Nov 2011

E Cape alive with activity

Written by Chris Bathembu
Visitors to the Eastern Cape within the last two years would be forgiven for mistaking some parts as resembling an ongoing construction site.

Truth is, some areas have been abuzz with activity since government set its sights on improving conditions in that province two years ago.

Multi-million projects

Government's commitment to uplift conditions in areas such as Mthatha, a town that was once the economic hub of the former Transkei, was seen during a recent visit by a Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation delegation.

President Jacob Zuma and a senior delegation were in town to assess the level of progress that had been made since government last visited in August 2009. To deal with infrastructure backlogs and service-delivery challenges in the King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) District Municipality, uMthatha was declared a Rapid High Impact Presidential Intervention Node.

Six major multi-million rand intervention projects were identified in line with this that would see the renewal of the area to its former stature.

The President's busy two-day schedule this time included visiting the automotive sector in Port Elizabeth where the focus was on job creation and economic growth. Government sees the sector as important in its plans to create five million jobs in the next 10 years.

In the President's previous interaction, community members in the KSD Municipality expressed their frustration over not having access to basic services and poor local government management and systems.

These days, much activity can be seen in the once forlorn KSD. Intervention projects underway there will see the provision of water in the area, sanitation, electricity, roads, human settlements and the development of the local Mthatha Airport.

Water supply scheme

The R54 million Mthatha Water Supply Scheme has been completed, which saw more than 80 jobs being created during its construction.

In the Coffee Bay area, the construction of Phase One of the Regional Water Supply Scheme cost government R53 million and created 508 jobs.

Sanitation has been given high priority in KSD, with the refurbishment of sewer pump stations at a cost of R24 million and the refurbishment of the Mthatha Sewer Treatment Works at a cost of R25 million.

President Zuma and his delegation also visited one of the two completed road projects in KSD. It involves the section of the N2 that passes through the Mthatha Ultra City to Nelson Mandela Drive to Mthatha Bridge. During the construction of this road project, a total of 79 jobs were created.

To add to the hive of activity in the province, workers have been busy on the Informal Settlements Upgrade Programme being undertaken at a cost of R586 million. It will make a difference in the lives of people living in the Joe Slovo, Chris Hani and Mandela Park areas, where 3 350 units will be built.

Temporary services

Phase One of this project will see the provision of temporary services and planning for 6 600 housing units.

In Phola Park, the Informal Settlement Upgrade Programme will replace the present informal structures with 1 400 units while at Ngangelizwe Township a further 1 850 units will be built to replace informal structures.

Go easy on the booze

Advice and Events

Meat on the braai, and a cold one on a weekday often goes hand-in-hand with the start of the festive season when having a good time is the order of the day. But that cold one could leave you as cold with horror as its affects.

Alcohol abuse is causing the South African economy R9 billion per year as a result of poor productivity, absenteeism, injuries and death.

"Our country is estimated to have alcohol consumption at a score of four on a scale of one to five, with five being the most risky", said the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Elizabeth Thabethe.

In an effort to raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol, the Department of Trade and Industry launched the Sobriety Week Campaign recently.

Liquor industry

The liquor industry contributes around R94,2 billion to the South African economy. However, this industry is strictly regulated with the emphasis on trader's not permitted to sell alcohol to children under the age of 18.

Drinking often starts as early as Grade 8 with the bulk of drinkers falling in the 15 to 35 age group. Registered liquor license holders are therefore urged not to care only about profits, but to adhere to the regulations.

According to the Central Drug Authority's Ray Eberlein, in terms of consumption among South Africans, one person consumes an average of 196 six-packs of beer in a year.

A survey has shown that urban men and women were most likely to binge drink than people in rural areas. Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women on one occasion.

Crime statistics

Dr Neo Morojele, Deputy Director of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Unit at the South Africa Medical Research Council, said with the festive season comes higher levels of alcohol consumption and abuse, which often has dire consequences. The 2011 crime statistics revealed a 5,5 per cent increase in drunk driving.

"We all have a duty to ensure that our roads are safe and those who break the law will be punished," said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

 “The earlier people stop abusing alcohol, the greater the chance they have of minimising alcohol-related problems and for treatment to work,” said Morojele.

Access to treatment for alcohol abuse is available from the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Call them on 086 147 2622, or call Alcoholics Anonymous on 0861 435 722.

Jobs flow from E Cape water projects

Written by Mphumzi Zuzile

Job creation

In line with government's focus on rural development, job creation and service delivery, the Alfred Nzo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape is taking great strides to better the lives of its residents. With its seat in Mount Ayliff, this district municipality is one of seven in the Eastern Cape. It serves four rural municipalities, namely Matatiele, Mzimvubu, Ntabankulu and Bizana.

Alfred Nzo District Municipality Executive Mayor Eunice Diko addressing guests and community members during the launch of the KwaBhaca Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme.Sharing unhygienic water with animals will be a thing of the past for the Sibanda family in Ntenetyane Village, Mt Frere, following the launch of the R103 million, KwaBhaca Regional Bulk Water Supply Scheme.

In addition to clean water, the project will create jobs for more than 1 100 people in the area.

Making life easier

After sharing a small pond with animals in the area for many years, Nokwanda Sibanda and her family are happy that their lives will now be easier.

"We are so happy that we're getting clean water. I grew up drinking water from the pond and was losing hope that we would ever get clean tap water. I even told my children that for them to get clean water and electricity they must go stay in townships," she said.

Sibanda's household is one of about 16 700 in a local population of 100 000 people spread over more than 40 villages to benefit from the new R103 million water scheme.

Economic development

Alfred Nzo District Municipality Executive Mayor Eunice Diko said the objective of the project was to increase the treatment capacity of the KwaBhaca Water Treatment Works and to ensure adequate supply for the area. She said this would also stimulate economic development in the Mt Frere region.

In addition, the project will unblock the building of houses that was put on hold due to a scarcity of water in the area.

Construction of the project is due to start with the installation of the bulk pipeline from Ntenetyana Dam this month. The dam project alone will provide employment for more than 149 people.

Other projects

The Alfred Nzo District Municipality also launched two water projects worth R70 million in Qwidlana in Mt Frere and Caba Mdeni in Matatiele.

Fourteen villages consisting of 2 094 households with a population of 12 564 people will benefit from the Qwidlana Water Supply Project, which will provide safe drinking water and create about 400 jobs.

The Caba Mdeni project will supply water to 589 households with a population of 3 587 people, and create jobs for 67 people.

A Maluti-Ramahloakana Waterborne Sewage project of R40 million was also launched recently. It will bring waterborne sewerage to 1 220 households with a population of 7 320 people in the Maluti Township area in Matatiele Local Municipality. The project is expected to create jobs for about 60 people.

For more information, call the Alfred Nzo District Municipality on 039 254 5000.

Indigenous knowledge vital to societies

Job creation

Indigenous knowledge systems are vital in shaping and defining societies. Also known as IKS, indigenous knowledge systems refer to local knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society.

Government is committed to improving educational and employment prospects for students working in the field of indigenous knowledge systems, said Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor. She was speaking at the launch of an Indigenous Knowledge Systems Expo in Mahikeng in the North West.

Vital role

Indigenous knowledge can be broadly defined as the knowledge that an indigenous (local) community gains over generations of living in a particular environment. This definition includes all forms of knowledge technologies, know-how skills, practices and beliefs that enable the community to achieve stable livelihoods in their environment.

IKS plays a vital role in societies. It helps shape and defines their very existence and provides the foundation for their beliefs and traditional practices.

Policy

To preserve South Africa’s indigenous knowledge systems, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) has developed an Indigenous Knowledge Systems policy.

It aims to stimulate and strengthen the contribution of indigenous knowledge to social and economic development in South Africa through developing, promoting and protecting indigenous knowledge.

The DST says other government departments, including Health, Trade and Industry, Environmental Affairs, Tourism, and Agriculture and Land Affairs, have a role to play in the preservation of indigenous knowledge.

Your health will feel the pinch

The food industry may in the future be legally bound to reduce the salt content in its products. The move is aimed at reducing the rate of people suffering from non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi addresing the Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases [Photo: GCIS Photographic Unit]Concerned Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said the Department of Health would be taking on the salt dietary issue in a major way. He was speaking at the Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases held in Boksburg recently.

The South African diet is generally high in salt content, with an average intake of 7,8 grams per day in black people; 8,5 grams per day in mixed races and 9,8 grams per day in whites. The desired amount of salt is between 4 and 6 grams per day.

Processed food

"Contrary to many people's belief, most salt intake is in processed food rather than added to it. This means that we need a combination of public education to encourage people to reduce the salt they add, but also regulate the food industry to reduce the salt content of processed foods," Motsoaledi said. Foods with high salt content, which would warrant monitoring, include bread, spices, cereals and salty snacks.

High blood pressure

High dietary salt intake is estimated to cause about a third of all cases of high blood pressure. It can also increase the risk of stroke and kidney disease. According to a South African study, the number of deaths that can be avoided by reducing salt intake just from bread is around 6 500 per year.

