Unemployed youth roped in under EPWP programme

TimesLive reports that recent attacks on international and domestic tourists and diplomats have forced government into overdrive in an effort secure the country’s image as a safe place to visit. The result has been the launch on Tuesday by the national and Gauteng tourism departments of a pilot tourist safety monitor project‚ which will see unemployed youth trained to provide advice to visiting tourists.

Two hundred safety monitors will take up their posts at Gauteng’s tourist hot spots‚ including Soweto and OR Tambo International Airport.  The monitors will eventually form part of more than 2‚000 who will be stationed around the country’s tourist attractions.  “The employment of these monitors is being done through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP).  All the monitors will undergo security vetting by the police and other security agencies.  The plan is to rally support from the private sector‚ especially in the form of sponsorship.

by Graeme Hosken

Urgent court action to stop mine using West Coast groundwater

GroundUp reports that an environmental organisation is taking the government and Kropz to court in a bid to stop the phosphate mine using water from the ancient Elandsfontein aquifer on the West Coast. The West Coast Environmental Protection Agency (WCEPA) has filed an urgent interdict in the Western Cape High Court against Kropz Elandsfontein (Pty) Ltd and the Minister and Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation. The NGO said in court papers that a water use licence is automatically suspended under the National Water Act once an appeal to the government’s issuing of the licence has been lodged. The suspension lasts until the appeal is decided.

WCEPA’s objection to granting the water licence is based on experts’ reports which showed that the mine’s usage of water from the Elandsfontein aquifer posed “a high risk of irreparable environmental damage” to the integrity of the aquifer and to ecosystems dependent on groundwater. The Kropz mine is on land adjacent to the West Coast National Park, a site of high biodiversity which includes the Langebaan Lagoon. It has been declared a UN Ramsar site of international importance. Spokesperson for Kropz Elandsfontein Michelle Lawrence said the company would oppose the court action. “We will be meeting our legal counsel to determine the way forward. We shall not provide any further information on this matter until it is dealt with by the court,” said Lawrence.

by Melanie Gosling

Children with disability battle to find schools

GroundUp reports that according to government figures there are more than 2,000 children with disabilities waiting for schools in the Eastern Cape. In September, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that there were 725 public schools which take disabled learners. That is less than 3% of schools countrywide. Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) attorney Chandre Stuurman says children with disabilities have a constitutional right to education. “This right is immediately realisable and is not subject to the available resources of government. Despite this, thousands of children with disabilities or children who experience other barriers to learning are out of school or are not being accommodated when placed in an ordinary public school,” says Stuurman.

Provincial manager for Disabled People South Africa Mncedisi Nkota says, “We have a serious crisis. If East London is a city and it is faced with such an issue, how much more in rural areas?” Eastern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Mali Mtima said there were seven schools for the disabled in East London and one in Mdantsane. Four other schools are over 50km away in King William’s Town. Asked about waiting lists, he said the department was dealing with the problem by creating new schools and increasing full service schools.

by Thembela Ntongana

Harmony agrees to mining skills development programme

MiningWeekly reports that Harmony Gold has announced that an agreement has been reached with the Matjhabeng municipality and the Unemployment Forum to implement a special community development programme that will equip residents in certain Free State communities with mining skills. Harmony spokesperson Max Manoeli said the agreement had been reached on Friday and would benefit residents in Welkom and surrounding areas.  This came after violence erupted in the local municipality townships and surrounding areas last week.

Disgruntled residents from Welkom, Thabong and Odendaalsrus barricaded the main roads with burning tyres, rocks and other objects in a protest against a lack of mining jobs.  Several shops were looted.  “Harmony will provide training and certification of mining operator skills such as rock drill operating, winch and loco driving.  The main idea is to create a pool from which Harmony can absorb a workforce from the successful trainees,” Manoeli explained.  He added that there might be an opportunity for a successful trainee to join Harmony.  Seventy miners will start the programme at Harmony and 30 others at Sibanye Gold on 1 November.  The protest has since been suspended.

by News24Wire

Old Mutual named as top employer in SA for 2017/18

BusinessTech reports that the Top Employers Institute has released its updated list of certified top employers in SA, adding 15 new companies to the list of employers who provide the best environment for their employees. Old Mutual, which was ranked as the 7th top employer in 2016/17, ascended to the top spot in South Africa for 2017/18, followed by auditing group EY Africa, and financial software giant, SAP.  EY Africa was named as the top employer in Africa, having ranked as top employer in Kenya and Nigeria and ranked second in SA.

