Thursday, February 28, 2008


There is something very wrong with this picture, don't you think? Surely the Principal should be teaching children right from wrong? Surely they should be a role model - what on earth is this Principal trying to teach. That violence is good, that damaging people's goods is good, that being arrested and going to court is good!

Well perhaps in this case it is good - in court and going to jail, is exactly where she should be!

Principal in court for public violence
October 24 2006 at 11:16AM

The principal of the Ithutheng Trust school in Kliptown, Soweto, appeared briefly in the Protea Magistrate's Court on charges of public violence and malicious damage to property, police said on Tuesday. Jackie Maarohanye handed herself over to police on Monday and shortly after appeared in court where she was released from custody and her case postponed to November 8.
Police issued a warrant for Maarohanye's arrest on October 10 after pupils from her school took to the streets, burning tyres and blocking roads. They were protesting against the police's failure to solve the death of a fellow pupil in a fire at the trust school. A 19-year-old pupil died in the fire and two others - also young men - escaped the blaze.

Maarohanye allegedly insisted that a hut on the premises of the trust was petrol-bombed. The two survivors told the police that on the night in question, they went to bed with a burning brazier in the hut. Forensic reports suggested no proof of a petrol bomb. Police spokeswoman Mary Martins-Engelbrecht said Maarohanye was "instrumental" in the protest by the pupils and that is why she was arrested. "These violent protests left five people injured and property damaged. A resident's house was also broken into and several items stolen and burned," Martins-Engelbrecht said. - Sapa




By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Often less is more. Don’t overload people with information. Keep it simple!”

Aah! This is absolute music to my ears! I seem to run around like a mad person telling people to keep things simple - simple procedures, simple English, simple, simple, simple!

In days gone by when I still worked in the Corporate world, I remember everyone in absolute hysterics with me, when during a senior management meeting, in absolute frustration I blurted out “We should have a sign made that says, “Our new mission statement is ‘Why simplify things when we can make them as difficult as we please!’ ”

I mean think about it for a moment – we wouldn’t travel from Johannesburg to Durban, via Cape Town – now would we? (Well I suppose some bright sparks would!) Yet somehow we persist in doing things the hard way, making it difficult for ourselves.

I am sure we have all heard the words “It can’t be that simple – can it?” Well actually people – it is and it can be.

So make notes for your ‘elevator speech’ and again for a bit of a longer introduction. Make sure that your information is clear, that the sentences flow into each other and that they actually make sense. Keep it as short as possible – the longer discussions should take place on a ‘one on one’ basis. Make sure that the message you are trying to get across is understandable. Remember you know (we you should know) intimately what you do and you carry that picture in your head. What you are trying to do is put that picture into as few words as possible and hoping that as you say those words, the picture that you have in your head will magically appear in the heads of the people around you. Be clear and careful about this, there are a few people who I have seen and heard at networking meetings over the last two years, and I still have no idea about what it is that they do – their messages are really very complicated and unclear!

Now here lies the challenge – how do I refer someone, when I am absolutely confused about what it is that they do!

So here it is:
Be clear
Be concise
Keep it short
Keep it simple.

Happy networking!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki Viljoen is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and she can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This is absolutely tragic and as someone who has never had a child of my own, I can only imagine the horror and pain that parents of missing children go through.

It is unfortunate that in this world there is a dark side and that there are people who would rather walk on the dark side than walk in the light and that these people prey children.

Keep your children safe and teach them about the dangers that lurk.

'Our children are vanishing without a trace'
Graeme Hosken
March 12 2007 at 04:49AM

Despite the South African Police Service having one of the world's highest success rates when it comes to finding missing children, there are hundreds of mothers who will never know what has happened to their young ones. While the SAPS has a more than 80 percent success rate when it comes to finding children, for seven-year-old Sheldean Human, abducted from her home last month and found murdered in a storm water drain outlet last week, it was too late.
The ordeal of Sheldean's family has highlighted the plight facing South Africa's children. Every year more than 1 500 children disappear in South Africa without a trace. More than 200 of these children come from Pretoria.

'After 72 hours you start looking for a body'
While a large number of them will be found, there are more than 900 who remain listed as missing on the SAPS' Missing Persons Bureau database. Most of those who vanish come from Pretoria and Johannesburg with Gauteng having the dubious honour of having the highest rate of child disappearances in the country. Shocking figures released by the SAPS' Missing Persons Bureau reveal that one child disappears every six hours in South Africa. And time is not on their side.
Missing Persons Bureau commander Superintendent Fanie van Deventer said he was extremely concerned by the number of children who remained missing. "What I am alarmed by is the approximately 970 children who remain listed on our SAPS database as still missing. "We do not know whether they are alive, dead, or are being exploited sexually or otherwise by certain perpetrators," he said.
According to Van Deventer, who also heads the South African Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (Sacmec), international statistics show that the golden period for finding a child alive is 72 hours. This period applies to children who have been abducted for sexual or personal motives such as murder. Van Deventer said: "If a child is kidnapped for sexual motives we have three hours to find them before the perpetrator is done with them and dumps them, alive or dead."
The next deadline is 48 hours and this is for finding children who have been kidnapped or abducted by people who want to produce pornographic material as time is needed to make the material. "After 48 hours, international statistics show that for every hour that it takes to find a child the chances of finding them alive decreases by two percent."After 72 hours you start looking for a body," he said.
Van Deventer said the number of people reporting missing children had increased dramatically. "There is an increase in reporting missing children because people, especially after the Sheldean Human saga, are now realising the danger facing the country's future," he said. He said it was vital for people to notify the police immediately about missing children because of the dangers that they might be subjected to. At least 80 percent of children who went missing were runaways, while 15 percent of those who disappeared were children who got lost in places such as shopping centres. He said the other five percent of children who went missing were children who vanished because of crimes such as abductions and kidnappings. "Although the highest number of children who vanish are runaways this does not make it any less urgent to find them."It is just as important to find runaway children because on the streets they are open to opportunistic criminals who will rape, murder or assault them."It is because of this that all children who disappear, regardless of the reasons they vanish, must be reported to the police immediately."It was important that people look carefully at photographs of missing children, he said, "because we need any and all information regardless of whether people think it is useless information as this might be the final piece of the puzzle that we were looking for".Van Deventer urged parents to register their children on the Sacmec website - a database which, if a child should go missing, can be used to distribute information to thousands people and the media.
To register your child on the Sacmec website, which is free, go to now. Anyone who has information on missing children can contact 086 164 7746.

Monday, February 25, 2008



By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting

Today’s quote comes from Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. who says “Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”

Powerful words these, and certainly ones that I can relate to – actually they produced an “inside my head” type video and that I found quite delightful.

I don’t think I would like my mind to shrink back to it’s original dimensions as it would no doubt squash whatever epiphany I had just had, back out and it would then probably then be lost forever – what a sad thought!

Mostly though, once we have an new idea, it is generally followed by yet another new idea – how cool is that! All you need to do is go with the flow and pretty soon you will be spouting new ideas like they are going out of fashion.

Sadly though, most people , once they have a new idea, take the decision to go no further. So that is as far as they get and yet there is a world of opportunity out there for all of us to share. All we need to do is open our eyes and our minds to the possibilities and they will appear before us.

So let me ask the question – what do you do when you’ve had a new idea?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist and she can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Good morning bloggers - here's hoping that you have a fabulous day!

Revised Oxford Dictionary

Cigarette : A pinch of tobacco rolled in paper with fire at one end & a fool on the other.

Lecture : An art of transferring information from the notes of the Lecturer to the notes of the students without passing through the minds of either

Conference : The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present.

Compromise : The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybodybelieves he got the biggest piece.

Tears : The hydraulic force by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water power

Dictionary : A place where success comes before work.

Divorce : Future tense of marriage.

Conference Room : A place where everybody talks, nobody listens and everybody disagrees later on.

Classic : A book which people praise, but do not read.

Office : A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

Yawn : The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

Etc. : A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Committee : Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

Experience : The name men give to their mistakes.

Atom Bomb : An invention to end all inventions.

