TB still leading cause of death: StatsSA

eNCA reports that tuberculosis killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, remaining the leading cause of death for many South Africans in the past three years, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) revealed on Tuesday. According to the report “Mortality and causes of death in South Africa 2015: Findings from death notification”, tuberculosis (TB) accounted for 7.2 percent of all deaths last year and had averaged at least at seven percent each year in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Diabetes mellitus accounted for 5.4 percent of all deaths. Overall, there were more male deaths than female deaths in 2015, from infancy until age 65–69, after which there were more female than male deaths. Over half, or 55.5 percent, of deaths, were attributed to non-communicable diseases. Communicable diseases accounted for 33.4 percent of deaths, while injuries were responsible for 11.1 percent of deaths, the trend since 2009. StatsSA said that, as could be expected, deaths due to non-natural causes were highest among the youth, with young males being the biggest casualties.

Ref: ANA

DTI’s industrial finance of R20bn ‘reaps 27,000 direct new jobs’

TMG Digital/BusinessLive reports that the Department of Trade and Industry approved more than R20-billion in industrial finance this year‚ creating 27,000 direct new jobs and about 108,000 new indirect jobs. This emerged from a media briefing on Tuesday by the economic and employment cluster of ministers chaired jointly by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti and Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.

The department’s incentive programme incorporates the automotives‚ clothing‚ critical infrastructure‚ film and business process outsourcing sectors, as well as special economic zones and the manufacturing competitiveness enhancement programme.  The incentive expenditure of the department has been criticised by some for being a waste of money, but the World Bank recently noted in an update report on SA that investment tax incentives “have contained job destruction in industrial sectors” and “have encouraged additional investment in agriculture‚ construction‚ manufacturing‚ trade and other services”.

by Linda Ensor

UCT’s Max Price calls for graduate tax to help fund poor students

BusinessLive reports that University of Cape Town (UCT) vice-chancellor Max Price said on Monday that the state should consider a graduate tax to tackle the funding challenges faced by most students at tertiary institutions.  Speaking at the Cape Town Press Club, Price warned that higher education was in danger of “declining” if protests over fees continued.

Price said free higher education for all was not possible in the current climate, but a graduate tax would help poor students to get through university.  In its Budget Review tabled in Parliament last week, the Treasury seemed to rule out a graduate tax.  “The idea offers several potential advantages, including effectively targeting private returns to higher education.  Such a tax is, however, unlikely to raise the revenues needed to fund universities,” the Treasury said.

by Bekezela Phakathi

Spar denies wittingly employing undocumented migrants

BusinessLive reports that retailer Spar has denied wittingly hiring undocumented migrants as alleged by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), which is driving a crackdown. Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba vowed last week to take action against businesses employing undocumented migrants and he said the authorities had arrested 63 migrants working at three Spar branches.  Spar store managers at the retailer’s Montana, Doornpoort and Zambezi outlets will apparently be charged.

Spar spokeswoman Stephanie Leclercq on Friday confirmed the arrest of 63 staff members.  “These people have been detained, but more than 40 have returned to work as they have been released after showing their valid documentation to the authorities,” she said.  The remainder of them have documentation, but it seems to be false.  Every store in the Spar chain manages its own staff appointments.  “The retailer in question is in discussions with the department to establish a way forward in identifying if potential employees’ documentation is are valid or not,” said Leclercq.

by Khulekani Magubane

Minister Edna Molewa invites public to comment on reclamation of land from coastal waters

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Mrs Edna Molewa, has on 24 February 2017, published in Government Notice R. 167 in Government Gazette No. 40638 draft regulations on the reclamation of land from coastal waters, for public comment. The regulations seek to provide an administrative framework to implement sections 7B and 7C of the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, 2008 (Act No. 24 of 2008) relating to the submission, processing and consideration of applications for approval to reclaim land from coastal waters.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Environmental Affairs identified the reclamation of land from the sea, which is the process of creating new land from the sea, thus adding to the territory of South Africa, as a significant activity that was open to potential abuse. The adoption of the new regulations will ensure that all potential reclamation on the South African coast will be subject to an appropriate and effective authorisation process. The Minister invites any person to submit written comments on the draft regulations within 30 days of the publication of the notice in the Government Gazette by post or hand.

