Researchers set to launch release agricultural sector projections

By Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities:

The latest projections for the Western Cape and South Africa agricltural sector will be released this week.

The Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) baseline will be launched at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West on Friday, 31 July 2015.

Researchers from the Universities of Pretoria, Stellenbosch and Western Cape Department of Agriculture collaborated to produce the projections. Their findings cover key trends in the Western Cape and South African agricultural sector.

Economic Opportunities Minister Alan Winde said the baseline provided wide-ranging projections for the sector.

“Africa is a primary focus of research as the continent features more prominently on provincial and national agendas. Researchers use economic modeling to provide a medium and long-term outlook of various industries in the South African agricultural sector. They also investigate how projected situations will impact farms and consumers.”

DETAILS:

Date:              31 July 2015

Time:               8am – 1pm

Venue:           Lord Charles Hotel, Somerset West

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Stats SA labour report: Unemployment rate highest in Eastern Cape

By Bobby Stevenson (MPL), Shadow MEC for Finance:

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey for Quarter 2 of 2015 was released by Statistics South Africa today.

The DA in the Eastern Cape is concerned with the continued high number of unemployed people in the province.

The pain of unemployment is not simply felt in people’s stomachs but also in their hearts when they lose their sense of purpose and dignity.

The marginal decrease in the unemployment rate from 29, 6% to 29, 1%  gives little measure of comfort for the 980 000 people that are unemployed.

The Eastern Cape, with an expanded rate of unemployment of 42, 5%, remains the highest in the country.  The Nelson Mandela Metropole, which should be an engine of economic growth, has the highest unemployment rate of all metros, at 33, 2%.

The people of this province will only experience true freedom from the shackles of poverty when they have access work opportunities.

The ANC-government with its hostile attitude to business is holding back our economy.  The latest visa regulations are an example if this.  Under a DA-government tourism would be a real game- changer for this province.

A DA-government would cut red tape, ensure value for money on infrastructure spending, support entrepreneurs and roll out the red carpet for investors.

The Eastern Cape can be a province of rising opportunity for all.  We need to restore dignity and hope to the people of this province by creating real opportunity that is uncorrupted by patronage-politics.

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Electricityless Renosterberg must be placed under administration

By Ismail Obaray MPL DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of SCOPA:

The DA has today written to MEC Alvin Botes, reiterating our call to urgently place the Renosterberg Local Municipality under administration in terms of section 139 of the Constitution.

MEC Botes must then refer the call to Minister Pravin Gordhan, and to the National Council of Provinces for approval.

This comes after Eskom today publicised a notice of disconnection of bulk electricity supplies to Renosterberg Local Municipality.

Eskom intends cutting the supply of electricity to the towns of Petrusville, Van der Kloof and Phillipstown on Friday, 25 September, following the municipality’s failure to settle its account of over R22 million, some of which has been outstanding since 19 March 2012.

The DA first called for Renosterberg municipality to be placed under administration after the municipality was exposed as being the worst performing municipality in the province in the latest section 47 report. Amongst other problems, it came to light that cash flow was seriously constrained and there was a problem with numerous faulty accounts as well as water and electricity losses.

Shortly thereafter, the Mayor of Renosterberg Municipality, Zet Kwinana, was removed from his post. The DA welcomed the intervention but expressed our concern as to whether this was enough to save the municipality from going under – obviously it was not.

Clearly the municipality still does not have a strategy to address the arrears and it has failed to make arrangements to cover the outstanding accounts. This is very worrying, considering that aside from Eskom, the municipality also owes the Water Board R1.7 million and the Auditor-General R7.4 million.

It is not fair that the people living in Renosterberg have to suffer as a result of local government’s incompetence. Electricity is our primary source of heat and light. Without it people struggle to cook, stay warm and study.

The DA believes it is government’s moral duty to ensure that everyone has access to the basic services they need to improve their lives. Where the DA governs we work to ensure that all creditors of the municipality are paid within legal timeframes, and in the Western Cape DA municipalities pay their Eskom bills on time.

The implementation of a high level intervention in Renosterberg can no longer be delayed.

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A milestone day for e-learning in the Western Cape

Joint statement by Premier Helen Zille and Minister Debbie Schäfer:

Today is a milestone day for e-learning in the Western Cape. I am pleased to announce that today, the Western Cape Government signed a 5 year LAN (Local Area Network) contract with an approved service provider, Sizwe Africa IT Group (Pty) (Ltd), for the provision of LAN equipment and services to schools in the Western Cape.

