Daily Archives: March 26, 2018

IGAD Sets New Conditions for South Sudan Rebel Leader

The family of Riek Machar, South Sudan’s former first vice president and leader of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, is disappointed in a decision made by the regional bloc of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) calling for a conditional “lifting of house arrest.”

Machar’s wife, Angelina Teny, responded to IGAD’s decision Monday.

“If you read it carefully, actually, there is no lifting of any house arrest. Because what they said is very clear that they will transfer him from where he is now, which is South Africa, to another location that is not in the region, and that would not be in any proximity with South Sudan,” she said.

The IGAD statement said it would release Machar as soon as possible if he would renounce violence, not obstruct the peace process and relocate to any country “outside the region not neighboring South Sudan.”

The statement said that IGAD ministers would decide on a possible location for Machar.

Teny said the ministers of the regional bloc are not being fair to her husband.

“They made another condition to say that he must not obstruct the peace process. How can he be obstructing the peace process or the revitalization process when he already appointed a delegation that has been engaging constructively in the two last rounds or sessions of talks?” Teny said.

The regional bloc called upon the Transitional Government of National Unity and the nine opposition groups not to squander the opportunity for ending the suffering of the people of South Sudan.

But Teny, who is a senior opposition member, said IGAD was pushing her group into a tight corner.

“It is going to implicate the [peace] process, because SPLM-IO is being pushed to negotiate from a position where its leader is in captivity,” Teny said.

IGAD did not set new dates for the resumption of the peace talks. Its special envoy, South Sudan Ambassador Ismail Wais, will consult various South Sudanese stakeholders to reconcile the position of the parties on power sharing and permanent security arrangements before the next talks.

Forced to flee

Machar is a de facto prisoner in a farmhouse outside of Johannesburg. He is isolated from his friends and family, and has been frozen out of South Sudan’s peace process and the future of his country.

Machar, who has long dominated South Sudanese politics, was an instrumental figure in South Sudan’s fight for independence from Sudan, and has served as vice president twice in the very short history of the world’s newest nation. It became independent in 2011.

Critics say although he was an architect of South Sudan’s creation, he was instrumental in its downfall. Among other factors, tensions between him and President Salva Kiir sparked the civil war that began in 2013, leaving the country devastated in its wake.

A new outbreak of fighting in July 2016 destroyed a tentative peace deal that had restored Machar to his government post, and forced him to flee the country. With limited options, Machar ended up in South Africa.

Source: Voice of America

SOUTH AFRICA: PRES RAMAPHOSA AIMS FOR STRONGER BRICS

PRETORIA, President Cyril Ramaphosa says he is looking forward to strengthening relations between South Africa and other members of the BRICS countries.

The President emphasised the importance of South Africa’s relations with members of the BRICS countries during his engagements with the governments of the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation.

In his first engagement with the bloc’s members since his election, Ramaphosa received a courtesy call from Yang Jiechi, Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and member of the State Council of China.

Yang conveyed to Ramaphosa President Xi’s personal congratulations as well as the best wishes of the government and the people of China on Ramaphosa’s election to the position of President.

President Ramaphosa in turn conveyed his congratulations and those of the people of South Africa on the recent re-election of Xi as leader of the People’s Republic of China.

In turn, Ramaphosa said the re-election of Xi presented an opportunity for South Africa to deepen its strategic and historic political, economic, social and international cooperation with China at a personal, bilateral, regional and global level.

Both parties have agreed to State visits. Ramaphosa said he is eagerly awaiting a visit by Xi to South Africa in July ahead of South Africa’s hosting of the 10th BRICS Summit in which Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa will participate.

Ramaphosa will pay a state visit to China ahead of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit, which Ramaphosa will co-chair with Xi, to be held in Beijing in the latter part of this year, with the theme to strongly focus on a shared future based on a win-win relationship.

China has invited South Africa to participate in the first China Import Expo to be held in November 2018 as a guest country.

Ramaphosa also invited China to support initiatives aimed at South Africa’s economic recovery, including amongst others, driving the need for greater imports from Africa to China and participation in the upcoming Jobs Summit and Investment Summit.

In his second engagement, Ramaphosa, on a call with Moscow, congratulated President Vladimir Putin on his re-election by the people of the Russian Federation.

