July 06, 2020

Briefs that show it all: Those who’ve kept track report rape on majority of campuses

Only seven higher education institutions could report there had been no incidents of rape on their campuses in 2017. In response to a question from Nontando Nolutshungu from the EFF the Minister of Higher Education and Training replied that the Department does not usually collect such information as a matter of routine.

But this time it did. Perhaps it was reports of the growing violence against women students that shocked the department into action. UCT topped the list with nine reported rapes. It was closely followed by Walter Sisulu University with seven reported rapes of students. Tshwane University of Technology recorded six students raped during the 2017 academic year and Nelson Mandela University listed five.

What makes this even scarier is that only 20 of all of South Africa’s universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges actually replied to the Minister’s question. Does this mean they do not know how many students are raped on their campuses? Or does it suggest that most institutions of higher education don’t even monitor this crisis?

For the record, of those 20 institutions that did respond, a total of 40 rapes last year were recorded. Perhaps more is needed of the department than a single inquiry.

Fellow taxpayers, here’s some news that will make you despair

Those concerned about the wellbeing of our erstwhile president as he faces retirement have no fear. If he isn’t provided board and lodging in prison, he won’t go hungry.

In terms of a draft resolution passed by Parliament in 12 August, the report of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers of 22 August 2018, which considers pension and other pension benefits of retired presidents, has been accepted.

In terms of section 2(5)(a) of the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers Act (No 20 of 1998) upon the president’s retirement, with effect from the day after he vacates his office, he gets a taxable pension benefit equal to 100% of the total annual remuneration (salary and allowance) payable to him the day prior to his retirement, with increases linked to the increase of the sitting President’s salary. Also, the State will pay in full for his medical aid schemes or those of his widow/s or dependent/s.

The same Act stipulates that if he dies, his widow or widows, dependents or nominees are entitled to 50% of the pension benefit payable to him at the time of his death and his estate.

Keen interest in new artisan training programme

There has been a significantly higher than expected response to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Centres of Specialisation Artisan Programme launched at the beginning of 2018.

The target was 30 learners/apprentices per college, meaning that 780 apprenticeships were to be made available. On 10 August, the Department reported that it had received 1,053 expressions of interest from employers wishing to take up apprentices for particular trades in the vicinity of selected colleges. The aim is to develop skills and create jobs for unemployed youth.

What could make this scheme work better than other job-creation initiatives is that learners sign apprenticeship contracts before they enrol at colleges. Since the beginning of this year the Sector Education and Training Authorities have been busy considering employers’ expressions of interest and where they qualify, allocating grants to employers for apprenticeships.

If this works everyone wins. With apprenticeship grants learners have far more chance to complete their trade tests and secure employment; companies have a better opportunity to find the skills they need; and skills training is more likely to match companies’ needs by strengthening the link between education and the workplace.

A total of 13 priority trades were identified after intensive research into the skills required for the large government infrastructure projects as well as for the Phakisa projects and War on Leaks. The trades are auto mechanic, boilermaker, bricklayer, carpenter and joiner, diesel mechanic, electrician, fitter and turner, mechanical fitter, millwright, pipefitter, plumber, rigger and welder.

Nineteen colleges are participating in the programme, which means at least one college in every province.

What of those worst affected by North West turmoil?

The Minister of Basic Education, asked about a catch-up plan for learners whose schools have been affected by the four months of protests in the North West province, said the Provincial Education Department had directed affected schools to develop plans for extra classes in the mornings, afternoons and at weekends.

Grade 12 learners have been at a camp since 1 June where they completed the School Based Assessment for terms one and two and wrote their midyear exams. Those grade 12 learners from three high schools still affected by protests in the Moses-Kotane sub district were moved to a camp on 12 August.

Grade 8 and 11 learners have been attending Saturday and afternoon classes since mid-June to complete the curriculum. The Minister reported that where necessary the province has arranged special camps and further extended school days to allow learners to catch-up.

Social Minister promises secret strategy to smooth grants delivery

The Minister of Social Development shared with Parliament, in a written question, her strategy to handle the difficulties that arise when social grant beneficiaries were misled and forced to migrate from a cash payment system to an online system which they did not understand.

Her answer, she said, was to call in traditional leaders; faith-based organisations and other like-minded stakeholders for “a consultative process”. She said: “such consultations are going very well and are yielding positive results since, for an example, individual stakeholders are now in a position to respond to queries whenever they arise, or are able to direct their people correctly to where they can get help etc.”

There was more, she promised, but wasn’t about to tell all. The only further details she offered was to promise “a bigger and a comprehensive plan to deal with issues like this, but I am not in a position to divulge details at the moment. I will get time to brief this House once I am in a position to do so.”

Hon Singh asks for update on development of hemp industry

The IFP’s Narend Singh wanted to know from the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries how it was going with the process of decriminalising and commercialising the growth and cultivation of hemp farming in South Africa.

The answer indicates he should not give up his current job yet. Said the Minister: “In terms of the current legislation, the mandate for regulating hemp lies with the Department of Health in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965 as well as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in terms of the Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act of 1992.”

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries (DAFF) has mainly engaged these two departments and is leading the inter-departmental team that is developing a new regulatory framework for hemp. The team is made up of the following departments: DAFF, Health, Trade and Industry, Environmental Affairs, Justice and Constitutional Development as well as the South African Police Services.

The team also include state owned entities like the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). These engagements had made “much progress in terms of dealing with technical matters regarding production of hemp, research and technology development, commercial feasibility and other related matters”.

The Minister added in a written reply: “As a result of the ongoing engagements amongst the different departments, DAFF has already formally requested the departments of Health and Justice and Constitutional Development to consider the necessary legislative amendments to allow for the commercialisation of hemp in South Africa.” DAFF awaits a response from these departments.

Moira Levy

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  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Monday, 17 September 2018 21:59

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Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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