South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 27 March 2013

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


The death of 13 South African soldiers – all parabats from One Parachute Battalion in Bloemfontein – in the Central African Republic has sparked intense criticism of South Africa’s African policy. The deployment of troops to a civil war, without support of helicopter gunships or military transport aircraft, was highly questionable, said the DA’s David Maynier. Members of the SANDF have also criticised the decision, questioning President Jacob Zuma’s support of ousted CAR leader, Francois Bozize. Reuters reported Alex Vines, a member of the London-based Chatham House think-tank, as saying the CAR debacle was ”tremendously damaging for South Africa and the reputation of what was perceived as one of the major military powers in Africa”. The SANDF has reported that the missing soldier has been found alive.


Limpopo’s former health MEC Miriam Segabutla has been arrested on charges of fraud and corruption relating to R16 million worth of tenders. Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko confirmed her arrest during an early morning raid on her home in Pretoria. Segabutla was fingered in public protector Thuli Madonsela’s ‘Befuddled Interest’ report last year. Madonsela said Segabutla had breached the executive code by conflicting her official responsibilities with her private interests. City Press reports that Madonsela’s probe followed allegations that she had flouted ethics in terms of contracts her department awarded to Tsepo Technology Consulting and Trispen Solutions. Madonsela said sole director of Tsepo Technology, Johnny Lucas, is related to Segabutla, and that her lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, was involved with Trispen Solutions.


Workers at the Medupi Power Plant are on strike again. National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesman, Castro Ngobese told Sapa he believed around 2,000 workers – not Numsa members – were striking. The SABC said workers affiliated to the National Union of Metalworkers (NUM) and the Metal and Electrical Workers Union of South Africa (Mewusa) downed tools demanding to be paid bonuses which they forfeited during the strike that ended two weeks ago. DA public enterprises spokeswoman Natasha Michael said minister Malusi Gigaba must appoint a permanent mediation and negotiation team to deal with labour issues at Medupi.  “The Medupi project is already eighteen months behind schedule. The result is that South Africa does not have the capacity to produce enough electricity for the country, and Eskom has already had to consider load shedding,” Michaels said.


Over R50 million has disappeared from the Buffalo City Municipality that was meant for World Cup 2010 Legacy Projects, leading to an investigation by the parliamentary portfolio committee for sport. Chairman Richard Mdakane said the committee discovered funds were missing last year during an oversight visit, and asked that the Eastern Cape’s sports department look into the matter. But, he said, “they have not really come back to us”. Legacy project funds are ring-fenced for building and improving sport infrastructure in the provinces. Spokesman for the municipality, Keith Ngesi, told The Times the funds hadn’t gone missing, but that projects had “stalled”. Mdakane said the committee wasn’t “happy” and that the sports department “should have dealt with this long ago”.


South Gauteng High Court has sentenced Henry Okah to 24 years in jail. The Nigerian was in January found guilty on 13 counts of terrorism including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device. The charges related to two deadly car bomb blasts; one in Abuja that was detonated on 1 October 2013, the anniversary of Nigeria’s independence and the other on 15 March 2010. Judge Neels Claassen sentenced Okah to 12 years imprisonment for each of the bombings and 13 years for the threats made to the South African government after his arrest in October 2010. Okah’s group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said it would target South African businesses in retaliation for his arrest and trial in South Africa.


All 20 pilot whales that beached on Cape Town’s Noordhoek beach on Sunday have died, despite a major rescue effort that saw five “healthy” whales transported on trailers to Simonstown before being released back into the sea. The Argus reports that the whale that had initially been pushed back into the sea when rescue operations began was found on Noordhoek beach on Monday morning. Five died of natural causes, and nine others were euthanised on the scene. The five whales released in Simonstown were later found beached and injured along the False Bay coast, and were put down.


The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng is outraged that more than 2,000 provincial and municipal officials guilty of fraudulently benefiting from government housing programmes have not been suspended or sacked. DA MPL Janet Semple said the officials ad entered into “acknowledgement of debt (AOD) agreements with the Gauteng local government and housing department to repay the R11.7 million lost”. Semple said offending officials should be dismissed following disciplinary and civil or criminal investigations. “The MEC must explain why her department entered into AOD agreements instead of suspending or dismissing officials. The DA will question the MEC on the criteria and reasoning behind this dubious decision and approach to dealing with fraud,” she said.


South African finance minister Pravin Gordhan has confirmed that Brics powers, meeting at a summit in Durban, have made a deal to establish a development bank to rival Western-backed institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Sapa/AFP reported Gordhan saying, “It’s done,” after a meeting with finance ministers from Brazil, Russia, India and China. Gordhan said leaders would announce details of the bank, but that the finance ministers had made “very good progress”. Members of Brics say global institutions are not changing fast enough to ensure a more equitable global order. Brics nations make up 25% of global GDP and 40% of the world’s population. DM

Photo: Fghters from the Seleka rebel alliance stand guard in front of the presidential palace in Bangui, Central African Republic, March 25, 2013. The leader of rebels in Central African Republic pledged to name a power-sharing government in a bid to defuse international criticism of a coup that killed 13 South African soldiers and has plunged the mineral-rich nation into chaos. Picture taken March 25, 2013. REUTERS/Ange Aboa


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