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South Africa:Minister Nomvula Mokonyane – Sand River Mining Consultative Workshop With Traditional Leaders

press release

Address by Ms. Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation at the Sand River Mining Consultative Workshop with traditional leaders at Karridene Protea Hotel, Illovo, KwaZulu-Natal Province

Introduction

South Africa is a water scarce country, with very high variability and unpredictability in water availability. The rainfall is highly variable and is characterised by incidences of extreme weather conditions leading to drought and flooding.

As a result, the water management context of this is driven by these prevailing conditions, which has led to a demand for water exceeding the supply by a large margin. To this end, water conservation and water demand management become central in mitigating these conditions.

Water is a precious resource in South Africa and is fundamental to our quality of life. An adequate water supply of suitable quantity and quality makes a major contribution to economic and social development. To achieve this, healthy water ecosystems are imperative to sustain the water resource, which, in turn, provide the goods and services on which communities depend.

Legislative imperatives

The Constitution, which is the cornerstone of the democracy in South Africa, lays the foundation of a more just and equitable society. It guarantees everyone the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing, the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures, the right of access to water, amongst others.

The Department considers fresh water aquatic ecosystems to be the base from which the water resource is derived. Fresh water ecosystems must be effectively protected and managed to ensure that our water resources remain fit for the different water uses on a sustained basis.

The National Water Act, seeks to ensure that the country’s water resources are protected, used, developed, conserved, managed and controlled in a sustainable and equitable manner for the benefit of all people. The Act assigns the national government as the public trustee of the water resources. Acting through the Minister, it has the power to regulate the allocation, use, flow and control of all water in the Republic.

To ensure that our citizens abide by the rules, we have a dedicated team for compliance, monitoring and enforcement to assist in bringing water users into compliance.

The department however has over 50 000 lawful water users which in itself is a significant amount of users to monitor and we need the help of communities to support our monitoring work.

Concerted efforts of compliance, monitoring and enforcement together with our vigilant community members and action groups will see a reduction in unlawful water use as well as adherence to water use authorisation conditions.

The department therefore seeks to safeguard:

the promotion of the rule of law and good governance;

the ensuring of fairness;

the strengthening of the credibility of environmental requirements;

the protection of the goods and services provided to a society by a well-functioning ecosystem;

the protection of public health;

the increase of investor confidence by reducing business risks.

Impacts of sand river mining

Most sand mines impact on characteristics of watercourses, namely the flow -(surface flow, interflow, ground-water flow), water quality, ecological connectivity, aesthetics, natural scenery and recreational use. Furthermore it impacts on air quality (silica dust).

Sand mining also impacts on ground water flows, availability and recharge that can further impact upon riparian habitat.

Typical impacts include extraction of bed material in excess of replenishment. A change in the slope of the river comes about as a result and this often increases water speed (flow-energy and flow-sediment equilibrium);

In addition, the river becomes degraded/eroded with accompanying bank collapses, reduced bank storage under flooding conditions, habitat destruction, destruction of fish populations, erosion around infrastructure like bridge foundations, weirs, pump structures.

Ecological degradation cannot be permitted. Sand mining must be sustainable.

Challenges within provinces:

The issue of a Mining Permit or Mining Right in the absence of a water use authorisation is a serious challenge. There needs to be alignment in the authorisation processes of the two departments, namely, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS).

Some of the issued directives have been challenged at court by the sand miners, claiming that they have a mining permit or a mining right.

The department has encountered a challenge of resistance in different forms from the regulated community, which has caused difficulties in the department’s monitoring programmes and has, at times, threatened the safety of officials.

In November 2014 there was a violent protest by community members – carrying weapons and burning tyres – against the officials while they were conducting the monitoring function in one of the river systems in KwaZulu-Natal.

Some officials have been threatened by gun-carrying mining operators and told not to return to site. This may be due to lack of jobs; and lack of understanding of the direct impacts this may have on the community such as disturbed water supply, pollution and accidents to cattle and even children in the community.

Another challenge faced in KwaZulu-Natal is that some traditional leaders give permission to the sand miners to undertake sand mining activities in the river without obtaining the necessary environmental authorisations.

Proper Identity of the individuals or companies undertaking unlawful water use through sand mining is also a challenge as the miners on site either give false names or give the name branded on hired machinery that is incorrect;

And at times, they move from site to site within days as they have no legal mining permits and water use authorisation which would clearly identify the permitted location and company name. This makes it very difficult to identify them.

There is an Increase in the number of cases of unlawful water use through sand mining. Even though the department has noticed very few cases of sand miners that actually stop the illegal activity to comply with the issued notice, many do not stop and instead new operations and companies are discovered each time.

There is delay in prosecuting the offenders which have criminal charges laid against them by the department. The challenge has been at times the South African Police Service misplacing the docket or putting incorrect charges on the charge sheet; and at times, deciding on a small fine without the matter being heard at court.

