Monthly Archives: July 2016

Zimbabwe: Government Issues 6 000 Import Licences, 75 Percent to South African Products

GOVERNMENT has issued over 6 000 import certificates, with three quarters of those for South African products, five months after it tightened the flow of imports to curb dumping of substandard products onto the local market.

The southern African country enforced a Consignment-Based Conformity Assessment (CBCA) programme in March this year under Statutory Instrument 132 of 2015 to ensure that the goods imported into Zimbabwe comply with accepted quality.

A French company Bureau Veritas, has been contracted to enforce the import standards.

South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner, accounting for about 70 percent of imported goods in the southern African country and over 60 percent of its total trade, official figures show.

“It has been observed that most certificates were issued on imports coming from South Africa constituting 75 percent, followed by China, and the rest of the world,” said the minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha at the launch of Bureau Veritas office in Harare.

A total of 6,004 CBCA certificates have been issued so far, Bimha added.

The import policing programme has seen a general improvement in quality and the number of consignments failing to meet standards has fallen to 44 percent from 67 percent since March when it started.

About 58 percent of the accepted imports are for chemical, machinery and food products as well as electrical equipment.

The majority of failures are mostly electrical equipment and machinery, plastics and chemical products, Bimha added.

Zimbabwe has been battling a tide of cheap and predominantly substandard products from China and neighbouring countries, which has pushed its own manufacturing industry on the brink and widened its trade deficit.

In 2015, it registered a trade deficit of US$3,3 billion, about a fifth of its GDP, after exports for the full year to December amounted to $2,7 billion against imports of $6 billion.

A similar trend is expected this year as the manufacturing sector remains flat amid a worsening cash shortage.

Source: Financial Gazette.

South Africa: LGE 2016 – All DA Mayors and Councillors Will Sign Performance Agreements Before Assuming Office

Heading into the 2016 Local Government Elections on Tuesday, 03 August 2016, the DA commits unequivocally that all DA Mayors and Councillors elected will be held accountable for the delivery of services to the millions of South Africans desperately in need. This will be by having all elected Mayors and Councillors sign performance agreements committing to delivering better services and creating jobs through stopping corruption.

To this end the DA will not hesitate to take swift action against those who fail to deliver for the people they have been elected to serve.

DA Councillor and Mayoral Candidates have gone through the DA’s rigorous selection process to emerge as the best and most diverse candidates to bring the change that so many municipalities need, and to keep making progress in the municipalities where we already govern.

All DA candidates will sign a pledge undertaking to put the needs of residents first through the implementation of good, clean and efficient governance practices.

It is the DA’s pledge to South Africa that all DA candidates will face thorough internal assessments and those who are not performing will be dealt with in accordance with the party’s Federal Constitution.

Following the 03 August Local Government Elections, the DA will bring good, honest government which is close to the people and responsive to their everyday needs. To do this, the DA has waged war on corruption that steals from our people and we expect our candidates to live this mantra in every day of their service to the people.

Further to this the DA believes that our role is both to redress the past and to build one nation with one future, based on the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity. This vision and these values guide our selection of candidates. Our candidates understand our country’s painful past and must understand the role that they ought to play in redress and reconciliation.

Since 2011, ANC-run municipalities have plainly shown in this 5-year term of local government that they have abandoned the communities which they vowed to serve in pursuit of self-interest and self-enrichment.

To the contrary, the DA’s flagship Metro government in Cape Town has delivered the best services, while ANC governments in many municipalities have been marred by maladministration and billions of rands in wasted public money. The exorbitant R19.4 billion in irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in ANC Metros shows how little the ANC cares for effective delivery.

The DA is an evolving and changing party, and where we govern, we govern well. We are ready to bring change to Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, and other municipalities across South Africa – change that will move South Africa forward again.

Source: Democratic Alliance.

South Africa: Taxi Industry Shrugs Off Minimum Wage

Department of Labour has set new wage standards but taxi operators say they will continue paying their drivers with commissions and targets

“We do not work according to what the government is putting across,” says Amin Carlsen, chairperson of Wynberg Taxi Forum.

