Tag: government

By Giovanni Buttarelli for The Washington Post 

First came the scaremongering. Then came the strong-arming. After being contested in arguably the biggest lobbying exercise in the history of the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation became fully applicable at the end of May.

Since its passage, there have been great efforts at compliance, which regulators recognize. At the same time, unfortunately, consumers have felt nudged or bullied by companies into agreeing to business as usual. This would appear to violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the new law.

The GDPR aims to redress the startling imbalance of power between big tech and the consumer, giving people more control over their data and making big companies accountable for what they do with it. It replaces the 1995 Data Protection Directive, which required national legislation in each of the 28 E.U. countries in order to be implemented. And it offers people and businesses a single rulebook for the biggest data privacy questions. Tech titans now have a single point of contact instead of 28.

The new regulation, like the old directive, requires all personal data processing to be “lawful and fair.” To process data lawfully, companies need to identify the most appropriate basis for doing so. The most common method is to obtain the freely given and informed consent of the person to whom the data relates. A business can also have a “legitimate interest” to use data in the service of its aims as a business, as long as it doesn’t unduly impinge on the rights and interests of the individual. Take, for example, a pizza shop that processes your personal information, such as your home address, in order to deliver your order. It may be considered to have a legitimate interest to maintain your details for a reasonable period of time afterward in order to send you information about its services. It isn’t violating your rights, just pursing its business interests. What the pizza shop cannot do is then offer its clients’ data to the juice shop next door without going back and requesting consent.

A third aspect of lawfully processing data pertains to contracts between a company and client. When you purchase an item online, for example, you enter into a contract. But in order for the business to fulfill that contract and send you your goods, you must offer credit card details and a delivery address. In this scenario, the business may also legitimately store your data, depending on the terms of that limited business-client relationship.

But under the GDPR, a contract cannot be used to obtain consent. Some major companies seem to be relying on take-it-or-leave-it contracts to justify their sweeping data practices. Witness the hundreds of messages telling us we cannot continue to use a service unless we agree to the data use policy. We’ve all faced the pop-up window that gives us the option of clicking a brightly colored button to simply accept the terms, with the “manage settings” or “read more” section often greyed-out. One of the big questions is the extent to which a company can justify collecting and using massive amounts of information in order to offer a “free” service.

Under E.U. law, a contractual term may be unfair if it “causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations arising under the contract that are to the detriment of the consumer.” The E.U. is seeking to prevent people from being cajoled into “consenting” to unfair contracts and accepting surveillance in exchange for a service. What’s more, a company is generally prohibited to process, without the “explicit consent” of the individual, sensitive types of information that may reveal race or political, religious, genetic and biometric data.

Indeed, regulators are being asked to determine whether disclosing so much data is even necessary for the provision of services — whether it is ecommerce, search or social media. One key principle to remember is that asking for an individual’s consent should be regarded as an unusual request, given that asking for consent often signals that a party wants to do something with personal data that the individual may not be comfortable with or might not reasonably expect. Thus, it should be a duty of customer care for a company to check back with users or patrons honestly, transparently and respectfully. As the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed, allowing an outside company to collect personal data was not the type of service that users would have reasonably expected. Clearly, abuse has become the norm. The aim of the EU data protection agency that I lead is to stop it.

Independent E.U. enforcement authorities — at least one in each E.U. member state — are already investigating 30 cases of such alleged violations, including those lodged by the activist group NOYB (“none of your business”). The public will see the first results before the end of the year. Regulators will use the full range of their enforcement powers to address abuses, including issuing fines.

The GDPR is not perfect, but it passed into law with an extraordinary consensus across the political spectrum, belying the increasingly fractious politics of our times. As of June, there were 126 countries around the world with modern data protection laws broadly modeled on the European approach. This month, Brazil is next. And it will the biggest country to date to adopt such laws. It is likely to be followed by Pakistan and India, both of which recently published draft laws.

But if the latest effort is a reliable precedent, data protection reform comes around every two decades or so — several lifetimes in terms of the pace of technological change. We still need to finish the job with the ePrivacy Regulation still under negotiation, which would stop companies snooping on private communications and require — again — genuine consent to use metadata about who you talk to as well as when and where.

