Monthly Archives: May 2016

South Africa: Kwaggafontein to Register for Set-Top Boxes

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi will on Friday lead a door-to-door registration campaign for government subsidised set-top boxes (STBs) for qualifying indigent households in Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga.

Minister Muthambi will oversee the registration of community members from Kwaggafontein for the STBs that will enable them to enjoy an improved television watching experience.

The STB registration drive is part of government’s much-awaited broadcasting digital migration programme (digital terrestrial television).

The door-to-door registration is particularly aimed at the elderly and disabled, as well as those qualifying families who, for credible reasons, are unable to go to their nearest post office for registration. This registration process will run concurrently with the registration process at the local post office.

“The Department [of Communication] will announce the analogue signal switch-off date when more than 80% of households across the country have been migrated to the digital television platform. We are confident that we will reach 80% by the end of next year,” Minister Muthambi said.

Delivering her Budget Vote Speech in Parliament in May, Minister Muthambi announced that the department, together with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), had resolved to delink the TV licence requirement for the subsidised set-top box registration process.

Source: SAnews.gov.za.

South Sudanese Women Learn New Skills to Become Self-Sufficient

A group of women from the Greater Equatoria region are in Wau, South Sudan, to train dozens of other women on how to make handicrafts that they can sell to earn a living.

Thirty young women are learning how to make handbags, wallets and tablecloths from local materials such as beads. Officials of the Juba-based Women Advance Organization, which put together the training, say they believe the new skills not only will enable young women to earn money, but also will create jobs for other women.

Dozens of women sit on locally made carpets at the Youth and Sports Center in Wau, each holding a needle and spools of threads in different colors, sewing together a variety of handcrafts, including colorful tablecloths.

In one corner sits a basket full of handmade handbags, wallets and table mats, all ready to be sold in local markets.

The women are expected to spend two more weeks learning their skills.

‘Happy to learn’

Munira Michael, who has been selling tea in the local market to earn a living, has learned how to make beautiful tablecloths. With a broad smile on her face, Michael said she has learned a worthwhile skill that will help her earn extra income to supplement what she gets from her tea business.

Michael said that for the last two weeks, she has learned how to sew and knit, and has secured three customers who are willing to buy each of her handmade items for 600 South Sudanese pounds, or about $100.

“I am happy to learn how to make three designs of table sheets. I usually make them when I get home,” she said. “Up to four customers have come saying they need this or that design. It’s a good business.”

Fashionable, eco-friendly

Victoria Sote said the products she is learning to make are also friendly to the environment. She said she is encouraging other girls to embrace these new skills and to teach women in their communities how to do the same.

She says that instead of using plastic material to make bags, which harms the environment, women should use bags made from locally grown materials.

“It is very economical, unlike plastic bags,” she said. “You can go with this product even to the church and wedding parties because it is of fashion.”

Everisia Eliseo Roko is good at knitting wallets. She said that after she completes the training, she will teach other young women so they can work in a group to produce similar products for sale.

“I have learned how to make bags and wallets, and after we have finished with the learning, I am going to start my own. For example, making wallets and bags for women,” she said. “This has made a great difference because you cannot find a wallet made out of beads here unless it is imported from East Africa.”

It takes an individual two days to produce a single handmade tablecloth or handbag.

Ready to sell

Hosana Angela Atoroba, who is coordinating the training, said that for the last two weeks the women have produced hundreds of items ready to be sold at an exhibition next week.

“We are going to hire a place where we shall be selling the products, and on the sixth of June is when we shall make the exhibition for the first products and sell most of the products, and the remaining ones [we] will stock in a shop that we shall open for them.”

Hundreds of women in the greater Equatoria region, especially the former Central Equatoria state, already are earning income from making and selling handicrafts.

Jusphine Ropi, who is now a tutor, learned the skills in 2013 while in Kajokeji County. She said the business has helped her earn a steady income. Now, she said, she can easily afford to pay tuition fees for her three children.

“The knitting helps women get busy during your leisure time and have no time for rumor mongering. You will be busy and have a peaceful mind making money,” Ropi said. “Especially me, for example, when I learned this in Kajokeji, I had an interest and I could make bags and tablecloths and get money, which now I am using for paying my children at school.”

Ropi said she wants to help provide women with creative skills that will enable them to become self-sufficient and compete in today’s changing business environment.

