FREE STATE NEWS (June/July 2009 editions)
This web page(s) regularly focuses on the leading Free State (South Africa) newspaper – Free State news – the first regular newspaper to be orchestrated fully by Black people in the Free State province (the paper celebrates its 10th year anniversary this year). The paper has been published on a weekly basis since 1999. Regular items like “Feature of the week” have appeared here over the months.
Free State News crew
Gloria Marobele (new)
Tanya van der Merwe
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JULY 31 – AUGUST 6 2009 EDITION
FEATURE OF THE WEEK:
“Ace to ring the changes at Diyatalwa Farm” By Gloria Marobele. Page 3.
Ace to ring the changes at Diyatalawa Farm
By Gloria Marobele
In a laudable gesture, the Free State government visited Diyatalawa farm and Makgolokweng location with a view to listen to their requests in order to assist them. Premier Ace Magashule graced this exciting event which took place on Thursday (the 23rd of July) last week.
Diyatalawa farm is a very poor place which lies between Harrismith and Qwaqwa in the Eastern Free State. Free State News learnt that Government had a project in 1996 where they started an apple farm which was unfortunately burnt down by fire.
Poverty was etched on the faces of many of these unfortunate people in this area. Houses and schools here are built with mud; there are no roads, no toilets and no clinics.
Mavis Mnguni a Pre-school teacher told Free State News:”Mobile clinics come twice a month here, we are far from the town and it becomes difficult for us to see the doctors when we are sick. We have got a mud school which has only four classrooms and the school starts from Grade R to Grade 7. We don’t have taps and a water truck comes when we have called it from Qwaqwa. Sometimes we sit for a week without clean water and we have to use water from the dams which is not clean.”
She went on to explain that most children end up not finishing school because after they have passed Grade 7, parents do not have money to take them to schools in Qwaqwa or Harrismith. “Alas, they end up sitting down at home with nothing to do.”
Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, and the Mayor of Maluti a phofung, visited two houses in this farm to listen to the community members’ problems. The first house visited was the Radebes; an old lady called Maradebe came out with her family and took centre stage. “My greatest wish is to be buried in this farm, I worked here all my life and this is now my home,” she said passionately. ”My children are not employed and we only live by my pension money,” she added.
Premier Ace Magashule said: “We are now fulfilling the promises that we made during the election campaigns, making a better life for all. We will start a farm and your children will all be employed so that they can put food on the table. We are making a better life for all,” he added.
Eddie Mohoebi, the Chief Director of Land Affairs communication services told Free State News: “In this project, all government departments are integrated, so that gives us more confidence in this project. We will plant maize and apples, we will build roads, clinics and schools and in all of those projects one person from each house will be hired for two years. This person will sign a contract whereby he/she would agree that fifty percent of her or his income will go to the family,”
Ace Magashule also said that the Department of Home Affairs and Social service will be in this village for a week making sure that all the community members get pensions, social grants and Identity books. Magashule rounded off the memorable occasion by stating that in ninety days’ time they will start with the project.
JULY 24 – JULY 30 2009 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK:
“FS Health Care under the Microscope”. (By Tanya van der Walt). Front page
FS HEALTHCARE UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
By Tanya van der Walt
The Free State Provincial Government led by Premier Ace Magashule held a Health Summit in order to address the issues facing the healthcare sector in South Africa and the Free State. The summit which took place on the 16th and 17th of July last week was attended by MECs for Health, Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Emergency medical personnel and various other stakeholders.
In South Africa infant mortality rates have steadily been on the increase and due to TB patients prematurely discontinuing their treatment before being cured Extreme Drug Resistant (XDR) TB and Multi-drug Resistant (MDR) TB have emerged. There is an enormous backlog in the roll-out of anti-retroviral drugs to HIV/Aids patients. These and other problems, coupled with over spending, gross underfunding, low staff morale due to conditions of service, doctor’s strikes and the lack of a national service standard, and healthcare not only in the Free State but South Africa as a whole is in as one speaker termed it “a moerse crisis”.
Researchers are currently developing three new vaccines in an attempt to curb infant mortality. A system to trace TB patients who have defaulted on their treatment is on the cards. A new dual therapy program me for the treatment of HIV/Aids will be implemented. A national office of service standards that will set and monitor compliance with quality standards is in the pipeline.
The future of the nation’s healthcare system also appears to be in the balance as the lack of basics such as gloves, masks and syringes is making the training of future doctors and nurses very difficult. Lecturers at university health departments are leaving the profession, either through retirement or because of more lucrative offers from the private sector. Attracting new academics and researchers is hampered by the lack of status and remuneration attached to such posts.
Measures to address staff retention at hospitals and clinics are being put in place, starting with Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) which will see healthcare workers being paid according to seniority and years of service. OSD also outlines career pathing for healthcare workers. The building up of teaching capacity and teaching aids is to receive urgent attention, as is the retention and recruitment of lecturers and researchers.
Communities are being encouraged to value their healthcare facilities and health workers by keeping facilities clean by picking up litter outside and treating the staff with respect. The Director General for Health in the Free State called on the community to volunteer at outpatient facilities as marshals in order to help out-patients to find the correct queues and assist with other queries. In light of the recent doctors’ strikes nationwide, a matter receiving urgent attention is ways to engender a culture of ethical behavior and discipline amongst healthcare workers.
