A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
FARM LABOURERS’ MINIMUM WAGE HIKED TO R150 A DAY
Labour minister Mildred Oliphant has raised the minimum wage for farmworkers to R105 a day, an increase of R36. The new wage will come into effect on 1 March. Farmworkers, who took part in two violent strikes in the Western Cape, demanded R150 a day minimum wage. “I would like to announce … the new level of the minimum wage for 1 March 2013 to 28 February 2014 be pegged at R105 per day for employees who work nine hours a day or R11.66 per hour, R525 weekly or R2274.82 per month,” the minister told a press briefing. The minister’s announcement followed a series of public hearings held around the country that were attended by farmers, trade unions as well as farmworkers.
DA THREATENED BY KZN COUNCILLORS FOR VISITING RAPE VICTIMS
The DA has laid charges of intimidation against two local councillors in KwaZulu-Natal after they threatened a delegation visiting rape victims in the village of Swayimane. Councillors Mduduzi Goba and Nonhlanhla Msomi are accused of intimidation, hate speech and inciting violence. The village has seen a spate of rapes of elderly women, one of them 94 years old, who was raped by a man released from prison by President Jacob Zuma’s ‘special remissions programme’. DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, told the women “no South African can remain silent while this war against our country’s women rages on unabated”. The DA’s Warwick Chapman said ANC members in the area threatened them with pangas and hoes, and said the chief would deal with the rapes his way.
REDDY’S EDISON TENDER TO BE PROBED BY PUBLIC PROTECTOR
The Public Protector will investigate a tender to install smart electricity meters in Johannesburg that was awarded to Vivian Reddy, a benefactor of President Jacob Zuma. “We warmly welcome this investigation,” said DA national spokesman, Mmusi Maimane. “The Public Protector has indicated that the investigation will be conducted by its good governance unit. We will cooperate with the unit and provide all the assistance we can.” Reddy’s Edison company won the R1.25 billion tender, but the awarding of the contract has raised several questions, including why Edison won the sole tender in spite of the bid committee’s recommendation that it should be awarded to multiple bidders.
UDM LEADER APPEALS TO LONMIN TO HONOUR WAGE AGREEMENT
United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa has appealed to the CEO of Lonmin to ensure the company honours its agreement with miners. Holomisa said he has been “inundated with calls from the mineworkers complaining about the fact the 22% salary increase is yet to reflect on their payslips. Mineworkers claim that they are still paid in accordance with the old salary agreement”. Holomisa said miners believed mine management had not respected the agreement, and that this “increases the danger that the mineworkers could go on another wildcat strike, which would be more difficult to resolve because trust between the two parties would have broken down irrevocably”.
‘NO BLOOD ON THE FLOOR’ OVER ‘YOUTH INCENTIVE SCHEMES’
The ANC and Cosatu have reached consensus on what the party calls “Youth Employment Support and Incentive Schemes”, secretary general Gwede Mantashe says. Addressing reporters after an NEC ‘lekgotla’, Mantashe said an urgent meeting was held with Cosatu on “issues relating to youth employment incentive schemes. There will be no blood on the floor about this”. In its report on decisions taken at the lekgotla, the ANC said a priority was “solid and implementable proposals on youth employment and development”. But the DA’s Tim Harris said it was unfortunate that Mantashe’s statement ”simply muddies the water further and indicates that the ANC may have just caved in to Cosatu by watering down Treasury’s policy to the detriment of millions of unemployed jobseekers”.
ANC AFFIRMS EDUCATION AS AN ‘ESSENTIAL SERVICE’
The ANC has confirmed its commitment to ensuring education is categorised as an essential service. In a report on decisions made at its NEC lekogtla, the party said it reaffirmed education as its number one priority, and would “leave not stone unturned in making education an essential service”. The ANC said a mechanism to monitor all round accountability in the sector should be devised as a matter of urgency. DA education spokesman Annette Lovemore welcomed the ANC’s commitment, and secretary general Gwede Mantashe’s statement that “we must think broader than trade union interests”. She said government must be “guided by the best interests of South Africa’s learners and ensure that it does not wilt to pressure from the ANC’s alliance partner Sadtu”.
KHAYELITSHA PARENTS PROTEST OVER CROWDED CLASSROOMS
Parents in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, are up in arms over overcrowding in schools, an issue that erupted into an angry protest in which Baden Powell Drive was barricaded and tyres burnt. The Cape Argus reports that the local community was at odds with the department of education over the issue, and had marched on the provincial legislature to hand over a memorandum demanding that the provincial government set up temporary school in mobile units to accommodate pupils. Parents say over 490 learners are trying to find places in schools. But the department’s spokesman, Paddy Attwell, said the protest action was “unacceptable and unnecessary” as the WCED could place all learners, and that there were “more than 1,000 places available in Khayelitsha schools”.
JUDITH SEPHUMA INVESTIGATED IN CULPABLE HOMICIDE CASE
Singer Judith Sephuma is being investigated on a charge of culpable homicide. The award-winning jazz singer’s car was involved in an accident in which a 79-year-old woman was run over. Police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Kay Makhubela said the case was originally one of reckless or negligent driving but that after the pedestrian died, it became one of culpable homicide. Makhubela said a decision on whether to prosecute would be made after the investigation is completed. Sapa reports that police are waiting for a post-mortem report as well as witness statements and a reading of the speed at which the car was travelling. DM
Photo: United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa has appealed to the CEO of Lonmin to ensure the company honours its agreement with miners. (REUTERS)
Stephen Hawking held a party for time travellers. He sent the invitation out the day after. Nobody attended.