Right of reply to defamatory article headlined Abuses in Our Places of Worship The Board of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God is outraged by the content of the article written by Devan Moonsamy, CEO of The ICHAF Training Institute, headlined: Abuses in Our Places of Worship, published in MyPR.co.za on 9 April 2018. It has also appeared under the headline: If you want to make money in Africa, start a religion, on http://www.sabreakingnews.co.za and https://www.webmail.co.za on 10 April 2018. The article is defamatory and contains unsubstantiated content which has damaged the reputation of the Universal Church and its members. Had the author sought input or verification from the Universal Church as a responsible journalist, they would have responded to his questions and distanced themselves from the unsubstantiated content. The resulting article would then likely have been fair, balanced and accurate. It fails to uphold any of these requirements. It should be noted that the Universal Church appeared before the CRL Commission in November 2015 and was complimented by the Commission on its stringent procedures and policies and the manner in which the organisation conducts itself. In the article published on MyPR.co.za, Devan Moonsamy, CEO of the ICHAF Training Institute, wrote: The highly controversial Universal Church has been banned in some countries, but is still widely popular in South Africa. This is an unprofessional and unfounded statement. There is no reference or source cited as to where this information was obtained and therefore no method to verify it. In any event, the Board of the Universal Church refutes the allegation of having been banned in the strongest possible terms. In countries where the Universal Church has been investigated, it has been found that the allegations levelled against it were unfounded and that the Universal Church had complied with all legal and Governmental requirements. It is interesting that this is not . . .
South Africa has the fourth highest rate of cyberbullying in the world, with 24% of teens experiencing it in some form, in comparison to the global average of 18%*. What’s more, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth experience nearly three times as much bullying and harassment online as non-LGBT youth**. “In a global cyberbullying study, teens around the world said cyberbullying made them feel depressed or helpless and some even experienced suicidal thoughts. With LGBT youth being more than twice as likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol to cope with stress, two and a half times more likely to harm themselves and three times more likely to attempt suicide than other teenagers, according to Mental Health America, the potential impacts of cyberbullying on young LGBT people are severe,” says Riaan Norval, Project Manager for Young Heroes - a campaign being run by Anova Health Institute and funded by the Elton John Aids Foundation. The campaign aims to empower adolescent youth - specifically young men who identify as gay or bisexual, or who are questioning their sexuality - by equipping them with information, safe spaces, resources and a supportive community through its social media, website and mobile platforms. It also ensures that they have access to healthcare services, including mental health support, should they need it. While cyberbullying can take many forms, some of the most common faced by LGBT teens include discrimination, the screenshotting and spreading of private chats mentioning their sexual orientation, sending inappropriate messages or pictures and threatening to share sexts. To protect themselves from cyberbullying, Norval advises that young people avoid sharing their passwords, private photos, or personal data such as their address or phone number online. He also suggests that they never reveal anything publically that they would not be comfortable with others knowing. “Remember, when you share something online, it can be . . .
Rights commission formed to investigate abuses in SA religions In 2015, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (the CRL Rights Commission) began its investigation into the commercialisation of religion and other abuses happening in religious organisations in South Africa. Their investigation report was submitted to Parliament in June 2017. The report states, ‘Recent controversial news reports and articles in the media about pastors have left a large portion of society questioning whether religion has become a commercial institution or commodity to enrich a few’ (CRL Rights Commission, 2017: 4). In this article, I take a look abuse and corruption taking place within churches. It was not surprising that the Commission encountered resistance from religious groups that did not want to discuss how they are being run. Some religious groups are self-regulating and strive to adhere to high moral standards. They have better reputations. As a result, the Commission did not investigate certain religious groups, but focused on those who were raising red flags.Legal expert adviser to the Commission, Shadrack Gutto (2017) explained that our South African Constitution ‘provides for the rights of people belonging to a religious community to enjoy their religion and “to form, join and maintain religious associations”, but not “in a manner inconsistent with any provision of the Bill of Rights.”’ This is the critical aspect – we have many freedoms, but they must not trespass on the rights of others and go against laws protecting all parties in various aspects of social, religious and economic life. In some cases, religious leaders are unpaid volunteers, and others receive a modest living so that they can devote themselves fully to the faith and to helping people. Many religious leaders choose theology out of a strong desire to help others. However, the too close association between money and some religious . . .