The regulation on salt follows the recent approval of the trans fats regulations, where manufactures are expected to reduce the amount of fats in food. Motsoaledi said manufacturers have been given a grace period to adapt to the new trans fats laws.

"The implementation date has just passed and the time has come for us to ensure that the law is being put into practice. We are confident that this legislation will play an important role in reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases," Motsoaledi said, warning that manufacturers who failed to comply would be given a fine.

Healthy living limits NCDs

Written by Gabi Khumalo
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are currently causing 60 per cent of all deaths worldwide and it is estimated that this will rise to 75 per cent by 2030. About 80 per cent of deaths caused by these diseases occur in developing countries and about a quarter occur in people under the age of 60.

NCDs, also called lifestyle diseases are diseases that cannot be caught from another person or object contaminated by germs. They can usually be prevented or at least be curbed by following a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, most cancers, stroke and diabetes are general forms of NCDs.

We can limit our chances of getting NCDs by not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and managing stress levels.

NCD Summit

As South Africa begins to deal more effectively with HIV and Aids and TB, more emphasis is placed on the care and treatment of NCDs.

Speaking at the recent National Summit on Non-Communicable Dieseases, Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said to beat NCDs, the country needed to focus on particular key areas. These include information about prevention, symptoms and treatment, as well as research, better screening and ensuring better management and control of NCDs.

Partnerships

The aim of the two-day summit was to form partnerships with key stakeholders to develop plans to control and manage NCDs.

The summit was held a week before a United Nations High Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of NCDs in New York. President Jacob Zuma led a South African delegation.

We can limit our chances of getting NCDs by not smoking, following a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and managing stress levels.
 

 

Kick the habit before it's too late

Written by Gabi Khumalo
He started smoking at the age of 22 and could easily finish the whole packet in one day. But 32 years later, death stared David Mkefa in the face as a result of his smoking habit.

David Mfeka, who survived cancer of larynx, says smoking is bad news [Photo: Courtesy Department of Health]Cancer survivour David Mkefa aged 57 from Soweto is one of the lucky few who survived cancer and was given a second chance. He is now on a mission to help others stop smoking before it's too late.

Admitting that he invited the disease into his life, Mkefa said, "While other people suffer from transmitted diseases, I got mine over the counter. I just couldn't control my smoking habit and was unable to do anything without having a smoke first."

Chest pain

Speaking with a hoarse voice, Mkefa knew something was wrong when he felt some pain in his chest and lost his voice. On consulting the local clinic, the first diagnosis was bronchitis.

"I was given some medication, but it didn't help much; my chest was better, but my voice didn't come back."

This is when Mkefa suspected that he could have cancer as he had read about the early symptoms of the disease in a magazine article.

"The article included early symptoms of cancer caused by excessive smoking, which confirmed my fears. I had the same symptoms including chest pains, difficulty with breathing and loss of voice. I was angry with myself because I invited this into my life," he said.

Cancer of larynx

He was referred to Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital for tests and the results confirmed that he had cancer of the larynx.

"The doctor told me that they would give me the best treatment, but emphasised that I should also help myself by kicking the smoking habit. I had to come up with a plan to try and spend a day without smoking," he said.

After undergoing radiation therapy for seven weeks, Mkefa was declared cancer-free. However, only his left vocal chord recovered, his right vocal chord was permanently damaged by cancer.

What is the larynx?
The larynx is the part of the respiratory (breathing) tract that lies between the pharynx (the upper throat) and the trachea (the windpipe). The larynx contains the vocal cords, which are responsible for the sounds we make when we speak.
Quit now

"Smoking is bad news, if you don't quit now, the journey ahead of you is full of thorns," Mkefa said.

Cancer is among the four main non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and account for more than 63 per cent of deaths worldwide. Other NCDs are cardiovascular disease, chronic lung diseases and diabetes.

In a bid to reduce the burden of NCD, global leaders met at the United Nations in New York in September to set a new international agenda on NCDs.

For more information, call the Department of Health on 012 395 8000 or 012 395 9000.

More victims report rape

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi
Recent crime statistics show a rise in the number of rape cases reported from April last year to March this year. The increase from 55 097 to 56 272 is unacceptably high, said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Crime statistics show a rise in the number of rape cases reported. This will help to put more rapists behind bars. [Photo: GCIS Photographic Unit]However, he noted that the increase in the number of cases reported during this period was proof that more victims were coming forward due to various support structures that made it easier for them. In the past, victims were often afraid or unwilling to report cases, because they were not always treated with respect and feared revenge attacks from their abusers.

Support for victims

The Minister commended the different intervention programmes which support victims of sexual crimes. He said partnerships with organisations such as Business Against Crime had helped police to establish Victim Empowerment Support Centres in many police stations countrywide.

Support structures also include shelters for victims of sexual abuse, such as Thuthuzela Care Centres, and dedicated sexual offences courts for child victims.

The broader definition of rape and the reintroduction of the Police's Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit have also given more victims the courage to come forward.

Definition of rape

The head of the police's Crime Information Analysis section, Dr Chris de Kock, said the new definition of rape in the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act could be another reason why the number of reported cases increased.

Under the new Act, incidents that were previously classed as sexual or indecent assault now also fall under the new definition of rape. These include a wide range of sexual crimes including forcing a person to be intimate in different ways against his or her will.

Working together

In the meantime, the Department of Police is working hand-in-hand with other departments such as Justice and Constitutional Development, Social Development, Women, Children and People with Disabilities and non-governmental organisations to find lasting solutions to end sexual crimes.

To report crime, call the Crime Stop Call Centre 08 600 10111 or visit your nearest police station.

Stepping up support

Written by Gabi Khumalo
When Zoe Harris (35) was gang-raped 13 years ago, five months after her marriage, she was not treated with respect or dignity at the police station where she reported the case. And when it happened a second time, she didn't report the incident or tell anyone.

"I didn't have a case to begin with. When I went to the police station, we were made to sit with men, but I just wanted to leave. I was in shock, I wanted to wash myself and forget this ever happened," Harris told Vuk'uzenzele.

"There was no proper documentation. A female police officer interviewed me and asked if I knew the people who raped me. When I told her I didn't, she told me there was no need for a case."

Speak up

The hospital where she tried to get medical care also failed her. The doctor said he couldn't help her without a case number, so she went home and had a bath.

Harris, who only recently decided to tell her story, said she lost hope and tried to commit suicide on three occasions, but her husband, Brendon, saved her.

Many women relate to Harris' experience; they don't talk about their ordeal out of fear and shame; they often blame themselves for causing the rape. Because she did not receive any of the help she expected, Harris decided to speak out and draw attention to the difficulties she encountered as a rape survivor.

Harris now encourages all rape victims to speak up and say enough is enough. "Victims must insist on getting help and regaining their power."

Important steps

Government admits that the rape of girls and women remains a major concern. To reduce violence against women and girls and to prevent other women or survivors of rape going through the kind of difficulty Zoe Harris experienced, government is taking a number of important steps. These include re-introducing the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units in the police service. The units conduct specialised investigations into sexual offences, domestic violence and child abuse.

The Minister for Women, Children and Persons with Disability Lulu Xingwana says the units, operating in all 176 policing areas, ensure effective access to justice for women and girls.

Thuthuzela centres

Forensic Social Workers in all the units will assist women and girls to present evidence in court. This will improve the chances of putting more sexual offenders behind bars.

Government has also, through the Thuthuzela Care Programme, established 28 Thuthuzela Care Centres, which provide support to victims of sexual violence.

They serve as one-stop centres where victims of sexual violence can open a case and get counselling, as well as medical services including ARVs for prevention of HIV – all under one roof.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi last year announced that rape victims would no longer need a case number before getting treatment at health institutions.

Reporting rape – what to expect
  • The police official will take your statement. You need not be alone a friend or family member can be with you while you make your statement, as long as he or she is not a potential witness in your case.
  • If you later feel that your statement is wrong or incomplete, you can make another statement. • You can make your statement in your own language (if it may be translated).
  • You have a right to a copy of your statement. It may sometimes not be possible to get a copy straightaway, but then you will get it later.
  • The police official will give you a case number and you must use this number whenever you want information about your case.
  • Where necessary, the investigating officer will make sure you are examined by a healthcare worker, who will complete a medical report.
  • You must make sure that the investigating officer knows how and where to contact you at all times, including when you move.
  • The investigating officer will let you know: if the suspect is arrested, if the suspect is released on bail, if you need to attend an identity parade, the date of the trial, when you will have to give evidence.
  • The police investigate the case and then hand it over to a state lawyer called a prosecutor. The service is free to you. Both the police official and the prosecutor will be able to give you information about your case.
  • Get a telephone number from the investigating officer so that you know where to get information about your case.

What can we all do to help?

Join community-based victim support initiatives. Be trained as a volunteer. Report rape and help others report rape. Don't protect rapists don't hide them in your home or your community. Tell the police. Bring up boys to respect women – "real" men don't rape.

