media in the main have failed to cover the crisis around the Methodist church beyond the quick sound-bites, which do not give a full picture of the history of the refugee and poverty crisis in the inner city, and in south Africa in general. They omit basic facts that would inform us that this crisis is not new and that there is a long history of attempted engagements with the various governmental authorities, including the Human Rights Commission to find humane solutions to the problems of refugees. It ignores the gallant support role the church played in the xenophobic attacks of May 2009, where over 60 persons died, a third of them from South Africa, the remaining from Zimbabwe.

Let us talk about the clean up, if I know of at least 10 buildings in and around Joburg Central with many hundreds more people living inside them, run variously by independent committees to slumlords, (both new and old and with legal papers or without). So why pick on one bishop and one church?

Simply put because Bishop Paul Verryn stands between them and their vision of a Joburg which will have no place for poor, and working class people. It is worse if they are foreign as well. We must not allow this vision of a city that will spend R45million (believed to be about double that according to the Mail and Guardian ( to host world beauty queens parade which in the language of trickle down economics “will affect the city’s economic landscape and bring positive spin-offs for Joburghers”[i] but peanuts on helping to house –inside the city – homeless and the poor.

The concluding message to those who support the work of the bishop is this: continue to work for justice for refugees, the working people and the poor. Expose policies and practices that `ferment xenophobia. Expose elite collusion to rid the city of the poor. If 2010 is to be the year of the African Football World Cup,  make a living space for poor Africans from South Africa and those fleeing repression. Instead of victimizing the victims we must stand in solidarity with the Bishop and those who work for justice. In our endeavours  must heed the message that what the bishop represents is that of solidarity, and it is now time to give the bishop what he gave others.  I am reminded of Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) who in his poem, on solidarity speaks much about the work that Paul and his mission does. To end, it goes like this:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out.

By sheer coincidence, the various unions that I have worked for over the years (NUMSA and SAMWU) amongst others, played a critical role in mobilisng public opinion on the side of the work that the bishop does.

SA MUNICIPAL WORKERS UNION: Press release: Support for Rev. Paul Verryn – 29 Jan 2010.

SAMWU Supports Paul Verryn and the Struggle Against Xenophobia.

29th January 2010.

SAMWU has carefully noted the suspension of Paul Verryn, until recently a Methodist Bishop and the manager of the Methodist Community Centre in Johannesburg. It also notes the charges that have been laid against him by some of his seniors in the Methodist Church.

We wholeheartedly condemn the scurrilous way the mass media has allowed itself to repeat old and discredited slurs from the past in an attempt to further besmirch the name and actions of this man of the cloth. Early reports of the involvement of the security services in this episode are very alarming, and must be investigated.

We share the view of the Legal Resources Centre and others, that the two ‘charges’ against him are without substance, and should be immediately withdrawn and apologies offered.

Anyone who has spent even a short time in the company of Paul Verryn will know that he is an intelligent, passionate and yet profoundly humble human being. He does not seek headlines or conflict of any type. He does however want to see change. In fact, throughout all of his working life he has tried to make life bearable for those who have been without hope.

This Union believes that Paul Verryn is being victimised because his example is a threat to the complacency and the absence of compassion in both church and civil authorities. They should be ashamed of their actions.

The presence of large numbers of Zimbabwean refugees in the centre of Johannesburg cannot be spirited away into nothingness by injunctions from those who feel that their businesses are being hampered . Nor can the City of Joburg, with the help of expensive and completely unnecessary police raids, intimidate the refugees into thin air.

What is needed now is a reality check by the church and civil authorities.

The reality is that South Africa now hosts thousands of destitute refugees because our Government under President Mbeki doggedly pursued an ineffective policy in relation to the brutality of the Mugabe regime. Many Zimbabweans were left with no choice but to walk to safety and try and find another place where they might care for their families. To make matters worse, refugees continue to be mercilessly exploited by employers and landlords, and have been maliciously treated by certain xenophobic sections of the police and community.

It has been easy for the Joburg City Council and others to criticise the conditions at the Methodist Church Centre. It is overcrowded, it has at times probably presented a serious health risk, and the everyday happenings on our streets of violence and anti-social behaviour have no doubt had their reflection inside the Centre from time to time.

Rather than persecuting Paul Verryn, why are the civil and church authorities not addressing this issue? Why are they not seeking a way forward based on humane and lasting solutions? This is not a time for blaming others, but acknowledging that the migration of labour in our globalised and exploited continent is a harsh and undeniable fact of life. Simply raising barbed wire fences will not work. We are all refugees to some degree. Each of us is where we are today because someone in our families searched for a better life.

The selfless activity of Paul Verryn is a reminder that we can create a better world, and one free of greed and despair. We must stand up and reject the simplistic solutions of the so-called free market, the xenophobes and those who cannot see further than their own noses.

We call upon the Joburg City Council, Home Affairs and the leadership of the Methodist Church to create the conditions for a real and creative dialogue on how best we can ensure that everyone in this city, and indeed South Africa, whether a refugee or a longer term resident, is able to live decently. Paul Verryn should be placed at the centre of these discussions, and not be marginalised or castigated because he will not accept the status quo.

This Union congratulates Paul Verryn for his dedicated work with the refugee community, and looks forward to welcoming him back into the broader community of those prepared to fight for change.

For further comment contact the SAMWU International Officer Stephen Faulkner on 011-3310333 or 0828175455.

Tahir Sema.
South African Municipal Workers’ Union of COSATU.
National Media and Publicity officer. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Office: 011-331 0333.
Cell: 0829403403.



