Tag: government

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 

How does government spend our taxes?

Stats SA has released a complete overview of total government spending for 2015/16, providing insight into where your tax contributions have gone.

The report found that total government spending amounted to R1.52 trillion in 2015/16 – an average of R27,600 per person if we consider South Africa’s population of 55 million people.

Compensation of employees contributed 40.6% of the R1.37 trillion, the largest expenditure item in economic terms. The second largest item was purchases of goods and services, contributing 21.9%.

According to the latest Financial statistics of consolidated general government report, general services accounted for a quarter of government spending in 2015/16. Within this, debt payments accounted for 9% (of the total) and executive, legislative and financial services accounted for 12%.

The latter includes the funding of general government services provided by institutions such as SARS, the National Treasury, the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA), the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC), parliament, and the various legislatures.

Not surprisingly, big priorities for government also include education and social protection (which includes the payment of social grants). Together these two items contributed 32% of total spending.

Government also spent more money on servicing its debt than it did on items such as housing, police, tertiary education and hospital services. Almost R129 billion was spent on public debt payments in 2015/16. In 2011/12, it was 7.2%, rising in 2012/13 (7.4%), 2013/14 (7.8%) and 2014/15 (8.4%). In 2015/16 it rose only slightly to 8.5%.

Source: Business Tech

Schools fight government’s stationery policy

Some public schools in KwaZulu-Natal have been stripped of their powers to procure service providers of their choice to supply their schools with stationery.

Instead, the Department of Education has appointed its own service providers to deliver stationery to schools, sidelining companies already appointed months ago by the school governing bodies (SGB).

This move has been described as a source of corruption and as lacking in transparency and accountability.

Although these Section 21 schools had followed the procurement procedures through advertising tenders and had already conducted the appointment of service providers, they were still waiting for allocations for stationery since June.

Unexpected stationery deliveries were made yesterday to the schools, allegedly by unknown service providers.

The department, however, denied stripping schools of procurement powers, saying that schools were only asked to collect quotations.

Kwazi Mthethwa, the department spokesperson, said the appointing of service providers was not the responsibility of the department.

“The department had migrated textbook requirements to its bulk purchasing programme to ensure value for money. The department has saved R30million which will be transferred to schools to afford school governing bodies the resources to plough more investment into pupils’ needs.”

Allen Thompson, the deputy president of the National Teachers’ Union, at a media briefing yesterday accused the department of orchestrating a malicious campaign against Section 21 schools.

“The department has been accusing them of mismanaging funds and lacking the capacity to award tenders. While these schools are still confused by these baseless allocations, the department decided to adopt a centralised procurement model managed by itself,” he said.

Thompson said the system would add to other programmes such as the national school nutrition scheme, which in the past were a responsibility of the SGBs, but whose procurement processes were taken over by the department.

Feeding

Recently, service providers stopped feeding pupils after the department failed to pay them on time.

Thompson said they did not support the move and saw it as the main source of corruption.

“The department is forcing these schools into the trap of Section 20 schools, which are forced to receive books and stationery from the department,” he said.

Simon Dlamini, a principal from one of the affected schools in the uMlazi District, told the Daily News yesterday that he went to the department offices in Durban two weeks ago.

He was told that his stationery order would be made through a central procurement system although his school was a Section 21 with function C, and by law supposed to receive money to procure its own supply.

He said he was told that his school would not receive the funds, but the department would appoint its own service providers. Dlamini said this was never communicated to him until he enquired.

Yesterday, a truck took books and stationery to his school to deliver an order and Dlamini refused to sign for it. “It was not the company that the SGB had appointed. I do not know who they were and what was contained in the boxes,” he said.

Thembi Mthombeni, a member of an SGB in the Bhekuzulu Circuit, said the department had nullified the service providers they had appointed.

By Sne Masuku for IOL 

EFF calls for the nationalisation of our banks

If Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has his way, a “Banks Ownership Act” would be passed by Parliament, ensuring the State nationalise commercial banks in South Africa without compensation.

Introducing a debate on the issue in the National Assembly on Tuesday, Malema said: “There are no banks in South Africa that have meaningful ownership by black people”.

Malema said his party’s manifesto appreciates other forms of ownership are not excluded — including ownership by private individuals, the State and pension funds.

No single investor will own more than ten percent, he said.

“Our view is that the State ownership should be prioritised but should not completely close out other forms of ownership,” the fiery EFF leader said.

“This model of combined ownership, anchored by the State, makes sure banks are democratised…”

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) rejected Malema’s proposal.

ANC Member of Parliament (MP) Adrian Williams said banks would not just surrender their money.

“They are going to force this government to pay back the money,” Williams said.

“South Africa does not exist in a vacuum. When it comes to international finance we are just a cog in the capitalist wheel.”

He cited various examples where the State took over the ownership of banks and failed.

Williams said government would also assume the liabilities and debt, which would have an impact on the fiscus, and would result in poor South Africans and not the rich suffering.

The Banking Association of South Africa (BASA) also responded, saying the National Assembly entertaining the debate was “alarming”.

“Any nationalisation of banks will have a direct impact on stability, and will seriously undermine what fragile levels of confidence remain in our economy and society,” BASA said in a statement.

“We cannot allow ourselves to be in a position where we are further undermining the competitive positions that remain because of political expedience.”

BASA called on Treasury to provide certainty about its policy position regarding banks.

By Chantall Presence for IOL 

Government wastes R51.1bn in a year

An evaluation of those annual reports submitted to Parliament by national departments and their entities have revealed that R51.1 billion was wasted in the 2016/2017 financial year as a result of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Entities were the biggest offenders, accounting for nearly R35.9 billion, or R70%, of the total.

This staggering amount is sure to increase as the departments of Environmental Affairs, Defence, and State Security have still not tabled their annual reports. Similarly, South African Revenue Service, South African Airways, South African Express, South African National Roads Agency, and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa have not finalised their annual reports.

Audit results of departments and entities were once again dismal with no fewer than 22 outstanding audit reports, as well as a litany of disclaimed (3), adverse (4) or qualified (28) audit opinions. More than 20% of all audits were either outstanding or failed to meet accounting standards.

Concerningly, the Auditor-General (A-G) raised “going concern” issues with the following entities: Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), the National Health Laboratory Service, PetroSA and the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The A-G could not provide audit opinions for either the Unemployment insurance Fund or the Compensation Fund.
National departments once again failed to meet their own targets with key ministries among the worst performing:

Similarly, key entities are among the worst performing:

South Africans run the risk of becoming jaded by the governance failures of the ANC government. However, we must never lose sight of the opportunities lost by the R50 billion squandered through irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Governance failures come at a great cost to South Africa’s most vulnerable. We cannot rest until every valuable resource is directed at improving the lives of honest, hardworking South Africans.

By John Steenhuisen MP, Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance

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