R20 an hour is an insult, say marchers

3 hours 48 minutes ago
Nationwide protests against proposed minimum wage

By Zoë Postman, Joseph Chirume, Eryn Scannell and Annie Cebulski

Photo of SAFTU protest in Cape Town
Thousands joined the SAFTU marches across the country, but COSATU, FEDUSA and NACTU did not join. Photo: Annie Cebulski

Thousands of workers from the SA Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) marched in several cities on Wednesday calling for a higher minimum wage.

They are demanding a minimum wage of R12,500 a month instead of the R3,500 a month (R20 per hour) which has been proposed. Workers also protested against proposed changes to the law on strikes and to the increase in VAT.

In Johannesburg workers gathered at the Newtown precinct and marched to the Premier’s office, and the offices of the Department of Labour and the Gauteng Department of Social Development. Unions included the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA), the National Union Of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW), the South African Liberated Public Sector Workers’ Union (SALIPSWU), the Information Communication and Technology Union (ICTU) and Simunye Workers Forum.

Thousands of workers participated in the Johannesburg protest. Photo: Zoë Postman

Unions from the Federation of Unions of SA (FEDUSA), the National Council of Trade Unions (NACTU) and the Congress of SA Trade Unions (COSATU) did not join the strike.

NUMSA spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the unions who did not join the strike were saying that “workers must settle in their poverty”.

“COSATU leadership is telling us that half a loaf of bread is better than no bread. But we are saying that is not good enough. We are demanding a decent living minimum wage”, said Hlubi-Majola.

SAFTU general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi urged the crowd to maintain discipline. “There are stories that say this strike will turn violent but today we will prove them wrong”, he said.

In Cape Town, thousands of workers marched from Keizersgracht Street to the Civic Centre and Parliament.

“R11 is an insult, R15 is an insult, R18 is an insult, R20 is an insult,” Brightness Matwa, a spokesperson for the Democratised Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union (DEWATU) said in a speech to workers before the march. “All the proposed wages are an insult.”

Businesses closed their doors as workers and supporters sang and danced down the streets on the way to Parliament. Police escorted the procession on foot and in cars.

“Viva SAFTU!” the crowd sang as the sea of red shirts flooded down the streets.

“I have six kids and I am a single parent,” community care worker Kanyisha Mendela said. “I have two kids who are going to tertiary level next year. Where am I going to get the money?”

Security worker Ntombozuko Bomba, who makes R4,000 a month, said the proposed minimum wage was too low because though he made more, his pay was still inadequate. “Our boss gets R16,000. We can go two months without getting paid because they say they don’t have the money,” Bomba said.

In Port Elizabeth about 1,200 workers marched from Nangoza Jebe hall in New Brighton to City Hall, singing. Some businesses closed along Govan Mbeki Avenue.

Addressing the workers, Numsa president and SAFTU representative Andrew Chirwa said the R20 an hour minimum wage was unacceptable. “People who are propagating that wage are themselves swimming in riches. They don’t know what R20 is worth. Our government has decided to legalise poverty by introducing a wage of R20 an hour.”

Chirwa said the other reason for the strike was to stop employers from conniving with the government against workers. “The employers want to give power to the Minister of Labour to allow or ban strikes. They want to force all of us to vote before a strike and the ballot will be supervised by the Department of Labour — the same department that is not helping workers. Workers are dying of maltreatment but the Department of Labour is doing nothing to stop it. Those who sit in government offices making laws against workers are our enemies.”

The memorandum was handed over to Mzimkhulu Papu of the Department of Labour.

In a statement released on Tuesday, FEDUSA said organised labour initially proposed R4,500 a month but had to bring it down to R3,500 during negotiations so that business would buy in.

“FEDUSA remains fully cognizant that the proposed R20 per hour, translated to R3,500 monthly, is not a living wage, but a minimum wage, recommended for 47% of workers currently earning less than R20 per hour”, the federation said.

COSATU also released a statement, on Monday, saying that the R20 minimum wage would be the foundation of a living wage.

“The minimum wage will be a huge achievement that will see wages rise for the 47% of workers (6 million), who earn less than R20 an hour currently”, COSATU said.

SAFTU protesters in Port Elizabeth. Photo: Joseph Chirume


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Consumers warned against use of fake NHBRC logo

5 hours 40 minutes ago

The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) has warned unsuspecting housing consumers against the fraudulent use of its logo in a letter allegedly sent out by Cosmopolitan Projects about guarantees on their completed homes.

“The letter, which has an NHBRC logo, distorts the benefits that consumers are entitled to - once construction of their homes is completed. An NHBRC letterhead will have a designed header as well as names of board members at the bottom,” NHBRC said.

The council urged consumers to be vigilant and confirm this fraud by consulting their nearest NHBRC customer care office on either toll free number (0800 200 824) or on the website www.nhbrc.org.za. Alternatively, they can contact NHBRC via social media platforms Twitter: @NHBRC Facebook: NHBRCSA.

The NHBRC was created by an Act of Parliament (Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act 95 of 1998) to protect the rights of housing consumers against shoddy workmanship by unscrupulous home builders.

As such, the NHBRC manages a Warranty Fund, which all homeowners contribute towards as part of their registering with the council.

