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Science councils under scrutiny
16 January 2019, 3:11 PM

Professor of the Graduate School of Technology Management at the University of Pretoria, David Walwyn says the draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation should look at closing down inefficient science councils.

The White Paper, which is based on extensive review of the national system of innovation, sets the long-term policy direction for the government to ensure a growing role for science, technology and innovation in a more prosperous and inclusive society.

More than 20 years after the adoption of the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology, South Africa government is developing an updated STI policy.

Walwyn says the paper must look at the performance of science councils as they consume a large amount of the budget and are inefficient and also they have full time scientists, but very little delivery.

He says, “It does not make sense to keep some of these science councils functioning. They are inefficient. If an entity is not doing its job it should be trimmed back or shutdown. I think that is what the paper needs to be more explicit about.”

Walwyn says the draft does not provide direction and clear leadership on science and technology, and needs to trim interventions.

“Just to give an example, the draft white paper contains a list of 340 policy actions which are spread over a wide range of policy objectives. That is an incredible large number of policy actions. There is no chance that those policy documents will be implemented. It’s kind of a wish list that a policy document,” he adds.

The professor says science and technology has been undervalued in the policy spectrum.

“This is a shame because it really has a potential to lift this country of the problems it faces, from a social science perspective where we are talking about social objectives such as equality, alleviation of poverty and economic growth.”

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Numsa rejects signing of National Minimum Wage Bill
24 November 2018, 10:20 AM

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has rejected the signing of the National Minimum Wage Bill by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa signed the National Minimum Wage Bill of R20 per hour this week.

Numsa says the introduction of R20 per hour as a minimum wage will worsen the working conditions of workers and is calling it slavery wages.

The union says government should have taken more time to research the salaries of senior executives in various sectors to come up with a fair minimum wage.

Numsa Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi says, “Numsa rejects the minimum poverty wage bill of R20 per hour, as the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa we reject the signing of the minimum wage bill by President Cyril Ramaphosa.”

Hlubi says, “The minimum wage bill will legalise the poverty wage bill of R20 per hour. This is an insult to the working class who fought and died to defeat the apartheid government, they were fighting for a living wage that could life them out of poverty and also end the racist apartheid wage gap.”

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Cyril Ramaphosa formally launched the Anti-Gang Unit in Hanover Park, Cape Town.
Govt has heard pleas of gang-affected communities: Ramaphosa
2 November 2018, 12:22 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele have formally launched the Anti-Gang Unit in Hanover Park, Cape Town.

The area is one of the worst affected by gang violence.

The unit, which consists of 95 members, has been in operation since the eighth of last month.

Members of the unit will be deployed to other crime-ridden areas such as Nyanga, Bonteheuwel and Bishop Lavis.

Ramaphosa says both the national and provincial governments, as well as the police, have heard the pleas of communities of gang-affected areas.

He says, “We have listened to your pleas for help and today we are here to take action, not just for communities in the Western Cape but for countries around the country as well. Gang activity is synonymous with all the illegal and illicit enterprises, not just involved in the drug trade but also involved in human trafficking and smuggling and a whole lot of other illegal and illicit activities.”

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Mark Kingon says the most important thing for him is to restore confidence in the tax system.
SARS clean-up has begun: Kingon
2 November 2018, 11:17 AM

Acting South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner Mark Kingon says they have already started the process of cleaning up the revenue service in an effort to restore public confidence in the entity.

On Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa sacked revenue service commissioner Tom Moyane after accepting the recommendation of Judge Robert Nugent, the chairperson of the SARS commission of inquiry.

Nugent recommended that a permanent commissioner of SARS be appointed.

Moyane was suspended in March following controversies in the way he managed SARS.

Kingon says, “We’ve been doing a considerable amount such as the re-establishment of the large business unit that should be in place by the end of this calendar year. The most important thing for me is to restore confidence in the tax system and we are going to work hard to try and do that so people do trust us.”

“I think some trust has broken down. We intend to restore that and move forward and I think that we’re going to see that in the numbers as we get our specific units operating,” he adds.

Corruption Watch has welcomed Ramaphosa’s dismissal of Moyane describing it as a bold and decisive action.

Corruption Watch Executive Director, David Lewis says, “We are delighted, we strongly welcome it. What we hope to come out of it is the opportunity to get SARS back on its feet . It’s a critical institution and it needs strong permanent leadership in place you know. As admiral as the job the acting leadership has done it needs permanent leadership and now is the opportunity to put that in place.”

Meanwhile, the Presidency had defended Ramaphosa’s decision to sack Moyane saying he had to act because the situation had become untenable.

Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko says Ramaphosa did not wait for Nugent’s final report before sacking Moyane because he did not expect to be it to be that different from the interim one.

Diko says, “When Mr Moyane invited President Ramaphosa in his answering affidavit, to declare whether indeed he was accepting the recommendation of the Nugent Commission, the President took a decision then that he would indeed accept the recommendations and his answering affidavit that goes in today goes to great length to answer all the questions that Mr Moyane raises.”

Additional reporting by Sashin Naidoo.

Thandi Modise is attending the Speakers' Summit of G20 Parliaments in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Private sector is not always innocent of corruption: Modise
2 November 2018, 9:31 AM

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) Chairperson, Thandi Modise has told parliaments of the G20 countries that the private sector in South Africa is not always innocent when it comes to corruption.

Modise was addressing delegates at a Speakers’ Summit of G20 Parliaments in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The summit comes ahead of the G20 heads of state meeting later this year.

Modise says corruption makes it difficult for countries to take collective decisions to advance for common good.

She says, “Former President Thabo Mbeki noted in 2015 that up to  50-billion US dollars  is lost through illicit flows of funds annually. Corruption impedes economic growth by discouraging foreign investments.”

“It creates a distortion in the resource allocations and the competitive market. It increases the cost of doing business and reduces the net value of public spending. Our experience as South Africa is that the private sector is not always innocent. Price fixing, collusion, bribes, all these affects the overall performance of any economy,” Modise adds.

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