Politics

SA Political Diary – Monday 1 August

By Simon Williamson 1 August 2011

The SACP marked its 90th birthday on Saturday at a celebration where people tried to interrupt secretary-general Blade Nzimande's speech, but not Vavi or Zuma's. A DA MP was acquitted of rape, with Helen Zille firmly saying it was a false charge based on an ANC conspiracy. The chief justice affair remained in the headlines, as did Julius Malema, who threw a press conference on Sunday. By SIMON WILLIAMSON.

The South African Communist Party celebrated its 90th birthday on Saturday at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont outside Durban. The occasion was pretty festive. Secretary-general of the SACP, Blade Nzimande, in his speech at the celebrations, took a poke at “tenderpreneurs”, saying President Jacob Zuma should use the skills he perfected during apartheid – sniffing out apartheid spies – to sniff out people who illegally live off government tenders and hoof them out of the ANC. He also said the ANC Youth League would not dictate who to put in government. A group of about 50 people disturbed the speeches of Nzimande and the Young Communist League general secretary Buti Manamela, but stopped when Cosatu secretary-general Zwelenzima Vavi and Zuma rose to speak. The SACP also released a Jeremy Cronin-length statement which reinforced its alliances with the ANC and Cosatu, and its core values: national liberation, socialism, mass activism and a distaste for liberalism. The essence of Nzimande’s speech was echoed by Vavi.

Read more: The New Age, Politicsweb , The New Age

DA MP Masizole Mnqasela was acquitted of raping and assaulting a 17-year-old girl on Friday. Magistrate Killay Pillay said the state had not proved beyond reasonable doubt Mnqasela had committed the crimes and that the witnesses had contradicted each other during the trial. Helen Zille released a statement which claimed the state had it in for Mnqasela as he had become disillusioned with the ANC and taken the bold step of joining the DA in 2002, and that he was one of numerous DA supporters harassed for his political leanings along with others who were falsely jailed, had their homes burnt down, and public functions ruined. In 2009 he became a DA MP and in 2010 was accused of the rape charge of which he was acquitted last week. Zille also quotes Mnqasela’s lawyer, who confirmed her suspicions that this case was a hatchet job. She claimed this was a demonstration of how crucial an independent judiciary is. As far as we are concerned, if anyone has been falsely accused of rape, they should sue the living daylights out of whoever accused them. It is a horrific thing to do – false accusations of rape can destroy people.

Read more: Politicsweb, the Sowetan

A whole load of chief justice hoo-ha continued on Friday and over the weekend since the Constitutional Court found that Zuma had not interpreted the law properly when he wanted Sandile Ngcobo to serve another term as chief justice. Jackson Mthembu, speaking on behalf of the ANC on Friday, said he was surprised no one had raised the alarm regarding this law before, as two other chief justices, Arthur Chaskalson and Pius Langa, were welcomed under the same piece of legislation – the implication obviously being that people only got sticky about the law under Zuma. The Centre for Legal Studies at Wits (which claimed the ANC was deliberately misleading the public) and Constitutional expert Pierre de Vos (who said Mthembu’s reasoning was “utter nonsense”) claimed that the way the law worked for the previous two was different to how it worked for Ngcobo. Zuma now has two weeks to find someone else.

Read more: Politicsweb, the Sowetan

The ANCYL on Sunday told journalists it would not be diverted by “reactionary media”. Within ten minutes a journalist from EWN asked him about a R200,000 kickback in return for a tender on top of Sunday paper reports that Malema paid R2 million of the cost of his R3.6 million house in cash. Malema challenged the media and law enforcement to prove these accusations, and explained he used his trust to assist those who asked him for help. Malema also said he would be suing City Press for the bribery allegations. The press conference, though, was to report back on the ANCYL NEC which took place over the weekend. It lamented the absence of Thabo Mbeki in our and our continent’s foreign affairs, citing the handling of Libya and Côte d’Ivoire. The league has also turned its attention to Botswana where it will attempt to unite opposition against the ruling Botswana Democratic Party, allegedly because of its close ties with the US and its disagreements over Libya. After the NEC briefing Malema  said he would not be shaken or intimidated by any political storm, and asked why he was being singled out and not everyone else who had a trust fund, as many public representatives (and many private citizens) do. He also said going to jail would not shut down his ideas, and on that note he is 100% correct.