The fund is meant to act as an insurance cover for a period of five years from occupation of the new home. It covers the one year roof leakage and five-year major structural defects.

– SAnews.gov.za

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Vrygrond residents to restart land occupation

5 hours 54 minutes ago
Community leaders unhappy with outcome of meeting with mayor

By Thembela Ntongana

Photo of open land
Backyarders wish to occupy this tract of vacant land in Vrygrond. The City of Cape Town says it is a nature reserve. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

Vrygrond community leaders say they are unhappy with the outcome of their meeting on Monday with City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille.

The meeting followed protests after demolitions of shacks erected on vacant land known as Xakabantu. Most of the occupants were backyarders and some residents from informal settlement Overcome Heights.

The day after the protest, community leaders agreed to halt the occupation until the mayor responded on Monday.

But community leader Daniel Nomavile said the Monday meeting was unsuccessful. “She brought us a map that said the land in question was declared a nature reserve. But when was this declared, because I used to stay on that land? My shack was there. Where was that endangered vegetation that they are telling us about now?” asked Nomavile.

He said when the City removed people from the land in 1999, there was no mention of it being a nature reserve. Instead, people were moved with the promise that the land would be cleared and levelled for housing development.

Nomavile said in the Monday meeting De Lille showed them two pieces of land that could be used for housing development.

“The land that she has identified is small and would not accommodate the number of people in need of housing in the area,” he said. Nomavile said the residents would not stop fighting for the Xakabantu land “because we know how much people are in need”.

Another community leader, Mikel Kumalo, said one of the two pieces of land De Lille identified should be used for services, not houses.

“What we are saying to the City is that as much as we want houses and land for people to stay, the piece of land that they have identified we want used to accommodate some of the many services we do not have in the community … We have no police station, library, clinic and high school, which would benefit the greater community,’ said Kumalo.

He said the leaders briefed the community on Tuesday on the meeting with the mayor. Residents rejected her response and have vowed to occupy the land again. On Wednesday people had started to mark out plots once again.

The mayor’s spokesperson Xolani Koyana said the land that people had occupied was rezoned as a nature reserve a few years ago through a process facilitated by national government.

“The City of Cape Town will explore what action can be taken to free up any pockets of land in the vicinity for housing development,” said Koyana.

He said the community leadership was given information about a housing project under discussion, where the City will employ 55 residents from Vrygrond under the Expanded Public Works Programme to conduct a survey on the number of backyard dwellers in the area.

“The survey, which is to start from May, will assist the City to establish the number of people in need of housing in the area and to identify beneficiaries for the housing project,” said Koyana.


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Why the Fish River Sun land claim case took 20 years

1 day 5 hours ago
Court was scathing about Land Claims Commission

By Ohene Yaw Ampofo-Anti

Satellite photo of FIsh River Sun area
The area where Sun International’s popular Fish River Sun resort used to be has been claimed by three communities. Image from <a href="https://goo.gl/3EgdJG">Google Maps</a>

On 10 April 2018, the Land Claims Court delivered judgment in a case involving three competing land claims for a large area of land between the Fish and Keiskamma Rivers in the Eastern Cape. The disputed territory includes the land upon which the Fish River Sun Resort is situated. The judgment brings to an end a nearly 20-year-long legal dispute.

Background

If your community wants to make a land restitution claim, you need to meet four requirements according to the Restitution of Land Rights Act:

You must prove that you are a “community” with “rights in respect of land”; that you were dispossessed of your land rights as a result of racially discriminatory practices after 19 June 1913; that you did not receive just and equitable compensation; and you must have lodged your claim before 31 December 1998.

Three separate “communities” – Mazazini, Prudhoe and Tharfield – claimed that they were the rightful owners of the land in question.

The Land Claims Court noted that all three communities had lodged claims before the cut-off date (i.e. before 31 December 1998). But, for reasons not explained, the Land Claims Commission only referred the claim of the Mazazini community — and not the Prudhoe and Tharfields communities — to the Land Claims Court for adjudication. In March 2010, the Land Claims Court awarded the entire disputed territory, including the Fish River Sun property to Mazazini.

Subsequently, in September 2011, the Prudhoe community had the land award rescinded (repealed/made void) in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) as its claim had never been considered.

Mazazini unsuccessfully started protracted litigation to quash the Prudhoe claim.

A trial commenced in early 2017 with all the claims.

However, in May 2017, several landowners and other parties who had an interest in the affected land notified the Land Claims Court that the Commission had not made them aware of the proceedings. This caused more delays, which the Court blamed on the conduct of the Commission. The Court then ordered the Commission to make sure that all interested parties were made aware of the proceedings.

The trial started again in October 2017 and finished in November.

At the time of going to trial, the claim of the Tharfield community had already been settled, though it had not yet been made an order of court. The Court said that the parties were free to approach it in a separate application to have this done. For this reason the Court only had to adjudicate the competing claims of Mazazini and Prudhoe.

The Mazazini claim

The present day Mazazini community is made up of three distinct tribal groupings dating from the pre-colonial era: the Ntloko, amaZizi and the Mpekweni. In the judgment, the Court refers to the land claim collectively as the “amaZizi land claim”.

In 1845, the British Empire and the amaZizi entered into the Maitland Treaty, which acknowledged that portions of the disputed territory belonged to the amaZizi. The Court found that this did not include the portions of land which were being claimed by the present-day Prudhoe community.