Philosopher : A fool who torments himself during life, to be spoken of when dead.

Diplomat : A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.

Opportunist : A person who starts taking a bath if he accidentally falls into a river.

Optimist : A person who while falling from Eiffel tower says in midway "See I am not injured yet."

Miser : A person who lives poor so that he can die rich.

Father : A banker provided by nature.

Criminal : A guy no different from the rest....except that he got caught.

Boss : Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

Politician : One who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.

Doctor : A person who kills your ills by pills, and then kills you with his bills.

my favourite..Smile : A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I was actually having this converstation with my friend Rachel at lunch yesterday. Rachel has a myzine called Women Inc ( and for whatever reason this came up. It is so sad that everytime a great big footstep is taken, going forward, in the name of technology, there is some sicco type brain diseased idiot who has to look on the dark side and bring something nasty to the party!
Parents take the advise in this article, keep your children safe!
'MXit is great, but don't be fooled'
October 23 2006 at 12:12PM
By Sherlissa Peters

When 12-year-old Samuel* first got his cellphone in January, he was the happiest Grade 7 boy on the planet. All his friends had cellphones and he wanted desperately to become part of a craze that has taken the country's teenagers by storm. Samuel wanted to become a resident of MXit. So began an experience that has left Samuel emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged, to the extent that he now attends counselling three times a week.

'Traumatic and nasty experience'
The cute, black-haired boy is a shadow of his former bubbly self, according to his concerned mother Vivienne. "He was such an outgoing, sociable young man. Since having this traumatic and nasty experience on MXit, Samuel has become withdrawn and angry. It has put our family under tremendous strain," Vivienne said.

Samuel began using MXit immediately after receiving his cellphone. He explained that at first, he used the network to have conversations with his school friends and sports buddies, but soon he became curious about the chat rooms. "I just wanted to see what the chat rooms were all about. I didn't plan on getting hooked on chatting," Samuel says, his eyes downcast and his voice a mere whisper.

'The anonymity of chat rooms means that trust and intimacy can develop quickly'
Samuel revealed that he soon began chatting with one particular person, a user who was known to him as "Candy 14". "We started chatting and she told me she was living in Pietermaritzburg and was 14 years old," Samuel said, adding that he was very pleased with himself for finding himself a 14-year-old female friend who described herself as "spunky, cute and sugar-sweet". "We spoke about everything, our families, our schools, our likes and dislikes. It was so cool. She told me her real name was Claudia," said Samuel.
Samuel divulged that pretty soon, the conversations became more personal, with "Claudia" asking him about girls, his preferences when it came to choosing girlfriends, what turned him on and other topics that Samuel was loathe to confess. It was after about a month of chatting on MXit that "Claudia" asked Samuel to meet in person. Samuel readily agreed, eager to put a face to the name and meet his new friend. The two set up a meeting for a Saturday afternoon at Milky Lane in Scottsville, where Samuel was going to be identified by the black Quicksilver T-shirt and military cargo pants he was wearing.
Samuel informed his parents that he was meeting friends at the movies and was dropped off by his father. "After about 10 minutes of waiting, I was approached by an old man who had been standing nearby. He asked if my name was Samuel. I did not answer him because I was scared," he said. The man told Samuel that he was Claudia and wanted to "get to know him better".
"He made a move for my hand and I just bolted," Samuel said, adding that he ran to the public restroom, locked himself in and called his parents."I broke down. I told this man such intimate and personal things about myself and my family. I am so ashamed," the young boy said. MXit has enjoyed phenomenal growth since its launch in May 2005. But the dangers attached to this extremely easy-to-use and attractive service are all too real.
The service can become addictive to certain users and may become a hunting ground for perverse predators intent on luring young, naive children into their clutches. Statistics released by Clockspeed Mobile, the company that developed MXit reveal that in 2006 45 percent of users fall in the 12-17 age group."For this reason", Alex Meiring, director of Clockspeed Mobile and creator of Mxit, was reported as saying, "It is up to parents to communicate to their children the importance of using technology responsibly."Meiring confirmed that to prevent nasty experiences from occurring, profanity filters have been put in place to block bad language and a report abuse function is operational on the website for users to report bad behaviour.
A list of safety tips have also been posted on the website and MXit portal. Mxit is also in the process of a joint venture with ChildLine, allowing for children to receive online counselling should they require it. Child psychologist Terry Heide said it is imperative for parents to become more involved in their children's technological escapades. "Often we have parents who are struggling to keep up with technological advances and choose to ignore their children's interest in the cellphone and MXit culture," Heide said.
He explained that most parents have no idea of the faceless dialogues that their children are engaging in, or what sort of personal information they are dispensing."The anonymity of chat rooms means that trust and intimacy can develop quickly, allowing predators to take advantage of this anonymity to build relationships with inexperienced, unsuspecting children," said Heide.
Heide advised parents not to prevent their children from using their cellphones or computers, because "we all know forbidden fruit tastes better". Heide says parents should rather make themselves aware of which chat rooms their children visit and whom they speak to, as well as to monitor the conversation. Children should be instructed never to divulge any personal information to other users, as well as to never leave the chat rooms to engage in "private" conversations with other users." Parents should always maintain a good, open relationship with their children, one in which the child is comfortable enough to approach their parents if anything unpleasant does occur," Heide said.
He said it is important that parents sit down with their children to discuss the dangers of chat rooms and the responsibility that comes with using such a service. Another MXit user, Danielle, 16, had this to say: "MXit is great. It allows me to chat with my friends and family at minimal cost. But don't be fooled. There are some pervs out there who abuse the service, giving it a bad name. "That's the downside of groundbreaking technology. There will always be someone out there who will find a way to screw it up."* Not his real name

Friday, February 22, 2008




If you will remember, the sixth indicator of how to determine if the person is an employee is:

6). the person is provided with the tools of trade or work equipment by the other person.

Well that seems to be pretty straight forward, doesn’t it. Obviously they are not talking about pens and pencils and the like, being supplied as tools of the trade, but it would include things like telephones and computers etc.

Should the person be provided with the tools of the trade free of charge or even if the person pays for them at some stage, this would make no difference at all. They would still be considered an employee.

The seventh and final indicator of how to determine if the person is an employee is:

7). the person only works for or renders services to one person.

Clearly someone who has their own business, would not be working and/or rendering their services to only one company, so this is a really good indicator and easy to spot. The code is also really clear on the fact that is makes no difference whether that work is permitted in terms of the employment relationship or whether the employee is ‘moonlighting’ and is therefore contravening the terms and conditions of their Letter of Appointment.

Don’t forget though that it if any one (and not necessarily all) of the indicators is present, then the person is presumed to be an employee until the employer and/or the person proves otherwise.

I trust that that makes it a little clearer about who an employee is.

Next week, we will look at some of the different types of rebuttable presumptions, should the employer and/or the person decide to challenge the ruling(s).

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Perhaps I should have saved this for the Sunday funnies, but quite honestly - I needed the laugh today!

Now men can flaunt their assets too...
November 08 2006 at 02:31AM

Sydney - An Australian company has produced the men's equivalent of the Wonderbra.The Wondercup range of underwear is designed to enhance the apparent size of a man's "tackle".

Aussiebum creator Sean Ashby told the Sydney Morning Herald: "It basically lifts, separates and extends."He added: "This design uses all of the natural assets of the person, whether they be big, small or indifferent."The underwear range includes the "wondercup," a pouch used to "separate and stop squashing". -




Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Make an impact! Walk into a room knowing that you have something important to offer, that is worth sharing.”

As usual Renate is spot on the money! This is a great tip indeed.

I know that, since I have finally ‘got’ the whole networking thing and actually, I walk into a room differently and people have noticed. It’s like I have a secret weapon and whilst I am quite happy to share with anyone that wants it, it is actually mine and that is a very powerful emotion to have.

It’s like having your ego constantly stroked and it certainly puts me on a ‘high’ (without the use of any kind of other substance).

You see, in most instances – I know something that those people don’t know and that makes me a very special person. The fact that I am willing to share my secret with anyone and everyone – well that makes me kind of unique, don’t you think!

