South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 10 April 2013

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

SANDF HAS LEFT CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

There are no more South African National Defence Force troops left in the Central African Republic, spokesman Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga says.

“All the SANDF personnel who were still in the CAR have been withdrawn and are back home safe and are receiving all the professional support they require,” he said in a statement. Responding to reports that more SANDF soldiers were killed than the 13 South Africa claimed, Mabanga said there were “no bodies or personnel of the SANDF that cannot be declared”. Mabanga said despite being outnumbered by rebels, the SANDF stood its ground. “The SANDF does not pride itself on the numbers of opposing forces it has killed but prides itself on the respect it commands from its opposing forces.” He said reports from various sources showed between 600 and 1000 were killed on the opposing side.

GORDHAN PRAISES RESERVE BANK FOR BALANCED DECISIONS

Finance minister Pravin Gordhan has praised the Reserve Bank, saying it has done well to balance economic growth and the need to create jobs in its policy decisions. Speaking at a Reuters investment summit, Gordhan said the Reserve Bank had “been careful about balancing perceived risks on the one hand with the necessity to support the economy on the other hand. Let’s see what the next few months bring”. It left the repo rate at a historic low of 5% last month, but the OECD has said the bank has room to loosen policy further to stimulate the South African economy after a sluggish recovery from a 2009 recession. Gordhan also said he saw “no immediate danger” to the foreign portfolio flows into local bonds which have helped plug a current account deficit of more than 6% of gross domestic product.

TWO CHINESE SUPSECTS IN PERLEMOEN CASE SKIP BAIL

Two Chinese nationals facing charges of perlemoen smuggling are wanted by Interpol after skipping bail and leaving South Africa. The Cape Times reported that Yu-Chen Chao was given permission by the Western Cape High Court to attend the Chinese New Year – in China. He subsequently forfeited his R100,000 bail by not returning to Cape Town. A co-accused, Yen-Chang Ku, was released on R40 000 bail a few years ago and apparently left the country in December 2008. Eric Ntabazalila, spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority in Cape Town told the newspaper Chao had been warned to provide the investigating officer in the case with an alternative address for when he was in China and he had agreed. The two are among 19 people accused of being involved in a perlemoen-smuggling syndicate, with more than 100 charges against them.

PUBLIC WORKS DENIES NOT GIVING MADONSELA NKANDLA DOCUMENTS

The department of public works has denied it has failed to hand over key documents relating to the public protector Thuli Madonsela’s investigation into the development of President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla. Spokesman Sabelo Mali said the department had co-operated with the office of the public protector at all times. Now the public protector’s spokesman, Oupa Segalwe has clarified an earlier statement in which he said the investigation had been hampered by delays in delivery of crucial document. Segalwe told IOL he’d never said the public works was the department responsible for the delay. “We need to correct that. We are still waiting for the state, and the documents are not from them. We are in no position to say which department,” he said.

HUMAN SETTLEMENTS ISN’T MINDING THE GAP HOUSING SCHEME

Security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private home at Nkandla have cost more than what the department of human settlements has spent on Zuma’s promised Gap Market Housing Scheme. It has only assisted 274 households and spent a mere R70 million. The scheme, announced in Zuma’s 2012 State of the Nation Address, is meant to help those earning between R3,500 and R15,000 a month to get credit to buy houses. Stevens Mokgalapa, DA spokesperson on human settlements, said this “represents a serious lack of priority by government on alleviating poverty and helping those in desperate need of state assistance, and inadvertently sends the message to South Africans that one man is more important than the millions of South Africans who lack decent housing”.

KARABUS CASE IN UAE DELAYED – AGAIN

Prosecutors in Abu Dhabi have caused another setback to Professor Cyril Karabus’s attempt return home to South Africa from the United Arab Emirates. UAE prosecutors said they would appeal against a court decision to acquit Karabus on charges of manslaughter. The Argus reports that the case was postponed on Tuesday for another two weeks after the prosecution failed to bring a medical translator to court, a move Karabus’ lawyer, Michael Bagraim, called a “delaying tactic”. Karabus has been in the UAE for over seven months. “We simply do not understand if there was something that had upset them or whether they just do not like losing. We just do not know what is behind this,” Bagraim said. The SA Medical Association said it was calling for a global boycott of doctors and health personnel of the UAE and other countries violating the human rights of health-care workers.

SADTU GO-SLOW A ‘STRIKE IN DISGUISE’

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union’s ‘go-slow’ is in effect an illegal strike, the Democratic Alliance says. Spokesman Annette Lovemore said in terms of the Employment of Educators Act and their conditions of service, teachers were obligate to work more than seven hours a day. Refusing to do so was “tantamount to declaring the withholding of labour, and thus constitutes the declaration of a strike”. Lovemore said while Sadtu’s three given reasons for the go-slow – a breakdown in the collective bargaining process, their demand for minister Angie Motshekga to resign and opposition to a biometric attendance monitoring system – had “merits and demerits, non affected the conditions of service for teachers. She said Motshekga should pursue court action to ensure the “strike in disguise” comes to an end.

SA CALLS FOR END TO NUCLEAR ARMAMENT ON KOREAN PENINSULA

South Africa is “deeply concerned” over the situation on the Korean Peninsula. International relations and co-operation deputy minister Ebrahim Ebrahim repeated South Africa’s call for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. “We believe that peaceful reconciliation of conflict situations is best addressed through inclusive political dialogue. We believe that in the long term, a political solution carries greater weight than a military solution,” he told a media briefing. North Korea is angry over UN sanctions after its last nuclear arms test in February. Ebrahim said South Africa valued the central role of the UN and its agencies in the settlement of international and national disputes. DM

Photo: Finance minister Pravin Gordhan (REUTERS)

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