But in 1847, under the leadership of Sir Harry Smith, the British Empire issued a new Proclamation which extinguished the land rights that the amaZizi or any indigenous group had in respect of the disputed territory. The Court found that the purpose of that proclamation was to make the indigenous people of that area subjects of the British Empire and to give ownership of the territory to the British Empire.

But the Court found that the amaZizi had exercised rights in terms of customary laws and practices for a considerable period of time and established beneficial occupation of the territory.

As far as the question of dispossession after 1913 was concerned, the Court found that the amaZizi had been dispossessed as a result of the “betterment” policies of the Ciskei Homeland. This was a policy whereby people were moved around to make optimal use of land (according to apartheid officials). This could involve people being removed from their scattered homes to central locations to enable commercial farming.

The Court found that the amaZizi had therefore established a valid claim in respect of the Jaji, Dabi and Msuthu tribal areas as well as the Heaton Farm.

Prudhoe claim

The most contentious issue for the Prudhoe claim was whether it met the requirements for a “community” in terms of the legislation. The present-day Prudhoe community derive from the amaGqunukhwebe chiefdom which was destroyed in 1847 after the War of the Axe. Their land was subsequently handed over to white farmers and the descendants of the amaGqunukhwebe tribe continued to live alongside them.

The Restitution Act defines a “community” as any group of people who had shared rules governing access to land. But amaGqunukwebe chiefdom collapsed and the land fell under the control by white farmers. But the Court found that a number of headmen continued to carry out customary functions even after the collapse fo the chiefdom. So the Court found that there was a “hybrid” system of governance on the farm, where both the white farmers and headmen had important roles in respect of land rights, side by side.

In the 1970s, the land was expropriated by the Ciskei government and the present-day Prudhoe community continued to exist without the influence of white farmers. The role of the headmen increased significantly. In particular, they continued to resolve conflicts and had full control over the allocation of land.

The Court found that although there was shared ancestry with the amaZizi tribe, the Prudhoe is an independent community in terms of the legislation and had been forcibly removed under apartheid from land to which it had valid rights in the 1980s.

Significant judgment

The Court granted full ownership of the Jaji, Dabi and Msuthu tribal areas as well as the Heaton Farm to the Mazazini Community. The Prudhoe were given full ownership of the rest of the claimed land, including the Fish River Sun farms, except for a few properties occupied by people who had purchased some of the land from the state in the early 1990s. The Court made no cost order.

The Court made scathing remarks about the conduct of the Commission. It showed the crucial role the Commission has in speeding up (or slowing down) the pace of land reform. The Court found that the Commission’s misconduct resulted in unnecessary delays and was inconsistent with its constitutional obligations.

The case also continued a trend in the courts to lower the qualifying criteria for what constitutes a community in terms of the land reform laws. This approach is consistent with understanding the history of colonial dispossession, which often sought to destroy black communities through discriminatory policies and practices.


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End to seven-month strike by Port St Johns municipal workers

1 day 5 hours ago
Garbage piled up in town, turning away tourists

By Asanda Maliwa and Wara Fana

Photo of piles of rubbish
Rubbish piled up in Port St Johns during the seven-month municipal workers’ strike. Photo: Asanda Maliwa

Municipal workers returned to work in Port St Johns on Monday after an on-off strike which has lasted seven months, leaving the town strewn with garbage.

Municipal workers had been on an intermittent strike since last year, demanding the dismissal of the municipal manager and the implementation of wage promises they say were not kept. According to South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) spokesperson Andile Bara the problems started in 2013 when seven SAMWU shop stewards were fired after a strike over wages.

The strike had left the scenic coastal tourist town looking like a rubbish dump.

The workers returned to work on 23 April after a meeting between the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU), representatives of the Department of Cooperative Governance, the municipality and the tourism industry. The workers were promised that their grievances would be investigated.

Businesses in the town had complained about the condition of the streets. Barbara Radford, owner of Purple Indigo guest house, says the town was filthy. “Tourists just drive through and you cannot blame them. Who wants to stay in this filthy town?”

Khanyiso Nogwina manager at the popular Jungle Monkey backpackers’ lodge says it will take the town a long time to recover. “Tourists are telling us straight that they will never come back to Port St Johns. This matter has affected all business owners.”

Nolufefe Mtiki, who runs a food stall at the Port St Johns taxi rank, said she had lost customers because of a bad smell next to her business. “The municipality has to fix this issue.”

Spokesperson for Port St Johns Forum for Tourism and owner of Outspan Restaurant Katharyn Costello, said unemployment was high in the town and most jobs depended on tourism. But, she said, the municipal workers had no other option but to fight for their rights.

Costello said the appointment of a new mayor, Nomvuzo Mlombile-Cingo, was “the best thing to have happened in Port St Johns for a long time. Things are changing for the better”. An acting municipal manager, Basil Mase, has also been appointed.

Mlombile-Cingo, who met the leadership of SAMWU earlier this month, said there was agreement that the crisis had to end. “Workers need to come back to work and they need to be paid their salaries”.

Mlombile-Cingo would not comment further, saying she would say more when things were “back to normal”.