What ‘anyone and everyone’ does with the secret that I share with them of course is an entirely different thing altogether and that often is very sad. Actually I used to get very upset and frustrated, when people didn’t understand the whole networking context – now I understand that sometimes things just are. So I share with those that want to hear, to learn and to understand and the rest, well life will take care of them I guess, and at the end of the day it really isn’t my problem at all.

I look at the world differently and I see people differently, and it has nothing to do with whether I like someone as an individual or not, it has to do with that person’s circle of influence, who they are connected to and who I am connected to. It has to do with adding value to people’s lives and having value added to mine.

It has to do with having a secret that I am dying to share with you – would you like to hear it?

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Forgive my ignorance, but what the hell is a "ritual murder"? Why does it carry a specail name that makes you think of bad stuff like Satanic rites and witchdoctors and the like? It's murder for goodness sake. It is a gruesome murder where the victim has been partially dismembered by another human being, who probably doesn't have the right to be called a 'human being'!

Don't blame it on Satan and witchdoctors or voices in my head that told me to do it or whatever else we seem to come up with. It's murder, plain and simple! If he has killed before then he is a multiple murderer, or serial murderer or mass murderer!

The bottom line is though that we need to get him off the streets as soon as possible before he does it again!

Man held for ritual murder
March 31 2007 at 12:18PM

A 42-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly killing a woman and removing parts of her body in Thohoyandou, Limpopo police said on Saturday. The man's arrest follows the murder last year of a 35-year-old woman, Superintendent Ailwei Mushavhanamadi said. "He was arrested on Friday after a DNA test linked him to the woman's murder."
The woman was apparently killed while fetching wood at a mountain with her children. "Her upper lip and hands were cut off." Following the woman's death, her husband was arrested, but was acquitted last week because there was no enough evidence linking him to the killing. Mushavhanamadi said the arrested man was also linked to a number of ritual killings in the area.
He is expected to appear in the Mutale magistrate's court outside Thohoyandou on Monday. - Sapa

Monday, February 18, 2008



The quote today comes from C P Snow, who says:

"The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase: If you pursuehappiness you'll never find it."
So what is happiness? How do you, as an individual define happiness and what exactly does it mean in your life?

Well, for starters it’s firstly about the way that I feel about life, about who I am and what my purpose in life is. It’s about acceptance in terms of the things that I cannot change and the commitment (to no-one other than myself) to make a difference, not only in my life and the lives that my life touches, but also in the grand scheme of things and the big picture. It’s about looking at the glass as half full and not half empty and if the reality of the situation is that the glass is indeed half empty – of filling it up.

It’s about turning the ‘can’t do’ into a ‘can do’. It’s about finding simple solutions to what some people consider a huge insurmountable problem and then empowering them to implement the solution and thereby solve their own problem.

It’s about looking around me in absolute wonderment at all the beauty and the good things around me and thinking “Wow! I actually own all of this, through my sight!”

So whilst I agree that physically pursuing happiness is probably a waste of time, I believe that you can change your life style, your expectations and who you are as a person, in order to make it easier for happiness to find you!


This was yesterday's funny! He certainly earned his 'stupid' badge for the day!

Thief fails to launder stolen washing machine
May 30 2007 at 11:14PM

Jerusalem - An Israeli was charged with burglary after laundry left in a washing machine he was trying to sell showed it had been stolen. The man raised the suspicions of detectives who spotted him attempting to peddle the appliance on a street in the southern city of Beersheba. They found he was not a resident and discovered clothes inside the machine. After arresting him, they linked the laundry to a man who complained his washing machine had been stolen in a break-in, police said.

Sunday, February 17, 2008




If you will remember, the forth indicator of how to determine if the person is an employee is:

4). the person has worked for the other person for an average of at least 40 hours per month over the last three months.

Although this is self explanatory, please don’t confuse it with the fact that a ‘casual’ worker cannot work more than 24 hours in a month. Once they work more than 24 hours, they are no longer considered ‘casual’ and are entitled to company benefits. So please watch that one.

The fifth indicator of how to determine if the person is an employee is:

5). the person is economically dependent on the other person for whom he or she works or renders services.

This one can be a real ‘nasty’! You see if the person works for you and gets 80% or more of his/her monthly income from you, not only is he/she considered an employee but you are also responsible for paying his/her statutory payments (such as PAYE/UIF etc) over to the Receiver of Revenue.

The person will not normally be economically dependent if they are running their own Businesses as they would generally have other clients too. Please understand that if a Self Employed person does only have one client, this does not automatically mean that they have entered into an employee-employer relationship as there may be other reasons that they are currently only working for one client.

Again, please don’t fall into the trap that because a part time worker is also able to work part time at another client that they too are self employed. This would not change the fact that a part time employee is just that – an employee, albeit a part time one.

This would also include a full time employee who chooses to (and is given permission to) work at another job after hours in order to improve his/her income. They too still remain employees.

Should a person be free to contract with other Companies and/or Businesses to do work for them or provide services for them, then this would be viewed as an important indicator evidencing Self Employment.

Next week, we will look at the final two indicators.


This is Friday's post!

Good grief! It's not enough that we have the highest bank charges in the world, but now the banks rip us off as well. Blatant theft!

The great ATM rip-off
Maya Fisher-French
11 June 2007 11:59

Of the more than R30-billion in transaction fee income banks receive, about R2-billion comes from consumers using another bank’s ATM infrastructure. This will be a major focus of the Competition Commission report, together with interchange fees and improved access to the National Payment System, suggested a recent press briefing by the banking inquiry’s technical team.
The issue of ATM costs is an important one. Cash withdrawal fees make up the majority of bank charges for lower-income earners, who transact primarily in cash. A customer who draws cash from another bank’s ATM pays on average R10,75, based on an average withdrawal value of R242. This is a cost of 4,5%.
Although Mzansi customers pay a set withdrawal fee at any ATM, most banks charge a penalty fee if the monthly transaction limit is exceeded. According to the technical team, the bulk of penalty fees come from Mzansi cardholders. The penalties are as high as R12,50 per transaction, although Nedbank recently dropped its penalty fees. The current ATM system allows banks to hide fees under the proviso of a “Saswitch” cost.
If customers use another bank’s ATM to make withdrawals, they are charged a “convenience” premium, referred to as a Saswitch fee. But only a tiny percentage of this fee actually goes to Saswitch, which clears the transaction. The bulk of the fee is a carriage fee that the customer’s bank pays to the ATM provider for the service. Over and above the premium, the customer’s bank charges its normal ATM withdrawal fee, even though it did not provide the ATM service. Of an average fee of R10,75, Saswitch receives 13c, R4,55 is paid to the ATM provider and R6,07 is kept by the customer’s bank.
Standard Bank has argued that these charges are necessary to encourage customers to use its ATMs and prevent free-riding by smaller banks. FNB has proposed scrapping the carriage fee and replacing it with a direct-to-client charge. The technical team favours this proposal, whereby the bank whose ATM is being used would charge the customer directly, and this would appear as such on the customer’s statement. The customer’s bank could also charge the customer the administration costs of reimbursing the ATM provider for the amount withdrawn. These costs would clearly be stated and the customer would know where the fees are going.
A problem with such a system is that charges for ATM withdrawals in rural areas could be higher because of the increased costs of running a rural ATM and lower levels of competition. The lack of competition in cash dispensing is also a concern for the technical team, with the banks having formed an exclusive agreement that allows only a participant of the Payments Association of South Africa (Pasa), or a company contracted to a participant, to provide ATM services.“It would help to have competition from non-bank providers for cash dispensing,” says technical team member Dr Penny Hawkins, who adds that in Britain, of the 62 000 ATMs in operation, 60% are run by non-banks and use a direct-fee model. This opens up a can of worms about access to the National Payment System and the rules around who can be a member of Pasa, which many argue entrenches the oligopoly of the big four.
According to Galia Durbach, payment executive for FNB, in the British model ATM providers are required to be members of the payments association. However, the membership rules are less rigid and they do not have to be fully fledged banks. “One could drop the word ‘bank’ and have a set of criteria that non-banks could also meet. These would cover issues like access to capital, compliance with regulation and sufficient funding,” says Durbach.Smaller banks have raised the issue of the tight hold the large banks have over Pasa membership, which they see as an elite club run by the large banks, which are the primary members. A major blow for competitiveness is that a new entrant has to lay down its business plan in infinite detail to the members, who are also its direct competition. Brian Richardson, of Wizzit Bank, argues that Pasa should not be run by the banks. He says that while it is necessary for a sound financial system to require a potential new bank to disclose its business practices, expecting it to hand this over to its competitors is ludicrous. There are other issues around joining the payment system, including costs and time delays.
Questions also need to be asked about Bankserv’s fee structure, which favours the larger banks. Bankserv is the clearing house for South Africa and is wholly owned by the banks. It generates about R20-million profit a year, which is used to upgrade infrastructure and technology. Bankserv works on volume pricing -- the higher the volume, the less cost per transaction -- which benefits the larger players. A smaller bank pays about 100% more per transaction than one of the big four. The interchange fee is also likely to be a focus in the final report. This is the fee the customer’s bank is paid when the customer uses a debit or credit card at a merchant. It is an indirect fee that the consumer never sees, but which feeds into the overall cost of the merchant’s business and, therefore, affects the price of goods.
Like the carriage fee for ATMs, it is a single fee set between the banks, with credit cards attracting 1,7% and debit cards 0,55% of the transaction. Australia’s banking inquiry raised this as a concern, in that the higher charge for credit cards, although supposedly offsetting risks, encourages banks to issue more credit cards than debit cards to bump up revenue. Although there are no precise numbers, it is estimated that banks’ revenue from interchange is between R18-billion and R31-billion a year. The technical team believes that while an interchange fee might be necessary to balance the distribution of costs between the card holder’s bank and merchant’s bank, the fee needs to be reviewed. In the final set of hearings, which will commence later this month, banks will be asked to explain how they arrive at their pricing structures and why pricing is so complex and opaque. The banks have submitted reports on their cost structure and, although confidential, it would appear that these are as complicated as their pricing structures.


