By Riaan de Villiers for BizNews

The 2019 national and provincial election elections have come and gone, leaving us all to face the consequences. The media have spread the message that the ANC has won the national election with a 57% share of the vote. While lower than its 62.15% in 2014, which is taken as a cause for concern for the ruling party, this is still widely described as a ‘solid majority’, and a ‘strong mandate’ for Cyril Ramaphosa.

On Saturday evening, in a graceful and non-partisan speech at the IEC election results centre, our returning president, Cyril Ramaphosa, described the election as a ‘resounding expression of the will of the people of South Africa’, which had ‘reaffirmed the vibrancy of our democracy’.

All this has helped to bolster the impression that the ANC has won the support of more than half of the South African electorate. This is a big, and ultimately dangerous, illusion.

If the voter turnout of 65.9% is taken into account, the ANC’s ‘share of the vote’ drops to 35%. And if the registration rate of 74.5% is added, it plummets to a dismal 27.9%. Put differently, the ANC now governs with the active consent of little more than a quarter of the South African electorate. Added to this, eligible voters who did not vote outnumbered those who did (for all parties) by more than a million. Put differently, more than 18 million eligible voters – more than half of the electorate – did not even vote.

This sort of slippage takes place in all representative democracies with voter registration and voluntary voting systems. They are routinely analysed as indications of the waxing and waning of political participation, as well as support for particular political parties. But rates of registration and turnout rates in mature and stable democracies tend to be far higher, and don’t really threaten those systems themselves.

By contrast, what is at stake in South Africa is not just the level of consent with which the ANC will govern the country for the next five years, but the legitimacy of its ‘young and fragile’ democracy. And the alarm bells are ringing loud and clear.

Given the fluidity and uncertainty surrounding the 2019 election, votes have probably been lost across the political spectrum. However, the bulk of votes have certainly been lost among members of deprived communities, stuck in the bottom half of what is now the most unequal society in the world.

People in those communities are not only disillusioned by the lack of progress by their former parties of choice – notably the ANC – over the past 25 years, but have also lost the belief that the ANC or any other government could or would do anything about it in the future.

Many of them are younger people who see no point in entering the formal political system. More specifically, they have given up hope of receiving a worthwhile education, and ever getting a formal job. (Indeed, it was heart-breaking to watch the faces of young people expressing their disillusionment on some of the better vox pop TV broadcasts in the run-up to the polls.

This precipitous drop in the legitimacy of our democratic system hidden in the latest election results should come as no surprise. Besides continuing a steady trend over previous elections, it also occurs in inverse lockstep with a growing phenomenon that our politicians have desperately tried to ignore for several years, namely the rapidly growing number of poor communities – arguably the people who require the most effective governance and the best service delivery – that routinely express their political demands by means of violent protests, defying state agencies and destroying public property and infrastructure in the process. To state the obvious, this is not meant to happen in a well-functioning democracy. Their sense of being effectively represented by either local, provincial or national political representatives is clearly close to zero.

The ease with which we can lapse into a fundamental misrepresentation of the election results, the ANC’s ‘mandate’, and the legitimacy of the democratic system is illustrated by Ramaphosa’s address at the IEC election centre of Saturday night.

Interestingly, he avoided any direct reference to a mandate by a majority of the electorate. Instead, in what seems to be a careful choice of words, he paid tribute to the ‘millions’ of people who went to the polls to choose the public representatives who would champion their collective interests, and the ‘many’ people who had braved the rain and cold to cast ballots that would determine the country’s future.

He did refer to the low levels of participation by young people. He started by applauding those young people who had participated in the elections, and the way they sought to encourage others to do so on social media. Departing from his written address, he went on to say: ‘We should be pleased that young people are taking such a keen interest in the life of their country. We do however need to say that we want that keen interest to keep growing. Because many more young people are still outside the fold of voting activity. And we want them to participate far more than those who have participated now.’ So he did flag this as an issue, but in an avuncular, dumbed down sort of way.

