A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
SECRECY BILL PASSED BY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
The National Assembly in Parliament has voted in favour of the controversial Protection of State Information Bill, with 189 votes in favour, 74 against and one abstention. Critics say the bill will gag the media and allow state corruption to flourish. State security minister Siyabonga Cwele said the bill would “strengthen democracy while balancing transparency and protecting our national security and national interests”. But media, rights groups and civil society believe it will be used to persecute whistle-blowers and stop the press from exposing government corruption and wasteful spending. DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said, “Bad governance thrives under the cloak of darkness. Those who have nothing to hide have nothing to fear”. She said the DA would lobby other opposition parties to challenge the bill in the Constitutional Court.
WITS LAUNCHES TWO INVESTIGATIONS INTO SEXUAL HARASSMENT
The Wits Council has taken steps to deal with a spate of sexual harassment allegations levelled at academic staff working at the university. Saki Macozoma, chairman of the Council, said law firm Bowman Gilfillan had been tasked with investigating specific cases while the second investigation is a campus-wide inquiry into sexual harassment. The head of the Centre of Applied Legal Studies, Professor Bonita Meyersfeld and Joe Mothibi from Norton Rose are leading this inquiry. Macozoma said the university had resolved “unequivocally” redouble its efforts to ensure there was a “zero tolerance” approach to sexual harassment across the campus.
DA YOUTH ACCEPTS MANAMELA’S CHALLENGE TO A DEBATE
The Democratic Alliance has accepted a challenge thrown down by Young Communist League leader and MP, Buti Manamela, to debate the party’s Know Your DA campaign, the NDP and economic policies. DA Youth federal chair, Mbali Ntuli, welcomed the challenge, but said she would “add to the debate agenda our concerns with the watering down of the Youth Wage Subsidy, and how the government’s new Youth Employment Accord undermines the fight against youth unemployment”. Manamela earlier issued an invitation to DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, to debate him on a range of subjects. Manamela said Mazibuko and DA leader Helen Zille had “drawn an extensive parallel between the ANC and the National Party government as part of a very opportunistic campaign to discredit the governing party and therefore score some political points”.
JUDGE MOTATA TO FACE JUDICIAL CONDUCT TRIBUNAL
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng has appointed a Judicial Conduct Tribunal to investigate and report on AfriForum’s complaint of racial misconduct against Judge Nkola Motata. AfriForum CEO Kallie Kriel said the organisation welcomed the decision by the JSC as “a victory for everyone in the country who does not want to see the integrity of the judiciary undermined”. The Tribunal will investigate and report on Motata’s conduct during an incident in January 2007 when he crashed his car into a garden wall of a residence in Johannesburg while under the influence of alcohol, after which he had made racially offensive remarks about whites, which was recorded. During Motata’s drunk driving trial in the Johannesburg Magistrates Court, the magistrate said the recording was accepted by the court as evidence that Motata had made racial slurs and insults, and had said “F … you” at least 10 times.
TOURIST NUMBERS UP FOR SOUTH AFRICA
Over nine million tourists visited South Africa in 2013, President Jacob Zuma says. Zuma announced the annual tourism statistics in Cape Town, before going on a walkabout around the V&A Waterfront. Zuma said 9,188,368 tourists stayed in the country, a 10% increase from the 8,339,354 in 2011. “This phenomenal tourism growth is evidence that we are successfully setting ourselves apart in a competitive marketplace and that South Africa’s reputation as a friendly, welcoming, inspiring, and unique tourism destination continues to grow,” Zuma said. Growth from the overseas market increased by 15%, with the United Kingdom still SA’s biggest overseas tourism market. Arrivals from China have tripled, and numbers from India have doubled.
GORDHAN: GOVERNMENT NEEDS VALUE FOR ITS MONEY
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan believes government spending should produce better quality results. Speaking at a public lecture at the University of Johannesburg, Gordhan said South Africa had one of the biggest education budgets in the world and questioned why we are not getting “getting the quality outcomes that we require”. He said the same was true for the healthy system. He said part of creating a capable state as described in the government’s National Development Plan was to produce university graduates who understood “what it means to deliver value for money”. Gordhan said it was a growing problem among developing nations that individuals tried to benefit from the state.
DA THROWS PAIA AND PUBLIC PROTECTOR AT AGRICULTURE MINISTER
The Democratic Alliance intends using a Promotion of Access to Information submission to find out just what agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Petterssen’s R10-million worth of food parcels distributed during the Western Cape farm strikes contained – and whether they were actually delivered. Agriculture spokeswoman Annette Steyn said replies to parliamentary questions on the agriculture department’s role in last year’s strikes had raised more questions. Joemat-Pettersson told parliament the department paid R4.1 million to Black Association of Wine and Spirits Industry (BAWSI) – the organisation at the forefront of the Western Cape farm unrest – before the strikes began. Steyn said she would request the public protector also investigate this funding.
RHINO POACHERS ARRESTED, BUT MORE RHINO DIE
While 78 rhino poachers have been arrested since the beginning of the year, this has had little impact on the number of rhino killed, which now number 249. The
Kruger National Park remained the hardest hit, with the number of rhino poached since last week increasing from 167 to 180. A total of 21 rhino were poached in the North West, 18 in KwaZulu-Natal, 17 in Limpopo and 13 in Mpumalanga, according to the department of environmental affairs. Minister Edna Molewa welcomed the recent arrests and the prosecution of individuals linked to rhino poaching, saying the handing down of stiffer sentences to poachers and the seizure of assets of poaching accused should serve as a message to potential poachers that everything possible will be done to ensure the protection of South Africa’s rhino population. DM
Photo: Pravin Gordhan (REUTERS)
"Man is by nature a political animal" ~ Aristotle