Daily Maverick

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

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

TECHNICAL ‘GLITCH’ SAW ANC CHIEF WHIP VOTE ‘NO’ ON SECRECY BILL

The Democratic Alliance wants the national assembly to vote again on the Protection of State Information Bill. Chief whip Watty Watson said that according resulted in his vote being recorded incorrectly as a ‘no’. “If this is indeed the case, then there is the potential that other votes could have been recorded incorrectly,” Watson said. But the office of the chief whip of the ANC has rejected Watson’s call, saying this was “an act of desperation and posturing”. It said “minor technical glitches” do happen and that the DA was “resorting to some futile filibustering expedition with a hope to frustrate a democratic decision of the National Assembly”. Watson is adamant that should Motshekga change his vote “behind closed doors”, it would create “unnecessary suspicion to the parliamentary process which must at all times be open”. He said a re-vote was the only transparent way to do this.

SIMELANE NO ‘LESS OF AN ADVOCATE’

Menzi Simelane has bounced back into a high-level public service job. The former national director of public prosecutions (NDPP) is now a special adviser to public service minister Lindiwe Sisulu, the Sunday Independent reported. The Constitutional Court last year upheld a Supreme Court ruling that President Jacob Zuma’s appointment of Simelane as NDPP was invalid. Simelane told the newspaper the judgment had not ended his “employer-employee relationship with government”. Sisulu’s spokesman said Simelane was employed by the department of justice and constitutional development and seconded to the public service department. Ndivhuwo Mabaya said the “fact that there was a case that was critical of him does not make him less of an advocate”.

TRANSNET PLUNDERED PENSION FUNDS, PENSIONERS CLAIM

Pensioners claim Transnet has plundered R79 billion from their pension funds. The group of 66 000 pensioners have launched a civil claim in the Pretoria High Court, according to Rapport. Lawyers for the pensioners said funds had been stripped in a “conspicuously illegal manner”, discovered when the lawyers had received and analysed the funds’ financial statements. In an affidavit to the court, one of the pensioners claims cabinet minister Jeff Radebe and Trevor Manual were aware of the situation, and had knowledge that it was done to improve Transnet’s balance sheet. The newspaper reported that the funds’ most important assets, acknowledgements of debt worth R7.7bn that generated an annual income of R1.2bn, were “swapped” in early 2001 for MTN shares, known as M-Cell at the time, worth about R1.4bn. But the funds never received income from the M-Cell shares, a lawyer wrote in court papers.

POLICE FOIL CASINO HEIST AT EMPERORS PALACE

A tip off led police to foil an armed robbery at Emperors Palace casino on Sunday morning. Two of the robbers were shot and another 14 arrested, police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said. Another four men are on the run. Police earlier received a tip off that a casino heist was to take place, putting casinos on high alert. Patrols were stepped up in affected areas. Police confronted a group of men at the entrance of the Emperors Palace, and a shootout followed. Dlamini said a stray bullet grazed the head of five-year-old girl inside the casino’s hotel. She was also rushed to a nearby hospital. Three AK-47 assault rifles, four pistols and one revolver were recovered. Netcare 911 paramedics confirmed that three people were injured.

CAR PRIME MINISTER MEETS ZUMA

The prime minister of the Central Africa Republic (CAR), Nicolas Tiangay, has told President Jacob Zuma that ousted president Francois Bozize had “personalised” the bilateral relationship between South Africa and his country. Tiangay, who was appointed by Bozize and retained by the Seleka rebels who seized power in March, said efforts were being made to elevate the relationship between the two countries to “state level”.  “It was not the fault of President Zuma or the government of South Africa. It was because President Bozize was hiding the nature of the relationship between the two countries,” Sapa reported Tiangay as saying. He said the two countries would enter a new chapter and that the relationship would now be “more transparent” for both.

THE HAWKS LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO PETRO SA

The Hawks anti-corruption unit has opened an investigation at state oil company PetroSA, which reported “deviations” in financial procedures that a newspaper said involved millions of dollars of irregular payments. The Mail & Guardian questioned payments made when PetroSA last year secured crude oil acreage in Ghana through the acquisition of Sabre Oil and Gas Holding Ltd. The newspaper alleged “irregular payments” ordered by top PetroSA managers totalling R200 million in what it called a “feeding frenzy” at the oil company, which explores for and produces oil and natural gas. It also sells petrochemical products. “We are investigating PetroSA, but are not at liberty to talk about the nature of the investigation,” Captain Paul Ramaloko, a spokesman for the police’s special anti-corruption unit, the Hawks, told Reuters.

NEWSPAPER CLAIMS JOMO SONO IS PULE ENEMY #1

Communications minister Dina Pule’s mysterious enemy, the force behind what she calls the Sunday Times’ “smear campaign” against her, is soccer legend and businessman Jomo Sono, City Press reports. Earlier, Pule lashed out at the Sunday Times, saying the paper was being used by business forces wanting the  billion rand tender to manufacture set top boxes needed for SA’s migration to digital terrestrial television to blackmail her. But Pule refused to name names. Now the Sunday newspaper says Sono, who owns JomoSono Investments, is the man Pule believes is out to get her, and is one of 36 companies wanting the lucrative tender, which has not yet been issued.

ANC NOT BEHIND PLAN TO REMOVE VAVI

The African National Congress has denied being behind a plan to remove the outspoken secretary general of the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu), says spokesman Jackson Mthembu. “The ANC has not and will not be party to a process that undermines unity within the labour federation,” Mthembu said in a statement. He said it was “utterly untrue” that the ANC had an agenda to remove Vavi from his position. He said divisions “imagined or real” within Cosatu were not in the ANC’s interests as they did not enhance the “struggle of the workers” to achieve a better life”. Mthembu said the ANC would not take sides in Cosatu’s “organisational challenges”. DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma (Greg Marinovich)

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