He then went on to declare: “Our people have spoken – and they have done so clearly and emphatically… I thank all of you for making it possible for this election to be a resounding expression of the will of the people of South Africa… We can declare with certainty that democracy has emerged victorious.’

Well not really. If the people had spoken, they had largely done so by staying away from the polls. If the election was a ‘resounding expression of the will of the people of South Africa’, it largely expressed their loss of confidence in the democratic system. So the election can’t really be regarded as a victory for democracy. On the contrary, even in strict numerical terms, the electorate has actually delivered a vote of no confidence in our democratic system.

In an end-of-election message on its website, the ANC declared: ‘South Africans have given their vote of confidence to the ANC to continue to lead transformation and government to speed up the process of building a better life for all.’ To the extent that this is meant to imply that a majority of voters had done so, they have done no such thing.

It‘s a striking illustration of the sleight of hand aimed at perpetuating the myth that the ANC has a mandate to govern from the majority of the South African electorate.

Everybody was tired on Saturday night. The president’s speech was a ceremonial one, and he might not have written it himself. In one of his off the cuff asides, he suggested that, having done a great job, journalists could take some time off and get some sleep. It raised a good laugh. He clearly seemed to be in need of a good sleep himself.

One can only hope that, after having had one, the president, members of his party, and indeed all the other members of the cosy new political elite who were on view at the IEC’s closing results ceremony, will set about addressing challenges posed by the real results of the 2019 elections with greatly renewed energy, and a greater sense of urgency.

As for those 400 returning and incoming MPs, insulated from the inconvenience of direct accountability to voters by the PR system, perhaps they should stop thinking about what they are going to do with their million rand-plus remuneration packages and what’s on the menu in the parliamentary dining rooms, and start thinking about what they are going to do so help ensure that, in another five years’ time, parliament will be there at all.

Source: Boksburg Advertiser

The online system was introduced to make it easy and convenient for parents to submit applications rather than queue at a school. It has also provided accurate information to the department for planning purposes.

The online application for Grades One and Eight for the 2020 academic year will go live on May 13 at 8am and will close on July 15.

Parents are urged to use the online system and log on to www.gdeadmissions.gov.za

To make apply, parents should click on “Apply for 2020” and follow the prompts through the three-step process, namely:

Step 1 – Enter parent/legal guardian details
Step 2 – Enter learner details
Step 3 – Apply to a school

According to Gauteng education spokesperson, Steve Mabona, the applicant will be able to view, among others, the amendments to the admission regulations, terms and conditions and school feeder zones on the online system.

“At the same time, applicants can choose to listen to and view a step-by-step video tutorial and/or read a step-by-step user guide.

“Parents can also visit the nearest public school, district admissions centre, a community library or community centre for assistance with applying online.

“These walk-in centres will assist parents who are not comfortable with using computers, lack access to internet facilities or do not have adequate data.

“Our trained officials will assist parents in these centres,” said Mabona.

Applications are opened early to provide adequate time for planning of allocation of resources such as educators, classrooms and learning and teaching study materials.

Mabona said the capacity of the admission’s online application system has been increased to accommodate 50 000 simultaneous users.

Grade R
Mabona said parents or applicants with children in Grade R in the current school should also apply online.

“Applications for Grade Eight in schools of focused learning or schools of specialisation should also be made online. The system will show all schools and the applicant or parent will choose the relevant school and the reference number ‘WA6’ will be generated.

“The learner will, however, be subjected to an additional pre-qualification test at the relevant school, for instance by attending an audition at an arts school or writing a test.”

Furthermore, applications for boarding schools should also be made online. However, the applicant or parent must apply directly to the school for boarding or accommodation.

“Applications for Grade Eight at monastic, girls only or boys only schools should also be done online,” said Mabona.

