The week in political activism

Brent Meersman
Poster for the 2009 Israeli Apartheid Week. Artwork by Latuff (Wikipedia handle) under CC ASA 2.5.
Brent Meersman

This week we cover the campaign to fix our patent laws, concern over changes to the new Public Administration Bill that may make it easier for corrupt officials, and the Israeli Apartheid week.

#Pharmagate

Médecins sans frontiers has put its support behind health activists demanding the urgent completion of South Africa’s Intellectual Property Policy to improve access to affordable medicines for South Africans.

After marching to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) offices in Gauteng on 11 March to demand the DTI finalise the National Policy on Intellectual Property, patients, medical staff and the Treatment Action Campaign will address over 1,600 health and social justice activists from across the Western Cape during a march to Parliament tomorrow, 13 March, in Cape Town.

They will hand over a memorandum to the Portfolio Committee of Trade and Industry demanding it hold the DTI accountable to its Constitutional obligation to realise the right to health.

The patent law reform process has been underway in South Africa for over six years. In September, DTI released the draft policy for public comment.

The Fix the Patent Laws campaign - run by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SECTION27 - has been working since 2011 to pressure the South African government to amend its Patents Act to include legal safeguards to increase access to more affordable medicines.

Read more about the Fix the Patent Laws campaign

Follow live tweets and photos from both marches with @FixPatentLaw on Twitter, using #Pharmagate

Will we get back the corruption watchdog?

Corruption Watch (CW) is calling for the reintroduction of the Anti-corruption Bureau in the new public service legislation. The organisation expressed “deep concern and disappointment” that two key provisions have been excised from the latest draft of the new Public Administration Management Bill (PAM Bill).

These were a ‘cooling-off’ period before public officials who were involved directly in contract awards can enter the private sector from the public sector, and the reintroduction of an anti-corruption bureau with investigative powers.

“The new PAM bill is a key opportunity to address these serious problems. This opportunity should not be lost. We need to bring back the anti-corruption bureau with its vital investigative powers,” said David Lewis executive director of Corruption Watch.

Israeli Apartheid Week

The South African Council of Churches (SACC) has called on all member churches, clergy and fellow Christians across the country to dedicate Sunday 16 March, the last day of the Israeli Apartheid Week, as a day of prayer for the Palestinian people.

The call comes after a letter was received from the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine (NCCOP) including the Palestinian branches of the YMCA, YWCA, Caritas, the Greek Catholic Sayedat-AlBishara Association, the International Christian Committee and other Palestinian Christian churches and organizations.

Over 75 civil society organisations including COSATU, PASSOP and Equal Education, as well as the ruling political party, the ANC, have put their support behind the annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) launched 10 years ago to pressurise the government of Israel to end the occupation of Palestine and end discriminatory policies against Palestinians.

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TOPICS:  Corruption Human Rights Politics

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