News in South Africa 16th August:

1. New border laws:

The Department of Home Affairs has announced the commencement of South Africa’s new border management laws, which take effect this week.

New border laws
Image taken by: Muhammadtaha Ibrahim Ma’aji

The Border Management Authority (BMA) Act has taken effect from Monday, 15 August, with most sections commencing, according to Home Affairs minister, Aaron Motsoaledi.

The BMA Act’s purpose is to establish and empower the Border Management Authority to achieve integrated border law enforcement within the border law enforcement area and at ports of entry in South Africa and to enable cooperation on and co-ordination of border management matters in general.

The gazetted commencement gives effect to the new border management regulations which were signed into law by president Cyril Ramaphosa in 2020.

Changes to border management

The BMA was established as a national public entity, reporting to the minister of Home Affairs. Unlike the current system, which relies on a combination of over seven different departments – including SARS, the SAPS, and the SANDF – the new authority will employ its own guards to control and patrol the borders.

The BMA’s first cohort of 200 guards was deployed to vulnerable border posts in early July. The minister opened up all of South Africa’s ports of entry on 1 August, following two years of lockdown due to the Covid pandemic.

According to Motsoaledi, the commissioner of the BMA has the same authority as the commissioner of police, but the role is exclusively focused on the country’s borders.

These guards are safety staff who will be deployed to vulnerable border posts. Their duties include:

  • Attending the on and off-duty parades and being stationed as per deployment schedule.
  • Processing proactive and responsive complaint attendances.
  • Reporting on arrested illegal foreigners held in the temporary holding cells.
  • Safeguarding and controlling exhibits/evidence found to be handed over to other agencies.
  • Conducting arrests of illegal foreigners/ detainees to be transferred to the nearest ports of entry or police station for further handling.
  • Gathering information for compiled reports as required by higher authority.

Motsoaledi said that the guards will also be responsible for controls on the movement of goods and people, with a specific focus on preventing illegal foreigners from entering the country.

This will include:

  • Searching people, luggage and vehicles as per the relevant regulations on the planned roadblock/checkpoint operations in the port of entry and the vulnerable areas on the borderline.
  • Performing borderline duties, traffic checkpoint operations and other law enforcement duties at outer/inner perimeter areas.
  • Reporting on all illegal movement of people and goods.
  • Maintaining surveillance from covert positions at or near the international borders.

The minister said the new guards will also be responsible for conducting vehicle and foot patrols. and reporting on international visitors, travellers and shoppers for monitoring purposes.

2. Defense minister chats to Russia:

Defence minister Thandi Modise’s participation in a Russian conference on international security — while the Russian military is attacking Ukraine — has sparked criticism at home and in Ukraine.

A Ukrainian security expert said the conference was of no intrinsic value to others and was merely an attempt by Russia to solicit solidarity from countries such as South Africa.

Modise’s office announced she had arrived in Moscow on Monday to attend the 10th Moscow Conference on International Security at the invitation of the Russian Minister of Defence, General Sergei Shoigu. 

The conference would be attended by defence ministers from different countries and military experts and “key stakeholders.” Modise would address the conference on Tuesday.

Professor Abel Esterhuyse, chair of strategic studies at Stellenbosch University, said in principle it was important, at the operational level, for South Africa to work with foreign militaries — especially “paradigm militaries” which were copied by many others. But even at the operational level, he questioned “whether we want the Russian military to be our paradigm military, whether it’s the military which the South African military really wants to learn from, given the Russian military doctrine and military culture.”

He said South Africa’s military was essentially based on the British military model. And so he questioned why South Africa suddenly wanted to learn from the Russians. Esterhuyse also questioned the ethics of Modise attending a military conference in Moscow while Russia was conducting “its so-called special military operations in Ukraine”. 
“Our government ought to be very cautious in aligning themselves too openly with the Russians,”  he said. 

3. Denel loses out on R4bil contract:

State-owned defence group Denel reportedly lost out on R4 billion in sales for contracts after selling off a critical piece of intellectual property.

Denel obtained the IP as part of the 2015 BAE Land Systems South Africa acquisition, but it was sold off for just over R200 million.

The group reportedly sold off the IP because it did not have enough technical skills to develop it further, saying that IP loses value quickly as technology in the field develops rapidly. 

4. Sars strike ends:

Striking employees of the South African Revenue Service (Sars) have returned to work after both unions – the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Public Service Association (PSA) – suspended their industrial action, the revenue collector said in a statement on Friday.

According to Sars, the PSA was the first to call off the strike in July, while Nehawu only recently suspended industrial action on Monday 8 August.

The labour action suspension means that Sars operations and trade facilitation employees have returned to their posts, with operations back to normal.

Although employees have returned to work, the parties have not yet reached an agreement meaning that unions and Sars will have to return to the negotiating table.

“The suspension of the industrial action affords all parties the opportunity to work towards progressing the negotiations and related discussions towards settling the dispute,” said Sars in its statement.

“In this regard, a follow-up discussion as well as the national bargaining process will be scheduled soon to continue the engagements.”

5. Cosatu – cost of living strike:

Cosatu will hold a national strike on 24 August against the rising cost of living, fuel costs, and load shedding, adding to labour formations planning demonstrations on that day.

“The national strike is in response to ongoing load shedding, fuel price hikes, and escalating food prices,” said a notice from Cosatu.

In October last year, Cosatu held a national strike over similar concerns, but the protest had little discernible impact. The federation also held a march in Cape Town protesting public transport costs earlier this month.

On Thursday, Cosatu will update the media on details and arrangements regarding the national strike. 

The ANC-aligned labour federation will hold a national strike on the same day as the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), which the latter resolved to do at its Working Class Summit earlier this month.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Daily Maverick, News24, Moneyweb and Fin24.

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