Source: Voice of America

SA to mark International Children’s Day

President Jacob Zuma is expected to lead the International Children’s Day celebrations at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, on Wednesday.

President Zuma is expected to visit and open a media centre at the Kingdom Life Children’s Centre and later on in the day interact with the community at the stadium in Atteridgeville.

International Children’s Day is observed annually on 1 June around the world to honour children’s rights as per the proclamation of the 1925 World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland.

In South Africa, the day also coincides with Child Protection Week, which was launched on Sunday by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini in Klerksdorp.

Child Protection Week, which is this year observed from 29 May to 5 June, is held under the theme “Let Us All Protect Children to Move South Africa Forward”.

The week campaign is organised to mobilise society to protect, develop and nurture children.

It also seeks to raise awareness and assist parents, child care givers, guardians and the entire society to be vigilant and partner with government in protecting and creating a safe and secure environment for children.

Source: Government Communication and information System

South Africa: SA to Mark International Children’s Day

President Jacob Zuma is expected to lead the International Children’s Day celebrations at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, on Wednesday.

President Zuma is expected to visit and open a media centre at the Kingdom Life Children’s Centre and later on in the day interact with the community at the stadium in Atteridgeville.

International Children’s Day is observed annually on 1 June around the world to honour children’s rights as per the proclamation of the 1925 World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland.

In South Africa, the day also coincides with Child Protection Week, which was launched on Sunday by Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini in Klerksdorp.

Child Protection Week, which is this year observed from 29 May to 5 June, is held under the theme “Let Us All Protect Children to Move South Africa Forward”.

The week campaign is organised to mobilise society to protect, develop and nurture children.

It also seeks to raise awareness and assist parents, child care givers, guardians and the entire society to be vigilant and partner with government in protecting and creating a safe and secure environment for children.

Source: SAnews.gov.za.

South Africa: Financial and Fiscal Commission On 2017-18 Division of Revenue Submission

Submission for the 2017/18 Division of Revenue for an Equitable Sharing of National Revenue

On 27 May 2016, the Financial and Fiscal Commission (the Commission) tabled at Parliament its Annual Submission for the Division of Revenue. The Submission is made in terms of Section 214(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (1996), Section 9 of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Act (1998) and Section 4(4c) of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (2009).

This Submission is part of the Commission’s constitutionally defined processes, to advise Parliament and state organs on how the money collected by national government should be allocated fairly and equitably among the three spheres of government, to enable them to carry out their constitutional and other legal mandates. Intergovernmental fiscal transfers are a dominant feature in South Africa, as the bulk of government revenue is raised at national level and then allocated to subnational government (municipalities and provinces) through the equitable share and other grants.

Eight years after the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, South Africa’s economy remains vulnerable to slow global recovery and, increasingly, to domestic factors. The mining and manufacturing sectors, which are major exporters, are shrinking and beset by strikes. Compounding an already dire economic situation is one of the worst droughts in 35 years, which has led to a steep decline in agricultural output. As a result, South Africa is having to import (rather than export) maize.

The problem is further aggravated by the exchange rate’s sharp depreciation, which has driven up other food import prices, in particular wheat. Rising food prices affect poor households the most, especially within rural provinces and municipalities, while the sluggish economy means that unemployment rates have remained high. This fragile economic growth is a significant threat to the future prioritisation of rural development initiatives. Put simply, South Africa’s current economy is not strong enough to sustain the tax burden needed to fund infrastructural programmes that stimulate demand and create employment in rural areas.

Rural areas cover 80% of South Africa’s land and are home to almost 40% of the population. Although poverty and economic deprivation have reduced significantly since 1994, rural areas lag behind the country as a whole. Despite increased funding, rural regions are not performing as well as urban areas, and the unemployment rate, particularly among the youth, in rural areas is much higher than the national unemployment rate. Poverty is a manifestation of under-development emanating from a range of factors including historical legacies, under-investment and structural issues. As a result of historical social engineering policies and weak regional economies, rural areas carry the highest burden of poverty. This burden imposes additional demands for services and funding on rural provinces and municipalities.

