CAPE TOWN’S CENTRAL LINE TRAIN SERVICE REMAINS SUSPENDED

EWN reports that the service was suspended on the central line following service delivery protests in Langa this week. Services on Metrorail’s central line in Cape Town remain suspended this today. The rail operator suffered extensive damage to its infrastructure during service delivery protests in the Langa area earlier this week.

A train was also torched between the Bellville and Tygerberg stations. Metrorail’s Richard Walker says technicians are doing everything they can to get services back on track. “The decision to suspend services between Langa and Khayelitsha and Langa and Mitchells Plain was part of the advice from police, who indicated the situation was still volatile in Langa.”

by Lauren Isaacs
(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

Cosatu’s nationwide mass action for decent work to be on 7 October

eNCA reports that labour federation COSATU has announced countrywide mass action next month in its fight for decent work. This was decided at a special Central Executive Committee meeting on Monday.

COSATU president S’dumo Dlamini indicated:  “We are announcing a strike on 7 October 2016.  And we have said all workers in the country under the banner of Cosatu, outside the banner of Cosatu, are covered in this strike.”

Arrested Wits students face public violence charges

eNCA reports that Wits University students are adamant the campus will remain shut until their demands are met. On Wednesday, two students were arrested as violent protests broke out at the institution. Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades and one student was injured.

The students arrested on Wednesday are are expected to appear at Hillbrow magistrate’s court on Thursday. They face charges of public violence. Police say the two were briefly detained and charged on Wednesday and later released. One of the students, Zainab Patel, claims she has done nothing wrong and was shot in the foot. Meanwhile, university management says its hands are tied and government needs to step in. University authorities say classes will resume on Monday.

Data costs questioned in Parliament

eNCA reports that the country’s network providers insist they’re doing enough to cap data prices. But some MPs are not convinced.  On Wednesday, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications grilled mobile operators on the excessively high cost of data. Also concerned is the #DataMustFall campaign, spearheaded by radio personality Thabo ‘Tbo Touch’ Molefe. Molefe accuses the companies of daylight robbery and is calling for data costs to be halved.

Vodacom, cited by various groups as the most expensive network in the country, said call prices have dropped an effective 48 percent over the last three years while data prices have dropped by over 50 percent over the same period. MTN executives told MPs a similar story, saying their call and data costs have been cut by 58 percent over the last few years. Following the two days of public hearings, MPs would discuss the submissions before submitting a report with proposals to the National Assembly for approval.

Soweto residents, Eskom at loggerheads over prepaid meters

SABC News reports that the Orlando Task Team’s Seth Mazibuko says Eskom must give Orlando East residents in Soweto an option to remain with conventional meters or to move to prepaid and not be forced. This comes after the residents protested against prepaid electricity earlier in the week. Eskom CEO Brian Molefe says he wants prepaid electricity to be standardised.

He says introducing legislation on prepaid metering would solve Eskom’s problems. Mazibuko says residents received notices last month telling them that they are going to be connected to prepaid systems. He says Orlando East residents must pay a flat rate at different levels, as 48.8% of the citizens living in the area are pensioners. Mazibuko adds that the power utility is going against a promise that they made ahead of the Local Government Elections to scrap residents debt if they moved to prepaid.

Sadtu threatens strike if teacher posts are cut

IOL News reports that teacher union Sadtu says it will embark on a provincial march if the education department in Mpumalanga does not cease its plans to cut more than a thousand teacher posts. The union’s provincial structures said on Wednesday that it held lunch-time pickets, at district offices in the province, instead all day protests in order not to disrupt learning.

It said the department’s decision to reduce teacher posts from 32 637 to 31 206, resulting in 1 400 posts being frozen, does not make sense considering the shortage of teachers in many schools. Sadtu is also worried that the department has closed all vacant posts in the province and any vacancy that arises, due to retirement or resignation will not be filled. The union warned that it will continue with its daily lunch-time pickets in culmination of its provincial march on September 29, if the department does not retract on its plans.

by Zintle Mahlati

Amplats confident of settling wage dispute with NUM

EWN reports that Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) is confident it will reach an agreement with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which has declared a wage dispute with the platinum producer after talks deadlocked.

The company has offered an increase of 6.75%, while the union is demanding 14.35%.  According to the NUM, whose members make up a fifth of the workforce at Amplats, negotiations are now going to be held under the auspices of the CCMA.  The company’s Mpumi Sithole said they were still negotiating with the union and added:  “In fact we’re very confident that we’ll find each other very soon.”

by Masego Rahlaga

UFS SRC no longer part of Fees Must Fall protest

SABC News reported that Student Representative Council (SRC) at theUniversity of the Free State has confirmed that it is no longer part of an on-going Fees Must Fall protest at the institution. The leadership says this is due to acts of intimidation and threats against students who are not part of the protest. SRC President Lindokuhle Ntuli says,  “There are individuals within the protest who are causing chaos, who want to assault students who want to beat students who are not part of the protest,  who want to go in residences and forcefully remove students who are not protesting.

Now there is no way that the SRC can condone that and some of them are not students on campus.” Meanwhile, an investigation is underway at the University of KwaZulu-Natal following cell phone messages allegedly sent to students demanding that they stay away from classes. The message says there will be protests and disruptions of classes from Wednesday.  On Tuesday, students from the Pietermaritzburg campus marched to the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature demanding free education. At this stage the university maintains that all campuses are open and students need to attend classes.

by Thabiso Radebe and Nonkululeko Hlophe

Nearly 300 govt employees suspended – Minister

News24 reports that nearly 300 government employees across all departments are currently on suspension, Public Service and Administration Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Tuesday.
A total of 295 civil servants had been on paid suspension for 60 days or more, with a total salary bill of just over R33m, Ramatlhodi told the National Council of Provinces.

The NCOP was debating the backlog in disciplinary proceedings in government. “We are deeply concerned to finalise many of the unresolved cases. We are collaborating with Treasury and this is one area where we are intervening,” Ramatlhodi said. According to StatsSA, South Africa had close to 2.1 million government employees as at June 2014.

by Paul Herman

Pay back what you owe NSFAS – Treasury

News24 reports that National Treasury on Tuesday called on NSFAS beneficiaries with jobs to start repaying their loans as it scrambles to find money to subsidise poor students. “This is part of each citizen’s responsibility to play a part in helping other students who are in need of financial aid,” it said in a statement.

Treasury said it would continue discussions with the Department of Higher Education and Training on the fees matter. The results of this process would be made public during the mini-budget to be presented at the end of October. Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana reminded students in July to start paying back what they owed the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, which provides loans and bursaries to poor yet academically eligible students.

“At least 70% of working NSFAS beneficiaries are able to purchase cars and houses in their first three years of working. We need to remind them to pay back what they owe to NSFAS,” he said at an education symposium in Mpumalanga.