Public Hearings Focuses on Electricity Price

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) held its public hearings into Eskom's proposed electricity price increases on 21 January 2013 in Bloemfontein.

At a recent hearing in Durban, NERSA was warned that as many as 35 000 people in the sugar cane industry could lose their jobs if Eskom is granted a 16 percent electricity increase.

The South African Cane Growers' Association also cautioned that the increase could result in the closure of four mills.

Secrecy Bill Closer to Becoming Law

The African National Congress drives final amendments to the Protection of State Information Bill through the National Council of Provinces amid protest, bringing the so-called secrecy bill two steps from becoming law.

In an often raucous debate, State Security Minister, Siyabonga Cwele, claimed that the Bill is the most progressive official secrets legislation worldwide.

Meanwhile, opposition parties vowed that if that happened they would ask the Constitutional Court to overturn the legislation, a threat also issued by the Right2Know campaign.

Tolls Judge Asked to Recuse Himself

The long-expected showdown on Gauteng's highway tolls got off to a dramatic start when the presiding judge was asked to consider recusing himself.
The Treasury's advocate, Jeremy Gauntlett, questioned Judge Louis Vorster's impartiality, and asked him to ‘consider’ his ‘position’ on the grounds he appeared to be agreeing with the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance's (OUTA) argument that the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) is in breach of its own regulations.

COSATU Adamant on e-Tolls

Labour federation, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) hopes the contentious Gauteng freeway e-tolling system will be discussed at the ruling party's elective congress in Mangaung in December 2012.

COSATU spokesperson, Patrick Craven, states that the federation hopes that delegates to the African National Congress (ANC) national conference in Mangaung will agree with COSATU that tolling is not a fair or efficient way of raising money for road improvements.

Greenpeace Complains to the Public Protector

Greenpeace Africa and the South African History Archives (SAHA) have lodged a formal complaint with both the Public Protector and South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) with regards to the second refusal by the Minister of Energy to publicly release the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review.

The review was compiled by the Department of Energy to assess South Africa's readiness to build nuclear power stations in the country, and was discussed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at a closed workshop last month.

OUTA Says Public Against e-Tolls

Opposition To Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) says that the public meetings on Gauteng's e-tolls indicated the public is against the system.
In a press statement, OUTA points out that, "Despite efforts by the department of transport to focus on discussing the proposed tariffs and exemptions at meetings, many expressed sheer anger at the lack of initial consultation."
The organisation further argues that the government should initially have been more open and accommodating in seeking public and business opinion.

NGO Welcomes City Press Ruling

The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) has welcomed a High Court ruling that the refusal by three companies to give City Press newspaper access to its share registers was criminal.
In a press statement, the organisation has described the ruling as important because it confirms legal provisions for providing access to information and increases transparency in the conduct of affairs in the country in terms of the Constitution.

M&E on a Shoestring Budget

The funding crisis has impacted the non-governmental organisation (NGO) sector on various levels. Numerous organisations have had to close their doors and many more had no choice but to scale down operations. This has affected not only the scope of work, but often also the quality of services that the organisations can offer.

SCOPA to Question Dept Over Nkandlagate

Parliament's public accounts watchdog committee (SCOPA) will question the Department of Public Works on the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma's private home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

The committee chairperson, Themba Godi, has been quoted by the media as saying that that the Democratic Alliance (DA) requested that Scopa investigate the Nkandla expenditure.

Meanwhile, the DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, states that the DA will ensure that SCOPA does not abdicate its responsibilities to investigate fully the Nkandla upgrade.

OUTA Slams Government Over e-Tolling

The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) says the government's announcement of e-tolling rates is arrogant, with consultations amounting to rubber-stamping.

In a press statement, OUTA spokesperson, Rob Handfield-Jones, criticises the Department of Transport director-general, George Mahlalela, for being disingenuous and noted that OUTA and the Congress of the South African Trade Unions (COSATU) have been the most vocal critics of e-tolling.


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