Ramaphosa said Russia remained an important partner to South Africa and Africa at large, as evidenced by its support for countries of the South in multilateral fora and associations such as BRICS.

President Putin reciprocated by congratulating Ramaphosa on his assumption of the Presidency and said the Russian Federation stood ready to deepen bilateral relations, notably in the economic terrain.

Ramaphosa looks forward to hosting Putin at the BRICS Summit in July, which will signify the beginning of the second decade of cooperation among this group of emerging markets which have a range of developmental advances and challenges in common.

Source: Nam News Network

Labour on National Minimum Wage Bill

Update on the Labour Amendment Bills with specific reference to the National Minimum Wage Bill currently before Parliament

Introduction and Background:

The genesis of the National Minimum wage starts with the 2014 ANC Election manifesto where it states, Investigate the modality for the introduction of a national minimum wage as one of the key mechanisms to reduce income inequality. Take steps to strengthen existing laws to ensure faster change in employment equity in all workplaces by enforcing an accelerated implementation of employment equity targets. Enforce measures to eliminate abusive work practices in atypical work and labour broking.

On the 17 June 2014, the immediate past President of the Republic, in his state of the Nation Address following the National General Elections, said that, Given the impact of the untenable labour relations environment on the economy, it is critical for social partners to meet and deliberate on the violent nature and duration of the strikes. The social partners will also need to deliberate on wage inequality. On our side as Government we will during this term investigate the possibility of a national minimum wage as one of the key mechanisms to reduce the income inequality. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will convene the social partners’ dialogue, within the ambit of NEDLAC.

Indeed on 04 November 2014 a Labour Relations Indaba was convened under the auspices of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) to set in motion the process of engagement on examining the modalities of introducing a National Minimum Wage in South Africa.

The Labour Relations Indaba gave birth to the Ekurhuleni Declaration where constituencies acknowledged challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality facing South Africa and the economy. Flowing from the Indaba the first Technical Task Team on Labour Relations (LRTTT) was constituted and immediately given the mandate to engage on the following issues:

Promotion of employment

Labour Market Stability

Protracted Strikes

Violence

Collective Bargaining and the Role of the State

Employment, vulnerability and social protection

The second Technical Task Team on Wage Inequality (WITTT) was mandated to focus on addressing and engaging on a National Minimum Wages (NMW).

April 2015 saw the beginning of engagement on the work of the LRTTT and WITTT reporting to the Committee of Principals (COP). The whole process was fore-grounded on strong research and international best practice around the concept of a national minimum wage. By and large the engagements were evidence-driven with a careful eye on finding the delicate balance in order to manage any un-intended consequences that may arise.

Parallel to these processes, Parliament commenced its own investigations on the modalities of introducing a national minimum wage in South Africa. We know that the Parliamentary process took the form of workshops and consultations with the general public throughout the country.

During the period from December 2016 to February 2017 intensive engagements by social partners continued. This culminated into an Agreement in February 2017. The Agreement in question was signed by social partners. The Advisory Panel which was set up to examine the second phase of work on the Minimum Hours of Work, completed its assignment in June 2017.

The introduction of the National Minimum Wage including Enforcement:

The Bills before Parliament proposes that the National Minimum Wage be set at R20 per hour and be reviewed annually.

It is important to note that the NMW is a floor below which no worker can be paid; and this incudes workers that are covered by sectoral determinations as well as collective bargaining agreements.

However the minimum wages for domestic and farm workers will initially be set at R15 and R18 an hour respectively. This will be adjusted to reach the NMW within two years of implementation. The National Minimum Wage Commission will be established to review the NMW annually taking into consideration the inflation and other labour market and socio economic conditions.

Labour market stability measures:

The agreement at NEDLAC contains a Code of Good Practice on Collective Bargaining, Industrial Action and Picketing. This Code provides practical guidance on collective bargaining, the resolution of disputes of mutual interest, the resort to peaceful industrial action and picketing processes.

The Accord on Collective Bargaining and Industrial Action, commit social partners to take all steps necessary to prevent violence, intimidation and damage to property. It also seeks to improve the capacity of the social partners and other agencies to resolve disputes peacefully and expeditiously.

