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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.

Malema Criticised for 'Race Card' Comments

Gender activist Mbuyiselo Botha - whom Julius Malema branded as a puppet of white racists - has slammed the ANC Youth League president's accusations as "pathetic".

Botha, Sonke's advocacy head, was responding to Malema's claims that the hate speech complaint against him - which centres on his comments that President Jacob Zuma's rape accuser enjoyed herself with him - was driven by "whites opposed to black rule".

SABC Interim Board Examining Finances

The newly appointed South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) interim board is examining the costs of each of the beleaguered broadcaster's departments "line by line", chairperson Irene Charnley said on Tuesday.

"We need to stabilise the SABC at all levels. The situation is not normal. Financially the organisation is in dire straits."

The SABC reported a financial loss of R839-million for the 2008/09 financial year. The broadcaster had asked the government for a R2-billion bailout.

Water Affairs DG Put on 'Special Leave'

Water Affairs director-general Pam Yako has been put on 'special lea' pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged financial irregularities within the department.

"No charges have been levelled against Ms Yako or any official of the department and, until informed otherwise by the outcome of the investigation, the director-general remains innocent," Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said on Wednesday.

Govt Committed to Halving Unemployment

The government is still committed to halving unemployment and poverty by 2014, despite the global economic downturn. This is according to National Planning Commission Minister, Trevor Manuel.

Outlining the government's Medium Strategic Framework (MTSF) in Pretoria, Manuel said the MTSF’s main focus is to minimise the impact of the economic crisis on the country's productive capacity, jobs and poverty reduction measures.

SA Losing New Doctors

South Africa is losing an average of 17 percent of its newly qualified doctors to foreign countries every year, a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question revealed.

According to the reply, since 2005, only 4 702 of the 5 689 trainee doctors that applied to do internships applied for community service posts. This means that approximately 1 000 doctors did not register to work in South Africa that year.

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