Today's Labour News

newsThis news aggregator site highlights South African labour news from a wide range of internet and print sources. Each posting has a synopsis of the source article, together with a link or reference to the original. Postings cover the range of labour related matters from industrial relations to generalist human resources.

news shutterstockIn our roundup of weekend and recent reports,
see summaries of our selection of South African
labour-related stories that recently appeared.


TOP STORY – NSFAS DEBACLE

Nzimande says he dissolved NSFAS board because it was unable to carry out basic functions

BL Premium reports that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says he was left with little choice but to dissolve the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board last week after it ignored his request to remove incompetent service providers. He said the incompetence was the main cause of mass delays in paying student fees to tertiary institutions in SA. Nzimande said at a press briefing on Sunday:   “As minister I have continually raised my concerns of [the] NSFAS board being unable to carry out basic duties.   I asked that service providers that were appointed irregularly be removed in December. They have caused unnecessary stress of students and parents.” He added that the NSFAS board also failed to submit a financial report to parliament. “The call centre is still not functioning. NSFAS do not respond to queries in a timely manner. In the end I had little choice. There is serious reputational damage to NSFAS, the department of higher education and government,” Nzimande stated. NSFAS provides financial support to about 1.1-million students at universities and technical and vocational education colleges.   Nzimande also said there was “no going back” to a situation in which universities administered student aid on behalf of the financial aid scheme. Meantime, Nzimande said forensic investigations at NSFAS were close to completion and he promised that there would be accountability. “Yes, people will account. One of the things we want the administrator to do is to implement the recommendations of forensic auditors. I want the people fingered to be brought before disciplinary committees as soon as possible,” Nzimande indicated.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Hajra Omarjee at BusinessLive (subscriber access only). Read too, NSFAS board dissolved because of its inability to carry out basic responsibilities, says Nzimande, at

Former CEO of SA Institute of Chartered Accountants appointed as NSFAS administrator

News24 reports that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has appointed Freeman Nomvalo, the former CEO of the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants, as the administrator of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This after Nzimande dissolved the NSFAS board with immediate effect on Thursday and placed the entity under administration. According to a Government Gazette on Friday, Nzimande raised serious concerns about the failure of NSFAS to effectively confirm funding for students and to disburse funding timeously to students in technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and universities. “The administrator may appoint the necessary technical expertise to provide support during the period of administration, in consultation with the department,” the minister said. The administrator will take over the governance, management and administration of NSFAS for a period of two years from the date of the Gazette. The terms of reference of the administrator during this period include “resolving data integration challenges as a matter of urgency, finalising all necessary funding decisions, ensuring reconciliation of funding data between universities and TVET colleges and NSFAS, ensuring that all the necessary agreements are in place and that students are accurately funded and recorded, and making sure that all NSFAS qualifying students receive funding.” They also include overseeing the opening of the 2025 online applications process (both bursary and loan), as well as developing “in consultation with the department, universities and TVET colleges, an effective and realistic plan for the 2025 funding cycle.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Prega Govender at News24. Read too, Top accountant Freeman Nomvalo sent to rescue NSFAS, at City Press (subscriber access only). En ook, Oud-Saica-hoof sal NSFAS bestuur, by Maroela Media

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • NSFAS: Kommer oor studente ná raad ontbind, by Maroela Media
  • NSFAS asks universities to continue paying allowances to students until July, at News24
  • ‘I will not resign,’ says Nzimande on NSFAS board dissolution, at Mail & Guardian


OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY

Joburg Public Safety MMC calls out police commissioner for saying slain JMPD officer was shooting at police when killed

Sunday Independent reports that City of Johannesburg Public Safety MMC Dr Mgcini Tshwaku has called out Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola for allegedly saying that a slain metro police officer was shooting at the police when killed. During a visit to the home of the slain JMPD officer on Friday, Tshwaku said:   “We strongly condemn the statement made by Masemola, saying that JMPD officer, Linda Mthimkulu was shooting at SAPS. We find it reckless, divisive and an indication of lack of leadership from the National Commissioner. It is clear that he wants to cause tension between JMPD and SAPS. There have been strained relations already, and as a department we have tried by all means to mend these relations, but it's one step forward and two steps back.” He went on to ask: “He (Masemola) needs to explain why the three SAPS officers have been charged with murder.” Tshwaku added: “The National Commissioner pronounced on this matter without a thorough investigation and never met the family but has labelled their daughter as being the killer.”   He noted that the JMPD was applying its mind on the matter and how it was going to work with the SA Police Service going forward.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Thabo Makwakwa at Sunday Independent

Body of general worker at a police uniform shop found in unused house in Limpopo

News24 reports that a manhunt has been launched for suspects responsible for the murder of a 43-year-old man whose body was found in an unused house in Lebowakgomo, Limpopo. The victim's body was discovered in a house in Turfpan Village at around 05:00 on Saturday. The man, a general worker at a police uniform shop, was stabbed multiple times.   "During a preliminary investigation, it was established that the deceased was last seen on Friday night at about 22:00 in the same village where he had come to attend a funeral service. The police were informed, and the station management immediately activated a task team to hunt down the suspects,” the police said in a statement. The motive behind the incident is still unknown.