The Labour Relations Amendment Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Bill contains amendments that are consequential to the National Minimum Wage Bill and the agreed Code on stabilising the labour relations environment in South Africa.

The National Minimum Wage Bill together with The Labour Relations Amendment Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendments Bill were referred by Cabinet to Parliament in November 2017.

On 22 November 2017, the Speaker of the National Assembly referred the Bills to the Portfolio Committee on Labour for consideration.

The Portfolio Committee has drawn up its own programme on how to consider the Bills, including conducting their own public hearings. The process is now entirely in the hands of Parliament.

Implementation date for the National Minimum Wage:

We know that these Bills, like any matter that has to do with labour relations in South Africa, are highly contested policy propositions. We are therefore not surprised by the enthusiasm that the public hearings have generated. We however take comfort from the fact that these Bills have passed the Social and Economic Impact Analysis test and we have no doubt that they will also pass the Constitutional scrutiny.

We are aware that interested parties have been making submissions on these Bills, and it has become apparent that the ambition for the National Minimum Wage Bill to become law by 1 May 2018 may not be practical given the high volumes of public submissions both written and oral.

We are also aware of a number of important issues that are being raised in these public hearings which parliament will have to consider as part of concluding the Bills. We stand ready to take instructions from the parliamentary process.

It has never been the intention of government to rush these Bills and we fully recognise and respect the sovereignty of parliament in this regard. We will respectfully take our cue from the parliamentary processes and we will cooperate fully with the work of Parliament in this regard.

At this stage we must all accept and allow the Parliamentary processes to unfold without any undue interference. All the Bills are now under the authority of parliament and those who have views and opinions on the Bills will have to approach parliament as we, the Executive, no longer have control of these processes.

The Parliamentary process as we understand will unfold as follows:

1. On conclusion of the current Public Hearings, the Committee will consider the submissions both written and oral.

2. Revisit the Bills with a view to factor-in any changes and/or amendments where they deem appropriate.

3. Deliberate on the Revised Bills with a view to find convergence including engaging the Bills on a line by line basis.

4. Vote on the Bills in preparation to submit to the National Assembly and the NCOP respectively.

5. Everything being equal, the Bills are then sent to the President for sign-off.

It is for these reasons that the observation coming out of the current processes is that it may not be possible to conclude all these processes in time for implementation on 1 May 2018 as initially envisaged. You will know however that the 1 May 2018 implementation ambition has always been subject to the completion of the parliamentary processes.

The National Minimum Wage legislation marks an important new milestone in the history of labour relations in South Africa; therefore we want to follow all due processes diligently.

Source: Government of South Africa

Gauteng Roads and Transport on closed Quagga road due to sinkhole

Public advisory notice of R55 road detour (Northbound)

Motorists are hereby advised that a short section of R55 Quagga road (northbound) between Second and Third Avenue near Laudium is closed for traffic as its road surface continues to deteriorate due to a sinkhole.

As from Monday, 26 March 2018, traffic will be detoured with two southbound lanes converted into dual carriageway.

This detour is anticipated to be in effect for the foreseeable future.

Motorists are advised to use alternative routes and not to attempt to drive on the closed section of the road as it can collapse at any time.

Source: Government of South Africa

Minister Rob Davies briefs media on launch of African Continent Free Trade Area, 26 Mar

Members of the media are invited to a media briefing by the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies on the launch of the African Continent Free Trade Area (CFTA) by the African Union Extraordinary Summit that took place in Kigali, Rwanda on 21 March 2018. Minister Davies will clarify the implementation process and how the CFTA will benefit the country.

Minister Davies will also outline South Africa’s position regarding the Section 232 investigation by the United States of America (U.S.) on steel and aluminium products. President Donald Trump has signed Proclamations to impose a 10 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of aluminium articles and a 25 percent ad valorem tariff on imports of steel articles alleging that imports of these products threaten to impair US national security.

Minister Davies will explain the impact of the Section 232 measures.

Members of the media are invited to the briefing as follows:

Date: Monday, 26 March 2018

Time: 15h00

Venue: Tshedimosetso House, Cnr Francis Baard and Festival Streets, Hatfield, Pretoria

There will be a video link to Imbizo Media Centre in Cape Town, 120 Plein Street, Parliament.

Source: Government of South Africa