28 January 2010

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) notes with serious concern the personal and venomous offensive targeted and directed towards Bishop Paul Verryn.

We are suspicious that this offensive is being lurched against Bishop Verryn forms part of the broader agenda to discredit his person and social standing in society. The bourgeois media has been co-opted consciously or unconsciously to prosecute Bishop Verryn through public opinion.

To many of us Bishop Verryn is a hero and champion for social justice, peace, solidarity and equality for all underpinned by his long voluntary work and outstanding efforts of assisting and accommodating the daughters and sons of ‘garden boys’ and ‘kitchen girls’ from across our borders speaks volume. He is a Bishop that is not detached from the broader struggles and sufferings of the working class and the poor as permeated by Capitalism and dictatorship regimes across our boarders. Bishop Verryn’s actions personify the rich contribution made by others like Father Trevor Huddleston as guided by liberation theology during the struggle for freedom and liberation.

As Numsa we will study the merits and the demerits of the charges leveled against Bishop Verryn as part of soliciting a solid response and view. Numsa will continue working with Bishop Verryn as part of making sure our brothers and sisters who have been displaced through xenophobic attacks and forced migration to South Africa enjoy equal rights with their South African counterparts.

Hands off Bishop Paul Verryn Hands off!

Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson – 073 299 1595

This statement was released to the media at about 15h30 28 Jan 2010.

THE media frenzy around Bishop Paul Verryn is playing into the hands of those running a smear campaign against him.

As your leading article rightly says, the charges relate to an internal church issue of whether action taken by Verryn to protect some children at the Central Methodist Church was authorised. That is all. The charges lend no support to your headline nor to the innuendoes in your report. Further, they lend no support to the chorus of politically motivated criticism directed by those who are embarrassed because the church is doing what the government is paid to do, and is not.

I have sat in enough meetings of church leaders with various officials at which promises of co-operation between the government and the churches caring for refugees have been made and then broken, to know that the Central Methodist Church is a light in a dark world of negligence and inhumanity.

It is shameful for Verryn’s enemies to make mischief out of these specific charges.

Peter John Lee

Bishop of the Diocese of Christ the King in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa

Rosettenville, Joburg


southern Africa

Our Vision

“A Christ-healed Africa for the healing of nations”

Our Mission Statement

“God calls the Methodist people to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ for healing and transformation”

Our Transformational Calls

  • A deepened spirituality
  • A resolve to be guided by God’s mission
  • A rediscovery of “every member ministry – the priesthood of all believers”
  • A commitment to “be one so the world may believe’
  • A re-emphasis of servant leadership and discernment as our ministry model
  • A redefinition and authentication of the vocation of the ordained ministry.

The 4 Imperatives of Mission

Evangelism and Church Growth

Inviting people to personal faith in Christ and His gospel and to belonging in the community of faith as disciples; planting new faith communities especially in informal settlements and new urban multi-cultural congregations.


Connecting to the life giving resources of faith that make for moral regeneration and becoming a holy people in the world.

Justice and Service

To promote the values of justice, unity and reconciliation and the healing of national ills, physical, environmental and social and to be Christ’s compassionate, outstretched hands in the world.

Human and Economic Development and Empowerment

The care and growth of children, the plight of the poor, education, quality of life, nation building.

June 27, 2009

The Role of Sports in Society

Filed under: manifesto,sports,testimonies — newritings @ 6:13 pm

IN this series we continue our focus on sports and society. We reproduce a paper by the former president of the Anti Apartheid Sports movement because we believe that it is of immense interest to the global community concerned about the role of sports as part of society, and seeking answers whether sports can contribute to questions of personal liberation, expanded democracy and personal and societal development.

This piece by FRANK A VAN DER FRANK A VAN DER HORST written for a conference in 2005 can be read in full on this site, but we reproduce the concluding section here to broaden the debate.

I am and was an avid supporter of the organizing slogan that one cannot have normal sport in an abnormal society, but as a trade unionist, activist with a left orientation, I have equally believed that leisure time and recreation was critical for working people, to enjoy not for continued exploitation, but to reflect and strengthen ourselves to resists control by corporations and capital in general.

Betrand Russel in his essay, In praise of Idleness, has pointed out that “The idea that the poor should have leisure has always been shocking to the rich. In England, in the early nineteenth century, fifteen hours was the ordinary day’s work for a man; children sometimes did as much, and very commonly did twelve hours a day. When meddlesome busybodies suggested that perhaps these hours were rather long, they were told that work kept adults from drink and children from mischief. When I was a child, shortly after urban working men had acquired the vote, certain public holidays were established by law, to the great indignation of the upper classes. I remember hearing an old Duchess say: ‘What do the poor want with holidays? They ought to work.’ People nowadays are less frank, but the sentiment persists, and is the source of much of our economic confusion. “

So I guess when we discuss the role of sports we should not only focus on its mobilising impact, which I think refers more to players and associations being supporters of a particular cause or line, but they equally give free expression – both mental and physical – to human beings to explore their full potentialities. If this is the perspective, we may have to adopt a less harsh line on the new reality of non racial – multi racial sports being played in South Africa, and push for radical reform at every effort, for each player (female, disabled and Black especially) denied the right to play.