Newly-appointed Amatola Water chief executive officer, Vuyo Zitumane, who took up office on 3 April 2017, says improving stakeholder relationships, which include employee and customer engagement, are amongst her top priorities in the short term. Zitumane, who has an impressive track-record of accomplishments in the public sector, joins the organisation at a time when its turnaround plan, endorsed by the Department of Water and Sanitation, is underway. Zitumane explains that the turnaround plan, which will be implemented over the next five years, forms the foundation for the future direction of Amatola Water and is set to enhance organisational sustainability, improve bulk water services provision and reinvent the organisation towards becoming a regional water utility in the Eastern Cape. As part of the plan, Amatola Water will focus on four key areas: Improving the water utility’s financial viability and bulk water services (primary), improving Amatola Water’s performance as an implementing agent for water infrastructure (secondary business) and reconnecting with stakeholders. Among her key priorities, Zitumane will champion research on innovative mechanisms to mitigate the acute drought and water shortage in parts of the province, enhance the utility’s internal project management capacity and capability, as well as ensure the advancement of transformation in the water sector. “Whilst we will not compromise on quality, we will be very robust when it comes to advancing transformation efforts, particularly at the consulting and contractor level.” “The newly published BBBEE regulations have to find expression in our supply chain policy in order to ensure that there is an equitable distribution of opportunities across the board,” she adds. Zitumane has hit the ground running. Already she has met with the board and staff at Amatola Water’s East London head office. These meetings are to be followed by visits to the remaining 400 employees at eight . . .
With electricity prices scheduled to skyrocket this year, a number of homeowners are in search of more financially and even environmentally sustainable solutions. According to energy experts such as Ted Blom, South Africa’s national power utility, Eskom is planning to increase its tariffs by as much as 30% by the end of the year in an effort to recover some of its recent financial losses. In the meantime, some municipalities have – through a process that concluded on Friday – even applied for tariff increases that would exceed the 6.84% increase suggested by Nersa earlier this year. Guy Hickinbotham – the manager of Bundu Power Generators and Solar, a KwaZulu-Natal based business that supplies equipment to locals looking to move off the grid – has noted that more people seem to be in search of independent power solutions in some way or another. This trend, according to Hickinbotham, is largely a result of the rising cost of electricity, as well as the unstable nature of South Africa’s electricity infrastructure.* While some may opt to go completely off-grid, a partial migration is often a more practical solution for those who are conscious of our limited national resources, but who may not have the financial means to invest in all the equipment needed to set them up for off-grid living. So, what are some practical and accessible options for South Africans who want to reduce their reliance on pricy power utilities such as Eskom and lower their impact on the environment? 1. Renewable energy South Africa is the world’s third-best location for generating solar power**, making it a great option for our household power needs. In the past the cost of installing alternative energy systems has been a major factor steering people away from even considering it an option. However, thanks to ongoing research and improved innovations, these systems are becoming more affordable and accessible. There have also been solar conversion rebate programmes available . . .
In 2013 husband and wife Bronson and Amy opened their home to abused, neglected and abandoned children and offer them a loving, safe, family/homely environment. They believe that each child deserves a happy loving childhood. They currently have 7 children in their care, however the numbers change all the time. Nehemiah Safe House is registered NPO. Nehemiah is a Safe House based in Monte Vista, Cape Town. They are a home to vulnerable children who come from various unfortunate circumstances. The motto of Nehemiah Safe House is "turning tears to laughter " as they strive to bring about positive change in the lives of every child they come into contact with, and prevent them from a bad future. Amy and Bronson work through social development who identify and investigate cases of child abandonment, abuse, and neglect. In the case where a child has been abandoned or they feel a child needs to be removed due to a certain criteria after their investigation, they are then contacted. They assist in emergency care, safety care and foster care through a court order. The children that come into their home who are orphaned they will adopt. Shockingly, to date all the children that have been through their home have been directly affected by drug abuse. An average daily overview; Average number of kids: 7 Average number of nappy changes: 36 Average number of bottles: 32 Average loads of washing: 3 Amy and Bronson A husband/wife duo with big hearts Amy and Bronson have dedicated their lives to helping those who cannot help themselves. Amy and Bronson are a young couple in their 30’s, soulmates for over 17 years who have ample love to give. With a 10 year old son of their own, they truly can sympathize with the abused and traumatized children that they see every day. They feel that it is a gift to be able to serve their community and help positively impact the stories of these kids, hoping to change the cycle of abuse and neglect. They were inspired to start their . . .
Newly appointed Amatola Water CEO, Vuyo Zitumane, says that the water utility is delighted with the outcome in the legal case of its chairperson Nokulunga Mnqeta. The case, which involved Mnqeta’s former role as CEO of the Amathole District Municipality’s Development Agency, Aspire, was concluded last week with all alleged fraud charges against her being dropped. “We welcome this outcome, particularly as it comes at a time when Amatola Water is doubling its efforts in rebuilding stakeholder trust and ensuring sound corporate governance is maintained,” explains Zitumane whose appointment at the water utility became effective on 1 April 2018. “While the allegations vilified the chairperson in her personal capacity, they also had an impact on the reputation of Amatola Water.” “It is a comfort for both the chairperson and Amatola Water to know that the matter has been concluded and will not have any further bearing while we pursue our turnaround plan,” says Zitumane. Mnqeta, was appointed by the Minister of Water and Sanitation as the chairperson of the Amatola Water Board in February 2016. CLICK HERE to submit your press release to MyPR.co.za. . . .
