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Daily podcast – February 5, 2013.

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Daily podcast – February 5, 2013.

5th February 2013

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February 5, 2013.

From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I’m Motshabi Hoaeane.

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Making headlines:

 

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President Jacob Zuma equates Anglo American Platinum’s mine closure plans with 'blackmail.

The African National Congress picks a fight with the South African Democratic Teachers' Union.

And, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant raises the minimum farm wage to R105/day.

 

South African President Jacob Zuma said on Monday that mining companies were almost engaging in "blackmail" when they announced plans to close mines and lay off workers.

He said that "when the miners say they are cutting down, they are actually closing, which is almost blackmail. He added that lower wages in the mining industry have led the country into trouble."

Zuma's comments come as the government, unions and the ruling African National Congress have come out strongly against proposals by Anglo American to mothball two mines and lay off 14 000 workers as it strives to return to profit.

Zuma's remarks coincide with an investor conference on mining in Africa being held this week in Cape Town.

 

South Africa's African National Congress wants to make strikes illegal for teachers as it tries to improve a creaking education system and seek young voters before next year's elections.

However, many of these so-called "Born Frees", who will be voting for the first time in 2014, have no emotional links to the ANC and are disenchanted with the corruption that is taking root in Africa's biggest economy.

A senior official described the education strikes, which waste weeks of teaching time each year, as threatening the "survival of society", setting the ruling party on a collision course with its traditional union allies.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (or Sadtu) said the ANC was looking only at the symptoms rather than the cause of the malaise in education, which is the result of a badly trained work force, a lack of teaching materials and, in some cases, a lack of classrooms.

 

South Africa has raised the minimum wage for farm workers up to 50% in response to a wave of violent strikes. However, farmers said the increase would only cause job losses and more unrest in the major fruit exporter.

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant said the new salary, which has jumped to R105 a day from as little as R69, would come into effect on March 1 and would rise by inflation plus 1.5% in subsequent years.

The wage review follows clashes in fruit-growing regions of the Western Cape province in December and January between police and striking farm workers demanding their daily pay be more than doubled to R150.

Farm owners, most of whom are from South Africa's white minority, say, however, that they cannot afford to pay their mostly black workers more because of the rising costs of fuel and electricity. They say that higher wages may put jobs at risk.

 

Also making headlines:

 

The ANC and government say they will make sure that education is declared an essential service.

New research by global business advisory firm FTI Consulting reveals that 80% of South Africans regard corruption as the greatest impediment to foreign direct investment in the country.

And, the ANC and the Congress of South African Trade Unions agree on the youth wage subsidy.

 

That’s a roundup of news making headlines today.

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