The Agricultural Research Council (ARC), which received a grant of R866-million in 2013/14, 16 percent more than the previous year, was established in 1990 to be the country’s primary agricultural scientific research institution, but has suffered from years of neglect and underfunding.
In its annual report, the ARC paints a picture of an organisation suffering from chronic underfunding and trying to do the best with the resources available.
Science and agricultural research is considered a fundamental part of boosting the sector’s international competitiveness and ensuring food security - not just for commercial farmers, but for small-scale rural farmers.
To read the article titled, “Agriculture research suffers as little funding cuts resources,” click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
Zambia’s Patriotic Front (PF) secretary general, Edgar Lungu, has with immediate effect suspended boards and executive directors for the PF-affiliated non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
In a statement issued, Lungu, who is also acting President, said the measure has been taken to strengthen the decision made by President Michael Sata on 28 August 2014.
The PF, through the office of the secretary general, formed various NGOs to help with research, capacity and institutional growth.
To read the article titled, “Boards, heads of PF affiliated NGOs suspended,” click here.Source:Daily Mail
Small Business Development Minister, Lindiwe Zulu, says the tax needs of small and medium enterprises (SMME) need to be balanced with those of government.
Speaking during the national SMME policy colloquium in Johannesburg, Zulu noted that, "Tax is important for the country, so that even those that are in business, who... want to be assisted by government, there must be an understanding that money is taken from tax."
She further states that the tax burden that small and medium enterprises have been complaining about, we do need to address it, adding that, SMMEs need to be educated on why it was necessary for them to pay tax.
To read the article titled, “Tax important for SA: Zulu,” click here.Source:Sowetan Live
The FW de Klerk Foundation says that President Jacob Zuma’s comments regarding the distinction between proper state expenditure and self-enrichment are disturbing.
In a press statement, the foundation says Zuma’s reported comparison between the construction of George airport and money spent on his Nkandla home raises ‘disturbing questions’.
“If he is correctly reported, the president’s comments raise disturbing questions regarding his views on the distinction between proper state expenditure on bona fide projects and expenditure that will result in his own enormous and unjustifiable enrichment,” argues Dave Steward, the organisation’s executive director.
To read the article titled, “Zuma's Nkandla comparison raises alarms,” click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
Following numerous reports of abuse, Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has asked the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to establish an office at the Lindela Repatriation Centre.
This month the home affairs portfolio committee convened a meeting at which parliamentarians called for ‘a special meeting’ with the department and the SAHRC to deal with issues regarding Lindela Repatriation Centre.
Gigaba says he will not like to see an ‘antagonistic’ relationship with the commission, adding that he visited the Centre to gather first-hand information about reported abuses at the centre before a special meeting with the committee.
To read the article titled, “SAHRC invited to set up shop in Lindela,” click here.Source:Mail and Guardian
The Department of Social Development says just under 16 million South Africans are receiving some form of social security grant from government last year.
In response to a parliamentary question, Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, pointed out that this cost government more than R109 billion during 2013/14.
According to the department, the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) provides grants including old age, war veterans, disability, grant-in-aid, care dependency, foster care, and child support.
To read the article titled, “16m social grants cost R109bn – minister,” click here.Source:The Citizen
- It is easy, with all the brouhaha taking place in Parliament recently - the expulsion of members of the Economic Freedom Fighters for ‘unparliamentary’ behaviour; their failure to respect the office of the Speaker; the presence of riot police in the parliamentary precinct; the vilification of the Public Protector by some members of parliament (MPs); and the withdrawal of opposition parties from the Ad-hoc Committee on Nkandla – to forget that much of the work of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces takes place in the Portfolio Committees and the Select Committees respectively. Last week saw these Committees being briefed by the Auditor-General and considering the Annual Reports of the various government departments. A glance at one of these meetings provides an encouraging example of how Parliament ought to, and quite often does, work.
The Portfolio Committee on Social Development was briefed by the Auditor-General on the audit findings of the Annual Report of the Department of Social Development (DSD) and its entities for 2013/14 financial year. This was followed by a briefing by the DSD for 2013/14, as well as consideration of the Annual Report of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for 2013/14 financial year. The reports had been presented to Parliament on 30 September 2014, and it was clear from the participation of the members of the Committee that they had been studied.
The Auditor-General focused on outcomes and oversight. No significant findings were made that compromised the audit, which was regarded as clean. However, problems were identified in the supply chain which could be addressed by better use of information technology. SASSA was found to have several vacant posts, which needed to be filled. The various relief funds were also audited.
The input by the Auditor-General was followed by a presentation from Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, dealing with the substance of the reports. She noted that there had been a decline in poverty due to the nutrition programmes run by DSD, with a particular focus on the poorest wards in the country. Other achievements highlighted were a call centre for victims of gender-based violence; more bursaries for social work students; an increase in the number of babies adopted; the roll-out of the White Paper on the Family; and the institution of strategies to support fatherhood. It was also reported that the Department had met its targets regarding HIV services and substance abuse intervention programmes.
In all the Department had achieved 69 percent of its targets, but there remain many challenges: the underspending of monies allocated to social assistance; lack of compliance by non-governmental organisations with legal provisions which would enable them to receive funding; youth programmes and services performing poorly; and the Older Person’s Register not functioning properly.
The sustained improvement in the Department’s performance is most heartening as is their sensitivity to the gaps in performance. The commitment of the Minister to address these challenges and her engagement with her staff is impressive. As one MP commented, the presentations of both the Auditor-General and the Department ‘were no cut and paste job’!
But this portfolio committee meeting was about much more than a simple list of achievements and problem areas. It was about ministerial accountability; parliamentary oversight; and independent assessment of a state entity’s fiduciary performance. At the meeting two of the three arms of government - legislature and executive - and a constitutional institution (the Auditor-General), came together in proper relation to each other, each exercising its own duty vis a vis the other and according to the principles of the separation of powers and of constitutional government in general. That is how it should be, and indeed how it is, more often than many people realise. Sadly, media coverage tends to reflect the superficial and immature scenes of what happens in the House; behind them, though, the real business of Parliament continues; and therein lies much hope.
- Lois Law is a researcher at the South African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.
According to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) electoral observer mission (SEOM) deployed to monitor Mozambican elections, that country’s 2014 elections were generally ‘peaceful, transparent, free and fair and credible’.
SADC observer mission head and South Africa’s International Relations Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says, “There are some best practices which the SEOM noted during the electoral process.”
Nkoana-Mashabane further says that it is “Important to underscore that despite concerns raised, their observation is that these concerns were not of such a nature as to affect the overall credibility of the electoral process”.
To read the Mozambique elections “peaceful, free and fair”: SADC,” click here.Source:SABC News
Legal advocacy group, SECTION27, says that a Northern Cape school that closed over asbestos pollution concerns did so without a plan for the pupils’ continued education.
According to SECTION27’s Sasha Stevenson, the Khiba Junior Secondary School, serving 220 pupils from mostly poor backgrounds in Ga-Mopedi village in the JT Gaetsewe district, closed on Monday, 13 October 2015.
Stevenson argues that, “The closure has happened without any consultation with the school governing body (SGB) or the community. Most of the learners have now been sent home.”
To read the article titled, “School closed with no plan – SECTION27,” click here.Source:The Citizen
The Department of Health says it is working on a plan to improve the clinics in South Africa.
The department says a team of experts from various departments, including the private sector, are in the process of designing a model for an ideal clinic which can be replicated across the country.
This was revealed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi at the opening of the three-day Hospital Association of South Africa conference in Johannesburg this week.
To read the article titled, “Government on drive to upgrade clinics,” click here.Source:SABC News