Smoking dagga can still get you fired, under the right circumstances. And staying away from cannabis – at least just before you go to work – could still be a legitimate requirement for some jobs.
 
But things got a whole lot more complicated after the Constitutional Court on Tuesday said the use of dagga is not a criminal act.
 
And during the two-year period the ConCourt gave Parliament to bring legislation in line with the Constitution, things are going to be particularly difficult when it comes to people getting high on the job, experts say.
 
"This is a curveball," Richard Malkin, managing director of company wellness provider Workforce Healthcare, told Business Insider South Africa after the Concourt judgment, even if, ultimately, "nothing is really going to change from a workplace perspective."
 
South Africa's highest court on Tuesday allowed the private use of marijuana, upholding a lower court's ruling that found the criminalization of cannabis was unconstitutional.
 
Occupational health and safety rules demand that companies keep the workplace safe, and that includes making sure nobody operates dangerous machines while inebriated – whatever the substance of choice.
 
For jobs involving heavy machinery, Malkin says, policy should require employees to disclose, up front, if they are using tranquillisers, for instance, even if under the direction of a doctor.
 
"The requirement is that you can't be under the influence of any mind-altering substance; whether it is legal or illegal doesn't really come into play."
 
Jobs in finance, or customer-facing jobs such as call centre agents advising customers, should also come with policies on inebriation.
 
But testing for dagga use is not as straight-forward as a breathalyser test for alcohol. The common, cheap, and fast urine test for cannabis actually detects a metabolic product that can linger for days – well after the user is no longer mentally affected.
 
So what happens if that test shows dagga use, and you tell the boss you smoked dagga days before? Right now, at least, Malkin believes the only thing a company could do is ask for a spectrophotometric test, which takes around two days and costs around R2,000.
 
In the meantime, the employee will have to be temporarily suspended from sensitive duties, as a precaution.
 
The result of such a test could be grounds for dismissal, speculate labour specialists who were still studying the ConCourt ruling, on the basis of dishonesty. Using dagga may not be a firing offence, but lying about it could be.
 
First, though, there could be a considerable fight about the whole process.
 
"Someone may have okayed drug testing by a company in a contract, but now that company can no longer look at THC [the active ingredient in cannabis]," says Quintin van Kerken, of The Clear Option, an organisation that works in the cannabis and addiction-treatment industry.
 
"It is pointless, because THC now falls under your right to privacy, so they can't do anything with a THC test."
 
Van Kerken believes there will be test cases about cannabis intoxication and medicinal use of cannabis in the workplace – perhaps soon – but until then there will be considerable confusion about the matter.
 
In the meanwhile, employees and employers both had better look at the exact wording of policies around drugs and inebriation at work, because a blanket reference to "alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication", such as those now commonly found, don't strictly apply do dagga anymore.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
South African food hauler AfriAg Global PLC is seeking a licence to grow dagga in the UK.
The company has engaged London office of law firm, Hill Dickinson LLP, to assist with the process.
The company comes from humble beginnings in 2013 when two businessmen began flying fresh African fruit and vegetables to supermarkets in Europe.
SA food hauler AfriAg Global PLC this week announced it is seeking a licence to cultivate and produce dagga in the United Kingdom.
 
The London-listed global food and logistics group announced that it has formally engaged the London office of law firm Hill Dickinson LLP to run the application process to become a licensed cultivator and producer in the UK of medicinal cannabis. 
 
South Africa's highest court on Tuesday allowed the private use of marijuana, upholding a lower court's ruling that found the criminalization of cannabis was unconstitutional.
 
“I have extensive experience in the global legal medical cannabis sector, having assisted with financing medical cannabis operations in Jamaica, Australia, Canada and Europe, and the board see a huge opportunity here for AfriAg Global to help the UK increase its global market presence in this very exciting and fast-growing sector,” said David Lenigas, executive chair of AfriAg Global.
 
The company comes from humble beginnings when two businessmen, Lenigas in London and Paul de Robillard in Johannesburg, began hauling and flying fresh African fruit and vegetables to supermarkets in Europe in 2013.
 
Now they operate one of the largest air carriers of perishable goods from southern Africa to all around the globe.
 
Britain proposed in July to allow doctors to prescribe medicinal cannabis starting this year.  
 
