United Nations Commits to ‘Leave no One Behind’, Unveils SDGs in Braille

In continuation of its commitment to leaving no one behind in the promotion of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development, the United Nations has unveiled the Braille Version of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Initiated and produced by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Nigeria, the SDGs in Braille was unveiled on Thursday, 11 January 2018 at the closing ceremony of the One-Week Braille Celebration in Abeokuta, Ogun State.

Presenting the SDGs Braille to the Ogun State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Mrs. Modupe Mujota, the UNIC National Information Officer, Dr. Oluseyi Soremekun, noted that in deepening inclusive access to information, UNIC took steps to ensuring that no one is left behind in understanding the global development framework, ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which both the Federal and State Governments have aligned their development priorities.

The National Information Officer, who represented the Director of UNIC Nigeria, Mr. Ronald Kayanja, enjoined the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, to share the SDGs Braille in all the Schools for the Blind in the State. The SDGs Braille, according to him, was aimed at fostering access to information by all and enhancing a sense of inclusiveness amongst the blind.

“The blind are human beings and their rights to education and other rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) must not be denied to them. In line with the Salamanca Statement and Framework For Action On Special Needs Education, I call on governments to give the highest policy and budgetary priority to Special Needs Education.” He added. Dr Soremekun later presented to Mrs. Mujota, copies of the Braille Version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) which was the world’s first complete UDHR in braille, initiated and produced by UNIC Lagos Nigeria.

Speaking, the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, acknowledged that the World Braille Day provided the opportunity to raise awareness about issues mitigating against the education and communication needs of blind persons. “The challenges blind people face in normalisation and inclusion into the mainstream of our society are many. The dearth of reading materials, specialised aids, games and equipment to mention but just a few.” She explained.

Mrs Mujota therefore, called on individuals, corporate bodies and other stakeholders to complement the State Government’s efforts by contributing to the growth of Special Needs Education Institutions.

Welcoming the audience to the occasion, the Director of Special Needs Education, Ogun State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Mr. Elijah Akinyemi, commended the Ogun State House of Assembly for the passage of the Ogun Disability Bill on 16 November 2017 and called on Governor Ibikunle Amosun to assent to the bill to realise an inclusive society which provides every citizen of Ogun State the attainment of their inalienable rights.

The high point of the Braille Celebration was the brilliant reading of the SDGs Braille by Ms. Ronke Gisanri of the State Ministry of Information, Abeokuta.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Lagos.

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South Africa: Deputy Minister Magwanishe Visits EC Macadamia Farm Funded by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) for R40 Million

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Bulelani Magwanishe visited the Amajingqi Macadamia Farming in Willowvale, Eastern Cape as part of taking the dti to the Factories campaign. The community farm, which is located in the Mbashe Local Municipality, was supported with a cash grant of R40 million under the Employment Creation Fund from the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti). To date the fund has disbursed about R30 million to the project.

Deputy Minister Magwanishe was accompanied by the Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Ms. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mr. Sfiso Buthelezi.

Addressing the workers at the farm, Deputy Minister Magwanishe said the supported project is intended to create sustainable jobs, skills transfer, social upliftment and distribution of wealth to previously disadvantaged communities.

“The overall goal and purpose of the project is to establish a community-owned macadamia nut industry in the Eastern Cape utilising land in the rural communities located along the coastal belt. The long-term intention is to develop the whole macadamia value chain and create sustainable economic opportunities which will allow for sustainable jobs and the creation of emerging farmers in the rural areas. These will also boost tourism in the area,” said Magwanishe.

The Field Manager at Amajingqi Macadamia Farming, Mr. Lwando Mnqweno welcomed the visit by and the deputy ministers and said the farming project has improved the lives of 12 villages around Amajingqi for the better.

“Today more than 118 members of the community are employed in the farm mainly consisting of youth and women. For someone who has not been employed and trained in farming, this project has showed what government intervention can do to improve the lives of the people with no skills or training,” said Mnqweno.

Mnqweno added that with the prospect of expanding the community business to another level with the assistance of the Land Bank and exporting the nuts to Australia, Europe and China, more and more people will be employed especially those who cannot afford higher education and training.

