We have made significant progress in Marikana, says Lonmin

Mining Weekly reports that platinum producer Lonmin said on Wednesday that it had made significant progress in delivering on its commitment to the Marikana community. “Housing has been a key focus of the company’s social and labour plans, with modern housing developments being built for many of its employees,” said Khaya Ngcwembe, Lonmin human resources executive. He delivered a speech at a Marikana memorial event on behalf of Lonmin CEO Ben Magara, who could not attend due to family commitments.

“Lonmin’s financial investment in housing since 2013 will have reached R500-million by the end of this year, funds that have made it possible to convert all the single-sex legacy hostels into 2,162 single units and 759 family units.  One thousand, two hundred and forty apartments have also been built by Lonmin and will all be fully occupied by the end of 2018,” said Ngcwembe.  He furthermore indicated that families were at the centre of the 1608 Memorial Education Trust, a vehicle which had been established to ensure that the children and families of the employees who died in the massacre in 2012 received an education up to and including university level.

Ref: ANA

Three years after tragedy at Lily mine

BusinessLive reports that the new owners of the distressed Vantage Goldfields and its shuttered Lily and Barbrook mines are hoping to put tragedy behind them as they prepare to revive operations. Fred Arendse, CEO of the Siyakhula Sonke Empowerment Corporation (the SSC Group), said although the task ahead would be challenging, he believed Vantage Goldfields offered a unique investment opportunity and was “on the brink” of unlocking value.  The mines in question are low-grade, but shallow, and produce gold at the lowest dollar cost per ounce in Africa.

Vantage Goldfields was pushed into voluntary business rescue after an accident at Lily mine in 2016 that claimed three lives.  The SSC Group, with the assistance of a R190m loan from the Industrial Development Corporation, signed a closing agreement in May for its subsidiary, Flaming Silver, to purchase a 74% stake in Vantage Goldfields.  The only thing outstanding is the approval of the Department of Mineral Resources to transfer mining rights.  Gold production at Lily is only anticipated to start in 2020.  Production at Barbrook will start before the end of 2018.  Arendse did not promise that the reopening of the mine would lead to the recovery of the bodies of the three workers.

by Lisa Steyn

Mama Sobukwe passes away at 91

SABC News reports that the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) is mourning the loss of Mama Zondeni Veronica Sobukwe, who was the wife of its founder, Robert Sobukwe. She passed away early on Wednesday morning at the age of 91. Mama Sobukwe, also known as “The Mother of Azania,” was a health practitioner and an activist in her own right. She repeatedly wrote to the apartheid government during the nine years her husband was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1960, requesting his release or to be allowed a meeting with him.

PAC President Narius Moloto described Mama Sobukwe as a woman who firmly supported her husband. “We can confirm that Mama Sobukwe passed on at 2 o’clock. She was ill, recently she was in hospital. We are saddened by her passing but we celebrate her life and call her ‘the mother of Azania’. She was a woman of skill. She supported her husband while he went through tribulations. She remained firm behind him.”

Military veterans shut down KZN municipality over jobs and tenders

The Citizen reports that a number of uMkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) members staged a sit-in at the Msunduzi municipality offices in KwaZulu-Natal on Monday demanding jobs and tenders. The veterans were complaining about jobs and tenders, saying they also wanted to benefit from council activities, including getting jobs. They decried the alleged sidelining of veterans when appointments were made adding that they needed recognition as they had fought for liberation.

Msunduzi Mayor Themba Njilo confirmed that he had met with the MKMVA leaders and received a set of demands. The meeting was attended by acting city manager Nelisiwe Ngcobo and security head Kwenza Khumalo. “When it comes to tenders the municipality has a supply chain management policy and we cannot do anything outside of it,” said Njilo after the meeting. Monday’s sit-in follows a similar one on July 25 at the offices of uMgungundlovu District Municipality where veterans made the same demands.