Previous/current school will not be available as an application option. However, all Grade Eight applicants will indicate their current school.

“The system will measure the distance from the child’s current primary school to the closest secondary school. If the parent has applied to the secondary school closest to the current primary school, the system will place the applicant at that secondary school,” said Mabona.

Documents
Applicants and parents should submit the following documents to the school within seven working days:

Certified copy of the ID of the parent/legal guardian or a sworn affidavit in case the parent/legal guardian does not have an ID (non-South African citizens should submit a certified copy of their passport, valid visa or temporary/permanent residence permit/asylum seeker or refugee permit).
Proof of home address.
Certified copy of the child’s birth certificate (unabridged birth certificates are not required).
Clinic immunisation card if applying for Grade One.
Current school academic report and transfer if applying for Grade Eight.
Proof of sibling relationship where the sibling option is used.
Upon submission of documents, parents must sign a register to indicate that the documents were submitted and receive a confirmation of submission of documents receipt.

Placement process
Placement of learners by the department will take place from August 27 to September 20.

“Parents or applicants will receive an SMS notification of successful and unsuccessful application at the school.

“They have an obligation to accept or reject the placement offer within seven days. If a parent fails to accept or reject offer of placement within the given period, such a parent will forfeit the offer and it will be given to the next person in the queue,” said Mabona.

Mabona said spaces in schools are limited and are subject to how many learners currently in the school progress to the next grade.

As such, placement will be conducted on a first come, first served basis and on the following prioritisation:

  • home address closest to school within feeder zone
  • sibling at the school
  • work address within feeder zone
  • home address within 30km
  • home address is beyond 30km of the school.

The rankings are subject to the availability of space in the school.

Online system
The department has acknowledged that it has received criticism from some parents that the online system does not work.

“The department failed to communicate in time with the parent on the status of their application. We accept that the criticism is valid. Still, parents should understand that living closer to the school does not entitle a person to automatic admission.

“Placement will depend on the time the application was made and availability of space in the school. That is why we urge parents to apply on time to avoid frustration,” said Mabona.

By Helena Wasserman for Business Insider SA

Car-related claims represent almost half of all disputes handled by the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance.

Absa Insurance and King Price rated among the most complained-about insurers in 2018, according to the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance’s annual report.

OUTsurance and Santam had the fewest complaints referred to the ombud.

In only 6% of OUTsurance complaints did the ombud find in favour of the client – compared to 24% in the case of Hollard complaints.

When it comes to claim payouts, King Price and Absa are among the local insurers who have the unhappiest clients.

That’s according to new numbers released by the Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance. The ombud’s annual report for 2018 shows that almost 800 complaints (9% of all complaints in the industry) were received from Absa Insurance clients. However, the ombud only found in favour of the Absa’s insurance clients in 18% of the cases.

Here are some of the other big insurers that had high complaint rates (measured by the number of complaints received by the ombud, compared to the total number of claims submitted to the specific insurer).

King Price: 5.3 complaints per 1,000 claims
The ombud ruled in favour of unhappy clients: 17% of the disputes

Oakhurst: 5.7 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 15% of the disputes

Standard: 4.8 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 14% of the disputes

MiWay: 4.8 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 11% of the disputes

Nedgroup: 4.5 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 23% of the disputes

Budget: 4.0 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 11% of the disputes

Old Mutual: 3.7 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 19% of the disputes

Dial Direct: 3.3 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 9% of the disputes

First for Women: 2.8 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 15% of the disputes

The winners:
OUTSurance delivered an impressive performance, with only 1.3 complaints per 1,000 claims – and in only 6% of disputes did the ombud rule in the client’s favour.
Other insurers with low complaint rates included:

Santam: 1.5 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 17% of the disputes

Discovery: 1.8 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 14% of the disputes

Auto & General: 1.8 complaints per 1,000 claims
Ruling in favour of unhappy clients: 13% of the disputes

Hollard also had a relative low dispute rate (1.9 per 1,000 claims) – but in a whopping 24% of cases, the ombud ruled in favour of its clients.

