Category: PSAM in the News

Media watchdog goes after Information Regulator over data breach

2018-04-09 17:05

2015-02-09 10:03
The Right2Know Campaign (R2K) has issued a statement saying it has still not received any response from the Office of the Information Regulator on its failure to respond to a complaint regarding the “biggest data breach in South African history”.The NGO, along with the Centre for Environmental Rights and the Public Service Accountability Monitor, sent an open letter to the Information Regulator on Friday, saying its complaints sent on October 19, 2017, had not been addressed.

“In October last year, security researcher Troy Hunt reported the breach of a database that has now been revealed to contain the sensitive personal information of more than 60 million people – living and dead,” said R2K spokesperson Busi Mtabane.

The database, which contains 60 323 827 rows of data with unique South Africa identity numbers, was accessed after the “Master Deeds” data breach last year.

The open letter also addressed the “use of personal information by people of political parties who send unsolicited and unwanted bulk messages to the population”, as well as the Office of the Information Regulator’s lack of visibility.

“People do not even know that the Information Regulator exists. Furthermore, that in the past year there has been a deafening silence from the Information Regulator regarding issues of national significance in relation to the abuse of personal information of people,” said Mtabane.

The Information Regulator was established in 2016 in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act with the purpose of monitoring and ensuring compliance by private and public bodies.

Read more on:    right2know

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The rights of many learners to education and human dignity is being violated because of the lack of sanitation facilities, writes Siyabulela Fobosi.

While South Africa is seen as having some of the highest rates of universal access to primary education, with Gross enrolment rates in primary schools having increased from 88,1% in 2002 to 94,2% in 2015 (StatsSA, 2016), public schools continue to face infrastructure challenges.

For example, in January 2018 the Department of Basic Education in its National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) reported that out of the 5 400 schools in the Eastern Cape, 1 945 schools used pit latrines, 154 schools had no electricity.

The death of Lumko Mkhethwa is a case in point of poor infrastructures in some schools. The 5-year-old fell into a pit latrine at Luna Primary School in Bizana, in the Eastern Cape. The use of pit latrines in schools has negative implications on the healthy learning environment for the learners. Poor sanitation, and lack of access to basic services also affect the health of learners. The rights of many learners to education and human dignity is being violated because of the lack of sanitation facilities.

This condition demonstrates that access to quality of education remains very poor mostly in the historically deprived areas of the Eastern Cape; some of the schools do not even meet the basic learning infrastructure requirements such as access to laboratories, libraries, internet connections and proper toilets.

The existence of pit latrines in schools constitutes an affront to equitable access to education and resources. As such, the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) makes the following recommendations to the Department of Basic Education:

  • In accordance with the National Norms and Standards for School Infrastructure, all schools should meet the basic learning infrastructure requirements such as access to electricity, laboratories, libraries and proper toilets in order to ensure the right of learners to education.
  • Accordingly, the Department of Basic Education should commit to upgrading each school’s infrastructure to meet optimum standards.
  • The Department should consider learner safety when planning infrastructure, so as to avoid cases of the death of learners in pit latrines.
  • There should be more focus on promoting access to healthy learning environment for all learners.
  • It is high time that the Department of Basic Education (assisted by Treasury) address challenges in school infrastructure provisioning.

 

  • Siyabulela Fobosi is an Education Researcher at the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), School of Journalism & Media Studies, Rhodes University. Email S.Fobosi@ru.ac.za  
    Twitter: @PSAM_AFRICA  
    www.psam.org.za

http://www.grocotts.co.za/2018/03/15/hospital-expose-call-for-whistleblower-protection/

Commenting on the recent Tower Psychiatric Hospital exposé and subsequent resignation of psychiatrist Kiran Sukeri, PSAM Director Jay Kruuse stated that too often public servants face unfair consequences as a result of speaking out. “The position of PSAM when it comes to whistleblowers is [that] we need the Department of Health to uphold the Protected Disclosures Act.”

 

Province Plan Misses crucial Detail

BY  ON

Province plan misses crucial detail

Premier Phumulo Masualle’s State of the Province address was lacking in vision and failed to align itself to the priorities identified in the State of the Nation address earlier in the week – including issues that are crucial for Makana and other local municipalities.

This was the view of Local Government Researcher at public service monitor PSAM, Lungile Penxa, on his return from the day-long event in the Eastern Cape Legislature on Friday.

More seriously Penxa said, the strategy outline for the Province in the next year presented no plan for dealing with drought and listeriosis – potentially the two biggest threats to safety and well-being in the Province.

“An intention to use media to teach the public about listeriosis is a good idea – but it is not a plan,” Penxa said.

Likewise, a paragraph noting the impact of climate change and an expression of appreciation for national government’s attention to the drought was inadequate.

