KZN education dept to continue acting against teachers caning pupils

EWN reports that the KwaZulu-Natal Education Department says it will continue to deal decisively with educators who use corporal punishment in schools across the province. The department says several teachers who have been identified as having used harsh methods to discipline pupils have been fired

On Monday, the deputy principal of Okumhlope Secondary School in Umlazi was suspended after a video of her caning a female learner went viral. Spokesperson Kwazi Mthethwa says they will not rush this investigation as they want to do a thorough job. “We’re not just obsessed with exposing these people, we want to act so that we can clean our system and because our responsibility is to ensure that there’s teaching and learning.”

by Tebogo Tshwane

NSFAS R14m saga: ‘I reported the matter to authorities’

IOL & The Star report that a person believed to be the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) student who was “erroneously” paid R14 million of financial aid into her account has revealed her side in a Facebook post. She says she was the one who notified authorities. Michael Ansell, chief executive of IntelliMali, which manages the allocation of funds at the Walter Sisulu University’s (WSU) students IntelliCard, said the firm was taking legal action against the student who had “helped herself” to the money.

Ansell said on Wednesday the East London-based student received a NSFAS monthly food allowance of R14.1m instead of R1 400 in June. It is alleged that she spent over R800 000 and is being investigated for fraud. But according to Ansell, the student did not report the oversight and “chose rather to access the funds”. Ansell said the unit was in talks with NSFAS and WSU to determine the most appropriate action to be taken. WSU spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo said university management would meet Ansell to discuss the matter and investigate what went wrong and why the error had gone undetected for months. “The student’s account has been blocked and the remaining balance has been retracted. It is not clear where the money was spent and according to the IntelliMali website and call centre the card can only be used at participating retailers.

by Tebogo Monama & Yasmine Jacobs

COSATU Post Central Executive Committee media briefing today

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has a Post CEC media briefing today following a three day Central Executive Committee meeting that started on the 28th  of August 2017  to discuss Organisational, Political and Socio-economic issues affecting the workers and the working class.

The details of the media briefing are as follows:
Date : 31 August  2017, Today
Time : 11h00
Venue : COSATU House, 110 Jorissen Street, Braamfontein

Gigaba’s bombshell that PIC funds could be used to bail SOEs out angers Cosatu

BusinessLive reports that Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has told Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting that he cannot guarantee that the government will not attempt to make use of the Public Investment Corporation’s (PIC’s) funds to capitalise state-owned entities (SOEs). This comes as the government scrambles to raise money for struggling SOEs, notably airline SAA.  The labour federation’s leaders apparently took the minister to task after his presentation on Monday, demanding the assurance that the crisis of the country’s burdened fiscus would not affect workers’ “hard-earned” pensions and savings.

Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, Nehawu, has already stated its opposition to a potential bail-out of SAA by the PIC.  The union said such a move would be an abuse of employees’ retirement funds, to rescue SAA, which was a “mismanaged and corrupt” entity.  Delegates to the CEC meeting were due to debate the minister’s presentation on Tuesday night.  The PIC manages assets worth more than R1.8-trillion and invests funds on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) and other social funds.  The Federation of Unions of SA (Fedusa) said that it would never agree that PIC funds could be used to bail out “mismanaged” government entities.

by Theto Mahlakoana

Shabangu slams Shoprite over female staffers’ ‘punishment’

IOL News reports that Minister for Women in the Presidency Susan Shabangu on Wednesday expressed shock at the alleged punishment seven Shoprite staff members were subjected to after they were caught stealing. Shoprite came under fire following allegations that female staffers, one of who is pregnant, were arrested and publicly humiliated at a Shoprite branch in the Western Cape over the theft.  According to a report, a controller at the store gave the workers permission to collect tips and after this came to light, the workers were dismissed and accused of theft.

“Shoprite can confirm that a number of employees from its Pelican Park store have been charged with theft and have had their first court appearances. The law must now take its course. “Shoprite is a unionised employer and has established channels through which staff can raise grievances to be investigated accordingly. Further comment would be that in line with global retail practice, Shoprite cashiers are not allowed to receive tips.” Shabangu in a statement expressed slammed the retail group for the way the matter was handled. Shabangu also called out Shoprite for charging the staff members for receiving tips from customers while paying them low wages. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has confirmed it received a formal complaint over the incident and has launched an investigation.

by Khanyisile Ngcobo

Former Venda Pension Fund victims will be resolved

Business Report writes that the payment of pensions to beneficiaries of the former Venda Pension Fund will be resolved by the end of November 2017, says the  Ministry of Finance. “The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, intends to resolve the payment of pensions to beneficiaries of the former Venda Pension Fund by the end of November,” said the ministry of the monies that are owed by the then government of Venda in Limpopo. According to a statement, Gigaba said the matter has long been outstanding and needs to be resolved as urgently as possible.