The report shows that more than R87 million was paid out to insurance clients in South Africa following complaints. Almost 9 500 complaints were closed, and on average it took 104 days to settle the complaints.

Motor vehicle insurance represented 48% of the total number of finalised complaints. But only 18% of motor vehicle insurance disputes were resolved in favour of the client.

This was even lower for household content insurance disputes (15%) and homeowner’s insurance disputes (12%).

In more than two-thirds of finalised complaints, consumers complained about the insurer’s decision on a claim. Most complaints related to the rejection of a claim on the basis of an exclusion or warranty in the policy terms and conditions.

Source: Cape Times 

With the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) investigating the failure of the “indelible” ink used to mark voters’ thumbs, enabling illegal double voting, perhaps microchips could be a safer bet in future.

This is of course if South Africans are willing – or could afford – having microchips implanted. About 3 000 Swedes have had a single microchip inserted under their skin, which is as tiny as a grain of rice, so that they would have no need to carry IDs and daily necessities such as key cards and train tickets, Agence France-Presse reported.

The IEC says it will be seeking answers from its supplier about what could have gone wrong with the so-called “indelible” ink pens used in Wednesday’s election.

Tender documents show that the IEC awarded a tender worth R2.7 million for the supply of the pens in February last year, Business Insider SA reported.

The supply contract went to Lithotech Exports, a division of the JSE-listed Bidvest, which beat out six other security-product and printing companies.

The ink used to mark the left thumb of every voter is supposed to remain visible for at least seven days and not meant to be easy to remove. This has led to political parties lodging official concerns about the double-voting they believe may have resulted.

Experts and tender documents suggest there are multiple ways indelible ink can fail, especially if you skimp on the silver nitrate. It’s believed a stockpile of 165 000 pens were needed, suggesting a per unit price of just more than R16 a pen, a price that raised eyebrows among experts as low.

According to Justin Howard, of specialist voting ink manufacturer AP Africa, which has previously supplied the IEC but was not involved in the current contract, voting ink pens can fail because of mechanical problems with the pen itself or because the ink is not properly applied, or even if voters’ fingers are oily enough.

As for micro chips, the state-owned SJ rail line in Sweden started scanning the hands of passengers with biometric chips to collect their train fare while on board.

Inserting the microchip is similar to that of a piercing and involves a syringe injecting the chip into the person’s hand. However, the chip implants could cause infections or reactions in the body’s immune system, Ben Libberton, a microbiologist at MAX IV Laboratory in southern Sweden, told AFP.

About four years ago, Swedish biohacking group Bionyfiken started organising “implant parties” – where groups of people insert chips into their hands en masse – in countries including the US, UK, France, Germany and Mexico.

By Luyolo Mkentane for Business Day

The unemployment rate rose to a near 15-year high in the first quarter of 2019, highlighting the enormity of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to recover the country’s economy.

Ramaphosa said he wants to lead the country out of “nine wasted years”, a tacit reference to his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s term in office, which was marked by increasingly brazen corruption and state capture. Under Zuma’s watch unemployment soared and economic growth faltered, while confidence in the SA economy fell to new lows.

Statistics SA’s quarterly labour force survey revealed on Tuesday that the unemployment rate jumped 0.5 percentage points to 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019.

According to Trading Economics, the unemployment rate averaged 25.66% from 2000 until 2019, reaching a high of 31.20% in the first quarter of 2003 and a record low of 21.50% in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The economy lost 237,000 jobs during the first quarter of 2019. Leading that was the construction sector, which shed 142,000 jobs.

Due to subdued activity in the sector, construction and engineering company Group Five is intending to sell the only profitable assets it owns to help it survive, while Basil Read is in business rescue.

The finance sector trailed behind with 94,000 job losses, community and social services 50,000, and private households 31,000.