I am nevertheless already thinking about the post-GDPR future: a manifesto for the effective de-bureaucratizing and safeguarding of peoples’ digital selves. It would include a consensus among developers, companies and governments on the ethics of the underlying decisions in the application of digital technology. Devices and programming would be geared by default to safeguard people’s privacy and freedom. Today’s overcentralized Internet would be de-concentrated, as advocated by Tim Berners-Lee, who first invented the Internet, with a fairer allocation of the digital dividend and with the control of information handed back to individuals from big tech and the state.

This is a long-term project. But nothing could be more urgent as the digital world develops ever more rapidly.

Government’s entire IT system goes down

By Gaye Davis for EWN 

It has emerged that not only Home Affairs but IT systems across government were affected by Friday’s power outage.

The head of the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) has told Parliament that the power outage that caused Home Affairs’ systems to shutdown triggered a “catastrophic event” that affected all of government.

Sita CEO Dr Setumo Mohapi and the Department of Home Affairs have been called to Parliament to explain what went wrong.

Mohapi has painted a worrying picture of system and communication failures.

Sita’s generator kicked in when power from Tshwane municipality failed at 2am but its fuel pump burned out for reasons that are as yet unclear.

An overloaded UPS battery system then went into distress and systems had to be shut down at Home Affairs as well as government’s entire IT plant.

Mohapi on Tuesday explained: “It was a catastrophic event that affected not just Home Affairs but the entire IT system of government.”

Mohapi’s apologised for what happened, including a second power outage that took place on Monday, when Home Affairs systems were again down for around 90 minutes.

Mohapi says he wasn’t informed until hours after the power outage. Home Affairs’ acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso says they also had no early warning, leading to their systems crashing rather than being properly shut down.

Source: The Citizen

The Democratic Alliance says the department of energy’s no-show at a parliamentary meeting on fuel hikes is ‘disrespectful’ to people struggling with the high cost of living.

Davis was reacting to Energy Minister Jeff Radebe and his department’s failure to pitch for a meeting with MPs about fuel hikes.

“Minister Radebe and the energy department’s failure to turn up at an energy portfolio committee meeting on the petrol price is the clearest indication yet that government has no plan to deal with escalating fuel costs.

“This no-show by a government delegation was disrespectful to parliament and, more importantly, disrespectful to the millions of South Africans who are struggling with the high cost of living,” he said.

Davis said Radebe was supposed to communicate on the petrol price in the second week of July, but he had said nothing.

“This was his opportunity to offer South Africans hope that government had a plan to cushion the blow of high fuel costs. The minister has an opportunity to prove us wrong by appearing before the committee next Tuesday and presenting a credible plan to bring down the price of petrol,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, chairperson of the portfolio committee on energy Fikile Majola also slammed Radebe’s department for what he described as a “boycott” of the meeting.

Majola said the minister would be summoned to parliament next week to explain the department’s failure to attend the meeting.

Petrol price has increased from R13.76 in March to R16.02 in July.

By Siviwe Feketha for IOL; HuffPost 

In an unbelievable development, the ANC says it is “shocked” by the scale of corruption in government. In a document called “ANC briefing notes: key ANC politicies and government programmes”, reportedly prepared for the 2019 election, the party notes that there has been an increase in corruption despite the creation of crime-fighting institutions.

According to The Star, the document says, “The [past] year has revealed many new cases of corruption, and like all South Africans, we are shocked by the scale of corruption and the allegations of state capture, which we are determined to root out.”

South Africans, however, were not so shocked. Or, rather, they were shocked, just not for the same reasons as the ANC.

The ANC is reportedly “shocked” by the scale of corruption in the state, and has conceded that despite setting up mechanisms to combat graft, “powerful individuals” had managed to loot government coffers.
The governing party has vowed to take a tougher stance on corruption as part of its election campaign, with measures including subjecting public servants and senior politicians to lifestyle audits.

