Public service fraud crackdown

first_img6 April 2005About 37 000 public servants are being probed for allegedly acquiring state social grants fraudulently, either individually or through syndicates.This follows a successful campaign which saw about 30 000 ordinary South Africans owning up to receiving grants they were not entitled to – translating into about R120-million a year in savings for the state.State targets social grant fraud – Starting from 1 April, all South Africans receiving social grants will have to verify their eligibility to receive a grant.Speaking to journalists in Cape Town on Tuesday, Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya said drastic measures would be taken to smash syndicates and bring public servants guilty of fraud to book.“We are currently working closely with various law enforcement agencies such as the Special Investigations Unit, the Scorpions and the SAPS to investigate fraud and corruption related to public servants and syndicates”, Skweyiya said.Since the government announced an amnesty for illegal recipients of social grants in December 2004, approximately 30 000 people came forward to request indemnity from prosecution; many others stopped claiming grants without applying for indemnity. The amnesty period ended on 31 March.Taking into account only those who applied for indemnity, Skweyiya estimated that the campaign would save the state in the region of R120-million a year.The amnesty excluded public servants and syndicates. “The syndicates and public servants will just have to bring back our money”, Skweyiya said.It is estimated that the government loses more than R1.5-billion a year due to fraud and corruption in the process of delivering social grants.The state pays out more than R50-billion a year in basic social protection to more than nine million South Africans.Reducing dependency levelsTabling his department’s budget vote in Parliament on Tuesday, Skweyiya said that South Africa had made significant progress towards alleviating poverty and enhancing social cohesion.However, more still needed to be done, he said, to develop South Africa’s economy and reduce the level of dependency on social grants.“One of the most significant achievements we have made was the reduction of poverty through the provision of social assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of society – the elderly, people with disabilities and, most importantly, children”, the minister said.Over 5.5-million South African children currently benefit from social grants. Child support grants have now been extended to 1.9-million children under 11 years, and an estimated 1.2-million children between 11 and 14 years will be registered for grants by March 2006. R6.4-billion has been set aside for this purpose.“As we register these children, we will pay even more attention on ensuring that children who receive social grants attend school”, Skweyiya said.“We will be working closely with the Department of Education and the education fraternity in this regard.”As April, all categories of social grants have been increased above the inflation rate.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

Brand Africa – by Africa for Africa

first_imgThe African continent at night, showingdeveloped urban areas.(Image: Nasa) MEDIA CONTACTS • Thabisile KhumaloBrand South Africa project manager+27 11 483 0122The inaugural Brand Africa Forum is a one-day summit of pan-African decision-makers in the fields of media, business, nation branding and civil society. The gathering is hosted by Brand South Africa, and takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 16 September.According to Brand South Africa, the forum aims to “leverage and extract sustainable learnings from the successful 2010 Fifa World Cup South Africa to shape the image of Africa, and to set an agenda to drive the reputation, image and competitiveness of Africa – for Africa, by Africa.”Speakers include Dambiso Moyo, a former Goldman Sachs economist and author of the New York Times bestseller Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How there is a Better Way for Africa; and Santie Botha, Chief Marketing Officer for the MTN group.Others taking the podium include Gary Alfonso, MD of CNBC Africa, Simon Anholt, author of Brand New Justice, Brand America and Competitive Identity – The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions, and more.Speaking of Africa’s brand in the global marketplace, Anholt has said: “Brand Africa, with its simple message of ongoing catastrophe, is promoted by aid agencies, international organisations, donor governments and aid celebrities like Bob Geldof and Bono … not as 53 countries in various stages of development and struggle for independent existence and identity, but as a uniform, hopeless basket-case”.It is this image of Africa – which fails to reflect the continent’s economic diversity, and the optimism that goes with rising investment, growth and stability – that the Brand Africa Forum will seek to address, through keynote speeches and discussions.The latter are centred on the three concepts of media, business and economy, and nation branding, and will feature Africans and African diasporans, as well as other global leaders who feel strongly about the continent’s future. The key media address is delivered by Anton Harber, Caxton Professor of Journalism at Wits University, while the business address is given by Moyo and the nation branding address by Anholt.The forum will be broadcast to 41 sub-Saharan countries on CNBC Africa, a DSTV channel that reports on business in Africa from an African perspective.last_img read more