Objectives of the consultation with traditional leaders:

Today’s interaction and consultation with the traditional leadership is intended to:

Ensure an improved understanding of the impacts of sand mining and gravel extraction operations,

Ensure that there is a good relationship between Traditional Leaders and the department, that will ensure that sand and gravel are mined in a sustainable way,

Ask Traditional Leaders to work with the department on identifying illegal sand mining and reporting transgressors,

Ask the participation of Traditional Leaders on a door-to-door awareness campaign in affected communities; as well as other awareness activities in communities

Conclusion

As a country, we need, to proactively root out unlawful water use, non-compliance to water use authorisation, water losses, leaks and to further mitigate against climatic changes that are largely beyond our control.

Abiding by the law and authorisations will assist in achieving our vision of equitable and sustainable water and sanitation that support socio-economic growth and development for the well-being of current and future generations.

We, therefore, then, ask our Traditional Leaders and local government to join hands with the department in addressing unlawful activities in our rivers.

Dankie

Ngiyabonga

Issued by: Department of Water and Sanitation

IOM Moves to Bridge Gap Between Police and Slums

By Abubaker Mayemba

International Organisation for Migration (IOM) on Wednesday launched a series of training sessions aimed at strengthening the counter terrorism unit of the police to fight radicalism through community policing.

The training, part of the Strengthening Social Cohesion in Slum (SSCoS) project, aims at incorporating community policing, and human rights principles into the counter terrorism policing. Also, it seeks to find existing gaps within the force and formulate a quick-reference guide highlighting the key principles to be followed.

Speaking at the launch, Ali Abdi, the IOM chief of mission, observed that the training would improve the officers’ understanding of the sources of grievances which can lead to alienation of community members. The gap between the forces and the community, he said, would leave the latter vulnerable to violent extremism.

“We believe that these trainings-of-trainers sessions will have a real multiplier effect, as the best practices are cascaded down to many other officers, and town-hall meetings are held to enhance trust between the police and the people,” explained Abdi at the SSCoS training held under the theme Your Voice, Your Right Your Protection at Protea hotel in Kampala.

“The trainings will leave the force better placed to work with the communities in a way that prevents violent extremism and improves social cohesion,” he said.

Cedric Merel, the head of cooperation at the EU delegation to Uganda, said the aim of the trainings was to bring the police closer to the people so that they work hand in hand to prevent crime.

Merel observed that in slum areas like Bwaise and Katwe community-police relations are so bad that people get up and run any time they see a police officer.

He revealed that in the first phase, 25 counter terrorism police officers would be trained to become trainers. The

sessions will also incorporate international best human rights practices.

“It is my sincere wish that in the future, when the youths in the slums see police officers, they run towards them, not away from them,” Merel concluded.

The minister of state for Internal Affairs, Mario Obiga Kania, commended the EU and IOM for their efforts in bettering slum dwellers’ lives, especially the youth and women.

Obiga observed that extremism, although not so prevalent in Uganda, is an international problem that must be fought before it spreads. He revealed that government, with the help of international development partners, was combating the vice.

Since January, the EU-funded SSCoS has reached 162 youths below 25 years. They have been trained in vocational skills. It is hoped that up to 1,000 young people will have benefitted from the vocational skills training by 2020 in the slum areas of Bwaise, Katwe, Kisenyi and Kabalagala.

Six Hospitalised With Gunshot Wounds Following Rukungiri Chaos

By Edson Kinene

Rukungiri — A total of six people have been admitted to St Karoli Lwanga hospital- Nyakibale with severe gunshot wounds following a scuffle that occurred in Rukungiri District on Wednesday when police clashed with age Opposition supporters.

The injured have been identified as Aijukira Junior, 18, resident of Rwakabengo who was shot in the leg; Farouk Bangirana, 28, resident of Nyakagyeme who was shot in the right thigh and genitals; Turyomunsi Julius, 29, resident of Nyakagyeme who was shot in the back; Muhwezi Christopher, 29, resident of Kyatoko who was shot in the stomach; and Ayrasingura Davison, 20, a resident of Nyarushanje who hit by a tear gas canister on the face.

However, the sixth one Muhumuza Narsi, 20, a resident of Nyakagyeme is said to have involved in an accident.

The In charge causalities ward, Mr Beneth Twongyeirwe says all were severely injured but they are improving.

“When they were brought in last night after the incident, they were badly off but they are showing signs of improvement,” he said.

Chaos erupted in Rukungiri when Police firing live bullets and tear gas to disperse FDC supporters who had turned up for the party presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi’s rally. Supporters braved teargas and live bullets and started pelting stones at police officers.

Mr Amuriat was expected to hold his campaign rally in Rukungiri main stadium on Wednesday to solicit votes ahead of the party presidential election.

Early in the morning officers commanded by the District Police Commander Richard Emuna blocked the access to the main stadium that is located in Rwakabengo ward southern division saying Mr Amuriat had not asked for permission to hold any rally in the stadium.

Mr Bangirana told this reporter he was holding onto former presidential contender Dr Kizza Besigye’s car when he got shot.

” I was holding on behind Besigye’s car as they shot tear gas. As I moved to clear my eyes, a police officer shot me in the right in the right thigh and genitals. I was brought here by Boda Boda riders and don’t know what happened next after there,” he said.