During the winter months of June and July the Port St Johns attracts thousands of tourists from around the world for the annual sardine run. Dolphins, whales and sharks as well as birds chase the fish. The phenomenon brings millions of rands to the town. Everyone hopes by then the problems of Port St Johns will be solved. “For us the people of Mpondoland, tourism is our livelihood”, said Costello.


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The SDGs will not be achieved without reshaped subnational financing!

1 day 6 hours ago
Submitted by uclguser2 on Tue, 24/04/2018 - 13:23

From 23 to 26 April 2018, a delegation of local and regional governments, led by UCLG on behalf of the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, is taking part in the third ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up.

On Monday 23 April, Parks Tau, President of UCLG, led the Delegation of Local and Regional Governments during the first Ministerial Round Table of the Third Financing for Development Follow-up Forum. Each year, the ECOSOC Forum convenes to present the Interagency Task-Force Progress Report on the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. As lead discussant, Parks Tau welcomed the inclusion of a specific section on Subnational Finance in the 2018 IATF Report and reinforced the importance of having local governments participating in the monitoring process of the global agendas.

A seat at the global discussion on Financing for Development

On behalf of the Global Taskforce, Parks Tau praised the call made in the Outcome Document of the 2018 Forum on Financing for Development for Member States to “strive to strengthen revenue collection and related accountability mechanisms as well as public service delivery at the national and sub-national levels”. He insisted, first, on pursuing fiscal and governance reforms to allow local governments to mobilize a more diverse set of development finance options and be more strategically included in domestic resource mobilization strategies, and second, on improving intergovernmental transfers towards a more predictable and transparent framework.

The initial keynote speech addressed by Donald Kaberuka, High Representative of the African Union Peace Fund, set a stimulating framework for discussion. From his perspective, the funding paradigm has shifted since Monterrey, in 2002. The discussions are no longer centered on Official Development Assistance from the Global North to the Global South, but rather on enhancing domestic resource mobilization to the benefit of greater equality. To solve the issue of more decent jobs and income flows, the financial sector must create incentives to move towards a long-term profitability framework, aligned with the SDGs. Short-term approaches may hinder any meaningful progress. Likewise, Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), recalled that the efforts to empower subnational governments in national urban strategies and adequately reshape financial intermediaries to support urban investment are necessary and remain to be carried out.

The Director General of the Colombian Presidential Cooperation Agency, Sergio Londoño Zurek, Acting Mayor of the City of Cartagena, recalled the key highlights of the Colombian voluntary report to the High Level Political Forum (HLPF). He mentioned the national strategy that aims to align local and national priorities by creating incentives to invest and budget within the framework of the SDGs. This illustrated the remarks made earlier this day by UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, who pointed out that the challenges were not to generate new funds, but to actually channel the existing funds to the territories and projects in need of financing.

Urban challenges are not yet included in the Financing debate

President Parks Tau expressed his regret as to the lack of reference to urban challenges and to the necessary urban infrastructure needs to achieve the SDGs. Echoing the keynote speech, Parks Tau stressed that local governments and the international community had no other choice than to focus on the adaptation of urban infrastructures to become more compatible with climate challenges, especially in territories facing growing socioeconomic inequalities coupled with the immediate consequences of climate change. He concluded his address by inviting all participants to gain inspiration from the innovative experiences of local and regional governments, committed to the global agenda. The Global Taskforce Statement will be available as a contribution to the Third ECOSOC Forum on FfD Follow-up.

The Global Taskforce Statement supports some important highlights of the Progress Report, such as the proposals to foster access to more sustainable long-term finance, and shares the concern that many subnational governments have difficulties to manage the complexity of PPPs.

Expert Segment on Domestic Public Resources and a side event on investing in SDG 11

On Wednesday 25 April, local and regional governments will present some of the innovative solutions they have developed to achieve the SDGs, particularly in developing countries and Least Developed Countries, where most of urban growth is foreseen to take place, and where access to available funds remains limited.

The Mayor of Ouagadougou, Board Member of the International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF) and President of the Association of Municipalities of Burkina Faso, Armand Roland Pierre Beouinde will open the Expert Segment on Domestic Public Resource. He will stress the need for further monitoring of paragraph 34 of the Addis Ababa Agenda to make sure that subnational governments have sufficient financial autonomy to prepare sound financial strategies aligned with the global agendas and enhance their capacity to build partnerships with development banks, to activate climate finance and effective catalytic approaches for stronger urban and municipal finance in developing and least developed countries.

UCLG is also co-organizing a side event with UNCDF and UN-Habitat on Subnational development finance to invest in SDG 11. UCLG Secretary General Emilia Saiz will open the discussion, presenting the UCLG Strategy to Reshape Municipal Financing, starting with building a new narrative on local finance, in particular in High-Level Dialogues. With this in mind, Paul Smoke, an expert in charge of developing the policy paper presented by the partnering institutions, will present the key recommendations towards more sustainable subnational development finance.

More information:

Hout Bay residents have title deeds but no houses

1 day 17 hours ago
Bureaucratic bungling has left dozens in limbo for 13 years

By Thembela Ntongana

Photo of a woman holding a piece of paper
Lingiswa Mahashe shows the title deed she has held for 13 years, but she still has no house. Photo: Thembela Ntongana

“Administrative error” has left 37 households in Imizamo Yethu sitting for 13 years with title deeds but no houses.

