Wits, UCT and NMMU vow to continue classes

eNCA reports that the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has confirmed that all academic activities will go ahead on Wednesday. No disruptions to the academic programme were reported on Tuesday, although some staff members, students and workers did protest outside the Great Hall.

Meanwhile, University of Cape Town (UCT) Vice Chancellor Max Price has reaffirmed the university’s commitment to staying open and completing the 2016 academic year. In Port Elizabeth, the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) will open its doors today, despite clashes between the Fees Must Fall protesters and the police on Tuesday.

Survey shows tradesmen and also executives and managers in short supply

BusinessLive reports the Manpower Group’s annual Talent Shortage Survey indicates that employers are scrambling to hire electricians, carpenters and bricklayers, as well as managers and executives. Management or executive posts; office support staff such as secretaries and administrative assistants; and engineers are among the most difficult positions to fill.

A total of 750 local employers were surveyed, 34% of whom said they were finding it difficult to fill positions, which was three percentage points higher than in 2015 and a significant 26 percentage points higher than in 2014.  Yet at the same time, SA also has an oversupply of job-seekers who are not suitably qualified.  A significant number of surveyed employers (86%) said they were training and developing employees to fill open positions.

by Ntsakisi Maswanganyi

Over 500 KZN teachers not paid this year

The Mercury reports that for almost a year, more than 500 teachers in KwaZulu-Natal have not received their salaries, with the provincial education department blaming the problem on the #FeesMustFall campaign. The department claims the campaign has prevented the SA Qualifications Authority (Saqa) from verifying the qualifications of new employees with universities because tertiary institutions have had disturbances.

The numbers might be far higher, says the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) and the National Teachers Union (Natu).  But the department is only aware of 250 teachers who have not been paid.  It has now instructed districts to proceed with processing payments, with the proviso that necessary steps including recovery will be taken where it is later found that the qualifications were invalid.

by Bongani Hans

Code4SA to make govt documents more accessible

SABC News reports that Code for South Africa (Code4SA) is in the process of digitizing and making available all of the South African government’s gazettes via a portal that citizens can access using their mobile phones. The project is appropriately titled Open Gazettes.

Joseph, who is the project manager for Open Gazettes, says the idea to create Open Gazettes came about during discussions within the Code4SA community with regards to the difficulty in obtaining government gazettes,  which are official communications from the government to the public. According to Code4SA Open Gazettes will allow members of the public to track and connect the dots between politicians and government documents to facilitate greater transparency and also to inspire accountability between officials and citizens.

Fees mass meeting aimed at ending university protests

SABC News reports that a mass meeting to encourage dialogue will be held at the Holy Trinity Catholic Church next to Wits University in Johannesburg on Wednesday. The meeting comes after weeks of violent clashes between police and students’ protests that have spread to the surrounding Braamfontein. The meeting, which will run from 4pm on Wednesday afternoon, will aim to find a solution to the current crisis at South African universities.

Speakers at the event will include Father Graham Pugin from the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) founding general secretary Jay Naidoo and former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. Discussions will centre on how to win the struggle to save and fund public universities. An open invitation has been extended to all interested parties to participate, and to ensure that they are part of the solution.

by Jamaine Krige

Taxi drivers block road into Atteridgeville

EWN reports that Tshwane Metro Police (TMPD) say taxi drivers in Atteridgeville have blocked roads leading into and out of the township, east of Pretoria due to what is believed to be an industry related feud. It’s believed a group of taxi owners and drivers are preventing other taxis from moving freely through a taxi rank near the Kalafong Hospital. Other motorists are also being affected by the blockade.

Officials say at this stage no violent incidents have been reported. TMPD spokesperson Isaac Mahamba says police are at the scene monitoring the situation. “Taxi drivers at this stage are barricading the entrance of Kalafong, as you enter Atteridgeville. We will be trying to determine what the issues are and who we can resolve them. We are still on scene.”

by Dineo Bendile

Marathon talks to end Nehawu strike at Unizulu so far yield no results

BusinessLive reports that marathon talks to end the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union’s (Nehawu’s) 10-week-long strike at the University of Zululand (Unizulu) have so far failed as the union was on Monday prevented from entering the campus. Hundreds of Nehawu members at Unizulu embarked on a strike on August 15‚ demanding wage increases, the conversion of temporary staff to permanent employees and eight other demands.

The two sides have met at least twice but they are not getting any closer to an agreement. Gcina Nhleko, spokesperson for Unizulu, told Business Day on Monday that the two sides could not agree on two contentious issues — insourcing and pay progression. “Talks are ongoing and we hope to reach a deal with the unions as soon as possible,” she said.

by Nce Mkhize

Teacher union slams draft bill to sell booze at WC schools

Cape Talk reports that teachers’ union Naptosa has strongly criticised a draft bill that could see the legal sale of alcohol to adults at school functions in the province. The proposed amendments to the Western Cape Provincial Education Act are part of a bid to boost fundraising efforts at local schools, but the teachers’ union says the amendment bill could do more harm than good. Naptosa’s Executive Director Basil Manuel says the law contradicts the national draft bill which plans to only grant liquor licences to operators whose premises are at least 500m away from schools.

Meanwhile, Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schäfer says the proposals were motivated by a need to revise the excessive controls of what is deemed “school activity”. Schäfer explains that the amendment is to deal with what is already happening at many school events in any case. She says that schools and governing bodies have the power to decide whether or not they want to implement the sale of liquor. Schäfer has encouraged public comment at the hearing on the draft bill to establish permissible circumstances and legislative language on the matter.

by Qama Qukula

Pilot electronic fare collection system for mini-bus taxis launched

BusinessLive reports that SA’s mini-bus taxi owners could soon be paying their taxes in full, following the launch on Monday of a pilot electronic fare collection system aimed at nudging users towards the formal banking system. The e-ticketing system, unveiled in Pretoria, will allow commuters to pay via smart card, or through their phone and ultimately by debit card. The initiative could be rolled out nationally in five years.

The taxi e-ticketing system is owned and spearheaded by FairPay, of which TaxiChoice — the commercial arm of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) — is currently the sole shareholder. Curve Group Holdings is the primary implementer of the technology. The e-ticket pilot project will only run on the Johannesburg-Pretoria-Mabopane route, beginning in February, complete with smart cards — that can be reloaded at kiosks at taxi ranks, and ultimately retail stores.

Santaco president Phillip Taaibosch said the system was not “a Santaco programme,” but the organisation remained the “father of the industry”. Despite the size of the taxi sector, its financial weight was not fully being registered economically, he said.

by Karl Gernetzky

Chicken industry crisis ‘far from over

New Age reports that the chicken industry appears to be on the brink of collapse because of American chicken imports, with thousands of jobs are at risk. Kevin Lovell, CEO of the SA Poultry Association made these comments at the weekend, adding that total poultry imports for this year were likely to be “well in excess” of 500000 tons. “At least 12 businesses have gone out of production in the past few years,” Lovell said.

Earlier this year, US trade representative Christopher Coons and US senators denied that American chicken imports which hit South African supermarket shelves in March this year are not top quality and unhealthy to be consumed by households. A fortnight ago, one of the leading industry players, Rainbow, raised concern about chicken imports into the country and warned of more job losses. Rainbow produces 4 million birds a week, creating 4 million memorable meal occasions, it said. Despite the chicken imports, the industry is also faced with other factors such as low economic growth, a volatile currency, high commodity input costs and drought impacts. As a result, Rainbow said its board is forced to look at all options in evaluating the chicken business model.