It does mean that the opposition will be not outside but inside and protracted, a daily struggle. It is here that the sports movement can learn something from the trade union movement. The struggles are continuous, involving negotiation, action and consolidation and again another hurdle forward. If we do not adopt a new approach to how we push for continued radical transformation of the various sporting codes we could be rejecting our children, brothers and sisters who today still make progress against great odds. We have to use the success of the Brian Habana’s and the few Black coaches to push for more and sustained transformation that will free us not only from Apartheid control and its legacy but the new corporate take over of global sports.

If our children do not pursue their dreams we will be failing in our goals of full human liberation and, what is worse, the elites -new black elite and the traditional elite – (the leisure classes) will continue to enjoy their lives whilst the vast majority continues to serve them. Pushing for full and equal participation without corporate control is long and hard but it is our only option. Opting out is not a real choice today.

In solidarity



The South African Council on Sport (SACOS) was founded on 17 March 1973 as the response of black oppressed sports bodies to the inhuman oppressive apartheid system of white minority rule, its policy of white domination in the political, social, sporting and economic arena, its expropriation of the country’s wealth, and its system of black subjugation and denial of human rights. These policies were brutally enforced through racial discriminatory laws, racist institutions and a powerful repressive police force, secret service and army. The rich privileged ruling class ‘whites-only’ sports bodies which represented South Africa in international sports federations, test matches and the Olympic Games systematically excluded blacks.

Bold, new, integrated and revolutionary strategies are needed to build an egalitarian society that will require determined political will-power and purposefulness to fundamentally change society and urgently deliver quality results within strict time frames. Some are listed below.
1. Although the policy of white domination has been rejected and all racial laws abolished, the glaring social, sporting and economic (class) inequalities still persist and are visibly worsening for the vast majority of people except for a growing black middle class. This self-seeking middle class does not uplift the poor but merely acts as a social buffer to protect rich big business from the poor exploited working class. Real economic power and most of the county’s wealth is still in the hands of big (white) business in spite a small black empowerment elite that is mostly beholden to big capital.27 Almost 50% of the population live below the poverty line. The dominant ideas in society are still those of the capitalist exploitative ruling class. The unequal distribution or control of wealth must be radically changed to eliminate the massive power of big capital corporations and to build an egalitarian non-exploitative democracy. Correct the huge chasm between rich and poor and abolish the associated social and economic class barriers that perpetuate privilege and inequalities in society.
2. Most of the prime land whether choice residential, fertile agricultural, mining, industrial and commercial areas are still controlled by the same cartels albeit with a black empowerment component and land restitution is mainly for poor subsistence farming. Solve the agrarian problem and land hunger by effectively providing viable redistribution or equitable social control of land. Introduce modern sustainable mechanized agricultural farming methods, education or training to improve crop quality, productivity and ecological awareness to preserve our resources for future generations. Prosperous farming communities will then enjoy better quality of life and improve sport in their leisure time.
3. The migratory (essentially cheap, black surplus) labour system is still operative. Introduce a stable settled educated work-force with rapid competitive job creation in manufacturing, commerce or computer based service industries to eliminate unemployment and poverty. Introduce global-quality skills training with continuously improving competitive standards, improved production levels, income, standard of living and sporting achievements.
4. Public education (as opposed to expensive private schools), is in a virtual state of collapse, especially the teaching of science, mathematics and modern technological skills (compared to global standards).28 A free compulsory modern top class education system with well trained and qualified teachers are essential for highly competitive management and production systems that power economic, social and sporting development in global competitions.
5. Local municipalities have (at present) only 8% of the requisite skills or experienced staff and are collapsing in the face of basic service delivery, rapid changes of former ghettoes and essential forward planning for required new economic growth and social development. Rapid people-orientated skills training (with sustained mentoring and supervision), education of engineers and other professional or technical staff is required and must become a national priority for improved country-wide municipal service delivery.
6. The grave existing housing shortage is growing exponentially as fewer houses are built annually relative to the yearly family formation or growing demand.29 Adequate durable quality housing stock must be rapidly built conforming strictly to National Building Regulations like health, fire, safety, long-life and structural requirements and serve as a kick-start for economic growth and job creation for the entire population.
7. The provision of health, sports and civic amenities in former black areas remain poor, as hospital and clinic services have limited budgets, overworked staff or lack modern equipment.30 Provide adequate affordable well equipped fully staffed health services (with well-funded research to cure AIDS and other diseases), civic amenities and sports facilities.
8. The high ethical standards, voluntary service, transparent accountable governance and sound moral values of the SACOS era have been destroyed with open mercenary greed, fraud, numerous corruption scandals, cronyism in job appointments and even bribed referees. Many public sports and public administration officials pay themselves unjustified astronomical salaries, rich bonus awards (in cash-strapped bodies), travel or entertainment perks or give contracts to pals. Administrative chaos and scandals abound over take-over bids as competing groups of elites fight over the financial spoils. This mindset is merely a cancerous continuation of the corrupt ways of the previous regime that is damaging the bonds of civil society. Ruthless measures are required to drastically eliminate all forms of corruption and greed from all government, public, private, business and sports bodies coupled with the promotion of exemplary sound democratic governance.
9. The aspiring mandarins and fat-cats forget about performance management or quality service delivery. Poor administration is aggravated by rapid firing of coaches, outdated training methods (Staaldraad), old-style prejudices or values and racially skewed selection of representative teams. The malaise is reflected by poor and declining performances against international competition in rugby, soccer, cricket and particularly, the Olympic Games. High ethical standards of governance, public accountability and people- orientated development must be developed and even enforced.
(10)The high rate of formal unemployment (41%),31 job losses and poverty, coupled with social insecurity, violence, rapes, murders, increasing suicides, gangsterism, growing influence of druglords and overcrowded prisons (a training centre for gangs) alienate people and undermines social well- being. More than half of the population are marginalised from ever excelling in economic growth or sporting progress. Eradicate fear, violence, gangsterism, drug abuse and associated social problems in a decisive way so that the entire population own and drive the development processes, experience tangible social and economic prosperity and develop as enthusiastic interested stakeholders.
(11)Modern fully equipped sports facilities and top class sports developmentacademies should have been provided at provincial and national levels. Young talent must be identified, nurtured, trained and provided withintensive modern specialised training and coaching to world-class standards.
(12) Break down privilege, prejudice, class and economic barriers to build a prosperous, mutually co-operative, non-racial, cohesive united democratic nation. Create a sense of caring, sharing, people-centred development that promote friendliness, confidence, individual and social well being, visible change, prosperity, progress and patriotism in the entire population
The huge and growing chasm of economic and social inequality, poverty, class division, lack of continuous improvement, service delivery and socio-economic development in South Africa has resulted in increasing unrest, bigger demonstrations and deepening chaos in sport and society. Under these appalling conditions, the old SACOS motto of “NO NORMAL SPORT IN AN ABNORMAL SOCIETY” still rings particularly true and meaningful, in the quest for social and sporting justice.
FRANK A VAN DER HORST B.Sc. B.Sc.(Civil Engineer). Sec Teachers Dipl. Property Dev. Dipl. (All U.C.T.). B.Admin. (Hons) School of Government. M.Comm. (All U.W.C.).
Delegate from South African Hockey Board to SACOS: 1973-77.
Vice President: SACOS 1977-82.
President: SACOS 1982-88.


