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President makes changes to his Cabinet

Thursday, November 22, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa has added Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams to his Cabinet as the Minister of Communications.

The President announced changes to the National Executive on Thursday at the Union Buildings, with two serving Ministers being moved to new ministries and a new one being added.

The President has appointed Nomvula Mokonyane as the Minister of Environmental Affairs (previously Minister of Communications) and Dr Siyabonga Cwele was appointed as the Minister of Home Affairs (previously Telecommunications and Postal Services).

The changes to the National Executive have been occasioned by the passing away Minister of Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa and the recent resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba.

President Ramaphosa has also decided to merge the ministries of Communications and of Telecommunications and Postal Services into a single Ministry of Communications under new Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams, who served as Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services.

“This move is going to ensure that we have better alignment and coordination on matters that are critical to the future of our economy in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“The two departments that will report to the new ministry – namely, the Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services – will remain as separate departments until the end of the fifth administration,” the President said.

He said the decision to merge the two ministries is in line with the work that government has undertaken and in line with the announcement that he made during the State of the Nation Address about realigning government.

“In anticipation of the sixth democratic administration, we will have completed this work and when we have completed it… we will make a more comprehensive announcement on how we will realign government.

“The merging of Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services is the first wave but it is also to help with the realignment process, which we need right now in order to put into effect the transformation that we are effecting with regards to economic management,” Ramaphosa said.

He said in making the changes to the national executive he was determined that the cabinet should have an appropriate mix of members with experience, capabilities as well as a gender and a generational mix.

He also announced the resignation from the National Executive of the Deputy Minister of Energy Thembi Majola, with effect from 1 January 2019, to attend to family commitments.

 


Land reform must benefit emerging farmers: Mabuza

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Deputy President David Mabuza says a well-managed land reform process can and should be used to promote the entry of new players into the agricultural sector without materially disrupting existing production capabilities in the country. 

While the reform process will address the negative legacy of land dispossession, it can contribute to enhancing food security across several commodities. 

The Deputy President said this when he responded to questions in the National Assembly on Thursday. 

“Land acquisition, restitution and redistribution will undoubtedly unleash a massive potential of emerging black smallholder and commercial farmers to contribute to enhancing production...” 

Mabuza said as part of the stimulus package of agriculture, government will continue to invest in agriculture infrastructure to support farmers in unlocking production. 

Partnerships with the private sector, the Deputy President said, will be encouraged in attracting funding to augment government fiscal capacity. 

“We will work closely with provinces in the implementation of projects that are aimed at accelerating agricultural production and ensure that we focus on skills development and mentorship programmes for youth in agriculture. 

“As part of the work of the inter-ministerial committee on land reform and agriculture, unutilised and claimed government-owned land will be released to expand access to land for agricultural production and enterprise development as well as human settlements,” he said. 

Food security plan to contribute to food projection, economic development 

Alongside enhancing access to food for communities in need, the National Food and Nutrition Security Plan is also contributing towards the imperatives of job creation and economic development in our communities. 

“The nutrition food and security plan became then our single coherent response for coordinating the various interventions that government and other stakeholders are making, with a view of achieving security in relation to food and nutrition in the country.

“It is a crucial instrument to help us to intensify our efforts to eradicate hunger and ensure optimal food security and enhanced nutritional status for all our people,” Mabuza said. 

In April 2015, Cabinet mandated the development of a National Plan for food and nutrition security to address the challenges of hunger and malnutrition in our country. The proposed plan was also aimed at resolving the lack of coordination relating to existing food and nutrition intervention that we are making as government so that we ensure that there is greater impact on society. 

The President, in his previous capacity as Deputy President then of the Republic, approved the Plan in December 2017. 

“We therefore recognize the need for intensified efforts and we are working at improving certain areas in the roll-out of the food security programme. 

“This includes the need to accelerate the number of additional producers supplying food to establish markets and increasing the value of food procured form smallholder producers towards the target of spending 30% of the government food procurement budget. 

“We will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that all our efforts to eradicating hunger and poverty are well coordinated across government and are responsive to the needs of our people,” Mabuza said. – SAnews.gov.za

Public Works increases EPWP wage rates

The Department of Works has increased the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) participants’ wage rate from R88.00 to R92.31 per day from 1 November.

This, the department said on Sunday, was in an effort to continue to steadily improve the socio-economic conditions of poor South Africans participating in the programme.

“All public bodies are therefore required to ensure that the wages are adjusted timely in order to comply with the requirements,” the department said.

This revised minimum wage refers to a wage rate per day and per task performed across all EPWP sectors in all spheres of government. The EPWP minimum wage increase annually and in line with the inflation rate, the department said.

