Daily Archives: July 19, 2018

Dr. Jane Goodall Wins URI-Africa Peace Award

The Africa Peace Award is given annually by United Religions Initiative-Africa to recognize committed and effective leadership bringing sustainable peace, security, environmental protection, sustainable development, democracy, good governance, interfaith harmony, and constructive dialogue to the African continent.

Nairobi, Kenya, July 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Dr. Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, was honored with this year’s URI-Africa Peace Award. She joins an esteemed group of award recipients which includes the International Dialogue Centre (KAICIID), the Founding President of Seychelles, the United Nations Environment Program, UNESCO, World Public Forum, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS and the African Union, among others.

The award ceremony, which took place on July 8, 2018 at the Desmond Tutu Conference Centre in Nairobi, Kenya, included diplomats, dignitaries, religious leaders, and representatives from international peacebuilding organizations.

H.E. Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, Senior Advisor to the President of Kenya on Cohesion, Peace and Conflict Resolution, announced, “The tremendous contributions of individuals like Dr. Goodall are what will lead the world to peace.”

Ambassador Mussie Hailu, Regional Director of URI for Africa and Representative of URI at the African Union and UN Office for Africa and Global Envoy of URI, announced that the award was presented to Dr. Goodall in appreciation and acknowledgment of her extensive work on conservation and animal welfare issues, as well as her work promoting a culture of peace as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

He noted Dr. Goodall’s tireless service as the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees and her nearly 60-year study of social and family interactions of chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania, her great contribution of literature to humanity, and her establishment of the Jane Goodall Institute, which supports environmental research, education and conservation programs in more than 20 countries. Ambassador Hailu also commended Dr. Goodall on empowering young leaders in conservation through the Jane Goodall Institute’s “Roots & Shoots” program, which now is active in nearly 100 countries.

“It is a special day for Africa and the world at large as we recognize Dr. Jane Goodall’s unparalleled lifetime dedication to environmental sustainability,” said Dr. Juliette Biao-Koudenoukpo, Director and Regional Representative for Africa of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in her keynote address. She said Dr. Goodall’s work will remain relevant for generations because Goodall was always convinced that we need to engage youth in conservation efforts. “You are a role model for many women and young girls in science and conservation,” she told Dr. Goodall. Dr. Biao-Koudenoukpo also praised partnerships between faith-based communities and environmental conservation work, as ways to engage more active participation in environmental causes. She expressed her appreciation for the URI-Africa Peace Award program, as it amplifies good work and best practices.

“It’s a great honor. I am truly grateful to URI,” Dr. Goodall remarked in accepting the award.

Dr. Goodall was adamant about the need to involve young people in raising the voice of the environment. “What’s the point of any of us fighting for peace if we’re not raising the next generation to be better stewards of the environment than we’ve been,” she warned.

“Mother Nature is so forgiving. Mother Nature is so resilient. Because we helped lift people out of poverty around the Gombe area, there are no more bare hills. The trees have come back. Animals on the brink of extinction can be given another chance.”

“Not until we’ve alleviated poverty will we have peace,” Dr. Goodall concluded. “Not until we’ve alleviated poverty can we have harmony with the environment. Not until we’ve done something about the unsustainable, greedy, materialistic lifestyles of so many people can we live in peace.”

The Africa Peace Award has been given annually since 2007, established by URI-Africa to recognize committed and effective leadership that brings sustainable peace, security, environmental protection, sustainable development, democracy, good governance, interfaith harmony, and constructive dialogue to the African continent.


The United Religions Initiative is the largest grassroots interfaith peacebuilding network in the world. It cultivates peace and justice by engaging people to bridge religious and cultural differences and work together for the good of their communities. We implement our mission in 106 countries through local and global initiatives that build the capacity of nearly 1,000 member groups and organizations, called Cooperation Circles, to engage in community action such as conflict resolution and reconciliation, environmental sustainability, education, women’s and youth programs, and advocacy for human rights.

URI holds the prestigious distinction of being a non-governmental organization (NGO) with consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council, and has long-standing partnerships with several other UN agencies including affiliation with the UN Department of Public Information.