The implementation of LAN in our schools is part of the Western Cape Government’s wider e-learning vision for this Province.  We want to provide learners with the opportunity to improve their educational results and to integrate them into the 21st Century world of work.

E-learning will enhance quality education by increasing access to quality ICT in disadvantaged communities, providing support for struggling learners, contributing toward teachers’ training and professional development, and improving management and administration at schools. It will also provide learners with the skills to participate in our increasingly technology-based economy in the future.

The e-learning project comprises the following:

  1. The linking of schools through a high-speed, real-time Wide Area Network (WAN).
  2. The provision of Local Area Networks (LANs) in schools.
  3. The refreshing of existing computer laboratories and the provision of new laboratories and technology rich classrooms (smart classrooms).
  4. The development and expansion of online digital resources that are made available to all learners, parents and teachers.
  5. Teacher training and development in ICT and the use of E-learning in schools.

The implementation of the broadband (WAN) is already underway. The WCG has completed the broadband infrastructure build at 460 sites, of which 344 are schools. This means that either optic fibre or wireless infrastructure has been installed at the 460 sites to date.

The WAN implementation will then enable the WCG to provide Local Area Networks (LANs) in schools. School sites will be fitted with a wireless distributed network (WiFi) for internet and inter-connectivity within a school.

The tender for the implementation for the LAN closed at the beginning of February with the final contract with Sizwe Africa IT Group (Pty) (Ltd) being signed today.

In addition to the implementation of the WAN and the signing of the contract of the LAN, the following has been completed or is already underway:

  1. Refresh of labs and smart classrooms – 123 subject labs and 126 computer labs have already been refreshed, as well as, 3 350 smart classrooms installed.
  1. Online digital resources – The WCED is sourcing and developing digital teaching and learning materials while also inviting developers of these materials to provide information on their products and services via an e-catalogue or portal on the WCED web site. The pilot design of the portal is live.
  1. Teacher Training and development – Teacher training in ICT has been a major focus area for the WCED in preparation for the roll-out of broadband to schools and the introduction of e-learning. It is critical that teachers and principals are orientated and trained in the integrated use of the new technology being introduced at their schools and incorporating it into the curriculum.

Over the past couple of years more than 26 000 teachers in the Western Cape have had some training exposure to ICT. This year the WCED has presented a number of training sessions for principals, with specific training for teachers receiving smart classrooms, over and above on-going voluntary training for teachers.

Training of educators began in January at the Cape Teaching and Leadership Institute and will continue to be a primary focus area of the WCED’s teacher training budget in this financial year.

This year, training has included:

  • Basic Training for educators on how the smart classroom technology works.
  • Sessions with principals so as to provide them with tools to ensure that the technology is utilised and that it is sustained.
  • Content development courses focusing on developing skills to produce content for lessons for the teacher, by the teacher.
  • Courses for educators on basic ICT skills.

From August 2015 onward, we will be introducing a course which is aimed at providing teachers with a deep understanding on the nature of e-Learning and e-Teaching and the role that technology can play. It will focus on teachers producing e-lessons, and will be applicable to all subjects.

The WCED is also planning pilot projects to test effective ways of using the latest technology and will work with teachers who already provide examples of best practice to ensure that the province makes the most of this opportunity.

We will also continue to work with the private sector in order to expand this project even further and encourage them to invest in individual schools. They can invest in a range of areas, from the LAN, a “Smart Classroom” or “Lab Refresh” and devices at one or more of our schools.

The MTN SA Foundation is the first private sector company to come on board to assist. They have already refreshed the labs of 10 Quintile 4 schools in some of our poorest areas. The MTN SA Foundation has also pledged to refresh an additional 5 computer labs in 2016.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank MTN for their contribution and commitment to education. This is another outstanding example of how public-private partnerships can enable us to make things “Better Together” for the benefit of our learners and our country.

Today, Premier Helen Zille and Minister Debbie Schäfer officially handed over a fully equipped computer lab to Grassdale High School which was donated to the school by MTN.

The laboratory consists of 21 workstations, a multi-functional printer, an inter-active white board, data projector, router, data card for connectivity, external antenna to boost network connection, subsidised internet connectivity for 24 months and curriculum based software.