During the scuffle, DPC Emuna, police community liaison officer AIP Barugahare and another unidentified officer also got injured.

Sources within the police say the DPC and three of his other officers got hurt as supporters pelted stones at them.

Mr Elly Maate, the Kigezi region Police spokesperson said investigations are underway to establish how the victims were injured.

Uganda

12 Men Arrested for ‘Promoting Homosexuality’

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Taekwondo Team Eye Olympic Games Qualification

By Jejje Muhinde

The Rwanda Para-Taekwondo men and female players are keen on qualifying for the 2020 Japan Olympic Games by winning medals at the World Taekwondo Championship Games that start today at the Copper Box Arena in London.

Although Team Rwanda is taking part in the games for the first time, they will be bolstered by the fact that they dominated the African Para-Taekwondo Open, which was held in Rwanda in March where the team won six medals, (2 gold, 3 silver and I bronze).

Before departing for London on Tuesday, head Coach Allain Bagire Irene told Time Sport that winning medals at the world meet will qualify the team for the 2020 Olympic Games.

“Winning medals at this tournament will not only give us a ticket to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games but will also improve Rwanda’s world rankings,” Bagire said.

Team Rwanda has six players including one female. They include: Jean Marie Vienne Bizumuremyi, Jean Claude Niriringiyimana, Jean la Croix Nikwigize, Eriel Tuyishime, Jean Pierre Imanirakiza and Consolée Rukundo (female).

London won the right to host the World Para-Taekwondo Championship early this year- the first time Britain will be staging the prestigious tournament.

The event will include Kyorugi competitions in the K40 sports classes as well as Poomsae competition in the P20 and P30 sports classes.

In addition, the competitions for the P20 sports class for intellectually impaired athletes will be seeded based on the ranking system. Samsun in Turkey hosted the last World Championships in September 2015.

Rwanda

Hoops Talent Search Clinic Targets Teens

National basketball team players Hamza Ruhezamihigo and Lionel Hakizimana are holding training clinics for young… Read more »

I Didn’t Evict Anyone Off My 8,000 Acres – Maj Gen Otema-Awany

By Ali Twaha

The army’s reserve force commander, Maj Gen Charles Otema-Awany, last week appeared before the land inquiry to answer accusations of illegal and forceful eviction of people in Acholi sub-region.

In one incident, Dr Oweka, a resident of Got Okwara in Lungulu sub-county, accused the general of malicious destruction of property and forceful eviction off his 350 acres by soldiers sent by Otema-Awany. Assistant lead counsel John Bosco Suuza led the questioning. ALI TWAHA brings you an abridged account of the proceedings:-

Suuza: Please state your name for the record.

Otema: I’m Maj Gen Charles Otema-Awany. Currently, I command the Reserve Force of the Uganda People’s Defence Force.

Suuza: How old are you?

Otema-Awany: I’m 54 years old.

Suuza: Where do you live?

Otema-Awany: In Purongo sub-county in Nwoya district.

Suuza: Are you an active member of the UPDF?

Otema-Awany: Yes, my lord.

Suuza: How long have you been performing that duty?

Otema-Awany: It’s over 30 years.

Suuza: How long have you commanded the reserve force?

Otema-Awany: As commander of the reserve force, it’s about a year now.

Suuza: When did you attain the rank of major general?

Otema-Awany: When I became the commander of the reserve force.

Suuza: At the rank of major general, you are a very senior officer of the UPDF?

Otema-Awany: Yes, my lord.

Suuza: Do you own land at Got Okwara?

Otema-Awany: Not in my name.

Suuza: But you own land there?

Otema-Awany: I had interest but I don’t own it.

Suuza: Do you still have the interest?

Otema-Awany: I pulled out because of confusion on the land.

Suuza: Can you give us the description of the land that you are interested in?

Otema-Awany: The land is located in Got Okwara in Lungulu sub-county which belongs to Mr Odong.

Suuza: Does Odong have another name?

Otema-Awany: I don’t remember the other name.

[Commission chairperson Justice Catherine] Bamugemereire: Is he a policeman by any means?

Otema-Awany: Not a policeman. It’s another Odong.

Suuza: Is it Odong or Odokoyero?

Otema-Awany: It’s Odong. For Odokoyero, I’m not interested in his land.

Suuza: Do you have interest in land described as plot 110 block 4 at Pajengo in Nwoya?

Otema-Awany: Yes, my lord.

Suuza: What kind of interest do you have?

Otema-Awany: This land was for Odokoyero Richard who applied for the title and sold his interest to me.

Suuza: How did you acquire this land?

Otema-Awany: I recall this year, around March, Mr Odong came and met my brother David. He said he lost all his property in a workshop that got burnt and he had a bank loan. So, he said he wanted to sell the land to me. I made inquiries to confirm whether the land belongs to Odong. I called the LC-III of Lungulu sub-country to confirm…

Suuza: What is his name?

Otema-Awany: I don’t remember. He is here; he will come and tell you…

Suuza: Wait a minute. This person comes to you and probably you are meeting him for the first time. How did you reach the chairman?

