Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Babies at Risk

Posted: October 28, 2010 in News
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By Nobulungisa Mangisa

Could this little unborn life be in danger?

The national public service strike has caused many disadvantaged people who depend on public health services to lose their lives. Many school children, especially matric pupils, have lost three weeks of school time, as well as the hope of a better future. Has money become the main driving force in the world, leaving no care for the youth, the ailing or the elderly?

By looking at the impact of the national health services strike on HIV positive pregnant women and their babies in South Africa, questions need to be answered, and justice needs to be served. Has this demand of a wage increase caused a rise in babies who are born HIV positive when we were so close to curbing it to zero? Have innocent souls who know nothing about money or wage negotiations been caused irreparable damage over this?

According to statistics, only three in ten babies who are born to HIV positive mothers will actually be HIV positive. It is unfortunate, because they never know beforehand which ones will be born with the virus, and so they are not able to do anything until the baby is born.

Sandisa Sisu, a 7-month pregnant HIV positive woman, was unable to get her treatment during the national strike for two weeks. “I am so worried about my baby. She had a chance at life and now because of what we could not control, she could have this dreadful disease. I am just trusting in the Lord that she is okay. That is all I can do at this point”.

How many mothers did not get help beforehand and had to give birth at home when they were HIV positive during the strike? Did their babies receive the life-saving nevirapine or zidovudine? Was this their only chance at survival?

There is no doubt that the national public workers strike caused many unnecessary misfortunes. Many babies were born HIV positive that could have been saved. Many psychiatric patients relapsed. Many people died who could still be alive.

Money, power and authority has cost many families their breadwinners. Where will their next meal come from now that the father, mother or uncle has died because (s)he could not receive appropriate health care in time? What about the ailing baby who is only a month old, the dreadful HIV already taking a toll on his or her small body?

All that is left to say now is that perhaps Christians were right in saying that money is the root of all evil.


Old Boys vs. Young Blood

Posted: October 28, 2010 in Sport
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By Riaan Marais



Old Boys: The 1995 World Cup winning team.


Were the rugby boys of old really that hard? How do the younger generations match up to their predecessors? Times have changed, and so has the game.

Francois Pienaar: Lifting the Webb Ellis trophy after winning the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

We look back at the 1995 Rugby World Cup and see Francois Pienaar lift the trophy. “I bet he could teach these new boys a thing or two”, would be a typical remark from the older rugby fans.

Many people like to believe that the guys that represented South Africa back in the good old days are much tougher than the current players, that somehow they were harder men. However, there are increasing factors that argue against that point of view.

Prior to 1995, rugby was a sport, not a profession, and players had jobs outside their rugby careers. Francois Pienaar himself studied law at the Rand Afrikaans University, and worked while playing for the Springboks and Transvaal. Today, he is the provincial executive for First National Bank in the Western Cape. The point being that rugby players back then couldn’t afford to be professional rugby players like the guys today.

Nowadays, rugby players earn substantial salaries, and during international off-seasons, they have the opportunity to play abroad and earn obscene amounts of money. It has become more than just sport to them, which means they have to be good at it to earn a living. And to be really good at rugby, you must have skills, brains and, above all, you have to be as tough as nails.

John Smit: The second South African captain to lift the Rugby World Cup trophy, twelve years later.

Just like the reasons for playing rugby have changed, so too has the game itself changed over the last fifteen years. Simple rules like picking players up in line-outs, or the four-step scrum initiation (crouch, touch, pause, engage), are small things that have changed the game. Some other rules are put in place just to help with the flow of the match, increasing the tempo of the game. This quickened pace requires players to be much more alert and aware of everything round them. “The game probably needs to recalibrate slightly and look at how we can put more emphasis on skills rather than power”, says Damian Hopley, CEO of the Rugby Players Association and former England international player in an interview with .

Don Shaw, team manager of the Harlequins Rugby Union Team in the United Kingdom, raises the issue of physicality caused by the new rules. “The game has become a lot faster, and more competitive. Players have become a lot more athletic, much stronger, more muscular, and leaner”, says Shaw. Hopley confirms these views: “Inevitably, players are getting stronger, faster, bigger and more powerful”.

Pierre Spies: A fine example of international rugby’s evolution in recent years.

There are many international rugby players that can attest to Shaw and Hopley’s point of view. But there is one player that definitely stands out from a South African perspective, and that is Pierre Spies. This 194cm, 107kg Springbok and Blue Bull lose forward started his international test début in 2006, and has only improved since then. Due to health complications (a blood clot in his lung), Spies’s rugby career was almost cut short in 2007, but since his recovery he has gone from strength to strength. “When it comes to training, I never take shortcuts. I always train really hard”, says Spies about his sessions in the gym. It’s clear that the hard work pays off by looking at Spies manhandling Australian hooker Saia Faingaa in a recent Tri-Nations clash.     



Pierre Spies manhandling Faingaa

Young Blood: 2007 World Cup winning team.

