POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: State capture inquiry and Eskom crisis remain in focus
Government also scrambling after unions at Sars handed in a seven-day notice to strike from March 28 if workers' demands are not met
The state capture inquiry which resumes on Monday, the Eskom crisis and the impending strike at the SA Revenue Services (Sars) will dominate the headlines in the coming week.
At the weekend, Sars said it had been served with a seven-day notice by the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and Public Servants Association (PSA) to go on strike from March 28.
This follows a dispute lodged in February at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), which issued a certificate of non-resolution last week.
The current three-year wage agreement that Sars has with organised labour expires on March 31.
The receiver of revenue said due to its constrained financial position it started with an offer of a 4% salary increase for a three-year wage agreement linked to CPI. Organised labour revised their salary demand from 15% to 11.4% increase across the board for a single term. Sars revised its offer from 4% to 7% differentiated increase.
After further mediation by the CCMA commissioner, organised labour offered a 9% increase as a settlement offer.
“Sars was not able to accede to this, and needed more time to consult with its principals. A meeting is scheduled for Monday for the parties to try and find each other on the remaining issues. Sars is confident that the meetings arranged for Monday and Tuesday through the chair of the Sars national bargaining forum will yield results, and a settlement will be reached,” the tax collecting authority said.
Meanwhile, the government is scrambling to find solutions to the Eskom crisis. The power utility, which supplies virtually all of SA’s energy, has struggled with maintenance issues and design flaws at its poorly new power stations Medupi and Kusile.
It has had to resort to stage four load-shedding in recent days as it could not meet demand. Last Tuesday, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said 48,000MW of power is installed in SA, but only 28,000MW is available daily.
About a dozen engineers were sent to provide an “independent assessment” of the problems at power plants, Gordhan said. The minister said it could take 10 to 14 days before the government will be able to say how long load-shedding will last.
The power outages have crippled large sections of the struggling economy.
On Tuesday, trade & industry minister Rob Davies will address the Cape Town Press Club on how to stimulate economic growth.
Thursday is the last day for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in parliament. NCOP members will consider various bills including, the Division of Revenue Bill, Carbon Tax Bill, Customs and Excise Amendment Bill, Public Audit Excess Fee Bill, National Land Transport Amendment Bill, Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill, and the Financial Matters Amendment Bill.
The PIC Amendment Bill provides for stronger corporate governance and transparency as well as trade union representation on the board.
The Financial Matters Amendment Bill provides for state-owned enterprises to own state-owned banks under specified conditions.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is still waiting for the Mokgoro inquiry report. According to a notice published in the Government Gazette, retired Constitutional Court justice Yvonne Mokgoro and her co-panellists were due to submit a report to Ramaphosa earlier in March on whether controversial prosecutions heavyweights Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi are fit to hold office.