Mike Lutmer, May 23

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest We’re enjoying the sunshine today. I got some fertilizer spread on Friday and it was just dry enough to where we could get in the field and it rained again. Some places got .4-inch and some places got .9-inch, so we’re still wet. I am hoping I can be back in the field tomorrow afternoon. Then there is a chance of showers Wednesday, Thursday and Friday into the weekend, but at least it looks like we’ll have some heat.The corn I planted last Monday is starting to poke through. It has only been in the ground seven days and I’m pretty happy with that. We planted a field of beans right across from that corn last Tuesday or Wednesday and they have sprouted and will be pushing through the ground in the next two days.I have only gotten a day of planting in. We still are in the front quarter of planting and just really getting started. I talked to a friend in Botkins and they haven’t planted anything yet on the east side of town. They should be planting today.I am starting to worry a little, but we still have a good two weeks to get the corn in. As long as we get the heat units, I won’t get too bent out of shape. There is plenty of moisture there and if we get the heat everything should go.There was a bunch of corn planted a month ago around Wilmington and there is some replanting going on already. You never know with Mother Nature. You have to take what you’re given and do the best you can.The hay is prime to be cut and I am worried it will get overripe. If we can still get it cut in two weeks though I think we’ll still be OK. I don’t think we’ll have a big enough window to mow it now.Hopefully the moisture cuts back a little for the wheat. If it looks like it will dry out, I don’t think we’ll need fungicide on the wheat. It looks pretty good but some of it is still pretty short.last_img read more

Want Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Grant? Combine Devices, Sensors And The Cloud

first_imgAfter a user enters some basic information about the child, such as the date of birth, the app asks the parent or doctor to hold the stethoscope up to eight points on the child’s chest, “listening” and then uploading the sound file to the cloud. An algorithm then determines whether or notthe child has pneumonia, and advises a course of treatment.That same approach was used to develop Winsenga, which combines a high-performance microphone placed within a Pinard horn, rural Africa’s answer to the stethoscope. Without access to ultrasound machines, doctors and nurses have to rely on their own ears to determine if a fetus is alive, and what problems there might be. The app listens to the heartbeat, diagnoses any problems and issues an alert if needed. IT + Project Management: A Love Affair Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Tags:#Microsoft#startups 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… Related Posts Rival navigation systems, according to Brueggemann, are reactive: a driver’s GPS device encounters a traffic jam, reports it, is rerouted, possibly encounters another traffic jam, and the process repeats itself. What Nunav attempts to do, he said, was to proactively assign drivers to side streets, so that every driver wasn’t trying to fit through the same high-speed bottlenecks. (It’s worth noting that Graphmasters’ examples focused on cities, where a number of relatively equal alternative routes present themselves.)“A reactive system routes drivers around traffic jams that already exist, and when the traffic jam exists, you already have the problem,” Bruggemann said.All Nunav needs is about 1% of the cars on the road to communicate and respond to create a detailed traffic overview, and about 10% of the GPS infrastructure. “The strategy we’re making is to get our service into the navigation systems alrady in the market, because once we do that it will be very easy to get 10% of users,” Bruggemann said. That doesn’t necessarily mean only Windows Phones, but all GPS devices.And what’s the business model? It’s a new one: Nunav charges for the accelerated route. Yes, it’s only $.10 or so, which Graphmasters promises will be made up for by reduced stress.Stethocloud And WinsengaThe same strategy – the cloud plus a device – drove the introduction of Stethocloud, a nifty app developed by four students from Australia. The team created a digital stethoscope that could be plugged into the audio jack of a smartphone. The goal is to help diagnose and treat pneumonia.  Team Vivid from Egypt and Team QuadSquad from Ukraine each won $50,000 to form companies that can access healthcare records from mobile devices, as well as help disabled individuals speak more effectively.The message here is clear: Microsoft is looking for developers focused on using devices as a local sensor and tapping into the cloud for specialized intelligence and additional computing horsepower. Whether it’s Microsoft technology talking to Microsoft services, or something like Symbian talking to an Amazon Web Services hosted application running within Amazon’s cloud, the company sees the combination of local sensors and back-end intelligence as a powerful trend it wants to encourage. Microsoft’s Imagine Cup rewards student innovators with thousands of dollars worth of prizes, the chance to network with other entrepreneurs and valuable experience. But to develop those skills into a viable business can require additional funding, and Microsoft’s Imagine Cup Grant winners, announced Tuesday, now have that.Team Graphmasters of Germany walked away with $100,000 in cash, which the company will use to develop a navigation system using Windows Phone and Microsoft’s cloud technology, Windows Azure. Team Stethocloud placed second, walking away with a $50,000 prize for its mobile-hybrid stethoscope that can be used to detect childhood pneumonia via the cloud.See the similarities? The company is funding startups that combine a client sensor, like a phone, with the combined knowledge of the cloud. In fact, every team that Microsoft funded combined a Windows Phone with Windows Azure.According to a Microsoft representative, each team was judged based on four criteria:Project impact and viability (40%), including whether or not the solution would be technically and economically viable.Team quality and motivation (30%), concerning how the team is structured, and how capable it appears to be to overcome obstacles.Solution design (20%), or how novel the solutuion is.Defining the problem (10%), or how broad the problem that the team is solving actually is.Imagine Cup Grants are a three-year, $3 million competitive grants program that provides opportunity for young people by helping them realize their vision of bringing their technology enabled projects to life, according to Microsoft. Grant recipients receive funding, access to resources and support to help them create a business or nonprofit organization. The Imagine Cup Grants are part of Microsoft YouthSpark, a global initiative that aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more than 100 countries during the next three years.Graphmasters: Solving Traffic Problems, CollaborativelyAccording to Christian Brueggemann, who is involved in the technical development of the algorithms behind Team Graphmasters, the company began life as an academic project, natch, which competed in the Imagine Cup about four years ago.The company’s first product – originally dubbed “Greenway” and now known as “Nunav,” uses a combination of cloud services and devices not to route drivers to their destination via the shortest, most optimized route, but to send them along a variety of paths to minimize total congestion. That, in turn, can cut the amount of time all drivers spend idling in traffic, reducing congestion and the corresponding increase in greenhouse gases from wasted gas. In a hypothetical example, one car can produce 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide per year – enough that a forest of 200 trees would be needed to consume it all. In total, the CO2 output from the world’s cars would require a forest the size of Australia. markhachmanlast_img read more