“We need to see a sustainable plan to address drought,” Penxa said. “It’s not enough to just state what the budget for drought mitigation is.”

That both SONA and SOPA were silent human settlements – particularly the policy of upgrading informal settlements rather than building new houses – was probably a result of the fact that the area is not a direct contributor to growth.

Employment

Opportunities for youth in the province include the extended public works programme, agriculture, agro-processing and maritime industries; however, with SONA having identified youth as being at the centre of development, the Provincial address should have made it clearer.

“The economy in the Eastern Cape is highly reliant on the automotive industry,” Penxa said. “That should have been aligned with SONA’s drive to integrate youth and small businesses into the economy.

The Extended Public Works Programme was not a contributor to long-term economic growth, or even individuals’ ability to be economically active in a sustained way.

Local government

Support for local government led by the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs along with Provincial Treasury and the Offfice of the Premier through an Ideal Municipality Model are among the measures put forward to improve governance.

“But they don’t tell us what that means and how it looks,” Penxa said. “Masualle says there will be consultation with the government about how to support unviable municipalities – but it’s a bit late to start consulting national government about this now.”

Furthermore, the report said the Province and Cogta would continue to provide amalgamated support to amalgamated municipalities – “but what about the others?”

Masiphatisane – the province’s integrated service delivery model with war rooms as a means to integrate multi-sectoral partnerships – was politically hijacked, Penxa said. While 510 had been established, there was no report on how the policy driven initiative had gone and what it had achieved.

“It also wasn’t clear how the Premier would ensure it would function going forward,” he said. “For example, it’s not clear whether Masiphatisane will replace the ward system.”

In general, there was very little on local government: a problem given this is the coalface of governance and service delivery.

Education

Positive moves in education were that there is good progress in training early childhood development practitioners, plus providing support. Also positive was the support being provided to principals in schools, boosting school leadership.

“Education infrastructure is always an issue, but the biggest threat is scholar transport: there’s no support for it, and no sustainable solution.”

Crime

While SONA emphasised community policing as an instrument for safer societies, Masualle said nothing about this and instead focused on the Province’s anti-gang strategy.

ANC Provincial Chairperson Oscar Mabyane was recently sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature.

That the person presenting this year’s State of the Province address may not be the person who carries through policy was evident.

“Under those circumstances it’s difficult to be creative and innovative,” Penxa said. “At least with SONA it was possible for it to be meaningful, because the person taking over was the person presenting it.

“On a social level it was vibey and everything you’d expect an occasion of that importance to be. But on the business of the day – what we went there for – it was disappointing.”

People’s State of the Province at a Glance

People’s State of the Province at a glance

This document summarises the People’s State of Province address produced by the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM). It is a re-imagining of the State of Province Address reflecting what they think would be the key focus areas for the Province for effective service delivery.

Local Government

  • COGTA must produce a feasible plan that clearly shows how our municipalities will become functional and capable.
  • Municipalities still need support to ensure that they fill their vacancies in senior management within three months.
  • Establish sustainable, expert-guided interventions to address drought throughout the Province.
  • Prioritise intensive support for Municipalities in all these areas with a specific focus on improving governance of municipalities by institutionally capacitating them.
  • COGTA and Office of the Premier to improve the integration of War Rooms in Ward Participation.
  • Municipalities require help from COGTA & Provincial Treasury to improve revenue collection (e.g. Updating indigent registers add fully implementing revenue enhancement strategies.

Human Settlements

  • Prioritise upgrading of informal with actual progress by the end of the financial year 2018/19.
  • Basic services such as electricity, water and sanitation must be provided also in the areas that informal settlements upgrading is undertaken.
  • Ensuring adequate social housing for low income earners.
  • A register of the potential beneficiaries for destitute and emergency housing
  • Effective human settlements delivery involves inter-departmental planning and increased public participation so that communities have access to water, sanitation, electricity and social amenities like clinics and schools. The departments Water and Sanitation, Energy, Human Settlements and Roads and Public Works must work closely together .

Education

  • While the Eastern Cape experienced an improvement by 5.7 percent from 59.3% in 2016 to 65% in 2017, there is a need to improve the quality of education from Grade R up, not only in Grade 12.
  • The Early Childhood Development (ECD) continues to be under-prioritised evidenced by poor performance in basic literacy and numeracy
  • There is need to train and support educators delivering ECD
  • The Province is affected by learner mobility, with learners continue to leave the province in search of better education elsewhere
  • Inadequate and inappropriate school infrastructure (like water and sanitation facilities) continues to be a major problem within the Eastern Cape. Some schools do not even meet the basic learning infrastructure requirements such as access to laboratories, libraries and Internet
  • The Department failed to take effective steps to prevent fruitless and wasteful expenditure last financial year

Environment

  • Fleeting references to nature conservation and environmental management in recent State of the Province, as well as a lamentable budget dispensation to departments responsible for environmental affairs are simply criminal.
  • Although the heritage of the people of the Eastern Cape includes an environment abundantly  endowed  with  natural  assets,  these  are  under  severe  threat  from  human activity.
  • Realism and an essential shift in our outlook on the environment is unavoidable.

