Daily Archives: February 21, 2018

Fee-free higher education allocation good news for students

Higher Education and Training Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize says the announcement of an allocation to fee-free higher education is an investment in skills and the knowledge economy.

The Minister on Wednesday told SAnews the multi-billion rand allocation will finally make students feel vindicated after they put themselves at risk by taking to the streets to demand free higher education.

Minister Mkhize said this outside the National Assembly shortly after Finance Minister tabled his 2018 Budget, where he announced a R12.4 billion allocation to free higher education for this year.

[The allocation to fee-free higher education] is exactly what I was hoping for. This is very important for the country because students took a high risk in terms of the Fees Must Fall [movement] and they know they were in conflict with the police

I think they have been vindicated in a sense that government has responded in ways which we knew we had to do it. But for some reason, we just didn’t see it as being feasible but I am glad today South Africa will be investing in skills and the knowledge economy, she said.

In his first Budget Speech, the Finance Minister announced that R57 billion will be channeled towards fee-free higher education and training over the next three years.

The Minister said the challenge now was to ensure that institutions of higher learning produced the kind of graduates who will give the private sector the kind of skills and knowledge that will boost the economy and also create a conducive environment, and make investors see South Africa as a destination of skilled and competent people.

Our TVET [technical and vocational education and training] colleges have to compete with countries like Germany, which has managed to cut down unemployment below 10%, mainly because the TVET colleges have produced skilled people who work in priority sectors like Mercedes Benz, BMW… said Minister Mkhize.

A balanced budget during tough economic times

Meanwhile, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said Minister Gigaba’s budget, which saw him raising value-added tax (VAT) by a percentage point to 15% for the first time since 1993, was good, despite the fact that it was a tough balancing act.

The budget is good given the economic situation we are in.

We are hoping that the private sector may invest more in agriculture, especially in the food value chain so that we can get our black producers into the final stages like agro-processing.

We are hopeful that with the political climate we are in, we may be able to grow the economy and be able to create jobs.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Africa in for more extreme weather events

As a result of climate change, Africa is expected to experience an increase in temperatures and extreme weather conditions.

Our country and the continent are becoming hotter and drier. We are going to have far more extreme events such as droughts, floods, sea level rise and fires. We expect these to increase in intensity and frequency, said May Hermanus, the Executive Director of the Natural Resources and Environmental Unit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Addressing the launch of the second edition of the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas (SARVA) in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Hermanus said the impacts of climate change are going to intensify, impacting on the population, with the poor being particularly affected.

It’s important that we respond to these issues appropriately. They are absolutely important for the sustainability of our country.

We need government, the private sector, non-profit organisations (NPOs) and civil society to not only have an understanding of the issues at hand, but we also need to co-own a strategy for how we address those issues and then we need to ensure that we can implement them together, she said.

The atlas has findings of current research on the risk and vulnerability of key social and economic sectors to climate change. According to the atlas, temperatures over South Africa may be expected to rise faster than the global mean temperature, with parts of the interior projected to warm up by as much as three to five degrees Celsius by the end of the century.

Eastern South Africa is projected to experience summers with more intense rainfall evets, whilst drier winters are projected to the southwestern Cape, the atlas reads.

South Africa is working to implement the Paris Agreement, which is aimed at limiting global temperature rise.

The objective of the Paris Agreement is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below two degrees Celsius (above pre-industrial levels) and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

National Business Initiative (NBI) Programme Manager for Climate and Water, Alex McNamara, said there are four main ways in which climate change is impacting on companies. These include the availability of raw materials, risks to infrastructure and physical assets, the interruption of operations as well as the health and safety of employees and communities.

McNamara said companies do not always recognise the business imperative for engaging in adaptation planning.

Traditionally, climate risks are positioned as environmental issues, rather than risks that could impact on company survival.

Most risk management specialists lack the required climate change related knowledge or expertise, McNamara said.

McNamara said business is and must remain at the forefront of adaptation planning, including the financing and implementation of solutions.

There’s still a concern Hopefully the water crisis will change this. There’s a sense that climate change is still in the future but actually we are living [it], McNamara said.

Source: South African Government News Agency


CAPE TOWN– Residents of South Africa’s drought-stricken Cape Town received good news when city officials said they now face losing piped water to their homes by July 9 — a month later than last forecast.

But Capetonians are not yet out of the woods. If drastic consumption reductions are not achieved by so-called “Day Zero” — the last day of normal water supply — people will have to queue at 200 standpipes for daily rations of 25 litres (6.6 US gallons).

The city, which attracts millions of tourists every year, has enforced strict waste controls including prosecuting homeowners who use significantly more than the current 50-litre daily limit.