Get involved at URI.org.


Gaea Denker, URI Communications Manager
United Religions Initiative

Turning a blind eye; visually impaired and blind women in Uganda are given an opportunity to save lives

JOHANNESBURG, July 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Gifted Hands Network is an initiative created by Andrew Mukose, a young entrepreneur who wanted to solve two of Uganda’s most pressing problems – breast cancer and employment for the visually impaired. This organisation aims to reduce breast cancer deaths by training blind people to become medically certified tactile examiners. Mukose is one of 200 young leaders who have been selected to become a part of the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme that convened for five days in Johannesburg beginning on 14 July 2018.

“The Gifted Hands Network is my dream come to life thanks to the hardships faced by my mother and other blind women in our country and communities,” says Mukose. “We recruit blind women and empower them to become medically trained examiners, allowing them to use their heightened tactile senses to detect breast cancer.”

Mukose’s work is inspired by his mother, a single parent who was a highly successful lecturer at a university in Uganda until she lost her sight due to a tragic car accident. She was forced to stop working, leaving the single-parent family facing enormous financial and emotional strain as they tried to get by without a steady income.

“The hardships we endured as a family as a result of this accident inspired me to make a difference, to change how our communities treat and perceive the blind and the visually-impaired,” says Mukose. “There are more than 1.6 million blind people living in Uganda and more than 90% of them are unable to find jobs. They are generally perceived as unproductive and incapable of working. I wanted to build a business that capitalised on their blindness, not penalised them for it.”

Gifted Hands has detected early breast cancer in more than 3,000 women in Uganda and trained an additional 300 women to become medical tactile examiners. It’s essential work in a country that not only has high levels of unemployment for the visually impaired, but also high levels of breast cancer.

For Mukose, his selection as an Obama Foundation Leader is an opportunity to raise awareness and create even more opportunities for those who work with, and for, the Gifted Hands Network.

Laura Lucas Magnuson

Harnessing the power of water

Upholding human rights and dignity through sanitation

JOHANNESBURG, July 19, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Shamiso Kumbirai, a young engineer, is making a huge impact increasing awareness of the plight of lack of sanitation in communities. “In Grade 10 I was exposed to civil engineering. I loved the feeling of being onsite, but became keenly aware of the need for females to join the civil engineering field,” says Kumbirai.

After graduating, she worked at Unilever but soon left to pursue a Masters in Philosophy and engage on the social aspect of her work. It was there that she was exposed to the water space. “I loved the dynamics between the technical and water sciences because there is a huge social component to the work we as engineers need to be doing in terms of the designs we make. They need to be suitable for the people we are serving.”

For the past 3 years, Kumbirai has been working as a consultant on projects in hydropower, mainly in East Africa, all while empowering women engineers from the grassroots level until they become qualified to become mentors, under the umbrella of WomEng.

Through Sani4Schools, in partnership with Global Changers, Kumbirai works on highlighting the plight of schools lacking adequate sanitation. “When I did my Masters research I worked in informal settlements and saw the dire state of sanitation — I had to change that reality.” She joined Global Shakers organisation and began working on a project at Pateng Secondary School, a no-fee learning institution in South Africa. Pateng uses a holistic approach to overall sanitation needs, including upgrading the infrastructure and addressing the menstrual challenges faced by female learners.

Being part of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme is something Kumbirai aspired to. “I knew I had to be part of the Obama Foundation community with whom I could cross-pollinate ideas and contacts. It will give me access to a network of peers in different countries doing a similar line of work. I see it as an opportunity to grow the reach for Sani4Schools,” says Kumbirai.

“I’m looking to build lasting relationships that can see the continent progress and also get a sense of how best to scale up an idea for greater impact,” says Kumbirai, who will soon be moving to Rwanda.

Laura Lucas Magnuson

New government pension board appointed

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene has appointed a new Advisory Board for the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA).

The board administers the payment of pensions on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and National Treasury. The appointment was effective from 3 July 2018.