Remember - A sexual assault is not your fault.
Who can you contact? Contact your local police station or: Police Emergency Number 10 111 Crime Stop 08600 10 111

Be safe this festive season

Family reunions and tragedies are two sides of South Africa's annual festive season, when the roads that lead to reunions and festivity also become places of death and injury.

So, make sure that you don't become a statistic this festive season.

Thousands of people lose their lives on South African roads every year. Motorists who will be travelling long distances during the festive season are urged to be more vigilant, drive safely and follow road regulations.

Law enforcement

During this time, traffic and law-enforcement officers throughout the country will be deployed at various strategic points especially on the country's freeways to ensure free flow of traffic.

There will also be roadblocks to check on things like vehicle roadworthiness, driver's licences and outstanding fines.

Pedestrians are urged to cross the road only when it is safe to do so. They are advised to wear bright clothes at night to increase their visibility to motorists.

Safety tips for motorists
  • Always obey the rules of the road.
  • Buckle up and ensure all passengers do so too. Young children should be seated in a safety seat.
  • Keep a safe following distance.
  • Adjust your speed to road conditions. Slow down when it's raining or when the road is wet. Reduce your speed when travelling in rural areas where animals or children may cross the road at any time.
  • Use low-beam headlights between sunset and sunrise, as well as in poor visibility. Never drive with your parking lights switched on.
  • Never drive when you are tired. Stop regularly, or where possible, change drivers.
  • Carry a blanket, fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit.
  • Ensure your vehicle is roadworthy. A roadworthiness should include a check of the following: headlights, direction indicators, stop lights, tail lights, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering wheel, tyres, including spare, exhaust system, fuel leaks.
Also remember to
  • plan your route before you leave
  • carry a spare fan belt and radiator hoses in case the car breaks down in a remote area
  • make sure that there's a working liftingjack and wheel-spanner in the car
  • keep a spare set of ignition, boot and house keys in your wallet or purse
  • keep the car locked when unattended
  • do not leave valuables in the car; rather lock them in the boot
  • never leave a child or pet in a parked car. The heat in a car left in the sun may cause heatstroke
  • keep a list of emergency numbers in an accessible place.
Useful emergency numbers
- Emergency number for the flying squad, fire department and ambulances: 10111
- Crime Stop: 08600 10111
- Cell phone Emergency Number (Free on all cell phone networks) 112

Heading to Cuba for medical studies

Written by Samona Murugan
A group of 10 aspiring medical students from Limpopo jetted off to Cuba recently to pursue studies as part of a South Africa-Cuba health agreement.

Training of students abroad is part of government's commitment to increase the number of health professionals. [Photo: GCIS Photographic Unit] Training of medical students abroad is part of the Limpopo health department's commitment to increase the pool of medical professionals particularly in rural areas. The students will join 58 other medical students who are currently studying in Cuba through the South Africa-Cuba Joint Academic Programme.

Since the launch of the programme 15 years ago, 155 students from KwaZulu-Natal have completed the programme adding muchneeded numbers to the small team of medical doctors in the province's public health sector.

Celebrate

In June, a team of academics from Cuba visited the province to discuss the programme with their South African counterparts, as well as to celebrate 15 years of the programme.

Speaking to the students in Durban before they departed, KZN MEC for Health Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said, "We are very grateful for the continued partnership with Cuba which has not only produced excellent doctors but has allowed our young professionals to learn from one of the best health systems in the world."

He told students that they needed to respect the Cubans and their way of life, but most importantly to "remember that you are our ambassadors".

Realising a dream

One excited student who left for Cuba was 19 year old Mnqobi Mngadi from uMkhambathini. He is the youngest of five children and his mother is a single parent who works in the Expanded Public Works Programme in Zibambeleni, where they clean and repair roads.

"I take this opportunity with both hands and I will now realise my dream of becoming a doctor. It seemed impossible because my mother would not have been able to afford university fees," said Mngadi.

Serve the community

The group left for Cuba on 20 September and will be accompanied by MEC Dhlomo and other officials of the department. They will study in Cuba for six years after which they will join the South African public health sector for internships and community service in the area where they came from.

Since the implementation of the SA-Cuba Health Agreement, the Limpopo Department of Health has sent 170 students to Cuba for medical studies. To date, 31 have completed their studies and are practicing medicine in different facilities in the province.

 

MXit added to education mix

Written by Samona Murugan
With thousands of young people using MXit, the Department of Basic Education has found an effective and affordable way to reach learners. This instant messaging application for cellphones is a social network that forms an important part of the department's communication strategy for 2011.

MXit is one of the most popular platforms on a mobile phone and it is no secret that the majority of learners have access to cellphones.

They are techno-savvy and spend a great deal of time communicating through social networks. What makes MXit so popular is that the service charges only 1 cent per message.

By using MXit as a platform to communicate messages to the youth, the Department of Basic Education will be reaching millions of learners.

Awareness campaigns

In October 2010, the department started a three-month awareness campaign on MXit with the Class of 2010 project as the main focus. The campaign provided support systems, spaces where learners could access additional study material, study tips and a facility for learners to send good luck messages to each other.

On 24 October 2010, when the Department of Basic Education scheduled a broadcast message, which went out to all subscribers, a total of 6 346 913 learners received the message on their cellphones.

Communication tool

The department continues to use MXit as a communication tool. They have already used it to send messages about supplementary exams and the Annual National Assessments, as well as for campaigns such as getting ready for matric exams, early registration at universities and encouraging learners to plan for the future.

Other campaigns will include the Funza Lushaka Bursary Scheme Campaign, 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children and the School Nutrition Campaign.

For more information, call the Department of Basic Education: 0800 202 933 or 012 357 3000 Fax: 012 323 6260/0601.

 

Final countdown for matrics . . .

Written by Refilwe Thobega
More than 600 000 matric pupils across South Africa are presently buried in their books studying for their final examinations. For some, who started studying at the last minute, it is a very stressful time, but for those who started preparing well in advance, it is much easier.

Ntombikayise TshabanguOne learner who did her homework well, is 18-year old Pretoria matriculant, Ntombikayise Tshabangu. For her, it is an honour to be in matric after all the years of hard work and studying late into the night. She said sitting for examinations is an indication that she has finally reached a major milestone in her life.  

It's an honour

"It's amazing how time flies. Not so long ago I was in pre-school, but today this is me sitting for my matric examinations, so there's nothing more I can say other than that I am indeed honoured," she said.

"It has been a fun year even though it was difficult, but I managed to overcome the challenges and learned from them. I really enjoyed it as this is my very last year in high school."

Like Ntombikayise, most other matrics have had hurdles to overcome during their final school year. These included having too much to do and too little time, which was stressful, she said.

Leisure activities

However, Ntombikayise believes that it's important to make time for leisure activities and develop other talents such as sport.

"I managed to balance my school work and netball and still passed. Playing for the school's first netball team really made me proud; getting a bronze medal for being one of the best players just added the cherry on top," she said. Eyeing a dream career as an Information Technology (IT) specialist, Ntombikayise plans to further her studies in this field.

"I am extremely lucky because I come from a very supportive family. They put my education first and understand that I need to be focused and dedicated. I urge other families to do same."

Advice

Asked what advice she would give future matriculants, Ntombikayise said those writing examinations must not try to study everything in one night.

"Your brain cannot take in all the information at once; rather study a little bit each and every day. You can study with a friend, or join an after-school homework club for help from a teacher or a friend from the same class."

"Many young people think studying is 'lame' or 'boring'. But it can be fun. You can make up a board game to make studying fun and easy, or you can just type up your notes if it makes it easier to read. Do as much as possible to make sure you know the material, but make time to relax in-between," Ntombikayise said.

Time management

"Matric is not as difficult as one would think; it just requires a lot of studying, concentrating in class and good time management," quips Ntombikayise.

The final exams started on 17 October and the last papers will be written on 1 December. The results will be made public on 7 January 2012.

Tea estate turns over new leaf

Written by Odas Ngobeni
More than 500 jobs will be created for the community of Greater Tzaneen, Limpopo, following plans to revive the Sapekoe Tea Estate. This number could more than double during harvesting.

The revival of the Sapekoe Tea Estate near Tzaneen will create about 2 000 jobs for local communities.The estate, which is located in the scenic Magoebaskloof area, closed down in 2004 when foreign investors abandoned it, leaving more than 2 000 workers jobless.

Community trust

The Makgoba Community Trust successfully claimed the restitution of rights on the Middelkop and Grenshoek Estates, better known as Sapekoe Tea Estate. Situated about 15 kilometres from Tzaneen, it consists of 501 hectares at Middelkop and 498 at Grenshoek Estate.

The province's Department of Agriculture has taken over as caretakers of the estate and made funding available through the Limpopo Agribusiness Development Corporation. R15 million was set aside during the 2010/11 financial year, and a further R9 million this year.

Engine of growth

Limpopo MEC for Agriculture Dipuo Letsatsi- Duba promised last year that the department would work with the community to restore the estate as an engine of economic growth through the creation of about 2 000 jobs.