“I get water bills, but I live in an informal settlement,” says 58-year-old Lungiswa Mahashe.

She received a title deed to a house in March 2005. But 13 years later, she is still in a shack and does not know if she will ever get a house. Mahashe lives with her husband, two children and six grandchildren in a three-room shack. She has lived in Imizamo Yethu for 27 years.

“People that used to be my neighbours are living in their houses but I am not, and no one is doing anything about it … Most days I go past what could have been my house but someone else is living it, and no one can explain to me how it happened,” says Mahashe.

Veliswa Nkopha also has a title deed, but with her ID number and someone else’s name. She says the City of Cape Town told her she should fix the problem at the Department of Home Affairs as perhaps more than one person had her ID number. Home Affairs told her the ID number is in her name and there is nobody else with that number.

“I just do not know what this means. Does it mean I will never get a house because someone else is living in mine?” asked Nkopha.

Meanwhile, Nkopha lives in a two-roomed shack and shares her bedroom with six grandchildren. While living in Imizamo Yethu, she has been the victim of several fires that have ravaged the informal settlement.

Councillor Brett Herron, Mayoral Committee Member for Urban Development, said “administrative error” was to blame for the debacle. Herron said that during the Masakhane Bantu People’s Housing Project in Imizamo Yethu in 2009, incorrect title deeds had been registered. He said some plots had been swapped between beneficiaries.

“This is not unusual in housing projects, where, for example, beneficiaries are no longer interested in benefiting from a particular project. At the time, the community, the City and the support organisation agreed on the swaps. The swaps were properly documented,” said Herron.

“Unfortunately, at the time the title deeds were transferred, the transfers were registered according to the original beneficiary list and not the list that included the swaps that took place. This caused a mix-up of title deeds and caused a lot of frustration among beneficiaries,” he said.

When GroundUp asked some of the beneficiaries whether or not they had agreed to swap their houses, Zion Sigcawu was the first to say no. “Who would agree to giving up their houses to other people, and for what? If we wanted to swap houses, what were we swapping them for? Why are we not in houses?” she asked.

But Mahashe told GroundUp that the City had asked them to swap their title deeds with the people living in the houses, so they could be accommodated in a new housing project in Imizamo Yethu. She said they had agreed to this.

Herron said the City was looking into land which might be suitable for building houses for the affected residents. However, he said, “the sites have steep slopes and/or unstable soils. Pending the outcome of an investigation, some of the sites may not be suitable for building houses.” In which case, he said, the City would accommodate the residents elsewhere.


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Transport Strike : The long wait to get home

2 days 3 hours ago
Commuters wait for hours for taxis as bus strike continues

By Barry Christianson and GroundUp Staff

23 April 2018

Photo of people waiting for taxis
At sunset in Sea Point, People tinker with their phones while waiting for taxis to Khayelitsha. All photos by Barry Christianson

The countrywide bus workers’ strike that started last Wednesday continued on Monday.

Bus workers’ salaries are negotiated at the South African Road Passenger Bargaining Council by unions and employer organisations. Negotiations started in January but deadlocked, and on 15 April the unions gave employers notice of their intention to strike. Unions are demanding a 12% increase, while employers are offering 6.7%.

Zanele Sabela, a spokesperson for the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, told GroundUp that negotiations did not go well on Friday and no further negotiations have been arranged yet. Commuters across the country have had to make alternative plans, usually involving taxis, to get to work in the morning and back home in the afternoon.

Barry Christianson spoke to and photographed people who work in Sea Point and travel back home to Khayelitsha.

Many people have to wait for up to three hours for a taxi to take them on the hour-long ride back to Khayelitsha.
Portia Ndakisa waited for two hours. She said the the trip is expensive for her. “I usually take the bus so I have a bus ticket. Now, I have to pay for the taxi too. My kids did not go to school today, because there is no transport.” Golden Arrow stated on Sunday that clipcards valid for the period of the strike would be extended beyond it, so their customers don’t lose days they’ve paid for.
Loraine Masanga buys a monthly bus ticket which costs R560. Over the past three days it cost her R100 a day, forcing her to borrow money.
Sidney (surname withheld) usually uses MyCiTi. “I don’t know how this thing [the taxi system] works. I’m asking where does this one go? Where does that one go? I stay where these people stay, but I don’t use taxis.”
Taxis are doing well off the strike but there simply aren’t enough to meet the sudden increase in demand.
Commuters pile into a taxi along Sea Point’s beachfront.
Most commuters will get home long after dark.

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Angry residents surround regional leadership in Pietermaritzburg city hall

2 days 4 hours ago
Protests against alleged corruption in municipality

By Nompendulo Ngubane

Protesters demanded entry to the Pietermaritzburg city hall and blocked all exits. They chanted, sung struggle songs and swore at Msunduzi deputy mayor Thobani Zuma. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

At about 3am on Sunday morning, residents of Sobantu in Pietermaritzburg barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks and stopped drivers entering or leaving the township. The protests are over housing and crumbling infrastructure.

Protesters then took taxis to Pietermaritzburg city hall, where ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule had a 10am meeting with the leadership of the Moses Mabhida Region. The meeting was to discuss whether a regional ANC conference would be held in June. The Sobantu residents joined other community members, many in ANC T-shirts, who want the ANC Regional Executive Committee (REC) dissolved.