Even though the rugby legends of fifteen years ago deserve praise for the way they played and what they achieved, things have changed. It’s not the same game they played back in the day, and match physicality is at an all-time high. The young bloods exercise differently, train with more intensity and treat what used to be a pastime as a career. Give them fifteen years and they will be the legends of 2025.  

Mini interview with Pierre Spies

By Claricia Coeries

Government officials are hopeful about the education in schools, promising better education programs, assistance to teachers and improved service to schools in need. But is this enough? What about the security of the schools, the children and the facilities they use on a daily basis?

While teachers across the country were striking and children left to pass the time, many school buildings became victims to extreme vandalism. A primary school in Kleinskool, Port Elizabeth in particular, suffered serious damage to the ceiling, windows and school appliances. Vandalisers also ripped out electric circuits and bulbs which were used in the classrooms. 

Distressed teachers arrived at the school ready to start the new term, only to find that all of the stationery, books, and learning materials had been stolen or damaged beyond use. This is just one of the many schools in less privileged communities where schools are left to ensure their own safety without any assistance. This is a huge disappointment to the school, since they recently received donations to improve the school’s facilities.

According to Sean Abrahams, the principal of the school, the damage will cost the school thousands of rands to repair. An emergency meeting has been called with local councilors to discuss ways in which they can improve the security at the school.

By Lisa Moore 

To be a democracy, or to not be a democracy... That is the question!

South Africa stands strongly in the belief of freedom of the press and access to information. The Constitution, our country’s highest law, provides that South Africa is “one sovereign, democratic state”, founded on four fundamental values, two of which clearly consist of freedom and a democratic government.

Freedom of expression, as stated in Section 16 of the Constitution, includes freedom of the press and other media. Not only does this aid in self-fulfilment, by informing individuals about what is occurring in the country, and the individual is left to form and develop his own thoughts, mind, opinions and come to his own conclusions, but this also allows the individual to express his feelings concerning these, and discuss and debate with others.

A free flow of information and the freedom to receive or impart ideas (see S16 (1)) is an essential part of a democratic society – suppression by the government or regulation of information just cannot be allowed in a democracy where citizens are, by right, entitled to a free flow of information on political and governmental issues. All citizens should be made fully aware of the pros and cons when they are voting for a particular party or politician during an election, and the press plays a very important role in this process.

A free press can provide an overview of all political parties and politicians, as well as act as a “watchdog” over the government, and expose corruption, incompetence and maladministration. By presenting this information, whether good or bad, all individuals are able to make an informed decision and are also kept aware and up-to-date of daily developments within the country and political affairs.

A free press also expresses and encourages public opinion by commenting on these news issues. Self-regulation, a form of censorship as recognised by the Constitution, involves self-control by the individual, where the individual censors his own speech, and censorship is imposed by the community. This self-regulatory mechanism maintains freedom of expression, a fundamental element of democracy. If the Protection of Information Bill is accepted, some very critical information could be “hidden” from society, as the government feels it is necessary.

A media appeals tribunal would mean that our government would control and regulate all information, even if it is in the interest of the public or their well-being. In the South African Press, the press code requires that news reporting is true, fair and accurate. However, what if the reporting is all of the above yet exposes corruption? Could it be that, through the proposed changes of law, the ANC wants to shut down the very medium that exposes their hypocrisy? Would they prefer for society to be in the dark and uninformed, rather than letting their secrets be known and found out? There would be no fairness in jailing journalists for exposing the crooks in our country.

President Jacob Zuma may defend the country’s plans for a statutory media appeals tribunal, yet he himself says that “[w]e have a responsibility to democratise every aspect of South African society, including the media”. It is important to understand the dilemma we are currently facing, in order to join the campaign to have the Protection of Information Bill withdrawn, and the proposed media appeals tribunal denied. It is sincerely hoped that the Constitutional Court will not uphold the request for a media appeals tribunal, just because it simply goes against the basic principles enshrined in the democratic Constitution.

You can have your say by emailing , which will be forwarded to President Jacob Zuma.

By Riaan Marais

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is aiming to host more than 2000 bikini-clad women on 23 October, to simultaneously raise money for cancer awareness and attempt a world record.

This project will be known as the “Nashua Biggest Bikini Photo Shoot Ever”, and it will attempt to beat the current world record of 1923 women gathered in one place wearing bikinis. And because it takes place during National Breast Cancer Awareness month, all the proceeds will go towards the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA).

“Everyone has been affected by cancer in some way during their lives, including me”, says Mr. Peter Hearne, managing director for Nashua Port Elizabeth, the project’s main sponsor.

“Four of our managers are women, so there is a very strong female presence within our company. So we were on board immediately when Club 100 For Ladies, the main organisers, approached us.”

Candice Parker, sales manager for Nashua Port Elizabeth, was one of the first people to commit herself to this campaign. “I am by no means a supermodel, but I realised what a good opportunity this is to show my support for CANSA.”

There will also be two official judges from the Guinness Book of Records to confirm whether or not a new record is set.

