A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.
SECRECY BILL BACK BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Political parties in Parliament will again meet privately in a bid to reach consensus on the controversial Protection of State Information Bill. “The process of party-to-party engagements will continue in an attempt to try and find each other,” Raseriti Tau, chairman of the National Council of Provinces ad hoc committee dealing with the bill, said on Tuesday. “We’re not that far apart and that’s a good sign,” he told MPs after a briefing by the state security department. Dennis Dlomo, acting director general for the department, briefed MPs on various technical issues related to proposed amendments to the bill.
CLINTON: ‘WE WILL DISAGREE AS FRIENDS DO’
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks with South Africa’s top diplomat Tuesday to map out a strategy on global issues and press Africa’s leading democracy to play a stronger regional role. “We are looking for ways to enhance and deepen our partnership. South Africa has so much to offer to the rest of the world,” Clinton said as she met with foreign minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. “As crises and opportunities arise, there are tough issues we have to tackle together, from nuclear proliferation to climate change, security crises, the situation in DRC or Syria. We do not always see eye-to-eye on these issues. I don’t know if people always do and certainly not two nations. Sometimes we will disagree as friends do,” she said.
EASTERN CAPE ANC TAKES OVER OR TAMBO REGION
ANC leaders in the Eastern Cape took control of the OR Tambo region after its regional conference was adjourned without electing a new leadership, the party said on Tuesday. “As things stand, there is no regional executive committee in the OR Tambo (region), hence the PEC (provincial executive committee), an upper structure in the region, is taking full charge of matters in that region,” provincial spokesman, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, said in a statement. The conference was dogged by controversy after allegations emerged that some of the membership figures were inflated, and that there were several ‘ghost’ delegates.
MAJORITY OF SA’S PRISONERS VIOLENT
About 71% of prisoners had committed violent crimes, correctional services minister Sibusiso Ndebele said on Tuesday. “There is a need to strengthen and reinforce the programmes to address aggressive crimes,” the newly appointed minister told the National Assembly’s correctional services committee. Rounded-off figures showed that 23% of offenders were sentenced for economic offences, 55% for aggressive crimes, 16% for sexual offences, 2% for drug-related crime, and 5% for other crimes. “The fact that we have approximately 40% of inmates who remand detainees must also factor into our resource allocation and our strategic focus,” Ndebele said.
SELEBI WAS DESPERATELY ILL, SAYS MEDICAL PAROLE BOARD
Former police chief Jackie Selebi had kidney failure, a stroke, heart and eye disease, a pulmonary embolism, and motor function impairment, MPs were told on Tuesday. This was why he was paroled, and not because he was politically connected, vice chairperson of the Medical Parole Board, Angelique Coetzee, said. She said Selebi had been suffering from kidney disease before his trial, but decided not to disclose it. “He was being treated long before his trial by a very [well] known physician,” she told Parliament’s portfolio committee on correctional services. She said Selebi also suffered a stroke and a pulmonary embolism this year, and had severe kidney complications.
LEAVE OUR CREDIT CARDS ALONE!
It is inappropriate to suggest that credit cards for Gauteng MECs be scrapped, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said on Tuesday. She told the legislature her office was reviewing benefits, which included credit cards. “Having a credit card is optional… It is inappropriate at this stage to say let’s do away with them.” She was responding to a question by Democratic Alliance MPL Jack Bloom. “Even finance minister Pravin Gordhan does not use a credit card. Would you consider voluntarily doing away with credit cards in your provincial government?” Bloom asked. He asked Mokonyane if she would give up her credit card. She promptly replied: “No, I won’t.”
SNOW KEEPS ON FALLING IN JO’BURG
The snowfall in Johannesburg was expected to continue into the night the SA Weather Service said on Tuesday. “Locals can expect the light snow to continue until Wednesday morning,” said forecaster Jacqueline Riet. The last time Johannesburg experienced a substantial amount of snowfall was in June 2007. Before this, the city last saw a considerable amount of snow in 1981. “The snow is actually caused by the pressure in the upper level of the atmosphere. It is not very common to experience this in the northern parts of the region,” said Riet. The SA Weather Service dismissed reports from the SABC that stated that all nine provinces were experiencing snow.
WOMEN AND CHILDREN FAILED BY INTERNATIONAL BODIES
International bodies in place to protect women and children during times of conflict fail in their task, humanitarian Graca Machel said on Tuesday. “The institutions that have to protect women and children in conflict, they are obsolete,” said Machel, who is president of the Foundation for Community Development of SA. They did not care about people. “And I am angry,” she said. Machel recalled how, during her work for the United Nations, she visited countries in conflict, where the women and children were the worst affected. She, former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, and former Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Brigalia Bam, were speaking at a Women’s Month lunch in Johannesburg.
MUNICIPAL TRANSFORMATION NEEDS THE UNIONS
The transformation of municipalities will not happen without an effort by labour unions, Mangaung mayor Thabo Manyoni said on Tuesday. “As a predominant union for municipal workers in local government politics, Samwu, has a meaningful role to play in our endeavour (to) create a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system,” Manyoni told the national congress of the SA Municipal Workers Union. Manyoni is also the national chairman of the SA Local Government Association (Salga). He said workers as members of the tripartite alliance should be aware of the priority to “transform the state into a stronger, more cohesive, developmental state”. DM
Photo: Locals run as an unusual snowfall hits some parts of Johannesburg, August 7, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer