Daily Archives: February 28, 2017

WATER RESTRICTIONS I SOUTH AFRICA’S GAUTENG PROVINCE LIFTED

PRETORIA, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has announced the lifting of water restrictions with immediate effect in Gauteng Province, South Africa’s smallest but most populour province which includes oth the national administrative and financial capitals, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Her announcement Monday came in the wake of a dramatic change in the water situation following torrential rains which flooded most parts of the country in the past 10 days. The Vaal Dam, one of the main water sources for Gauteng, is 97.8 per cent full and is expected to reach its capacity by Tuesday.

In the past week, officials of the Department of Water and Sanitation have been monitoring dam levels around the clock to control water flow.

Speaking at a media briefing held at Vaal Dam on Sunday, Mokonyane said the departmental officials released volumes of surplus water on Saturday at Bloemhof Dam in North West Province.

However, the Minister said the decision to relax the ban in Gauteng did not mean an automatic countrywide moratorium on water restrictions as some regions are still reeling from the effects of the debilitating drought that started in South Africa two years ago.

“For instance, stringent restrictions would remain in place in Western Cape (Province) which is experiencing the worst drought conditions in its history. The City of Cape Town has introduced Level 3B water restrictions to try to cope with the severe water shortages,” she added.

“However, the restrictions in the province may be reviewed later when winter rains begin to fall in the region. Water restrictions in other provinces would remain in place and would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis together with the affected municipalities and if need be, they too will be advised to lift the ban.”

The lifting of restrictions will bring relief to many water users, especially farmers, who have been at the receiving end of the stranglehold of the stringent restrictions because of insufficient water in the past 12 months.

The good rains have filled all the dams in North West, except Molatedi and Groot Marico dams, where rivers are swelling and are expected to fill the two dams soon.

Wet conditions continue in KwaZulu-Natal Province where most dam levels are also reported to be rising fast and some of them are expected to reach their capacity in a matter of days.

Mokonyane, however, warned that the rains did not mean an end to the country’s water woes and urged all South Africans to continue to use water wisely.

The Minister thanked the people of Gauteng for their efforts in helping the department save water by adhering to the restrictions and using water wisely and responsibly in the past four months.

“I trust that the lessons learnt on responsible water use will become a norm and a way of life for us all, and that we will adapt to the realities of being a water-scarce country,” she said.

Meanwhile, communities who live downstream of Bloemhof and Vaal dams have been warned to relocate, as they may be exposed to possible floods.

Mokonyane said looking at where the country comes from a few months ago, when the dams averaged a lowly 54.8 per cent in April 2016, 49.1 per cent in December and 60.5 per cent a week ago, a great deal had been achieved.

The department monitors 211 dams. Of these, 13 are below 10 per cent of capacity, 33 are at between 10 per cent and 40 per cent while 57 are above 100 per cent.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Why claimants should opt for land, not cash

Land ownership. A thorny subject that still divides South Africa, more than 22 years after the 1994 democratic dispensation. While government’s land reform and redistribution programmes had yielded some successes since 1994, large tracts of land still remain in the hands of very few people.

In his State Of the Nation Address earlier this month, President Jacob Zuma observed this phenomenon and moved to urge land claimants in South Africa to rather opt for land over financial compensation. SAnews reporter Bathandwa Mbola looks at the advantages of owning land as seen through a Limpopo community.

Hezekiel Nkosi was not born yet when the apartheid government forcibly removed his community from 78 000 hectares of land in Marulaneng, just outside the tourism town of Hoedspruit in Limpopo.

From 1931, with a stroke of a pen, millions of South Africans lost their land including the Marulaneng community, when the then government introduced the Land Act. The move led to dispossessions and loss of land, a trauma many South Africans are still battling with to this day.

At the turn of democracy, government promised that these injustices would be addressed and had introduced land restitution programmes which saw thousands of land claims lodged.

For the Marulaneng community, their claims were gazetted in 2004 and the community has since to date reclaimed 7000 hectares, about 10 % of their land.

The farms are in the Central Lowveld nestled between the Kruger National Park and the Blyde River Canyon.

This made Nkosi’s community, which consists of 2017 households, the biggest owner of prime agricultural and eco-tourism land in this area with 27 farms.

Instead of opting for cash, the community kept the land and formed the Moletele Communal Property Association (CPA) which holds and manages the land on behalf of and for the benefit of its members.

Introduced in 1996, the Communal Property Associations Act 28 provides members with a simplified form of legal entity. Their primary objective is to acquire, hold and manage land on behalf of and for the benefit of its members.