May 27, 2009

The South African constitution and women’s rights

Filed under: manifesto — newritings @ 4:25 pm

stamp it

stamp it

This is merely a note to share this resource, it worth having, the constitutional court of South Africa. The constitutional court is but one, albeit the most revered and powerful institution in our country, as we have other instruments we too can use to make our country more just. One simple example I do not get tired of sharing: join up with others, in a union, youth group, feminist organisation, and organise!

This is from the constitutional court:

Section 9 – Equality

Women are obviously protected by the full range of rights guaranteed in the new Constitution – the rights to life, dignity, privacy and others. But they receive specific protection in section 9, entitled “Equality”. It says:

“(3) The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth.”

The prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of gender, sex, pregnancy and marital status is clearly intended to protect women. The grounds “sex”, which is a biological feature, and “gender”, a social artefact, are both included – perhaps unnecessarily. But the result is that this section leaves no doubt that no unfair discrimination based on any feature of being a woman will be tolerated.

May 25, 2009

“…But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.”

Filed under: manifesto,opinion article,testimonies — newritings @ 9:57 pm

This speech is part of an ongoing debate amongst friends and comrades about the complex interrelationship between race, class and gender discrimination-oppression. Made almost to the day 40 years ago by Shirley Chisholm, at the US House Representative from New York, it is still relevant to current debates, in the US, South Africa and elsewhere. The speech can be viewed on youtube ( ) Enjoy and learn…

Shirley Chisolm 1972 unbought and unbossed
Shirley Chisolm 1972 unbought and unbossed

Address To The United States House Of Representatives, Washington, DC: May 21, 1969

Mr.Speaker, when a young woman graduates from college and starts looking for a job, she is likely to have a frustrating and even demeaning experience ahead of her. If she walks into an office for an interview, the first question she will be asked is, “Do you type?”

There is a calculated system of prejudice that lies unspoken behind that question. Why is it acceptable for women to be secretaries, librarians, and teachers, but totally unacceptable for them to be managers, administrators, doctors, lawyers, and Members of Congress.

The unspoken assumption is that women are different. They do not have executive ability orderly minds, stability, leadership skills, and they are too emotional.

It has been observed before, that society for a long time, discriminated against another minority, the blacks, on the same basis – that they were different and inferior. The happy little homemaker and the contented “old darkey” on the plantation were both produced by prejudice.

As a black person, I am no stranger to race prejudice. But the truth is that in the political world I have been far oftener discriminated against because I am a woman than because I am black.

Prejudice against blacks is becoming unacceptable although it will take years to eliminate it. But it is doomed because, slowly, white America is beginning to admit that it exists. Prejudice against women is still acceptable. There is very little understanding yet of the immorality involved in double pay scales and the classification of most of the better jobs as “for men only.”

More than half of the population of the United States is female. But women occupy only 2 percent of the managerial positions. They have not even reached the level of tokenism yet No women sit on the AFL-CIO council or Supreme Court There have been only two women who have held Cabinet rank, and at present there are none. Only two women now hold ambassadorial rank in the diplomatic corps. In Congress, we are down to one Senator and 10 Representatives.

Considering that there are about 3 1/2 million more women in the United States than men, this situation is outrageous.

It is true that part of the problem has been that women have not been aggressive in demanding their rights. This was also true of the black population for many years. They submitted to oppression and even cooperated with it. Women have done the same thing. But now there is an awareness of this situation particularly among the younger segment of the population.

As in the field of equal rights for blacks, Spanish-Americans, the Indians, and other groups, laws will not change such deep-seated problems overnight But they can be used to provide protection for those who are most abused, and to begin the process of evolutionary change by compelling the insensitive majority to reexamine it’s unconscious attitudes.

It is for this reason that I wish to introduce today a proposal that has been before every Congress for the last 40 years and that sooner or later must become part of the basic law of the land — the equal rights amendment.