The protesters demanded entry to the city hall and blocked all exits. They chanted, sung struggle songs and swore at Msunduzi deputy mayor Thobani Zuma.

“There will be no conference,” said Sanele Zimu from Dambuza. “We want an REC that will not support corrupt officials in Msunduzi municipality. We are not going anywhere. None of them will leave this building. We want answers. They must tell us what is delaying service delivery in Greater Edendale.”

Protesters were eventually allowed into the city hall to table their concerns with Magashule. He promised to report to the ANC NEC and he left at about 5pm.

Residents say there was a sod turning ceremony for a housing project in 2010, and now they want answers. “Where is the money for that project?” asked Musa Ndaba.

“After that sod turning they disappeared. We are still waiting. It’s been eight years … We have protested, but nothing has been done … This is not the first protest. If they continue ignoring us, we will continue with the protest. We will close the freeway,” said Ndaba.

Sobantu ward councillor Sandile Dlamini said the municipality had failed the residents. “Look at our buildings. They are a mess. The municipality has done nothing for Sobantu residents.”

Nomzamo Zulu said the township is one of the oldest and has a rich history, but its buildings are falling down. “Sobantu has not been developed for decades,” she said. “It’s a shame. There is a hall named after Anton Mfenendala Xaba. He played a huge role in the formation of an ANC branch in Sobantu. He was born here. The hall is falling apart. It has holes; windows are broken; the walls are cracking. This is the only hall in Sobantu.”

“We have ageing infrastructure named after our heroes. The ANC is a disgrace to us and upcoming generations. They are failures,” said Zulu.

Residents of Sobantu in Pietermaritzburg barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks and stopped drivers entering or leaving the township. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

Published originally on GroundUp .

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The Looting of Mahikeng : People revolt against unemployment and corruption

3 days 4 hours ago
Protesters demand removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo

By GroundUp Reporter

Photo of Mahikeng protest
Protesters block the main road leading into Mahikeng.

Mahikeng, the capital of the North West province has been locked down for the past week. Schools and businesses have been unable to open as protests have turned violent with widespread looting. Residents are demanding the removal of Premier Supra Mahumapelo who they accuse of corruption and of not working to provide basic services to the poor townships surrounding the city centre.

Mahumapelo has denied all allegations but the huge protests resulted in President Cyril Ramaphosa cutting short his trip to London so that he could return to meet with various ANC leaders to negotiate a solution. The President has called for calm in the province and says that a decision regarding the issues raised by the protesters will be reached soon.

As an example of the kind of corruption under Mahumapelo’s rule, see the exposé — titled Health4Sale — published by Spotlight this week:

Immigrant shopkeepers from Ethiopia, Somalia and Bangladesh sit outside the venue where the ANC’s top leadership was meeting to discuss Mahumapelo’s political future. Immigrant-run shops have been looted leaving many destitute.
Anti-Mahumapelo ANC members joined hands with some displaced immigrant businessmen as they protested outside the venue where the ANC top leadership was meeting to discuss the future of Mahumapelo.
Unemployment is rife in the province (23.9% by strict definition). Many of Mahikeng’s young people have taken to the streets to express their desperation.
A young man wears a slingshot on his head.
A burning tyre hangs from a bridge. Young protesters from a township called Top Village watch from above.
Police and residents clash in Seweding township as protesters barricaded streets and looted a nearby hardware store.
A Seweding resident shows where he was shot by rubber bullets.
A protester takes a break, as a barricade blocks the road into Mahikeng.

Published originally on GroundUp .

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This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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SASSA’s disastrous disaster management

5 days 4 hours ago
Residents were left without blankets and food after a fire in Wallacedene in February despite the City of Cape Town having notified SASSA officials

By Vincent Lali and GroundUp Staff

Photo of a woman and baby
“When the fire broke out, I stepped out with only a small bucket of rice. Now, we have nothing to eat. I and my baby feel cold at night,” says Khungeka Notshokovu. Photo: Vincent Lali

For years the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre coordinated relief efforts for disasters in the city. It usually did a good job. But in 2018 the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) took over this function. It’s off to a terrible start.

Fire victims are battling to restore their lives after a fire destroyed their shacks in Wallacedene, Kraaifontein, in February.

Community leader Thobani Mathole said: “Residents are used to getting disaster relief from government immediately after a fire destroys their shacks. Now, they wonder why the government is not helping them.”

Mathole said the Wallacedene fire victims did not receive food, blankets and a once-off grant after the fire. About a dozen people are affected.

“SASSA officials arrived, took details of the fire victims and promised to bring food and blankets, but they never returned to the fire scene again,” he said.

In a media release titled SASSA failure to deliver social relief after disasters hurts the poor, Albert Fritz, Western Cape Minister of Social Development, said, “It is concerning to note a growing trend in communities across the province which have experienced service delivery delays or have been left unassisted by SASSA, after a major incident or disaster.”

Fritz said, “It is simply unacceptable that SASSA is failing to deliver after it announced it would take over the distribution [from local government] of social relief, which includes providing temporary grants, food parcels/vouchers and rebuilding kits.”