The last Urban Land Dialogue took place on 28 March 2018 in Cape Town. Informed by the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which promotes an all-of-society approach to transforming South Africa’s cities and towns, the dialogues are organised in partnership with organisations that carry out urban land work and research, so that all-of-society voices are represented. A general sentiment at the dialogue was that to have any hope of transforming the city will require new thinking and the embracing of unconventional ideas. The “owners of money” must join the discussion: Referring to the inner-city gentrification that is happening in Cape Town, participants asked why the private sector cannot consider people and profit together. Housing should be viewed as homes, not commodities, and a system that forces people out of their homes and onto the streets is broken. In response, the private sector indicated that the “owners of money” – the financial institutions – set the terms and determine project parameters. The shared sentiment was that financial institutions need to be “in the room” and part of discussions about community issues. Micro-developers are the future: Micro-developers collectively produce the most number of affordable housing units (for people earning between R2,000 and R10,000) in Cape Town. The UCT Urban Real Estate Research Unit found that in the Khayelitsha planning district alone, 6000 building applications were received, compared to just 4000 housing units being delivered in the conventional manner. The question was raised about how to support smaller developers operating in township areas. One idea was for the municipality to run “housing clinics” in these areas, thereby decentralising planning decision-making and making development applications easier for these enterprising developers. Let’s move the economy to marginalised areas: As one private developer pointed out, the reality is that “we are doing business like we have for the . . .
The second Urban Land Dialogue took place on 27 March 2018 in Port Elizabeth. Informed by the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which promotes an all-of-society approach to transforming South Africa’s cities and towns, the dialogues are organised in partnership with organisations that carry out urban land work and research, so that all-of-society voices are represented. The robust discussion allowed the airing of diverse and often conflicting views, which brought texture to many of the issues raised at the first dialogue. We also want to walk our dogs on the beachfront! The language used by policy-makers was highlighted, such as reducing spatial transformation to bringing poor black people closer to their places of work. One panellist questioned why black people are seen as mere labourers in the city – black people also want to walk their dogs on the beach or play some golf. The general view was that race and racism still play a major role in settlement decisions in Port Elizabeth. Why are we not learning from Mapangubwe? Prof. Mkhize urged us to move away from the notion that cities are a western construct – Africa has an ancient urban culture and is home to some of society’s earliest cities. Arguing that wherever concentrations of human beings occur, similar pressures and challenges emerge, and so decolonising the city in part means valuing lessons from our own African urban past. For instance, Mapangubwe disappeared when its ecosystem failed. Land and city issues go beyond our recent racial history; they are inherent in the dynamic of dense human settlements – failing to acknowledge this would be failing into the future. When the fire burns, municipalities are the ones that feel it: Municipalities are under immense pressure to deliver urban land transformation. From the first two dialogues, the view is that municipalities are currently failing. Yet, as one non-municipal participant asked, how can a municipality be expected to deal with . . .
2017 was basically a whole year to not remember regarding the economic wellness of a lot of South Africans, but nevertheless what is considered the forecast for the rest of 2018? Many will have constructed a listing of budgetary resolutions for the New Year, and with suffering GDP growth rates, stagnating career development, ever-increasing numbers of unemployment and also astonishingly increased levels of earnings and prosperity inequality all plaguing the country in the second portion of the calendar year, South African consumers may well want them. Unemployment Unemployment has grown steadily from 4.6 million in 2011 to 5.9 million in 2016 and unfortunately, although this increase has slowed, unemployment is expected to continue to grow to 7.2 million by the end of 2018. That means, if current economic and employment trends set to continue, there’ll be around 1.3 million more unemployed at the end of 2018 than there were in 2016. Official figures show that joblessness has risen in seven of the nine provinces, with the highest rate of unemployment in Free State province and the lowest in Western Cape. Economic growth According to the data, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates have fallen from 3.3 percent in 2012 to just 0.3 percent in 2016. Although GDP growth is expected to be below 1 percent for 2017, the central bank forecasts it will rise to 1.5 percent in 2018. While this represents a slow recovery which is unlikely to prevent a further increase in unemployment, at least things are starting to move in the right direction. Financial wellness Given the constant downgrading of economic growth expectations for 2017 and 2018, household finances will fail to recover and the financial wellness index, which takes into account seven aspects of an individual’s financial situation, is also like to stagnate. Financial wellness measures everything from an individual’s household material deprivation and hardship to their financial confidence . . .