Let me note and try to refute two of the commonest arguments that are offered against this amendment. One is that women are already protected under the law and do not need legislation. Existing laws are not adequate to secure equal rights for women. Sufficient proof of this is the concentration of women in lower paying, menial, unrewarding jobs and their incredible scarcity in the upper level jobs. If women are already equal, why is it such an event whenever one happens to be elected to Congress?

It is obvious that discrimination exists. Women do not have the opportunities that men do. And women that do not conform to the system, who try to break with the accepted patterns, are stigmatized as ”odd” and “unfeminine.” The fact is that a woman who aspires to be chairman of the board, or a Member of the House, does so for exactly the same reasons as any man. Basically, these are that she thinks she can do the job and she wants to try.

A second argument often heard against the equal rights amendment is that is would eliminate legislation that many States and the Federal Government have enacted giving special protection to women and that it would throw the marriage and divorce laws into chaos.

As for the marriage laws, they are due for a sweeping reform, and an excellent beginning would be to wipe the existing ones off the books. Regarding special protection for working women, I cannot understand why it should be needed. Women need no protection that men do not need. What we need are laws to protect working people, to guarantee them fair pay, safe working conditions, protection against sickness and layoffs, and provision for dignified, comfortable retirement. Men and women need these things equally. That one sex needs protection more than the other is a male supremacist myth as ridiculous and unworthy of respect as the white supremacist myths that society is trying to cure itself of at this time.

Sources: Congressional Record – Extensions of Remarks E4165-6.

May 19, 2009

Kick Polio out of Africa and the world

Filed under: manifesto — newritings @ 4:21 pm
kick polio out of Africa

kick polio out of Africa

The motivation of this post comes after speaking to a researcher at the WHO working on polio, who tells me that polio remains a challenge for the world. It is particularly active in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and India. I asked him how the campaign Kick Polio out of Africa was going, and we chatted a bit. I then did a search and found this African Union statement following a meeting of the Ministers of Health,  4 – 8 May 2009 and the meeting of experts 4-6 May 2009, where this status report on polio was made public.




  1. Since 1988 when the GPEI was launched, the GPEI has reduced the global incidence of polio by more than 99%.  As a result, indigenous poliovirus has been eliminated from all countries except four countries:  India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Polio is on the verge of eradication.  However, many countries continue to experience re-infections that result in polio outbreaks.

I.        Background:

  • The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI) has reduced the global incidence of polio by more than 99 percent – from 350,000 cases per year in 125 countries in 1988, to 1660 cases in 18 countries in 2008.
  • The “Kick Polio Out of Africa” campaign launched by President Mandela in 1996, and supported by the OAU and the AU, is an integral part of the success of GPEI.
  • 91% of the polio cases in the world in 2008 were from just the four polio-endemic countries of Nigeria (northern states), India (2 northern states), Pakistan, and southern provinces of Afghanistan. The rest of the cases were from countries that were re-infected with poliovirus importations from either Nigeria or from India.
  • Since the launch of GPEI in 1988, nearly five million people are today walking, who would otherwise have been paralysed by the disease.  An estimated more than 250,000 polio-related deaths have been prevented, in addition to more than 1.2 million childhood deaths averted by the systematic distribution of Vitamin A during polio supplementary immunization activities (SIAs).
  • The polio eradication infrastructure and staff on the ground have also provided broader benefits for the health systems by supporting the delivery of various other critical health interventions, establishing a robust disease surveillance network, establishing cold chain and logistics systems for vaccine distribution, scaling up communication and social mobilization efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of immunization, and training a large cadre of health workers in the field.
  • The continued leadership of the AU and sustained and intensified effort by the polio-infected AU Member States to reach and vaccinate all children will contribute to the ultimate success of this historic effort to deliver a polio-free world.

II.      African Union and Polio Eradication – 2008:

  • 57% (946) of all polio cases in the world were reported in AU member States in 2008, with Nigeria alone contributing to 49% (806) of the global polio cases.
  • Of the 14 countries that reported polio outbreaks after re-infections in 2008, 13 are members of the African Union (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Sudan, and Togo).
  • Importations of poliovirus of northern Nigerian origin are responsible for the ongoing circulation of imported viruses in 11 of 13 re-infected AU member states in west, central and Horn of Africa (viruses of Indian origin are circulating in the other 2 AU states).
  • The persistent polio outbreaks in Angola and Chad that have been ongoing for a number of years are a major global concern.

III. African Union and Polio Eradication – 2009 (data as of March 25, 2009):

  • 87% (147) of all polio cases in the world in 2009 were reported in AU member States, with Nigeria alone contributing to 53% (90) of the global polio cases.
  • A major polio outbreak in south Sudan has now spread into Kenya and Uganda, threatens other countries in the Horn of Africa, and is a matter of grave concern that should be treated as a matter of international public health emergency.
  • All the 10 countries that have reported polio outbreaks after re-infections in 2009 are members of the African Union (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Sudan, Togo and Uganda).
Polio Cases in 2008 and 2009 in AU Member States (as of 25 March, 2009)
Country 2008 2009
Polio-Endemic Countries
1 Nigeria 806 90
Re-Infected Countries
2 Angola 29 3
3 Benin 6 7
4 Burkina Faso 6 6
5 Central African Republic (CAR) 3 0
6 Chad 37 0
7 Cote d’Ivoire 1 1
8 Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) 5 0
9 Ethiopia 3 0
10 Ghana 8 0
11 Kenya 0 4
12 Mali 1 1
13 Niger 12 9
14 Sudan 26 18
15 Togo 3 3
16 Uganda 0 5

IV.  Technical Feasibility of Polio Eradication Affirmed by Scientific Bodies

At this meeting, the GPEI stakeholders launched the intensified polio eradication effort.