This is contained in a document titled “ANC briefing notes: key ANC policies and government programmes”, prepared for the elections in 2019.

The party held an elections workshop at the weekend in Irene, outside Pretoria. The workshop was tasked with crafting the party’s election manifesto, which will be used to drum up support for the general elections when the party faces its biggest contest since 1994, with good governance and the land issue set to be the main themes for their campaign.

In the document, the ANC admitted that in spite of creating institutions such as the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit, there has been an increase in corruption cases.

“In spite of these efforts, powerful individuals have managed to loot government resources. This goes against every value and principle the ANC fought for.

The ANC said it was determined to root out corruption because it undermined service delivery.

“We will use Parliament, commissions, investigators and the courts to get to the bottom of the problem and deal with the offenders. As the ANC, we will take strong action against any of our leaders guilty of corruption.

“It is unacceptable that parts of the state have been used to serve personal interests,” the party stated.

Power utility Eskom, rail company Transnet, arms manufacturer Denel and the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) are among a number of state-owned companies that fell prey to the looting spree.

The party is now pushing for the strengthening of the Special Investigation Unit to boost the investigation of corruption in the public service.

“The corruption and state capture inquiries in Parliament in 2017 and 2018 addressed misspending and looting at state-owned companies and departments. In the first few months of 2018, the boards and top management were replaced at Eskom, Transnet, SAA and Prasa to start the clean up.

“Many of the offenders will be prosecuted. Ministers responsible for departments involved were also replaced,” the party noted.

“There are court cases, disciplinary processes or investigations into the conduct of many of those who were meant to protect us from corruption – among them senior prosecutors, police and investigators, Sars, intelligence agencies and politicians,” the ANC said.

As part of its vision for 2030, the ANC aims to improve the capacity of senior managers in government through assessment and ongoing training. It will also subject senior public servants to lifestyle audits.

The party said it was not for sale, and that those who donate to it should not expect tenders in return.

Delivering his keynote address at the workshop, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africans were not despondent, as they have seen the swift action taken by the government since he took over.

“They see the work we are doing to end state capture and corruption, and to restore our state-owned enterprise to financial and operational health. Many of our people have become actively involved in the debate on land reform and the measures taken to urgently accelerate land redistribution and drive the agricultural revolution they want to see,” he said.

On land reform, the ANC has admitted that its government had failed to effectively deal with the land question, since it took over the reins of government in 1994, adding that expropriation without compensation would be used to help address dispossession of black people.

The party said instead of paying for land – which was expensive – the state had to help new farmers with financial support, as they often failed and sold their land back to the whites.

“Since 1994 we have implemented a policy of land claims and land reform to reverse the apartheid injustice. There has been very slow progress and the patterns of the past have not really changed. Land has been expensive to buy and we spent more than R50billion on land reform.

“New farmers who have benefited from land claims or land reform find it difficult to farm profitably without access to water rights, loans and technical support,” the party said.

The party has, however, rejected the EFF’s proposition that all land be nationalised, including current land occupations across the country which the red berets have endorsed.

“The ANC wants change but we want most of our land to belong to the people, not the state. We believe in a mix of private land ownership and communal or state ownership, where it makes more sense to go that route,” the ANC added.

It warned that land allocation would soon be dominated by crime syndicates, if illegal land invasions were allowed to continue.

By Sibongile Khumalo for Fin24

Government welcomed the signing of a three-year multi-term Public Service wage agreement, although it exceeded the 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework by R30bn.

According to the Department of Public Service and Administration, the R110bn provision for the salary adjustments for the period from 2018/19 to 2020/21 was made in the 2018 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

“The 2018 salary agreement exceeds this amount by R30 Billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework,” the department said in a statement.

“This then calls for cost containment measures to ensure that the wage bill remains within the existing compensation ceilings,” it added.

The Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) last week said 65.74% of trade unions had agreed to salary adjustments and improvements on conditions of service in the sector for three years, from 2018/19 to 2020/21.

For 2018/19 level 1-7 workers agreed to a 5.5% CPI linked increase, plus a 1.5% , the pay would then be hiked by a CPI related rate for the next two year, with an additional 1%.

