Thursday, 23 August 2012

South Africa: It’s either “Made in Palestine” or “Not in Israel”

By Gael Masengi

The South African cabinet has approved a proposal requiring products originating from Palestine’s Israeli occupied territories not to be labelled as “Made in Israel” rather “Made in Occupied Palestinian Territory”.

Jimmy Manyi, government spokesperson said in press briefing on Wednesday “ Cabinet approved that notice, in terms of Consumer Protection Act, 2008, be issued by the Minister of Trade and Industry requiring the labelling of goods or products emanating from Israel occupied territories to prevent consumers being led to believe such goods come from Israel.”  This comes as South Africa (along other countries) only recognises the 1948 borders as it did vote in favour of that resolution in 1947 –which the United Sates’ president, Barack Obama also once urged Israeli and Palestinian people to base peace talk on– delineated by the United Nations and does not recognise occupied territories beyond those borders as being part of the Jews state. Earlier this year, Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies already announced his plan to issue an official notice to require traders in South Africa not to incorrectly label products that come from the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) as products of Israel.     

For years South Africa had a ‘not-so-good’ relation with Israel, but recently it has exploded when Ebrahim Ismail Ebrahim, South African deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation publicly called upon South Africans to avoid visiting Israel because Its treatment of Palestinians –a system which is always been compared to the Apartheid regime and black South Africans can relate to– “Israel is an occupier country which is oppressing Palestine, so it is not proper for South Africans to associate with Israel,” He said “We discourage people from going there except if it has to do with the peace process.”  The comments incited angry response from Jerusalem, “This proves our point,” Israel Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor said. “All their initiatives to mutually inform, as it were, the consumer are nothing but a boycott in disguise. Now things have come out into the open as a senior member of the government is openly calling for generalised, non-discriminating and discriminatory boycott of Israelis.” Time of Jerusalem

Israel Hit back

On Wednesday, the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon slammed South African authorities for the recent killing of 34 striking platinum miners in Marikana, North West province. “At the moment South Africa’s Apartheid is aimed at Israel and against miners within South Africa itself,” Ayalon said. “Instead of deciding to label Israel products, South Africa should have acted courageously towards the 34 innocent miners that were just asking for an improvement in working conditions.”

Israel was once one of a few nations to have strong relations with Apartheid government in South Africa.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

African cities,worst places to be!

By Gael Masengi

The Economist has ranked Ten African Cities as the world worst liveable cities in its recently released 2012 Global “Liveability” Survey.

Lagos, Nigeria
According to the latest Economist Intelligence Unit global “liveability” study, which surveyed 140 cities around the world looks at various factors from a country’ stability, low population density, climate, health care coverage, culture, environment to quality education and functioning infrastructure, rate ten African cities among the bottom twenty worst places to live in. This may not surprise many as African countries are well known for their dusty dirty streets, lack of developed infrastructures, poverty and most of all political instability. 

Well, while most of the black continent’s cities don’t as always perform well but three of our own at least do okay with Tunis, Tunisia is occupying the 104th place just before Mexico City (Mexico, 105th), Manila (Philippines, 106th), Quito (Ecuador, 107th), Baku (Azerbaijan, 108th), Istanbul (Turkey, 109th) and Riyadh (Saudi Arabia, 110th). Africa’s business heart Johannesburg and capital city Pretoria, both South Africa, haven’t move from their last year’s 92nd and 96thpositions respectively and technically making them two most liveable and highly ranked cities in Africa. 
Ranked first on the list as the best city to live in for the second consecutive year is Melbourne, Australia ahead of Vienna (Austria) and Vancouver (Canada), second and third respectively, Australia and Canada lead the top ten spots as they both have five and three cities, Helsinki (Finland) is the only European city to make the top ten list. Surprisingly the city of London is not even included among the top 20, despite organising the most successful and beautiful Olympics Games of our life time, England’s capital city has instead fallen two places and has been ranked 55th before the big apple New York which comes 56th.

“UK cities have seen a slight downgrade in liveability due to the mass outbreaks of civil unrest that took place last year.” Said Jon Copestake, the editor of the survey“Although hosting the Olympics has subsequently provided a definite boot for London’s profile, it was already among the world’s most vibrant cities, with plenty to see and do, so has had no impact on overall lifestyle.”-report Telegraph

Soweto, South Africa
Several African cities haven’t made much of a move, such as Lusaka (Zambia, 126th), Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire, 131st) and Doula in Cameroun which still has occupied its 133rd position, however few have lost at least one place from their previous rankings, Egyptian capital city, Cairo has axed from being on 121st to 122nd due to last year’s Arab spring and numerous protests whereas some gains have been made as well, Tripoli, Libya which swaps positions with fellow Arab city of Karachi (Pakistan, 135th) has gone to 134th a remarkable gain comes from Harare, Zimbabwe though which has hopped from being the 140th to 137th this year.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

AU: big plans for Africa ahead

By Gael Masengi

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Newly elected African Union (AU) Commission chairwoman Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says a lack of infrastructure development is the biggest challenge facing Africa, addressing a gathering of representatives of the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa this past Sunday in Pretoria, Dlamini-Zuma believed that the African Union’s vision of more integration could only be reached if infrastructure on the continent was significantly improved.

She made clear her vision and priorities for the continental organisation as she pointed out that transport and communication links were not doing enough to connect countries with each other, she said there could be no integration as imagined by the African Union without a proper infrastructure liking the African countries. Dr Dlamini-Zuma –who earlier this month called for a united African Union after her election was criticised by other country members and left the continental governing body divide between French and English speaking states –also believed that the dream for an integrated Africa would further be achieved by the Pan African Parliament becoming a legislative body which would “harmonise legislation” across the continent.

“How do you build a railway in the middle of war?” she asked as she admits that integration could also not be successfully achieved if peace was not achieved on the continent. She said that while the continent had many challenges it also had many opportunities of which it needed to take advantage, and enormous agriculture, energy and human resource potential.
Regarding her mandate at the helm of the AU, Dlamini-Zuma said: “When I got there, I will be working as a servant of Africa and not South Africa.” Assuring Africans people that more will be made while she’s in charge.

She concluded that the direction which the African Union took would need to be determined with the involvement of its citizens and not its government alone, “If it’s left to government, it’s not going to go anywhere fast” she said.

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma doctor in training has brought noticeable changes to the South African department of Home Affairs, previously viewed as a centre of corruption and incompetence.

                                                                                                                                         Additional words Sapa