“A number of schools in the Western Cape still have limited resources and a lack basic infrastructure. We hope to address some of these challenges and take learning to the next level through the MTN SA Foundation’s School Connectivity Programme.” said Kusile Mtunzi-Hairwadzi, General Manager of the MTN SA Foundation.

We would like to appeal to other companies to follow the example of MTN in helping us to achieve our e-learning vision so that as many learners as possible are provided with access to a technology platform that gives them with the opportunity to improve their educational results and to integrate them into the 21st Century world of work.

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Andili Lili must be disciplined after calls for anarchy

By Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety:

I condemn in the strongest possible terms the calls made yesterday by Andili Lili and the Ses’khona People’s Rights Movement to take the law into their own hands and commit murder. I am now calling on the Western Cape ANC to discipline one of their senior members for these undemocratic and inflammatory calls for violence.

Andili Lili, Ses’khona leader and ANC Provincial Executive Committee member, is threatening people’s right to life and is violating the freedom of expression enshrined in the Constitution of South Africa in his calls to incite violence and cause harm.

Mr Lili’s remarks yesterday are not only disgusting and unbefitting of any self-identified or elected leader but are extremely dangerous and media reports included that he said publicly outside of court, that:

  • People “must kill rapists and robbers in our communities”;
  • “once these poor people find someone committing a crime, they must kill that person immediately“; and
  • People must ensure they kill in a brutal manner.

Further reports this morning that residents of Imizamo Yethu are already threatening to take the law into their own hands, is extremely worrying considering Lili’s apparent criminal comments.

Safety is everyone’s responsibility but taking the law into your own hands does not make our communities safer. No matter what the circumstances or allegations, we cannot allow our communities to catch, prosecute, convict and deal a death sentence to alleged criminals.

Vigilantism is a crime and it will not be tolerated by law enforcement agencies. Anyone involved in any incident of vigilante killings becomes a criminal themselves.

This is not the first time Ses’khona and its leadership has called on people to break the law. They have previously encouraged land invasions and the looting of street vendors as well as incited violence and attacks on the police.

This incitement of violence and anarchy cannot be allowed in our democracy.

I call on Ses’khona’s leadership to retract these statements and to take responsibility for their actions, incitements as well as the actions of their members. I call on the ANC’s Provincial Leadership to discipline the irresponsible Andili Lili.

As part of my oversight mandate over policing in the province I will today request the Acting Provincial Police Commissioner, Major General Thembisile Patekile, to officially take note of the comments made by Mr Lili. Should any member of the public be harmed as a result of these calls, Mr Lili should be held responsible.

It is important to remember that all crimes have to be reported to the nearest police station for investigation. Communities should partner with the police and law enforcement authorities to help create safer environments.

Where communities feel they do not receive the necessary safety service delivery, they should report it to either:

  • The Neighbourhood Watch or Community Policing Forum for escalation;
  • The Office of the Western Cape Provincial Police Ombudsman;
  • The Department of Community Safety by lodging a complaint at 021 483 4332 or via email at complaints@westerncape.gov.za or safer@westerncape.gov.za

It is clear from the past violence and destruction committed by protestors lead by Ses’khona, together with the repeated calls inciting violence and criminality, that the organisation has no interest in abiding by the law or ensuring the safety of our communities.

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Minister Mbombo opens two new wards at St Joseph’s Home

By Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, WC Minister of Health:

Today, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo officially opened two brand new wards at St Joseph’s Home; nicknamed Sweet Basil and Daisy.

The upgrade of the care centre is a flagship of the management of St Joseph’s Home.

This much needed upgrade was made possible by a generous overseas donation and totals R36 million. It is a complete facelift for the home with its new innovative child- and eco-friendly designs.

This 55 bed addition to the centre includes unique features such as:

– more emphasis on play spaces and stronger connections to planed outdoor courts

– windows at child eye level with wide window sills and built in benches

– high roof windows will treat children to a spectacle of clouds and a blue sky during  the day and stars at night

– an eco-friendly design using natural light, a natural flow of air to control  temperature and low sound-proof ceilings to create a homely atmosphere

– more showers, fewer baths

– special eco fire places

– spacious rehabilitation areas and family visiting spaces

– outside recreational areas

St Joseph’s Home started the construction of the brand new wards in 2014. This dream by St Joseph’s is now a reality – to create an excellent child-friendly intermediate facility for vulnerable children with life-threatening diseases.