“The Groenland water transfer and the reduction in our weekly average demand has had a dramatic impact on the ‘Day Zero’ date,” said deputy mayor Ian Neilson in a statement, referring to a recent transfer of water from a region that had experienced good rains to South Africa’s parched second city.

“Today I urge the residents of Cape Town not to ease up on their water-saving efforts. We cannot afford to slow down when the estimated ‘Day Zero’ date moves out, simply because we cannot accurately predict the volume of rainfall still to come.”

Every day the city uses more than 450 million litres, “Day Zero” becomes more likely. In the past week, city-wide consumption stood at an average of 523 million litres daily.

The previous forecast for “Day Zero” was June 4.

The city has published a name-and-shame list of the worst water offenders in Cape Town, and it says it is issuing fines for the heaviest water users.

But officials have been criticised for failing to implement usage restrictions sooner, and accused of ignoring warnings by experts in the years before the drought.

Strong summer rains saw much of southern Africa recover from a drought induced by the El Nino weather phenomenon. But Mediterranean-like Cape Town receives most of its rain in the southern hemisphere’s winter — and scientists warn there is no guarantee of a good rainy season.



PRETORIA– President Cyril Ramaphosa says the most important people are ordinary South Africans, who are faced with socio-economic challenges ranging from poverty to diseases.

The President said ever since he delivered the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last week, many have given him an indication of a sense of patriotism with the message, Send me.

Responding to a debate on the SONA in the National Assembly on Tuesday, the President said the State � government and parliamentary public representatives � should always aim to serve citizens in an inclusive manner.

Since delivering the State of the Nation Address on Friday night, I have been humbled and encouraged by the response of people from all walks of life to the call to work together to build a new, better South Africa.

They are galvanised by a sense of patriotism that elevates the interests of the country above narrow, selfish interests. They are moved by a conviction that tomorrow will be better than today. They have all been saying they are ready to lend a hand to build a South Africa that benefits all its people.

I have received messages from many people consisting of only two words: Send Me, he said.

The words send me — a direct reference to a popular song by the late renowned jazz maestro Hugh Masekela � featured strongly in the President’s maiden SONA on Friday. These words quickly gained popularity, with the nation expressing their enthusiasm for working with government to help develop the country.

Citizens and their needs remain government’s top priority

Ramaphosa said what emerged clearly from Monday’s debate was that all Members of Parliament are committed to building a nation where progress is measured not by growth in Gross Domestic Product or global competitiveness rankings, but by how the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalised are changed for the better.

We are building a nation where our greatest concerns must be those in society who have need � the poor, the unemployed. The most important people in this country are not those who walk the red carpet in Parliament but those who spend a night by the benches outside the gates of Parliament. They are the most important people.

The most important people in this country are those whose shacks are floodedwith every rainfall, those whose taps run dry, whether there is a drought or not. It is those who have been looking for work their entire lives, those who have dropped out of school, those suffering from preventable diseases, who have been orphaned or abandoned, who rely on an old age pension To me, those are the most important people. Those are our people, he said.

Monday saw MPs, Minister and Deputy Ministers tackle a wide range of issues in response to the President’s first SONA. The debate lasted into the night on Monday.



PRETORIA– Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has disputed reports that the children who were found in a truck in Rustenburg en-route to Cape Town are being held in South Africa against their biological parents’ will.

The department confirmed on Tuesday that Dlamini has received court documents filed by the parents of the children, who were found unaccompanied and undocumented by members of the South African Police Service (SASPS) in North West.

The children, who were smuggled into the country, are currently in the care of the State through the department, pending repatriation into the care of the Zimbabwean Department of Social Services.

The Department of Social Development has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its counterpart in Zimbabwe on matters related to unaccompanied and undocumented minors, the department explained.

The department said the Minister is working with the Department of Home Affairs to make sure that the children are transferred into the care and protection of the Zimbabwean government, as per the provision of the MoU, as well as regional and international treaties, including the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child and the UN Conversation on the Rights of the Child, to which South Africa is a signatory.

In terms of these treaties, South Africa has an obligation to protect the human rights of all children within its borders, irrespective of nationality.

The South African government has also enacted the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act.

The department said the Consular-General of Zimbabwe is fully aware of all the developments, as their office has been highly involved.

They have conducted interviews, assessed and confirmed that the children were of Zimbabwean nationality. It should be noted that the children were issued with repatriation certificates by their Consular-General after the determination thereof.

A confirmation letter from the Zimbabwean Department of Social Services is now awaited so that the children can officially be received by the relevant authority in Zimbabwe, the department said

It also noted that on receipt of all outstanding documents, the Zimbabwean Consulate will issue emergency travel documents and the children will be handed over to the Department of Social Services in Harare to be reunited with their families.