WHO Executive Board calls for Independent Evaluation by May, 2009

  1. On 26 January, 2009 WHO’s governing body called for Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan to make polio eradication their top operational priority in 2009 and to report to the World Health Assembly in May on their progress. Member states supported the Director-General’s proposal to conduct an independent review of program implementation in the endemic countries to determine the remaining barriers to stopping transmission. The Board called for the Director-General to provide an initial report on the findings of the independent review and how they will guide next steps for the polio eradication initiative at the WHA in May. The Board also highlighted concerns about reinfection of polio-free countries and called for additional measures to prevent the importation of cases.

V. Key Challenges to Polio Eradication in AU Member States:

Nigeria:  progress in overcoming operational challenges must be systematically applied across all northern states

  1. These ongoing vaccination coverage gaps present a unique risk to the global polio eradication effort, as type 1 polio from northern Nigeria in 2008 spread and re-infected seven countries in West Africa.
  2. The ACPE concluded:  “Nigeria will continue to pose a high risk to international health until the new, top political commitment is translated into field level improvements in campaign quality.”
  3. In February 2009 a landmark public commitment was signed on behalf of Nigeria’s 36 state Governors by the Ministry of Health and the Chairman of the Executive Governors’ Council has pledged to hold Local Government Authorities (LGAs) accountable for the performance of their eradication programs. In 2008, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that if 90% of children under five in Nigeria each received three polio vaccine doses, polio transmission would be stopped. On 2 February in Abuja, with Bill Gates Jr. in attendance, the Governors recognized the urgent need to tackle the ongoing coverage gaps, signing the historic “Abuja Commitments to Polio Eradication in Nigeria” in a public pledge to mobilize the state and LGA civil administrations to reach the necessary 90% coverage target.

Re-infected countries:  stopping prolonged outbreaks and minimizing the risk of renewed international spread

Chad & Angola

  1. In 2008, 37 cases have been reported in Chad and 29 in Angola. Chad is affected by widespread geographic transmission of both type 1 and type 3 poliovirus, including in the east of the country (bordering Sudan), the south (bordering CAR) and the west (bordering Cameroon and Nigeria).
  2. With suboptimal outbreak response activities implemented in 2008 (in quality, scope and timeliness), and subnational surveillance gaps, the risk of further spread of polio within Chad, within Angola, and bordering countries is high.

The key remains to urgently improve the quality of operations, as upwards of 40% of children were regularly missed during activities in 2008 in Chad. Full political engagement, beginning with the Office of H.E. the President, is urgently needed.

  1. These prolonged outbreaks represent a risk of further international spread across Africa.

West Africa

  1. The confirmation of new polio cases in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo underscores the fact that west Africa continues to be at risk of international spread of polio from northern Nigeria. The risk of further circulation or additional importations into these western African countries depends fully on the quality of polio campaigns in northern Nigeria and of the outbreak response activities in the re-infected countries themselves.
  2. Seven-country synchronized cross-border campaigns were conducted in February and March in the re-infected countries, in coordination with Nigeria. More than 28 million children from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Niger and Togo joined the 25 million children being immunized with mOPV1 in 15 states in Nigeria.
  3. It is important that countries across West Africa strengthen disease surveillance for acute flaccid paralysis (AFP), in order to rapidly detect any poliovirus importations and facilitate a rapid response.

Horn of Africa and Sudan outbreak raises alarm:

  1. An outbreak of wild poliovirus type 1, previously restricted to southern Sudan and western Ethiopia, has spread to northern Kenya, northern Uganda and northern Sudan (Khartoum and Port Sudan). The report of a case in Port Sudan is particularly concerning, given it was from this port city that an outbreak spread to Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Somalia and Yemen in 2004-06, resulting in 1,200 cases and requiring more than US$150 million in international emergency outbreak response costs.
  2. WHO has informed its Member States of the high risk of international spread of the disease.  Locally, detection of the case has sparked urgent and immediate outbreak response activities in the affected areas and heightened surveillance in countries at risk.
  3. On 26-27 February, the HOA Technical Advisory Group met to urgently address the polio outbreak in the region. The TAG noted that all countries in the HOA were at significant risk of outbreak, and called upon the Governments of HOA countries to make polio eradication a top priority until the current outbreaks were stopped and the risk of further spread gone. The TAG stressed that every effort must be made to improve the quality and reach of SIA rounds, and that co-ordination between countries was critical to an effective response.
  4. To minimize the risk of international spread of polio, preventive SIAs will be conducted and heightened attention to strengthening routine immunization levels given in highest-risk areas (e.g. those bordering endemic areas).