See more at www.environment.gov.za


Disciplinary process to go ahead at Prasa after CEO axed

EWN reports that Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board chair Popo Molefe says a disciplinary process will now begin following the axing of its acting CEO Collins Letsoalo, who allegedly demanded a R5.9 million salary package.

During a briefing in Pretoria on Monday, Letsoalo refuted the claims against him. “The Department of Transport was misled that the board had approved the salary package. We will ask them to return the money to Prasa and I’m sure there’ll be no problem with that. The other employees at Prasa could face disciplinary processes.” Spokesperson Steve Harris says they hope the new CEO will clean up the parastatal.

by Mia Lindeque

Satawu to seek meeting with transport minister regarding Prasa

The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU) will be seeking a meeting with the Minister of Transport to gain a better understanding of what is happening at Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). There have been three CEOs so far and yet the circumstances at the rail agency continue to deteriorate. Under the guidance of the current board, Prasa is all but bankrupt. Managerial targets are not met and there has been a spike in train delays and avoidable accidents. Take for instance the latest incident where two trains running on one line collided, injuring more than 100 people.

 Unfortunately, the losers in this situation are the poorest of the poor whose dream of a safe, reliable, affordable and integrated public transport system is still deferred. SATAWU is also gravely concerned about our members’ job security if nothing is done to ensure that Prasa is sustainable. The revitalisation of the trains and rail infrastructure must be put back on track. For these reasons, SATAWU will seek a meeting with the shareholder, the Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters.

Donkeys smuggled from SA to China for medicine

GroundUp reports that a Johannesburg businessman was arrested this week after falsely declaring a shipment of 300 donkey hides at OR Tambo airport. Investigators suspect that the man, a Chinese national, is the leader of a local donkey smuggling ring.Gelatin from donkey hides is used to manufacture a traditional Chinese medicine called ejiao. According to Mpho Mokoena, an inspector in the NSPCA’s Farm Animal Protection Unit, large numbers of donkeys have been slaughtered using knives and hammers in rural parts of Limpopo, the Northern Cape, and North West Province.

Separately, the North West Department of Rural, Environmental and Agricultural Development announced last week Tuesday that it was embarking on a formal “donkey production program”, investing in farms and equine abattoirs for meeting Chinese demand. Provincial representatives signed a memorandum of understanding with China last year. “The spike in donkey hide demand around the world means that donkeys and donkey products are an agricultural commodity and will contribute to [growth] in the province,” the department wrote in a statement.

By Kimon de Greef

Road Traffic Infringement Agency loses court bid

SABC News reports that the North Gauteng High Court has confirmed that traffic authorities have to abide by the letter of the Aarto Act, and ordered that the fines before the court must be cancelled where the authorities did not comply. The Road Traffic Infringement Agency has lost a case to Fines4U which could see some traffic fines issued between 2008 and 2013 unenforceable. The case stems from 2012, when Fines4U complained that correct procedures were not followed when traffic fines are being sent out to infringers.

After 32 days of issuing a fine, a courtesy letter with a R60 charge should be issued to motorists, and after 62 days if the fine is still not paid, an enforcement letter must be sent out. Fines4U says fines should be sent via registered mail but they have been sent by secure mail instead. There is no proof that motorists actually receive the fines they are being issued with, leading to some unable to renew vehicle licence discs among other challenges. The Road Traffic Infringement Agency says it is studying the judgement and will decide on the way forward.

by Glorious Sefako-Musi

Cosatu introspects this week, prepares to make call on national minimum wage

BusinessLive reports that Cosatu is expected this week to consider its position on the proposed national minimum wage (NMW) and on the state of the governing alliance.

The labour federation will be holding a briefing after its central executive committee meeting on Thursday, when it is expected to announce its formal position on the proposed NMW.  Nedlac social partners, with the exception of Cosatu, earlier this month signed off on an agreement that will see the introduction of a NMW of R3,500, or R20 per hour, to take effect in May 2018.

by Karl Gernetzky