She said the department would ensure that the Makgoba community would be offered jobs, as well as opportunities to establish small businesses arising from revitalisation and maintenance program.

Lasting income

The department has appointed the Greater Tzaneen Economic Development Agency to develop a business plan.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Agency Kwena Maphoto said the project aimed to "generate lasting income, create jobs, and facilitate economic growth and capital investment that will address the problems of poverty and low intake of labour force into the economy."

The revitalisation program will be based on what was done at the Tshivhase Tea Estate, which has already created over 2 500 jobs. "Midi" tea brand is now found on the shelves of major retail stores throughout the country.

An experienced team was sent from Tshivhase to assist and transfer skills to the community of Makgoba. The team led by Francis Mnisi, who is managing the project, will transfer skills to four members of the Makgoba Community Trust who are being trained as managers.

Harvesting new skills

Hope Masetla (24) a trainee manager at the Sapekoe Tea Estate, said the experience gained so far from working on the revitalisation project had been invaluable.

Hope graduated last year with a degree in Agriculture: Plant Production from the University of Limpopo. Her father was a headman on the estate, and Hope is from the Makgoba royal family

Much-needed jobs

"We grew up knowing Sapekoe as a major employer, so the closing down of the estate was a big blow to this community. Many people lost their jobs," she said.

She added that they were therefore very excited to be involved in rebuilding the estate to its former glory of 40 years ago, which will bring much-needed jobs to the area.

"We have already learned a lot of relevant skills like how to do correct pruning, but we still have much to learn, including plucking," she said.

Supporting her family

Freda Thogwe, a 42-year-old field worker at the estate, says the project has helped her to provide for her three children. "I have been idling at home since the estate closed down in 2004. I'm so happy to be back working and being able to support my children."

For more information, call the Limpopo Department of Agriculture 015 294 3000.

 

Pride and income from a load of rubbish

Written by Elmon Tshikhudo
A group of Limpopo women were not going to sit around with nothing to do while watching their environment deteriorating into a dumping site. Instead, they not only teamed up to clean their village, but also made plans to earn an income.

A group of women from Tshisahulu-Khwevha village outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo collected more than two tonnes of garbage during the launch of a cleanup campaign in September.

"As women, we felt we could not sit down and watch our village deteriorate into a dumping site. Our surroundings were not clean and we realised that we were the ones who could make a difference," said group leader Flora Bvumbithe.

Just a start

The Thulamela Local Municipality collected the women's garbage and took it to the local landfill. The women then planted a tree in their community to mark the occasion. They aim to clean their village twice a month.

"We had nothing to do and this is our humble contribution. It's just a start, but we aim to do our bit to improve our lives," said Bvumbithe.

"One of our long-term plans is to start a selfsustaining project that will generate an income," she said. They already sell some of the waste they have collected such as cans, glass, plastic and brown cardboard, to recycling companies. They also have plans to sell bags and shoes they are making from plastic waste

Plastic bags

Muvhango Tshisaphungo, a community leader who assisted in the clean-up campaign, said the community had already made arrangements for the municipality to provide the women with plastic bags for waste collection.

One of the challenges was that some streets in the village were inaccessible and the municipality would need to clear away bushes. He said the project did not undermine government programmes, but met government halfway.

"We felt we could do our bit to meet government halfway. We are very appreciative of what government is doing in trying to keep our surroundings clean. The municipality has erected refuse bins along our roads and we are making use of them," said Tshisaphungo.

Working together

Municipal spokesperson Nndwamato Tshiila praised the clean-up initiative and encouraged other communities to work with their municipalities too.

"We are always preaching about working together in public-private partnerships and we hope that with the help of our communities we can achieve a lot," said Tshiila.

 

Msinga lights up

Written by BuaNews
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is ensuring that the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme sites are making progress in improving life for poor communities.

[Photo: Siyabulela Duda]Life has become much brighter for about 760 households in Ward 12 in KwaDolo, Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal. In August, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Energy Ms Barbara Thompson, attended a ceremony to switch on electricity in this rural community.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform contributed about R10 million to the project, which was initiated by the uMsinga Local Municipality.

Forty-three youth members from Msinga were involved in the programme and 12 National Rural Youth Service Corps participants were present at the event.

Reaching out

Among those who benefited was the Xulu family of eight children who lost their parents in 2008. The eldest is only 21 years old and has two children of her own.

The family, who used to gather wood and cook on an open fire, is delighted to have access to electricity. They now also live in a new RDP house and receive social welfare grants.

Solar energy

With these services they are grateful that government is reaching out to poor families in rural communities.

The Department of Energy has introduced solar and gas energy in Msinga and the Msinga Municipality installed 4 270 solar heating systems.

Since Msinga is one of the most deprived municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal, it was identified as a Comprehensive Rural Development Programme site. As part of its commitment to this programme, the department is funding a number of projects in the area. Most have started to bear fruit for local communities.

Water scheme

The Minister of Rural Development visited the Nxamalala vegetable production project, which was fenced at a cost of R500  000. An irrigation system worth R800 000 was also installed.

He also visited to the Ndaya Water Scheme, which aims to provide about 800 households with safe drinking water.

Msinga is known for water shortages. The water scheme has two phases; the first has been completed and the second will be completed by the 31 March 2012.

For more information, call the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform 012 312 8911

 

Roads are leading to skills and jobs

Without proper roads it is difficult for people living in rural areas to access major towns to sell their goods or for children to get to school. This is why government has started putting plans into place to drive road construction across the country.

More than 1 000 unemployed people in the Eastern Cape got jobs as part of the S'hamba Sonke programme [Photo: Siyabulela Duda] More than 1 000 unemployed people in the Eastern Cape are the latest to benefit from the S'hamba Sonke road maintenance programme which is being put into practice throughout South Africa. Although the Eastern Cape is the second largest province in the country, it has a very poor road network. The S'hamba Sonke tries to address this.

70 000 jobs

Government is spending R22 billion over the next three years to fix potholes on all secondary and local roads with people from the communities doing the work. It is expected that the programme will create more than 70 000 jobs.

About R6,2 billion has been made available for the project this year, another R7,5 billion for the next financial year and R8,2 billion in 2013 to 2014.

During a recent visit to the Chris Hani district in the Eastern Cape, Vuk'uzenzele met several young men and women who are now able to put food on the table, thanks to the jobs created by various projects linked to the S'hamba Sonke Programme.

The youngsters who reside in villages near Whittlesea and Queenstown, are among the group of semi-skilled and unskilled labourers who have been recruited from several towns in the province to work in the programme. The jobs will involve construction of access roads and resurfacing and patching of national roads, which will contribute towards improving economic activity in the areas.

Gaining skills

One of the youth benefiting from the project is David Skwati (28), who is employed as a driver. He says before the project was introduced in the villages, he sat around doing nothing. "There is no work here, especially if you are uneducated, so when I was given an opportunity to work on this project, I was very grateful," says.

He says while working on the project, he plans to gain skills that may equip him to find employment elsewhere after the project. "We realise that this is not going to be a permanent arrangement so I am trying to gather as many skills as possible to assist me in the future," he said.

The project has helped Neliswa Mahlombe (30), to support her daughter and two sisters who are unemployed. "With the little money that I get, I am able to do a few things, it's not enough but it's better than sitting at home and waiting for the grant. I am unskilled, so this job suits me well it doesn't want a degree so I am grateful to have found employment because at my age it's not easy to find a job here," she said.

Leave a legacy

Jongikhaya Majiba who is managing most of the projects, says the contractors use workers consisting of semi-skilled and unskilled labourers with the aim of helping them to be employable on similar projects in future.

In some instances, the labourers are rotated on a monthly basis to enable as many people as possible to be involved and gain an income and some road construction skills from the projects.

"The idea is leave some kind of legacy, so everything is community driven. They participate fully and you want to ensure that they feel like owners of the projects in their areas," Majiba says.

For more information, call the Eastern Cape's Department of Transport: 043 604 7400.

 

Young trainees assured of jobs

Written by Nthambeleni Gabara
Young people, mostly from the Northern Cape, have the assurance that they will get jobs after completing their training as artisans. The Artisan Training Programme is an initiative of the Department of Public Works' Extended Public Works Programme, which aims to create employment, especially for the youth.

[Photo: GCIS Photographic Unit]Each one of you will walk into jobs that suit your training and skills after completing the programme. I can't train you and not place you," said the Deputy Minister of Public Works, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu. She made this commitment at the graduation of the first batch of young people who completed the theoretical training of the Artisan Development Programme.

A total of 98 learners received their certificates from Bogopane-Zulu at Pelindaba Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) outside Saulsville.

The goal of the Artisan Development Programme is to enable them to earn an income while acquiring technical skills that will improve their chances of employment, entrepreneurship and overall development.

The Deputy-Minister appealed to the graduates to stay the course until they complete their 82 weeks of training, which include practical training.

Artisan qualifications

The development programme, funded by the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the National Youth Service (NYS), will equip learners with artisan qualifications and advanced practical skills. The service-provider, NECSA, was appointed to train them.

