Bill to put end to fake qualifications

IOL News reports that Cabinet has approved the submission of a bill to Parliament intended to stamp out fake qualifications and deal with people who lie about having academic certificates, degrees or diplomas, Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi announced on Thursday. Briefing media on Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, Kubayi said the National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill of 2016 will strengthen existing laws.

“It introduces measures to deal with issues of misrepresentation and imposes consequences on persons who misrepresent their qualifications or organisations that issue qualifications that are invalid.” The bill was released for public comment by then higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande last year. It compels higher education institutions to be registered with the National Qualifications Framework. The bill followed a phenomenon whether private institutions were issuing invalid qualifications.

by Chantall Presence

PSA reckons GEPF members lost more than R12bn in Steinhoff scandal

EWN reports that the Public Servants Association (PSA) has called for the safeguarding of pension investments, saying that more than R12 billion has been lost following allegations of accounting irregularities at Steinhoff. Global retailer Steinhoff International lost more than 63% of its stock value on the JSE on Wednesday after CEO Markus Jooste stepped down.  The scandal has further ignited calls for more focus and interrogation of corruption in the private sector.

German police are conducting a criminal investigation.  The PSA, which represents more than 230,000 members of the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), said that that members have lost billions through losses in investments in Steinhoff.  Tahir Maepa of the PSA said:  “This is quite shocking for us that R12 billion of our hard-earned money is just gone.  This is what the PSA has been saying for months gone.  We need to relook the investment scheme of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund.”

by Gia Nicolaides

All Ladysmith taxi operations suspended

Business Report writes that KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Mxolisi Kaunda, has announced a shutdown of taxi operations in Ladysmith. Last week, the MEC held a high level security meeting in Ladysmith in order to address the surge in taxi violence in the area.  He said that the decision to call off operations had been informed by “several meetings and interventions”.

Taxi operations in the area have been suspended for the next 6 months, effective from Thursday.  Operators found to be involved in the violence have been warned and stand to lose their operating licenses.  Kaunda’s decision was pursuant to the deaths of 11 people following a taxi violence-related shootout last week. The MEC also visited the RTI Ladysmith offices where 60 illegally operated taxis were impounded.

WSU vows takes action after LLB accreditation withdrawal

News24 reports that Walter Sisulu University (WSU) says it will not accept defeat after the Council for Higher Education (CHE) withdrew its Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme accreditation. The university has been confronted with some challenges that led to the council’s decision to withdraw its accreditation.  This means WSU cannot offer the programme anymore, and will have to re-apply for accreditation from scratch, with a new submission.  The institution can still take in new students in 2018, but it will not be able to do so in 2019.  Following its National Review of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Programme, CHE said that the University of Limpopo, the University of Zululand and the University of Cape Town (UCT), had also been informed that their accreditation could be withdrawn.

The institutions have until May 2018 to respond to the concerns raised by the CHE.  WSU spokesperson Yonelwa Tukwayo said they have put measures in place to sort out some of the issues raised by the council.  One of the issues the council had raised was a lack of infrastructure.  “They are 100% correct.  Our infrastructure is not up to standard [and] we are also underfunded and we sit with books full of debt.  The other point is that we don’t have enough professors,” Tukwayo indicated.  The programme is offered in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, which is a rural area, so it is difficult to get professors to work in the area.

by Jeanette Chabalala

SARS has lost 506 employees since start of year

News24 reports that the SA Revenue Service (SARS) has lost 506 employees since the start of the year. This was revealed in response to a parliamentary question posed by Alf Lees who wanted to know the extent of the brain drain at the agency and the reasons for employees leaving.  Commenting on the response, Lees said SARS had lost nearly 7,500 years of experience since the start of the year.  Of those who had left, one had a doctorate, 15 had masters’ degrees, 24 had honours’ degrees and 88 people had degrees.

Customer service, administration, and auditing lost the highest number of staff members, making up almost half of those who had left the organisation since the start of the year.  Of those who left, 103 departed to pursue other career opportunities, another 81 declined to offer a reason, and 85 said they had left for personal reasons.  Lees commented:  “Considering the critical role SARS plays in the South African economy, serious intervention cannot be delayed any further.”