Joe Lesejane was reappointed as chairperson. He is joined by Maemili Ramataboe and Adv. Muvhango Lukhaimane. Beerson Baboojee and Justice Tebogo Sibanyoni will represent the National Treasury and Labour, respectively. Krishen Sukdev has been appointed chief executive of GPAA.

The Advisory Board advises the Minister on the administration of pensions as well as the performance, governance and operations of the GPAA. The board includes people with vast experience in pension administration, risk management, financial management, corporate governance and labour relations, National Treasury said in a statement.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Minister Thulas Nxesi: Media briefing on SIU investigations on fraud and corruption

Joint Media Conference: Public Works and SIU: Introductory remarks by TW Nxesi MP, Minister of Public Works

Programme Director � Mr Sabelo Mali

Deputy Minister, Jeremy Cronin

The Head of the SIU, Andy Mothibi and his team � Leonard Lekgeto and Nazreen Pandor

Mr Imtiaz Fazel � the Acting Dg and Deputy Director General of the Governance, Risk and Compliance Branch, and officials of the Department of Public Works

Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this media conference for the following reasons:

Because it is an opportunity for the SIU to showcase the work that they are doing to combat fraud and corruption, and

Because it provides concrete evidence that the struggle against corruption and state capture is beginning to bite � right here in Public Works � what I have described as the Department of Tenders.

Moreover, in formally announcing the Presidential proclamation to extend the scope of the SIU investigation � which was gazetted last Friday – we also demonstrate our commitment to take this struggle against corruption and state capture forward.

When I announced the Seven Year Turnaround Plan for Public works in 2012, I said it would be based on two pillars:

Zero tolerance of fraud and corruption, and

improving the way we do business

Today, we are reporting back on aspects of the first pillar of the Turnaround � combating fraud and corruption � and for this we were fortunate enough to partner with the SIU.

I also need to make the point that the political environment in which we operate has been transformed. We now have a leader, in President Cyril Ramaphosa, committed to stamping out corruption, and turning the tide of state capture which brought this country to the brink of disaster.

But it is not going to happen overnight, and not without a massive struggle against the state capture forces which are still entrenched and desperately striving to keep open access to state coffers � yes, including here in Public Works.

I was struck by the thoughtful and courageous analysis provided by Minister Pravin Gordhan in his speech to the National Press Club on 14th July. These criminal state capture elements are now engaged in a desperate ‘fight-back’ � principally to try and de-legitimize the Ramaphosa government which is turning off the taps of corruption � but also to smear anyone who seeks to expose corruption and state capture � what Minster Gordhan refers to as ‘Bell-Pottinger Phase 2’.

This brings me back to Public Works. When I was reappointed this year, I announced two investigations:

A request to the President to extend the SIU proclamation to investigate what is known as ‘day-to-day emergency maintenance’ � following an internal investigation which pointed to 16,000 suspicious transactions to the value of R2 billion.

I also found that 684 appointments had been pushed through in four months. The result of this is to blow the compensation budget on largely non-essential posts so that there is little left to make the technical and professional appointments required to run a highly technical department like Public Works � and its entity: the PMTE (Property management Trading Entity) � which manages the state’s massive property portfolio of 92,000 buildings. I therefore requested the Minister of Public Service and Administration to assist me to review these appointments.

Sure enough, after announcing the investigations, as night follows day, an anonymous document appears with unsupported allegations that Minister Nxesi is siphoning off millions of rands from the Department. Connecting up the dots – as Minister Gordhan stated: we are now in Bell-Pottinger Phase 2.

My immediate response is to request a life-style audit � starting with myself, but for all the management of Public Works.

However, we also must be careful not to be distracted by the dirty tricks of the criminal syndicates that remain entrenched in the department.

The only way to respond to the fight-back by the state capture forces is to intensify the struggle against corruption and state capture. Hence this joint media conference today.

The SIU will report on earlier investigations completed, looking at irregularities, corruption and collusion around leases – as well as their plans for the investigation of maintenance spending.

The DDG: Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) � Mr Imtiaz Fazel � will also say a few words about the measures being taken by the Department and the PMTE to deal with past corruption � and more importantly to prevent future corruption.

Thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa