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Response to the 2018 Budget Speech

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Pravin Gordhan's 2018 Budget Speech (photo credit: www.gosouth.co.za)
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Photo caption: Pravin Gordhan's 2018 Budget Speech (photo credit: www.gosouth.co.za)

Government's shifting and restated emphasis, as listed below, MUST include Persons with Disability (PWD):

1. Dignity and equality.
2. Analogue to digital TV.
3. Economic growth in the following areas:

a. R3.9Bn for SMME’s and co-operatives.

b. R1.9Bn for Broadband implementation in public buildings and schools in eight NHI pilot districts.

c. R3.9Bn for CSIR.

d. R0.5Bn for tourism promotion.

e. R300Bn by 2020 for agriculture development and land reform.

f. R37Bn for Higher Education.

g. R240Bn on Basic Education.


4. Reform of TVET colleges to meet market needs.
5. Private and Public investment in new technologies that help build a modern and diversified portfolio.
6. Increased opportunities to build livelihoods.
7. Fastest growing spending categories are health, social and community development.
8. Three new conditional grants will take effect to expand access to:
9. Early Childhood Development.
10. Increased employment of social workers.
11. Improved opportunities for learners with profound disabilities.
12. Improved asset management, including adherence to spending 8% of the value of assets on their maintenance.
13. Improved education is a CENTRAL priority.
14. IDC, Land Bank and Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) are steadily expanding their financing of agricultural and municipal infrastructure.
15. Further consultations are currently taking place on the tax on sugary beverages. Arising from these discussions, and working closely with the Department of Health, the proposed design has been revised to include both intrinsic and added sugars. The tax will be implemented later this year once details are finalised and the legislation is passed.
16. To expand the integrated school health programmes, including provision of spectacles and hearing aids.
17. To improve services for people with disabilities including provision of assistive devices.
18. Limpopo Central Hospital and the new medical school of the University of Limpopo.
19. Procurement authorities are now empowered to set clear targets to promote black-owned and women-owned businesses, participation of youth and disabled persons.


How does our sector respond to and potentially benefit from the shifting and restated government emphases listed above? Some thoughts below:


1. Pursue initiatives that assure degrees of self-reliance and independence, for example, physiotherapy.
2. We have already seen how consistently from year to year our sector outperforms the general populace on this front and we must continue to grow on these achievements and progress. The blindness sector’s youth should become a growing academic elite both at a secondary and tertiary level.
3. We must continue to pursue with the Department of Labour (DOL), Workshops for the Blind in rural areas.
4. We MUST have clear motivated programmes that can take advantage of the listed expenditure and development programmes, especially co-operatives, including the provision of boreholes to sustain agricultural projects.
5. We must continue to pursue initiatives with the CSIR to benefit our sector, like the recent launch of the SAnote.
6. We must also pursue initiatives that expose our member organisations to benefit from tourism, especially through arts and crafts. We are already actively engaged with various departments including the Department of Arts and Culture.
7. We sincerely hope that an urgent allocation out of the extra R5 billion or out of the total of R37 billion for Higher Education is allocated to Optima College.
8. We don’t see the spending growth in social development directly in either the increase in social grants from R1510 to R1600 (an increase of only 5.96%) or in improved service delivery.
9. Bearing in mind that certain forms of sugar may cause or aggravate the onset of certain types of diabetes which may cause or aggravate certain types of blindness, the question remains as to where the revenues from this tax will be spent.
10. Council too must strive to achieve improved asset management. At very least we must try to spend 8% of the value of assets on their maintenance. In the private sector they work on 12% typically, depending on the nature of the asset.
11. Optima College must strengthen its offering or if it is not able to do so affordably, then it must re-examine its evolving role in our sector and the South African economy as a whole.
12. Our efforts to secure funding from IDC, Land Bank and DBSA at a Council level have proven difficult to date.
13. In respect of school health programmes; Council through the Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness has already positioned itself well with many programmes already delivered in association with private corporate funders. Bureau’s future in this service category will be determined by the State’s willingness to work with independent agencies, like the Bureau, with a proven track record versus trying to duplicate these services on its own.
14. We hope that the medical infrastructure developments in Limpopo will specifically allow for the training of visually impaired physiotherapists.
15. We hope the expenditure on Basic Education includes the much needed and promised development at our SEN schools, and most specifically at Rivoni School for the Blind. We further hope this provides for the delivery of text books to all our learners.
16. It is important that all targets are enforced, not merely set, but achieved!