This comes after the Department of Labour on 1 August announced increases in the minimum wages for minibus taxi operators.

“Minibus taxi drivers work on target each day. There is no basic salary,” says Carlsen. “We are not subsidised by government like Golden Arrow buses, so we cannot pay taxi drivers in the manner prescribed by the Department of Labour.”

The department has set the minimum wage at R3,218.57 per month; R742.80 per week and R15.47 per hour for drivers. The new minimum wage for rank marshals is R2,564.33 per month; R591.81 per week and R12.32 per hour.

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A minibus taxi driver on the Claremont-Hanover route, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “I do not know what you are talking about. We do not work on a basic salary. The system is either I work on target or on commission basis everyday. Anything above the target, is what I take home, and what I get on Saturday is my own money. If in the week I fail getting to the target, I have to make it up on Saturday.”

The driver laughed when shown the government salary table.

“Those figures cannot take us through the month. Why does the government worry? We are working our way. Ask any driver around this place,” he said.

The driver would not disclose his average takings after reaching his target.

However, GroundUp spoke to another driver on the Masiphumelele-Fishhoek route. He said he only made R500 a week (well below the new minimum wage) and earned extra by keeping the takings on every second Saturday.

Mokgadi Pela, spokesperson for the department, said, “I have never heard of this system and it sounds [like] it is a way for minibus taxi owners to evade wage increases. The increase is as a result of extensive investigation into vulnerable sectors like the taxi industry. Government has to protect workers in this sector. Every year, there has to be an increase for the workers.”

Source: GroundUp.

South Africa: DA Calls for More Visible Policing When Ballot Papers Are Transported

The DA is deeply concerned by the confirmed theft of ballot papers that were being transported in Johannesburg. These ballot papers were for Ward 29 and 31 in Soweto.

The DA has urgently enquired into what steps the IEC will be taking to invalidate these ballot papers ahead of 03 August 2016. We have also requested increased visible police protection of ballot papers, when they are being transported.

These local government elections will be the most important since 1994. The DA and the ANC are neck-and-neck in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay, and many other municipalities across South Africa.

It is essential that these elections are free and fair, and that every precautionary step be taken to ensure that any vote-rigging will not only be impossible, but met with the full might of the law.

Source: Democratic Alliance.

More than scenery: National parks preserve our history and culture

On August 25, 2016, the National Park Service (NPS) will celebrate its 100th birthday. But what’s a party without people? In fact, while many Americans think of national parks as places to experience nature, they also preserve unique resources that tell stories about the everyday lives of people and their American journeys.

Along with protecting natural wonders, such as Yellowstone National Park’s geysers, the National Park Service is charged with preserving cultural resources that are relevant to living communities. Many of the more than 400 sites in the national park system are repositories of history and heritages of people and communities – some well-known, others underrepresented – that shape the national dialog. Particularly in recent decades, NPS has worked to showcase a diverse range of human stories that help us understand our nation’s past and present.

Today NPS’ role in cultural heritage preservation – collecting and interpreting stories about people and the many ways they inhabit places – is more important than ever. These stories help us to see our similarities and better understand our differences as a society. And this work helps NPS tell a national story of relevance and significance to all.

Telling diverse stories

Our national park system includes many of our nation’s most important and, in some cases, most contested cultural sites and resources. Examples include Historic Jamestowne, where English colonization of North America began; the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which commemorates the forcible removal of the Cherokee people from Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee; the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument, which honors Tubman’s heroic work leading enslaved people to freedom; and the Manzanar National Historic Site, one of 10 camps where Japanese-American citizens were interned during World War II.

Most recently, on June 24, 2016, President Obama designated the area around the Stonewall Inn in New York City, where protests sparked the movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in 1969, as a national monument.

Each of these sites links our nation’s past and present in challenging and enriching ways. As a cultural anthropologist, I work with the National Park Service to involve underrepresented communities in interpretations of place and to ensure that our park system embraces and reflects diverse experiences.