Good morning bloggers - my apologies for the tardiness, hectic week last week and all good for the wallet! This should have been Thursday's post!

This is really interesting reading. Puts a lot more issues into perspective, well it did for me anyway.

DGs: Who's hot and who's not?
02 November 2007 06:00
The Treasury's Lesetja Kganyago: Among the finest directors general of the democratic era
Who gets the best out of their departments? Who has leadership qualities -- and who lacks them? Who has been fired -- and who should be sacked? Who deserves an A for the second year in a row? The Mail & Guardian editorial team presents the 2007 directors general (DGs) report card. We'd love to hear your views on our assessments.
This is part one of the DGs report card. Read part two here. What the scores mean
A: Take a bow. You are doing an excellent job.
B: Good, but room for improvement.
C: You're OK, but that's all we can say for you.
D: Get your act together.
E: Do yourself and the country a favour -- resign.
F: You're fired.
AgricultureMasiphula Mbongwa
Grade: B- (2006: C)
In the three years Masiphula Mbongwa has been in his post he has made the agriculture portfolio his own. He understands how agriculture operates within South Africa's policy framework. His three-year tenure has bought consistency to his department and he has made agriculture one of the most solid administrative departments in the government. His supporters praise the way he has created new markets for South Africa's farmers and say that he is constantly on the lookout for new opportunities.
Stakeholders are impressed with his willingness to engage with them and learn from previous mistakes. Mbongwa has improved the department's financial management and has reduced vacancies. He believes the department has learned valuable lessons in recent years, for example in the management of drought, the most pressing threat to agriculture in parts of South Africa. He argues that the installation of early warning systems has been a major improvement.
Mbongwa has won the respect of white farmers, but ultimately he will be judged on his contribution to promoting black farming -- and emerging black farmers continue to feel he is doing too little to promote their cause. In particular, his officials are not reaching those most in need of help and expertise. He also admits that the lack of technical skills available to support the department's resettlement programme has been one of his biggest challenges.
Arts and culture
Thembinkosi Wakashe
Grade: Too early to tell
Thembinkosi Wakashe took over on October 1 after the contract of his predecessor, Itumeleng Mosala, was (mercifully) not renewed. One of his first tasks will be to investigate the department's qualified audit and an unexplained difference of R13,4-million between the asset register and its financial statements. Mosala's departure drew a collective sigh of relief from the culture sector. Unlike him, Wakashe is an affable individual with enormous experience in arts and heritage services. Minister Pallo Jordan can now reasonably hope for an era of increased cooperation between the department, its initiatives and arts practitioners.
At 46, Wakashe is young enough to be in touch with burgeoning artists. He studied theatre at Wits University in the 1980s; he did a master's in performance studies at New York University, also becoming the manager of then-exiled pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. Returning to South Africa, he formed part of the team that developed the Arts, Culture and Heritage White Paper. He was later appointed chief director for arts, culture and heritage, responsible for liaison with Unesco, the Southern African Development Community, the European Union and the former Organisation for African Unity.
With luck Wakashe will be able to deal with the demands of the culturally divided, needy and temperamental arts sector. As Jordan said in welcoming him: "We appoint him the leader of this department at a time when it has come into its own and plays a central role in nation-building efforts, to use arts and culture as an instrument for creating jobs and self-reliance among our artists."
Lyndall Shope-Mafole
Grade: F (2006: E)Things are just going from bad to worse in the Department of Communications. One industry insider even suggested this is the reason for Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin's foray into the communications field, through Infraco, the state-owned infrastructure player. The Communications Department is in such a policy mess that any coherent plan seems like a ray of hope.
Despite some signs of competition this year in South Africa's broadband market, prices are still too high, while the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) remains hamstrung by lack of independence and under-funding, which prevent it from tackling the numerous bottlenecks that hamper effective competition. The country has yet to see progress in the unbundling of the local loop, the regulation of interconnection, facilities leasing and access to the undersea cable at cost-based prices.
A recent parliamentary review, which looked at the Chapter 9 bodies such as Icasa, reaffirmed the need for the regulator to be more independent of the department. It suggested that Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri's involvement in selecting Icasa councillors and conducting their performance reviews affected its independence.
Stakeholders have been shouting about this for more than a year. Last year the minister appointed two former departmental officials as councillors. Insiders did, however, say that Shope-Mafole has a good relationship with them and strong links with the international communications world. But the toing and froing over the multiple proposed under-sea cables that are attempting to land in South Africa, and her insistence on driving the EASSy cable process through the New Partnership for Africa's Development, are said to have soured relationships between her department and communications officials in other African states. Stakeholders describe the mixed messages emanating from the department as embarrassing. "The DG does not make sense and is creating confusion at best and chaos at worst," said one. "She is wreaking havoc with the undersea cables."
Shope-Mafole refused to grant the Mail & Guardian an interview and did not answer questions sent to her department.
Correctional services
Vernie Petersen
Grade: Too early to tell
Since his appointment in May, Vernie Petersen has worked hard to change the image of this neglected and badly run department. A trained social worker, he has convinced interest groups that he has the correct priorities and has travelled the length and breadth of the country engaging prison management. Although it is not possible yet to measure the real effect of the change of guard at correctional services, Petersen has shown signs in his five months at the helm that he might be what the department needs. His achievements during his short tenure include the establishment of a forum with regional commissioners to address service delivery challenges at operational level, the introduction of an integrated human resource strategy, the establishment of a fraud prevention plan and the design of a system to measure and strengthen the department's performance.
He has emphasised the need for an overhaul of the department's organisational culture to promote professionalism by measuring the performance and enhancing the conditions of employees. To avoid a sixth consecutive qualified audit from the Auditor General, Petersen has appointed a new chief financial officer and director of internal audit. In collaboration with senior managers he has developed a declaration and compliance improvement plan that will be signed by all departmental managers.
After his first scuffle with Parliament's robust correctional services committee, he went back to the drawing board on the Correctional Services Amendment Bill, addressed the committee's concerns and adopted a position that the Bill will be presented to the committee in the form of draft regulations, before adoption by Minister of Correctional Services Ngconde Balfour.
January Masilela
Grade: E (2006: C)
January Masilela must go now. The problems in the defence secretariat have continued for so many years -- he has been in the post since 1999 -- that he should no longer be given the benefit of the doubt. Continuing problems in the secretariat include the failure to present the update of the formal review of defence policy, due two years ago; repeated qualified audits from the Auditor General; and a lack of an effective inventory to keep proper track of defence force resources.
Other shortcomings are a failure to secure political support for sufficient operating budgets; late filing of annual reports; and indecisive and absent leadership. Masilela suffers the handicap of an indifferent minister, Mosiuoa Lekota, but, according to a senior African National Congress (ANC) MP, this is no excuse: "He should not be redeployed, he should be fired." Len le Roux, defence analyst for the Institute for Security Studies, said that while the civilian defence secretariat was a post-apartheid creation, enough time had passed for the institution to bed down. "But they have not really built that core competency," Le Roux said. This failure, he noted, exacerbates the structural tension between the secretariat and the defence general staff, who tend to try to usurp its functions to get things done.
On Masilela, Le Roux is gently damning: "One doesn't see the secretary as a prominent leader who really serves the department well." Enough said.
Duncan Hindle
Grade: A (2006: A)
Duncan Hindle's second year in the top job has entrenched his well-earned reputation as one of the safest pairs of hands at this level of government. The year posed some acute challenges, the most serious being the public-service strike in June, which involved thousands of teachers and severely disrupted learning. With commendable speed, Hindle and his department formulated a "recovery plan" to make up for lost time. Quite how effective the plan will be will become apparent only when we see this year's pass rates. But, as is usual when policy formulated at national level relies on provincial implementation, problems that hindered the smooth roll-out of the plan cannot really be laid at the door of the national department.
What the department must do, though, is monitor the provincial situation, and this Hindle has done. The same can be said of another of the year's major challenges -- hitches with some no-fee schools claiming they now have less money than they did when they charged fees. Forty percent of all public schools are now designated "no-fee", relieving five million pupils of the burden of paying for schooling. Some fee-charging schools have found themselves in acute financial straits, arguing that the government has placed them in the wrong quintile or poverty ranking.
Hindle's plain speaking was apparent when he admitted that some schools have been assigned to the wrong quintiles. This was the first official admission of such an error and its directness makes a refreshing change from other post-1994 education regimes. How the department solves these funding problems remains to be seen. Given such a personal style, one can understand why departmental insiders talk of the confidence Hindle inspires in staff. This is not a department riddled with intrigue, cliques and back-stabbing. Because of Hindle's easy personal relations, staff feel supported in their jobs.
Hindle can claim credit for one of the year's undoubted high points -- the latest school register of needs, now called the National Education Information Management System. The backlogs in infrastructure uncovered by this audit are frightening, but it is the most comprehensive and accurate register of what schools have (and lack) South Africa has produced. It was completed and released on schedule too. All eyes will be on how Hindle manages another of the year's developments -- the completion of a plan for a national adult literacy campaign and the securing of R6-billion from the treasury to implement it over five years.