Health

  • Maternal and child mortality are declining although they are still too high;
  • Closer scrutiny is needed in respect of non-communicable diseases. Many of these are lifestyle diseases and can be prevented through education on healthy living;
  • Medico-legal claims are a massive burden on the constrained budget–amounting to R224.7 million as at August 2017, while R13.3 million was paid to the State Attorney;
  • Emergency Medical Services are still a massive problem with only 110 of the 411 vehicles were operational as at November 2017;
  • Patients are still waiting long hours, facilities are understaffed and are experiencing a lack basic services and equipment;
  • The Department of Health fell severely short of achieving its estimated revenue target, collecting only 42% of its revenue;
  • More focus needs to be directed at regular monitoring and reporting of healthcare users’ experiences;
  • Focus on complying with the highest safety standards instead of prioritising funding panels of experts to defend these legal matters;
  • The Department  of Health should meet with healthcare professionals to determine the barriers they professionals experience;
  • EMS should be prioritised.

NOW READ THE FULL PEOPLE’S STATE OF THE PROVINCE ADDRESS – CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW:

 

PSAM CONTACT DETAILS
For general enquiries:
The  Public  Service  Accountability  Monitor:  046  603    8358: psam_admin@ru.ac.za

Head  of Monitoring and Advocacy: Zukiswa Kota: z.kota@ru.ac.za

Researchers: Education: Siyabulela Fobosi: s.fobosi@ru.ac.za Environmental Governance: Nicholas Scarr: n.scarr@ru.ac.za Health: Nicola Sulter: n.sulter@ru.ac.za

Local Government: Lungile Penxa: l.penxa@ru.ac.za

Human Settlements: Esteri Msindo: esteri.msindo@ru.ac.za

Social Media Contact: Follow us on Twitter: @Right_to_SAM Join our Community on Facebook or Join our Community of Practice for Social Accountability Monitoring: COPSAM

What do Cyril’s plans hold for Makana?

What do Cyril’s plans hold for Makana?

What can we deduce from the State of the Nation address as far as local government is concerned, asks Lungile Penxa

The key theme of the State of the Nation Address was that Stakeholder Collaboration is necessary to take the country forward. The President invited us all to contribute in improving the socio-economic state of the country. As a result, he recognised the need to work with civil society which he regarded as playing a critical role in tackling poverty, inequality and related social problems.

He proposed a Social Sector Summit sometime this year, which would seek improve the interface between the state and civil society and address the challenges that NGOs and CBOs face. In the interest of improved service delivery and good governance, President Ramaphosa committed to the follow initiatives which are beneficial at the local government level:

The need to improve customer service in government:  President Ramaphosa indicated that people still face challenges when interacting with public servants. “In too many cases, they often get poor service or no service at all. We want our public servants to adhere to the principle of Batho Pele, of putting our people first. We are determined that everyone in public service should undertake their responsibilities with efficiency, diligence and integrity. We want to instil a new discipline, to do things correctly, to do them completely and to do them timeously. We call on all public servants to become agents for change” – President Cyril Ramaphosa. He committed to find time to meet with provincial and local government leaders to ensure that government responds to the pressing needs of our people.

Review of size and number of Government Departments: This process has begun at local government level through the amalgamation of municipalities. Those that were amalgamated are still in the stabilisation phase. Interestingly, the review President Ramaphosa proposed is needed for municipalities especially in cases where a municipality has a large number of staff, but it is still unproductive.

The Drought situation in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Northern Cape has been elevated to a National State of Disaster. President Ramaphosa stated that national government is now managing and coordinating the national response with support from all provinces. He further assured that integrated measures will be provided to support the provinces that are hardest hit. We are eagerly waiting to see how that will unfold and whether our municipalities will be successful in executing the plan developed by national government.

The President committed that there will be Jobs Summit within the next few months to align the efforts of every sector and every stakeholder behind the imperative of job creation. This is an important platform especially for a country, whose unemployment rate stands at 26.7 % and for the Eastern Cape Province whose unemployment rate was 32,2% in the first quarter of 2017 (as shown by Statistics SA: http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=9960).