The mining sector, one of the pillars of the SA economy, shed 20,000 jobs and agriculture 12,000. Employment gains were recorded in the transport industry with 59,000 jobs, trade 25,000, utilities 16,000 and manufacturing 14,000.

Nedbank chief economist Dennis Dykes said Ramaphosa faced an enormous task in reversing the unemployment rate. “It is extremely unusual and it must be difficult for him because he was left this terrible legacy by the previous administration.”

The country needed economic growth that was labour absorbing, Dykes said, adding that Ramaphosa should create a conducive business environment to allow captains of industry to grow the embattled economy, which grew 0.8% in 2018.

Econometrix chief economist Azar Jammine said Ramaphosa needed to tackle policies that had led to unemployment, such as improving the education system and labour laws, to make them more attractive for business.

He singled out the national minimum wage, which came into effect in January, saying it could be argued that it is one of the factors that contributed to the spike in unemployment.

“The point is, are people going to support him in trying to fix the problems? Cosatu is one of his biggest supporters but it will oppose any amendment of the labour laws,” said Jammine.

Stellenbosch University political analyst professor Amanda Gouws said the rise in unemployment presented Ramaphosa with the opportunity to strengthen his hand and get rid of deadwood and corrupt ministers in his new cabinet.

“He has promised to improve the economy and clean up the rot in government. He has the ability to do that. Those numbers show this is the legacy Zuma left us,” said Gouws.

Ramaphosa appointed investment envoys in 2018 in his quest to raise $100bn in new investments over the next five years.

Nelson Mandela University political analyst Ongama Mtimka said infrastructure investment could help stimulate greater economic growth and help address what he described as SA’s long-term unemployment problem.

“We know there are underlying structural problems in SA that are long term and what makes matters worse is the fact that it’s mostly young people that are unemployed,” he said.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said Ramaphosa had at most two years to convince the electorate that he had a plan to arrest spiralling unemployment. The 0.5 percentage point increase in unemployment was a wake-up call to the president and his incoming administration, he said.

“It speaks directly to the enormity of challenges awaiting them.”

By Tom Head for The South African

South Africa could be set for another round of drama from Eskom, as the ailing power utility has reportedly failed to receive R7 billion in loan payments initially set to come from the Chinese Development Bank (CDB).

That’s according to City Press, who have reported that the creditors do not trust their promises over proposed maintenance work. It would be the second time in just over two weeks that one of Eskom’s promised loans failed to materialise after the Brics New Development Bank also did not part with their billions.

Why haven’t Eskom received the loan?
On Easter Friday, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was forced to grant the power giants an emergency bailout in order to meet salary demands and diesel costs. It’s reported that the CDB has taken note of their actions, and fear that this particular instalment of their cash will be used to plug holes, rather than go towards maintenance.

The loan in question will come to R33 billion in total, and it has been earmarked for the development of the Medupi and Kusile power plants. The new builds are yet to get up to full speed, and they’re struggling to produce the amount of electricity needed to keep South Africa illuminated as more “old units” come to the end of their lifespans.

Load shedding fears resurface
Eskom is very much living hand-to-mouth at the moment. In fact, some of their biggest critics believe this will be the last week where the lights stay on: Natasha Mazzone of the DA has accused the firm of diverting funds from long-term projects in order to keep voters happy before the general election this Wednesday.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has also refused to rule out the return of load shedding this winter, despite unveiling plans to nip it in the bud at the beginning of April. We’ve already seen how one defaulted payment can spark a financial crisis, so a second one within two weeks is a terrible omen for the company… and its consumers.

Source: IOL

Retail group Massmart said on Monday chief executive officer Guy Hayward would step down before year-end.

“After almost 20 years in the business, the past five of which have been as chief executive officer, Guy Hayward has informed the board of his decision to step down from his role before the end of 2019,” it said in a statement.