Recreational use of cannabis is still prohibited in the UK, much like in South Africa.
 
 
News24
Canopy Rivers, the venture-capital arm of Canopy Growth, made its trading debut on the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada on Thursday.
 
The company, which makes minority investments in burgeoning dagga companies, in an attempt to become the "Google Ventures of cannabis," found its way onto the exchange via a reverse takeover with a company formerly known as AIM2 Ventures.
 
Canopy Growth will maintain its roughly 25% stake in Canopy Rivers, and controls about 90% of the voting rights thanks to the venture arm's dual-class governance structure. The other three quarters of Rivers' roughly $200 million of investments have come from institutional investors.
 
"In Canopy I don't want to be in the business of growth directly, by trying to make bets on stocks through buying and selling," CEO Bruce Linton told the Canadian program Midas Letter last week. "In Rivers, we want to be in that business. We're not just putting cash into them, we're putting intellectual skills and expertise."
 
So far the firm has made 11 investments in smaller companies. It looks for stellar management teams with a track record of success when making new investments, a Rivers executive recently explained to Business Insider. 
 
Dagga stocks in North America have been on fire this month. Tilray, now the largest producer by market capitalisation, has seen its stock price more than triple, boosted by receiving clearance to export medical marijuana to the United States for a clinical drug trial. Meanwhile, Canopy Growth's market value has doubled over that time following a $4 billion investment from Constellation Brands, the company behind Corona, Modelo, and other popular alcoholic beverages.
 
That global expansion is what Canopy Rivers hopes to tap through its strategic investments and deals.
 
"Canopy Rivers presents a world of opportunity for its partners and for Canopy Growth," CEO Bruce Linton said in a press release.
 
"It’s the type of relationship that allows us to continue to grow our lead in this incredibly dynamic industry … Whether it’s access to new brands, new technologies, differentiated products, first rights to future financing opportunities, and even rights to future full acquisition, Rivers will build value for shareholders, including Canopy Growth by building value for its portfolio partners.
 
 
Business Insider

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's top court says adults can use marijuana in private.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld a provincial court's ruling in a case involving Gareth Prince, who advocates the decriminalization of the drug.

Prince says cannabis should be regulated in the same way as alcohol and tobacco. Government authorities have said cannabis is harmful and should be illegal.

The top court says an adult can cultivate cannabis in "a private place" as long as it is for personal consumption in private. It says the right to privacy "extends beyond the boundaries of a home."

The court says it would be up to a police officer to decide if the amount of marijuana in someone's possession is for personal consumption or dealing.

The SABC’s Group Chief Executive Officer Madoda Mxakwe outlined the 'dire financial situation' to staff on Friday as the broadcaster weighs up possible retrenchments.

This after an internal memo was distributed to employees on Thursday stating that the corporation had met with organised labour to discuss cost-cutting measures.

Mxakwe told staff that the corporation had had a demanding financial year with a total revenue of R6.6bn against a budget of R7.3bn which resulted in an under-performance of R709m.

“The SABC had a net loss of R622m for the 2017/18 financial year. One of the SABC’s biggest cost drivers is the salary bill,” Mxakwe said in a statement.

Mxakwe said the corporation generated R7.2bn in revenue with a salary bill of R3.1bn.

“The current ratio of revenue to wage bill is not sustainable given the SABC’s dismal financial situation. It is for this reason that the SABC is contemplating other cost cutting measures to further reduce costs,” he said.

SABC spokesperson Neo Momodu said on Tuesday that the corporation had done all it could to cut costs and was now at a stage where it was looking at other measures.

"We have communicated to our staff our intentions to start engagements with unions in relation to the cost-cutting measures that we have been going through as the corporation," she had said.

She said the meeting with unions on Thursday was to inform them that the broadcaster had been looking at various ways of cutting costs, and was now "contemplating further cost-cutting measures, which may include Section 189".

"It's a contemplation and we told the unions that we had done all we can to cut costs in all the areas of the corporation..." she said.

 

News24

The poor are carrying the burden of State Capture through the VAT increase, a Parliamentary committee has heard.
 
This is just one of the criticisms raised by several organisations and industry representatives before Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance at a hearing on the VAT panel report on Wednesday.
 
