Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Service Delivery And Strikes

Service delivery protests flare up again....

Secunda - After a brief lull, protests flared up again in Mpumalanga leading to the arrests of 13 people, police said on Tuesday.

"Yesterday [Monday] there were violent service delivery protests at Embalenhle in Secunda," said Captain Leonard Hlathi.

The groups, mostly youths and minors, barricaded sections of the area and then went to the KI Malaza School and tried to get pupils there to join them.

"The kids refused and most of the windows of the school were broken," said Hlathi.

The 13 were arrested and might appear in court on Tuesday.

Hlathi said that everything was now back to normal.

The province has borne the brunt of most of the "service delivery" protests over the last few years.

These protests have invariably been linked to frustration over delays in providing basic services and allegations that local government officials are unresponsive to residents' complaints, or corrupt.

During the last wave of protests in the province, people said that they were unhappy with the way candidate lists for the local government elections set for May 18.

Comment from a representative of the protesters was not immediately available.

Medical System Collapsing

Better enjoy our last year with our medical aids and proper doctors, specialists etc. When this NHI gets implemented next year, the whole medical system will completely COLLAPSE, like everything else that already has. Another brilliant move by the ANC comrades to destroy everything that actually works......
This plans comes from the same people who've driven the health department into the ground....

NHI plan in a nutshell
  1. Every employed South African will have to contribute to NHI.
  2. Members can choose a primary health care provider from a list of accredited providers in the private and public sector in their district.
  3. Members will be allowed about three visits to their chosen clinic/GP per year. Visits to higher health care facilities and providers will have to be authorized, possibly from NHI headquarters in Pretoria. Otherwise members will have to foot the bill themselves.
  4. Private health care providers contracted by the NHIA will earn much less per patient than the medical scheme scale of benefits.
  5. Salaries, working conditions and management skills need to be improved. Expat health and managerial professionals must be attracted back to South Africa.
  6. The Cuban doctors programme will be revived.
  7. The state plans to manufacture its own drugs.
How the ANC wants the NHI to work:
On funding and access
  • The ANC’s NHI task team proposes that a ‘yet-to-be-established’ body called the NHI Authority (NHIA) will pool all funds from general taxes, a new mandatory pay roll levy and medical scheme contributions from GEMS and other public sector medical schemes, into a new government-controlled NHI Fund. This will be used to purchase health care services from the public and private sect
  • The employers’ and employees’ mandatory NHI contribution could initially be at a lower level than their current medical scheme contribution, but will gradually increase to the level of contributions currently paid by medical scheme members.
  • The NHI fund “will promote social solidarity through income and risk cross subsidisation.”
  • All South Africans will have equal access to equal health services – but these services should preferably be public sector clinics and hospitals, including those (more than 50%, according to an official audit) that do not meet the minimum accreditation standards.
On the new structure
  • The NHIA will receive funds from various sources, then pool these resources and purchase services on behalf of the entire population.
  • The NHIA will be run by a CEO who reports directly to the minister of health, and will be supported by an executive management team and specific technical committees (including a technical advisory, auditing, pricing, remuneration and benefits advisory committee).
  • The NHIA will be publicly administrated, will be “a public entity”, and “there will be no role for private intermediaries”.
  • The NHIA will have subnational offices at provincial and district levels. The district health councils and provincial sub-authorities will plan for infrastructure and service provision. The NHIA will then purchase these services on behalf of the districts.
  • “Significant improvement in managerial capacity” at district level will be key to the success of the NHI.
On service providers
  • The first choice in primary health care provision will be accredited community health centres and private GPs. Secondary, tertiary and quaternary levels of care will be provided mainly by public hospitals, but also by private specialists and private hospitals.
  • The ultimate objective is to secure provider payment for all accredited providers; risk-adjusted per capita payments for GPs, community health centres, clinics and others; and case-based payments for hospitals, salaried doctors and specialists.