VI. African Union leadership and next steps for polio eradication in Africa:

  1. The continued public support of the African Union for completing polio eradication in Africa will be critical to ensure that all polio-affected AU member states are fully engaged in this historic effort. There is an urgent need for enhanced commitment and public involvement by the leaders of the polio-affected countries to help engage all sectors of the Government and improve the quality of polio eradication activities so that every child is reached and vaccinated against polio. At least 90% of the children need to be vaccinated in the polio immunization activities in order to stop polio in Africa.
  2. A robust discussion at the 4th AU Conference of Ministers of Health on the polio eradication efforts, challenges, and risks in the African continent will assist in recognizing the urgent need to enhance polio eradication efforts in the AU to protect the significant gains achieved in the continent. The adoption of a Decision on Polio Eradication at the Conference will further strengthen the commitment of the polio-affected AU member states, and help engage the Heads of State in this historic effort. It will also boost donor confidence to continue to support eradication efforts in Africa.
  3. Only Nigeria remains as the last polio-endemic country in Africa, though a growing number of previously polio-free countries have now become re-infected due to polio importations from Nigeria and India.
  4. Again, this demonstrates that with strong leadership, the outbreak response strategies succeeded in rapidly again stopping the spread of poliovirus across the continent.
  5. At the same time, efforts must continue to be intensified in Nigeria.  Until Nigeria eradicates polio, all countries across Africa will remain at risk of re-infection.


  1. The recommendations are included in the annexed Draft Decision for the next Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.


draft Decision on Completing Polio Eradication in Africa

The Assembly:

1.            TAKES NOTE of the Sixty-First World Health Assembly resolution on Polio Eradication (WHA61.1) adopted on 24 May 2008 that highlights the risk of international spread of poliovirus;

2.            CONCERNED that there is continued intense poliovirus transmission in the one last polio-endemic Member State in Africa, that there has been international spread of the disease from this region to seven other Member States in West Africa thereby imposing great humanitarian and economic burden on these States, and that a few Member States have not succeeded in stopping poliovirus outbreaks following re-infections more than a year ago;

3.            RECALLS the Yaoundé Declaration on Polio Eradication in Africa adopted by the Heads of State and Governments of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) (1996), the Lungi Declaration on Polio Eradication in West African sub-region adopted by the Governments of the Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS) (2001), the Decision on Polio Eradication in Africa adopted by the Conference of African Ministers of Health (Tripoli, 2003), the Executive Council Decision on Polio Eradication in Africa ( Maputo, 2003);

4.            ACKNOWLEDGES the unprecedented success of the “Kick Polio Out of Africa,” initiative that resulted in the launching of national and continent-wide polio campaigns that by end 2008 has restricted endemic poliovirus transmission to just one Member State, and polio re-infections in 13 Member States;

5.            REAFFIRMS its previous commitments towards interrupting the final chains of poliovirus transmission in Africa, and preventing the international spread of poliovirus to polio-free areas within Africa and beyond;

6.            REITERATES that polio eradication is an African socio-economic development priority and that success in this historic effort will provide the necessary confidence and financial support to tackle other complex public health challenges;

7.            NOTES WITH APPRECIATION the technical assistance received from all the partners of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and the financial support received for polio eradication from all public and private development partners, in particular the G8 Members, Rotary International, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation;

8.            COMMENDS the sustained efforts and leadership of the WHO, UNICEF, CDC, Rotary International and other partners, towards completing polio eradication;

9.            URGES all polio-affected Member States:

  • To engage all levels of political and civil society to conduct intensified eradication activities that ensure all children are vaccinated with oral poliomyelitis vaccine;
  • To provide the highest level of political oversight and visible leadership in support of intensified polio eradication activities so as to ensure that all children are consistently reached and vaccinated in every polio campaign;
  • To mobilize the resources of all Government Ministries to assist in reaching and vaccinating children; and ,
  • To engage traditional and religious leaders and civil society to enhance community support;

10.           CALLS UPON all Member States:

  • to sustain international quality polio surveillance in the country to rapidly detect and respond to poliovirus cases,
  • and to strengthen routine immunization services to protect populations from the consequences of poliovirus importations into polio-free areas;

11.           ALSO URGES all polio-affected Member States to urgently allocate domestic resources to implement polio eradication activities, and calls on all development partners, including the G8, to maintain their financial and/or technical support to facilitate the  achievement of a polio-free Africa;

12.           REQUESTS the Chairperson of the African Union, and the President of the African Union Commission to undertake high-level advocacy with the last remaining polio-affected Member States, and provide visible support by launching polio eradication activities;

13.           FURTHER REQUESTS the African Union Commission to submit to the Assembly an annual Progress Report on Polio Eradication efforts in the continent, until Africa is certified to be polio free.

May 15, 2009

A brief note on Maternal Mortality: Do women count? If so, why do we allow them to die in pregnacy and childbirth? (updated)

Filed under: manifesto,opinion article — newritings @ 11:39 pm mortality is defined as death occurring during or within 42 days of a pregnancy from causes related to pregnancy. The maternal mortality rate is the number of women who die as a result of childbearing in a given year per 100,000 births. According to the World Health Organisation: “every minute, at least one woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth – that means 529 000 women a year. In addition, for every woman who dies in childbirth, around 20 more suffer injury, infection or disease – approximately 10 million women each year.”

“Five direct complications account for more than 70% of maternal deaths: haemorrhage (25%), infection (15%), unsafe abortion (13%), eclampsia (very high blood pressure leading to seizures – 12%), and obstructed labour (8%). While these are the main causes of maternal death, unavailable, inaccessible, unaffordable, or poor quality care is fundamentally responsible. They are detrimental to social development and wellbeing, as some one million children are left motherless each year. These children are 10 times more likely to die within two years of their mothers’ death.”

The figures are horrendous, and the responses to reversing these deaths are slow and uneven, with some countries showing great progress and others like ours little to none. I hasten to add if it were men who were dying like this, we would not be this lethargic as we would have acted with greater vigor, and commitment to meeting the MDG 5 commitment.

