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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
signs National Minimum Wage Bill into law

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the National Minimum Wage Bill (NMWB) which sets an historic precedent in the protection of low-earning workers in the country, the Presidency said on Monday.

The NMWB provides a platform for reducing inequality in society and decreasing huge disparities in income at the national labor market, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

The NMWB will come into force on a date to be determined by the president, said Diko.

The bill sets a floor of 20 rand (about 1.5 U.S. dollars) per hour, or 3,500 rand (about 254 dollars) a month for the majority of the country’s six million workers, more than half of the labor force.

The president’s signing of the bill into law came four years after the National Economic Development and Labor Council (NEDLAC) first began deliberations on the protection of low-paid workers.

Following these deliberations and recommendations by an advisory panel, Ramaphosa has also assented to the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill and Labor Relations Amendment Bill which were negotiated by the NEDLAC at the same time as the NMWB, according to Diko.

Taken together, these bills introduce a national minimum wage and provide for the technical arrangements needed to support implementation of the NMWB, said Diko.

The NMWB recognizes South Africa as one of the most unequal societies and notes the need to eradicate poverty and inequality, she said.

Ramaphosa has reiterated his appreciation to all stakeholders engaged in the development of the legislation for their focus on creating a new dispensation for the country’s most vulnerable workers and for bringing South Africa into line with international best practice, Diko said.

The president has also underscored that while NMWB will not end income inequality, it provides a firm and unassailable foundation - which is agreed to by all social partners - from which to advance the struggle for a living wage, Diko said.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the country’s largest trade federation, welcomed the signing into law of the NMWB, saying this is a victory for millions of workers.

COSATU applauded and thanked the president, for his unflinching support in seeing the realization of the NMWB.


South African National Assembly passes Cybercrimes Bill

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Cybercrimes Bill in a bid to curb the increase in cybercrimes.

The general purpose of the Cybercrimes Bill is to criminalize the distribution of data messages which are harmful, parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

The bill provides for interim protection orders in cybercrime cases and seeks to regulate the powers to investigate cybercrimes, said Mothapo.

When tabling the bill last year, the Department of Justice and Correctional Service said the bill aimed to stop cybercrime and improve the country’s security.

The bill was first initiated in August 2015, updated in January 2017 and was introduced in Parliament in February 2017.

There were extensive comments on the bill during public hearings, and particularly on onerous aspects of the bill.

Those comments were considered and incorporated into the latest version of the bill that was published in October 2018.

The enacted bill creates many new offences in relation to data, messages, computers, and networks such as hacking, unlawful interception of data, ransomware, cyber forgery and uttering, or cyber extortion.

Under the bill, if somebody is convicted of a cybercrime, he or she could spend between one year to 15 years in prison, depending on the cybercrime.

The bill gives the courts jurisdiction to try these offences in some cases where there is uncertainty.

It also enables the Minister of Justice and Correctional Service to make regulations on information sharing, including sharing information on cybersecurity incidents, detecting, preventing and investigating cybercrimes.

South Africa has the third highest number of cyber crime victims worldwide, resulting in a loss of about 2.2 billion rand (about 159 million U.S. dollars) each year to cyber attacks, according to the South African Banking Risk Information Center (SABRIC).

This means that every time a user logs onto his or her smartphone, computer or opens an email, he or she is at risk of being exposed to cyber crime, the SABRIC said in a report released earlier this year.

Globally, 978 million consumers were affected by cyber crime in 2017, with a total of 172 billion dollars stolen, cyber security firm Norton said in its latest report.

South Africa wants G20 Summit to advance global governance reforms

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa views the upcoming G20 Summit as an opportunity to advance global governance reforms and reorient the international developmental agenda, the Presidency said on Wednesday.

South Africa also takes the summit as a platform from which to promote and strengthen interests of the African continent and of the South, the Presidency said before President Cyril Ramaphosa leaves for Buenos Aires, Argentina to take part in the summit that will take place between November 30 and December 1.

In the course of this working visit, Ramaphosa will hold bilateral meetings with various heads of states to strengthen and deepen relations with partner countries, presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.

The president will present South Africa as an attractive investment destination and trade partner, said Diko.

Argentina assumed the G20 Presidency in November 2017, with a focus throughout this year-long term on "building consensus for fair and sustainable development."

This theme resonates well with Ramaphosa’s emphasis on the importance of consensus and collaboration in South Africa’s efforts to build an inclusive and sustainable economy and advance social cohesion, Diko said.

The G20 was formed in 1999 with the aim of bringing stability to the global financial system, promoting long-term sustainable growth and strengthening global financial governance.

However, it has since expanded its agenda beyond economic and financial issues to encompass geopolitical matters and issues of peace and security, global governance, environment and international terrorism.

The G20, which consists of the leading developed and developing economies, accounts for 85 percent of global economic output, 75 percent of international trade and 66 percent of the world’s population.

AfDB signs loan agreemnt with Eskom to expand power pool in Southern Africa

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) and South Africa’s power utility Eskom on Tuesday signed a loan agreement worth 2.886 billion rand (about 209 million U.S. dollars) to improve power transmission in Southern Africa.

The loan will be used for the construction of 552 kilometres of transmission lines and associated substations across Mpumalanga and Kwa-Zulu Natal provinces, the upgrade of substation equipment including earthing systems at various existing substations in Mpumalanga, Eskom said.

It’s anticipated that this will translate to integration of distributed generation of mainly large-scale renewable energy, into the transmission network, ensure reliability and security of supply, reduction of transmission losses, improved regional integration and safety of operations and maintenance personnel, according to Eskom.

The financing of the Eskom Transmission Project will result in a significant strengthening of South Africa’s transmission infrastructure, said Kapil Kapoor, Director General of AfDB’s Southern Africa Bureau.

"Not only will this improve the reliability and security of electricity supply, but will also allow for the integration of large-scale renewable energy into the transmission network, enhance network capacity for future load growth and ensure reduction in transmission losses," Kapoor said.

Eskom, South Africa’s major power provider, also contributes about three quarters of the total installed power generation capacity in the Southern African Power Pool, exporting power to at least six countries in the region.

Eskom and AfDB have enjoyed a productive partnership since 2009 when the bank approved the first facility in support of the utility’s capital expansion program.

This project has contributed to the realization of the New Deal on Energy in Southern Africa, one of the bank’s priority development areas, by ensuring capacity to add new connections in South Africa and the region.

"We are encouraged by the level of support that we continue to receive from Developing Finance Institutions, such as the African Development Bank which continues to be a significant partner and a key contributor to the progress achieved by Eskom in the execution of the current capital expansion program," said Calib Cassim, Eskom’s Acting Chief Financial Officer.

The loan comes at a time when Eskom has made major advancements towards fully securing the 72 billion rand funding requirement for this year, according to Cassim.

These kinds of facilities are a demonstration of the bank’s mandate to contribute to the economic development and social progress of African countries, he said.



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