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.

National minimum wage moves a step closer

BusinessLive reports that the National Council of Provinces’ (NCOP’s) select committee on economic and business development on Tuesday adopted the national minimum wage (NMW) bill, moving it a step closer to its implementation. The bill, which provides for a national minimum wage of R20 per hour, was adopted without amendment and will now proceed to the plenary of the NCOP for adoption.  After that it will be forwarded to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his signature and enactment. Agricultural workers are set to earn R18 an hour and R15 will be stipulated for domestic workers.

Vusi Magwebu of the Democratic Alliance (DA) opposed the general application of the proposed NMW, saying that not all economic sectors could afford it.  The EFF’s Brenda Mathevula opposed the R20 NMW as being too low.  The ANC’s Moses Mhlanga supported the bill saying that it was a start.  Labour federation Cosatu welcomed the passage of the NMW bill, as well as the Labour Laws Amendment Bill which provides for parental and adoption leave.  The Labour Relations Amendment Bill, which provides for secret strike ballots and rules for picketing, and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, which enhances the powers of the CCMA, were also adopted without amendment.

by Linda Ensor

Activities halted at University of Limpopo

SABC News reports that academic activities have been halted at another tertiary institution in Limpopo. Students at the University of Limpopo in Turfloop are boycotting lectures over a number of issues including meal allowances and in-sourcing of university staff. Students at the University of Venda in Thohoyandou are protesting over similar matters. The university’s main entrance is blockaded with rocks. Students have abandoned classes and are confined to their residences.

As a safety measure, university management and staff have not reported to work. Students did not want to be interviewed on camera, but say they want university workers on short term contracts to be made permanent. They also want to withdraw cash with their National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NFSAS) cards. University management was not available for comments. Meanwhile, the student protest at the University of Venda has entered its second week. Most students have left the campus.

Study says gender a challenge for female entrepreneurs

Engineering News writes that women in the construction and related industries not only face discrimination while working for existing firms, but also when starting their own businesses, says Mercantile Bank. A recent study conducted on behalf of the institution found that 67% of female business owners surveyed in the construction sector face business challenges because of their gender. Half of the female entrepreneurs surveyed in this sector also feel that there is not enough support for women-owned businesses.

The number of female business owners in the construction sector who face gender-specific challenges is significantly higher than in other sector, says Mercantile Bank specialised markets head Dalene Sechele-Manana. “Media reports have drawn attention to issues around gender in the civil engineering industry, but Mercantile found that this also extends to female entrepreneurs within the construction space. The Mercantile Bank survey was conducted by Digital Republic Consulting among 151 female entrepreneurs who own at least 51% of their business.

by Irma Venter