This work is not just about written history and preserving the past. The National Park Service’s Ethnography Program, created in 1981, focuses on “living people linked to the parks by religion, legend, deep historical attachment, subsistence use, or other aspects of their culture.” Through consultation and research, the program works to ensure that voices and practices of these communities are heard and taken into account in decision making and administration of National Park Service sites.

Conserving objects and experiences

For example, in 2010 I conducted research in rural southeast Georgia with students from the University of South Florida (USF) focusing on the community of Archery. Our study documented Archery’s roles as the boyhood home of former President Jimmy Carter and home of Bishop William Decker Johnson (1867-1936), who was a prominent preacher, educator and founder of the Johnson Home Industrial College, which started in 1912 in Archery as a school for black youth. Archery is also the site of the St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, Johnson’s home congregation. St. Mark represents the heart of the historically African-American community that constituted the majority of Archery during President Carter’s boyhood.

We used tools and methods that encouraged participation and enabled people to share their stories. This included conducting interviews and collecting oral histories from former residents of Archery, including President Carter. In addition, we participated in community events like the annual May Day festival and visited with people in their homes, businesses and churches.

We documented stories about farming, fishing, segregated schooling and special events like family reunions, baseball games and train rides. And we linked these stories with material culture findings, such as photographs, remains of old buildings, abandoned wells and gravesites, and with places such as train depots, baseball fields, ponds, pecan groves and pine tree stands. Together they tell a story about a small community in rural Georgia that has national significance.

Our team also translated some of the stories and information collected into maps, posters and other visual and digitally accessible products in order to showcase the community of Archery to people who were unfamiliar with its history and heritage. For example, with the help of community elders, we surveyed the St. Mark A.M.E. Church cemetery and identified nearly 200 graves, some of which had previously gone unmarked. We created a detailed map of the cemetery with associated names, and a geographic information system (GIS) database that digitally displays information listed on each grave marker and shows a picture of each gravesite.

As Archery continues to work on preserving its past and securing its future, preservation and management of the cemetery should remain a key goal. It is an integral part of the Archery community. For example, it allows us to see multigenerational connections and extended family histories and reflect on them, such as those of Zenobia Wakefield, (1867-1962), midwife and member of a founding family of the community, and Bishop William Decker Johnson. The cemetery links the past to the present in tangible and intangible ways.

Our cemetery mapping work, ethnographic interviews and other community engagement activities pursued as part of this project demonstrate the power of incorporating community knowledge into cultural resource management and heritage preservation initiatives. The National Park Service cited our ethnohistory study of Archery in its 2015 Call to Action plan, which pledges that in its second century, the park system will “fully represent our nation’s ethnically and culturally diverse communities” and help communities protect places and objects that are special to them.

Our Archery community project materials are archived at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia and are on display at the St. Mark A.M.E. Church. Our maps and posters can also be accessed via the USF Heritage Research Lab.

What places can tell us

As our work in Archery shows, we can find unique and precious connections to our past in seemingly unassuming places. In his book “Wisdom Sits in Places: Landscape and Language Among the Western Apache” (1996), anthropologist Keith Basso captures what places can mean to people and how people help us know places. Basso writes that:

“places possess a marked capacity for triggering acts of self-reflection, inspiring thoughts about who one presently is, or memories of who one used to be, or musings on who one might become. And that is not all. Place-based thoughts about the self lead commonly to thoughts of other things – other places, other people, other times, whole networks of associations.”

Wisdom does sit in places, and in stories people tell about those places, and the lives people live in those places. Perhaps we should reconsider the artificial lines that we often draw between natural and cultural resources, between tangible and intangible cultural resources and between historic resources in museums and the knowledge we can find within communities, families and their lived experiences.

The national park system provides a window into stories about places, people and experiences. This makes it, and NPS’ cultural resources and heritage preservation programs – particularly those focused on engaging living communities – invaluable assets for educating future generations. We can learn as much about our American journey from people such as Bishop William Decker Johnson and communities such Archery as we can from experiencing the Grand Canyon or the mountains of Yosemite.

Source: The Conversation