High number of vacant public service posts expected to affect delivery

BusinessLive reports that the public service is expected to run into service delivery constraints in the next few years as a tenth of posts in national and provincial government departments are vacant and these departments are terminating employment at a faster rate than they are hiring. Up to 134,919 of the public service’s 1,307,552 posts are vacant, according to the third quarter report on the public service by the Public Service Commission.

This comes amid the Treasury’s efforts to curb spending on the public service by freezing the posts. Observers have raised concern this could compromise delivery in key functions such as healthcare and education. Department of Public Service and Administration acting director-general Sam Vukela recently confirmed the dire situation to Parliament’s portfolio committee on public service and administration. According to labour’s submission, “Restrictions on accelerated grade progression were depriving those qualifying employees of what ought to be afforded to them.”

by Khulekani Magubane

Government and social partners take integrated healthcare services to mineworkers

MiningWeekly reports that mineworkers in the manganese-rich town of Kuruman, in the Northern Cape, are set to benefit from integrated healthcare and social services after government partnered with the mining industry and workers associations to launch a centre on Tuesday. The One Stop Health Service Centre is aimed at providing integrated services to both active and ex-mineworkers where TB and occupational lung disease assessments as well as administrative services for compensation will be delivered.

It is a collaboration by various stakeholders led by government and supported by captains of the mining industry, organised labour and current and ex-mineworker associations with the aim to de-centralise services to claimants and beneficiaries.  One-Stop Centres are located in mining or labour-sending areas, and are designed to provide medical support to ex-mine workers.  The centres also enable government to trace eligible previous and current mineworkers who have not claimed their compensation benefits after they contracted occupational lung disease during the time they were employed at mines.

Ref: ANA

Davis tax report proposes bill of rights

BusinessLive reports that the Davis tax committee and the office of the tax ombud have again stressed the need for the introduction of a taxpayer bill of rights and a service charter to guarantee taxpayers’ rights. The Davis committee’s final report on tax administration emphasised the need for a bill of rights that is “enforceable and with legal effect”, to guarantee the rights of taxpayers and ensure the South African Revenue Service (SARS) takes responsibility for its dealings with taxpayers.

It recommended that the tax ombud be given the powers to enforce the bill of rights. It recommended that the ombud’s functions and powers be extended to enable it to act as a mediator in a tax alternative dispute-resolution mechanism to solve differences between audited taxpayers and tax authorities. It should also have the powers to adjudicate the disputes brought before the ombud, subject to review and appeal by the courts.

by Amanda Visser

Gauteng Education to meet Noordgesig parents

TimesLive reports that officials from the Gauteng Department of Education were due on Monday to meet with parents and community organisations opposing the appointment of a new principal at Noordgesig Primary School – allegedly due to race. The engagement comes after classes were disrupted at the school on Friday by parents and organisations claiming that the black headmaster was imposed on them.

Gauteng Education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the new principal was recommended by the school governing body and was supposed to start working at the school last week‚ but disgruntled parties rejected him‚ because they preferred a coloured candidate who has been the acting principal at the school.  Mabona said the protesters claimed the acting principal has led the school well and that she was qualified to hold the position permanently‚ but the department believed the protest was racially motivated.  He added that they would listen to the concerns, but “we won’t tolerate any form of racism in schools.”

by Bafana Nzimande

Police to get lifestyle audits

BusinessLive reports that the police are to introduce lifestyle audits on members as part of sweeping reforms that newly appointed national commissioner Khehla Sitole has promised to introduce. Lt-Gen Khehla Sitole’s announcement of lifestyle audits came with his concession that the SAPS had failed to suspend or dismiss Brig Leonora Phetle after it had emerged she had authorised unwarranted vetting for officers and received a suspicious payment of R50,000.

Police committee chairman Francois Beukman urged Sitole to ensure that all SAPS officers went through clearance and high-ranking officers underwent lifestyle audits.

by Khulekani Magubane