Ref: ANA

Gold Fields plans to cut up to 1,560 jobs

Business Live reports that Gold Fields is preparing to lay off up to 1,560 people at its loss-making South Deep mine, marking yet another attempt at restoring the operation which has absorbed R32bn so far. “It is envisaged that approximately 1,100 permanent employees could potentially be impacted by the proposed restructuring. In addition, approximately 460 contractors could also potentially be impacted,” Gold Fields said. South Deep employs 3,614 full-time employees and 1,940 contractors.

by Allan Seccombe

VAT panel recommends zero-rating of products

Engineering News reports that the independent panel established to review the current list of items that are zero-rated for value-added tax (VAT) has recommended that white bread, flour, cake flour, sanitary products, school uniforms and nappies be included in the list of zero-rated items. Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on Friday released the report compiled by the panel for public comment. Nene appointed the panel after the announcement in the February Budget of the increase in the VAT rate to 15%, from 14%, effective April 1.

As part of its findings, the panel has also recommended that government expedite the provision of free sanitary products to the poor and that the zero-rating of school uniforms be done only if they can be separated from general clothing. The panel’s recommendations are subject to further public comment, including comments to be made during Parliamentary hearings. Nene will make a decision on whether to implement any of the panel’s recommendations, after taking into account the public comments, as well as input by the National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service. The public has until August 31 to submit comments.

by Anine Kilian

Rhodes students to attend public hearings on gender violence

SABC News reports that Rhodes University student leaders are to be invited to attend public hearings on gender violence and the Domestic Violence Act, due to be hosted by Parliament’s Police Committee near the end of August. Committee chairperson Francois Beukman says the death of the university’s 23-year-old law student Khensani Maseko is a wake-up call to the nation to deal with what he terms institutional inertia and lack of action by the relevant authorities.

Maseko reportedly took her own life after allegedly being raped by her boyfriend and was laid to rest on Women’s Day on Thursday. Beukman says it’s essential that the Rhodes student leadership and related student role-players attend the hearings. The committee believes that law enforcement agencies and government departments should step up their efforts to combat gender violence. Earlier Minister of Women Bathabile Dlamini called on institutions of higher learning to develop policies to protect and support female students on campus.

Home Affairs systems down

SABC News writes that Home Affairs offices nationally are unable to assist clients with birth, marriage and death certificates as well as the application and collection of passports and smart ID cards. Home Affairs spokesperson, Thabo Mokgola, says a power failure has affected their delivery of services.

“We are experiencing a systems down time due to power failure at SITA, which has affected all our offices across the country. This means that Home Affairs offices nation wide are unable to offer services such as applications for birth, marriages as well as death certificates. This would also include the application and collections of smart ID cards as well as passports. Our technicians as well as those from SITA are looking into the problem and we wish to offer our sincerest apologies to our clients. ”

Overdue certificates from TVET colleges are a hurdle for job seekers

BusinessLive reports that the delays in issuing certificates to students from technical and vocational education training (TVET) colleges was hampering their capacity to find employment, MPs were told. The umbrella body for TVET colleges, the South African College Principals’ Organisation (Sacpo), told the select committee on education and recreation on Wednesday that some students had waited more than 10 years for their certificates.

Sacpo president Hellen Ntlatleng sketched a picture of a sector in disarray: certificates sometimes had incorrect details, or were sent by the department of higher education & training to the wrong campuses; college officials failed to arrange for certificates to be sent to the correct campuses in their institutions; and colleges struggled to get feedback from the department about outstanding certificates. In April 2017 the department said it had released 233,000 outstanding National Certificate (Vocational) (NCV) out of a total of 236,000 certificates, some of which dated back to 2007. While there have previously been student protests over delays in receiving certificates, there have been relatively few in 2018, suggesting the issue had to some extent been resolved.

by Tamar Kahn

National Gender Summit set down for 31 August

SABC News reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that a National Gender Summit will be held on the 31st of August to deal with issues of gender-based violence. Scores of women participated in the #TotalShutDown march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria at the beginning of the month have submitted a memorandum to Ramaphosa’s office, suggesting that a summit be held for civil society and government.

This is to put a stop to gender-based violence. Ramaphosa gave the keynote address at National Women’s Day celebrations in Paarl in the Western Cape. “I am here to say, on Women’s Day, that the government has agreed that this National Gender Summit should take place on 31 August to forge consensus on appropriate approaches that should be taken on an urgent basis to deal with the crisis of gender-based violence; discrimination against women, and gender disparities. The recommendations of the summit must be comprehensive, guide the work of government and the activities of all stakeholders,” says Ramaphosa.