  • “Given the current capacity constraints in the public sector and the need to reduce the disruption of services, budgets will continue to be used for both primary care and hospital level providers in the public sector, until such time as a facility is accredited,” according to the plan.
  • Out-of-pocket payments will only be made in exceptional circumstance.
  • There may be an element of better payments for increased performance.
On registration for NHI
  • Every South African will be registered for the NHI and assigned to specific health care facilities closest to them.
  • Everyone will receive a NHI card to show when they visited their assigned local primary health care clinic or GP.
  • All patient information will be on electronic patient records so that health authorities can plan according to need.
On the benefit package
  • The benefit package is comprehensive, operating with the current public health services as its benchmark.
  • Members will choose a primary health care provider from the list of accredited providers in the private and public sector in their district. They will be encouraged to use public sector facilities.
  • Members will be allowed about three visits to his/her chosen clinic/GP per year.
  • Members travelling outside their district, might be allowed to visit a facility, but this will be discouraged and only a limited number of visits outside the district will be permitted.
  • A member’s benefit package will comprise “comprehensive out-patient and in-patient care at public and private health facilities”, but it will be capped, and only authorised (possibly only by the NHIA in Pretoria) referrals to secondary, tertiary and quaternary levels of care will be allowed.
  • If a member visits any specialist or private hospital without authorised referral, he will pay out of his own pocket for the treatment.
On auditing and accreditation of facilities
  • The NHI plan proposes that a detailed audit of all public and private facilities in the country be conducted in order to establish the stock and distribution of these facilities.
  • “The credibility of the NHI will rest on the visible improvement in the provision of quality of services for all. All facilities, private and public, will be NHI accredited, based on agreed national norms and standards. The aim is to accredit at least 25% of facilities annually, over a five year phased period, until all facilities are included,” the document states.
  • But all public sector clinics and hospitals will be contracted by the NHI, even if they deliver services below the accreditation standards.
On human resources
  • “Comprehensive strategies for increasing the supply, quality, distribution, and retention of various categories of health workers in the country” should be implemented, the plan states. The funds will be used to fill vacant posts (more than 30% of doctors’ posts and between 36%-56% of current nursing posts are vacant), to create new posts (South Africa immediately needs more than 70 000 more health professionals, according to the Roadmap document) and to create new posts as nurses’ training colleges are re-opened.
  • Working conditions and salaries are to be improved in order to attract South African health and managerial professionals in other countries back to a “more efficient public health care sector”.
  • The Cuban doctors programme is to be revived. A new and large contingent of Cuban doctors is to be imported to fill vacant posts and so allow foreign nationals to practice legally.
  • Although the plan mentions occupation pecific dispensation for public service doctors, and President Zuma said the government was paying “urgent attention to the issues of remuneration of health professionals” to remove uncertainty in our health services, there is no mention of budget allocations for a 50% increase.
  • Private health care providers contracted by the NHIA will earn much less per patient than the medical scheme scale of benefits and these practitioners are expected to adhere to the NHIA’s prescribed treatment protocols.
On the shortage of drugs
  • ”There is also a need to implement the Polokwane Resolution to establish a state company to produce drugs as a means of reducing the cost of medicines,” the plan states.


Voting in South Africa 2011

 One chicken, one vote......

Johannesburg - Drumsticks, thighs, wings. Lift-off. It’s an election manifesto with a difference as wannabe councillors find meaty ways to get votes.

In Gauteng, an incumbent councillor in Ekurhuleni has been accused of giving chicken portions and alcohol to buy votes, while rural people in KwaZulu-Natal were given money and alcohol to disrupt a community meeting and vote for their preferred candidate.

ANC spokesperson Brian Sokuthu warned against this “un-ANC” behaviour, saying it was not the culture and tradition of the party to buy votes.

“In fact, buying votes is un-ANC. If these claims are brought to our attention we should be able to investigate them,” Sokutu warned.

Chicken bribe

Community members are up in arms in ward 60 in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, over claims that councillor John Thaba gave out chicken packs, money and alcohol to win votes in Sphamandla informal settlement. At least eight community members confirmed the chicken bribe claims.

