R2.4bn Job Fund Announced

Government has thrown a R2.4 billion lifeline to workers who are threatened with retrenchment with a new scheme that will allow companies to suspend them for a maximum of three months while government trains and pays them.

President Jacob Zuma announced the alternative-to-retrenchment scheme as part of a broader plan aimed at limiting the impact of the recession. It was devised by his economic crisis response team where leaders from government, labour and business are represented.

Creecy Criticises ‘Unacceptable’ Education Quality

Gauteng MEC for Education, Barbara Creecy, has acknowledged that there are still a significant number of schools that do not deliver quality when measured in terms of pupil outcomes.

Creecy says that the consequences of this are that many of the youth end up having education without the basics they will need to make their way in the world. She says that the main challenge for any school system is to provide every child with almost one million minutes of quality education.

Sexwale Visits Diepsloot

Human Settlements Minister, Tokyo Sexwale, has visited the Diepsloot informal settlement, where he stood in a pool of sewage when addressing residents.

Sexwale noted that, “What is at issue here is that people are living in inhuman conditions.” He described his visit to the informal settlement as “a genuine attempt to hear the problems of the people”.

We are standing on human waste. We are in Diepsloot. This is where we start our journey. We are starting a meaningful conversation with the people,” explained Sexwale.

MEC Warns Residents Over RDP Houses

Gauteng local government and housing MEC, Kgaugelo Lekgoro, has warned people to stop manipulating the housing process by taking illegal occupation of Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) homes.

In a press statement, the MEC says that, “Residents will never jump the housing queue process by embarking on acts of illegally occupying RDP houses in the province.”

“We cannot tolerate a situation where people just break the law with impunity,” warns Lekgoro.

ICASA to Look Into Cellphone Rates

The Independent Democrats (ID) says the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has agreed that there is a need to look into high cellphone rates.

In a press statement after talks with ICASA, De Lille pointed out that the regulator will engage with cellphone operators in this regard.

De Lille said that the ICASA has also offered to cooperate with the Competition Commission in its investigation into possible collusion and anti-competitive behaviour by cellphone operators.

Unemployment Blamed for Increase in Street Trading

As South Africa's unemployment lines keep growing in its first post-apartheid recession, Johannesburg's downtown sidewalks are increasingly crowded with street vendors hawking their wares. This is according to spokesperson for the Ecumenical Service for Socioeconomic Transformation, Thabo Koole.

Koole points out that, "Informal trading is seen as a sign of underdevelopment and primitive -- a sign of weakness."

NGOs to March for Better Wages

Social welfare bodies are to march countrywide to the Gauteng Department of Social Services to protest against discrepancies in salaries between the state and NGOs next month.

Jackie Loffell of the Gauteng Welfare, Social Service and Development Forum, which represents NGOs in the province, points out that on average, social service workers employed by NGOs earn 37 percent less than their counterparts in government departments because of inadequate state subsidies to NGOs.

Diamond Mining Companies Criticised Over CSR

The findings of research into the diamond mining industry published by the Bench Marks Foundation, has painted a gloomy picture of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) performance of the industry in the west coast region.

John Capel, CEO of the Bench Marks Foundation, a church-backed organisation monitoring corporate performance, says the findings contradict mining companies’ claims of success in CSR.

SASSA Chief Suspended Over Alleged Mismanagement

The chief executive officer of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Fezile Makiwane, has been placed on special leave pending investigation into alleged misuse of funds.

In a press statement, the Department of Social Development points out that the decision follow a probe by the Special Investigations Unit into alleged mismanagement of funds managed by SASSA service providers.

The departmental spokesperson, Zanele Mngadi, said Makiwane’s suspension was mutually agreed upon with Social Development Minister Edna Molewa.


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