St Joseph’s Home is a 140 bed care centre and operates as a Non-profit organization funded by the Department of Health as a partner. It is instrumental in providing paediatric intermediate care to children diagnosed with life threatening diseases, mainly from disadvantaged communities. The centre offers a wide range of paediatric, intermediate healthcare and related services.

From the Health budget we fund 117 beds in this facility, which totals R18.5 million per annum. This is approximately 25% of the total budget spend on funding to intermediate care facilities across the province.

St Joseph’s Home plays a key role in providing paediatric intermediate care as one of the few organisations of its kind in the province.

Patients are mainly referred to the home from Western Cape Government (WCG) facilities such as Redcross Children’s Hospital, Tygerberg Hospital and Groote Schuur Hospital.

“The WCG encourages partnerships with the private sector to aid the delivery of essential services to our communities. In today’s world of complex socio-economic issues, a crippling burden of disease, an increasing number of people who rely on the public healthcare system and the rising cost of healthcare, it is almost impossible to do anything alone. That is why the WCG is continuously striving to form active partnerships with organisations. Active Public Private Partnerships are imperative for achieving success in the provision of high quality healthcare services” said Mbombo.

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Electricity supply challenges in NMBM call for urgent intervention

By PR Cllr Jonathan Lawack, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro:

Huge parts of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality are currently experiencing electricity supply challenges. This could be ascribed to recent torrential downpours, stress on the city grid due to continued switching required by load shedding, outages due to the number of illegal connections and finally, due to the massive maintenance backlogs on a crumbling city infrastructure.

To exacerbate matters, the municipal employees of the electricity directorate who are affected by the Executive Mayor’s decision to scrap their scarce skills allowance to ensure a cash-backed budget, have embarked on an illegal strike. The DA warned of the consequences of this ill-advised course of action and our predictions have now come to pass leaving the residents to suffer massive inconvenience as a result.

The matter has now escalated to the level where the municipality is essentially being held to ransom by those employees. Complaints by desperate residents who have gone without electricity for days on end, fall on deaf ears.

The DA urgently calls on the Executive Mayor to resolve this stalemate and address the plight of our residents who have been without electricity for some days in this harsh winter. Should the strike not have been resolved by tomorrow, the DA will be bringing an urgent motion to council to resolve on the matter.

Our residents should not be made to bear the brunt of internal wrangling and labour disputes.

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Western Cape’s first Agri Hero to be announced this week

By Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities:

The first regional winner in an initiative celebrating excellence in the Western Cape’s agricultural sector will be announced this week.

The first regional winner of the 2015 Farmworker Competition, co-sponsored by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and Shoprite, South Africa’s largest retail chain, will be announced at the Witzenberg regional ceremony. The ceremony will take place in the Koue Bokkeveld on 30 July 2015 at 6pm at the Kaleo Manor Guest Farm, Op-die-Berg outside Ceres.

This ceremony marks the start of a series of regional competitions which will take place across the province over the next few months and culminates in the Farmworker of the Year being selected in November.

The gala award function is scheduled for Friday evening 13 November at Nederburg Wine Estate in Paarl.

As part of the selection process, entrants are interviewed by a panel of agricultural experts on a range of issues including transformation and their vision for the future of the sector. Winners will be chosen in 11 categories, including best irrigation specialist, agri-processing specialist and technical operator. The overall winner will be entered into the provincial competition which takes place in November. The top agri-professional receives a cash prize and an overseas trip.

Over 6000 agriculture employees have entered the competition since 2002. Minister Winde said the competition was aimed at honouring excellence in the sector and celebrating the important role agri-professionals play in driving the economy. “South Africa has earned a reputation for delivering high-quality produce, which is enjoyed both here at home and in overseas markets. The Western Cape’s agri-professionals are valuables players in ensuring we maintain this brand.”

“Previous winners have used this platform to make important connections in overseas markets; they are seen as role models and ambassadors for the sector, and I am looking forward to profiling their successes,” said Minister Winde.

Regional ceremonies in August:

Region Date Time Venue
Overberg 05 August 2015 18:30 for 19:00 Bredasdorp
Klein Karoo 20 August 2015 18:00 Surval Boutique Olive Estate,

Oudtshoorn

Breede Valley 26 August 2015 16:00 Aan de Doorns Cellar
Hex Valley 27 August 2015 15:00 for 15:30 Hex Valley Ledesaal
Durbanville 28 August 2015 10:30 Durbanville Hills Winery

Follow the competition on Twitter: #AgriHeroes2015

Picture: Jerome Thomas, who works at Kanonkop Estate, was the overall winner of last year’s competition. As part of his prize, Thomas will travel to France later this year to meet with agri-businesses in that country.

