South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 4 February 2013

A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.


The department of public works has paid a contractor to build a tuck shop at Nkandla for first lady Sizakele Khumalo. City Press newspaper reported ‘MaKhumalo’ had been running a vegetable garden and tuck shop at Nkandla many years. A public works progress report, dated 5 November 2010, reported the costs for the construction of a “guard house, bin and tuck shop” was estimated to be R586,467. The facts revealed by the newspaper give lie to public works minister Thulas Nxesi’s statement that state money was only used for security upgrades at Zuma’s private home. Nxesi said last week that work on Zuma’s home had cost over R206 million, but that none of it had been spent on houses.


Communications minister Dina Pule’s boyfriend, Phosane Mngqibisa, earned more than double what President Jacob Zuma earns in a year for four days work. The Sunday Times investigations team discovered that Mngqibisa was paid a R6-million management fee for the controversial ICT Indaba held in Cape Town in 2012. Carol Bouwer, the main organiser of the event, only received R2-million in fees. A report by law firm Werksmans, undertaken for MTN (one of the sponsors), says the conference organiser was forced to hire Mngqibisa and his events company, Khemano, by Pule’s department. DA communications spokeswoman, Marian Shinn, said she would ask the Public Protector to “expedite” her investigation. She said it had become “increasingly evident” that the minister “may have abused her position of authority over companies in the ICT industry to enrich a close personal friend”.


The ANC’s intention to “move with speed” on the youth wage subsidy is being hailed as a victory for the Democratic Alliance. Finance spokesman Tim Harris said the fact that ANC policy head Jeff Radebe had made this statement was “significant victory” after what he called a “long and painstaking fight in Parliament, online, and on the streets of South Africa”. Harris said three years of activism has “finally paid off for the DA and for many of the 4.8 million 15-34 year-old South Africans who are today trapped in unemployment”. He said he would write to finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, to find out about the status of its implementation, and also to ensure that “the design will be in line with that contained in National Treasury’s document on the youth wage subsidy”. 


The South African Revenue Service (Sars) has moved on Julius Malema’s assets in an effort to recoup R16 million it says the former ANC Youth League leader owes in taxes. A report in the Sunday Independent said sheriffs had attached Malema’s homes in Sandton and Limpopo, and that Sars had confirmed it had instructed the sheriffs to take his movable and immovable assets, including valuables and cars. The newspaper reported that occupants of Malema’s Limpopo home were evicted, and that household contents were removed. Sars also obtained a sequestration order against Malema last week, a move some see as an effort to find out whether he’d hidden some of his assets. Sars said in its application that Malema had not been “forthright and honest relating to his financial affairs” despite opportunities to do so.


Police minister Nathi Mthethwa is appealing a Western Cape High Court judgement that allowed a commission of inquiry established by the provincial government of the Western Cape to go ahead, filing an application to the Constitutional Court. Mthethwa said he decided to appeal has two judgments had been made in the matter, and he concurred with the minority one. “The minister believes that the approach adopted by the minority was correct and that the majority should have concurred with the minority,” the ministry said in a statement. Premier Helen Zille constituted a commission of inquiry into the state of policing in Khayelitsha, where vigilantism had escalated as a result of the community saying police were inefficient.


Details of a multibillion rand fraud and racketeering investigation, in which the construction industry fixed contracts, have emerged. City Press newspaper reports executives from Stefanutti Stocks have revealed details of the long-running price-fixing, bid rigging and kickback scheme to the Hawks, which have at least 11 affidavits in their possession. They claim projects such as Soccer City, the Nelson Mandela Bridge, Cape Town Stadium, Coega and the Gautrain were “fixed”. The Competition Commission launched the investigation into the industry which has seen 20 firms admitting to irregular conduct in more than 300 projects and tenders worth close to R30 billion. Heads of the various construction companies said they’d co-operated with the investigation, and that actions were those of “independent and isolated individuals”.


An investigation into the Eastern Cape health department has shown widespread corruption and nepotism. The department said a forensic audit, commissioned by Premier Noxolo Kiviet and health MEC Sicelo Gqobana, revealed 544 workers were suspected to be ghost employees; 8 034 employees were directors of active companies; and 929 were listed as suppliers for the health department. Of the 8 034 staff members 235 had received payment of R42.8 million from the department. The department said there were cases of 35 spouses of employees doing business with it, and linked to 35 companies that received payments of R11 million. The probe was launched to uncover irregular expenditure, illegal contracts, tax transgressions, and recover losses. 


The Public Protector is investigating KwaZulu-Natal’s health MEC Sibongiseni for using the province’s only medical helicopter to attend a funeral. The MEC, who told the Sunday Tribune he was a medical doctor and could use the helicopter as he saw fit. On the day of his 750km round trip, the helicopter was needed to take a badly injured teenager to hospital after his whole family were killed in a car crash. DA leader in the province, Sizwe Mchunu, laid a complaint with the Public Protector, saying Dhlomo had “knowingly shrugged off the potential deaths and lifetime’s worth of damage to Durban families he could have caused by his taking that medical helicopter”. DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma and his wife, Sizakele Khumalo. (REUTERS)


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