An earlier campaign, launched by Kader Asmal, crashed in flames, largely because of the weakness of the departmental structures that were meant to drive the campaign. Hindle must still decide who will head the campaign, how many staff to recruit and whether it will be fitted into an existing departmental directorate -- issues that will affect the speed and effectiveness of implementation. Watch this space.
Environmental affairs and tourism
Pam Yako
Grade: B+ (2006: B+)
According to the Environment Outlook report, published by the department in July, environmental sustainability is in serious decline -- South Africans consume far more resources than the global average. And the effect on our natural capital is telling: the National Spatial Biodiversity Assessment, released in June, showed that 34% of terrestrial ecosystems, 82% of rivers and 12% of marine bio-zones are threatened.
Does this mean Yako is not doing her job? Development imperatives are placing huge pressures on her department. But it is proud of having streamlined legislation and processes involved in environmental impact assessments (EIA), promising to wipe out a backlog in EIA applications by the end of October. Critics say this is at the expense of rigorous assessment and has resulted in the authorisation of many poorly thought out developments. There are many vacancies in departments that process EIAs -- 41 in KwaZulu-Natal, 23 in Limpopo, 17 in the Northern Cape and 10 in the Eastern Cape -- and the department is spending millions hiring consultants to fill the gap.
The department has come under fire for giving the go-ahead for several highly controversial developments, including a new international airport at La Mercy and nuclear smelters at Pelindaba. It is reconsidering applications to develop the Wild Coast and has barely whimpered against the potential destruction of Mpumalanga's great lakes district by coal mining. However, Yako is a quietly efficient administrator and there is progress in other areas. Her department spent 99,9% of its allocation -- 49% on BEE -- all reports were tabled in line with legal requirements and its audit report was unqualified.
Through the Expanded Public Works Programme it created close to 14 000 temporary jobs this year, while rehabilitating 15 wetlands and more than 2 000ha of land. Important legislation gazetted included a Waste Management Bill, Integrated Coastal Management Bill, National Framework for Sustainable Development, draft norms and standards for managing elephant populations and regulations on threatened or protected species.
The department's response to environmental destruction focused on beefing up the Green Scorpions. A total of 816 are registered and they have arrested close to 900 people, securing 134 court convictions. The Scorpions are enforcing compliance with air quality regulations in several pollution hot spots. Yako has put much energy into ironing out mismanagement of the Marine Living Resources Fund at Marine and Coastal Management.
There are still complaints about the allocation of fisheries licences, however, and there was an uproar when the department said it was considering opening the Tsitsikamma marine protected area for subsistence fishing. In the tourism portfolio, the department maintained its focus on black economic empowerment (BEE) and support for small business. Close to 1 000 small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) were provided with business plans and links.
The "Sho't Left" domestic tourism campaign recorded more than 37-million domestic trips. International arrivals exceeded a record eight million last year and increased a further 10,8% between January and June this year. With an eye on the 2010 World Cup, the department is rolling out accommodation workshops for SMMEs countrywide. A major complaint is that the department takes too long to make decisions. Critics say Yako is not sufficiently visible and plays a "maintenance" role rather than initiating path-breaking programmes. It was a pity, then, that the launch of the "Save Tomorrow, Today" campaign in September was marred by the suspension of JP Louw, chief executive of Indalo Yethu, the flagship environmental awareness-raising project introduced by Yako.
Louw was suspended on unspecified charges; with luck this will not kill the project.
Foreign affairs
Ayanda Ntsaluba
Grade: A (2006: A)
Ayanda Ntsaluba identified seven key areas in his efforts to build the country's foreign policy: consolidation of the African agenda; building South-South cooperation; strengthening North-South cooperation; participation in global governance; strengthening political and economic relations; organisational strengthening; and provision of support services. For the most part, his efforts at achieving these have been impressive. South-South cooperation remains a pillar of the government's approach to foreign policy and, with the successful hosting of the India, Brazil and South Africa (Ibsa) axis under its belt, the department is well positioned to lobby for more concessions on trade tariffs in the North and to influence United Nations decisions on adopting more proactive developing-world policies. But South Africa's strong foreign policy lobby must be seen against the backdrop of President Thabo Mbeki's not-so-silent hand in the department.
North-South cooperation has had mixed results. While relations with Nordic states, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom have remained amicable and mutually supportive, political differences with southern European states such as France and Italy have resulted in relations taking a turn for the worse. But what has captured and dented the country's image has been the ambiguity on matters such as voting against the abuse of human rights in Burma and siding with despotic leaders in Zimbabwe and Iran.
Sympathetic observers have pointed out that foreign affairs blunders cannot always be laid at Ntsaluba's door. They claim that South Africa's position on Zimbabwe and its submissions to the Security Council have been Presidency initiatives. South Africa's support for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Western Sahara and its proactive role in mediation has, however, put the country in a good light. Inside the department, Ntsaluba is praised as the best foreign affairs DG the country has had. But this praise is accompanied by a large dose of self-criticism.
While human resource development has been a priority, Ntsaluba's annual report states that gender representativeness has some way to go. The number of people with disabilities continues to be low. Cohesion within the department remains a major concern. This is one of the departments that has largely remained intact since 1994, and Ntsaluba is still managing the conflict between the old and the new crops of people. Habits die hard and beliefs are difficult to shake unless alternative avenues are found to house them. But Ntsaluba is said to have good relationships with the political heads of the department and these have allowed for a productive atmosphere to prevail.
Ntsaluba has emerged as a respected and efficient administrator. He would do well to communicate more with the country's citizens and to explain in more detail the nuanced positions the department has adopted on complex issues, such as Burma, Iran, Zimbabwe and the UN. The department again received an unqualified audit report.
Thami Mseleku
Grade: F (2006: F)
Thami Mseleku's ignorance of health matters and his heavy-handed style are a bad combination. But it is the combination of Mseleku and Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who is similar in character and style, that is particularly lethal. The two are widely cited by HIV/Aids activists as the biggest official obstacles in the fight against the disease. Mseleku rules the Health Department with an iron first, particularly the HIV/Aids directorate. The latter is forced to report every move to him, especially any meetings officials might have with civil society organisations. He was instrumental in making the life of former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge a misery.
Madlala-Routledge said he barred senior health officials from communicating with her and made her apply for permission to receive departmental information from the health minister. However, he enjoys little respect from his senior staff because of his lack of health knowledge and more than one-third of the national department's top jobs are vacant. The department received a qualified audit for 2005/06, the third year in a row. The key problem, again, was the failure of the national department to monitor provincial expenditure properly. Mseleku froze the country's HIV/Aids and tuberculosis (TB) communication campaign, Khomanani, while having it assessed.
A new tender was announced only in May after a nine-month break in communication. Despite the fact that TB is the most common opportunistic infection affecting people living with HIV and that at least 60% of TB patients are also HIV-positive, Mseleku is opposed to the integration of HIV and TB treatment. Although the Health Department is the lead department in its implementation, Mseleku effectively disowns the new national strategic plan intended to guide the country's Aids approach to until 2011. He constantly emphasises that the plan is not the department's, but that of a wide group of stakeholders.
At a meeting with the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) late last year, Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka undertook that government would settle the court case it faces from the TAC and South African Medical Association over the Health Department's failure to act against notorious vitamin peddler Matthias Rath. However, despite being personally approached since then by the TAC with a settlement offer, Mseleku has refused to settle and the case has been set down for later this year. Mseleku played a major role in undermining an agreement reached between the Aids Law Project and the TAC and the correctional services department regarding Westville prisoners' access to antiretroviral drugs.
Playing the person not the ball is one of Mseleku's trademarks. Under his rule the department's "communicators" have had free rein to launch personal attacks on journalists, scientists and others -- something his predecessor, Ayanda Ntsaluba, would not have allowed. One ray of hope is that the Health Department has announced increases of up to 23% for nurses -- but only after the crippling strike in July.
Home affairs
Mavuso Msimang
Grade: AI
n the eight months Msimang has been at home affairs he has done more to clean up the department than any of his eight predecessors since 1994. He has leadership qualities that have become increasingly rare in the government and an ability to rise above politics to get the job done. He came to home affairs with an impressive record: he turned South African National Parks into a commercial success and rooted out corruption and incompetence from the State Information Technology Agency by encouraging whistle-blowing and naming and shaming culprits in an internal publication.
Straightening out home affairs will be Msimang's biggest challenge. The Auditor General has issued at least nine qualified audits to the department in the past 13 years and the department has a 30% vacancy rate in middle and top management. But the 65-year-old has shown already that in tackling incompetence he takes no prisoners. He said earlier this year: "There is no way unsuitable people will be retained. You're not retrenching those people, you're firing them." After just 100 days in the job, he suspended two senior home affairs officials: chief financial officer Pat Nkambule and deputy director general: civic services Joel Chavalala, who once acted as director general.
