South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 7 March 2013

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

IT’S NOT ‘BUSINESS AS USUAL’ AT PUBLIC WORKS

Public works minister Thulas Nxesi has told government officials that heads will roll as the result of investigations by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU). Nxesi said a deputy director general had been dismissed, and a former acting director general and the head of property management were facing disciplinary hearings. “High-profile cases of alleged over-pricing in relation to leases, renovations of ministerial houses and security provisions for the residence of the President, as well as the findings of the Competition Commission in relation to the construction sector, all tell the same story: collusion and corruption are endemic within some elements of the department of public works and certain sections of the property and construction industry,” said Nxesi.

ZUMA GIVEN ‘CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH’

Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj says President Jacob Zuma has undergone a series of health checks, but that there was nothing wrong with him, and that he’d received a “clean bill of health” from his doctors by lunchtime on Wednesday. Maharaj confirmed Zuma had visited three different hospitals for his annual check up, which led to much speculation by the public. “Excited and curious members of the public at the three hospitals have been calling the media to enquire about the visits,” Maharaj said in a statement. “He has concluded his visits and will now travel to Cape Town where he is to open the National House of Traditional Leaders amongst other duties.” Seventy-year-old Zuma apologised for having flu during his State of the Nation Address in February.

ANC STIFLES DEBATE ON ‘NKANDLAGATE’ AND NATIONAL KEY POINTS

The ANC in Parliament has rejected a DA motion to hold a debate on the ‘Nkandlagate’ scandal. The DA’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, said the party then proposed an alternative motion to debate the constitutionality of the National Key Points Act, which was also refused. “It is evident that the ANC are determined to do everything possible to protect President Jacob Zuma from scrutiny on this matter,” Mazibuko said. “The ANC cannot have it both ways. For as long as the spending of R206 million on President Zuma’s private residence goes unchecked, this scandal will remain a symbol of the government’s failure to fight corruption.” Mazibuko said it was time the ANC in Parliament spent more time holding the executive accountable instead of “defending the indefensible”.

MORE RHINO DIE AS SPECIES DISCUSSED AT CITES CONFERENCE

Twenty-four rhinos have died in the past week in South Africa, the Department of environmental affairs reported on Wednesday. The latest rhino poaching statistics show that the Kruger National Park remains the hardest hit, with 15 rhinos being poached for their horns since 20 February. This brings the total number of rhinos killed in the conservation area to 107 since the beginning of the year. KwaZulu-Natal and North West have each lost 12 rhinos, while eight have been poached in Limpopo and seven in Mpumalanga. In the past week, two alleged poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park, and two in Limpopo. The future of the species is being discussed at a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) conference in Thailand.

DODOVU: ‘IT’S A SMEAR CAMPAIGN’

The North West MEC accused of being involved in the murder of ANC regional secretary Obuti Chika says he’s the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign. Local government and traditional Affairs MEC China Dodovu, who was suspended from the ANC’s provincial executive committee, is out on bail of R20,000. Speaking at a media briefing in Johannesburg, Dodovu said the action taken against him was “a hatchet job that is justified by a deliberate distortion of a resolution that is well-intended, but is now savaged by factionalists masquerading as custodians of morality”. He said he would contest his suspension, and that he was not involved in Chika’s murder.

SOUTH AFRICAN YOUTH BELIEVE GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION IS WORSE

Young South Africans think corruption is worse than last year. Consumer insights company Pondering Panda has released the results of a survey it conducted with 4,197 respondents, 69% of whom said government corruption was getting worse. “It’s clear that young people see government as stuck in a spiral of corruption and would welcome any measure that helps stop it,” said spokeswoman Shirley Wakefield. “As our other surveys have shown, young people feel corruption affects them directly, because it diverts money into the pockets of corrupt politicians and officials – money which could otherwise be used to improve education, infrastructure, and create job opportunities.” The youth also agreed that corrupt politicians and civil servants should be named and shamed.

FREE STATE TO INVESTIGATE WHETHER WEBSITES GIVE VALUE FOR MONEY

Free State premier Ace Magashule says the provincial government will investigate whether it received value for money for its new website, reported to have cost over R40 million. Magashule was speaking at a business breakfast organised by The New Age. He said public concerns over the costs had led to the decision. The Cherry-Online-Ikamva-Juggernaut won the tender to research, design, and develop content, co-operative governance MEC Olley Mlamleli said at the same event, adding that costs had been estimated at R47 million for the 38 provincial government websites. She said the State Information and Technology Agency (Sita) was responsible for the hosting and security of the websites.

CHAVEZ’ DEATH: SOUTH AFRICANS SEND CONDOLENCES TO VENEZUELA

President Jacob Zuma has paid tribute to the late president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, calling him a “visionary” leader who was committed to the social struggles of the Venezuelan poor. Chavez died of cancer on Tuesday. Former ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, said he joined millions of “progressive individuals” in sending condolences to the people of Venezuela. He said they had lost “a fearless, politically determined and ideologically steadfast leader”. Young Communist League spokesman Khaya Xaba said the YCL was “devastated” by the news. “His defiance of imperialism and his insistence that Venezuela’s vast oil reserves be used to uplift the masses of the people has changed the lives of millions of people”. DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma has been given a clean bill of health. (Greg Nicolson)

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