South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 25 March 2013

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

SANDF CONFIRMS SOLDIERS KILLED IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Reports out of strife torn Central African Republic say at least nine South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops have been killed as rebels seized the capital Bengui and overthrew President Francois Bozize, who has fled to Congo. Earlier, a witness told Reuters they had seen the bodies of “six South African soldiers. They had all been shot. Their vehicles were also destroyed. Other South African soldiers came to recover the bodies”. SANDF spokesman, Brigadier-General Xolani Mabanga said the South African army had suffered casualties. “But in terms of how many people were killed and how many people were injured, we’re still trying to verify and confirm,” Mabanga told Reuters. In January, rebel forces demanded that Bozize send home South African forces that were helping bolster the country’s military.

BEACHED PILOT WHALES CULLED, OTHERS TAKEN OUT TO SEA

One of the five of 19 pilot whales that beached at Noordhoek Beach that were taken back out to sea in Simonstown has rebeached in the naval town. A spokesman for the National Sea Rescue Institute said the whale was still alive, but that its health had deteriorated. The five rescued whales were transported on trailers to Simonstown where they were taken out to sea. Nine others had to be euthanised, while five died of natural causes. Teams of rescue personnel from the National Sea Rescue Institute, the police and other services had hosed down the whales after they beached early on Sunday until those that survived could be released into the sea.

PULE: IT’S A POLITICALLY MOTIVATED SMEAR CAMPAIGN

Dina Pule believes a ‘smear campaign’ is behind a series of allegations that she allowed her boyfriend to influence key senior appointments at the South African Broadcasting Corporation. The Sunday Times reports the communications minister’s partner, Phosane Mngquibisa, ensured his relative, Lulama Mokhobo, was awarded the job of CEO, and that a close friend, Gugu Dada (currently suspended) was given the job of chief financial officer. But Pule’s spokesman, Siza Qoza, says she is the victim of a “politically motivated smear campaign”. The board of the beleaguered SABC was dissolved last week, with many citing ministerial interference as a direct cause for the stream of resignations prior to the board being disbanded. Calls for Pule’s removal from office have intensified.

DTI TAKES ON ROOIBOS TRADEMARK BATTLE

Trade and industry minister Rob Davies has stepped in to the rooibos trademark battle months after a French company applied to register a number of trademarks incorporating the terms ‘rooibos’ and ‘South African rooibos’ in France. Davies has requested protection for rooibos, honeybush and Karoo (for lamb meat) as “geographical indications” (GI), BDlive reported. If successful, this would be the first time that geographical protection has been given to South African products apart from wine. If successful, Davies request means rooibos would be given the same protection as origin-based names such as champagne, port and sherry. EU ambassador to South Africa, Roeland van de Geer, told BDlive he was a GI system for SA would “reinforce the uniqueness and quality of South African products”.

NERSA MUST ELIMINATE BHP BILLITON’S ‘UNFAIR ADVANTAGE’

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa must start negotiations with BHP Billiton over its Special Pricing Agreement that allows them to buy electricity below the price other companies and individuals are playing. DA energy spokesman, Lance Greyling, said while the party welcomed the ruling that forced Eskom and BHP Billiton to reveal precisely the costs at which electricity is sold, it “believes that all electricity that is sold in South Africa should be done so under Nersa’s regulated tariff book and that no one company should be given an unfair advantage that is not available to anyone else”. Greyling said BHP Billiton’s three smelters use as much as 9% of the country’s electricity. But BHP Billiton said it ”has paid well above the market rate for power”.

NO PURGING IN THE WESTERN CAPE, SAYS ZILLE

Western Cape premier Helen Zille has denied the Provincial Government of the Western Cape is purging staff with opposing views to those of the governing Democratic Alliance. Zille said in her budget vote speech that ANC leader in the legislature Lynne Brown had yet to provide details on specific cases to back up her allegations. Zille said she had been given a list of dismissed officials (of all races) and that “every single person was taken through the due, fair and independent disciplinary process, and was found guilty of misconduct which includes sexual harassment, unauthorised expenditure, gross dishonesty and misuse of government resources”. She said race and political connections were irrelevant. But Zille said the department faced skills retention challenges as those who resigned left for jobs that were better remunerated.

NKANDLA UPGRADE COSTS INCREASE BY FURTHER R2 MILLION

The costs of upgrading President Jacob Zuma’s private home at Nkandla have grown since the public works minister Thulas Nxesi put them atR206 million. The Weekend Argus reports that Nxesi and deputy minister Jeremy Cronin, with the department’s top managers, appeared before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa). Nxesi said costs had increased by a further R2 million and that there had been “serious inflation of the construction work”, adding that all projects in the department, including the presidential upgrade, had been affected by over-inflation, corruption and collusion. Public works continued to insist that the work at Nkandla was purely security-related, but that the issue had been “politicised”.

NEW CHAIRMAN FOR KWAZULU-NATAL ANC

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has a new chairman. Education MEC Senzo Mchunu was elected to the position at the party’s provincial general council. Mchunu beat incumbent deputy chairman, Willies Mchunu, in a close vote, with Senzo Mchunu getting 385 votes to the 373 of Willies Mchunu. Former chairman Zweli Mkhize had to vacate the position after he was elected national treasurer general of the ANC at the party’s Mangaung conference in December. Provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala told a press conference on Saturday afternoon that the leadership tussle was a relaxed affair, joking that he hadn’t see t-shirts with “Willies or Senzo on it”. DM

Photo: Helen Zille

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