He is quite open about the abysmal state of the department, describing it as "sick", and has staked his reputation on pulling it straight. His view is that a properly functioning Home Affairs Department is critical to the future success of South Africa. He said after his appointment in May that "a total culture change is a sine qua non for the overhaul of the prevailing situation, which has deteriorated to a point where not fixing it would certainly be a catastrophe". Two weeks after his appointment, Msimang selected a turnaround task team comprising high-level international IT experts and accountants and led by Kevin Wakeford, former chief executive of the South African Chamber of Business. It includes a National Treasury task force led by accountant general Freeman Nomvulo, an IT panel led by De Beers IT strategist Patrick Monyeki and a business re-engineering team from the Chicago-based global management consulting company AT Kearney.
Part of the plan to root out graft is to implement IT systems that track and record every transaction. The task team's work will cost more than R1-billion, but Msimang says: "Against the cost of corruption, this pales into significance."
Itumeleng Kotsoane
Grade: C- (2006: C)
It has been Itumeleng Kotsoane's second year in the job and the housing department is still in trouble. Kotsoane inherited a weak administration and, two years later, things are not looking much better. Among the problems he faces are R3-billion fraud in various housing projects and the fraudulent acquisition of housing by about 50 000 public servants. The department has been under fire for the forced removal of squatters. Kotsoane has a tough job: to ensure that the department's sustainable human settlements plan, Breaking New Ground (BNG), is implemented.
The BNG approach sets out to meet the state's constitutional housing obligations, in the context of a 2,4-million unit backlog which is growing by 40 000 households a year. The housing allocation remains at 1% of the national budget and has not exceeded 1,4% in 10 years. In the Western Cape, Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and her DG are delivering just 10 000 houses a year.Kotsoane is clever, but perhaps more of a politician than an administrator. The housing department is said to lack cohesion and suffers from low morale. There are tales of back-stabbing and a staff exodus. Staff describe him as sensitive and a good listener and he is seen as a charismatic man with leadership qualities. But his relationship with stakeholders on the outside leaves much to be desired. Civil society and housing NGOs complain that he is inaccessible; a large housing company in Johannesburg said it had been unable to secure a meeting with him for 13 months.
This year Kotsoane made headway with redesigning the social housing policy and aligning it with BNG. Those involved in the housing field give him much credit for this. One of his former colleagues remarked that the Housing Department has the right ideas and policies, but that it falls short when it comes to implementation. They talk about the eradication of slums by 2014, but they're not clear on how to do this. When it comes to policy direction and interpretation, Kotsoane and his team are weak.
Manala Manzini
Grade: C+ (2006: C)The sacking of Billy Masetlha catapulted National Intelligence Agency Director General Manala Manzini from total to relative obscurity. Spooks tend to hide their light under a bushel of secrecy, making it hard to assess their performance. In Manzini's case it is especially difficult to judge his impact, as he is part of a wider intelligence cluster that includes South African Secret Service boss Hilton Dennis and exiting national intelligence coordinating committee (Nicoc) chairperson Barry Gilder.
New NIA operations director Pete Richer has taken his mandate into the realm of policy reform, not just day-to-day management. But, above all, Manzini's is a department that has enjoyed the attention of a hands-on minister in Ronnie Kasrils, who has been a crucial presence at Manzini's shoulder. All in all, the department appears to have stabilised. In his budget speech this year Kasrils said security vetting turnaround times had improved significantly and that funds had been freed up for operational expansion and capital investment.
The department is completing long-overdue draft legislation to replace apartheid-era secrecy laws that are unconstitutional. Kasrils said the quality and quantity of intelligence received by the government via Nicoc, which receives input from police and military intelligence, had improved. However, other sources said Barry Gilder, who has taken early retirement, faced an uphill battle in managing turf wars and delivering a coherent product. A case in point was the "Browse Mole" report debacle, which raised concerns about Angolan and Libyan backing for Jacob Zuma. It was a Scorpions initiative, but appears to have been leaked to the media by someone in the NIA and was rather disingenuously condemned as disinformation by Manzini. There have been other problems.
The parliamentary intelligence oversight committee has questioned the propriety of Manzini accepting a raft of discounted Absa shares from businessman Tokyo Sexwale. NIA spokesperson Lorna Daniels said Manzini declared this benefit and Kasrils raised no concerns about it, though he has issued no public explanation for this stance. In addition, the annual reports for the department seem to be years behind.
Finally, questions must be raised about Manzini's suitability for office, given allegations about an affair with a subordinate and a subsequent altercation with his wife. If true, the allegations represent (at the very least) a security risk for someone in Manzini's position.
Menzi Simelane
Grade: D- (2006: C-)
Earlier this month the Democratic Alliance (DA) asked Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla in Parliament whether she would sack Menzi Simelane after the department received its second consecutive qualified audit report from the Auditor General. Unsurprisingly, Mabandla said no.
In her written answer she referred to the reasons for qualified opinion: third-party funds, including the failure to account for bail, maintenance money, fines and payments to court and an incomplete register of assets. Simelane's political boss tried, unconvincingly, to downplay these issues, saying the problems are "historical" and asset management should be seen in the context of the more than 581 sub-offices that handle the department's assets. A closer look at the Auditor General's report, however, suggests these issues are not as trivial as Mabandla claims they are.
Simelane's department completely omitted from the financial statements the liability and bank balances relating to third-party funds. The statements were found to be "materially misstated". Other misstatements included the failure to disclose claims against the state amounting to R2-billion. An amount of R202-million for assets less than R5 000 was omitted from the financials.
The Auditor General could not find an asset register that confirmed the department's calculations. Mabandla also failed to mention another interesting comment by the Auditor General: senior officials in his department, including Simelane himself, had failed to declare their business and private interests to the Public Service Commission. Another possibly more disturbing feature of Simelane's performance is the indication that he was involved in decisions with strong political undertones.
The first of these was the manoeuvring to see that Britain's request for legal assistance in its arms deal investigation did not land on the Scorpions' desk, but was sent to the South African Police Service. The request gathered dust on his desk for months before a decision was made. Second, it is rumoured that Simelane was actively involved in "building a case" against National Prosecuting Authority boss Vusi Pikoli, controversially suspended by President Thabo Mbeki. Insiders say Simelane "cannot stand" Pikoli and wants him out. Simelane is blessed with senior staff who are trying their best to hold the department together. He should be giving far stronger support in cleaning up South Africa's struggling justice system.
Vanguard Mkhosana
Grade: C (2006: E)
After last year's shocking rating (E), Vanguard Mkhosana has tried to pull up his socks (not sure if he wears red, like his homeboy Gwede Mantashe) and refocus his department on some key deliverables, instead of being all over the place. Amid the myriad demands placed on the department, he has sought to encourage greater focus by adopting a project-based management approach. However, it would appear that insufficient follow-through is occurring in the department, which is in a constant state of restructuring in one form or another. It is rather unfortunate that Mkhosana's innovations have yet to be fully implemented as he does seem to have a vision of where to take the department.
Some in his department would argue that perhaps he does not have the sufficient resources to effect real and sustainable change. As one departmental official indicated: "There is no stability in the people staying to see things through." The department has faced a high staff turnover for some time. A further concern is that, in seeking to drive change, Mkhosana might, at times, be too hands-on, which could slow down processes and prevent a quick turnaround. He does have a tendency, some would argue, to ponder issues extensively, which does not make for quick decision-making. In many ways Mkhosana's vision for the department is correct. He, like his minister who is opposed to what he calls "headquarter's syndrome", believes in a lean and mean head office with implementation and delivery happening at provincial level. Hence, he has sought to empower the provinces for effective delivery.
In pursuit of this he has elevated the status of provincial directors. Aside from attempting to restructure the department, he has sought to beef up the labour inspectorate, which has been under-resourced for many years. As part of his drive towards decentralisation, Mkhosana has decentralised the operations of the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation Fund to labour centres, which will help address the backlog in insurance benefit payments. According to the department's latest annual report, 88% of the applications for unemployment benefits were settled within six weeks, compared with an 85% settlement rate last year. The department has settled the backlog in compensation claims dating back to December 2004. This year alone it paid R2,6-billion to about 328 000 beneficiaries. Much to the constant embarrassment of his minister, Mkhosana's department has been forced to take a tough stand to ensure an improvement in the performance of the sector education and training authorities (Setas). The department is contemplating reducing Setas from 23 to five to align them with South Africa's industrial strategy. This might be a step in the right direction if some underlying systemic issues are addressed as well. If it is viable to reduce the number, Mkhosana faces a mammoth task in convincing stakeholders -- particularly the 19 Seta bosses who stand to lose their jobs -- about the need for large-scale restructuring. This is not the first time the department has sought to reduce the number of Setas.
Mkhosana has sought to take a tougher stance to ensure compliance with employment equity legislation. He has launched the DG review, which looks at what companies are doing in practice rather than merely measuring whether they are complying -- hence a shift from procedural to substantive compliance.Changes have been made to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The department showed good judgement in releasing its chief director for labour relations, Nerine Kahn, to head the CCMA. In the past year the institution has made great strides in improving service delivery and sorting out a number of institutional problems. The same cannot be said for the labour-market reform process, initially being driven by the Presidency. Following extensive discussions this process was brought back into the department. It is questionable to what extent progress has been made in this regard in the period under review. While Mkhosana's improved performance in some areas is to be commended, his failure to tighten financial controls is a cause for concern. For the third consecutive year since Mkhosana took over the department received a qualified audit.