Government has recognised the need for integrated rural development – one of the key objectives of the National Development Plan (NDP) is an “Integrated and Inclusive Rural Economy” by 2030, while rural development is one of the priority areas identified in the Medium Term Strategic Frameworks (MTSF) of 2009-2014 and 2014-2019. However, this new approach has not yet been accompanied by a substantial reallocation of resources. Part of the problem is that, like many other countries, South Africa does not have a government-wide, officially agreed and accepted definition of “rural”. This lack of a common definition has led to a plethora of rural development programmes across government departments.

To date, the fiscal framework has not had a significant impact on rural development for various reasons, including (a) the transfer system from national government; (b) uncollected property rates and/or service charges that are not cost-reflective; (c) leakages, including bad management, inefficient procurement, under-spending and institutional challenges. The Submission provides evidence on how improving the efficiency of intergovernmental fiscal relations can assist national government, public entities, provinces and municipalities to stimulate rural development through prioritising public investments and interventions.

Rural development is a complex process and is not just about agricultural development, as agriculture contributes less than 3% to South Africa’s economy. Indeed farm families increasingly rely on off-farm employment and social grants. Therefore, land reform needs to go beyond agriculture and farm-based activities. Rural areas require new economic engines and initiatives that seek to expand industrial activities, enhance agricultural productivity, and foster greater production linkages within agro-processing industries.

Given this complexity, rural development requires proper coordination among the institutions and departments involved. Coordination is needed at both local level and between national and subnational governments, to integrate sectoral approaches, to involve private partners and to achieve the appropriate geographic scale. Public entities, such as state-owned companies (e.g. Eskom, Telkom) and development finance institutions (e.g. Land Bank, Industrial Development Corporation) also have a responsibility to support rural development. However, they invest modestly in rural areas and do little to crowd in the private sector.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of rural development is ensuring that provinces and municipalities are well funded, through own revenues and transfers from nationally collected revenue. Rural provinces have limited economic activity and a narrow tax base, which means that they rely heavily on central government for funding. As a result, they have little spending discretion (i.e. ability to direct resources towards province-specific needs). While the principle of supporting the poorer regions or provinces through grants or special projects is generally well-supported, there is no agreed method for determining poverty levels and related needs among regions. In addition, government’s current rural strategies are often sector-based and do not allow for the different developmental needs of rural regions, many of which depend on exploiting special local resources. For example, policies to encourage rain-fed activities, such as livestock and cropping, are clearly not suitable for all areas. This sector-based approach, coupled with the lack of intergovernmental coordination, has led to the two main rural grants servicing the same target audience and funding the same activities. Greater alignment is needed between the land reform programme and other rural development policies.

Like rural provinces, the majority of municipalities in rural areas depend heavily on transfers to fulfil their mandate. This is in part because they have limited scope for economic diversification, deficient services and infrastructure, and declining revenue bases because of high unemployment and population losses through migration. In addition, rural municipalities face the dilemma of expanding expenditure requirements, including caring for the farm dwellers and workers who are evicted from farms – these evictions are the unintended consequences of laws introduced since 1994 to regulate the rights of farm workers. Municipalities have to use their own funds because currently the intergovernmental fiscal instruments do not cater for evictions.

The theme of the Submission for the 2017/18 Division of Revenue is the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations System and Rural Development in South Africa. The Submission provides evidence on how improving the efficiency of intergovernmental fiscal relations can assist national government, provinces and municipalities to stimulate rural development through prioritising public investments and interventions.

The Commission’s recommendations for the 2016/17 Division of Revenue cover:

Conditions for creating prosperity in rural areas through agriculture-led growth.

The role of agriculture and non-agricultural linkages in enabling economically, socially and environmentally balanced regional development.

Measures to improve land reform impacts on rural development.

Public entities as drivers of infrastructure-led growth in rural areas.

Fiscal arrangements for funding rural development mandates of provinces.

Fiscal arrangements for funding rural development mandates of local and district municipalities.

Job creation in rural areas through public works programmes.

Farm evictions and their negative impact on rural municipal finances

The development of new sources of municipal income.

Effectiveness of sanitation fiscal instruments in enhancing rural development.

If managed properly, fiscal reforms for rural development can bring about greater inter-regional equity and potential economic growth. While the focus of this Submission is on rural areas, the debate should not be an “either-or-choice” between urban and rural development, as both exist in parallel throughout South Africa. The Commission is also interested in urban development, as both rural and urban regions can contribute to national growth and poverty alleviation.

Source: South African Government.