Thaba would neither confirm nor deny the allegations levelled against him. “You can put it in the newspaper; it is not going to make any difference. I am still going to be a councillor. I can’t say whether they are lying or not,” he said, ending the call.

An employee of a major retail shop in the area said: “People came here with big trolleys and bought all the chicken. There was nothing left.”

A community member warned that councillors are taking advantage of poor people. After Sphamandla residents were fed chicken on the evening of January 8, they were then transported in a truck to a local school where they voted in favour of Thaba, said a source.

An elderly woman said her neighbours received chicken portions. “JT (Thaba) fed these people.”


A community leader said the gogo sitting in front of him on voting day unknowingly blurted out the chicken bribe scandal. “I overheard this old woman saying, ‘is he (Thaba) the one who gave us chicken yesterday’. She was not aware that it was supposed to be a secret,” the leader said.

This has infuriated ANC members who said that Thaba works against party guidelines.

“He is making us despise the ANC we love so much. The ANC is going to lose this ward if it goes ahead and chooses him to serve as a councillor again,” said an ANC member who lives in the area.

In rural Gcilima, near Margate in KwaZulu-Natal, money and alcohol was also used to try and influence the outcome of the nomination process.

“People were given money and alcohol. The purpose was for them to disrupt the meeting and vote for a particular candidate. They tried to corrupt the processes of the ANC but failed,” a community member said.


 Mayor cries foul on voter registration

Johannesburg - Midvaal Executive Mayor Timothy Nast has laid charges of electoral fraud against eight people who registered to vote over the weekend and gave non-existent addresses, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

Nast met with the chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula and the matter would now be investigated by the Independent Electoral Commission, the party said.

The DA said further charges could be laid if the addresses of another 100 voters were found to be false.

"This is against the background of a determined ANC using every illegal means possible to try and win the successfully run DA council of Midvaal."

The DA claimed that ANC voters not resident in the area were being bussed in to register in Midvaal. It also claimed a 73-year-old DA supporter, Edward Wenger, was assaulted by an ANC agent when he was taking pictures of the ANC group which was bussed in to register at the station on Saturday.

Police arrived and arrested him instead, the DA said.

Wenger appeared in the Meyerton Magistrate's Court on Monday morning where proceedings were delayed and the case was postponed for a week for further investigations.

Wenger has since laid a counter charge of assault against the ANC party agent and a charge of unlawful arrest against the police.

DA spokesperson for safety and security Kate Lorimer said the police actions indicated that members of the SAPS were not playing an impartial role in the electoral process.

"Members of our police service cannot afford to be seen as being partial to one political party.

"I call on the provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Petros, to immediately suspend the SAPS members involved and conduct an urgent internal investigation." Lorimer said she would lay a complaint with the Internal Complaints Directorate before day-end on Monday.

"I have received the case number," she said.

No ANC help, no votes - union

Johannesburg - The ANC must intervene in problems municipal workers face or risk losing their votes, the SA Municipal Workers' Union (Samwu) said on Monday.
"We find it impossible to convince our members and the community to do this [vote] until the issues have been resolved," general secretary Mthandeki Nhlapo told reporters during the union's national executive committee meeting in Johannesburg.
He said Samwu took a decision at its 2009 congress to support the ANC, on the premise that the party become "worker friendly".
"This position is becoming increasing unlikely to believe."
The union raised concerns that many issues affecting workers had not been incorporated into the ANC's election manifesto.
"The manifesto continues to provide for the needs of capitalists. We fear that the dire straits of working class communities will continue to be ignored after the election."
The union called on the ANC to intervene in matters affecting municipal workers at their workplaces, or else they would not vote for the ruling party.
The union has been involved in a spate of industrial action in Gauteng recently.
A strike by Samwu-affiliated Metrobus drivers in Johannesburg entered its fourth week on Monday. They were unhappy about changes to their shift rosters.
Over 900 Samwu members were fired following an illegal strike which left one person dead in Pretoria last week.
About 22 Samwu strikers were arrested in Kempton Park on Monday for offences ranging from public violence to intimidation and assault. They went on strike in protest against seven of their shop stewards being fired last month.
Nhlapo said the union was concern that members were being fired for blowing the whistle on corruption, and because of striking.
"We call for a two-hour national stoppage in every municipality, on the day of comrade Msiza's funeral," he said, referring to Tshwane shop steward Petros Msiza, 43, who was killed during clashes with the police in Pretoria last Thursday.
The union called on the ANC to reinstate workers dismissed for participating in the Tshwane strike.
Nhlapo said the union would consult the ANC and Cosatu before the end of the week to table its concerns. If these were not resolved the union threatened to boycott the election.

