Our side of the story
Tuesday 6 July 2010
2. South Africa
SAMWU, the largest Trade Union in the Greater Tzaneen municipality has observed the financial circus in the Municipality with discontent, for the last three years despite unilateral efforts by the Municipality to come up with so called Financial Recovery Plans (FRP).
Instead of targeting corruption and nepotism, the FRP targeted employees. At the end of June, some employees salaries were not paid, workers irrespective of their union affiliation were disappointed and employee morale was severely impacted, as their debit orders did not go through, due to the financial crisis in the Municipality.
The problem started three years ago, when the Municipality begun to rely on overdrafts and used conditional grants allocated by National Government to fund operational expenditure, a concern constantly raised by the Auditor General but to no avail.
The Municipality made use of R32million for operational use, which was supposed to be used for conditional grants. More than R3million was wasted to pay legal fees, to dismiss two senior employees and close to a million rand lost due to fraud, by one employee who was responsible for cash deposits. Despite forensic audit recommendations to recover the money, the Municipality turned a blind eye.
SAMWU has conducted its own investigations and came to the conclusion that corruption and maladministration play an important role in the awarding of tenders to cronies, some are not even advertised, while the word competition does not exist in the Municipality’s vocabulary, the same companies benefit over and over again and continue to rake in millions. Some of the contracts awarded have expired years ago and operate on a month to month basis, why they are not advertised is still a mystery. There are rumors that the
Municipality cannot afford its monthly wage bill and relies on some companies to pay councilors and employees.
The technical problem for not paying salaries, confirms breach of contract and now questions are raised as creditors are not being paid. Shockingly the problem seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. There is no political leadership in the Municipality, as challenges are not addressed and as a result affect service delivery to communities.
SAMWU will continue to raise these concern and calls for the Municipality to be placed under administration, as the Greater Tzaneen Municipality has indeed collapsed.
The NUM regional structure in Matlosana in the North West want to reiterate and unequivocally put it on record that COSATU in the province has taken a stance to wage a war against corruption.
This stems from the recent COSATU PEC where we mandated COSATU Provincial Secretary, Solly Phetoe, as the spokesperson to represent the workers fighting against this pandemic. We must once again condemn at all costs the manner in which some people want to be myopic by personalizing Comrade Solly’s statements while they know very well that he is only executing the workers’ mandate.
Some PTT members are on record insinuating and antagonizing the provincial secretary. On the same page, the same individuals are directly or indirectly canvassing against COSATU PEC decision of fighting against corruption.
Having said that, we want to advice the PTT to refrain from such unpalatable behavior and start focusing on organisational work.
Forward with the victory of working class!
COSATU members are demanding Sun International to terminate the contract of Falcon Security company’ as per the agreement reached on 3 December 2009
The racist Falcon Security company humiliated a poor woman worker by undressing her on suspicion that she had stolen R400,00 from a guest’s room. The worker was then searched in her private parts by the same racist security company.
The Sun International and Sun City management were informed a month ago, but until now there has been no action.
COSATU is back in Sun City with its campaign of rooting out racism and will be taking action over the next two weeks.
COSATU members have lost their integrity and their personalities have been attacked by the racist security company that has been practicing its racism for years in Sun City and outside. Once again COSATU is calling on all government departments and private companies in the province to terminate the contract with the racist security company with immediate effect.
Racism is criminal. Undressing woman in public is sexual harassment which is also criminal.
COSATU calls the Sun City Police and Human Rights Commission to investigate the matter.
The SOS Campaign representing a number of trade unions (including Cosatu, Fedusa and Bemawu), a host of NGOs (including Media Monitoring Africa, the Freedom of Expression Institute and Misa-SA), CBOs (including the Freedom of Expression Network), industry related bodies, academics and freedom of expression activists notes the vigour and commitment of the Department of Communications to find solutions to regulatory problems in the communications sector. However, SOS notes that - after a preliminary examination of the ICASA Amendment Bill - there are a number of problems in terms of its constitutionality. Further, there are a number of important process issues that are of major concern.
In terms of Constitutionality issues the Coalition notes that although the Bill includes proposals to ensure ICASA operates more efficiently which certainly should be welcomed, the Bill also includes a number of new clauses that could be constitutionally challenged. These clauses in particular relate to a set of proposed new powers for the Minister of Communications. These new powers include:
- Removing the position of CEO of ICASA as accounting officer of the Authority and creating a new Chief Operating Officer (COO) position. In terms of the Public Finance Management Act, ICASA as a constitutional body used to report directly to Parliament through its CEO. It will now have to report through the Minister and Department.