Government said the agreement was reached after “a long and difficult negotiations process”.

Employees in the level 8-10 scale would get a CPI rate plus 1% for the current year, followed by 0.5% for the next years, while those in the level 11-12 bracket would receive an increment of 0.5% for this year on top of the CPI. The highest grade will only get a CIP rate for the following year.

Also included, is that the housing allowance of R1 200.00, which would be increased annually by the average CPI of the preceding financial year on an annual basis.

The country’s bulging public wage bill has been a major source of challenge raised by international lenders and rating agencies.

“As government we are glad that we have reached another multi-term agreement,” said Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo.

She stressed that the negotiations took place amid growing concerns over the escalating public service wage bill and a contracting economy, which pose serious challenges to the already strained government fiscal purse.

“The agreement proves that it is possible for both parties to reach an amicable agreement that puts the stability of the country and service delivery first.”

The adjustments will be effected on the 1st of July of each year.

Discussions reached a deadlock earlier this week, with the Public Servants Association (PSA) demanding a 12% wage increase across the board. Government offered a 7% increase for lower level workers, 6.5% for mid-level employees and 6% for senior managers.

Unions had started tabling demands in September 2017.

By Jason Milford for Centurion Rekord 

This week, a group of Centurion businessmen demanded to know why a “stationery supply” company got a tender from the metro to fix a massive sinkhole in the area.

The group is involved in a class action suit against the metro, which they accuse of dragging their feet in repairing the sinkhole at the intersection of Jean Avenue and Gerhard Street.

Jacques Classen, the attorney representing the class act, said there is reason to believe that the incorrect measures were followed to appoint the contractor, Gaborena.

Classen wanted to know why Gaborena would need a sub-contractor while they are appointed as the main contractor.

“According to Gaborena’s main object and purpose describing their business, they mainly supply stationery and manufacture wooden and woven products,” said Classen.

Classen also said the metro must prove they followed the correct procurement procedures and processes to appoint Gaborena.

The class act also wanted the metro held liable for contempt of court for not supplying documentation.

Mayoral spokesperson Sam Mgobozi said the metro is aware of Gaborena’s appointment of a sub-contractor.

He said it was not unusual for service providers to do so.

Mgobozi also said the metro had to broaden its scope and network to appoint an appropriate contractor for the sinkhole.

© Centurion Rekord

RICA changes aim to mitigate mass surveillance

Source: IOL 

Michael Masutha, Justice and Correctional Services Minister, has confirmed he will be introducing amendments to the RICA Act, to close any potential loopholes allowing large-scale surveillance of the South African public.

Masutha said in a reply to parliamentary questions session, that the revision of the RICA is in an initial drafting phase so an indication of what will be covered in the bill can’t be revealed as yet.

However, he indicated that both the issue of targeted interception and mass surveillance are being considered under the revisions.

“Although the RICA currently provides for strict standards before an interception direction may be issued for targeted interceptions (the interception of indirect communications, real-time communication-related information or direct communications), international developments will be taken into account during the reviewing process, to provide for appropriate and proportional safeguards and oversight mechanisms in respect of applications for targeted interceptions,” Masutha said in his reply, according to Business tech.

“The aspect of mass surveillance is also being considered with a specific aim to ensure that such a surveillance process will be subject to appropriate safeguards and oversight mechanisms to protect the rights of individuals who may be targets of mass surveillance measures,” Masutha continued.

In May 2017, Civil society group Right2Know said that law enforcement is using a legislative loophole to force SA’s cellular operators to hand over sensitive information about clients.

In an issued statement the group said it had issued applications in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act requesting information on how often Cell C, MTN, Telkom and Vodacom hand over caller information.

On 23 August 2017, Statistics given by Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom showed that that law enforcement requested call records for at least 70 000 phone numbers every year.

Original article © IOL

If South Africa’s richest man, Johann Rupert, had to run South Africa with his personal wealth, he wouldn’t even be able to keep the government going for a full month.

This is one of the findings of Bloomberg’s latest Robin Hood Index for 2018, which measures how global billionaires could improve the lives of the poor if they gave all their money away.