Otema-Awany: He gave me the [phone] number.

Suuza: Do you still have that number?

Otema-Awany: He gave it then and I made the call.

Suuza: So, what did the chairman tell you?

Otema-Awany: He told me that that land belonged to Mr Odong.

Suuza: The sub-county is a big place, why did you think the right people to inquire from are the district chairmen?

Otema-Awany: My lord, according to the land structure at the sub-county level, there is a land board where the people know who owns what. I thought it was more relevant to contact the LC-III to confirm if the land belonged to Mr Odong.

Suuza: Have you ascertained whether this land had a title or not?

Otema-Awany: I made an effort and [found out that] it was a surveyed land.

Suuza: Did that, to you, mean there is a certificate of title to that land?

Otema-Awany: He told me that he was processing but he ran out of money, otherwise he would have got the title. But at least he had all the documents and the land was surveyed.

Suuza: Did he show you copies of those documents?

Otema-Awany: He did, my lord.

Suuza: What documents did he show you?

Otema-Awany: He showed me the deed and the permission which was granted by the district that the land should be surveyed.

Suuza: Did that document mean Mr Odong had title for that land?

Otema-Awany: That document means that if you paid the premium because the land had already been surveyed, then automatically you would get the title.

Suuza: Were you not worried that since this man didn’t have the title, that another person would come and lay a claim on the same land?

Otema-Awany: I was not worried, because after that, I travelled there myself to see if there are any structures there. I didnt not find anyone on the land.

Suuza: What did you find on the ground?

Otema-Awany: I saw burnt houses…

Suuza: What did that mean to you? Could it be that there was a dispute over that land?

Otema-Awany: That did not occur to my mind.

Suuza: So, where did these arsonists come from? Were they rebels?

Otema-Awany: He has lived on that land for 10 years. That’s why I didn’t think there was any issue on that land.

Suuza: I know of land issues that have raged for 30 years…

Otema-Awany: Since I did not see any squatters there, I didn’t think of any disputes.

Suuza: So, what happened next?

Otema-Awany: We decided that I advance him some money so that he pays his loan, which I did.

Suuza: How much did you advance?

Otema-Awany: Shs 25 million.

Suuza: Did you write an agreement for that?

Otema-Awany: Not really. I knew Odong before because he did some work with me.

Suuza: So, you are happy that you advanced Shs 25 million without any single document?

Otema-Awany: Yes, my lord.

Suuza: Was that a down payment?

Otema-Awany: We were trying to reach agreement to see that if that land is there, it’s suitable for cultivation. I wanted to grow cassava in that place.

Suuza: You said you have a lot of land…

Otema-Awany: I don’t have enough, my lord. Land is never enough.

Suuza: How much land do you have?

Otema-Awany: I have about 6,000 acres.

Suuza: Just out of curiosity, how, when and where did you apply for that land?

Otema-Awany: I applied for it through Amuru land board.

Suuza: You applied for the 6,000 acres through one application?

Otema-Awany: Yes, my lord.

Suuza: How much did you pay?

Otema-Awany: I paid premium, about Shs 43 million.

Suuza: And what kind of title do you hold?

Otema-Awany: Leasehold for 49 years.

Suuza: Let us go back to the land at Got Okwara, after paying Shs 25 million what happened?

Otema-Awany: After paying, I had intention this second season [that] I send my tractors, workers and four guards to guard my materials on the land.

Suuza: As far as I understand, you have not acquired this land. You have only advanced Shs 25 million. He (Odong) has not acquired a title. On what basis are you sending equipment and guards on the land?

Otema-Awany: My lord, I send on the basis that there was no claimant on the land except Odong who has been on it for the last 10 years.

Bamugemereire: Is that the land where you said you lost interest?

Otema-Awany: My lord, what happened is that there is a complaint on the border between the land of Odong and Odokoyero. I’m not interested in the land of Odokoyero. There is an issue of opening the boundaries. Right now, I’m not on that land [Odokoyero’s].

Commissioner Rose Nakayi: We are talking about land at Got Okwara, where we had the first complainant. Are you saying you completely lost interest in the land?

Otema-Awany: Until the boundary opening.

Nakayi: So, it’s not that you are not interested in the land?

Otema-Awany: The interest is there. But I realised there is a mess in the whole thing.

Suuza: Did you hear of the first complainant, Mr Oweka?

Otema-Awany: My lord, to be honest I do not know Oweka.

Bamugemereire: But did you hear…?

Otema-Awany: I heard but he even confessed that he does not know me.

Suuza: So, you are hearing of this story of Oweka [just now]?

Otema-Awany: From Oweka, I was getting calls that there were issues with the neighbours; that evictions are taking place. I have not gone there to evict anybody who is on the land. I went there knowing, I was going to occupy vacant land. So, if there are issues there, I’m not interested until the boundaries have been opened.

Suuza: As of today, you are not on the land?

Otema-Awany: Not at all.

Suuza: Have you caused any evictions?

Otema-Awany: Not even one.

Suuza: Have you caused the burning of houses?

Otema-Awany: I don’t know about that.