Good Morning bloggers - my apologies for the tardiness of these next few posts - just been a really hectic week. Enjoy!



Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Resist short term gain, at the expense of trust and integrity.”

Now this is an interesting one! Many times, a few days after meeting someone at a networking meeting, I have phoned said person only to be told – “I’ve not gotten anything out of the meeting from anyone, so this networking thing doesn’t work for me!”

Oh how sad and how very short sighted! Here’s the thing see – if you go to a networking event purely with the intention of getting some work or selling a widget at that meeting, please don’t go. All you are doing is wasting everybody’s time and energy and more to the point disillusioning yourself!

Think about this logically for a moment. If you do a cold call and you manage to get past the gate keeper and in to see the top brass – how often will you make a sale of your widget and/or service at that first meeting? The answer is pretty much NEVER! So why on earth would you think that you could get it right at one networking meeting?

The truth is that networking doesn’t, but itself, get you any business! What it does do, is get you to meet people, far more people than you would if you were going door to door and cold calling. It is still what you do after you have met those people that counts. It’s how you build the relationship thereafter that makes the difference!

Networking is about ‘warm’ calling – once you have met or even seen someone at a networking meeting, when you call them up – even if they don’t remember seeing or meeting you there, once you introduce yourself and say you were at that meeting, they will remember being there to and it is easier to set up the appointment! Once you have your foot in that door, the building of the relationship can start taking place and the referrals of your own ‘circle of influence’, can take place and the meeting of the other persons ‘circle of influence’ can start to take place and big business can start being done. It has to start somewhere though and that somewhere is at the networking meeting!

So in essence, networking is about meeting new people in order to start building relationships. Once you have grasped that, you will be well on your way.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Oh my! Remind me why Nozizwe Madlala- Routhedge was fired again? She seems to be the only one with the hand on the pulse of things! I say bring her back!

Minister takes aim at 'sex pest' general
Boyd Webb
November 30 2006 at 04:51AM

A sexual harassment case against a general has led to renewed calls for a review of the military justice system, amid concerns that the case has dragged on for three years. Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge said on Wednesday that the case against South African National Defence Force inspector-general Major-General Mxolisi Petane was taking too long. She was also concerned that Petane was promoted earlier this year to his current rank, in contravention of military policy. Madlala-Routledge said she had raised her concerns with Deputy Defence Minister Mluleki George over fears that military courts were not equipped to deal with this kind of case.