The annual international research undertaken by the institute recognises employers that provide excellent employee conditions, nurture and develop talent throughout all levels of the organisation, and which strive to continuously optimise employment practices.  The companies are then evaluated across nine key areas: talent strategy, workforce planning, on-boarding, learning & development, performance management, leadership development, career & succession management, compensation & benefits, and culture.

Protests halt work at Pan African gold dumps in Evander

Reuters reported on Thursday that construction of Pan African Resources’ R1.7bn project in Mpumalanga to produce gold from mine dumps had been halted the past two days because of protests and assaults on its workers. CEO Cobus Loots said a community group demanding jobs and business opportunities was behind the protests.  The company hoped to restart construction at the project, which aims to begin producing gold in the second half of 2018, as soon as possible.

“It’s a pity that a small group of people with their own agendas are disrupting a project which is so beneficial for the whole area,” Loots said.  The protests were taking place around the Elikhulu project in Evander.  The group’s demands included the provision of procurement opportunities for local entrepreneurs, but the company said it was “already doing that.”  Loots said the community group behind the protests was called Sivukile, which was a signatory to an agreement and part of the steering committee on the project.

Gigaba’s mini budget expected to set agenda for public sector wage increases

City Press Business writes that the 2017 Treasury budget made provision for a 7% hike in government wages next year to R588.7 billion, followed by a 7.2% hike in 2019 to R631.1 billion. On 25 October, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba will present his first medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), also known as the mini-budget.  Economist Neva Makgetla noted that the mini budget usually made provision for inflation. Dennis George, general secretary of Fedusa, said the labour federation expected the minister to set the agenda.  The first meeting of government and public sector union negotiators will be on 20 October.

The union wants discussions concluded by the end of November. The Public Servants Associations (PSA) reports that the unions tabled the following demands at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) on 5 October 2017: A general salary increase on a sliding scale from 12%; an increase in the housing allowance; adjustment of the leave provisions; payments of danger insurance to all those who risk their lives on a daily basis; a relook at the work/pay progression in the public service; and the filling of vacancies to improve service delivery.

Ref: page 5 of City Press Business of 15 October 2017
Ref: SALabournews

Battery materials pilot plant in Mbombela could power up 1,600 jobs in time

City Press Business reports that a new research pilot plant for manufacturing materials used in batteries could ultimately lead to the creation of 1,600 jobs. Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor launched the Lithium Ion Battery (LIB) precursor pilot plant facility, established in partnership with the University of Limpopo, in Mbombela last week.  The facility’s project manager, Danie Theron, said the plant had 12 staff members and would be run for the next five years.

By then a decision would probably have been made about establishing a fully-fledged plant, once a feasibility study had been completed.  Pandor said once production reached 10,000 tons per year, it was envisaged that 200 direct jobs and 1,400 indirect jobs could be created.  The facility was expected to have an annual turnover of R310 million.

by Sizwe Sama Yende

New taxi rank for Katlehong commuters opened in Ekurhuleni

ANA writes that commuters in Katlehong in Ekurhuleni on the East Rand can now breathe a sigh of relief with the opening of the newly constructed Phuthaditjaba taxi rank. On Friday, the mayoral committee member for transport and planning, Petrus Mabunda, handed over the R23 million facility to them.

The taxi rank will serve commuters transported by both the Greater Alberton Taxi Association and the Katlehong Peoples’ Taxi Association.  Amenities available at the new rank include an office building, public ablution facilities, hawker stalls, a wash bay, a sheltered loading area, a holding area, fencing, water and electricity, access roads, and an administration office.

Ref: The Citizen

Mineworker killed, another trapped underground at Mponeng gold mine

Netwerk24 reported on Sunday that rescue teams were searching for a mineworkers who was trapped underground at the Mpoineng mine near Carletonville on the West Rand.

Another miner was killed after a series of tremors hit the mine, which belongs to AngloGold Ashanti (AGA).  Spokesperson Stewart Bailey said the rescue teams were very close to the trapped miner, but had to work slowly and carefully.  The names of the two workers have not yet been made known.  According to Bailey, the mine has a very good safety record. (Loosely translated from Afrikaans)

by Ügen Vos