A total of 1483 CPAs have been registered since the passing of this Act, according to the Department of Land Reform.

However, the sad part is that while most of the land that has been returned to the rightful owners, most prime agricultural land lies untilled across the country and in ruin, dead along with the jobs they once sustained.

Others who have formed CPA have been at loggerheads with community members and traditional authorities.

But the Moletele CPA is different. Claimants and farmers are teaming up and the results are proof that they are flourishing. In fact, the CPA is shaping up as a model the rest of the country could learn from.

Making land work for them

Through the CPA, the community is making their land work for them.

The community has two joint ventures namely Dinaledi Farming Enterprise (Pty) Ltd and New Dawn Farming Enterprise (Pty) Ltd which produces and exports citrus like mangoes.

The turnover on all the farms is currently in the region of over R160 million per annum with 300 people permanently employed and 600 employed during seasonal harvesting and packaging periods.

“This land feeds the community and is creating jobs,” said Nkosi, who juggles his professional teaching job, together with his role as chairman for the CPA.

Nkosi says their success lies in teamwork, good planning, good communication as well as adherence to their five year plan which provides them with direction.

These are also complimented by the CPA’s management and council structure which he described as “complete community.”

It represents all the demographics of the community with 20 members of the council being elders while 17 executive members are youth. They also have representatives from the traditional council as well as those directly elected by the community.

“We are trying by all means to be inclusive and to cater for the different needs of the community. For example we have a segment that does livestock farming. We are also developing our youth through educating and training them in cash crop production.

“We also empower our women though our Tsoga Marulaneng (Raise up Marulaneng) were women were farming green papers.”

The association has generated interest from women and youth in the community who are keen to learn farming and agriculture.

Learning hub to transfer skills

As such, the CPA has introduced a learning hub were they will be providing people with the necessary skills.

“We are skilling them in agro-ecology were they will be producing organic foods which we have a huge market for. “

But Moletele CPA is not immune to challenges. Nkosi mentions traditional authority as the key challenge facing the association as he alleges that it “wants to destabilise, control and locate the land to their relatives and friends.”

Another challenge facing the community is the generational gap in the community.

“The older generation in the community wants to go and resettle in the land even though the land is not feasible as it hosts one of the CPA commercial farms but we have been able to talk them out of it and show them the benefits of owning a commercial farm in terms of job creation.

Despite the challenges, the CPA is clear with its future plans.

“If the traditional leadership doesn’t destabilise the community we will be one of the most successful and self-efficient communities. For example we have plans to be major exporters of mango and citrus fruits in Hoedspruit.

“We have also started to venture into eco-tourism in some of our farms where we have built luxury tourist lodges. In addition to this, we have also identified a market in logistics – we cannot continue to rely on others to take our fruits to the harbour. Hence we want to be involved in the trucking business to save costs.”

The CPA’s future plans include being in charge of the whole value chain from the production to marketing.

“We have started giving learners from the community bursaries to go and further their education for the benefit of the CPA and its business ventures. We hope that as we grow as a company we will be able to pay them market related salaries to retain their skills so that we advance.”

During the State of the Nation Address, President Zuma said government would take an aggressive approach on land reform.

For the period 1994 to date, 4 850 100 hectares have been acquired through the land redistribution programme.

According to the Department of Land and Rural Development Minister Gugile Nkwinti, 1743 farms have benefited from the Recapitalisation and Development Programme from 2009 to date.

With respect to the restitution programme, 3 389 727 hectares were restored from 1994 to end January 2017. Over 90% of the claimants settled for financial compensation.

Financial compensation amounting to R11.6 billion was paid out to land claimants who opted for this alternative for the same period.

Had these claimants opted for land to be restored, a further 2 772 457 hectares would have been restored.

Government is of the view that financial compensation does not help the process at all as it perpetuates dispossession and also undermines economic empowerment.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Tuberculosis leading cause of death in 2015

Pretoria – Tuberculosis remains the leading underlying natural cause of death in 2015, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Tuesday.

According to Stats SA, the total number of people who died in 2015 was 460 236.

“Once again tuberculosis was the leading underlying natural cause of death in 2015, accounting for 7.2% deaths, followed by diabetes mellitus with 5.4% deaths,” said Stats SA.

Releasing the Mortality and Causes of Death in South Africa 2015, Stats SA said while tuberculosis has maintained its position as the number one leading underlying natural cause of death, proportions over time have been declining.