“The EPWP is governed by the EPWP Ministerial Determination which is gazetted by the Minister of Labour, as a deviation from the Basic Conditions of Employment Act which outlines the working conditions of all EPWP participants who are employed across all EPWP sectors, namely: Infrastructure, Non-State Sector, Environment & Culture and Social Sectors,” the department said.

According to the EPWP Ministerial Determination, participants should work for 40 hours per week and they can also work on a task basis and the task sizes are governed by the average productivity of a worker in a day.

The Deputy Director-General for EPWP, Stanley Henderson, said there was a need for keeping up with the increased minimum wage.

“The increased EPWP minimum wage is compulsory to all the public bodies implementing the EPWP and there will be no excuse that will validate the payment of EPWP participants below the minimum wage and not adhering to the adjusted minimum wage as determined by the EPWP Ministerial Determination,” said Henderson.

He said the EPWP is a critical government initiative which makes a contribution towards a safety net to millions of South Africans who have socio-economic challenges and has the responsibility to provide for themselves and their families.


Companies urged to obtain UIF compliance certifiates

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) has urged companies to make sure they obtain a compliance certificate or risk being excluded from doing business with government.

“All government departments and most state owned entities require a UIF compliance certificate from potential service providers who want to do business with them.

“If a company fails to provide the certificate, it can be disqualified from doing business with government. It is very important to comply with UIF,” said Compliance Director Malesela Makgamatho.

Addressing a seminar of 500 employers and stakeholders in Sandton on Thursday, Makgamatho explained that the compliance certificate could be refused by the Fund for various reasons, including failing to pay contributions on time to the UIF.

“If we decline your application for a compliance certificate, we will explain the reasons in the rejection letter and outline the steps you must take in order to qualify,” he said.

Turning the focus to unemployment benefits, the UIF stressed that it was illegal for workers to draw unemployment benefits from UIF while they were employed.

“It is a fraudulent offence in terms our legislations to draw unemployment benefit from the Fund while you are employed.”

The Fund said the major cause that led to employed people getting benefits they were not supposed to, was due to non-compliance by employers who fail to declare the information of their workers to the Fund.

Those who continued to draw unemployment benefits while employed could be banned from receiving any UIF benefits for up to five years, it said. -

Strong institutions needed to grow SA economy


South Africa requires credible modernised institutions that are responsive to changing technologies thereby aiding economic growth, says Trade and Industry Director General Lionel October.

“For South Africa to create a world-class economy and strong manufacturing base, we need world-class institutions that are credible, trusted, modernised and corruption-free,” said October.


The Director General of the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) was speaking at the 10th anniversary celebrations of the National Regulator for Compulsory Specification (NRCS) on Thursday.

Speaking at the celebrations held at the Royal Elephant Hotel and Conference Centre in Centurion, October said institutions like the NRCS, which is an entity of the dti, can enable the country to build an inclusive economy that responds to the need of all its people.  

October emphasised that this would require a focused approach and fostering strategic partnerships with industry role players who are compliant and act consistently without fear or favour against those that do not comply.

October commended the NRCS management for having stabilised the organisation and encouraged them to speedily implement the modernisation process which he said was central going into the fourth industrial revolution.

Enforcement of regulations and transformation

“Effective enforcement of technical regulations is now more important for South Africa than ever as the country is pursuing an open economic system. The implementation of unilateral trade measures by some developed nations has placed severe pressures on the work of technical infrastructure institutions,” said October.

The NRCS was established to administer compulsory specifications and other technical regulations with the view to protect human health, safety, the environment and ensure fair trade in accordance with government policies and guidelines.

“Against this background, the transformation imperative requires of the regulator to implement speedy processing of regulatory activities so as to allow new entrants to gain a foothold in the market while at the same time being able to effectively stem the tide of non-compliant products and downright dangerous products that are dumped in the market from abroad,” said October.

With relations to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, October said there was no reason for the institutions not to have world-class technology in managing standards.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

He further invited the NRCS to work closely with the department to develop measures and take advantage of opportunities brought by the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

In highlighting some of the achievements by the NRCS in the past ten years, Chief Executive Officer Edward Mamadise pointed out that the regulator has performed over 500 000 surveillance inspections.

The regulator has also approved over 3 000 letters of authority for business to trade in the South African market.

“These inspections saved the economy millions of rands as they ensured that no unsafe products were traded during the period under review,” he added.

Despite these achievements, Mamadise also highlighted areas of improvement the regulator needs to focus on in the future such as, finalising the modernisation project, stabilising the organisation and also improve the NRCS’s financial performance.  – SAnews.gov.za