Suuza: According to a statement we have, you have actually deployed some people?

Otema-Awany: I did not deploy, I said, I only had four guards for my tractors…

Suuza: Have you had any transaction with Odokoyero?

Otema-Awany: I saw Odokoyero this morning, I have never met him.

Suuza: So, you have not purchased any land from him?

Otema-Awany: Not even a piece.

Bamugemereire: Could it be that one of your brothers purchased land from him and you are not aware?

Otema-Awany: My lord, Odokoyero is here, he can speak for himself.

Suuza: According to your own statement here this is what you say, “In 2013, I got interested in land on plot 110, block 4 at Pajengo in Nwoya of one Odokoyero Richard. The land was registered and I visited it and I found out that most of it was free except 100 acres…”

Otema-Awany: My lord, that is another Odokoyero.

Suuza: You mean there are two Odokoyeros?

Otema-Awany: Yes, my lord.

Bamugemereire: Do we have two Odokoyeros in this room? [The two Odokoyeros who filed complaints stood up]

Suuza: Is he among the two?

Otema-Awany: That one is another Odokoyero. I don’t think he is here.

Suuza: Now let’s take it that the land in question concerns Mr Odida Alfred. Isn’t that the land you are talking about?

Otema-Awany: The one I bought is from Odokoyero.

Suuza: How much did you pay for the land?

Otema-Awany: The one with the title, I paid Shs 250 million.

Suuza: Have there been any disputes on this land since you acquired it?

Otema-Awany: Not at all, except that there were some squatters. That’s where we went for mediation; there was a balance of Shs 50 million to pay the squatters.

Suuza: Who were the other squatters?

Otema-Awany: Mr Opogo was one of the beneficiaries. He is here. Mr Nyero is here. [But] there were issues, I told them to sit and agree because there were disagreements.

One was saying, he’s having a bigger portion and the other smaller. Mr Odida wanted to take the money alone, and not consider the squatters. I ask this commission to go back and renegotiate so that people on that land can benefit. Right now my cows are not even grazing on that land.

Suuza: You refer to these people as squatters, why?

Otema-Awany: They have no documents at all.

Bamugemereire: What documents do you have to call the others squatters?

Otema-Awany: They claim that they have interest in that piece of land. I dealt with Odokoyero who has the documents.

Suuza: So, your opinion is based on what Odokoyero told you?

Otema-Awany: They were there.

Suuza: Before you bought this land, you said you inspected it, did you sign an agreement?

Otema-Awany: I did [inspect the land], my lord.

Suuza: Did you see Odida and others live on the land?

Otema-Awany: Not at all.

Suuza: So, when did they come to occupy the land?

Otema-Awany: They were there but not on the land.

Suuza: This is your word again. But in your statement, you acknowledged that about 100 acres were occupied by them?

Otema-Awany: They were not on the land, my lord. It was for other people and they are cultivating on it.

Suuza: But you have had some sort of mediation?

Otema-Awany: On the mediation, part of the land which was not necessarily the one Odida is claiming. He can tell the truth. I paid him for 200 acres. He sold his interest to me earlier. That deal was done and he lost interest on the land.

Suuza: How much did you pay him?

Otema-Awany: I paid him Shs 20 million. The land was not surveyed, it was just there.

Suuza: Do you have a document proving that?

Otema-Awany: I will get…

Suuza: If that document is not available, do you acknowledge you will have to pay them?

Otema-Awany: I will pay them, my lord.

Suuza: Do you also ac- knowledge that they have rights?

Otema-Awany: My lord, you see the issue of land here has been politicised. And the issue that the general is holding interest in my land should be out of this completely. But again, the same land being claimed by Odokoyero, where he is holding a title, is the same land claimed by Odida Francis.

Suuza: Let’s go back to the issue of Odong, did you eventually get title for the land?

Otema-Awany: I have no idea since I pulled out.

Suuza: So, it is your evidence that nobody should have a claim against you on that land?

Otema-Awany: Nobody should, because I’m not there.

Suuza: So, what happens to the Shs 25 million [you paid]?

Otema-Awany: It’s up to him. If they survey the land and the dispute is not there anymore, then we can complete the transaction.

Suuza: Have you ever deployed UPDF soldiers on any of your lands?

Otema-Awany: In the north, we have the local defence unit and the UPDF. The LDU normally gives security to the residents. So, when I’m here, I contact the commander who provides me with the LDU, but not the UPDF.

Suuza: According to Mr Oweka, at some point you used UPDF soldiers to evict them from their home.

Otema-Awany: My lord, that is not me. I never caused any destruction at all.

Suuza: Anybody listening to you will think you are a very innocent man…

Otema-Awany: Indeed, I’m.

Suuza: That you are being accused of things you don’t know about. If that is true, why are people making accusations about you?

Otema-Awany: Well, they know themselves. They know my character and how I worked tirelessly to take them back and fight Kony. They know my level of contribution, how I’ve supported them. The issue of grabbing land is just politicised.

Suuza: Why are they politicising the issue and who are they?

Otema-Awany: I put it very clear that I did not evict anyone or take any land by force.

