Predictions that the African National Congress (ANC) would shift its policies leftwards were confirmed by the outcomes of the commissions at the ANC policy conference on strategy and tactics this week. The ANC will formally adopt the interventionist strategies that the state has been taking recently.
In 2001/02 state employees received below-inflation pay hikes. But, in the past four years, hikes have been above inflation, though the nominal increase fell from 8,5% in 2003 to 5,3% last year. In addition, working in the public sector is much less lucrative than in the private sector. The median wage for workers with tertiary degrees in the private sector is R8 000. In the public sector it is R6 000.
The flush <i>Mail & Guardian</i> reader might not mind spending almost R40 in Angola on his or her favourite weekly newspaper, but he or she would get better value in Malawi, where the paper is only R12,96. In South Africa the <i>M&G</i> costs R14,90. Looking at the purchasing power of different currencies can provide a more meaningful understanding of how they compare than the official exchange rate.
Public servants expressed their determination to continue their indefinite strike this week, closing down schools across the country and interrupting hospital and other government services. Union organisers planned to "shut down the government" on Friday, buoyed by support from the Congress of South African Trade Unions central executive committee.
A vulture swooping down on a piece of meat cannot know that the juicy morsel might be its last meal. But, when farmers put poisoned meat around their farms to protect their herds from predators, it can result in the deaths of game and wild fowl in the area. Pesticides used to reduce vegetation and protect grazing land might harm wildlife also.
About 42 000 nurses' jobs are going begging in South Africa -- and the trade unions blame government's macro-economic strategy, Gear, for the critical staff shortage. Among the union demands, in this year's acrimonious pay talks, has been the filling of all vacancies in the public service, which is estimated at 35%.
Talks in the public service will continue in the shadow of the strike on the basis of a working document adopted by the bargaining council on Wednesday. Earlier this week, a joint technical team developed the document, which outlines areas of agreement and disagreement. The proposals are not concrete offers or demands because they were not mandated.
Defining the middle strata in one of the most unequal countries in the world is a tricky but unavoidable challenge that Businessmap Foundation researchers Khehla Shubane and Colin Reddy tackle in their report on black economic empowerment and the black middle class. The authors ultimately understand that the middle class includes people who live a lifestyle that is socially defined as "middle class".