Green school backpack wins inventors’ prize

The winner of the Inventors’ Garage competition, which happened as part of the 7th South African Innovation Summit that took place in Cape Town recently, was Thato Kgatlhanye, who created a school backpack which brings together recycling, solar energy and a better learning environment for school children. “Made from 100% plastic shopping bags and fitted with a Consol solar jar lid that charges in the sun, the sturdy eco-friendly schoolbag can provide light for the learner to study after dark. There is a safety and visibility element too as the…

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Would you support a compulsory retirement plan?

Up to half of formally employed South Africans are not saving for retirement in any form, a statistic that has caused most respondents to a survey to welcome the idea of participating in either a compulsory government or employer-sponsored pension fund. But many respondents also highlighted the need for flexibility and the option to opt-out. Labour organisations are not supporting the idea, saying they are concerned about the impact of reform and of a compulsory preservation on the financial vulnerability of their members. Source

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Traffic fines in Western Cape hiked to support commuter safety

Traffic fines in the Western Cape have more than doubled and in some instances increased by 300%. Some taxi drivers protested against the increases last month and have burnt Golden Arrow and MyCiTi buses. The chief magistrate of the Western Cape has said that the increases are based on the need to improve commuter safety and driver compliance. Serious offences would cost an offender R5 000 or R3 000, up from R1 500. Less serious offences have been hiked to R1 500 from R500. Drivers of unroadworthy vehicles, buses or…

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SAA asks for another bail-out

After failing to submit its annual report to parliament by the Tuesday deadline, South African Airways (SAA) is again seeking government support, two years after it was granted R5 billion in loan guarantees. Eighty years after its creation, loss-making state-owned SAA is battling with an ageing fleet and a weak national currency. Air traffic across the continent is soaring and while SAA has tried to build from its traditional European routes, it has had with mixed success. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown did not disclose the figure asked for by…

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Big fund to boost manufacturing SMEs

A R300 million fund for SMEs has been launched to stimulate the manufacturing sector. According to Nazeem Martin, MD of Business Partners Limited, during the period between 2000 and 2013 the manufacturing sector’s contribution towards South Africa’s GDP shrank from 19% to 15.2%. The funding offered starts at R500 000 and the maximum amount offered over a five year period is R25 million, and will be open to manufacturers in agri-processing, textiles and clothing production, information and communications technology, electronics, automotive and chemical, green industries, as well as new innovation…

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Shuttleworth wins landmark case, will use money for good

Billionaire businessman Mark Shuttleworth has been awarded back his R250 million with interest after winning his appeal against the South African Reserve Bank. The money was taken from him in the form of an exchange control levy when he moved to the Isle of Man a few years ago. Shuttleworth announced that he will put the returned funds plus interest into a trust to underwrite constitutional court cases on behalf of those whose circumstances deny them the ability to be heard where the counterparty is the State. Shuttleworth’s victory is…

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Motshekga’s luxury vehicles seized

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and her director-general’s luxury motor vehicles have been seized by government after their department failed to pay more than R28 million to teachers in the Eastern Cape. There are thousands of vacant teaching posts in the province, which last year recorded the lowest matric pass rate in the country, at 64.9%. The Department of Basic Education failed to implement a court order made in March, settled in favour of 32 Eastern Cape schools that had been promised 132 teachers and reimbursement of the costs of…

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Price hikes expected all around

South African consumers will not only be paying more for electricity in the months to come. Two of South Africa’s top economists are predicting that the rand may slide as low as R11.60 or weaker to the dollar in the near future, which will have a serious impact on everything from the price of food to imported vehicles. Further downgrades from ratings agencies are likely, which will almost certainly force the SA Reserve Bank to increase interest rates. The economists also predicted substantial rise in fuel prices, increases in value…

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Electricity tariffs to go up by 12.69% next year

Bulk buyers of electricity will pay Eskom 12.69% more from April 1 next year and the increases will be passed on to consumers from 1 July 2015. Electricity regulator Nersa decided to implement the electricity-tariff hikes to help Eskom recover R7.8 billion in revenue over the 2015/2016 financial year. The implementation of the decision over one year rather than two or three is aimed at improving Eskom’s sustainability and forms part the government’s aid-plan to Eskom. The R50 billion increase in government’s guarantee to Eskom is not enough if the…

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Bad scorecard for Prasa despite big profit

Even though the Passenger Rail Association of SA posted R336 million profit for the financial year ending in 2014, the number of passengers travelling long-distance by train has dropped to below one million from three million per year in 2010. The number of operational trains decreased from 6 000 per annum to below 3000 currently. The delay and cancellation in train performance was five percent below the planned target of 85%, and of a planned target of 50 learners in a signalling programme, none had been trained. Operating revenue rose…

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