Suuza: How much land do you have in total as Maj Gen Otema-Awany apart from the 6, 000 acres you gave us?

Otema-Awany: My lord, I have lived a bit longer… my family are farmers and they live on the farms. Our main interest is cultivation.

Suuza: You have not answered my question. How much land do you have in this part of the country?

Otema-Awany: I have been buying from people… about 8,000 acres.

Suuza: In this day and age, is it possible that you can own 8,000 acres and you don’t have anybody laying claim on part of that land?

Otema-Awany: In the north, my lord, all my land [pieces] I purchase them, not by force. If you have money and you want land here, there are people who are selling land.

Bamugemereire: We feel that there are some issues that need to be sorted out. We want to understand what your relationship is with Odokoyero and the real issues between him and the other witnesses.

If you don’t mind, we would like to take some time and understand what issue we are dealing with here. Maybe, Maj Gen Otema-Awany before you leave, the commission would like to understand your view toward brutal and illegal evictions because those people wouldn’t come here without an issue.

Otema-Awany: I’m very happy that this commission is sitting here. It’s not acceptable [for soldiers to evict people], that is why when my name was mentioned, I ordered immediately my disinterest in that land because I’m not a party to such evictions at all. These people like Odokoyero could have done it without my knowledge.

Bamugemereire: Could they have used your name to evict these people?

Otema-Awany: They used it for themselves. That is why I said, I don’t want anyone to use my name. If that eviction at all happened, it is those that carried out the eviction [who should be blamed but] not with my instructions.

South Africa:Children With Disability Battle to Find Schools

By Thembela Ntongana

According to government figures there are more than 2,000 children with disabilities waiting for schools in the Eastern Cape. GroundUp spoke to two families in Mdantsane near East London.

Boniswa Ntshota, 73, has been caring for her grandson, Hlomla Ntshota, since his mother died in 2008. She says she has been looking for a school for him in Mdantsane for three years.

Ntshota lives in a two-roomed shack. She left the Transkei in 2006 to be closer to medical facilities. She has diabetes, suffers from arthritis and her eyesight is weakening.

Hlomla, 9, does not speak and has to go to physiotherapy on a regular basis. His grandmother says learning to walk took him longer than most children.

“I want him to go to a school that will cater for him. He is old enough now and I want him to play with other children,” she says.

Ntshota says she has spoken to doctors and social workers dealing with Hlomla’s case. But all she has had so far are promises.

Single parent Nontsha Peter from NU11 lives in an RDP house with her 25-year-old son, Sibusiso. He can do little for himself and uses nappies.

From 2001 to 2010, he lived in a school for the disabled in Port Elizabeth. “It was difficult to have my son so far from me, but I had no choice; we couldn’t survive on his social grant alone,” says Peter.

During those years she would bring him home for the December holidays. She would have to hire a car as she couldn’t travel on public transport with him.

One holiday she decided not to take him back to the school because she was unhappy with the condition she had found him in.

She says she has looked everywhere for a school for him. The closest school that accommodates children with disability told her that Sibusiso needed special attention.

“When you are looking after him you have to think for two people. It is a full time job,” she says. “I do it because I am his mother but it is too much for other people.”

She is a domestic worker and when she goes to work she leaves Sibusiso with an elderly aunt. However, the aunt is in very poor health and sometimes spends weeks in hospital, leaving Peter with no help except the neighbours.

“I want a school for him because I would like to rest. I work the whole day and get back home and work again … I need to work because we spend his social grant on nappies,” says Peter.

Children denied their right to education

In September, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that there were 725 public schools which take disabled learners. That is less than 3% of schools countrywide.

Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) attorney Chandre Stuurman says children with disabilities have a constitutional right to edeucation. “This right is immediately realisable and is not subject to the available resources of government. Despite this, thousands of children with disabilities or children who experience other barriers to learning are out of school or are not being accommodated when placed in an ordinary public school,” says Stuurman.

Provincial manager for Disabled People South Africa Mncedisi Nkota says, “We have a serious crisis. If East London is a city and it is faced with such an issue, how much more in rural areas?”

“The department [of education] talks of inclusive education, which we promote, but the reality is that the department is not ready. It is something that we have been talking about for more than 15 years,” he says.

“We have a number of learners who are on waiting lists and they wait till they are too old to enrol in school, meaning that they miss out on years of education,” said Nkota.

Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Mali Mtima said there were seven schools for the disabled in East London and one in Mdantsane. Four other schools are over 50km away in King William’s Town.

Asked about waiting lists, he said the department was dealing with the problem by creating new schools and increasing full service schools.

Uganda:Why You Should Sit Less

By Gillian Nantume

If you spend the better part of your work day sitting in front of a computer or sitting at a desk shuffling papers, you are heading for trouble. It is not for nothing that wellness doctors advise 20 minutes of exercise every day. The advances in technology have made it such that we spend more time sitting down, whether it is at the office, at home, or while on travel.

Look at it this way, every morning, once you wake up, you sit on your bed for a few minutes, trying to orient yourself. Then, you sit down to apply your make-up and take breakfast. You spend at least one hour sitting in the car to work due to traffic jam. Then, you spend the entire day at your desk, before driving home, where you will sit to have supper and watch TV before sleeping.