“The project has also boosted local contractors in transport, infrastructure as most of the procurement around the farm is done locally. The positive attitude showned by the workers also assists in building our economy for our future generation,” he said.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of The Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa.

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South Africa: Coming up in Parliament the First Quarter of 2018

The first quarter of the 2018 programme of Parliament is promising to be one of the busiest as the institution continues to deepen its constitutional function of legislating, overseeing executive action and facilitating public participation.

Amongst the key parliamentary activities taking place during this quarter are the State of the Nation Address, the Budget Speech, National Council of Provinces’ midterm review, rules review on the impeachment of a President and investigation into Steinhoff’s corporate corruption.

Parliamentary Committees’ work started much earlier than usual, with the National Assembly Rules Review Sub-committee meeting to develop rules and procedures for the implementation of Section 89 (1) of the Constitution that deals with the impeachment of a sitting President, in line with the judgment of the Constitutional Court. The committee is expected to finalise these provisions and submit them for the approval of the Rules Committee of the NA before the end of February.

A Rules Dialogue, hosted by the Secretaries to the NA and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), will be held with key stakeholders, political commentators and the media in Johannesburg on 26 January 2018. The first leg of the Rules Dialogue was held in Parliament in November.

A joint seating of the Standing Committee on Finance, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts and the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, is scheduled for 30-31 January to deal with the Steinhoff scandal. The portfolio committee on public enterprises will continue with its inquiry into Eskom.

The usual empowerment programme for members of the NA is scheduled for the 23-26 January, while members of the NCOP will be trained on the 30-31 January 2018.

The NCOP will hold a two-day (06 – 07 Feb) plenary session to review its midterm report as part of its ongoing celebration of 20 years since its establishment. The review will be conducted in collaboration with the Provincial Legislatures and the South Africa Local Government Association (SALGA) that represents the municipalities.

These activities represent, arguably, an unprecedented intensity in the build-up to the State of the Nation Address, that is scheduled for 8 February 2018, when a joint sitting of the NA and the NCOP will mark the official start of the programme of Parliament for the year. Preparations are on course for this flagship gathering that gets attended by all three arms of the state, captains of various industries, representatives of all three spheres of government, who-is-who of the South African society and citizens. Parliament will keep the citizens and stakeholder updated on the state of readiness for this pinnacle event in the corporate calendar of Parliament.

The State of the Nation Address will be debated on 13-14 February, followed by the reply of the President on 15 February. The national Budget will be presented on 21 February 2018 by the Minister of Finance, outlining how the priorities of government presented in the SONA will be resourced.

In March, the NCOP will embark on its flagship outreach programme of Taking Parliament To The People in two Eastern Cape districts, Amathole and Alfred Nzo, to give feedback on progress made in addressing service delivery concerns raised during their 2016 visit.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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South Africa: The Meeting of President Zuma and Deputy President Ramaphosa

The Presidency has noted several distortions in media reports in relation to the meeting held by President Jacob Zuma and Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on 7 January 2018 at Dr. John Langalibalele Dube residence in Durban.

The Principals held their first formal meeting following the assumption of office by the Deputy President as President of the governing party the ANC.

They discussed several issues updating each other on matters in both government and the governing party. The two leaders met alone, and reports of other leaders being present are false.

Among issues discussed, President Zuma briefed Deputy President Ramaphosa on his plans to institute a commission of inquiry into state capture.

Further incorrect reports have been published indicating alleged demands said to have been made by President Zuma to have former AU Commission chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma appointed as Deputy President of the Republic. No such discussion has taken place and no such demand has been made anywhere by President Zuma.

The President and Deputy President resolved at the meeting on the 7th of January to hold regular meetings. The Principals have indicated that the meetings are now critical to ensure synergy between the governing party and government since President Zuma is no longer a member of the ANC National Officials known as the Top Six.

It would enable the Deputy President to keep the Head of State and Government abreast of issues discussed by the leadership of the governing party.

The President and Deputy President also meet in Cabinet committee and Cabinet meetings. Cabinet committee meetings take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays every week except during recess while Cabinet meets fortnightly on Wednesdays.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

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