Lion 'intimidates' prospective voters....

Pretoria - Prospective voters in the Vhembe region in Limpopo were "intimidated" - by a lion - when they tried to register over the weekend.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) provincial electoral chief, Nkaro Matete, said at a media conference in Polokwane on Monday that the lion had apparently escaped from the Makuye park near Mutale.

The animal apparently prevented some local residents from registering for the local government election in May.

"There was a reported case of intimidation in Mutale where a lion scared off several voters from voting stations," said Matete.

She said police and game rangers looked for the lion on Saturday but couldn't find the animal.

Other problems

The lion wasn't the only problem faced by the IEC in the province over the voter registration weekend, she said, adding that they were worried about people being bussed into five registration stations in the Moglakwena and Ba-Phalaborwa municipal areas.

Matete also said three registration stations in the province didn't open due to opposition by traditional leaders who wouldn't allow the buildings to be unlocked.

In the Blouberg municipal area, the registration station in the Selaelo Primary School was also closed due to protests about border demarcations. IEC officials were also apparently intimidated.

More than 204 000 people visited 2 783 registration stations in the province over the weekend.
- Beeld

Crime Rampant in South Africa

Crime and tourism coexist in South Africa

By Dr. Elinor Garely, eTN | Mar 06, 2011 (eTN) - Crime is a harsh reality in South Africa, for tourists and residents alike. During the World Cup Games in this country nearly 1,000 crimes (i.e., thefts and muggings) were reported in and around the sports stadiums. On an average South African day 50 people are murdered. Between 2009/2010 a total of 2,121,887 (approximately 2.1 million) serious crimes were registered. Of these cases, roughly a third (31.9%) were contact crimes, 26.1% were property-related crimes, 25.5% were other serious crimes and 10.0% and 6.5% were crimes detected as a result of police action and contact-related crimes respectively.
Information released after the games makes it appear that World Cup visitors did not find security an issue although Frans Cronje, the CEO of the SA Institute of Race Relations finds that, “South Africa remains a very violent society despite the progress made by the police and private security. It is true that the murder rate has been reduced by 50 percent over the past 15 years; however, the murder rate in South Africa continues to be is eight times higher than the USA and 20 times higher than many western countries. In addition, members of South African law enforcement are regularly exposed to brutal and gratuitous violence that is higher than their counterparts in other parts of the world.”
The Broken Blue Line
A significantly important aspect of crime in South Africa is the fact that members of law enforcement are the perpetrators of the crimes, according to research by Ndeble, Lebone and Cronje (2011). Police connected crimes are not simply isolated incidents but follow a general pattern of allegations throughout the country. The SA Institute report, the Broken Blue Line (2011) determined that some of the members of the police department are not only corrupt, but active participants in the criminal activities that include ATM bombings and house robberies. Although the police contend that the criminals are posing as official law enforcement (i.e. wearing a police uniform), the report refutes this claim by documenting the perpetrators as driving state vehicles and using personal service weapons.
According to Ndebele, Lebone, & Cronje (2011) it becomes very difficult to solve crimes when the violence is perpetrated by colleagues, creating “…a breeding group for complicity…” Not only does this situation encourage a low conviction rate, it discourages victims to come forward to report incidents for fear of retribution.
A Very Hard Job
The Institute report acknowledges that SA police face a significant amount of job stress that results in suicides. The study also finds that the multiple levels of discipline, low-levels of agency command and control combined with a lack of respect for the chain of command increases the pressures on law enforcement personnel. To make the job even tougher, the trade unions associated with police work may undermine the disciplinary powers of senior officers. The outcome of the complex nature of SA law enforcement may explain, “…why poor communities often settle for vigilantism while wealthier communities are…protected by phalanxes of armed guards” (Ndebele, T., Lebone, K., Cronje, F., 2011).