The report, published in August, is the work of an independent panel that reviewed the current list of items exempted from VAT and proposed new items to be zero-rated. The panel was constituted after then Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced in February that the VAT rate was to increase by one percentage point from 14% to 15% to raise an additional R22.9bn. 
 
1. The poor are paying for State Capture
 
Neil Coleman, who represented the Institute for Economic Justice, said that SA has to try to find ways to plug revenue shortfalls as tax collection has lagged. This problem has further been exacerbated by State Capture, which has reduced revenue to the fiscus.
 
“It should not result in punishment of the poor. We had nothing to do with that failure,” he said. The SA Revenue Service has experienced two successive years of tax shortfalls: R30bn in 2016/17 and R49bn in 2017/2018. 
 
Similarly, trade union federation Cosatu believes the one percentage point VAT hike punishes the poor for the “sins of the rich”. The federation insisted that government has other options to address revenue shortfalls. It wants the state to “stamp out corruption” and set out how it will recover stolen funds.
 
2. Unlikely VAT hike will be rescinded during the mini-budget
 
The Budget Justice Coalition was among the organisations calling for the VAT hike to be rescinded. But committee chair Yunus Carrim pointed out that the mini budget, set to be delivered on October 24, has already been set and it is unlikely that any decisions would be implemented then.
 
Cosatu proposed that government purchase and distribute sanitary pads to clinics, hospitals, no-fees schools and tertiary institutions.
 
“Government has done it with feeding schemes and condoms. Girls should not be disadvantaged because of a normal cycle of life,” said Cosatu’s Parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks.
 
The Budget Justice Coalition also proposed that government invest in providing sanitary products to poor women and girls – as this will ensure that they will directly benefit from the zero-VAT status, while richer households can continue to buy the sanitary pads. Sanitary pads were one of the items that the VAT panel proposed be zero-rated. 
 
4. More protein needed on the zero-VAT list
 
The Budget Justice Coalition, which represents several other organisations, raised concerns over the lack of protein on the zero-VAT list, a concern as malnutrition and protein deficiency leads to stunting and anemia. It suggested peanut butter and soya mince be included on the list.
 
The South African Poultry Association pointed out that chicken accounts for 13% of food expenditure for lower-income households, and supported the inclusion of whole fresh or frozen chicken products and portions. 
 
5. VAT hike simply unaffordable for the poor
 
The Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group collected data on the impact of the VAT hike by tracking a basket of 38 foods, 20 of which are subject to 15% VAT, the committee heard.
 
In August 2018, the total cost of the basket was R3 009. Foods subject to VAT accounted for 55% of the basket - or R1 654. The VAT on the foods amounted to R215, or 7.2% of the entire basket, said the group's Mervyn Abrahams. This equal to the price of a 35kg of maize meal which poor and working-class households buy each month.
 
Taking into account the recommendations of the VAT panel, the savings on the food basket for August 2018 would equal R40.81, bringing the total cost of the basket to R2 968. Abrahams said this was roughly equivalent to the median wage of a black South African worker, which is R3 000.
 
“That is just food alone - therein lies the problem,” he said. SA households are not getting sufficient income, and that the problem is not just simply a question of zero-rated items, he said. 
 
6. Food choices must be expanded
 
Geoff Penny of the Baking Association of South Africa weighed in on making white bread zero-rated. He said this decision would enable poor consumers to choose the product they prefer.
 
Poor consumers should be given the opportunity to shop with dignity, the baking association’s submission read.
 
Similarly, Dr Ziyanda Majokweni of the Broiler Organisation argued that whole chickens should not be subject to VAT - as opposed to just having portions like chicken feet and gizzards zero-rated. This would give consumers more choice, she told the committee. 
 
7. Double take on current list
 
Lionel Adendorf of FairPlay criticised the fact that the current list 19 zero-rated items was not reviewed. If there were a thorough review of the list the panel would have taken some items off the list, and would have included new household items which are being used by these poorer households, he argued.
 
The PwC’s VAT Partner Lesley O’Conell also echoed views that the current list should be reconsidered to include ones that are consumed by the poor.
 
The committee's chairperson Yunus Carrim called for Treasury to interrogate the submissions more seriously than they had previously.
 