The exact timing of Hayward’s exit was still to be confirmed as he and the board embarked on the process of ensuring a seamless transition, Massmart said. The process to appoint his successor was underway and the board would make further announcements in due course.

It said Hayward had guided the company, which owns local brands such as Game, Makro, Builders Warehouse and CBW, through “exceedingly challenging market conditions” and had worked to position the business for future growth.

“Under his leadership we have seen the introduction of Value Added Services, the development of a shared group logistics service, and the implementation of competitive online offerings in Makro, Game and Builders Warehouse,” said the company.

“Massmart has an experienced executive management team, who along with Guy’s successor will continue to focus on the improvement of Massmart’s high-volume, low-expense business model that saves our customers money so that they can live better.”

By Roxanne Henderson for Business Day

From free burgers and ride-hailing services to hip-hop concerts and discounted petrol, SA banks are going all out to win customers as competition hots up.

The biggest lenders are facing an onslaught of entrants for the first time in 12 years. And they are responding before the newcomers find their feet by pushing loyalty programmes, revamping digital offerings for technology-savvy millennials, targeting existing customers with extra products and services and cutting fees.

The challengers — some of whose founders or senior staff cut their teeth in the banks they are now up against — could not be coming at a worse time. Most lenders are reducing costs, retrenching staff and closing branches to cope with an economy that has not expanded above 2% a year since 2013 and a move toward the increased use of digital services.

Tax increases, higher utility costs and stubbornly high unemployment are squeezing consumers, who are not only looking to cut their expenses but also want more convenience.

“Banks are becoming more client-centered, many new players are entering the space offering a basic banking account at competitive prices, so they have to create stronger relationships with existing clients,” said Nolwandle Mthombeni, an analyst at Mergence Investment Managers in Cape Town.

“Technology has become the biggest expense item for some of the incumbents as they try compete with new entrants that do not have any legacy systems.”

FirstRand’s First National Bank, Standard Bank, Absa and Nedbank are using credit as their biggest leverage over new contenders, according to Jan Meintjes, a portfolio manager at Denker Capital.

Central bank data shows that term loans jumped almost 15% in the 12 months to February after contracting the prior two years, while the value of credit card debt increased 9.2% from 4.7% a year earlier, after shrinking in 2017. Lenders are turning to different approaches to snag customers.

Nedbank got local rapper Ginger Trill to launch an offering that gives university students a cheap account, credit card facility, as well as fast-food restaurant and ride-hailing vouchers. It added a digital personal assistant and concierge offering to its app that links to a network of 350,000 product and service providers.

“We’re trying to amplify our brand’s resonance,” said managing executive for consumer banking Mutsa Chironga.

Nedbank, known for targeting affluent customers, also plans to revamp its loyalty programme and digitise its platforms.

FNB tries to get eyeballs to its app by connecting business customers with retail clients, or home buyers to sellers so they can do deals without a realtor. FNB is also digging deep into its client data to find cross-selling opportunities.

“Where we see a transactional relationship with us, but a credit relationship elsewhere, we try to crowd” out competitors, said CEO Jacques Celliers.

FNB rewards cardholders filling up at stations owned by Engen Petroleum, the country’s biggest fuel distributor, through its eBucks programme.

“Our growth in insurance and the exciting opportunities we see in investments will be key avenues for growth,” he said.

Bank Zero, co-founded by former FNB CEO Michael Jordaan, plans to start a digital offering later in 2019 that will be among at least five institutions, including Old Mutual and African Bank, taking on traditional banks.

Discovery, SA’s largest health-insurance administrator, wants to gradually add customers to the bank it recently opened, starting with the 350,000 credit cardholders it shared with FNB through a joint venture that ended in 2018. The company plans to tap into the 4.4-million lives it reaches through insurance, wealth management and its Vitality loyalty programme.

The bank will follow the same concept as Vitality, which rewards clients who eat healthily and exercise with discounts on flights, gym and meals or Apple Watches at a fraction of the price if they meet fitness targets.