- ICASA must implement policy and policy directives issued by the Minister.
- The Chairperson of Council must "perform such functions as the Minister may determine, subject to prior notification being given to Parliament".
- The Minister will determine what roles councillors play on Council.
- The evaluation of councillors will be conducted by a panel constituted by the Minister in consultation with Parliament. The panel must be chaired by the Minster or someone delegated by the Minister.
- The Complaints and Compliance Committee members will be nominated by the Minister in consultation with Parliament.
Potentially this creates a situation where ICASA will be encouraged to operate as an extension of the Department of Communications. But this is totally at odds with South Africa’s Constitution and the country’s international obligations in terms of agreements such as the Windhoek Charter on Broadcasting in Africa, 2001 and the African Commission on Human and People’s rights, 2002. Also, these amendments are out of sync with internationally recognised best practice as regards broadcasting regulation. For instance the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights when dealing with regulatory bodies for broadcasting and telecommunications states that broadcasting and telecommunications must be regulated by a public authority “which is independent and protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature”.
Further to these constitutionality concerns, SOS notes once again the critical importance of the Department embarking on a substantive policy review process first before introducing new broadcasting and telecommunications legislation. This is an argument we raised very strongly previously in our comments on the Public Service Broadcasting Bill, 2009. We noted at that point, as we are noting once again, that the present policy in place i.e. the Broadcasting White Paper, 1998 is more than a decade out of date and riddled with gaps and contradictions. Further, in the years since it was drafted the broadcasting and telecommunications sector has experienced paradigm-shattering technological changes. It is thus imperative that the Department revise the White Paper first and then move to the drafting of comprehensive, coherent legislation – both in terms of the Public Service Broadcasting Bill and in terms of this new ICASA Amendment Bill.
Finally, SOS notes that once again the Department, despite introducing very substantive legislative amendments that shift the very nature of independent regulation and broadcasting in the country, has given stakeholders a mere 30 days to comment. The Bill was published on 25 June and the deadline for written submissions has been set for 25 July. This time period is wholly inadequate and will in particular impact the effective participation of poorer, more marginalised civil society stakeholders. The Coalition thus urgently requests that the Department organise a number of provincial consultation sessions with stakeholders and shift the deadline for comment to the very earliest the end of August 2010 to ensure substantive, meaningful inputs.
Also, SOS once again requests, in terms of the Public Service Broadcasting Bill that the Department of Communications releases its research and motivations. This lack of information is severely hampering all stakeholders’ ability to meaningfully comment.
We note the conviction of Jackie Selebi and we hope that the state should arrest more. Although we welcome this conviction, we are not surprised to learn that capitalists even cops have had to resort to crime to accumulate. It is the nature of the system. Capitalism is a criminal economic system founded on the basis of capitalists stealing money from the working class and calling it profit. Rather than arrest individual capitalists for embarrassing the capitalist system, the state needs to abolish capitalism.
As much as Selebi is at fault, but the main culprit is the capitalist system. Capitalism encourages greed and conspicuous consumption, all which were virtues admired by the former top-cop and many others. So long as capitalism exists, these tendencies will persist. The bourgeoisie will stop at nothing to accumulate even if that means resorting to sheer gangsterism. It is scarier if the state was used to carry out this thuggish accumulation.
The capitalist state might have nabbed Selebi, but our belief is that he is not the only one within the movement and in society that has resorted to such heinous crimes to accumulate. Some are lurking behind the woodworks of the movement and others are hiding behind the skirts of our society. The sometimes-corrupt link between black and white capital needs to be investigated fully.
In the past years we have seen an increased abuse of the state for narrow factional ends. These range from the increased hiring of comrades or those who belong to certain factions within the movement, to the use of police to investigate certain groupings. All these are signs of a state in decay but too blind to see the rot seep in.
Our movement needs to do serious soul searching otherwise by the time we realize it, membership to this movement will be reserved only for the immoral and greedy. The Zanufication of our politics and society needs to be stopped. We hope this will convince some that those who complain about crime and corruption do not need to be disciplined but instead encouraged and celebrated.
The Competition Commission reached a settlement agreement with Sasol Chemical Industries Limited (“SCI”) on the 25th of June 2010, finalising the abuse aspect of the fertiliser case. This follows the settlement reached with SASOL on the collusion part of the case in which SASOL was fined R250 million. The remaining parties in the collusion case, Kynoch/Yara and Omnia are defending the case in the Tribunal.