In March, City of Cape Town Mayco Member for Safety and Security JP Smith cautioned: “In the past, social relief was typically activated within hours after a local disaster was reported. It remains to be seen how this change [to SASSA] will affect timelines in future.”

“The new procedure to activate social relief to disaster victims is that the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre will notify SASSA of incidents … SASSA will then assume responsibility for notifying the service provider of the request at hand and will also monitor the delivery of social relief to the disaster victims,” Smith explained.

“The shack-dwellers lost everything during the fire. Now they are hungry and cold because they have no food and blankets,” said Mathole. “The once-off grant would help fire victims to fix their shacks and buy things they lost during the fire.”

According to JP Smith, SASSA reassessed the way it funds relief for disaster victims in 2017. Concerned that its methods could be classified as irregular expenditure, the agency decided to take over responsibility for providing humanitarian relief, including assessing situations.

The City, however, continues to provide materials for affected residents to rebuild homes. All the Wallacedene fire victims received building materials from the City and rebuilt their shacks shortly after the fire, said Mathole. “Cape Town was the only city in the country that had service level agreements with NGOs like the Mustadafin Foundation, Salvation Army and Historically Disadvantaged Individual who would provide relief including food, blankets and vanity packs to affected communities. Their claims for reimbursement would be verified by the [City’s] Disaster Risk Management Centre and submitted to SASSA for payment,” wrote Smith.

Mpumelelo Mpotye, who lives with his wife and three small children, says it was mid-month when the fire happened. “So I was broke. We were hungry because our food burned. Life became especially tough for our baby after the fire,” he said.

He had to buy food on credit and borrow money from relatives. “The fire left me wallowing in debt,” he said. Friends donated two blankets and a small mattress for his family.

“I never received any kind of help from SASSA. Not even a cent,” he said.

“We went without food for three days after the fire while we were waiting for government to help us with food and blankets,” said Pauline Malazibuye. She stays with her brother, her daughter and two grandchildren. “The whole shack burned. The fire left me with the clothes I was wearing. My grandchildren were left without school uniforms.”

“After the fire, I slept at my daughters place in Bloekombos because I had no blankets,” she said.

A pastor from Chungwoon Mission in Bloekombos brought her family one toothbrush, 1kg rice, 1kg mieliemeal, 375ml fish oil and 1kg sugar. She said, “We tried to go easy on the food, so it lasted us for a week. We starved after we finished the food.”

Thembeka Mntuyedwa said, “I had no money when the fire broke out. I only bought groceries at the end of February … We stood in a line and registered for food supply after the fire. Where is that food? We need it.”

Shivani Wahab, Senior Manager SASSA Western Cape, said, “In respect of the Disaster in Wallacedene, SASSA was not alerted to the disaster.” She said that SASSA would be meeting with the City and province “to clarify roles in respect of all disasters in the province”.

But Richard Bosman, Executive Director for Safety and Security for the City said, “This is not correct. SASSA was officially informed of the incident by the City on 20 February 2018 at 15:11, by attaching an electronic copy of a Disaster Risk Management Incident Report on Service Request 4632. The email is addressed to several SASSA officials.”

Asked who must accept the blame, Bosman said SASSA.

GroundUp also alerted SASSA to the disaster on 17 April. But by time of publication at noon on 20 April the residents had still not received relief.


Published originally on GroundUp .

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Roof Inspector Training Course taking place in May

5 days 19 hours ago



As part of its mandate to boost skills development in the timber construction sector, the Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA), the professional body for the engineered timber construction sector, will be hosting a CPD-accredited Roof Inspector Training Course at its head office in Isando from 7 to 9 May 2018. 

With the aim to enable any technical person to conduct roof inspections with knowledge and insight, and registered persons to sign off roofs on their own, knowing that they speak with authority, the course covers a comprehensive technical overview of timber roof structures. 

The course will include an introduction to timber roof structures, including basic terminology; the basics of timber structure design, framing and bracing; design considerations between light and heavily loaded timber roof structures; manufacturing of timber roof structures, transportation and storage; installation of timber roof structures; different timber roof structures and types of buildings; and case studies and experiences in roofing structures. The course will also include engaging site visits as well as a written evaluation.

Course programme

Day 1:

08:00 Registration at ITC-SA head office
08:30 Who is the ITC-SA? Role players and their different responsibilities in the roofing industry in SA.
09:00 Introduction to timber roof structures.
09:30 Basic roof structures terminology & tools:
Members forming a roof structure
Building layouts & framing types
Overhangs, cantilevers
Engineered & site-made types of structures

10:30 Tea/coffee
10:40 Basics of timber structure design, framing judgment. Code-based design compliance, deemed-to-satisfy rules and tributary loading.
12:00 Design consideration between light and heavily loaded timber roof structures.
13:00 Lunch
14:00 Bracing considerations and differences in roof structure type and member type.
16:00 End of Day 1

Day 2:

08:30 Truss and layout bracing types and their special requirements in design and framing, ITC-SA manual on bracing.
09:30 Case study examples
10:00 Tea/coffee
10:20 Manufacture of timber structures and quality control, engineered and site-made – case study examples.
11:30 Handling, transportation and storage of timber structures.
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Installation of timber roof structures, inspections and paperwork; roles and responsibilities.
14:45 First site visit to a timber roof under construction. On-site safety compliance and reporting (bring own hard hats and closed shoes).
16:00 End of Day 2

Day 3:

08:30 Second site visit (to a different site)
10:00 Tea/coffee
10:20 Discussion of site observations
11:00 Responsibilities of Inspector, Professional Insurance and ethics.
11:30 Discussion of making a business in roof inspections.
12:00 Q&A session
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Slide show of non-compliant roofs and the consequences
14:30 Non-compulsory written evaluation (certificates for successful candidates)

This course has been CPD accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) for 3 points. ECSA Validation No.: ITCSA-INS0817

Note: candidates wishing to obtain certificates will be assessed continually over the course during discussions and especially during the two site visits.

