Deputy President David Mabuza / Image by GCIS
Deputy President David Mabuza / Image by GCIS
Stay connected to the latest news stories and headlines in South Africa on Thursday 29 July 2021.
Do you know who your Deputy President is? We thought so. His name is David Mabuza, and he appears to be missing in action. To be fair he has had some health issues – details of which we know little about. But questions are being asked from all corners, about where our deputy president is when the country needs him in the fight against the deadly pandemic, and when the rios and looting consumed KZN a few weeks ago. In case you needed reminding, all government officials are public servants, funded by the taxpayer. We have a right to ask …
Who remembers when South Africa had a Deputy President? It’s been a fair while since we last laid eyes on David Mabuza – which is absolutely extraordinary, given what has happened in the past month or so.
Since David Mabuza headed to Russia for medical treatment at the end of June, Jacob Zuma has been sentenced, arrested, and jailed. An alleged ‘insurrection’ was launched and foiled. Riots took over two provinces, before calming down again. Millions more vaccines were administered, and SA even squeezed in another round of load shedding.
Those last two factors are important, given that Mabuza is the head of committees on Eskom and COVID-19 vaccination respectively. His prolonged absence only serves to raise more questions – largely thanks to the blanket of secrecy that surrounds his trip to Moscow. The nature of his illness hasn’t been disclosed, nor has the length of his stay.
During a briefing to the media on Wednesday 28 July, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that he is committed to implementing a scheme whereby worker will be able to access a portion of their retirement funds to help them through the financial difficulty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent riots and looting.
Mboweni unpacked the economic support package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday, saying that National Treasury has allocated over R27 billion for the payment of the R350 social relief of distress (SRD) grant and is working hard to implement extra measures to assist the country’s most vulnerable people.
During his virtual briefing, Mboweni said that he is pushing to implement a mechanism through which workers can access some of their retirement funds, but said that somewhere along the line, his strategy has become stuck in administrative purgatory.
We know the EFF don’t exactly do things by the book, but causing a scene outside of an old-age home in Tshwane seems a bit left-field even for them. However, the Red Berets were confronted by community members on Wednesday.
Their so-called ‘racism march’ came about, after staff at the Huis Herfsblaar home raised issues about various payment and labour issues. Not missing a chance to stir the pot, the EFF mobilised, and scores of protesters donning the red regalia made their way through the streets of Tshwane. However, a combination of police and locals blocked them off.
The row eventually devolved into a racially charged argument, and when regional EFF leaders were able to hand over their Memorandum to the old age home’s CEO, their demands included requests for equality in the workplace, and for the withdrawal of a requirement which allegedly asks workers to speak Afrikaans.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has accused the African National Congress (ANC) of committing fiscal treason against the people of South Africa by offering a R18 billion cash bribe (which is part of the public wage offer) to secure the support of public sector unions ahead of the upcoming local government elections.
The South African Government News Agency reported that after months of public sector wage talks, civil unions accepted government’s latest offer. These include, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu), the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), the Public Servants’ Association of South Africa (PSA) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa).
Government, through the Department of Public Service and Administration, tabled an offer of a 1.5% pensionable salary increase with a lump sum gratuity payable monthly, ranging from R1 200 to R1 600 on a sliding scale from 1 April to 31 March next year.
The DA says the wage deal, which happens to run until shortly after the upcoming elections, will ‘reward ANC cadres for mismanaging’ South Africa to the very brink of state failure with a 1.5% salary increase and a monthly cash “bonus” that will amount to between R14 640 and R20 340 per year.
As the country’s vaccination roll-out continues to gain momentum, the South African Human Rights Commission has voiced its concern as some employers consider forcing their staff to take the jab.
The commission says it has received complaints from a number of people who say they’ve been threatened with losing their jobs or rented accommodation for refusing to get the vaccine.
All this comes as the Department of Employment and Labour has issued an updated occupational health and safety directive which permits an employer to implement a mandatory workplace vaccination policy subject to specific guidelines.
“What is critical is that we need to balance the needs and to take the dictates of collective bargaining and the need to keep employees healthy and businesses running. The Labour Relations Act emphasises the primacy of collective agreements. These guidelines are not intended as a substitute for collective agreements or agreed procedures between employers, their employer organisations and trade unions,” said Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has revealed just how much it will cost to bring back the R350 grant, up until March 2022. President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed on Sunday that the popular SASSA scheme would return ‘for the next eight months’, but we are yet to find out when the first set of new payment dates will be.
Millions of South Africans rely on the R350 grant to make ends meet. The handouts have given citizens besieged by poverty a little more breathing space, and the ‘safety net’ of these funds has been welcomed by many. The ANC government is looking at ways to finance a Basic Income Grant, but that may have to wait until next year.
Mboweni did reveal, however, that the eight-month lifespan of the revitalised R350 grant will cost the country upwards of R27 billion. That’s just under R3.5 billion per month. Ramaphosa told the nation over the weekend that ‘extra tax revenue collection’ had helped budget more money for the Social Development Department.
“This R350 grant, no matter how small it might be goes a long way in assisting our people. It will cost R27 billion, which we have to find in the system. We are in a position that we can afford this R27 billion up to the end of March.”
Residents of the small farming town of Tulbagh in the Western Cape fear that plans to develop a chicken factory farm right on their doorstep will endanger property values and lead to environmental destruction, with accusations levelled against the property’s owners of commencing with the project in bad faith and without approval.
Concerned residents launched a petition earlier this month, in which they claimed that development on the factory farming operation has begun prior to Pier Passerini – the Managing Director of Windmeul Eggs and Humpty Dumpty Eggs – having procured the requisite approvals.
Residents claim that Passerini – who has already begun development on one of five proposed chicken barns situated amongst some of Tulbagh’s premier lifestyle farms – did so illegally without the relevant planning permission and approved Environmental Impact Study which would have given the community an opportunity to object. They referred to letters from Passerini’s lawyers at the GNEC law firm – seen by The South African – that concede that development commenced prior to the Environmental Impact Study being completed.
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