'Why has this case dragged on for three years?'
The complainant worked for Madlala-Routledge when she was deputy defence minister. Petane is a prominent former Umkhonto weSizwe soldier and highly regarded in Cape Town. He stands accused of groping the woman's breasts and rubbing up against her while he was the military attache to Sweden and the United Kingdom. The alleged incident took place in a Stockholm hotel room as a South African delegation was preparing to meet its Swedish counterparts for defence talks in October 2003.
Madlala-Routledge said she had been following the case and was very concerned about the delays. She said Petane's promotion from brigadier-general to major-general had weakened the prosecution's case. This was because it was now more difficult for the required two assessors of the same rank, culture and military background to be found. Shortly after his promotion, Petane, requested the use of two assessors to ensure that he would be given a fair trial.
Court manager Lieutenant-Colonel Tebogo Mufahothe confirmed on Wednesday that Petane had not been eligible for promotion under current military policy. "He is supposedly unpromotable," Mufahothe said, describing it as an "obvious oversight". When he appeared briefly in the Thaba Tshwane military court on Tuesday, the case against Petane was again postponed, as a result of the prosecution's inability to provide two assessors. Case prosecutor Captain Desmond Thanjekwayo argued in court that there were only a few eligible major-generals in the defence force. Of these, most indicated that they knew Petane or were friendly with him, Thanjekwayo reportedly told presiding military judge Colonel Brian Plaatjies.
Plaatjies is reported to have warned the prosecution that if two assessors were not found before the hearing resumes on January 23 and 24, the case would be struck from the roll. Mufahothe said on Wednesday he had already approached 12 major-generals. Three said they were friends, three said they were not available for Wednesday's hearing and the others simply said no. But he was confident he would find the required assessors before the trial continues. "We are still fishing for assessors. We will get them. We have to get them, even if it means the intervention of various people," he said.
Madlala-Routledge said on Wednesday that George had confessed he knew nothing about Petane's irregular promotion and would investigate the circumstances under which it had taken place. Meanwhile this week's hearing has left the complainant angry and bitter, with her questioning why she was made to feel like the guilty party.
"Why has this case dragged on for three years?" she asked, noting that she was forced to sit outside the court before the delayed court proceedings started." He was also not properly marched into court, as the accused normally are. It was all about him and how the proceedings were inconveniencing him and his career," she said. She also noted that there had not been any women in court; not even a member of the SANDF chief directorate of equal opportunities had made an appearance to offer support. Madlala-Routledge said military courts had obviously not kept pace with the transformation that was taking place in courts around the country concerning gender sensitivity."The total absence of any females in the military justice system dealing with the case is a matter of concern."She said there were moves afoot to "civilianise" military courts, which had so far ignored the standards of the outside world.The Defence Ministry would not comment on Wednesday, and Petane could not be reached for comment.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Today’s quote comes from the infamous Walt Disney, who says “Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Imagine, if you will – never having the desire to do something new, or to the desire to learn about something new? For a Gemini, this is the most scary thing to even think about!

Curiosity is a natural thing – think of a young child as they touch something for the first time, or they discover something for the first time. The look of wonder and then joy that crosses their faces and how their expressions changes.

Or how about our animals, I know I am often amused at the antics of my cats, who ‘check’ everything out, like the grocery shopping bags. I often enter the kitchen to find all the cupboard doors standing wide open and I know that young Deushka (my youngest unmarried son of the feline variety) has been ‘checking’ everything out again to ensure that everything is in it’s place.

I am currently running a ‘Today’s Trivia . . .’ on the Business Warrior ( forum and we are having such fun! Some of the answers and the discussions that have come about as a direct result of asking a question, are quite astounding and it’s fabulous to see all the directions that the discussions take us. All because of a natural curiosity.

So don’t, whatever you do, stifle curiosity in your children or yourselves. Let it out and enjoy the travels that it takes you on, down the different pathways of life.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Morning Bloggers - this is from my friend Susan in the States

I am sick of getting all those "REDNECK" jokes from everyone, so here is a good one for you.
So as not to be outdone by all the redneck, hillbilly and Texan jokes, somebody had to come up with this, you know you're from California if:

1. Your co-worker has 8 body piercings and none are visible.
2.You make over $300,000 and still can't afford a house.
3. You take a bus and are shocked at two people carrying on a conversation in English.
4. Your child's 3rd-grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Flower.
5. You can't remember . . is pot illegal?
6. You've been to a baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.
7. You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown, and you can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.
8. You can't remember . . . is pot illegal?
9. A really great parking space can totally move you to tears.
10. Gas costs $1.00 per gallon more than anywhere else in the U.S.
11. Unlike back home, the guy at 8:30am at Starbucks wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses who looks like George Clooney really IS George Clooney.
12. Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.
13. You can't remember . . .is pot illegal?
14. It's barely sprinkling rain and there's a report on every news station: "STORM WATCH."
15. You pass an elementary school playground and the children are all busy with their cells or pagers.
16. It's barely sprinkling rain outside, so you leave for work an hour early to avoid all the weather-related accidents.
17. HEY!!!! Is pot illegal????
18. Both you AND your dog have therapists, psychics, personal trainers and cosmetic surgeons.
19. The Terminator is your governor.
20. If you drive illegally, they take your driver's license. If you're here illegally, they want to give you one.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Good grief! We are in the 21st Century for heavens sake. How barbaric!

I know, living in South Africa as I do, that these circumcision rituals happen here with many of the young men dying as a direct result of unqualified people performing the ceremony. This is very sad!

Man accused of circumcising daughter
October 28 2006 at 11:30AM

Lawrenceville - The trial of an Ethiopian immigrant accused of circumcising his two-year-old daughter with scissors is focusing attention on an ancient African practice that experts say is slowly becoming more common in the US as immigrant communities grow. Khalid Adem, 31, is charged with aggravated battery and cruelty to children. Human rights observers said they believed this was the first criminal case in the US involving the 5 000-year-old practice.
Prosecutors in Lawrenceville, Georgia, said Adem used scissors to remove his daughter's clitoris in their apartment in 2001. The child's mother said she did not discover it until more than a year later. "He said he wanted to preserve her virginity," Fortunate Adem, the girl's mother, testified this week.

'If the girl is not circumcised, her chances of being married are slim'
"He said it was the will of God. I became angry in my mind. "I thought he was crazy." The girl, now 7, also testified, clutching a teddy bear and saying that Adem "cut me on my private part". Adem cried loudly as his daughter left the courtroom. Female circumcision is common in Adem's homeland, and his lawyer, Mark Hill, acknowledged that Adem's daughter had been cut. But he said his client did not do it, and he implied that the family of Fortunate Adem, who immigrated from South Africa when she was 6, may have had the procedure done.
The Adems divorced in 2003, and Hill suggested that the couple's daughter was encouraged to testify against her father by her mother, who has full custody. If convicted, Adem, a clerk at a suburban Atlanta gas station, could get up to 40 years in prison. The US State Department estimates that up to 130-million women have undergone circumcision worldwide as of 2001.
Knives, razors or even sharp stones are usually used, according to a 2001 department report. The tools often are not sterilised, and often, many girls are circumcised in the same ceremony, leading to infection. It is unknown how many girls have died from the procedure, either during the cutting or from infections, or years later in childbirth.
Nightmares, depression, shock and feelings of betrayal are common psychological side effects, according to the federal report. Taina Bien-Aime, executive director of Equality Now, an international human rights group, said female circumcision is most widely practiced in a 28-country swathe of Africa. More than 90 percent of women in Ethiopia are believed to have been subjected to the practice, and even more in Egypt and Somalia. "It is a preparation for marriage," Bien-Aime said. "If the girl is not circumcised, her chances of being married are very slim."
DThe practice crosses ethnic and cultural lines and is not tied to a particular religion. Activists say the practice is intended to deny women sexual pleasure. In its most extreme form, the clitoris and parts of the labia are removed and the labia that remain are stitched together. Many refugees from Ethiopia and Somalia come to Georgia through a federal refugee resettlement programme."With immigration, the immigrants travel with their traditions," Bien-Aime said. "Female genital mutilation is not an exception."
Federal law specifically bans the practice, but many US states do not have a law addressing it. Georgia lawmakers, with the support of Fortunate Adem, passed an anti-mutilation law last year. However, Khalid Adem is not being tried under that law, since it did not exist when his daughter's cutting allegedly happened.