Deputy Director-General of the EPWP, Stanley Henderson, said he was impressed that 38 of the learners who received training in boiler making, fitting and turning, mechanical, electrical and welding were young women. He added that after the assessment of the first training programme, youth from other provinces would also be recruited.

Opportunity

"We thank the department for giving us this opportunity. We had our ups and downs in the past eight months that we've been here, but today we are proud to say we are apprentices and it's time to plough back what we've learned in our different trades," said Pulane Kealeboga Jack (27) on behalf of the graduates.

Another learner, Elroy Edmond said, "Before I came here, I knew nothing about boiler making. I will never disappoint by dropping out because I see no reason to start something and not finishing it," he said.

The programme covers accommodation and meals for learners. The National Skills Fund covers all training-related costs.

For more information, call the Department of Public Works: 012 337 3000.

In harmony with nature

Written by Samona Murugan
"If we work with the environment, the environment will work for us," said the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa. She was introducing an eco-friendly furniture factory as part of National Parks Week recently. The factory not only provides jobs to local people, but also develops skills.

Employees of the Eco Furniture Factory, which is part of the SANParks Natural Resource Management Programme. [Photo: Courtesy Department of Environmental Affairs] South Africa is blessed with some of the most beautiful national parks in the world. The Department of Water and Environmental Affairs highlights these valuable national assets each year in September by celebrating National Parks Week. The aim of the week is to raise awareness, share, and give back in the nation's 22 national parks.

One of the main projects highlighted during National Parks Week was the opening of an eco-friendly furniture factory. The project falls under the department's Natural Resource Management Programme.

Invasive plants

Through this factory, the department has been able to create about 52 jobs producing school desks and benches for various government departments.

Programmes like these are aimed at uplifting poor communities, while at the same time helping with the control of invasive alien plants in national parks. The main wood supply is from the invasive alien vegetation in national parks and on private land bordering the parks. These consist largely of blue gum and black wattle trees. The blue gum that is cleared from the parks are mainly used for the manufacturing of furniture while the wattle is used for making poles, walking sticks and related products.

Sustainable development

"If we work for the environment, the environment will work for us," said Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa.

"We are committed to the promotion of a society that lives in harmony with its environment. Therefore we must promote collaboration between the work done by our Natural Resource Management Programme and SANParks to ensure that our approach to environmental management is integrated and responsive to our job creation efforts, She said.

"This is at the heart of government's sustainable development agenda."

For more information, call 021 441 2772.

Public Enterprises youth development programmes

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) aims to provide effective shareholder management of state-owned companies (SOCs) that report to the Department and support and promote economic efficiency and competitiveness for a better life for all South Africans. The SOCs are strategic instruments of industrial policy and core players in the New Growth Path (NGP). The Department aims to provide decisive strategic direction to the SOCs so that their businesses are aligned with the national growth strategies arising out of the NGP. It will do this by ensuring that their planning and performance, investments and activities are in line with government's Medium-Term Strategic Framework and the Minister's Service Delivery Agreement.
Youth development programmes organised by the DPE

The Graduate Development Programme targets full-time students who are still pursuing their studies at universities. The scholarship is for studies at honours or masters level in areas covering scarce and critical skills relevant to the department. At the end of the their full-time studies, these students are offered a two-year employment contracts as a way of paying back the department. After the two years of serve-back, some of these graduates are absorbed, depending on the need and availability of vacant posts.

Young women bridge the technical divide

Written by Alfred Nhlapo
Ms Bongi Dumakude, is a young woman with technical veins in her system. She speaks about gaining practical training and knowledge on the workings of medical gas, air conditioning, refrigerators and fitters at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital where she contributes to the preservation of precious life.

Itumeleng Sebolediso is on the Accelerated Artisans Training Programme. [Photo: Courtesy Department of Infrastructure Development] Bongi works under the guidance of experienced artisans in the biggest hospital in the southern hemisphere. She is part of the National Youth Service, a programme that gave 4 000 youth the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills in various areas of the public service.

Opportunities

According to the Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development, Mr Bheki Nkosi, “The socio-economic context of Gauteng is characterised by an economy that continues to create opportunities for new investments in Gauteng. It is also characterised by its demand for service delivery. My department has implemented some projects which speak to this need.”

It is one of these opportunities created by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development that Ms Dumakude benefited from. “I feel proud to be doing work that was historically preserved for males. Doing maintenance work has helped me to gain important skills and to also grow as a person,” she says.

Fulfilling

Ms Itumeleng Sebolediso is on the Accelerated Artisans Training Programme. She specialises in plumbing and says it is fulfilling to differentiate between maintenance and construction works.

“I have realised that communication is the key to resolving service-delivery challenges. The more we talk with one another, the more we will learn to find better solutions. The people who are mentoring us are also very helpful,” she says.

Big plans

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development has big plans regarding skills development, for the financial year 2011/2012. According to MEC Nkosi, “the department will address attendant shortages by developing artisans.  The planned intake for the 2011/12 financial years is 200 artisans. About 100 bursaries will be awarded to students to pursue careers in the scarce and critical skills fields.  The department is planning to register 40 learners on learnership programmes. Internships for practical workplace experience will be awarded to 50 graduates. The department has planned to enrol 40 adults on the Adult Basic Education and Training Programme”.

Ms Zanele Nkosi is a trainee carpenter. She says it is important to be accurate and meticulous when taking measurements. “We are working with sensitive and dangerous equipment which needs to be handled with care.”

Technical know-how

Ms Elsie Masandiwa holds an N6-equivalent qualification in Civil Engineering. She is passionate about bricklaying on which she is currently being mentored and trained over a 12-month period. She also does paving and building.

One of the mentors, Mr Frans Rapotu said, “I have told these young women and men that although I am available for support, it will not help them if I play a protector role. They will then take too long to build the necessary mental muscle to see them through this challenging, but exciting world of technical know-how.”

For more information, call the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development: 011 355 5000.

Moving up through mentoring

Written by BuaNews
South Africa’s youth are urged to seize opportunities and not give up on establishing their own small businesses. Encouraging young people to persevere, National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) Chief Executive Steven Ngubeni said “it’s too early to give up and be hopeless”.

Young people are encouraged to make use of mentroship programmes to improve their business skills. [Photo: GCIS Photographic Unit]He said youth across the country and in Africa should not fail to grab opportunities and later “cry foul” when they are gone.

Mentorship

Ngubeni said most small businesses were collapsing within a year of establishment because of a lack of mentorship. He was talking to Vuk’uzenzele at an Entrepreneurial Mentorship Programme provided by the NYDA’s partnership with Evo Media, which is based in the United States of America.

About 50 candidates from the Western Cape benefited from the mentorship programme, which ran for a few days, before it was moved to Gauteng.

Noli Mini testified at the gathering that her mobile health spa business was running well after she received mentorship from the NYDA. After three sessions of mentorship, she quit her job to pursue her dream.

Business strategy

Mini challenged the NYDA to follow up with entrepreneurs and help them implement their business strategies. She also challenged other entrepreneurs to seek opportunities and not to expect the NYDA to “perform miracles”.

Geer Kyle Dennison, a young fashion designer from Johannesburg who recently moved to Cape Town, said that after she received mentorship, three boutiques had now accepted her clothing line.

Western Cape NYDA chairman Ghaliep Essop said young people could rise beyond their poor backgrounds to run successful businesses and move up in life.

Volunteers

Todd Plimpton, a mentor from the US, said he learnt from the people he mentored, adding that mentoring helped him to “reground” his experiences.

According to the NYDA, more than 5 000 young entrepreneurs throughout the country have accessed mentoring offered by local mentors. More than 500 seasoned professionals and entrepreneurs have volunteered to assist young business people.

More than 50 group mentoring sessions had been held countrywide. They covered key challenges affecting small businesses, such as access to funding, business leadership and staff development.

For more information, call the NYDA call centre on 0860 096 884.

Fair employment for disabled

Written by BuaNews
International Day of Diabled Persons is marked worldwide on 3 December every year. In South Africa, the Department of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities was established to emphasise the need for equity and access to development opportunities for vulnerable groups within South African society.

The figures are dismal regarding the representation of persons with disability at top and senior management levels in the workplace according to the latest Employment Equity (EE) Commission report. This was put at 0,8 per cent, together with that of African women, said President Jacob Zuma.

He revealed that a Disability Act is being drafted to deal with enforcement, non-compliance and implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The convention covers areas such as accessibility, rehabilitation, participation in political life, equality and non-discrimination of the disabled.

National policy

President Zuma said to ensure the proper implementation of the convention, government was developing a National Disability Policy and its implementation guidelines.

“We will also continue to promote the inclusion of persons with disability in the mainstream economy through instruments such as the Employment Equity Act and the Black Economic Empowerment Act among others,” President Zuma said.

He said government was looking at proposals such as increasing the fines imposed on employers to deter them from not complying with the Act.