Hospitals and clinics are also faced with the shortage of medicines. In some cases patients have to hurriedly have their prescriptions changed by doctors so that pharmacists can dispense the appropriate type of medication of which there is stock. Others are turned away as there simply is no medication to treat them.
Contracts with companies that supply medications are to be renegotiated in order to ensure that there are adequate buffer stocks available at the end of the contract so that pharmacies are able to dispense the correct medication even after the contract has ended. Methods to speed up the approval of new drugs and to increase the supplier base are under discussion.
The bulk of healthcare funding in South Africa is generated through taxation. More affluent individuals pay higher income tax, while the poor pay more tax in terms of “sin tax” levied on alcohol and cigarettes as well as “fuel tax” which is calculated into the cost of fares for public transport.
Other sources of funding are the contributions made by medical aid scheme members, co-payments on services not fully covered by the medical scheme and out of pocket payments made by members when their funds are depleted and by non-members when using private healthcare facilities. Fees for membership of medical aid shemes now constitute 30% of the average monthly income earned by members.
To address the soaring cost of contributions to medical aid schemes by members and the lack of adequate spending on public healthcare a National Health Insurance has been proposed. This would see mandatory payroll deductions being made and the revenue generated invested in infrastructure and capacity building in the public healthcare sector.
JULY 17 – JULY 23 2009 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK:
“Volksblad Arts festival in fine fettle”. (By Gloria Marobele). Page 3
Volksblad Arts festival in fine fettle
By Gloria Marobele
The University of Free State in conjunction with Volksblad is hosting an arts festival this week from Tuesday till Saturday at main campus of University of Free State (Kovsies). UFS and Volksblad are the main sponsors of the festival and this festival was started by Media 24 nine years ago.
Adri Herbet who is the head organizer of the arts festival told Free State News that everyone was invited to apply if they want to perform and the committee chose fifty theatre productions, market art etc. Adri added that they chose this time because it the only time which is available during the holidays after the Grahamstown Arts Festival.
The Kovsies campus was filled with tents which are selling food, clothes, liquor, bags, motorbikes, decorations, children’s games, and slimming products. Families were enjoying themselves and the exhibitors were showing their creativity.
This year’s theme is fire, and the slogan “ons vonk ansteeklik” meaning our fire is contagious (communicable).
JUNE 12 - JUNE 18 2009 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK:
“March against rampant child abuse” (By Mahlomola Moshe). Page 4
March against rampant child abuse
By Mahlomola Moshe
The Free State Psychiatry Complex under the Department of Health organised an eye-opening children’s march at the weekend in Bloemfontein.
The march began at Kenworth in Rocklands (Mangaung) with solid determination on the part of the participants. It ended at the Fatima church in Bloemfontein. Free State news learnt that the march was aimed at demonstrating and highlighting the impact that child abuse has on children. Additionally, the message was intended for the community of Bloemfontein.
The march was organised for the first time by Free State Psychiatry Complex on child abuse and it conscientised people the way the organizers intended. It was supported by the Traffic Department and South African Police Service.
According to the assistant manager of Free State Psychiatry Complex, Me N Mabizela, the reason they organised the march on that day was because it shared the day with celebration of international Child Week. She stressed to Free State News that the primary purpose of the march was to create awareness in the community about the child abuse.
She emphatically explained that the issue of child abuse is a very serious and rampant one, and we should all take a stand against child abuse. She indicated that the Psychiatric Complex intends to organise such event again next year.
Mabizela also pointed out that they have organised other programmes which they are going to visit schools to make them aware about the child abuse. “We have other programs that are intended to bring awareness to the community about the ravages of child abuse”
June 5 – June 11 2009 edition
FEATURE OF THE WEEK
“Artists revel at Centre” (Page 2)
Artists revel at Centre
By S BOTSIME
The Old Market building at the ARTISTS IN ACTION center is majestic in its own way. The old building has an artistic structure that is convenient for sundry Free State artists to showcase their talents.
I spent time with the project manager, Mr. Moses Sebitlo who welcomed me at the center and told me that the center had been established since last September and almost twenty people are working in the center. There are fourteen women and five men at the center. The aim of the center is to empower individuals with skills including sewing, pottery, Embroidery, Bead work and painting.
The department of sport, arts and culture has been investing in the project which is expected to be self sustaining after three years.The vision of the center is to be able to compete internationally and showcase their talent beyond the borders and at home to places like Grahamstown. The SASOL is now running a competition and they are about to compete in July.
“It has not been an easy road for the Center since from the beginning, but with focus and dedication there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. We are currently doing uniforms of Kopanong Secondary School for eight hundred children and Mr. Melesi, the principal of the school is impressed with our work” Mr. Sebitlo further explained.He told Free State news that they can churn out work to individuals’ taste and matric farewell attire. “We urge other schools in need to place an order for their uniforms to be done by the people at the center.
Other achievements that the center can boast of include a joint venture a project with the University of Free State under Kellog Foundation where some students will be taught by the University to do pottery.” Kudos for the Center and for any business related issues one has to call Mr. Sebitlo@ 073 269 0806 or Mr. Pitso Kgojane@ 072 858 4659.
I must say that spending time at the Old Market building at the ARTISTS IN ACTION center was a privilege for me since I myself am a living and breathing artist!