Roughly we spend about seven to eight hours sitting a day, but this is not good for our health.

Back problems

Your sitting posture may be hurting your back, especially if you do not use an ergonomic chair. (It fits the user’s height and other body dimensions so as to support healthy body mechanics). It is difficult to maintain a straight-back sitting posture all day; at some point you will have to slouch.

Eric Katende, a physiotherapist with Friends Poly Clinic, says sitting for long hours without standing up to stretch or walk around for ten minutes has a bearing on the lower spine.

“When you sit, your legs do not carry any weight and neither does the upper part of your body.

This means that all the weight of the body is concentrated around the centre, pressuring the lumber region of the spinal code.”

The lumber region of the spinal code carries most of the body weight and is also flexible, permitting movement.

“If you sit for many hours the bones in the lumber vertebrae are being strained,” Katende says, continuing, “This makes them susceptible to wear and tear over time. Sitting for long periods overtime will cause the muscles holding those small bones to squeeze the bones, and this is when backache will set in.”

Wilbroad Makumbi, a physiotherapist with FUBA, says joints were made for motion so every time they are not being used, they become stiff and painful. “The muscles around them become weakened. Sitting for long hours stiffens the small joints in the vertebrae, flattens the lumbar curve, and causes the muscles to waste away.”

This exposes one to accelerated disc degeneration to the extent that when such a person engages in work that involves lifting or bending, they are at risk of acute low back strains or disc prolapses.

Neck pain

Nowadays, in an attempt to protect their backs, most people who spend the whole day sitting at work try to sit with their backs straight. According to Katende, this is wrong.

“Young people like to sit on the edge of their seats, and then make their backs straight. This posture will put a strain on the neck. The lower spinal code is supposed to be slightly carved when you are sitting down.”

Do not sit in the same position for more than 30 minutes. Change your position often as is practicable and take time to walk around at least every hour.

Ergonomic desk chairs usually have lumbar supports that can uphold your lower spinal code in the right position.

However, if you do not have access to such a chair, use a small pillow or rolled up towel to support your back when you sit. Make sure not to use a large pillow because it will place your spinal code in an awkward position.

“If you are hunched over your computer, chances are that your shoulders and neck will also suffer,” Katende advises.

Gaining weight

It goes without saying that exercises are core to maintaining a healthy weight. So, if you are sitting down the whole day, the weight is piling on, especially around your abdomen and behind.

Katende says: “Long hours without exercise will lead to flabby muscles. In their 30s, men put on weight around the abdomen while women put on weight around the hips. A lot of weight gain around the abdomen will strain the lower back.”

Damage to the internal organs

The more you move about, the more your muscles burn fat and blood flows more easily through the veins. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and cardiovascular disease.

“There is a possibility of a cumulative effect of sitting down for too long, over a number of years,” Katende says, adding, “It is possible that the nerves that connect the back to the abdomen could get damaged.”

Besides, sitting for too long slows blood circulation, leading to swollen ankles, varicose veins, or more seriously, blood clots.

Tips on getting by

If your job involves long sitting periods, you should:

– Find a reason to get up every hour and walk around.

– Drink a lot of water – at least, you will be walking to the toilet often.

– Make sure to exercise at least 150 minutes a week.

Burundi:Global Fund Suspends Direct Subsidies to Health Ministry

By Diane Uwimana

Following flaws in the financial management and procurement observed in the ministry of public health, the Global Fund has just withdrawn the direct subsidies to the ministry and granted it to the United Nations Development Programs for supervision. Right groups say it is a loss for Burundi.

In the correspondence sent to the minister of public health on 12 October, the Global Fund noticed that the first-half of 2017 rating does not change significantly and remains below expectations. While Global Fund’s priorities are to ensure funds are well used to achieve the best possible results, the limitations in the results, financial management, the decision-making space of the implementers which restricts the operational responsiveness necessary for the acceleration of programs, are all factors that lead to the under-utilization of available resources.

At the end of 2017, the Global Fund finds that the unused financing is estimated at more than $ 30 million (based on the current absorption rate of 65%). This situation, which places the fund under the obligation to review the modalities for the implementation of subsidies in Burundi, is also likely to affect future financing if solutions to it are not implemented quickly.

In order not to leave a situation that is detrimental to the optimal use of resources for the benefit of the populations, the Global Fund is obliged to use the additional safeguard policy, as was communicated on 2 December 2016. The Global Fund has not accepted the proposal to set up a Project Management Unit within the ministry of health, considering that this proposal does not satisfactorily meet the operational procedures of the fund. It has opted for a change in the modalities of implementation for the 2018-2020 period. The UNDP will now acts as a single principal recipient under the strategic direction of the national coordinating body. The support provided by UNDP in this configuration will also enable national programs and civil society to maximize the impact of the allocated sum of $ 72.3 million for the 2018-2020 period.