Sheltered employment

Other special initiatives with regards to job opportunities for include the Department of Labour’s initiative of funding and managing Sheltered Employment Factories for persons with disabilities.

There are currently 12 such factories and discussions are at an advanced stage for them to be increased and transformed.

Disability grants

To date, a total of 981 331 persons with disability get disability grants from government, while a total of 122 153 children with disabilities receive care dependency grants to assist their care givers in looking after them. In addition, 248 589 persons with temporary disability receive temporary disability grants.

These grants contribute immensely to the alleviation of poverty.

For more information, call the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities: 012 359 0071.

Pursuing study dreams in Turkey

Written by Samona Murugan

Youth matters

Two months before he was to leave on a lifetime opportunity to pursue his studies at a university in Turkey, Mthokozisi Perceverence Guliwe's stepfather and guardian passed away.

A group of students who received scholarships to further their studies at various universities in Turkey. [Photo: Courtesy NYDA]As difficult as things were, the 19-year-old, with his struggling mother's blessing, left South Africa with a group of 11 other disadvantaged youths who had been awarded scholarships to study at various universities in Turkey

Partnership

The scholarship is a partnership between the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Turkey Embassy.

In October last year, Mthokozisi from Nhlazatshe, a village near Badplass, Mpumalanga, and other recipients from five provinces, left South Africa to pursue their dreams of studying in the fields of engineering, information technology, biomedical technology, commerce and law.

The Mechatronics Engineering student Mthokozisi says: “I was in a church choir practice when I received a call from the NYDA informing me that I had been chosen to receive a scholarship to study overseas. My mother was overjoyed when I told her.”

Last month, the students returned to South Africa for their first home visit since the departure but returned to continue their studies.

New world

Mthokozisi Guliwe. [Photo: Courtesy NYDA]Lucinda Fischer (21) from Manenberg in Cape Town has enrolled to study Geological Engineering, a four-year Bachelor of Science Degree, at the Middle-East Technical University. Lucinda says having left South Africa for Turkey in October last year had opened her eyes to a new world.

“I’ve had to mature fast; I made new friends and met new people. I was sad to leave my family behind but the thought of reching my goal keeps me going. I want to make my family and my country very proud,” she says.

The scholarship covers tuition, residence and a monthly stipend. Recipients of the scholarship come from KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, Limpopo and the Western Cape. The project is in the first year of implementation.

For more information, call the NYDA call centre on 0860 096 884.

Green team on a winning spree

Youth matters

Curiosity, vision and a clear management plan has helped a team of youngsters from Kwa-Thema to win their ninth first prize in the Bontle ke Botho (BKB) Clean and Green regional competition.

The Ntokozweni Primary School boasts a vegetable garden, medicinal herbs and a fully operational nursery. [Photo: GCIS Photographic Unit]The Ntokozweni Primary School's Enviro Task Team, which is passionate about the environment and dedicated enough to sacrifice their personal time on public holidays, has won the first prize four times at provincial level.

"We have a clear management plan, which has an activity schedule, but above all, our Enviro Team is curious and always looking to learn more about environmental issues," said Lungile Motha, a teacher and coordinator of the Enviro Task Team at the school. Motha was sharing her team's tips for a successful project at the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality's BKB prize-giving ceremony in Tembisa recently.

Oasis

Motha’s school has been participating in the BKB Programme since it started in 2002 and have won first prize in the Ekurhuleni region nine times. The most impressive part is how they have used the money to form an oasis in the middle of their township.

The school grounds boast an indigenous plant garden, a vegetable garden and medicinal herbs, as well as a fully operational nursery from which the community can buy vegetable seedlings.

In addition, a corner with recycling bins demonstrates the team’s waste-management skills. The team saves water by watering the garden with rainwater collected in a JoJo container, as well as through an irrigation system which uses a minimal amount of water.

Using indigenous plants as far as possible also helps to save water as they can withstand dry conditions.

River sand

Water is further conserved by planting seedlings in river sand, which retains water and by placing watering cans and tubs outside classrooms to avoid children using too much tap water.

The Enviro Task Team comprises 12 teachers and learners who are involved in the Ekurhuleni Youth and Environment Club, Environmental and School Buddies. They dedicate three days a week to look after the gardens.

Culture yields jobs for youth

Youth matters

"Our culture is what defines us as a nation and as a country," said Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk. He encouraged the country's youth to take advantage of the job creation potential presented by tourism and cultural products.
World Tourism Day

The Minister was speaking at World Tourism Day celebrations held at the Basotho Cultural Village just outside Qwaqwa in the Free State recently. He said government was prepared to support the youth by equipping them with business skills geared towards the tourism industry.

Free State MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Mxolisi Dukwana said that South Africa prided itself on its heritage sites, which attract thousands of foreign tourists.

He added that the provincial government was doing everything in its power to promote culture and tourism.

Cultural tourism is an important attraction for visitors to South Africa. Getting involved in tourism is an excellent way for the youth to promote and preserve their cultures, he added.

Economic growth

Tourism has been identified as one of the six main economic sectors that should drive economic growth and job creation. Government aims to increase the number of foreign tourist arrivals from 7 million in 2009 to 15 million by 2020 and tourism’s total contribution to the economy from R89 billion in 2009  to R499 billion by 2020.

For more information, call the Department of Tourism: 012 444 6000.

Meet Minister Bathabile Dlamini

Written by Mduduzi Tshabangu

Know your Minister

Ms Bathabile Dlamini was appointed Minister of Social Development on 1 November 2010. From May 2009, she was Deputy Minister of Social Development under interim President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Social Development Minister Bathabile DlaminiDlamini is a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress (ANC). She became an active member of the Idlangamabala Youth at Imbali's St Marks Anglican Church as well as South African Student Congress.

ANC structures

After the release of Nelson Mandela, she worked with various structures including the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions, Youth and various underground structures of the ANC. She became part of the interim leadership that was formed to build the ANC Women’s League structures in KwaZulu-Natal in 1991.

From 1991 to 1993, Minister Dlamini worked for the Pietermaritzburg Cripples Care Association that worked with the physically disabled.

Women's league

She was elected to the first Regional Executive Committee of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) and in 1993, she became Deputy Secretary General of the ANCWL.

From 1994 to 2004, Ms Dlamini was a Member of Parliament and served in the Correctional Services and Social Development Portfolio Committees.

In 1998, she was appointed Secretary-General of the ANCWL. She held this position until to 2008, making her one of the longest serving Secretaries-General of the organisation.

Progressive Women's Movement

In 2007, she was actively involved in the formation of the Progressive Women’s Movement of South Africa and was on the National Executive of the ANC as well as the Working Committee.

Minister Dlamini holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Studies from the University of Zululand.

One-stop protection for abuse victims

Know your minister

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini launched a one-stop care centre for abused women and children at the Polokwane Welfare Centre. It is the first of others that will be set up in all nine provinces.

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini officially opened the Limpopo Khuseleka One-Stop Centre.The Khuseleka One-Stop Centre, which will be open 24 hours a day, provides services such as trauma counselling and psychological support, healthcare, police services, legal assistance and shelter for victims of abuse.

The name ''Khuseleka'' is derived from the Zulu word which means protection.

Groundbreaking

The Khuseleka One-Stop Centre is a ground-breaking initiative of the Department of Social Development. The department started the centre in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the European Union (EU) under the Victim Empowerment Programme. The programme addresses crimes such as domestic violence, rape, human trafficking and sexual harassment.

Other government departments and organisations also support the initiative. They include the departments of justice and constitutional development and health, the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa and the South African Police Services, as well as civil society organisations.

Volunteers

Also present at the launch of the Limpopo Khuseleka One-Stop Centrewere Limpopo Premier Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Social Development Maria Ntuli and Deputy Minister of Police, Maggie Sotyu.On the day of the launch, a group of volunteer graduates who completed atraining course in victim empowerment and trauma counseling received certificates. Volunteers are critical in staffing the Khuseleka One-Stop Centre and supplementing the skills of professional staff.

Khuseleka stands as a good example of a partnership between government, development agencies and civil society organisations.

For more Information, call the Department of Social Development on 012 312 7500.

Government beefs up social work studies

Written by Francis Hweshe

Know your minister

In view of a dire shortage of social workers, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, is encouraging high school pupils in rural areas to take up social work.

The Department of Social Development has provided nearly 5 000 scholarships to students to take up social work studies at various universities around the country.

The move comes at a time when there is a need for about 55 000 qualified social workers in South Africa according to Professor Vivienne Taylor from the University of Cape Town.

Professor Taylor noted that South Africa had a youthful population, high unemployment, chronic poverty and high levels of violence against women and children, as well as rising substance abuse and the devastating effects of HIV and Aids.

Shortage

“We need innovative ways of responding to both the supply of social workers and to the increasing social disintegration that exists in the most deprived communities in South Africa,” she said.

In April, before her Budget Vote speech in Parliament, Minister Dlamini noted the shortage of social workers. At the time, she not only encouraged young people to take up social works studies, but said she would call back retired social workers to assist the younger generation.