Read the original of the full report in the above regard by Alex Mitchley at News24

Eight months on, SANDF soldier and his rifle remain missing, but he is still receiving his salary

News24 reports that it has been more than eight months since a SA National Defence Force (SANDF) soldier disappeared from the SA Army Infantry School in Oudtshoorn. Isak Thompson, 50, was dropped off at the army base on 16 July by his brother, Ricardo, a day before he was set to start a 10-week training course. Two days later, the SANDF reported Thompson missing. An R4 rifle, which was last seen in Thompson's possession, was also missing. Thompson's family said the last eight months had been "a terrible nightmare", from which they could not seem to wake up. "It's been really painful not knowing where my brother is,” Ricardo said, adding that while the police's investigating officer was keeping the family up to date with the investigation, there remained no sign of his brother. Thompson, who had reportedly received basic sniper training, was undergoing an advanced reconnaissance platoon course, with 27 other members, when he vanished.   Thompson's wife, Juanita, said police had taken possession of her husband's bank card, ID and other important documents, which she needed to get access to his bank account.   Although he has not been seen for eight months, SANDF spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini confirmed that Thompson's salary was still being paid monthly into his bank account and explained that according to the policy, “the member's salary cannot be stopped, unless officially declared otherwise by a court of law.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lisalee Solomons at News24

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Lyfstraf in skole: Leerders gemaan om hand op te steek, by Maroela Media


MINING LABOUR

Push to formalise artisanal mining

Business Times reports that the Department of Mineral Resources & Energy (DMRE) is looking into revamping its licensing regime to make it easy for artisanal mining to operate legally. It hopes the legalisation will discourage dangerous illegal mining, which costs the economy up to R70bn a year. Since introducing the artisanal and small-scale mining policy framework two years ago, artisanal mining has remained informal, and its contribution to job creation and GDP has not been counted.   Makgatho Machaka, DMRE director for artisanal and small-scale mining, told the Council for Mineral Technology’s inaugural symposium on Thursday that the ultimate aim was to introduce a separate policy for artisanal mining. Machaka said the policy would close the gap while the department formulated regulations for artisanal miners in the long run. Artisanal mining, known as “pick and shovel”, refers to traditional and customary mining operations that do not have mining rights or permits. Small-scale mining entails a prospecting or mining operation with a permit but not employing specialised prospecting or mechanised mining technologies.   Gwebinkundla Qonde, special adviser to DMRE minister of mineral, pointed out the absence of proper regulation for artisanal mining and poor government support has allowed illegal mining to thrive. Thabo Kekana, DMRE deputy director-general for programmes and projects noted:   “Artisanal mining is not yet formalised, there is no clear definition. We are saying let us draw from what we have and formalise them so they can have an identity and we are able to say ‘you are not a zama-zama, this is a small-scale miner’.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Dineo Faku at Business Times (subscriber access only)

Other general posting(s) relating to mining

  • SA's PGM miners hang tight with hopes of better days ahead, at Fin24


COEGA SEZ SUCCESS

Income and jobs jump in Coega Special Economic Zone

Business Times reports that as the government prepares to develop more special economic zones (SEZs), Coega in the Eastern Cape has seen its income jump 15.9% to R18.9bn in two years, along with an increase in employment. The government has used the SEZ model as a way of providing a space for businesses to operate under less stringent regulations, with benefits including tax incentives. A review of business activity at the Coega SEZ, conducted by Stats SA, found that total expenditure grew to R17.85bn in 2023 compared with R12.68bn in 2021 — an annualised increase of 18.7%. “The largest contributors to the total expenditure were purchases at R12.16bn or 68.1%, salaries and wages at R1.73bn or 9.7%, and depreciation at R551m or 3.1%,” Stats SA reported. The survey covered all the active tenants within Coega for their financial year ending June 30 2023. The development of the Coega SEZ outside Gqeberha was announced in 1999.   Construction ended in 2014 and it began operating the following year. The total number of workers, excluding those employed by labour brokers, was 6,079 by the end of June 2023, with almost 60% of workers employed by manufacturing businesses. The number of jobs rose by 339 between 2021 and 2023. While the Coega SEZ employed more males than females in both 2021 and 2023, the proportion of females increased from 32.3% in 2021 to 38.4% in 2023. The government is eyeing further developments in its other SEZs, including the Tshwane automotive hub, and is planning to establish and develop similar zones in other parts of the country.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Khulekani Magubane at Business Times (subscriber access only)