In the 2018 iteration of the index, the data and media firm questioned how far billionaire wealth could stretch if the world’s richest had to cover the costs of running their home-country government daily.

According to the index, the typical running cost, per day, for South Africa is $333.5 million (approximately R3.98 billion). With an estimated net worth of $8.1 billion (Bloomberg data), Rupert’s wealth would only keep South Africa going for 24 days – hitting around the middle mark of the 49 countries assessed.

Cyprus’ richest man, John Fredriksen ($10.4 billion) could keep his home country running for well over a year (441 days), while China’s top billionaire, Jack Ma ($45.5 billion) could only keep his government running for four days, Bloomberg said.

To calculate government running costs, Bloomberg took total government spending spread over 365 days. It stressed that the index was simply an ‘intellectual exercise’ and not reflective of governments’ priorities or the intricacies of each individual country’s positioning.

South African billionaires

According to Forbes’ real time ranking of billionaires, there are only five dollar-billionaires in South Africa, down from eight billionaires in the official ranking for 2017.

Market movements during 2017 and the start of 2018 – as well at the widely publicised fall of Steinhoff International – saw a three super-rich businessmen lose their billionaire status: retail magnate Christo Wiese, investor Allan Grey, and ‘boere Buffett’ Jannie Mouton have all dropped off the list.

Forbes differs from Bloomberg in that it ranks diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer as the richest man in the country, with Johann Rupert ranked second.

Expanding on Bloomberg’s index model, South Africa’s billionaires, combined, could keep the government running for just under 63 days.

This is how long South Africa’s billionaires can keep the government running, individually:

Giving all their money away

If South Africa’s billionaires were to give all their wealth away to the country’s poorest, each person living in poverty would walk away with a once-off payment of about R11,400.

According to Stats SA’s poverty data released in 2017, approximately 40% of the population live below the lower-boundary poverty line – or 21.9 million people.

Using Forbes’ data, total billionaire wealth in South Africa amounts to $20.9 billion – or R249.55 billion . The table below shows how much each billionaire would contribute.

Billionaire wealth data as at 12 February 2018. Currency exchange at 1 USD = 11.94 ZAR

Source: Business Tech

Government amends UIF Bill

A new Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Bill has been signed into law which will see improved benefits for employees.

The purpose of the Unemployment Insurance Act, No 63 of 2001 is to provide for the payment from the Fund of unemployment benefits to certain employees and for the payment of illness, adoption, maternity and dependents’ benefits related to the unemployment of such an employee.

Among several amendments, the bill:

  • Increases UIF benefits from 238 to 365 days
  • Allows employees to apply over 12 months instead of six
  • Allows employees to apply for maternity leave benefits eight weeks before delivery and up to 12 months after birth
  • Sees a flat rate for maternity benefits (66% of a female employee’s salary)
  • Let’s the female employee who have lost their child in the last trimester qualify for maternity benefits
  • Grants people on learnerships to apply for benefits
  • UIF benefits will not be stopped when a beneficiary dies, but will be paid out to their dependents.
  • Claims from the UIF can be made for longer period

Prior to these amendments, the employee were only able to claim from the UIF for 238 days’ work. Now it is possible to claim from the UIF for 365 days work. These benefits may be claimed over 12 months instead of the previous six months.

Dependents benefits

Dependents’ benefits can be claimed by the spouse or minor children of someone who has died, who had been paying UIF contributions to the Fund.

The dependents of a deceased breadwinner now have up to 18 months in which to apply for the dependent benefit.

This is especially positive for those in low-income jobs because they often learn about such benefits being available to them long after the breadwinner has died, and traditionally in many black communities, widows are not allowed to be outside their homes for long periods while they are in mourning, which takes anything from six months or longer.

Another change is that there is now a provision that allows contributors to the Fund with no dependents to nominate beneficiaries of their choice in the event of death, provided the deceased had no spouse, life partner or dependent children.

Illness benefits

Illness benefits can be claimed if the employee is off work for two weeks due to illness and will not receive a salary from the employer. This has now been changed to seven days, meaning the employee can now claim for illness benefits if they are off work for seven days.