The Commission has today filed an application for the confirmation of this settlement agreement by the Tribunal. The application will be heard on the 14 July 2010. The settlement relates to SCI’s abuse of dominance, exclusionary conduct and price discrimination in the supply of ammonia and derivative fertilizer products. In terms of the agreement, within 12 months after the confirmation of the settlement by the Tribunal, Sasol has to:
· divest five of its fertiliser blending facilities located across the country with the exception of its Secunda plant;
· sell ammonium nitrate based fertilisers on an ex-works basis from its plants at Sasolburg and Secunda and depots within 100km of them;
· commit not to differentiate in its pricing of ammonium nitrate based fertilisers, other than on standard commercial terms such as volume and off-take commitments; which must be transparent and available to all customers;
· house the ammonia plants and business operations relating thereto as a business unit separate from Sasol Nitro and with separate audited books of account.
The parties have also agreed that SCI will within 25 months from confirmation of the agreement; cease all importation of ammonia, other than for internal use into the Republic of South Africa other than those imports on behalf of third parties that may be occasioned due to supply and logistical disruptions and plant maintenance shutdowns.
This settlement does not include an administrative penalty. The Commission is of the view that the structural and behavioural remedies agreed in this settlement, together with addressing cartel conduct that was the subject of previous settlement with SASOL, will effectively address competition concerns in the fertiliser market. The pricing and divestiture commitments will remove SASOL’s incentive and ability to exclude competitors in fertiliser blending and retailing. We note that these remedies do not address the fact that SASOL will remain the sole local producer of ammonia.
If confirmed, this will be the first structural remedy that has been reached in a referred enforcement case. Up to now, this remedy was confined only to mergers. This remedy will ensure that there is competition in the blending and retail of fertilisers particularly in the ammonia based market.
According to the Competition Commissioner, Mr. Shan Ramburuth, “the settlement will ensure that SCI does not exclude its smaller rivals and means more participation in the industry and better prices for farmers. Fertiliser is a key input in the production of field crops accounting for a significant portion of the costs of production.”
The settlement agreement will remain binding upon SCI for a period of 10 years after the disposal of the affected assets. In the meantime the Commission is still investigating the fertilizer sector broadly relating to conduct in other fertiliser products.
Background to the complaints
The settlement finalises two cases investigated by the Commission against SCI, namely the ‘Nutriflo- complaint’ and the ‘Profert complaint’ filed on 3 November 2003 and August 2004, respectively. The Commission investigated the complaints and concluded that SCI had contravened the Competition Act. The case had two aspects to it, namely collusion and abuse of dominance. On the collusion side, the Commission concluded that SASOL, Omnia and Kynoch/Yara agreed to fix the price of ammonia based fertilizers. The second aspect of the case related to SASOL’s alleged abuse of its dominance.
In the Nutri-flo complaint, the Commission, in its referral to the Tribunal (4 May 2005, case 31/CR/,May05) alleged that SCI charged excessive prices by a series of stratagems that enabled it to sustain the price of ammonia at import parity prices. Further SCI allegedly engaged in conduct that was aimed at ‘disciplining’ or excluding Nutri-flo and other players from the markets for the supply of fertiliser. The Commission also alleged collusion between Saol, Omnia and Kynoch/Yara, which was the case settled in 2009 by Sasol.
In the Profert referral (25 May 2006, case no 45/CR/May06), the Commission alleged that Sasol had engaged in price discrimination to the detriment of Profert and had excluded Profert in other ways, such as refusal to supply. The Commission engaged in settlement negotiations on the basis that SCI would make reasonable endeavours to settle with the two complainants, Nutri-Flo and Profert, and the Commission understands settlements have been reached.
A number of toll gates are being built on Gauteng highways and the reason seems to be that motorists should start using public transport.
This is illogical in that we do not have a reliable transport at all. For instance, it will take me approximately 3 km of walking distance to catch a taxi. All in all I need three taxis to get to work. The cost of petrol is high and the toll fees will seriously dent our pockets particularly given the worst economic conditions we are in at the moment.
The tollgates seem to be such that payment will be made monthly and it can only be by debiting the motorist’s account. This will overburden our bank accounts and expose them to abuse.
The unions such as COSATU appear to be mum on the issue and the question is whether they will only start making calls when the tollgates are fully operational. This does not sound good. They should start mobilizing now. Poor South Africans are not protected and are vulnerable. I don’t remember any process of consultation on the issue and the toll gates being built are within a short distance of each other.
I hope this is a wake-up call to all or poverty will be forced on us.
save it !
AN OVERVIEW OF CURRENT DEBATES IN THE ENERGY EFFICIENCY SECTOR