FINANCIAL SERVICES MINIMUM PAY

Old Mutual chair Trevor Manuel hails group’s R15,000 monthly minimum pay policy

BL Premium reports that Old Mutual chair Trevor Manuel has hailed the move by the group to set its minimum wage at R180,000 a year as one of the highlights of its 2023 financial year. “One of our 2023 transformation highlights was increasing the minimum salary of our employees in SA to R180,000 per year (namely R15,000 a month). This makes me very proud, especially because we are among the first companies in the financial services sector to take a decisive step towards narrowing the wage gap and one of the first to provide voluntary disclosure in our remuneration report.” Group CEO Iain Williamson said the minimum annual salary of R180,000 took effect in April 2023 and “the policy was changed to ensure that SA-based employees are appointed at this new minimum pay line”. Santam, SA’s largest short-term insurer, joined Old Mutual in setting its minimum wage at R15,000 a month, putting pressure on other financial services companies to reconsider their minimum wage. The company, majority owned by insurance group Sanlam, said in its annual report released in March that the minimum wage had increased to R180,000 annually by September 2023. Old Mutual also introduced an “inclusive parental leave policy”. From the beginning of 2023, employees qualified for a minimum of four months of fully paid parental leave across the group. The policy’s highlights include updated definitions of parents and co-parents to that of primary and secondary caregivers and fully paid parental leave across the group.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Kabelo Khumalo at BusinessLive (subscriber access only)


UNEMPLOYED DOCTORS

I’d rather volunteer than go insane, says unemployed KZN doctor

City Press reports that sitting at home is not an option for an unemployed KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) doctor and she would rather volunteer for free than go insane. Lungile Khumalo sees being a medical doctor as a calling and not just a job. The 31-year-old Khumalo, who is based in Hluhluwe village, is among the 800 doctors who have not been placed. She has decided to volunteer in community health outreach programmes to maintain her sanity. Khumalo completed her medical degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2019 and did her community service at Hlabisa Hospital in 2022. The mother of one says her dream is to be a doctor who can make a difference in the health sector by working selflessly and going beyond her call of duty.   “What we are going through as doctors nationally should never happen in future. More than anything, this has taught us to be patient and explore other avenues within the health sector,” she commented. Khumalo, who was part of the protesting doctors at the of the KZN health department headquarters in Pietermaritzburg last week, is crossing her fingers that MEC Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu’s undertaking that there would be job opportunities available from the end of this month is true.   Simelane-Zulu promised doctors they could apply for jobs that would be released by the end of April.   Meantime, the doctors have vowed not to stop their protests until they have been absorbed into the system.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Promise Marupeng at City Press (subscriber access only)


COST OF LABOUR DISPUTES

Emfuleni blew R500m on labour disputes in seven years, paid R169m in lost cases to workers

City Press reports that in the seven years between 2013 and 2020, the struggling Emfuleni Local Municipality in Gauteng splurged R500 million on law firms to defend labour disputes. More than R169 million was paid out to employees in lost cases. During that period, the rulings in only in 12 cases were in the municipality’s favour.   The municipality lost 18 cases, with two cases resulting in Labour Court judgments in favour of the employees.   According to information gleaned from replies in the Gauteng legislature, a total of 11 law firms were hired to represent the municipality in labour disputes – with two firms pocketing R78.7 million and R77 million each. In March last year, it was revealed that the then chief financial officer Andile Dyakala had been paid R1.6 million for sitting at home on suspension for a year. The municipality spent more than R6.4 million on three legal firms in its dispute with Dyakala, but was bale was able to recover a paltry R450 570.24 from Dyakala, who parted ways with the municipality in September last year.   It was also revealed last month that the municipality spent in excess of R55 million over five years on four law firms in a futile labour dispute with an employee to avoid paying him R739,000. The DA’s Kingsol Chabalala, said the party was deeply concerned about the fact that, rather than using the internal legal services at its disposal to resolve labour disputes, the municipality opted for private law firms. He voiced outrage over Emfuleni’s continued reckless and “ridiculous” spending of public funds on legal services at a time when it was grappling with financial challenges.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Sipho Mabena at City Press (subscriber access only)


MEDICAL PRIVACY

Former UJ lecturer accuses varsity lawyer of accessing her medical records without consent