Recruitment

She said the department aimed to step up the recruitment, training and employment of social workers, as well as child and youth workers to help ease the workload of social workers.

About 16 400 social workers are currently employed in both government and non-government organisations throughout South Africa to address the welfare needs of children as highlighted in the Children’s Act.

These services range from prevention and treatment of substance abuse to crime prevention and HIV and Aids support.

For more information, call the Department of Social Development on 012 312 7500.

Two years of service to citizens

Written by Sekgabo Kedijang

Presidential hotline

Since its launch in 2009, the Presidential hotline has served as an important tool for South African citizens as well as government. It has enabled citizens to participate in government and help make it more efficient by voicing their opinions, concerns and complaints.

Some provinces have since also started their own hotlines located in the offices of the premiers. These help to ease the pressures on the presidential hotline, especially those cases that can be dealt with by municipalities.

Feedback

An analysis of trends indicates that queries are not only centred around service-delivery, but also on administrative issues. These range from water shortages, poor health and education facilities and inadequate transport services.

The set turnaround time to solve cases reported is three working days, depending on what is involved in a particular case. Focus is placed on providing feedback to callers and updating them on progress even if their cases cannot be solved in the set turnaround time.

Anonymous

Callers may remain anonymous when calling the Presidential Hotline, especially when reporting or complaining about cases of corruption.

Just like other queries, corruption cases are referred to relevant institutions that have the capacity to investigate the alleged corruption. Of all the queries that have reached the Presidential Hotline, allegations of corruption amount to less than 2 per cent.

Employment queries are topping the calls with an estimated 19 per cent, followed by housing problems at 14 per cent.

Categories related to the law, social benefits, information from government, citizenship, electricity, education and training, water and health services, are also high on the list.

Callers to the Presidential hotline are urged not to make false or hoax calls.

KZN makes the most of hotline

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi

Presidential hotline

Since the Presidential Hotline was launched about two years ago, more than a third of the queries were from KwaZulu-Natal residents. Most of the queries had been attended to immediately and solved within the required time, says the province's Director-General, Mr Nhlanhla Ngidi.

Ngidi says the Public Liaison Unit in the Premier's Office has been working flat-out with the officials of the hotline to speedily resolve queries lodged.

"Immediately after President Jacob Zuma launched the hotline in September 2009, we ensured that the Public Liaison Unit in the Office of Premier Zweli Mkhize became fully functional."

Service-delivery

He said it was not surprising that more than 29 per cent of the calls or queries made to the Presidential Hotline came from KwaZulu-Natal. Based on the 2001 Census figures, KwaZulu-Natal had the most people residing in it when compared to the other eight provinces.

Being a mainly rural province, it had been expected that there would be a flood of calls because of service-delivery challenges. These include the provision of clean and safe drinking water, roads, educational and health facilities in most of the district municipalities.

Municipalities

Of the more than 280 municipalities in South Africa, KwaZulu-Natal is home to more than 50 local municipalities and 10 district municipalities as well as one metropolitan municipality.

“It is a given that based on the population distribution numbers, KwaZulu-Natal would have more calls to the Presidential Hotline, but we have not been sitting idly as proven by the high rate of cases that were resolved.”

Turnaround time

Ngidi said the Public Liaison Unit in the Office of the Premier encouraged members of the public to report cases in person at the unit’s office in Pietermaritzburg.

“We are working with both local and district municipalities to make more funds available to set up liaison units in the offices of the mayors so that we can improve on our turnaround time when attending to queries,” Ngidi said.

Walk-in facilities

“We hope the sooner liaison units are set up at municipal level, the better will be our coordination so that we remove more pressure from the Presidential Hotline. We hope these liaison units at municipal levels will have walk-in facilities to enable members of the public to personally report their problems,” he added.

Presidential Hotline: 17737

Letters to the Editor - Give us a piece of your mind

Winning letter - Women are the foundation of the world

My mother once told me that the ability to achieve anything starts with a state of the mind. I feel very honoured to be the daughter of such a strong woman. But it’s not only about my mother. All women around the world are the greatest foundations of the world. Barbara Luvhengo, Johannesburg, Gauteng

We would like to hear from you
If any of the information published in Vuk'uzenzele has helped you in any way to improve your life, we would love to hear from you. Don't forget to include your telephone or cellphone number and address.

 
Let's not abandon our cultures

September was Heritage Month, but most of us have abandoned our cultures. The western culture is pulling us like wagons moved by donkeys. This even shows in the food we eat and the clothes we wear. We fail to arrange cultural events to entertain and bring us back home.

The elderly people of today do not have hobbies. All they do is queue in endless lines at clinics fetching medicine. They should use their talents to teach young people about their traditions like dancing, games, storytelling and the do’s and don’ts of the different cultures. Teach them the important recipes of life instead of dying with the knowledge. Young people of this country should learn from the elderly – who are rich with knowledge.

Ntsoane Rethabile, Mphahlele, Limpopo

Counting our blessings

It is a privilege to live in a habitable country like South Africa; a country that gave birth to fearless leaders who did a tremendous job to save our heritage. It’s a huge pity to see the disasters, political instability and wars that are happening around the world. Just imagine experiencing the Libyan uprising, the drought and starvation in Somalia or being trapped by a huge wall as a result of an earthquake.

God has blessed us, so it is our duty to make sure that our Mzansi remains free and democratic. Let’s use our resources sparingly, nurture our democracy and embrace our differences. May God bless Africa and the rest of the world.

Jones Mathobela, Ga-Mabiloane, Limpopo
 

Why ban alcohol advertisements?

I would like to voice my concern regarding the banning of alcohol advertisements. Government is making a big mistake once again by banning such adverts. In the end, the advertising industry will suffer. Did the banning of cigarette ads yield any results?

Instead of banning alcohol advertisements, our authorities should rather use them in a constructive and informative way, by for example notifying people about the dangers of alcohol abuse. Our health and social department authorities should at least educate and promote the change in behaviour to limit alcohol consumption.

Melusi Radebe, Balfour, Mpumalanga

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Vuk'uzenzele, Private Bag X745, Pretoria, 0001, or e-mail: vukuzenzele@gcis.gov.za.
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To win a prize you must include a physical address and a contact telephone number.
Prizes that re not claimed within 90 days of publication, will be forfeited.

 

Three continents join hands

Samona Murugan

International relations

The South African government hosted the 5th India, Brazil, South Africa (IBSA) Dialogue Forum Summit in Pretoria from 17 to 18 October. It provided a platform for the three countries to have discussions on cooperation in fields such as agriculture, trade, culture, and defence, among other things.

Established in June 2003, IBSA, which stands for India, Brazil and South Africa is a platform for discussion among the three emerging countries. The establishment of IBSA was formalised by the Brasilia Declaration.

The IBSA Dialogue Forum aims to promote international cooperation among the three countries, which will also stimulate cooperation among other countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Greater understanding

The forum provides the three countries with a platform to discuss cooperation in the fields of agriculture, trade, culture, and defence, among other things.

It also promotes greater understanding between three important continents of the developing world namely, Africa, Asia and South America.

IBSA has become an umbrella for various initiatives, both in the diplomatic field and in public administration sectors.

Global issues

Their status as middle powers, their common need to address social inequalities and combined trade areas in the three countries are additional elements that bring the members of the forum together.

India, Brazil and South Africa, through IBSA will also bring their voice together on global issues, especially regarding cooperation and partnerships with less developed countries.

IBSA does not have headquarters or a permanent executive secretariat. At the highest level, the heads of state meet at the Summits of Heads of State and Government. The last summit took place on 18 and 19 October 2011 in South Africa.

Foreign ministers

Additionally, the three countries’ Foreign Ministers meet about once a year at the Joint Commissions of the Forum. Six have taken place to date. The first one was in 2004 in New Delhi. Subsequent forums have been held in Cape Town (2005), Rio de Janeiro (2006), New Delhi (2007), Somerset West (2008) Brasilia (2009) and New Delhi in March 2011.

Strengthening ties with EU

Written by Bathandwa Mbola

International relations

South Africa is always willing and looking at ways to improve its relationships, cooperation and partnerships with other countries to benefit the country and its people.

President Jacob Zuma with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Council President Herman van Rompuy. To this end, the fourth annual meeting between South Africa and the European Union (EU) recently took place at Skukuza in the Kruger National Park, Mpumalanga. President Jacob Zuma and the President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, led the discussions with the aim of reviewing and building on the partnership between the two sides.

The EU is an economical and political partnership between 27 countries European countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Greece.

Trading partner

As South Africa’s biggest trading partner, the EU has recommitted itself to trading with and aiding South Africa and Africa. This is despite the debt crisis affecting some of its member countries, threatening its currency, the euro.

In 2009, the EU launched a €100-million (about R1 000 million) programme aimed at boosting job creation and stimulating economic growth in South Africa.

Van Rompuy said South Africa, as a developing African country, was a strategic partner in the region. “I am pleased our relations have continued to strengthen since last year.

We now cooperate in an increasing number of matters, including science and technology, energy, environment, education and health, to mention just a few.”