Read more: Daily Maverick, Politicsweb, the Sowetan


IN BRIEF

eThekwini ratepayers are being screwed to the tune of R120 million a year in illegal electricity connections, admitted the municipality. On Friday, shack dwellers assaulted city contractors, who were removing the connections, by throwing rocks and faeces – and forced them to leave. Last week a security guard was killed in a attack over electricity connections. The council has agreed to let the people who live there maintain their illegal connections while a solution is sorted out. The DA caucus leader, Tex Collins, said he was now not going to pay his bill because violence had worked in other places. In other news, eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo said his administration was dealing with concerns raised by the auditor general that R532 million was spent irregularly in the municipality.

Read more: Sunday Tribune, via IOL; Sapa, via News24

Jason Ngobeni, who was City of Joburg’s executive director for economic development, has been appointed as Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality’s new city manager. He was appointed on Thursday afternoon during a meeting at which the DA and FF+ members walked out because of the lack of notice regarding the meeting.

Read more: The Sowetan
 
Gauteng ANC members will attend politics school, said provincial spokesman Dumisa Ntuli, which should help them “ensure better and cohesive political approach on organisational and policy issues in the ANC”.

Read more: Sapa, via TimesLive
 
Zuma and his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe will personally oversee infrastructure development and job creation, said cabinet spokesman Jimmy Manyi on Friday. These urgent measures have been elevated to the presidency.

Read more: Sapa, via TimesLive

The Freedom Front Plus has joined the queue to take a look at Julius Malema’s finances – a queue which now starts in Standerton – with a Promotion of Access to Information request. The party based its action in the public interest but we’re fairly certain it will fail.

Read more: Politicsweb

Jeff Vilane, mayor of the Umkhayakude district municipality (where you will find Mtubatuba) has declared his municipality broke, saying it is struggling to pay its debts, which amount to R40 million. Creditors include water and electricity suppliers who have threatened to halt services. Vilane blamed the municipality’s poor revenue-collection rate.
 
The DA has called on arts and culture minister Paul Mashatile to halt wasteful spending in his department after, in a response to a question from the DA in Parliament, the minster admitted the Pan-South African Languages Board had spent R5.4 million in legal fees in the dismissal of its former chief executive.

Read more: Politicsweb
 
Kgalema Motlanthe said asylum seekers in South Africa need to be treated with respect and affection: “These people, no matter how different they may be from us, belong to the family of humanity and are deserving of our respect and basic human rights.” He also said: “These are indivisible rights that are afforded to everyone, including foreign nationals and asylum seekers who, through no fault of their own, have had to flee to South Africa because of conflict, famine and deteriorating socio-economic conditions in their countries of birth.” Most importantly, Motlanthe condemned xenophobic attacks which have been far too prevalent in South Africa in the last few years.
 
Award-winning singer Simphiwe Dana got into a tussle with Helen Zille on Twitter, and took an earful (eyeful?) from the DA’s national spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko for her troubles. Dana and Zille exchanged questions and answers before Mazibuko went on a bit of a tirade, saying, “Do Twitter slacktivists who live to hurl abuse at @helenzille ever ask themselves whether an ANC head of govt would entertain their drivel?” and criticising the tone with which people addressed Zille on the social network.

Read more: The Star, via IOL

The Hawks have reopened the investigation into the Arms Deal, as the head of the elite police wing wrote to Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts and said he was going to look into a small piece of the case, sending two investigators to Sweden and the UK, after more claims had arisen there over bribes allegedly paid by Saab and BAE Systems. The DA has welcomed this development.

Read more: Daily Maverick; Politicsweb; Hawks statement, via Politicsweb

The DA has called on Zuma to act on corruption after a story in the Sunday Times said the previous minister of public works, Geoff Doidge, had actually canned the controversial police HQ lease. After he was dismissed from the portfolio by Zuma, the deal was shunted through by current minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde.

Read more: Sunday Times
 
Police minister Nathi Mthethwa has released a 12-point plan to begin dealing with the increasing murders of South African police. Fifty-six police have been killed this year so far.

Read more: Politicsweb


Main photo: Blade Nzimande

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