Sunday Independent reports that a former University of Johannesburg (UJ) lecturer who was dismissed in March 2020 has accused the institution’s legal representative of accessing her medical report without her consent. This was indicated to the CCMA, where Lyness Matizirofa, is currently fighting her dismissal by the university. Matizirofa, who was a lecturer in the UJ statistics department, was fired for poor performance and gross dishonesty in February 2020.   However, she maintains that these were trumped-up charges. Matizirofa, who originates from Zimbabwe, said she was unfairly dismissed based on xenophobia and the fact that she has a disability. She claimed that UJ and its legal representative, Eversheds and Sutherland (SA) Inc, plotted her dismissal through her medical report.   This was allegedly after Nadia Foreman, a legal practitioner at Eversheds and Sutherland, and a UJ HR practitioner, colluded to share her medical report on 29 August 2019 without her consent. According to Matizirofa, this was after former vice-chancellor Professor Tshilidzi Marwala realised that it would be expensive to “reasonably accommodate” her because of her disability and plotted her dismissal. She had submitted a report of reasonable accommodation, but UJ allegedly failed to accommodate her disability at the Doornfontein campus after she complained about a lack of facilities at the John Orr Building.   This was before she was dismissed as a lecturer. The email of Matizirofa’s report was shared with the building managers, HR and third parties including Foreman. On Monday, Matizirofa’s legal representative told the CCMA commissioner that this had violated Matizirofa’s human rights as the medical history was unlawfully accessed.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Manyane Manyane at Sunday Independent


SANRAL SUSPENSIONS

Sanral yet to act on two top officials suspended more than six months ago

Fin24 reports that two top officials of the SA National Roads Agency (Sanral) remain suspended on full pay after more than six months without being afforded a disciplinary hearing. Inge Mulder, chief financial officer, and Inba Thumbrian, head of supply chain management, are career civil servants with clean service records. Sanral said in August that the two had failed to implement a resolution of the Sanral board which requires that in tenders above R1 billion, the consulting engineering firm that designs the tender document must not be included in the tender evaluation. This is an unusual deviation from standard practice, but Sanral insists it is best practice. However, because the design of a tender for a large project requires detailed technical work, the consulting engineer who designs the specs is usually part of the technical team in evaluating the bids, as he or she is most familiar with the technical requirements. Sanral management did not apply the board resolution to three megaprojects in 2022, including the Mtentu Bridge in the Eastern Cape. This caused the Sanral board to cancel all three tender awards and begin again. A new tendering process led to completely different winners.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Carol Paton at Fin24


ALLEGED MISCONDUCT

Ipid to investigate charges assault, drunk driving against Ekurhuleni top metro cop Isaac Mapiyeye

City Press reports that two criminal cases, one of assault on a pregnant woman and the other of drunk driving, against Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department boss Isaac Mapiyeye have been referred to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) for further investigation. The cases were initially being investigated by the Office of the Public Protector, Kholeka Gcaleka, following a complaint by private investigator Calvin Rafadi in December after the police allegedly failed to probe charges against the senior traffic officer properly. In a letter dated 9 April, acting Gauteng head in the Public Protector’s office Xolani Dlamini wrote to Ipid head Jennifer Ntlatseng informing her that her office was better suited to investigate the allegations. He stated that the matter related to allegations of abuse of authority by Mapiyeye, which included assault charges against him at the Kwa-Thema police station. These charges emanated from an incident which involved Mapiyeye abusing Sarah Nhlapho, an employee of a security company that is contracted with the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality to conduct operations at the Kwa-Thema Metro Academy. Dlamini wrote that another matter related to a motor accident in which Mapiyeye had allegedly been involved on 25 May 2019. The metro police officer was allegedly instructed not to breathalyse Mapiyeye and to record his alcohol reading as zero. In his letter to the Ipid head, Dlamini also asked the directorate to investigate allegations that Mapiyeye was a director of three companies, but had failed to declare that to his employer. Mapiyeye welcomed the probe by Ipid, but declined to comment on the allegations made against him.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Abram Mashego at City Press (subscriber access only)


OTHER REPORTS OF INTEREST

  • Unisa fights former accountant’s R5 million writ of execution claim, at City Press (subscriber access only)
  • Cash-strapped SAPO employees worried about their packages, at Sunday Independent
  • Cape Town parent asks court to stop appointment of new principal at school, at News24
  • University of Western Cape staff demand explanation after council snubs 'most suitable' Vice-Chancellor candidate, at News24
  • ‘Werkers se enorme e-tolskuld het aandag nodig’, by Maroela Media
  • High-profile rugby coach to appeal GOOD membership termination amid sexual misconduct allegations, at News24
  • Onopgeloste misdaadsake ʼn teken van verswakte speurdiens, by Maroela Media
  • Bangladesji in Vrystaat aangekeer oor mensehandel, by Maroela Media

 


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