New additions

Learners who were on ‘learnership’, Public Servants and Foreign Nationals are now able to claim for UIF benefits.

Now let’s have a look at the changes to the Maternity Benefit and how they will impact Employees.

Maternity

Previously the employee had six months in which to claim for maternity benefits, meaning that if six months passed before the employee claims, the employee was unable to put in a claim. The time in which the employee can put in a claim has now been increased to 12 months. This means that the employee now has a year within which the employee can submit the employer application for benefits.

If the employee has claimed for maternity benefits before, the employee will recall that if the employee had claimed for any type of benefits within a four-year cycle, such as unemployment, this negatively affected the employee when the employee applied for maternity benefits during this four-year period because the employee would not be able to claim for full maternity benefits.

Fortunately, this has changed and now the employee claim for any other benefits would not affect the employee’s ability to claim for full maternity benefits.

A fixed rate of 66% of a female employee’s salary (instead of the current sliding scale of between 38% and 60%), has now been introduced, subject to the maximum income threshold as set out in the Act.

The following also applies:

Full maternity benefits can now be claimed by female employees who had miscarriages in their third trimester. The contributor is entitled to benefits for 17-32 weeks. To claim, the contributor must have been employed for 13 weeks prior to claiming the maternity-related UIF benefit.

Application for benefits can now be made before or after the birth of a child – but no later than 12 months after the birth of the child.

And after a traumatic experience of losing a child – this may go a long way towards providing the support and time to recuperate.

Source: Labour Net

For the first time in 20 years, the Presidency has started to compose regulations for a state of emergency.

Rapport, sister publication of News24, saw the draft regulations in terms of the State of Emergency Act 64 of 1997.

In terms of these draft regulations, any security official will have far-reaching powers to act within his or her own judgement, arrest people, search property or cut communication channels such as cellphones or the internet.

The Constitution allows the president to declare a state of emergency when war, invasion, revolt, natural disasters or other dangers threaten the nation’s safety.

Former president PW Botha declared such a state of emergency on July 25, 1985. Activists were held captive in unknown places for undetermined periods.

At least 575 people were killed within six months of this announcement.

Concern over ‘vague’ guidelines

The Act of 1997 replaced the notorious apartheid-era laws, but the regulations that set out what should happen during a state of emergency have never been promulgated.

According to an internal memorandum from the military, President Jacob Zuma appointed a team to compose the regulations, but it is dragging its feet.

Over the past few weeks, the security sector has been urged to urgently provide contributions to complete the project.

National director of Lawyers for Human Rights advocate Jacob van Garderen has read the draft regulations and is concerned about how vague they are.

“It reminds one of the 1980s when the apartheid government used the declaration of a state of emergency to suppress political dissent.”

He said the regulations are vague about how much power various role players such as the military and the police would have and how much force they would be allowed to use.

“It is almost a matter of one size fits all,” he said.

Broad wording

The army decided after a workshop to support the project and develop an operational plan.

Army spokesperson Simphiwe Dlamini said the army was just a role player and was not in charge of the sudden review.

The Presidency didn’t respond to Rapport’s questions.

According to the draft regulations, no person may write, publish or broadcast something that could be threatening to somebody else or his family.

Members of the security forces are allowed to use as much force to restore law and order as deemed necessary under the circumstances, as long as it is proportional.

Van Garderen said the wording is very broad.

‘I can see it end up in court’

“Any meeting, even if it is not public, could be prohibited.

“The context of the regulations concerns me. Civic organisations opposed the amount of force used by police during the xenophobic violence a few years ago and at Marikana.

“If these draft regulations go through, I can see it end up in court.”

According to commissioner of the Human Rights Commission advocate André Gaum, any legislation, and therefore the accompanying regulations, is subject to the human rights provisions of the Constitution.

According to the Constitution, a state of emergency may not last longer than three months, while the president’s proclamation can be overturned and some constitutional rights – such as the right to dignity and life – can never be overturned, even in a state of emergency.

By Erika Gibson for Rapport 

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