Department of State Suggests Heads-Up
The US State Department Advisory for travelers to South Africa are cautioned to be aware of criminal activities. Acknowledging improvements in local law enforcement, it is still important to know that violent crimes such as armed robbery, carjacking, mugging, smash-and-grab attacks on vehicles, and other incidents are common and do affect visitors and resident U.S. citizens. A special note of caution is presented to visitors heading to the US Embassy in Pretoria and Consulates General in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg as muggings have occurred near US diplomatic facilities.
While mall shopping and the use of other public spaces can be fun, visitors should be vigilant and aware that organized crime gangs target individuals in these locales. Once a person has been identified as a target he/she is followed back to their accommodations and robbed (often at gunpoint). Several foreign visitors have been raped and the US State Department encourages victims to immediately seek medical assistance, including antiretroviral therapy against HIV/AIDS and to get in touch with nearest the US Embassy or Consulate. The State Department also suggests that credit cards never be “out of sight” even when dining at a restaurant where credit card machines can be brought to the table. Although profiling is discouraged, many victims appear to be affluent, drive expensive cars, and make high-value purchases.
Hot Spots
Criminal activities proliferate near ATMs, hotels, airports, bus and train terminals where passports and other valuables are the items of choice; however thefts also take place in hotel rooms, at restaurants, and during visits to popular attractions (i.e., Table Mountain).
Return to Sender
Visitors to South Africa must have at least one full blank page (and sometimes two) in their passport when they enter the country. If the pages are not available the traveler may be refused entry, fined and returned to their point of origin (at their own expense). South African authorities have denied diplomatic missions to assist in these cases!
South Africa is a democratic country and offers excellent cuisine, world-class wines, a sophisticated hotel experience and a variety of game parks that will enthrall the most jaded traveler. Tourists can drink the water, find excellent medical services, and have their pharmaceutical prescriptions filled without fuss. The financial capital is Johannesburg and the largest city, while Durbin features a very busy port and a major tourist destination for South Africans.
The major tourism attractions in 2008 included: 1) Victoria and Albert Waterfront (20 million visitors), 2) Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (731,739 visitors), 3) Good Hope Section of Table Mountain National Park (823, 386 visitors) and 4) Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (610,000 visitors).
In 2010 South Africa experienced a 15 percent increase in tourism (over 8 million visitors), outperforming the global tourism market by 8 percent. New source countries for tourism include Brazil, China, India and Nigeria, while the UK, USA, Germany, the Netherlands and France continue to be the main suppliers. The Minister of Tourism, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk claims that, "From a tourism perspective, we stand to gain tremendously from our recent inclusion in the BRIC partnership, and we are aligning our planning and strategies accordingly."
Cautionary Trail
South Africa continues to be a destination that is attractive to travelers seeking adventure in a gloriously beautiful environment. The deal is to let wisdom dictate the difference between excitement and folly. When hotels offer personal security and a hotel taxi the wise guest accepts the offer; when cautioned not to hail a cab on the street or at the mall, a savvy tourist accepts the advice without question. When advisories suggest that the Prada’s and Gucci’s be left at home the smart tourist will pack the Target’s and Wal-Mart’s, leaving the designer frocks for other destinations. There are many reasons to visit South Africa, as long as good sense is packed along with the passport.

For additional information : http://www.southafrica.net