The EU has undertaken to establish a South African Development Partnership. The purpose is to look at new opportunities of trade and cooperation in areas such as infrastructure, information technology communication, crime and justice, as well as global issues such as climate change.

Partnership

The EU will also support government in fields such as healthcare. To this end, it has committed 126 million euros (about R1 346 million) towards improving primary healthcare in South Africa. This will be used to help increase life expectancy, reduce maternal and child deaths and to step up the fight against HIV and AIDS and tuberculosis.

What is the European Union (EU)?

The EU is a group of European countries that participates in the world economy as one economic unit and operates under one official currency, the euro.

The EU's goal is to create a barrier-free trade zone and to improve economic wealth and growth by creating more efficiency within its marketplace.

The EU is South Africa's biggest trading partner.

 

Shifting to the diplomacy of ubuntu

Written by Bathandwa Mbola

International relations

The country's new foreign policy aims to create a better life for all by remaining true to the principles of ubuntu. Ubuntu, which means "I am who I am because of or through other people", promotes a culture of serving others for the good of all.

India External Relations Minister Mr SM Krishna, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation South Africa, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and Brazil's Minister of External Relations, Antonio Patriota. [Photo: GCIS Photographic Unit]South Africa’s foreign policy is due for a major shift, which will embrace the African principle of ubuntu – loosely translated as humanity. The revised foreign policy is outlined in a White Paper issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), which sets out clear guidelines for the way forward.

The white paper was drafted after wide consultation with foreign policy analysts, business and union leaders and civil society. It was approved by Cabinet recently and will soon be considered by Parliament.

A better world

Through the new policy, government strives towards more focused and effective foreign cooperation. “Our struggle for a better life for all in South Africa is closely intertwined with our struggle for a better Africa and a better world for all, said International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in this regard.

“These values are ingrained in the South African Constitution and inform our foreign policy and my department’s vision,” the Minister said.

Key regions

To achieve this, the White Paper outlines how South Africa is to conduct its foreign policy in key regions of the world including Africa, Asia and Europe.

The White Paper points out that South Africa aims to contribute towards the transformation of the global system of governance from a power-based to a rules-based system in a fair and unbiased way to benefit all.

It addresses global issues through international organisations such as the United Nations rather than through individual nations.

Global trends

Reference is made to the setting up of the South African Development Partnership Agency. This will improve international cooperation and the implementation of development and humanitarian assistance programmes.

The White Paper also considers trends in the global system including cooperation with new economic powers, dealing with global warming, the demand for scarce resources and the changing nature of conflict and insecurity.

Meaningful relationships

DIRCO’s name change from the Department of Foreign Affairs to that of International Relations and Cooperation in 2009, reflects the department’s role in building more meaningful and more open relations and partnerships.

Such partnerships will advance South Africa’s national interests to promote economic growth and create a better life for all South Africans.

For more information, call the Department of International Relations and Cooperation: 012 351 1000.

SA strengthens ties with Nordic countries

International relations

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe visited the Nordic countries last month to strengthen political and economic relations with Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

Deputy President Kgalema MotlantheThe aim was to promote the African Agenda and share views on the reform of global governance institutions, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said.

The visit took place within the framework of the Declaration of Intent relating to partnerships in Africa that was signed between South Africa, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden in 2008.

DIRCO noted that Nordic countries supported the struggle against apartheid and that after the first democratic elections, their involvement with South Africa expanded to include a comprehensive Development Assistance Programme.

“As a result of South Africa’s growing regional and international stature, internal stability and economic growth, the Nordics have been keen to explore ways to expand the existing relationship. The Nordics also see South Africa as playing a key role in the development of its relationship with sub-Saharan Africa,” the department said.

Cabinet spokesperson Jimmy Manyi said that the visit further strengthened political and economic relations. “Communication on the South-South dialogue was augmented by the outcome of this visit,” he said.

Fighting cross-border fires

Written by Nthambeleni Gabara

International relations

South Africa recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kingdom of Swaziland on cross-border fires. The MoU was signed by South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Swaziland’s Tourism and Environmental Minister, Macford Sibandze, in Pretoria.

Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tina Joemat-Petterson, left, and Swaziland's Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Macford Sibandze, signing in Pretoria.The significance of this agreement is in the spirit of promoting further cross-border coordination of fire management activities between the two neighbouring countries to ensure timely responses to fire suppression needs.

Through this MoU, South Africa and the Kingdom of Swaziland agree to work co-operatively to the fullest possible extent consistent with fire-fighter safety on their borders. The two countries will integrate their fire-management control and will also share resources.

This bilateral agreement between Swaziland and South Africa is a way for the two countries to cooperate in ensuring that healthy relations are maintained and further developed.

Skateboarding ramps up Kimberley's profile

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi

Sport

Famous for its legendary Big Hole during the diamond rush at the turn of the 19th Century, the city of Kimberley in the Northern Cape has added a 21st century feather to its cap.

Flying high in Kimberley during the Maloof Money Cup World Skateboarding Championships [Photo: Neftali]Kimberley is the new-found skateboarding capital of South Africa. This follows the city's successful hosting of the Maloof Money Cup World Skateboarding Championships 2011 early last month. It was the first time that this world-renowned skateboarding event was held outside its traditional venue – the United States of America.

The event confirmed once again that South Africa is a sporting destination of choice following the country's successful hosting of major events such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup, a Cricket World Cup, the African Cup of Nations, the All Africa Games and a Rugby World Cup.

Incredible country

Joe Maloof, the creator of the Maloof Money Cup, was blown away by the experience in the Northern Cape.

"I have never seen anything like it. The fans were absolutely incredible," he said.

"The people here in South Africa and Kimberley welcomed us with open arms and we've had the time of our lives. This is an incredible country and we are excited for the future of skateboarding here – I'm confident we'll see a champion from South Africa emerge very soon."

Local fans

Skateboarding champion Ishod Wair won the Maloof Money Cup Skateboarding World Championship, with Durban-born Tommy Flynn taking second place. Canadian skateboarder Pierre Luc Gagnon took the honours in the vert competition, which involves riding a skateboard on a vertical ramp.

The event has sparked the excitement and interest of local fans to take up skateboarding, something that will be encouraged by the Northern Cape Provincial government.

South African Tourism was one of the major sponsors of the event, along with Standard Bank and Kumba Iron Ore Mine Limited.

Congratulations

Roshene Singh, South African Tourism’s chief marketing officer, was thrilled at the outcome. Singh said the Maloof Money Cup was clearly a huge success and had brought considerable global exposure from a completely new market to the Northern Cape.

 “The skaters and the Maloof family left South Africa delighted with their experience, excited to be returning for the next two years, and as influential ambassadors for our destination,” she added.

“We would like to congratulate the Northern Cape authorities for the hard work that went into staging the event and commend them on the great success of the Maloof Money Cup,” said Singh.

Win or lose, you are still our heroes

Written by BuaNews

Sport

South Africans turned out in their numbers at the OR Tambo International Airport to welcome the Boks back from New Zealand – proving that win or lose, the fans are still behind the men in green and gold. Although the Boks lost 11-9 to Australia in their quarter-final match of the Rugby World Cup, Deputy Minister of Sport Gert Oosthuizen said they were still national heroes. Oosthuizen, who was also at the airport to welcome them, said their exit from the World Cup had been heartbreaking and painful, but the team had given their best. “You fought so hard to retain the cup and you are really national heroes,” he said.

 

Fans welcoming the Boks back. [Photo: Courtesy of Sport and Recreation South Africa]
Deputy Minister of Sport Gert Oosthuizen and Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula

 

Bafana fails to qualify

Written by BuaNews

Sport

A moment of instant celebration for Bafana fans and players alike turned to sorrow on learning that the national football team had not qualified for the African Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in 2012 in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Top of Group G

Joy turned to sorrow when Bafana Bafana failed to qualify in terms of the CAF rules. [Photo: StarAfrica.com]After the qualifying match between Sierra Leone and South Africa early last month, Bafana players, their technical staff and supporters danced and hugged, but their happiness was short-lived when it was announced that according to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) rules, Bafana had failed to qualify for the 2012 Afcon finals.

Bafana, who played a goalless draw against Sierra Leone at Mbombela stadium and finished top of Group G on goal difference, followed by the Leone Stars and Niger all tied on nine points.

However, because Niger had – in the qualifying rounds – beaten both South Africa and Sierra Leone, it had more points than the other two. This gave Niger six points while South Africa and Sierra Leone got five each, resulting in Niger qualifying for the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

A winning nation

“If CAF rules apply, we urge all our people to abide by the rules and life should go on,” said Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula.

“With our country having been awarded the hosting rights of the 2013 Afcon tournament, we will have to go back to the drawing board and work harder to get our boys back to where they belong - in an active and winning nation,” he said.

“It is really tough, but we are up for every challenge. From now on both our national teams should rest in our knowledge that: The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that you are in control of your life. If you don’t do that, life controls you. You really continue to make us proud. You defied great odds.”