In closing. Multinational corporations continue to use inconsistencies in global tax rules to their advantage and to avoid tax liabilities. South Africa intends to sign a multilateral instrument this year which will assist in the updating of treaties and will reduce the scope for aggressive tax avoidance activities. This continues to be the biggest ill in our society today, where those that have, refuse to pay their fair share of tax. Seeing their exploitation of the consumer and/or the poor as their entitlement and then not even willing to pay their fair share of tax on it.

This is the time for activists, workers, businesspersons, the clergy, professionals and citizens at large to actively engage in shaping the transformation agenda and ensuring that we do have a just and equitable society. And we as the blindness sector have our own advocacy role to play.

We also need to consider, in the face of such intractable economic hardships and disparities, whether we should supplement our Constitutional Bill of Rights with a “Charter of Economic Rights” – a charter that would bind all of us to an economy which:

  • Provides access to decent and well remunerated jobs,
  • Facilitates training and retraining of citizens in the face of technological change, and
  • Creates a supportive environment for micro, small and medium businesses and co-operatives.
  • Supports equitable education that empowers us all to do what we dare to dream.
  • Has a strong justice system with effective and sustainable punitive measures against those that would subvert:
    • First the equitable expenditure within the economy (through the elimination of price and tender fixing).
    • Second the equitable redistribution (through taxes) of wealth.

We can draw inspiration from Inkosi Albert Luthuli, when he says:

“I believe that here in South Africa with all our diversities of colour and race, we will show the world a new pattern for democracy. There is a challenge for us to set a new example for all. Let us not side-step this task.” We cannot achieve this without the immediate comments above being achieved.

For a more detailed report with comments on the Budget, click on the link.

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Celebrating Eye Care Awareness Month

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A SANCB staff member showing Resource Centre products to an exhibition visitor
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October 2016 was Eye Care Awareness Month (ECAM) and the SANCB had a busy and productive month.


Our Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness conducted cataract blitzes in the Free State and North West provinces.


To mark World Sight Day (WSD), our Mpumalanga office held an eye screening event, screening more than 500 people and dispensing 429 free pairs of spectacles. We thank our partners: Nelspruit’s Lions Club, the City of Mbombela and Laduma.


We also joined the National Department of Health in Gauteng on 18 October for free eye screening services.


At the end of October, the SANCB representatives attended an International Eye Health Conference: the 10th General Assembly of the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness at Durban’s ICC.


Over three days, more than 200 renowned speakers covered every aspect of eye care and public policy. We hope that the event gives rise to renewed unity and vigour in the sector!
 

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Our new fax number

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Due to ongoing problems with underground Telkom cables these last few months, many people have complained that our fax number 012 346 4699 does not always work. If you encounter a problem, please use our alternative fax number 086 461 0871, or click here to send us an email.

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Dr Rowland - turning dreams into action

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The lifetime achievements of SANCB’s Honorary President, Dr William Rowland, were recently highlighted in Plus 50 magazine.

His illustrious career’s earned him many awards, locally and as far afield as Russia and Chicago, reminding us just how fortunate we are to have Dr Rowland as our Honorary President.

He was blinded at the age of four in a shooting incident but his parents gave him all their love and support, and provided the best education they could afford.

Dr Rowland started his career as a physiotherapist and in 1966 began his association with SANCB as a public relations officer. He went on to become our national executive director for 29 years until his retirement in 2005.

At that time he was also president of the World Blind Union and CEO of the Thabo Mbeki Development Trust for Disabled People. In 2007, SANCB awarded him the prestigious RW Bowen Medal for Lifelong Meritorious Service to the Blind.

Now, well past 70, he’s still a driving force in the disability world and serves on 10 different councils, both national and international. Dr Rowland has changed the life of many a blind person. His mother had always believed that his blindness was meant to be, and that he had a specific role to play. We couldn’t agree more!
 

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Prevention of blindness

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In our 85 years, we have established the Bureau for the Prevention of Blindness which is our flagship eye-care division.

So for over 60 years, we have been travelling around the country to rural areas and giving urgent eye care. This ranges from something as simple as giving a child a pair of spectacles after testing their eyes, to a complete reversal of some forms of blindness through surgical interventions (like cataract operations).

