This week, we commemorate World AIDS Day, and while we may take a moment to celebrate how far we have come, we must remember that we still have a long way to go. There are still hundreds of people dying everyday due to HIV related illnesses, one HIV related death, is one too many. We pay homage to all activists across the world who continue to fight, not just for themselves but for future generations. We pay a special tribute to our Comrades at the Treatment Action Campaign.
The week ahead: November 28th – December 2nd
Monday 28 November
Limpopo Field Researcher Solanga Milambo is attending a School Governing Body (SGB) Meeting at Mafumani Secondary School and finalising the preparations for Vhembe AGM and Sekhukhune. All of these meetings are part of Basic Education For All’s (BEFA) ongoing work within the Limpopo Province towards building a quality schooling system.
Mpumalanga Field Researcher Sifiso Nkala is attending the Mpumalanga Aids Council technical task team meeting where the Civil Society Organisation chairperson, AIDS coordinator, Premier’s office, Municipal Manager and Mayor will reflect on the impact of the AIDS council in the fight against HIV, STIs and TB.
On Monday and Tuesday attorney Sasha Stevenson will attend the Human Resources for the South African Health System Conference in Pretoria. On Monday she will present a paper at the conference entitled “Community Health Workers, the NSP, and creating a health system that works for all”.
Field Researcher Patrick Mdletshe is attending the launch of the Complaints Call Centre of the Office of Health Standards Compliance in Pretoria.
Wednesday 30 November
The Wits School of Law hosts a symposium in honor of retired Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke. Five members of the SECTION27 team will participate:
- Executive Director Mark Heywood speaks on the opening panel – Tributes and Personal Reflections with Isabel Goodman (former clerk), Johannesburg Bar and David Modiba (former clerk), Bowmans. Mark will particularly speak from the perspective of the public interest/human rights sector.
- Head of Litigation Adila Hassim will chair the session on “Freedom fighters and Revolutionaries”
- Attorney Kate Paterson will speak about “Constitutional Adjudication and the Right to Basic Education: Are we asking the State to do the impossible?”
- Advocate Nikki Stein will speak about “Socio-economic rights and Section 195: using public interest litigation to strengthen public administration”.
Field researcher Patrick Mdletshe is attending a SANAC Sector leaders meeting which will focus on World AIDS Day as well as the new National Strategic Plan. The meeting will address plans for the upcoming NSP and what roles various sector leaders have to play with regards to ensuring the creation of an NSP that works.
Thursday 1 December:
SECTION27 Field Researcher and Treament Action Campaign deputy chairperson Patrick Mdletshe and Mark Heywood attend the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) conference and Celebration of the World AIDS Day at the Sandton International Convention Center. Patrick will deliver a speech on behalf of the TAC, titled “Test and treat what is next?”. The conference will also be attended too by Former Mayor Johannesburg Parks Tau and First lady Ms Thobeka Madiba-Zuma
The week that was:
This past week SECTION27 received some good news in various aspects of the work that we do. Here are a few highlights of our “yay moments”:
Khiba – In late 2014, SECTION27 represented the School Governing Body at Khiba Junior Secondary School in the Northern Cape in drawing the attention of the provincial and district government to the risks posed to learners and staff at the school due to significant asbestos pollution (a fact already known to the government but ignored for 10 years). Following a threat of litigation and receipt of a letter of demand, the school was closed without a plan for the ongoing education of the learners. We were able to secure undertakings from the Department of Education that learners would start the school year in mobile classrooms on the grounds of another school and ensured that the mobile classrooms were appropriate and resources sufficient for learning to continue at the beginning of 2015. Construction of a new school was prioritised in the Department of Education’s infrastructure plans. On Friday we received some good news: construction is set to commence in January 2017. The site inspection has been completed and, according to the tender document, the new school will have 25 classrooms, two laboratories, one library, an admin block with five Head of Department offices, a media centre, a computer room, toilets for learners and educators, two sports grounds, a security gate and fence. Congratulations to the School Governing Body at Khiba on this excellent outcome. We will be monitoring construction closely and look forward to visiting a brand new school that does justice to the persistence, determination and dedication of learners, staff and parents of the school.
On Thursday, 24 November, SECTION27 held a successful fundraiser at the Theatre on the Square. Friends of SECTION27 joined us to watch Pay Back The Curry, a one man show performed by Daniel Mpilo Richards. Daniel was also auctioned for a lunch date, which saw SECTION27 raising a further R1250, for our various community based outreach projects such as Basic Education For All and the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition. We are grateful to the writer Mike Van Graan gifting us the night, and we are also grateful to the many friends of SECTION27, that came to support us and made donations.
The @SECTION27NEWS Twitter account reached 14 000 followers on Wednesday 23 November. We’d like to thank all our followers who engage with the issues of the day constructively. Onwards to 15 000!
Last week we received news that one of our referral cases led by Thuthukile Mbatha had been finalised. Thuthu had been approached by woman who was in a dispute with her partner about the custody of their child, as well as the appropriate treatment for the child who was ill with cancer. We heard last week that the court had granted the woman full custody of the child and that the child’s medical needs were seen to.
SECTION27 celebrated the news that the #BopheloHouse94 have been acquitted and cleared of all charges. The case that had dragged on for nearly two years set an important precedent for the right to protest and for the right to gather in a democratic South Africa. We are incredibly proud of the #BopheloHouse94 and the Treatment Action Campaign who were steadfast in their fight for justice and to our legal team who worked tirelessly to ensure the freedom of the CHWs. You can read the judgement here.
The Eastern Cape Health Crisis Action Coalition (ECHCAC) met last Friday to discuss their role in 2017, in terms of mobilising towards a better health care system in the province. The coalition resolved that it should continue to negotiate with the department on access to Emergency Medical Services and continue engaging in advocacy for better health care services in province.
Another key priority identified in 2016 was Human Resources for Health (HRH). Crucial inputs were made to the strategy for the province and coalition members will continue to challenge the department on areas that are under resourced including pharmacy assistants. The province’s new organogram will be signed on 15 December 2016. RHAP and PSAM will formulate a plan to challenge its inadequacies and the coalition will continue to advocate for sufficient staff in facilities. A pressure point for HRH is the EC health portfolio committee.
On Wednesday SECTION27 helped to co-ordinate the launch of the Save South Africa’s People’s Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma, at the Women’s Jail at Constitutional Hill. We encourage all South African’s to make their voices heard and call for change by signing the motion here. Please share it with all your networks and bring back the people power.