Daily Archives: November 24, 2017

4 UN Peacekeepers, Malian Soldier Killed in Jihadist Attacks

BAMAKO, MALI Four U.N. peacekeepers and a Malian soldier were killed and 21 people were wounded Friday in two separate attacks by unknown assailants in Mali, the U.N. mission there said.

Regional armies, U.N. forces, and French and U.S. soldiers are struggling to halt the growing influence of Islamist militants, some with links to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group, in West Africa’s Sahel region.

Mali’s U.N. mission, MINUSMA, has suffered the highest number of fatalities among current U.N. peacekeeping operations. “I condemn in the strongest terms this attack that has once again befallen the MINUSMA force as well as the [Malian army],” U.N. mission head Mahamat Saleh Annadif said in a statement.

In the first incident Friday, three peacekeepers and a Malian soldier were killed when they came under attack during a joint operation in the Menaka region near the border with Niger, an area that has seen a spike in violence over the last year.

Sixteen other peacekeepers and one civilian were also wounded.

Convoy hit

Later in the day about noon (1200 GMT), a MINUSMA convoy in the central Mopti region was the target of what the mission described as a “complex attack” by militants using explosive devices and rocket launchers.

One U.N. soldier was killed and three others were seriously wounded, MINUSMA said in a statement.

The mission did not specify the nationalities of the soldiers killed or wounded in either of the attacks.

A 2013 French-led military intervention drove back militants who had seized control of Mali’s desert north a year earlier, but they have regrouped and launch regular attacks against Malian soldiers, U.N. peacekeepers and civilians.

Islamist groups are now increasingly exploiting the porous borders between Mali and neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso to expand their range of operations, alarming Western powers.

France and the United States both have troops deployed in the West Africa.

A new regional force composed of soldiers from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad � the so-called G5 Sahel nations � launched its first operations late last month.

Source: Voice of America

South Africa: Labour On New Commission to Review National Minimum Wage

New commission to review National Minimum Wage – Department of Labour

The Minister of Labour will establish a new commission to review the National Minimum Wage (NMW), said Department of Labour Director: Employment Standards, Stephen Rathai on Friday at the Tropicana Hotel in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Rathai said the Minister of Labour will establish a new commission that will take over the functions of the Employment Conditions Commission as far as the expected annual adjustment of the national minimum wage is concerned.

“The Commission will comprise of three members each from labour, business and community, an independent Chairperson as well as three independent experts whereas the Department of Labour will provide the secretariat”, he said.

Rathai was addressing the Department briefing session on the implementation of the NMW and amendments to labour legislation.

He said the functions of the new Commission will be to review the NMW and make recommendations for its adjustment and investigate the impact of the NMW on the economy, collective bargaining and income differentials.

In reviewing the NMW, the commission will take stock of inflation, cost of living, wage levels, productivity, the ability of business to carry on successfully as well as the impact on the Small Medium and Micro Enterprises and on employment.

“Employers who cannot afford the National Minimum Wage can apply to the Minister of Labour for exemption. However, they need to prove that their businesses are not profitable”, he said.

Rathai said some of the amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act include the authority of Department’s Inspectorate to apply to the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) to have undertakings and compliance orders made arbitration awards, and that an employer who disputes a compliance order can refer the matter to the CCMA.

“The sanctions for noncompliance with the NMW include paying double the amount of the underpayment or twice the monthly wage whichever is the greater”, he said.

On the amendments to the Labour Relations Act, Ian Macun Director: Collective Bargaining said some of the amendments include the extension of collective agreements which will require majority by either the trade unions or the employer parties.

The Department of Labour encouraged unions to submit their inputs to the amendments as soon as possible.

The NMW Bill and the amendments to the BCEA as well as the LRA are expected to come into effect from May 1, 2018.

The next NMW workshop is scheduled to take place on the 29 November in Tzaneen at Hotel@Tzaneen, 1 Makokota Street, followed by another one in Polokwane on the 30th November at Protea Hotel, N1 North Bound, next to Shell Ultra City. All workshops start at 10:00 and conclude at 13:00.

Source: Department of Labour

Environment, tourism protocols key to SADC development

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) says the implementation of protocols in the sectors of environment, wildlife, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries and tourism are key to fast tracking the development of the region.

The Ministers responsible for Environment and Natural Resources, Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Tourism met from 23 to 24 November 2017 in Pretoria.

The meeting reviewed the overall state and performance, as well as new developments in the environment, wildlife, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and tourism sectors.

