Daily Archives: February 5, 2018

MEC Alan Winde applauds Oceana group for investing in desalination technology

Oceana Group’s investment in desalination plants applauded

Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde applauds the Oceana group for investing in desalination technology which will save municipal water and protect thousands of jobs.

The Oceana group, which has canning and fishmeal plants in St Helena Bay and Laaiplek, have invested in desalination technology to ensure that their business continues to function throughout the drought, thereby saving over 2 000 important jobs.

Oceana produces Lucky Star pilchards, a staple in many South African diets.

Phase one of the plan will see a R20 million desalination plant, capable of producing 800 000 litres of water per day, come online at their largest facility in St Helena Bay, by the end of March. This means that the factory will be able to function without drawing water from the municipal supply.

The second phase of the plan will consist of a desalination unit at their Laaiplek facility which will produce around 600 000 litres of water per day.

The company has also invested R2 million in a reverse osmosis plant and is currently exploring the possibilities around drilling boreholes on a nearby farm and routing the water to their St Helena factory.

Oceana is a major contributor to job creation on the West Coast and plays an important role in the economy. Its annual wage bill totals R200 million, and it spends a further R500 million on procuring goods in the Western Cape.

Taking themselves off the municipal water grid will also mean that more water is available to the communities in which the factories function.

Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde applauded the company for seeking out ways to continue doing business and save jobs.

This kind of collaborative approach between business and government is the key to finding solutions during this difficult period. This goes to show that saving water can save jobs, Minister Winde said.

It is imperative that businesses, municipalities and the Western Cape government work together to find innovative ideas to protect the economy and create resilient cities.

Oceana director Francois Kuttel said: Closing or mothballing these facilities would have a massive detrimental effect on these West Coast communities and the local economy.

The company also contributes to food security as Kuttel said Lucky Star produced 400 million meal portions for South Africans each year.

From a purely commercial point of view, water and energy saving initiatives may seem expensive to implement in the short term, however the long term benefits for the company and the communities where we operate far outweigh these costs, Kuttel said.

CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris said: We applaud the Oceana group for taking proactive steps to become more resilient and sustainable, in light of the very serious drought being faced in the Cape. We are confident that if every person and business does their bit to save water and reduce their consumption, we will not only avoid day zero, but emerge stronger and more resilient from this drought.

Climate change and its effects are being felt around the world, and will be the new normal for many cities globally. If we become global leaders in resilience, we will become a beacon of hope for places around the world. We encourage companies to follow this good example, as we work together to build a stronger, more resilient economy, Harris said.

Source: Government of South Africa

Labour hosts worker engagement sessions on national minimum wage

Department of Labour hosts penultimate worker briefing sessions on NMW and amendments to the BCEA and LRA in the Eastern Cape Province

The Department of Labour will this week host three penultimate worker engagement/briefing sessions on the implementation of the national minimum wage (NMW) and amendments to labour legislation in the Eastern Cape.

The worker briefing sessions are part of the national roadshows that started last year to engage workers on the implementation of NMW. The briefing sessions are also intended to educate the workers on the implications of proposed amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA), the Labour Relations Act (LRA), the coming into effect of the Accord on Collective Bargaining and Industrial Action and the Code of Good Practice on Collective Bargaining, Industrial Action and Picketing.

The initial briefing session on Wednesday (7 February) will be held at the Savoy Hotel, Nelson Mandela Drive in Mthatha. The second briefing session will be held on Thursday (08 February) at Premier Hotel Regent 22 Esplanade � Beachfront in East London. The Eastern Cape leg of briefing sessions will culminate on Friday (9 February) at Boardwalk Casino – Beach Road, Summerstrand in Port Elizabeth.

The worker engagement/briefing sessions started on 9 November 2017 in Johannesburg. This was followed by further briefing sessions in Pretoria, Cape Town, George, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay, Durban, Tzaneen, Polokwane, Mbombela, Emalahleni, Klerksdorp, Rustenburg, Bloemfontein and Welkom.

The National Minimum Wage is set for implementation from 1 May 2018. The agreed national minimum wage at NEDLAC is pegged at R20 an hour for major sectors, with the exception of sectors such as farm workers, domestic workers and expanded public works programme workers. .

The ultimate two briefing sessions are lined up as follows: in Northern Cape at Upington (15 February), and in Kimberley on (16 February).

The briefing sessions on NMW and amendments to labour laws are held from 10h00-13h00.

Source: Government of South Africa

US Blacklists Four for Rights Abuses, Attacks in Congo

The United States sanctioned a top general and three rebel leaders from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Monday, accusing them of human rights abuses and brutal attacks against civilians in the east of the Central African country.

Those sanctioned included Brigadier General Muhindo Akili Mundos of the DRC armed forces, and Gedeon Kyungu Mutanga, Guidon Shimiray Mwissa and Lucien Nzabamwita of three rebel factions operating in DRC.

“We are targeting human rights abusers perpetuating the horrific conflict in the eastern DRC who have contributed to the tremendous suffering of the Congolese people,” said John Smith, a director at the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, which oversees economic and trade sanctions.

“They are responsible for horrendous acts including sexual abuse and forced military recruitment of children into positions requiring them to commit acts of violence, among other atrocities,” Smith said in a statement.

The U.S. actions come days after the U.N. Security Council blacklisted the four men for “planning, directing, or committing acts in the DRC that constitute human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law.”

Millions of people died in regional conflicts in eastern Congo between 1996-2003 and dozens of militia groups continue to operate there. The country is set to hold elections at end of December that are meant to replace President Joseph Kabila.

But election delays have raised tensions across the country, triggering street protests and encouraging armed rebellion, especially since Kabila refused to step down when his mandate expired at the end of 2016.

Mundos, who was accused in a confidential 2016 U.N. Security Council report with recruiting, financing and arming elements of a Ugandan Islamist group to kill civilians, is a close ally of Kabila.

He has repeatedly denied any personal responsibility for massacres in eastern Congo while he was in charge of a military operation targeting rebels.

The U.S. Treasury said Mutanga was a commander of the Mai Mai militia group who was convicted by a Congolese court in 2003 for crimes against humanity involving murder, executions, cannibalism, rape and mutilation. In 2011, he merged his Mai Mai group with the Bakata Katanga, known as Kata Katanga, which has been responsible for recruiting child soldiers.

Mwissa, who is from the NDC-R militia, was also responsible for recruiting child soldiers and imposing illegal taxes in gold-mining areas and using the proceeds to buy weapons in breach of an arms embargo, Treasury said.

Nzabamwita is a military leader from the FDLR rebel group, accused of fomenting violence and instability.

Source: Voice of America

Tensions Flare in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions

Tensions continue to climb in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon as separatist groups demand the release of their leader and 46 other prisoners extradited last month from Nigeria. The government has sought to reassure the population.

A woman and her husband cry at the Baptist Hospital mortuary in the English-speaking town of Mbingo, in northwestern Cameroon. The woman has just discovered the lifeless bodies of her younger brother and three others. She said they were arrested last Wednesday and accused of killing two gendarmes. She refused to grant an interview, but workers of the hospital told VOA the bodies were brought there by unidentified men.

The so-called Anglophone crisis began in Cameroon over a year ago, sparking bouts of deadly unrest and more recently, clashes between alleged separatist militants and security forces. The Anglophone community in Cameroon is protesting political and economic discrimination in the majority French-speaking country.

Joseph Banadzem, lawmaker from the northwest region, said the military is responding by violently cracking down on the population.

“The army who are supposed to maintain law and order, to protect property, to protect lives, [they] go on the rampage in villages, burning houses, burning food stuff, people’s stores and so. All ransacked. It is unbelievable. It is inacceptable. It is inhuman,” he said.

Colonel Didier Badjeck is a spokesperson for Cameroon’s military. He said the military is committed to preserving Cameroon’s territorial integrity.

He said the armed separatists are using mercenaries and carrying out abuses on the population, whom he said will very soon understand that they have to trust only the country’s military.

Violence has escalated since January when Nigeria detained and then extradited separatist leader Ayuk Tabe Julius and the 46 other alleged separatists to Cameroon.

The separatist groups are demanding their leaders be released. At least four schools have been burned as of last Friday and at least 12 people have been killed, according to local media, which report unconfirmed casualties among both armed separatists and soldiers.

Many businesses remain closed in the two English-speaking regions amid fears of more violence.

The 47 detainees extradited from Nigeria have not been seen in public. International human rights groups warned against the extradition, saying the detainees could face torture or worse.

Nigeria is now also facing criticism from the U.N refugee agency, which said that most of those handed over to Cameroon had applied for asylum in Nigeria and their “forcible return” violated Nigeria’s international obligations.

On Friday, Cameroon government spokesperson Issa Tchiroma issued a press release saying the detainees are safe and would be appearing in front of the law courts soon. He did not comment on the charges they would answer.

Source: Voice of America

Congo Rebel Leader Extradited From Tanzania to Face Trial

A renegade Congolese colonel who had threatened to depose President Joseph Kabila has been extradited from Tanzania and will be prosecuted for rebellion, Congo’s defense minister said on Monday.

In a video circulated on social media last month, John Tshibangu, who had been based in the east of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), gave the president a 45-day ultimatum to leave or “we are going to take Kabila down.”

But Tshibangu was then detained by authorities in Tanzania towards the end of last month.

“John Tshibangu is in Kinshasa. We are going to leave him to face justice for rebellion, a crime catered for and punished by the Congolese penal code,”Defense Minister Crispin Atama Tabe told reporter by text message.

Tshibangu used to be a military commander in the central Congolese region of Kasai. He defected in 2012 and moved to the lawless east, long a haunt of would-be Congolese rebels.

One of Tshibangu’s associates, a captain in the Congolese army called Freddy Ibeba, was also arrested in northern Congo on Monday and will be taken to Kinshasa for a hearing, justice minister Alexis Thabwe Mwamba told a press conference on Monday.

Of Tshibangu, he said: “I would like to reassure that he will be entitled to a fair and equitable trial.”

Kabila’s refusal to step down when his mandate expired in December 2016 has emboldened several armed groups, stoking violence and raising the spectre of the vast, mineral-rich nation tumbling back into the kind of wars that killed millions in the 1990s, mostly from hunger and disease.

Source: Voice of America