 
Business Insider.
South Africa’s state-run power utility Eskom expects to have 7,000 less staff from now, a senior manager at the utility said on Thursday.
 
Marion Hughes, who made this known in Johannesburg, said the job cut would be done in the next five years.
 
Eskom employs 47,000 people and has powerful labour unions, some allied with the ruling ANC and others more militant.
 
The unions have said they would resist attempts to cut the workforce and fight moves to privatise the company, which is struggling to emerge from a financial crisis.
 
 
Source: VOA
Booking a learners or drivers license test in South Africa has never been the easiest thing in the world. The new online system is sure to change things up.
 
While a strike at the office that makes the license cards had caused some worry in recent weeks, getting a slot for your learners or drivers license test is about to become a whole lot easier. The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is finally looking to keep up with the digital times in 2018.
 
RTMC to offer new online drivers license test bookings
 
On Friday, the RTMC unveiled a plan that is sure to make millions of young South Africans lives a lot easier. Yes, from September, you will be able to begin to book your learners and drivers licenses online.
 
The new system will begin to be rolled out in Gauteng in September and will then move its way to other provinces after assessing how well the system worked and if there were any issues.
 
Those looking to book their tests will be able to choose the date, time and place for their test. Want to book your test at a traffic department on the other side of the province, that is easily doable. Seriously, you won’t even be required to go in beforehand.
 
RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane has been doing the media rounds explaining why the system was needed and what it does for people.
 
“I think this will be convenient for the members of the public because now you will be going to the centres to pay for your appointment and do the eye test and from there will be no interaction with officials and officials won’t have the opportunity to block bookings.”
 
Zwane explained that fraud and corruption have played a huge part in there being a need for an online method. In some cases, corrupt driving schools are even paying for certain slots to be booked with specific traffic officials.
 
“We have found that spaces are being blocked to enable people who are coming from the corrupt networks to be able to do tests on a particular date and a particular time. We want to deal with that so people have equal opportunity and the handling of officials,” Zwane says.
 
Let’s hope the system launch goes relatively smoothly.
 
Source:IreportSouthAfrica
South Africa’s Upper House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces (NCP), on Tuesday approved the controversial National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill which will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.
 
The Parliament said the NCP approved the bill without amendment.
 
The bill, which Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant introduced in November 2017, aims to provide for a NMW and the establishment of a commission with clear functions and composition for implementation, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
 
The National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) had earlier approved the bill and referred it to the NCP. Once signed by Ramaphosa, the bill will become law.
 
The bill sets 3,500 rand (about 243 U.S. dollars) per month or 20 rand (about 1.4 dollars) per hour for over six million working people in the country.
 
Trade unions have lambasted the NMW as “slavery wage,” saying the working class cannot make both ends meet with the meagre NMW.
 
In May, massive protests against the bill took place across the country.
 
Trade unions have threatened to stage more protests if the NMW wage is not raised to a living wage.
 
The government says setting the NMW was informed by research and robust analysis of various scenarios and their possible ramifications, not by some idealistic desires.
 
All social partners have worked hard for nearly three years to reach agreement on the NMW to improve the conditions of millions of poor families, according to the government.
 
Ramaphosa has pledged to increase the NMW over time in a way that meaningfully reduces poverty and inequality.
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
Telkom Mobile has been suffering a "system failure" over the past 24 hours.
Its four million South African subscribers have been struggling to connect. 
Telkom’s website and app have also been down since Thursday afternoon. 
Telkom Mobile - which has over four million cellular users in South Africa - is experiencing a countrywide “system failure”, the company said on Friday morning.
 
Users have reported extremely poor network quality, the sudden loss of airtime and data, and problems with recharging airtime over the past 24 hours. Some are demanding free data to be compensated for their inconvenience. 
 
Telkom’s website and app have also been down since Thursday afternoon. 
 
“Our team is still attending to the service issue with urgency. We'll keep you updated until this issue is resolved,” Telkom tweeted on Friday. 
 
“Please be patient as the team works on resolving the issue. We will keep you updated with further information.” 
 
On social media, users expressed outrage with the service disruption, demanding the cellular service give free data to apologise. 
 
MTN recently gave away clients R100 worth of airtime, and 100MB data for free, after its service was disrupted by a “technical glitch”.
 
 
Source: News24
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