National News

Fees Commission report still to reach Zuma


Business Live reported that President Jacob Zuma has not yet received the Fees Commission report for 2017. Eye Witness Live added that the deadline was extended to 30 June to “allow more time for research and consultation”. This makes the report delayed by almost two months. The Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga told Business Live that the report had not yet reached President Zuma as “It is up to the commission to do the handover and they will decide when that is.” According to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s website the Fees Commission “was established in terms of section 84(2) (f) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996”. The South African Government News Agency’s website adds that the Fees Commission is to “investigate the feasibility of free higher education and training in South Africa”. The Commission is chaired by retired Judge Jonathan Arthur Heher and began its work in 2016.

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SAPS releases latest crime statistics

The South African Police Service (SAPS), in collaboration with Statistics South Africa, have released the latest crime statistics for the period of 1 April 2016 to 31 December 2016. The SAPS report titled “Crime situation in RSA” looks at 17 “community-reported serious crimes” in the categories of contact crimes, contact related crimes, property related crimes and other serious crimes. The statistics show that while many crimes have decreased over the period, armed robbery has increased overall by 6.1%.

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Western Cape High Court rules in favour of marijuana use at home


On 31 March, the Western Cape High Court ruled that it was an infringement to ban the use of marijuana by adults in private homes. The ruling allows for the cultivation, use, and possession of marijuana, and the court has given Parliament 24 months to amend portions of the Drug Trafficking Act and the Medicines Control Act.

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South Africa’s junk status


On 3 April, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) – an American financial services company who analyse stocks, bonds, and commodities and publish the results to assist investors – downgraded South Africa to junk status. S&P explained this decision in a statement saying, “In our opinion, the executive changes initiated by President Zuma have put at risk fiscal and growth outcomes. We assess that contingent liabilities to the state are rising. We are therefore lowering our long-term foreign currency sovereign credit rating on the Republic of South Africa to 'BB+' from 'BBB-' and the long-term local currency rating to 'BBB-' from 'BBB'. The negative outlook reflects our view that political risks will remain elevated this year, and that policy shifts are likely, which could undermine fiscal and economic growth outcomes more than we currently project.”

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Higher Education Convention dispruted


On 18 March, the Higher Education Convention, organised by former Constitutional Court Deputy Chief and mediator at the meeting, Justice Dikgang Moseneke, took place at the Eskom Academy of Learning in Midrand. The convention was however cancelled after students who were allegedly aligned with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) refused to give Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, an opportunity to give his speech. Some students objected to the presence of Nzimande who, according to SABC News, was heckled by students upon entering the venue.

The two-day convention focused on the challenges that tertiary institutions are facing, such as the demand for free decolonised higher education. The gathering was attended by students, academic staff (including university vice-chancellors), politicians, and businesses who were anticipated to make proposals on the government's plan for the education sector.

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