In South Africa maternal mortality figures have gone up exacebated by the HIV epidemic. But I suggest the public (and here, I refer to the media and population at large) have to date only played a small and insignificant role in making this the political issue that it truly is. I looked at the Reconstruction and Development Programme (1994) and I did not see it first glance, but re-reading it, I found this clear commitment:

“There must be a programme to improve maternal and child health through access to quality antenatal, delivery and postnatal services for all women. This must include better transport facilities and in-service training programmes for midwives and for traditional birth attendants. Targets must include 90 per cent of pregnant women receiving antenatal care and 75 per cent of deliveries being supervised and carried out under hygienic conditions within two years. By 1999, 90 per cent of deliveries should be supervised. These services must be free at government facilities by the third year of the RDP. In addition, there should be established the right to six months paid maternity leave and 10 days paternity leave.”

I know that Apartheid neglect has a role to play in our current challenges but so too, must the democratically elected government take some blame for the serious missed opportunities in turning the corner on maternal mortality and other related health, poverty and inequality challenges. The major failing of the democratically elected government in this area has been the inability to translate good policy into good and effective working programmes that meets the objectives set.

Millenium Development Goal 5 commits nations to Improve maternal health by reducing by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio.

The South African government has noted that this is one of their major challenges with an estimated maternal mortality ratio of 150/ 100,000 live births. This ratio was considered unacceptably high and thus government initiated an inquiry into maternal deaths. HIV/AIDS was found to be one of the major causes of the high maternal mortality rate with non-pregnancy related infections, which includes AIDS, increasing from 23% in 1998 to 31.4% in 2005.


During 1997, the Minister of Health in South Africa made maternal deaths notifiable and thereafter set up the National Committee for the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths (NCCEMD). The other country that has a similar committee is the UK, and by all accounts such initiatives are reported to be very successful in cutting down the number of avoidable deaths of mothers.

In preparing for my short essay (not this posting) I was amazed – despite all the talk about mobilisation of communities, women, families in this gigantic struggle – trying to access the documents electronically is not that easy. Part of the problem is that these documents are posted on the department of health’s website and they do not have a very user friendly programme based web resource.

The NCCEMD has produced three reports, with great loads of practical activies, that must be used NOT only by professional doctors and academics. I do not understand why the NCCEMD do not have their own blog, linked to the ( I will come back to this later).


In the UK, maybe the initiative appears to be more of a non govenmental one ( Having been started as a unit within CEMACH, it was set up in April 2003 as a unit within the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) and has a dedicated website housing their reports. Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) commenced its work in 2003 with similar objectives “to improve the health of mothers, babies and children by carrying out confidential enquiries on a nationwide basis and by widely disseminating our findings and recommendations”. According to their website, ICEMACH will become an independent charity on 1 July 2009 with the new name ‘Centre for Maternal and Child Enquiries’ (CMACE).

Earlier I wrote about the inaccessibility of vital documents necessary for inform discourse and action, and it must be clear that I am not proposing that SA go this way (CMACE), but simply that the documents so valuable to saving lives be upfront — so that others cannot say – they did not know it was that bad. This will not eradicate the problem, but information acted upon is powerful. ( I do know that a few NGOs such as Health Systerms Trust, have tried to keep detailed records of important reports and documents, but these have to be kept in a user friendly manner by those entrusted with the public mandate)

Back to the South African reports: a  valuable resource is
1. Department of Health, Saving Mothers, Report 1998, Pretoria:Department of Health 1999.
The electronic report can be found at:

2. Department of Health, Saving Mothers, second report on Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in South Africa 1999-2001, Pretoria: Department of Health 2002. This report is not available electronically despite the committee and the Minister of Health committing to dessiminate information as one tool to fighting marternal mortality. However, an  electronic sources simply list the Second Interim Report on Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in South Africa – 1999 [PDF], and I list them both hereunder.

3. Department of Health, Saving Mothers, third report on Confidential Enquiries into Maternal Deaths in South Africa 2002-2004, Pretoria: Department of Health 2006.
Electronic source: I am sorry but it does not even appear on the health department’s website, a search only shows a reference to it, as part of the annual report and financial reporting.
It was however located on If I am wrong, please send a comment, and I will reflect on the points, and if wrong, apologise and make the necessary changes.

4. A fourth report is to be released during this year. I hear it is out, but not yet public.

In solidarity

1:30am 16 May (for Leila and her mum, my partner)

April 23, 2009

Pssst… did you hear that the Pope wore a Palestinian scarf?

Filed under: manifesto,testimonies — newritings @ 9:15 am
pre visit orientation

Pre visit orientation

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday, the day South Africans voted in their national general elections, 22 April, met in the Vatican with a group of Palestinian Catholics. Nothing unusual about that, you might say, but then they presented him with a gift, the symbol of Palestinian nationalism and solidarity. No, not a gun, but a scarf designed delicately in black and white (See also: In fashion but without a homeland), and many racist blogs are going crazy about it.

These two dozen odd believers from the holy city of Bethlehem were in St. Peter’s Square Rome (amongst thousands others) but by this small gesture, they keep the hopes alive for a homeland for all Palestinians, for those under occupation and those millions in exile.

The Pope will visit Bethlehem amongst other places in May 2009.

PS. The Pope has also come under fire for supporting the anti-racism conference being held in Geneva (Durban 2) this week. The same UN conference against racism and xenophobia where nations supporting Israel walked out of, after Ahmadinejad made comments about Israel and racism.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at