“We encourage all women to come and take part in this event. This record attempt is not a beauty pageant, so everyone is welcome”, says Mr. Coetzee Gouws from Full Stop communications.

Unfortunately no men are allowed, but they are more than welcome to sponsor a lady-friend with the R50 entry fee to be part of this charity event and record attempt. For more information, go to, or contact Laurence: cell: 084 507 3175; email:

By Andile “Ace” Magxaki

A recent study by the Reputation Institute in South Africa has shown that, in terms of reputations, South Africa has moved into a better category following the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Speaking at the release of the study, the institute’s MD Dominik Heil said that after the hosting of the World Cup, South Africa shifted from a listing of countries with some serious reputational issues, such as Iran and the Ukraine, to a place where South Africa was statistically similar to places like the US and India.

The Reputation Institute South Africa‘s study formed part of a global study conducted, where consumers in each of the Group of Eight (G8) countries rated 39 country brands to provide a snapshot of the reputation of emerging markets with G8 consumers. The study is usually conducted on an annual basis, but a second study was conducted to calculate the effect that the World Cup had on South Africa’s reputation.

Heil showed that foreign perceptions of South Africa climbed from 44,6 points in January to 49,11 points after the World Cup. “The World Cup resulted in foreign countries having a much more holistic view of the country, whereas in the past, they mainly only had access to the ‘bad’ news in the country.”

The survey also showed that South Africa was viewed more favourably by European countries that were geographically closer to it, such as Germany and Italy, compared with non-European countries, such as the US and Canada.

Heil said that if the country was able to maintain a level of consistency with these perceptions, it could lead to increased investment into South Africa. He noted that internationally, South Africa was not really recognised as a significant investment or business country, scoring quite low at 40,51 out of a 100 points for its business environment and 41,63 points for its products and services.

“Even though the country has some big business, such as South African Breweries and Sasol, the products are not always linked with the country itself and the consumers are unaware of the company’s or the product’s origin when using it. I believe that currently South Africa is underrated when it comes to business and investment.”

Heil also pointed out that government-related perceptions would play a significant role. The effectiveness of South Africa’s government was rated very low by the international community in January 2010 at 36,51 points, but increased somewhat after the World Cup to 39,72 points.

While South Africa scored some points in the international community, perceptions by South Africans dropped quite significantly after the World Cup. Ratings dropped from 67,78 points in January 2010, to 56 points in August this year. Heil said that this was largely due to the public sector strikes.

Perceptions of the effectiveness of the country’s government dropped from 60,91 points in January, to 34,33 points in August this year. “I would not expect the government in any other country to survive with that kind of a drop”, said Heil. Similarly, confidence in social welfare dropped from 61,73 points to 36,50 points.

Interestingly, for both consumers in the G8 countries and South Africans, the most important driver of the country’s reputation was its contribution to the global community. Heil said that South Africa’s second election to the United Nations Security Council was a golden opportunity to show the world and the country’s citizens that it could positively contribute to the global community.

South Africa surprised many, and outraged some, during its first term on the council, when it joined Russia and China in voting against a Security Council resolution on human rights issues in Myanmar, while also finding itself on the wrong side of Zimbabwean politics. Heil said that siding with the “wrong sides” could damage South Africa’s reputation. “Locking the Dalai Lama out of the country will definitely not help the country’s reputation. The world and South Africans are expecting the government to make principled decisions, that would assist the country to become politically more significant and credible, which would also help attract investment, visitors and human capital,” he concluded.

Walmart for South Africa

Posted: October 21, 2010 in News
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By Odette Kemp

The possibility of Walmart in South Africa has been eliciting mixed responses from different sources.

Walmart, a large retailer in the United States, has placed a bid on Massmart, the third largest retailer in South Africa. If the R30 billion proposals are accepted, it could have far-reaching consequences for the country – for better or worse.

The National Treasury director general, Lesetja Kganyago, encouraged the public to “embrace globalization”, instead of fighting the change. “We are busy exploring the demerits of globalization while other countries are finding ways of benefiting from it.” If Walmart does enter the South African market, it will most likely lead to lower prices for consumers, not only from Walmart, but also from its competitors. Abri du Plessis, chief investment officer at Gryphon Asset Management, reckons that “South African retailers will have to sharpen their pencils.”

According to Tim Harris, the shadow trade and industry minister of the DA party, this investment could “bring real benefits to an economy still struggling to shrug off the effects of recession.” This was said in light of COSATU’s complaints that Walmart was known as being “notoriously anti-union”.

Harris disagrees with COSATU’s concerns, saying that all businesses in South Africa would have to abide by the laws of the country. “It is up to the government to welcome new investors into our economy – and then regulate them fairly and effectively.”

In a statement reacting to COSATU’s claims, the Walmart group assured that they would not transgress the labour laws of South Africa, were the bid successful. “Walmart does not adopt a single labour relations strategy because each country is different.” Massmart reinforced this statement, saying that “it had no doubt that Walmart would honour pre-existing union relationships and abide by South African labour law.”