Once a person is able to see again, they can become an independent and productive member of society again. As part of our new strategy, we are looking forward to developing permanent eye care centres in each province. We celebrated the Bureau’s 60th anniversary by establishing one such eye-care centre in the North-West Province.
 

Adele's experience

It’s not uncommon to get cold feet before an important event – and 78-year-old Adele experienced just that shortly before her cataract operation in Hartswater Hospital.

She was so adamant that she didn’t want the operation that she was released back to the ward.

Her daughter was heartbroken and told her mother how hard it was to ensure her safety. Touched by her daughter’s plea, and after some counseling, Adele went back into theatre.

When her bandages were removed the next day, Adele’s vision was so good that she knelt down and prayed. She went on to have her second eye tended to and brought in two friends for cataract removals.

Had it not been for the Bureau and Vodacom Foundation - which is funding the cataract tours in the Northern Cape - Adele and her friends would still be blind.
 

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The Secret to Our Longevity

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We often get so caught up in our day-to-day duties that we forget to make time for celebrations. Yet celebrating our milestones is a great opportunity to take stock of where we are today, and to realise just how far we’ve come.



That’s why we’re determined to celebrate a huge milestone this year: Our 85th Anniversary !

And we’re hoping you’ll help us celebrate, by sending your gift!

Please click here to do so.



Donors like you are the secret to the SANCB’s longevity. Our supporters have been with us since we first opened our doors in 1929, backing every step we took to become a highly respected member of the disability sector.



Today our reach is far, covering programmes in the fields of eye care, social inclusion, education, social justice and advocacy.

 Thank you for being part of these achievements . . . and please click here if you’d like to help us do so much more.



One of the visually impaired people we've trainedA beneficiary of our Early Childhood Development initiativesA little boy learning how to use his Perkins braillerA potential cataract surgery patient's eyes are screened

The SANCB is recognised both nationally and internationally for supporting, uplifting and creating awareness for visually impaired South Africans.

We have no doubt that we will continue to grow from strength to strength.

So please support us as we expand our path to benefit all blind and partially sighted South Africans.



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A wealth of information – online!

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If you’ve yet to visit our website then we urge you to log onto www.sancb.org.za

Our website features a host of useful information – common eye conditions, an online eye test, tips and advice on living with sight loss, and much more!

Besides being able to sign up for the various publications we produce, you can also view the many useful assistive devices we stock in our resource centre, and keep up to date with the latest news from SANCB and the blindness sector.

And for those of you who would like to make a donation, our site features a secure and convenient donation facility – which means your credit card donation will reach us safely, and immediately!

So if you haven’t yet, do visit www.sancb.org.za and let us know what your think of our website by emailing admin@sancb.org.za with your comments or queries.
 

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Eye Care Facility Launched

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On 13 June 2013, we officially launched our Eye Care Facility in Mafikeng together with our funding partners, the Allergan Foundation and with the permission of the North-West Department of Health. (The picture shows from right to left; Jace Nair, NED of Council, Teboho Molebatsi, Key Accounts Manager for Government Business at Allergan, and Dr Magome Masike, MEC for Health in the North West Province.)


The North-West Department of Health hosted the launch which took place at the Mafikeng Hospital where the new facility has been opened. The facility is a full ward and is designed for pre and post-operation screening. The unit, which is the first of its kind, will also be used to increase training of ophthalmologists, optometrists, ophthalmic nurses and other relevant service providers. The facility has been designed to accommodate the shortfall in essential eye care services in the province and the North-West Department of Health was grateful to accept the infrastructure as a sterling example of public-private partnerships.


Council’s wish is to be able to have at least one of these centres in each province to assist with eye care in order to meet WHO targets in eliminating avoidable blindness such as cataracts.

To get more information or pictures from the day, follow our twitter stream of the event at https://twitter.com/search?q=%23eyecareNW&src=hash or scroll through our tweets @councilforblind
 

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Eye Care Facility Launched

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The South African National Council for the Blind, funded by Allergan International Foundation has launched its first fixed, eye care facility in Mahikeng, at the North West Department of Health’s Bophelong Hospital Complex, which will provide quality pre and post-operative care to patients requiring eye care.
Launch is held on 13 June 2013 at 11am at the Mafikeng Hospital Recreational Hall, with refreshments served from 10am.

Please click on the links below if you require additional information:

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