All 12 SADC Member States, with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi and Seychelles, attended the meeting co-chaired by Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, Tourism Minister Tokozile Xasa and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.

Minister Xasa said the meeting fleshed out issues that affect the sectors of environment, wildlife, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries and tourism. The commitments made at the meeting would strengthen SADC’s contribution to sustainability, inclusive growth and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Speaking on the progress made towards the SADC Industrialisation Strategy, Deputy Executive Secretary Thembinkosi Mhlongo said apart from managing the region’s natural resources, various value chains must be explored to get the full benefit these resources provide.

According to the Ministers, limited resources had impacted the implementation of programmes in the areas of fisheries, forestry, tourism and wildlife conservation and law enforcement. To combat this stagnation, a charter establishing the Fisheries Monitoring Control and Surveillance Coordination Centre in Mozambique was signed.

In addition to establishment of a coordination centre, Ministers approved the establishment of the Regional Financing Facility for SADC Trans-Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs).

In the areas of environmental management, members were urged to speedily ratify the Environmental Management protocol, which has not entered into force. South Africa, as the host country for 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES COP 17), was commended for a job well done.

Discussions at the meeting also highlighted the need to implement the Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), which member states are party to. These include the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and United Nations Convention Combating Desertification (UNCCD).

In a bid to increase tourism within the region, the SADC Secretariat and the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) were directed to increase marketing of conservation areas.

Ministers directed the SADC Secretariat, in collaboration with Member States, to fast-track the review of the Protocol on Tourism Development in SADC, the RETOSA Charter and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the SADC Secretariat and the RETOSA Secretariat to incorporate changes.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on housing for needy military veterans

Sisulu calls on provinces to prioritise military veterans

The Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu has called on the provinces to allocate at least 30% of the houses being built across the country to the needy Military Veterans.

We are in a process of rolling out the Catalytic projects nationally. For each and every project 30 percent of the houses should be allocated to deserving Military Veterans said, Minister Sisulu.

Restoring the dignity of our Military Veterans remains the priority of this government, she added.

Minister Sisulu was addressing a Military Veterans Summit aimed at promoting engagement between former combatants, government, the private sector and civil society organizations today.

Sisulu challenged the Summit to come up with concrete proposals on mechanisms and institutional arrangements to deliver effectively and efficiently to Military Veterans.

Delivering her Budget Vote in 2017 Minister Sisulu announced the approval of more than forty government-led Catalytic projects aimed at fast-tracking housing delivery. These projects are expected to yield more than 10 000 mixed housing units with amenities.

Military Veterans also discussed five critical areas which include economic empowerment, education needs of military veterans and their dependents and health needs.

We have a historic duty to take extraordinary measures to empower Military Veterans and ensure that they together with their families lead better and prosperous lives said Sisulu.

The Summit was attended by among others the Free State MEC of Human Settlements, Sisi Ntombela, Executive Mayor of Mangaung Metro Municipality, Councillor Mlamleli, South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA) President, Lucky Maginxa and senior government officials from the three spheres.

In honouring the legacy of OR Tambo, the South African Government has been working tirelessly towards the provision of excellent, sustainable service, aimed at improving and empowering military veterans economically and socially.

A military Veteran qualifies for one or more benefits provided for in the Military Veterans Act 18 of 2011 if he or she meets the criteria for the benefit applied for; and is listed on the national military veterans data base.

The Department of Human Settlements together with the Department of Military Veterans is working towards the provision of houses to Military Veterans in need of adequate shelter.

Military Veterans sacrificed their families, childhood and lives for the freedom and democracy we all enjoy today.

Source: Government of South Africa

Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, N. Kotzias, regarding the disclosure of classified materials

I called on the opposition to conduct itself with sobriety, responsibility and seriousness, regarding issues of national interest and legality. It saw all three as a risk to the interests it represents. I reminded the opposition that the law prohibits the disclosure of classified documents, even more so of highly classified documents.

The opposition stated that it considers the law as a hindrance to the pursuit of its goals; that the end justifies the means. I stress that making any such document public enables third parties to obtain elements on the country’s encryption system.

So the key questions are simple: Is the rendering of classified documents to third parties by public servants illegal or not? Is such illegal rendering of documents being driven only by political party aspirations or by personal financial gains as well? In that case, does the opposition support the possibility for public servants to sell state documents to third parties?

It is obvious that the opposition got hold of classified state documents, because someone, who was in legal possession of those documents, gave them to it. And this is the most contemptible way in which party politics impinges upon the state.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic