8 November 2012

South Africa: Five Minutes - South Africa

A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.


The Gauteng government has denied that a proposal to merge the DA-run Midvaal Municipality with Emfuleni is politically motivated. Municipal Demarcation chairman Landiwe Mahlangu said it was considering 202 cases of boundary changes, and that the Midvaal and Emfuleni merger was one of two in Gauteng. Mahlangu told reporters in Pretoria that the Midvaal/Emfuleni "corridor" had "become almost the new Midrand".

Business Day reported earlier that head of local government and housing in Gauteng, Mongezi Mnyani, "studying how to increase the economic viability of municipalities" and was exploring options in relation to Midvaal, including merging it with Emfuleni into a metro.


Unrest continued in the De Doorns are of the Hex River Valley in the Western Cape on Tuesday as the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) tried to mediate between protesting farm workers and farmers. The farmworkers are asking for R150 per day in wages, up from the current R70 they are currently receiving. Farmers have offered a R10 increase, which workers rejected. Roads in the area remain closed, as do three clinics that were forced to close their doors due to protest action. The CCMA said farm workers weren't just protesting wages, but had raised "many issues…not necessarily workplace-related".


"Parasitic forms of accumulation" in terms of procurement plague the public service, a report on corruption in the public service has revealed. Professor Richard Levin, director general of the Public Service Commission, which wrote the report, told the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration that anti-corruption mechanisms were inadequate. DA spokesman on the public service, Kobus Marais, said the report showed the need for a dedicated anti-corruption unit and legislation that prevented officials from doing business with the state.

The report said there had been a steady increase in the number of senior managers involved in financial misconduct.


Coal companies have signed a wage deal with unions in an effort to avoid a wave of deadly illegal strikes such as those that rocked the country's gold and platinum sectors. Reuters reports that the companies belonging to the Chamber of Mines, including Anglo American, had agreed to raise certain entry-level wages by up to 5% and offered one-off payments to higher categories of workers. Philemon Motlhamme, deputy head for industrial relations at the chamber, said unions approached the body that represents the industry in September to ensure that illegal strikes would not spread to coal. "The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the other two unions asked how we can strengthen our collective bargaining framework and ensure continuous stability in the coal sector," he said.


The Office of the ANC Chief Whip says the subject of Nkandla has been "exhaustively dealt with by Parliament" and that it would not entertain a "flurry of frivolous requests" by the DA to debate the issue. "We are appalled at the obtrusive and completely opportunistic tactics being employed by Lindiwe Mazibuko and Helen Zille, which includes the weekend's inspection of the private residence of the President of the country," the ANC said in a statement. The DA disagrees. Parliamentary leader Mazibuko said President Zuma's "failure to provide a comprehensive reply to my question on how much his family will be contributing to the upgrade of Nkandla home shows his determination to hide the details of this scandal in the dark and escape accountability".


The Sol Plaatje Municipality is investigating the death of five workers who died at Kimberley's Homevale wastewater treatment plant, city official Sello Matsie said. One man was cleaning the pump house six metres below ground when sludge filled the room, releasing methane gas.

His colleagues tried to help him, and were overcome by gas, Matsie said.

The SACP in the Northern Cape has slammed the municipality, saying the workers "lost their lives as a result of an avoidable accident at their workplace. This tragic loss of life calls into question the health and safety conditions that workers face everyday at Sol Plaatje municipality". Different state departments, the police and the municipality are investigating the accident.


The South African National Road Agency is ready to rollout the Gauteng e-tolling system. Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) manager Alex van Niekerk said the system had been in operation for a few months, and had been "thoroughly tested", although road users had not been charged. Van Niekerk said it was very important for people to get their e-tags and have them fitted before the implementation of the Gauteng e-tolling system. But Cosatu is standing firmly behind its stance that road users should not be liable for the costs of upgrading roads.

Spokesman Patrick Craven said, "road maintenance funds should be taken from tax revenues, not from motorists".


South Africa's defence minister says the crew of a submarine that struck the seabed off the Eastern Cape coast earlier this year had to receive trauma counselling. Responding to a question in the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the SAS Queen Modjadji "did make contact with the sea bottom, mud and sand, on 18 July during a routine diving safety drill and hydraulic oil pressure failure exercise". She said all crewmembers were "psychologically evaluated after the incident as part of the normal procedure". The cost to repair the sub was around R500,000.

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