ICYMI: WC agri department wins court appeal

SAPTU proposes a sliding scale for the minimum wage based on experience and training in order to invest in skill development, reduce unemployment, and gradually increase employee salary. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

SAPTU proposes a sliding scale for the minimum wage, based on experience and training to encourage investment in skills development, a reduction of unemployment and a gradual increase in employee salaries. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

The Western Cape department of agriculture has won its audit report case in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) and MEC Ivan Meyer welcomed the ruling.

The SCA has ruled in favour of the department, saying that two qualified audit reports should be set aside. This ruling comes after the Auditor-General (author of the audit reports) had appealed a similar, earlier ruling by the Western Cape High Court.

“The SCA judgement confirms the earlier decision…by the Western Cape division of the High Court to set aside the Auditor-General’s qualified audit reports…for the financial years ending 31 March 2017 and 31 March 2018,” Meyer said in a statement.

The department had sought the intervention of the High Court after various failed attempts to resolve its dispute with the Auditor-General regarding their qualification of the department’s accounting treatment of transfer payments, and the Auditor-General’s view on the principal-agent principle for the two financial years.

The Court has ruled in favour of the department in respect of both financial cycles.

“The SCA found that the Auditor-General did indeed commit an error in law in its interpretation and application of the applicable accounting standards,” the MEC said.

“The department now expects that the [Auditor-General] will rework the affected audit reports and re-issue them in line with the SCA’s findings.

“The department will further engage the [Auditor-General] regarding subsequent audit cycles where it relied on a similar incorrect application of the applicable accounting standards to make its findings. The department trusts that rational sense will prevail.

“I also wish to repeat my earlier sentiments that this case has always been about restoring the department’s governance record. Accordingly, it should in no way be seen to reflect poorly on the department’s relationship with the [Auditor-General], which, as the SCA confirmed, fulfils a critical role in protecting our country’s democratic order.”

SAPTU suggests sliding scale for minimum wage

The South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union (SAPTU) suggests a sliding scale for the minimum wage, linked to experience and training. This is aimed at encouraging investment in skills development, a turnaround in unemployment and a gradual raise in the remuneration of employees.

“The biggest challenges South Africa is facing are unemployment, with almost 45% of the population out of work, and poverty, with millions living under the cost-of-living line,” says advocate Ben van der Walt, the general secretary of SAPTU.

“With our proposal, we not only tackle both these issues but also support local business in growing the economy.”

This comes after the National Minimum Wage Commission (NMW) has asked for feedback on potential changes to the National Minimum Wage Act [No. 9 of 2018] for 2022. SAPTU filed its request, arguing that increases in the national minimum wage must always be weighed against the country’s current economic condition as well as the social difficulties it faces.

“The unemployment rate should be more alarming and concerning to the government than a standardised minimum wage. Thus, the government should equally invest in training South Africans – as higher skills and more experience leads to higher income – and creating an investment-friendly environment for local and international investors to grow the economy.”

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