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01 March 2011 at 16:16 - Posted by Anonymous

SA politics is for those committed to spending


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Pay your taxes!

There has been a bit of a stink about the costs of housing President Jacob Zuma in his various mansions in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. These costs do not include security at his private home at Nkandla, but as one senior official in the Thabo Mbeki administration warned long before Zuma came to power, the new ruling elite around him have a penchant to spend money – and as much of it as possible while they are in office.

Should the president achieve a second term, which is likely, he will only have 10 years in which to build up a big cushion for his family for decades to come. If you thought politics was for those committed to public service, think again.
 
In the estimates of national expenditure released last week, one notes that the salary of the president has risen from R1.3 million when Mbeki was in office in 2007/08. It rose to R2.1m in the year Mbeki was axed – 2008/09 – and jumped to R2.4m in 2010/11, the second year that Zuma was in office.
 
It is scheduled to rise to R2.5m this year, increasing again to R2.7m in 2012/13 and again to R2.8m in 2013/14, the end of his first five-year term.
 
Spending on the presidency is sharply up from R650m in 2007/08 to R770m in 2010/11. It will be R929m in 2013/14.
 
But just in case you were under the impression that the presidency is not saving, there is a special section headed: “Savings and cost effectiveness measures.”
 
It reports that following a cabinet decision in December 2010 to cut departmental budgets, the presidency has identified savings of R2.1m in 2011/12, R2.3m in 2012/13 and R2.4m in 2013/14, “mainly in goods and services and relating to travel and subsistence, communication and agency and support services”.
 
The presidency will use the most economic modes of transport and communication and replace temporary staff with permanent officials.
 
One will be gratified to know that these savings will not “impact” on service delivery.
 
HIV/Aids
 
The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal has partnered with artists and music production houses to launch Jiving with Science, a relaxed and arguably funky public engagement initiative aimed at spreading the message about HIV/Aids.
 
The project aims to foster community discussion about scientific research and to bring evidence-based HIV health promoting messages to spaces such as taxi ranks, leisure spaces and shopping precincts. It involves developing, distributing and evaluating three CDs over two years.
 
Each CD contains a radio-style information interview, interspersed with popular music, targeted HIV health promotion messages and calls to action.
 
The project has received support from the likes of DJ Tira, EMI, Gallo and Sheer Sounds, to mention a few.
 
Two of the CDs have been completed and are being distributed free of charge to people such as taxi drivers, shebeen owners and hair salon operators.
 
The Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies is an international HIV research facility with an HIV testing, treatment and care programme, a partnership run jointly with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.
 
The centre is based in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where it says nearly one in two adults aged between 35 to 40 are being infected with the Aids-causing virus.
 
There are a number of initiatives that include television dramas aimed at conveying the message about the importance of preventing further infections, but there is still a need for more of these. There is a greater chance that people will listen to a message recorded on a CD than sit down and read a flyer.
 
Maybe others will be sceptical about this project as people might only be interested in listening to the music rather than the message, but anything is worth a try in a country where the number of people who will be on HIV/Aids treatment is expected to reach 2.6 million by 2013/14, according to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2011/12 Budget speech from 1.2 million this year.
 
Sasol
 
On Friday the Competition Tribunal confirmed yet another settlement agreement between the Competition Commission and Sasol. The latest settlement, which will see Sasol pay a penalty of R111.6 million, relates to indirect price fixing by Sasol Polymers.
 
In December, Sasol admitted to the commission that the supply agreement between it and Safripol resulted in indirect price fixing.
 
The R111.6m represents 3 percent of Sasol Polymers’ 2009 turnover derived from polypropylene products. In terms of the settlement, Sasol has also agreed to stop sharing competitively sensitive information relating to prices and volumes.
 
The commission has already concluded a consent agreement with Safripol in which Safripol admitted contravention of the Competition Act and agreed to pay a penalty of R16.5m.
 
Sasol is, however, fighting against a related charge of excessive pricing for polypropylene and propylene to its local customers. The charge, which is related to the commission’s charge of price fixing, has still to be heard by the tribunal.
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