Eskom’s 0% Wage offer off the table

EWN writes that Eskom’s 0% wage offer is off the table after an intervention by the Department of Public Enterprises. Minister Pravin Gordhan convened a meeting on Friday with Eskom’s board and management as well as the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) and Solidarity. All parties agreed to negotiate a new wage deal and restore production to prevent further blackouts.

Relief at UCT as law faculty retains its LLB accreditation

BusinessLive reports that the Council for Higher Education has decided not to withdraw the University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) LLB accreditation. Late in 2017, the council, which is responsible for quality assurance in the higher education sector, downgraded UCT’s LLB programme, which had been criticised for failing to enhance throughput and graduation rates and for its failure to address race and gender equity issues.  The council had given UCT six months to deal with the issues raised, failing which its LLB accreditation would be downgraded from “notice of withdrawal of accreditation” to “confirmation of withdrawal of accreditation”.

In a letter to UCT deputy vice-chancellor Prof Lis Lang, the council said that, based on the evidence provided, the Higher Education Quality Committee revised its accreditation decision to full accreditation for the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme.  UCT said it had put “significant thought, careful planning and great energy” into the improvement plan submitted to the council.  Separately, the council recently announced that it had withdrawn Walter Sisulu University’s (WSU’s) accreditation to offer LLB degrees in its law faculty, effective from January 2019.  WSU said at the time it would make an effort to submit a new programme for accreditation before the end of 2018.

by Bekezela Phakathi

Mining charter open for public comment

eNCA reports that government says the mining charter will stabilise the sector as a whole. The draft law has now been gazetted and is open for public comment. The charter calls for a minimum of 30 percent Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) ownership for new mining rights. Companies would also have to give 10 percent of its shares to employees and mining communities.

The Mineral Council of South Africa says the draft law does not promote investment and growth. Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said the eight weeks of public engagements alrerady had been encouraging. After the public comment process is complete, the bill will be sent to Parliament before heading up to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s desk for a signature. The public has 30 days to submit their comments.

Marikana mineworkers in court for 2012 Lonmin strike

The Citizen writes that seventeen mineworkers facing multiple charges relating to a strike at Lonmin’s platinum mine at Marikana near Rustenburg about six years ago were due to appear in the North West High Court in Mogwase on Monday.

The charges relate to the murder of 10 people in the week before August 16, 2012, when 34 people, mostly mineworkers, were shot dead by police during a violent wildcat strike at Lonmin’s Marikana operations. The State alleges the group killed two Lonmin security officers, two policemen, and three non-striking workers, and damaged vehicles and robbed two Lonmin security officers of their firearms.

Ref: ANA

Gautrain service disrupted

eNCA reports that Gautrain commuters are experiencing delays, the train service said on Monday. Gautrain said the service between Hatfield and Centurion was suspended due to attempted cable theft. It said there would be a shuttle service for commuters every 50 minutes and trains between Centurion and Park station were unaffected. Last month, the service was also disrupted due to cable theft .

‘Strike’ is a convenient excuse

The Citizen reports that according to an electricity expert, blaming striking workers was a convenient excuse power utility Eskom was using to mask the power utility’s incompetence and inability to ensure a reliable supply. Ted Blom, a partner at Mining & Energy Advisors and Energy Expert Coalition, is not buying Eskom’s excuse for the return of load shedding.  After having warned for months that the utility was on the verge of collapse, he said the current strike was “a convenient cover for all the rubbish that has been going on at Eskom”.  Yet, according to spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe, Eskom has had to reduce the strain on the national electricity grid through load shedding, as the alternative would be a catastrophic and total blackout.

Last week, he blamed the state of affairs squarely on workers’ unions, which he accused of sabotaging power stations and of criminal conduct.  On Friday, Eskom obtained a court interdict prohibiting the intimidation of workers and contractors who were not part of the wage protests.  But, Blom said he had been in contact with unions and they assured him they were committed to “blockage of labour, rather than damage”.  The unions also claimed they had not engaged in the sabotage Eskom has accused them of.  He pointed out that the strike conveniently coincided with coal running out, as Eskom had lied about having at least 20 days’ supply stockpiled at all stations.

by Earl Coetzee

Sibanye-Stillwater accidents under mine inspector’s scrutiny: Mantashe

eNCA reports that the acting chief inspector of mines is compiling a report on all accidents that occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater mining operations since the beginning of this year, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday. “This will enable us to take appropriate action, guided by the Mine Health and Safety Act, as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction,” he told journalists at a media briefing in Pretoria. “To date, Sibanye-Stillwater operations are responsible for 20 of the 45 fatalities reported since the beginning of the year. It therefore cannot be business as usual in how the regulator attends to this situation,” he said.

Turning to an incident reported to the ministry concerning the Mpumalanga regional office, Mantashe said it appeared that section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act was abused, wherein an official allegedly issued notices and demanded financial compensation in return for their lifting. The official in question was suspended pending the conclusion of the investigation, he said. Regarding the mining charter, Mantashe said a summit would be held in two weeks’ time to receive further inputs from stakeholders as work progressed towards finalising the charter. The period for public comments would close on July 27.

Public Service Commission probes Gauteng departments

The Citizen reports that the state of Gauteng’s public service is to come under the spotlight in a report to be published by the Public Service Commission (PSC). According to PSC provincial commissioner Michael Seloane, the PSC has already circulated a questionnaire to all government departments. “We have given provincial government departments until Friday to respond and make submissions to the PSC,” said Seloane. “The report will cover ethics, integrity, human resource management, labour relations and access to information, among others.”

Established in terms of Chapter 10 of the constitution, the institution has a mandate to promote good values, principles and adherence to governance. Seloane said the PSC encouraged efficiency in the use of resources. “Overspending and underspending are bad because such practices lead to lack of service delivery. We make recommendations to MECs and if no action is taken, the PSC should be told why.” He said the PSC was concerned about nonperformance in some departments of the provincial government. Health, which was this week exposed for a failure to spend a massive R559 million on capital assets in the past financial year, is among the Gauteng departments to be probed.

by Brian Sokutu

Eersterust Police Station attacked, 16 suspects arrested

eNCA reports that a total of 16 people have been arrested after an attack on the Eersterust Police Station, east of Pretoria on Thursday evening. The incident comes after violent service delivery protests in the area this week. A police firearm is among items taken during the attack. The South African Police Service (SAPS) said 12 suspects were arrested and successfully linked to the crime scene.

A 13th suspect was arrested for possession of dagga and an additional three suspects were arrested for possession of stolen property relating to items possibly stolen when criminals looted shops during the service delivery protest on Wednesday. The police said the operation, which would continue pending the recovery of the rest of the property stolen from the Eersterust Client Service Centre, could result in more arrests.