All candidates will receive the ITC-SA manuals for roof inspections.

Delegates to preferably have a year or more of post-matric education with science and mathematics, matric with involvement in roofs or Recognised Prior Learning (RPL).
Engineers who are interested in expanding their knowledge and expertise in timber roof structures will greatly benefit from this informative course.

Cost:  R5500 (excl. 15% VAT) = R6325
Venue: SAFCA Building, 6 Hulley Road, Isando
Date: 7, 8 & 9 May 2018
Time: 8am – 4pm daily

Visit https://bit.ly/2HukgYt to access the Roof Inspector Training Course registration form. Please email the completed form along with proof of payment to jessica@itc-sa.org.

Disclaimer: Note that, while every attempt will be made to give attendees a thorough education in roof inspection, the ITC-SA does not commit to employ anyone as a roof inspector.
 



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Millions of urban Africans still don't have electricity: here's what can be done

6 days 2 hours ago
Millions of people without electricity access in Africa live close to existing power grid infrastructure. Shutterstock

At least 110 million of the 600 million people still living without access to electricity in Africa live in urban areas. Most are within a stone throw from existing power grid infrastructure.

In Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Liberia alone there are up to 95 million people living in urban areas. All in close proximity to the grid. In Kenya about 70% of off-grid homes are located within 1.2km of a power line. And estimates for “under-the-grid” populations across sub-Saharan Africa range from 61% to 78%.

Besides energy access being crucial for many basic human needs, these underserved populations represent a massive commercial opportunity for cash-strapped sub-Saharan African utilities. Electricity providers could reach tens of millions of densely packed customers without the cost of a last-mile rural grid extension.

So, why aren’t these potential consumers connected to the formal grid?

Urban communities often face many challenges in obtaining electricity access. These range from the prohibitively high cost of a connection, to the challenges of informal housing, the impact of power theft on services and socio-political marginalisation. In many cases, these obstacles are difficult to address successfully.

However, recent advances in distributed renewable energy technologies mean a more affordable, faster to deploy, cleaner alternative is at hand in Africa. One that can step in where policy and utility reforms are wanting.

Barriers to grid connections

One of the major barriers to electrification is the cost of a grid connection. A grid connection in Kenya, for instance, is estimated at USD $ 400 per household. This is nearly one-third of the average per capita income of a Kenyan.

Beyond pure cost barriers, urban communities often can’t access energy services for other socio-economic reasons. For instance, not being metered because they don’t have a formal address. Or living in in an area that is difficult to service – such as near flood plains or in informal housing settlements.

Corruption among electricity service providers, power theft by customers and the establishment of electricity cartels also complicates and limits electricity access.

Finally, the utilities themselves face many challenges in implementing reforms to get more people connected. Take the example of the Kenya Power and Lighting Company, which owns and operates most of the electricity transmission and distribution system. In 2015 it introduced a subsidised connection fee of US $150. This was done through the Last Mile Connectivity Project. In one year, this installment-based payment plan led to a 30-fold increase in legal electricity connections in impoverished neighbourhoods.

But the project was marred by cost overruns and inflated and misreported new connection numbers. On top of this, newly connected households often have very low consumption levels and low-income customers were often unable to make payments, even at subsidised rates.

Without the necessary infrastructural development, experts argue that the program puts a strain on the technical, commercial and financial resources of the utility. This means that the programme may find it difficult to generate revenue, recover costs or provide the service intended to new customers.

Decentralised renewables

Decentralised renewable energy technologies offer an important solution for “under-the-grid” electrification. They are simple, fast and agile. They have short installation times, and offer a reliable electricity service for informal settlements.

Pay-as-you-go solar systems and appliances, for example, can provide a much lower barrier to entry. Compared to the high upfront connection costs noted earlier in Kenya, a 15-watt solar home system costs on average USD $9 per month for 36 months after which point the household owns its system.

The renewable energy sector recognises this under-the-grid market. In fact, about 35% of solar lighting product sales in Kenya are made in peri-urban areas. And it’s a good bet. Evidence shows that the willingness to pay for decentralised renewables is much higher than a grid connection because they are seen as more reliable.

Policies to support decentralised technologies include: integrated energy planning that incorporates these solutions, adopting and enforcing product quality control standards and providing financial incentives – like reduced import duties for products or local loan and grant programs.

These solutions show that with the right approach, and simple innovations, Africa’s prospective urban customers can finally get access to electricity.

Ben Attia, a Research Consultant with Greentech Media, contributed to the writing of this article

The Conversation

Rebekah Shirley does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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