Madonsela puts morality, values back on track

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public protector Thuli Madonsela thought it fitting to launch her findings of three high-profile investigations with a reflection on the state of the nation’s morality and values.

Had our values shifted during the 18 years that the public protector’s office has been in existence, she half-questioned?

The investigations she presented highlighted a lack of conscience that has permeated structures within the state meant to uphold the interests of the populace.

Inaction by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and the director-general, Bobby Soobrayan, and other officials in the department led to pupils in several schools in the Eastern Cape to operate without essential workbooks in 2012 and in 2013.

Dina Pule, while not guilty of using state funds to obtain her infamous red designer Christian Louboutin shoes, was guilty of “real not just possible conflict of interest” when she placed loyalty to her lover above her duty to act in the best interests of the Department of Communications, of which she was minister.

Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, had recklessly dealt with state money and services resulting in wasteful and fruitless expenditure over the improper award of a R800 million tender for fisheries patrol services to the Sekunjalo Marine Service Consortium.

Not too long ago, in 1999, the public protector structure, then headed by advocate Selby Baqwa, found wrongdoing in the conduct of former Mpumalanga premier Ndaweni Mahlangu, whose foot-in-mouth utterance that it was acceptable for politicians to lie led to a chain of events that culminated in his resignation, Madonsela reminded her audience.

“My team and I have continued to do our work with the understanding that our values as a nation have not shifted. What we believe was wrong in 1999 is still the same as what we believe is wrong in 2013,” she said. page 20

Online shopping

South Africans are likely to endure long queues in the days before Christmas when instead they could be using retailers’ online facilities. Yes, they will stand in those lines with their smartphones in their hands instead of pressing a few buttons and getting their shopping delivered to their door.

Unlike other retailers, the online shops, such as Kalahari.com, have used this opportunity to deliver goods free. This is the perfect time to make sure those under-used online facilities are taken advantage of.

Those who will be rushing off to the stores to do their last-minute shopping will be as frustrated as the cashiers at the tills. To minimise this, businesses should be promoting their online capabilities and taking cybershopping to the next level.

Shoppers need to be met halfway, for example, so why can’t a shopper make a grocery pre-order online and get someone to pack the trolley so that the only thing they come into a shop for is to pay and leave.

Makro and Dionwired are already taking online pre-orders from buyers on most wanted new arrivals, such as the PS4 and other gadgets.

Retail analysts have said that businesses are not keen on online shopping because it restricts consumers – people only buy things they need. A person is likely to buy extra things when in a shop.

As much as South Africans love physical shopping, some have discovered cybershopping and are loving it. According to MasterCard’s Online Shopping Survey, in 2013 South Africans will spend R4.4 billion in online and mobile shopping. This figure has increased by 25 percent from 2012’s numbers. This figure has not only grown in this country, but places like Kenya, too, were taking the lead in online shopping.

Mining

The buzz around health and safety of mine workers seems to have fallen off the radar in the wake of the Marikana tragedy that claimed more than 40 lives in August last year. Not too long ago, Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu called for chief executives to become liable for the fatalities because they are responsible for operations.

In addition, she said there should be possible court action against the executives because such deaths can be avoided.

One job in the mining industry supports 10 people. Imagine if there was no compensation for families of the dead miners? The families of employees receive three times their annual salaries, explained Graham Briggs, the chief executive at Harmony Gold, during its annual general meeting yesterday.

In addition, families receive much-needed assistance towards the funeral expenses, and the surviving children are also given benefits, including education.

A major benefit is that the mining firm offers employment to a family member in order to sustain the surviving relatives for years to come.

For decades, many families in economically depressed areas, including the Eastern Cape, have watched generation after generation join the mining industry.

But it has lost its lustre since Marikana. Many would be happy if their children joined other industries.

Mining industry stakeholders, including unions and executives, have been confronted with several other pressing issues that have required urgent attention.

The fury of communities, (and) mineworkers’ demands for higher wages have been hogging news headlines.

Not to mention union rivalry, demand for an improvement of housing for and the over-indebtedness of miners. Although the industry can be commended for the decline in mining fatalities over the years, one death remains one too many.

It looks as though South Africa will have less than 100 fatalities this year, thanks to efforts by the government and the industry.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Asha Speckman, Nompumelelo Magwaza and Dineo Faku.


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