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DA calls for investigation into Sol Plaatje Municipality chaos

By Andrew Louw, MPL, DA Provincial Leader in the Northern Cape:

The Democratic Alliance calls for an immediate investigation by the provincial department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs into the chaos at the Office at the Municipal Manager of the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality. We are worried about the current shambles that characterizes the application for new building plans. Internal controls at the municipality are seriously lacking.

Building plans submitted for houses are simply disappearing.

Councilors and officials from the municipality are able to access plans without any restraint. Not only does this pose a serious safety risk, but it means that anybody can make free copies of building plans that you have paid an architect thousands of rands to design.

Community members have raised their concerns with us.

This is one area of gross mismanagement that we know about. In how many other areas are documents disappearing without a trace?

In terms of the Building Control By-law of 2006, the municipality is expected to either approve or reject new building plans within a period of 30 days. Yet applicants wait for months without feedback from the municipal manager. I know from my personal experience that if you contact him with a query, he is evasive and unable to provide satisfactory explanations for why processes are taking so long to unfold.

We are forced to raise this matter with the media because the municipal manager does not respond to queries. It is a shame that ratepayers like myself are forced to take extraordinary measures due to the shambles at the municipality.

Recently, the lifting of the moratorium on development in the municipality has given residents a sense of renewal. We felt that things are beginning to happen in Kimberley with the development of new commercial properties and hospitals. It is a shame that the development of commercial properties cannot be duplicated in the residential arena due to the gross negligence at the municipality.

We call on the municipal manager to take full charge of his responsibilities. It is unacceptable that residents must wait for months without knowing the outcome of their applications.

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DA has evidence that ANC Limpopo is dismissing officials for exposing corruption

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Spokesperson on Cooperative Governance:

The DA has learnt that Thulamela Municipality is on the verge of paying a golden handshake to its suspended Municipal Manager, as he is regarded a stumbling block to the awarding of tenders to certain crony companies.

The DA has noted that the ANC in Limpopo is on the verge of sacking several other Municipal Managers and government officials too, in municipalities, for refusing to award tenders worth millions of rands to various companies that belong to some ANC’s bigwigs in the province.

It is alleged that the Provincial Secretary of the ANC , Knocks Seabi is behind this campaign of targeting these officials who refuse to award tenders to the companies that belong to his ANC cronies and political pals.

The DA has learned that suspended Municipal Manager of Thulamela, Adv. Makonde Mathivha, was summoned by Seabi to his office in January after advertising tenders worth R1 billion on behalf of the municipality. These tenders were for the construction of roads and bridges around Thohoyandou and he was given a list of companies to which he had to award the tender.

After a failure to comply, Mathivha was suspended in April claiming to have brought the municipality into disrepute. The decision has already been taken on the 14 July 2015 during a council meeting that a whopping R600,000.00 from the taxpayer’s coffers will be paid to the legal team of Mr Mathivha after reaching an agreement to  settle for a golden handshake in return for the termination for his contract with immediate effect.

Another Municipal Manager in Maruleng Municipality is also being targeted for exposing corruption by cooperating with the office of the Public Protector and the Hawks after the DA filed a complaint with Public Protector’s office in 2014.

The DA believes that paying golden handshakes to those who are exposing corruption, is an indication that the ANC led government is failing to fight corruption but instead opting to promote it even further within government and municipalities. When ANC cronies do not get rich from government contracts, ethical government officials seem to take the fall.

Intimidating and victimizing all whistle-blowers by expelling and suspending them is a clear violation of the The Protected Disclosures Act, 26 of 2000, that stipulates that all whistleblowers are protected from occupational detriment.

The DA’s vision for all South Africa is that government must always act honestly, transparently and in the best interest of all South Africans. When corruption is uncovered, a whistleblower should be a hero, not a villain.

The DA will be writing to the MEC for Cooperative Governance, Makoma Makhurupetje to launch a forensic audit into the finances to Thulamela and Maruleng Municipalities to probe all the tender irregularities and mismanagement of public funds.

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