Daily Archives: October 29, 2017

South Africa: President Zuma Must Immediately Release Fees Report to Prevent Confusion After Leak

The DA calls on President Jacob Zuma to immediately release the long overdue Report of the Commission of Enquiry into University Fees, together with the recommendations of Government.

The President’s own nearly 2-month dilly-dallying over the release of the report, and his reported refusal to share it with the previous Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande for what seem to be petty and vindictive reasons, have predictably resulted in a leak of aspects of the report in today’s City Press.

The leak is bound to cause public confusion and concern. The Commission’s reported recommendation that a no-fee solution cannot be found was to be expected – and will itself be controversial in some student quarters.

There are a handful of measures that will be popular: scrapping registration fees, for example – but the full report would have to indicate where universities would get their cashflow for the first three months of the academic year without it.

Making TVETs completely free and introducing a stipend for TVET students is another – but we need to know how much more that would cost, how such a scheme could be managed given the huge complexities of TVET student registrations, and where that money would come from.

And setting up an “education fund” to which multiple bodies could donate money to fund higher education sounds interesting – but given the monumental shortages in funding, it has yet to be shown that such a fund could realistically raise the kinds of additional funds that are needed.

Other reported recommendations are unclear, some are expensive and others are possibly unachievable. For example, in City Press’s version the report advocates:

Spending 1% annually of GDP in University subsidies. Increasing university subsidies is essential to stabilising the system, but fixing it at a ring-fenced rate will not be accepted by most Treasuries;

Developing an “Income-Contingent Loan” system: again a good idea, but the full report needs to convince the public that such a system is both possible, financially viable given current very poor repayment rates, and an improvement on NSFAS. The system, says City Press, would be stabilised through using “unclaimed pension benefits” – an appalling precedent in the light of the fact that our current government would love nothing better than to start raiding funds of this sort (think PIC) for its own chief purpose, that of looting; and

Using the Unemployment Insurance Fund to pay for TVET infrastructure, when in fact funding infrastructure is nowhere near as difficult as funding recurrent expenses, and raiding funds such as these would, again, set a very bad precedent.

The Treasury last week ruled out any significant budget increases in Higher Education without the clear identification of a clear source of new income to pay for it, for example a dedicated tax. This would seem to render at least some of the Commission’s recommendations unviable and possibly dated, which is unsurprising considering the Commission took months to set up, and took an extremely long time to conduct its hearings.

The leak of the report is a sign that the public is desperate to know what is in it. The disdain that the ANC has for the public is once again apparent. The President and the Cabinet have failed in their duty to bring this matter to a swift conclusion.

Source: Democratic Alliance

Petrol price to increase in November

The petrol price will increase by 4 cents per litre in November, says the Department of Energy.

The price of Diesel (0.05% sulphur) will increase by 23 cents per litre, while Diesel (0.005% sulphur) will increase by 27 cents per litre.

South Africa’s fuel prices are adjusted on a monthly basis, informed by international and local factors. International factors include the fact that South Africa imports both crude oil and finished products at a price set at the international level, including shipping costs, the Department of Energy said in a statement.

The price for Petrol (93 Octane, ULP and LRP) and petrol (95 Octane, ULP and LRP) will increase by 4cents per litre.

The department said one of the reasons for the fuel price adjustments is the Rand/US Dollar Exchange rate.

The Rand weakened, on average, against the US Dollar (from 13.13 to 13:62 Rand per USD) during the period under review. This led to higher contribution to the Basic Fuel Prices (BFP) of petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin by 22.12c/l, 22.19c/l and 22.07c/l respectively, the department said.

The price of Illuminating Paraffin (wholesale) will increase by 21 cents per litre and the maximum LPGas Retail Price will increase by 17c/kg.

The average prices of petrol and illuminating paraffin decreased, whilst the diesel prices increased, during the period under review. This led to an over-recovery of about 17 cents per litre on petrol and about 2.5 cents per litre on paraffin, the department said.

The department said the average Brent Crude oil price increased slightly from 55.99USD to 56.59USD per barrel during the period under review.

There are expectations that the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will prolong its output cut agreement with non-OPEC partners at least until the middle of next year, the department said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Somali Police, Intelligence Chiefs Fired After Deadly Hotel Siege

Minister of Information Abdirahman Omar Osman confirmed the dismissals of Commander of Somali Police General Abdihakim Dahir Saaid and Intelligence Chief Abdullahi Mohamed Ali Sanbalolshe.

What was expected of the security agencies was that the necessary intelligence and surveillance information should have stopped this truck,” Osman told VOA.

Militants stormed the Nasa Hablod Two Hotel late Saturday following a truck bomb blast at the hotel’s gate.

Osman said five al-Shabab militants executed the attack. Police captured three, and shot another dead, while the fifth died in the truck explosion.

The al-Shabab militant group claimed responsibility within minutes of the attack.

A second car bomb blast Saturday caused injuries near the former parliament building.

Police operate checkpoints in the area, making it one of the city’s most secure. The Presidential Palace, headquarters of a Somali women’s organization, a prison run by the National Intelligence and Security Agency, and other hotels are all near the Nasa Hablod Two Hotel.

It will be the second time the two officials were fired from the same positions.

General Saaid was dismissed as police chief in July 2014 after a suicide bomber drove through a checkpoint and detonated in front of the Presidential Palace. Gunmen then stormed the palace, killing several people.

Sanbalolshe was fired in September 2014 as Intel Chief after a disagreement with then-Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed.

Both officials had been reappointed this past April.

The hotel targeted by al-Shabab is popular with politicians and civil servants. Among the high-profile victims was veteran politician Madobe Nunow Mohamed, who served as Interior Minister for the Southwest regional state, and previously was federal minister of the constitution, minister of information, parliament member and acting speaker of parliament.

Witness account

Among the dead were four victims from the same family: three children aged 6 months, 9 months and 3 years old, and their grandmother. A 6-year-old child survived the attack.

The boy’s father recounted the horrific experience.

The man, who asked not to be me named because of security concerns, is a 29-year-old university student. He and his brother took their wives and children to see the children’s grandparents at the hotel.

The first explosion caused chaos in the hotel. He and his brother were at the cafeteria with their father at the time of the explosion. They ran upstairs to find the children and the rest of the family on the second floor.

As the gunmen attacked, We discussed what we do? Should we help mother to jump the window? Then we thought it’s not possible; at that point a grenade landed near us and we ran into the room, he said.

Al-Shabab fighters followed them, shooting and throwing bombs. They were throwing a bomb into each room followed by hail of bullets, the man said.

His wife called out his name, and then his son. He told them to get back in the room. The man and three other residents hid in a bathroom. In another room, gunmen wounded his wife and killed their 6-month-old son.

Al-Shabab militants then found the man’s mother who was shielding her 3-year-old grandson and shot both dead, the man said. Then they wounded his sister-in-law and killed her 9-month-old daughter.

The man, his brother and father survived; the wives of the two brothers were both wounded. Three of the brothers’ children and the men’s mother were killed.

Security raid

About three hours later, security forces entered the hotel and while they searched the second floor one of the militants detonated a suicide vest. A fierce gun fight then forced the Special Forces to retreat. At least three security officers died in the firefight, according to officials.

The troops immediately returned to the floor, and using ladders, rescued dozens of people while securing the hotel in a room-by-room search. The siege ended before dawn Sunday, about 11 hours after the first truck exploded.

The twin bombings came two weeks after a truck blast killed at least 358 people at a busy Mogadishu intersection. Somalia’s government blamed al-Shabab for the October 14 attack, although the militant group has not claimed responsibility.

Source: Voice of America