The President further said that Young South Africans will be moved to the centre of our economic agenda.” He highlighted the following initiatives as part of the Youth Agenda:

  • The Youth Employment Service initiative to be launched next month and it will place unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy.
  • The Youth Working Group that is representative of all young South Africans to ensure that our policies and programmes advance their interests.
  • The introduction of a Youth Crime Prevention Strategy will empower and support young people to be self-sufficient and become involved in crime fighting initiatives.

In the efforts to combat crime, the key focus this year will be the Distribution of Resources to Police Station level. Additionally, Community Policing Strategy will be implemented, with the aim of gaining the trust of the community and to secure their full involvement in the fight against crime. This will be a useful strategy that improve the partnership and work of the Community Police Forums and the South African Police Service.

President Ramaphosa also indicated that on the 1st of May 2018, government is officially introducing the first national minimum wage in South Africa. The introduction of a national minimum wage was made possible by the determination of all social partners to reduce wage inequality while maintaining economic growth and employment creation. This will be beneficial to low-income earners but can also be a job threat to their current jobs especially if some employers are unable to pay their salaries in line with the national minimum wage standards.

The State of the National Address (SONA) revealed that the growth the South African economy will be sustained by small businesses. This includes efforts to invest in the development of businesses in townships and rural areas. President Ramaphosa assured us that government will work with our social partners to build a small business support ecosystem that assists, nourishes and promotes entrepreneurs.

“Government will honour its undertaking to set aside at least 30 percent of public procurement to SMMEs, cooperatives and township and rural enterprises. Government is finalising a small business and innovation fund targeted at start-ups. We will reduce the regulatory barriers for small businesses” – President Ramaphosa, SONA 2018

As part of efforts to provide opportunities to the vulnerable groups in our South African community, President Ramaphosa revealed that government is working to expand economic opportunities for people with disabilitiesthrough the Small Enterprise Finance Agency – SEFA – has launched a scheme to develop and fund entrepreneurs with disabilities called the Amavulandlela Funding Scheme. We hope that the Department of Small Business Development will collaborate with the country’s municipalities to ensure that deserving citizens benefit within municipal boundaries.

President Ramaphosa indicated that his government will “accelerate land redistribution programme not only to redress a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector and to make more land available for cultivation expropriation without compensation should be implemented in a way that increases agricultural production, improves food security and ensure that the land is returned to those from whom it was taken under colonialism and apartheid.” This will require municipalities to work hand in hand with the Department of Agriculture and to also fast track land audits within municipal boundaries, so that land for agricultural purposes can be made available.

Residents within the local government sphere, play your part to ensure that the above can change your life for the better!

By Aretha Linden

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga wants the pass mark for home languages in Grades 7, 8 and 9 to be dropped from 50% to 40% – a proposal that has been welcomed by one of the teachers’ unions in the Eastern Cape.

Currently, pupils in the three grades are required to achieve at least 50% (level 4) for their home language, 40% (level 3) in their second language and 40% (level 3) in four other subjects to move to the next grade.

Pupils in these grades can do up to nine subjects.

However, Motshekga has proposed that in order to proceed to the next grade, pupils will need to achieve 40% in four subjects including their home language and 30% in any three other subjects.

Last Friday, Motshekga published a government gazette and called for written submissions from members of the public to be made within 21 days of her proposed amendment.

Speaking to the Daily Dispatch this week, South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Chris Mdingi said the union would “embrace” this move.

Mdingi said the promotion requirements in these grades were too high and it had been proven over time that they were unreasonable.

“The pass mark for home language used to be 40% in the past, so this is like going back to basics and doing the right thing,” said Mdingi, adding that it was unfair to set a pass mark that was above 40%.

Asked whether the drop in the pass mark would not lower the standards of education in public schools, Mdingi said if the quality of teaching was improved, then the standards would not drop.

Education researcher from the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM), Siyabulela Fobosi, said before Motshekga looked at lowering the pass mark she should look at improving the quality of education from Grade R onwards, especially in rural schools.

“Reducing the pass mark will not address the challenges facing the Department of Basic Education. PSAM would like to point the minister to the fact that learners from disadvantaged back-grounds perform poorly because they are enrolled in schools with fewer resources, such as education materials and staff,” said Fobosi.

Basic Education spokes-man Elijah Mhlanga said the proposals would align pass requirements with those of Grades 10 to 12.

“What we did previously was step one, which focused on Grade 10, 11 and 12. Now it’s the turn of Grade 7, 8 and 9. It’s being done to align the minimum pass requirements across the senior phase,” he said.

Mhlanga said the changes were part of work started years ago towards implementation of the curriculum and assessment policy statement.

He indicated that more changes would come and admitted that some mistakes were made along the way.

“We will conduct a comprehensive review of the whole curriculum and adjust accordingly in due time,” he added. — arethal@dispatch.co.za