Tshimangadzo Tshiololi, Musandiwa Ramavhale and  Mafela Rabambi were victims of the state’s maladministration following former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s investigation in 2011. The victims lost all their retirement money during the amalgamation of the Venda Pension Fund and the First Privatisation Scheme pre-1994 and before the Government Employees Pension Fund came into effect. “The Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA) is collating and reconstructing individual files and records of beneficiaries. This will ensure that qualifying pensioners receive the monies due to them,” concluded the Ministry of Finance.

by Songezo Ndlendle

Outrage that City of Johannesburg job applicants have to declare any political party positions

SowetanLive reports that the Democratic Alliance (DA) administration in the City of Johannesburg wants to know if its prospective employees hold any political office. This is stated in a new job application form for the city, which compels applicants to disclose political positions – permanent or temporary.  The DA said the intention was to ensure that there was a clear divide between party and state, and that those who hold senior positions in the city’s administration are appointed due to their professional qualifications rather than loyalty or seniority in any political party.

The move has been met with outrage by the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), whose regional secretary Bafana Zungu said the question was abnormal and that such a requirement was unheard of.  However, Mayor Herman Mashaba’s spokesman defended the move, saying the question was about preventing cadre deployment and was in line with the Municipal Systems Act.  “It asks you whether you hold political office, not what party do you support,” he pointed out.  The DA added in a statement last night that the question was introduced in 2014 under the previous administration, but this could not be recalled by former city manager Trevor Fowler.

by Isaac Mahlangu and Loyiso Sidimba

FNB denies that it had spied on dismissed employees

Fin24 reports that FNB on Tuesday denied all allegations that it had intercepted the WhatsApp and email messages of former employees. This followed a report that four former FNB employees claimed their WhatsApp and email conversations had been monitored for several months before their dismissals.  “The bank did not intercept any private communication,” FNB human resources spokesperson Shamala Moodley said.

FNB confirmed that the individuals referred to were no longer in the bank’s employ, following a thorough and rigorous internal disciplinary and CCMA process which was concluded nearly a year ago.  It also said the bank’s policies were applied in accordance with labour laws.  It was reported that the four former employees were dismissed after they had commented on Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane’s marriage to a white woman, as well as an apparent lack of transformation and pay disparities at FNB.

by Kyle Venktess

Treasury urged to review double tax on expat workers

Fin24 reports that tax experts on Tuesday urged National Treasury to give careful consideration to the economic implications of repealing a provision that exempts certain South Africans who work overseas from paying tax in South Africa. Parliament’s standing committee on finance hosted public hearings to allow stakeholders to give input on a range of new tax proposals from National Treasury.

One of the most controversial is to repeal the exemption that allows locals who work abroad for a period of longer than 183 days a year to pay tax in the country where they are working, and not in South Africa. Kyle Mandy, tax policy leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said in his submission that aspects such as the higher cost of living associated with living overseas should be taken into account when Treasury considers repealing the exemption. National Treasury claims the exemption, which was introduced in 2001, has been abused and created the opportunity for some South Africans to not pay any tax at all – especially those living in low or no tax jurisdictions.

He also pointed out that South Africans working abroad will not receive a tax credit for making contributions to social security in the countries where they work. In addition, a number of expats are maintaining two households, which comes down to a duplication in living costs for them. Erika de Villiers from the South African Institute of Tax Professionals pointed out that the South African Revenue Service’s foreign tax mechanism is onerous. “Even if you do everything correctly, taxpayers struggle two years to get their credit back.”  That means a South African working overseas could be liable for paying 75% tax (in South Africa and in the country where he or she is working), and then wait a considerable time for the tax credit. The new regulation is expected to be implemented in 2019.

by Liesl Peyper

Clothing sector seeks urgent solution to downgrades impact

Fin24 reports that labour and business in the clothing, textile, footwear and leather (CTFL) sectors are deeply concerned about the impact of the downgrades of South Africa’s debt on our industry and the broader economy, the CTFL Stakeholder Initiative said on Tuesday. The CTFL Stakeholder Initiative pointed out that these factory closures and retrenchments will take place, if a proper and credible turnaround plan is not formulated immediately, and implemented expeditiously.

To understand the impact of the downgrades – including of possible future downgrades – and to develop measures to mitigate its impact, CTFL trade unions (SACTWU and NULAW) and employer associations have convened a conference to take place on September 6 and 7 at the Coastlands Conference Centre in Durban. About 500 delegates are expected, including CTFL factory workers, union officials, factory directors and managers, service providers, government officials, the retail sector, as well as delegates associated sectors like cotton farming. The outcomes of the conference will be used to construct a plan to mitigate the impact of the downgrades on the CTFL sectors.