“It is a loss for the country”

Hamza Venant Burikukiye, the chairman of CAPES+- a local NGO advocating people living with HIV/AIDS, says it is regrettable to hear that the ministry of public health is unable to appropriately use the funds granted for the benefit of the population. “After our warning, we thought things had improved, but in vain”, he says.

Burikukiye believes that the Ministry of public security will continue to seek the collaboration with the Global Fund even though beneficiaries will continue to be supported for the good image of the country.

In February, two local NGOs-CAPES+ and PISC Burundi- warned of irregular activities within the Ministry of Public Health that might cause the government to lose from the International Monetary Fund(IMF) an estimated amount of $72.300.822 primarily intended for the fight against malaria, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Sylvain Habanabakize, spokesperson for the network of patients in Burundi, says the withdrawal of the subsidies from the Ministry of Public Health by Global Fund is a loss for the country in general and for the beneficiaries in particular. He urges the Ministry of public health to renew its collaboration with the Global Fund. Iwacu has tried to contact the Ministry of public health, for more details but in vain.

Since 2003, the Global Fund has contributed up to more than $ 275 million which enabled the achievement of the national results: the distribution of 21 million nets, of which 6.4 million were donated during the 2017 campaign; care for 51,726 patients on ARV (Dec 2016), representing 64% of People living with HIV/AIDS, 6900 tuberculosis patients treated per year (from 2003 to 2015), and 7,662 patients in 2016 as well as the construction and strengthening of other health infrastructures in the country.

Gender-Based Violence ‘On the Decline’

By By Jonathan Musa

The rate of gender-based violence has decreased compared to a few years ago, it has been said.

Speaking in an open debate at Mwasonge Village in Misungwi, Kivulini Director Yassin Ali said their mission had been to ensure gender-based violence was fought against at all levels in society.

“We cannot simply watch, while gender-based violence still takes place in society. That is why we spend most of the time meeting people for discussion and supporting victims,” he said.

According to the president of International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW),, Dr Sarah Degnan Kambou, they commend the role played by Kivulini and believe its services will expand as they get more funds from various donors.

Mr Stella Mukasa, the director of (ICRW) in Uganda, who was also present, said if everything went on like that communities would progress. She said letting people fight on their own was not the right way.

“Here the fact is to get to understand how a battle begins, the source and the right means to deal with it,” she said.

However, gender desk head in Mwanza Region Betinisibo Shija said Kivulini in cooperation with the police fought against gender violence in the region and the results had been positive compared to the past.

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South Africa: Dial-a-Ride Users Say the Service Is Deteriorating

By William Yoder

Some members of the Dial-a-Ride User’s Forum have expressed concerns about the safety and quality of the service as well as fee increases under the current contractor.

Members of the forum say the service they get from Dial-a-Ride, which provides transportation to people with disabilities, has deteriorated since HG Travelling Services won the tender on 1 December 2015.

In April, users protested against the provincial government about the use of MyCiTi branding, availability, cost and safety. A Dial-a-Ride bus was attacked recently in a housing protest.

Debbie Bedien, a member of the forum, said that buses used to be plain white with yellow Dial-a-Ride logos. “Whether it was taxi strikes, public strikes,or bus strikes, we weren’t affected,” Bedien said. But the buses now have the colour scheme and the logo of MyCiTi buses.

HG Travelling Services referred GroundUp to the City of Cape Town for comment. The City said the vehicles were clearly marked on the back and sides. However, a Dial-a-Ride vehicle which GroundUp photographed did not have these signs on the right side (it did have a sign on the left side).

Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Transport, said, “The MyCiTi logo features on all of those vehicles that are contracted by the City to provide a public transport service to the public.”

Dial-a-Ride Forum members also complained about the rising cost of the service. Since 2015, a 20km trip with Dial-a-Ride has gone from R8.80 to R13; for a trip under 5km it has gone from R6.70 to R9.

Members of the forum complained that the service was very booked up and Cape Town’s other public transport services were mostly inaccessible, a situation not set to change for several years.

“By 10:30am all rides [for the next week] are fully booked,” said Bedien.

About 800 people use the service on a “regular or ad hoc basis” according to Herron. He said HG Travelling Services had increased capacity for wheelchair users from 72 to 102 since gaining the contract. It currently operates 21 vehicles, 20 of which can accommodate passengers using wheelchairs.

Elroy Lodewyk, also a member of the Dial-a-Ride forum, said bookings were sometimes missed. He said some commuters had even lost their jobs due to the lack of reliability of Dial-a-Ride.

But Herron said, “The City was not informed about any commuter who has lost his/her job as a result of the Dial-a-Ride service.”

He said financial penalties could be imposed by the City should HG Travelling Services fail to provide adequate service.

Dial-a-Ride users say that passengers can be on the bus for hours. Another member of the forum, Luwie Links, said, “They pick up something like nine people. If you are first to be picked up at 5:10am in the morning, you will arrive at work at 8 or 8:30am.”

Members of the forum are also unhappy that Dial-a-Ride now requires users to be assessed by an occupational therapist every two years, even in cases where users’ disabilities are permanent.

Lodewyk said, “I’m 22 years in a wheelchair. What, after 23 years I will walk again?”

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