Key game up for national squad

first_imgThe Philippines will test its sharpness against a lowly Hong Kong side on Wednesday in the hope of scoring an important victory in the Asian Seniors Women’s Volleyball Championships in Biñan City, Laguna.A victory by the all-star national team, led by fan favorites Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago and Mika Reyes, would already ensure the country a spot in the quarterfinals of the 14-nation meet.ADVERTISEMENT MOST READ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. It will also automatically qualify the Philippines for the first time in the Asian Volleyball Cup for women in Thailand next year.“This is a very important tournament for us and the Hong Kong game is the most important match,” said national head coach Francis Vicente, who led the national team in a 17-day training camp in Japan.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsThe country, carried by Foton Pilipinas of the Philippine Superliga, demolished Hong Kong (25-20, 25-14, 25-14) during the Asian Club Championships last year—a game where the Philippines sparingly used imports. LATEST STORIES Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Ceres XI ready to wage battle vs Singaporean side for crown Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters DILG, PNP back suspension of classes during SEA Games Celebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ NGCP on security risk: Chinese just technical advisers View commentslast_img read more

Newly-wed George Clooney, Amal Alamuddin make appearance in Venice

first_imgWedding bands glinted under the Venetian sun on the hands of George Clooney and his new bride, Amal Alamuddin, as the heartthrob actor and the human rights lawyer emerged Sunday from the luxury hotel where they were married a day earlier.The groom, in a smart light gray suit, sported a simple ring on his left hand. His wife, in a flouncy white short dress with pastel-colored appliques resembling flower blossoms, wore a thin band studded with what appeared to be roundish diamonds. The newlyweds shaded their eyes from the afternoon sunlight with dark glasses.George Clooney married human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin on Saturday in Venice. AP PhotoThey hopped into a waiting water taxi and, with Clooney putting his arm around her frequently, made their way down the Grand Canal to another waterside hotel where many of their guests were staying. Gondoliers steered out of their way.Tourists and Venetians cheered when Clooney waved and Alamuddin smiled broadly.The 53-year-old actor, who had vowed he’d never wed again, and the 36-year-old London-based lawyer, were married with Hollywood stars and family among guests.George Clooney and his wife Amal Alamuddin, cruise the Grand Canal after leaving the Aman luxury Hotel in Venice. AP PhotoCelebrity-watching will last at least another day in Venice. City officials have announced the closure on Monday of a stretch of pedestrian walkway along the Grand Canal near the 16th-century Cavalli Palace, so the couple can have a civil marriage ceremony there. The palace is right across from the Aman hotel where the couple wed on Saturday evening.George Clooney marries Amal Alamuddin in Venice | When Clooney, Alamuddin enjoyed private party before wedding The marriage is the first for the bride and the second for Clooney, who had been one of the world’s most sought-after bachelors since 1993, following a four-year marriage to actress Talia Balsam.advertisementThe bride left her native Lebanon during its civil war and was raised in the United Kingdom. The Oxford-University-educated Alamuddin met Clooney, who is involved in many political causes, through her work.Venice closes down Grand Canal access for Clooney’s wedding | Pics: George Clooney and his saga of affairslast_img read more