This as proportions for diabetes mellitus, hypertensive diseases, other viral diseases and chronic lower respiratory diseases have been increasing, noted the report that is based on data collected by the Department of Home Affairs through the death registration system.

The highest number of deaths that occurred in 2015 were among those aged 60-64, while the lowest number was observed among those aged 5-9 and 10-14 years.

According to the report, there were more male deaths than female deaths in 2015 from infancy until the age 65-69, after which there were more female than male deaths.

Over half (55.5%) of deaths were attributed to the group of non-communicable diseases (also known as chronic diseases that are not passed from person to person).

Communicable diseases (an infectious disease transmissible) accounted for 33.4% of deaths, while injuries were responsible for 11.1% of deaths.

“The trend has been the same since 2009, whereby more deaths were due to non-communicable diseases than the other two groups. As can be expected, deaths due to non-natural causes were highest amongst the youth, with young males being the highest victims.”

The leading underlying natural cause of death amongst males was tuberculosis, responsible for 8.3% deaths, while among females diabetes mellitus was the first leading underlying natural cause of death responsible for 7.1% deaths.

Tuberculosis was the third leading underlying natural cause for females, while diabetes mellitus was the sixth leading underlying natural cause of death amongst males. The highest proportion of deaths due to tuberculosis was recorded in KwaZulu-Natal with 9.1% deaths in the province, followed by Eastern Cape with 8.6% deaths.

The Western Cape (5.3%) had the lowest proportion of deaths due to tuberculosis. For the Western Cape, the second leading underlying cause of death was HIV disease (6.1%) whereas for Gauteng and Limpopo, tuberculosis was the second leading underlying cause of death accounting for 5.5% and 6.6% deaths.

The other provinces where HIV disease was the second leading underlying cause of death was Eastern Cape (6%) and Northern Cape (6.4%), while it was the third leading underlying cause of death in KwaZulu-Natal (6.1%) and Free State (5.2%).

Source: South African Government News Agency

Tourism Minister condemns violence against foreign nationals

Pretoria – Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has condemned the recent spate of violence that erupted in Tshwane and in Johannesburg directed at foreign nationals.

“… This despicable behaviour does not represent the sentiments of the vast majority of our people, who appreciate that the people of Africa are bound together by common origins and common values of humanity,” he said.

Minister Hanekom was speaking at the Meetings Africa 2017 conference currently underway in Johannesburg.

Minister Hanekom said South Africa will always welcome people from all over the world.

The Minister said tourism plays a big part in eradicating prejudice and bringing people together.

He said tourism is experiencing healthy growth in the country and that international tourist arrivals broke through the 10 million mark last year.

“Tourism is a significant economic sector around the world, and it now comprises 30% of all global service exports

“About 1.2 billion international tourists travelled the world in 2016, and this trend is likely to continue in the years to come. If we work together and package our unique African offer more effectively, we could get a very significant share of these travellers to visit our shores.”

In the 2017 Budget Speech delivered on 22 Febraury, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that the Department of Tourism has been allocated an additional R494 million to promote tourism over the next three years.

“We will use this money wisely and effectively to promote tourism in a way that achieves inclusive, transformative growth,” Minister Hanekom said.

Meetings Africa is an important event in South Africa’s tourism calendar. It is driven by a determination to raise the volumes for business and leisure tourism on our continent.

Meetings Africa is South Africa’s premier business tourism event. It mirrors the success and achievement of the tourism industry in 2016.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Several suspects arrested for possession of stolen property and a prohibited firearm

Western Cape: On Thursday 9 February 2017 a housebreaking occurred at the residence of a SAPS member attached to the SAPS Stabilisation Unit. Various personal items, including a laptop and his uniforms were stolen. The uniforms of his brother, also a SAPS member, who resides with him, were also stolen.

Intensive investigations by members of Project Stabilisation Unit, the same group to which the member is attached, since led to the arrest of four men, aged between 20 and 40, in Harare, Khayelitsha. Various items stolen during the housebreaking were recovered including, among others, a laptop, watches, an X-box and the SAPS uniforms.

Yesterday morning (Monday,2017-02-27), at 00:40, the same members of Project Stabilisation Unit arrested two more suspects in Harare, Khayelitsha – a woman aged 36 and a man aged 44. A 7.65mm pistol, of which the serial number had been removed, a magazine, seven rounds of ammunition, two pairs of handcuffs as well as an electricity and airtime dispenser were seized.

The latest suspects are both to appear in the Khayelitsha Magistrates’ Court today (Tuesday 2017-02-28) on charges of possession of stolen property and a prohibited firearm.

Source: South African Police Service