“They’re going to make an impact,” said Meintjes. “Whether they’re going to make money is a separate question.”

Billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s TymeBank, which uses kiosks in Pick ’n Pay stores to open accounts with no monthly fees, signed up 210,000 clients within two months. To break even, the lender will need 2-million.

To get this done, it is sending mobile teams and a portable kiosk to transport hubs, university campuses and big employers — a throwback to a technique Absa used in the early 2000s to reach rural customers with briefcases packed with equipment to sign people on. The Big Four know the price of ignoring the competition.

Capitec Bank started as an unsecured lender in 2001 to grow to a full-service offering with a market-leading 11.4-million customers. The stock has gained 59% over the past 12 months, outperforming all the members of the FTSE-JSE Africa Banks index, which is down 0.4% over the period, as well as Investec.

“It’s only when Capitec started evolving and entering into transactional banking that they saw the threat,” said Mthombeni. “Banks are forced to respond differently to competition now.”

SA’s gender pay gap shrinks dramatically

By Carol Paton for Business Day 

The gender pay gap has shrunk dramatically, especially among low paid workers since the end of apartheid, but women at the top still face discrimination, a study by a University of Cape Town researcher has found.

In 1997, at the bottom end of the earnings spectrum, men earned 60% more than women. By 2014 this had diminished to 7%, said economist Jacqueline Mosomi in a paper based on her PhD thesis, published by the UN’s University World Institute for Development Economics Research.

The change is mostly attributable to the implementation of new minimum wages. Minimum wages for domestic and farm workers were introduced in November 2002. Women have also had better access to education since democracy, and marriage and fertility rates have declined.

“In general, in SA gender wage inequality was high because there were more women in low-paying occupations. There has been a substantial decline due to the implementation of minimum wages,” said Mosomi.

But at the top, despite having more years of education than men, women remain under-represented at senior levels and occupy jobs that are lower-paying. Mosomi’s paper found that more affluent and educated women were big beneficiaries of employment equity legislation and the gender wage gap dropped sharply from 48% in 1993 reaching 18% in 2014.

The Employment Equity Act, which requires companies to submit plans to the department of labour to bring the workforce in line with demographic categories, was passed in 1998.

“Women who already had high-quality skills were able to benefit from employment equity legislation but once that effect had taken place, the trend began to reverse. Now, even though women have more education than men they receive lower returns,” she says.

Mosomi says that the wage gap at the top does indicate discrimination but is also due to the type of work women do, which is often more administrative and less technical than occupations dominated by men.

Women in the middle of the earnings spectrum have benefited least in the post-apartheid era. At the mean — that is the half-way point in the wage distribution spectrum — the gender wage gap has hardly shifted. Men still earn 23% to 35% more than women. Mosomi says that other research has found that most occupations that fall into the median earning still tend to be male-dominated.

These jobs include elementary, service, craft or operational work. Gender analysis has shown that these occupations and the industries in which they are located are still dominated by men.

At the Jobs Summit held last October, Business Unity SA (Busa) undertook to encourage its members to voluntarily disclose the gap between the top and bottom paid as well as the gender pay gap. Busa said it would do this with a view to making disclosure compulsory over the next 12 months.

Home Affairs website down for two weeks

The Department of Home Affairs website has been unavailable for nearly two weeks without any indication of when it will be back online.

The website initially displayed a message saying “The main website is currently offline. Emergency Maintenance as 10 April 2019”.

The website linked to a few Home Affairs services which were still online, including its online application process.

The holding page has since disappeared and the website is now completely offline, giving the error message “The requested URL could not be retrieved”.

The Department of Home Affairs continued to post pictures and videos of Minister Siyabonga Cwele on Twitter, but did not mention its website downtime.

The images below show what visitors to the Department of Home Affairs website were greeted with over the last two weeks.

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