South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 6 May 2013

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

ZUMA URGES CO-OPERATION IN GUPTA WEDDING AIRCRAFT INVESTIGATION

President Jacob Zuma has urged all parties involved in the Gupta aircraft affair to “co-operate fully with the investigation”. To date, nine officials and members of the South African Police Service have been suspended over the landing of an A330 Airbus aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base on Tuesday. It was ferrying guests to a wedding hosted by the Gupta family, close friends of Zuma. The Presidency stressed that the investigation should not impact on the good relationship between India and South Africa. Justice minister Jeff Radebe there was no “executive authority” granted for the landing of the aircraft.

GUPTA FAMILY ISSUE ‘GENERAL APOLOGY’ OVER WEDDING SCANDALS

The Gupta family have issued “a general apology to all affected, including the South African and Indian governments, the local authorities, the South African public and especially our guests” over a number of incidents that took place during a family wedding in the country. Atul Gupta said the family was simply trying to give niece Vega Gupta a “memorable wedding on South African soil”. The apology followed a major scandal over the wedding plane landing at Waterkloof military base, allegations of racism by guests, and an alleged sexual assault on a masseuse by a guest. It has led to a major diplomatic incident between South Africa and India. The Guptas said they “regret any incidents at the Sun City venue of which the family was unaware. The allegations of racism regarding the staff are definitely untrue”.

NW COSATU THREATEN MASS ACTION OVER GUPTA GUESTS’ RACISM

Wedding guests at the Gupta wedding at the Palace of the Lost City hotel in Sun City have been accused of racism after they allegedly asked not to be served by African staff. City Press newspaper reported that white bodyguards employed by the Guptas prevented black staff from entering guests’ rooms. Sun City staff said the bodyguards were told to supply them with toothpaste, toothbrushes and towels to clean themselves before entering guests’ rooms. The Gupta family have denied the claims, saying they were “definitely untrue”. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the North West was outraged by the claims, and is threatening mass action against the Guptas and Sun International.

SIU DELIVERS REPORT ON SABC TO ZUMA

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has handed over its report on the SABC to President Jacob Zuma, reports the Sunday Independent.  The report could see former SABC bosses face criminal charges. The report is one of 20 given to Zuma to sign off, and a further 16 are du to be given to the president by the end of the month. Several reports have implicated former SABC bosses in alleged irregular, fraudulent and corrupt deals at the public broadcaster since 2005. Other reports delivered include the investigation into the Department of Correctional Services, which started in 2002. The SIU has been criticized over the time it takes to complete investigations.

MCBRIDE FREE, BUT OWES A FORTUNE IN LEGAL FEES

Robert McBride is a free man, but is imprisoned by a huge debt. The former Ekurhuleni metro police chief told City Press he is “heavily indebted” and owes “lots of people money”. The six-year-long court case in which McBride was accused of drunk driving has cost over R1.75 million in legal fees. The North Gauteng High Court on Friday refused the National Prosecuting Authority leave to appeal McBride’s acquittal. He told the newspaper it was “good to win, especially when you know it’s a personal issue against you and not a matter of law”. He said the real story behind his case was that the South African Police Service was involved in violent crime. He denied he was drunk, as he is diabetic.

MTHEMBU DENIES ANC VIST TO MANDELA WAS IN BAD TASTE

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu has strong words over accusations that the party used a visit to former president Nelson Mandela to brush up its public image. He told the Sunday Times it was “bullshit” and that the world needed to see Mandela. President Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa and party chairwoman Baleka Mbete made a highly publicised visit to Mandela, who was shown looking blankly at the camera, and closing his eyes as a camera flash goes off. Grandson Mandla Mandela told the newspaper family members who allowed the visit should be held accountable as “people allowed it to happen”. Mandela’s oldest daughter Makaziwe said the footage was “undignified and in bad taste”.

NEW DA YOUTH LEADER WANTS TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY

The Democratic Alliance’s youth wing has a new federal chair. Mbali Ntuli was elected leader at the DA Youth’s conference in Johannesburg in what Anchen Dreyer, deputy federal chairperson of the Democratic Alliance, called a “tightly contested” and “robust election”. The KwaZulu-Natal based Ntuli, a young businesswoman with her own events company and owner of two taxis inherited from her father as well as a degree in social science, told City Press she believes the DA needed to be “a bit punchier as a party. We should be discussing hard issues like marijuana, drugs, alternative housing solutions”. She said South Africa was “stuck as a country in doing things the same way. What we need is something different.”

PULE BACKTRACKS ON ACCUSATIONS AGAINST SUNDAY TIMES

As a parliamentary probe into communications minister Dina Pule‘s role in an ICT Indaba takes place behind closed doors, the minister is alleged to have retracted her claims that “handlers” were using the Sunday Times to discredit her. The Mail & Guardian reported that while she has not apologised to the newspaper, as demanded by editor Phylicia Oppelt, Pule’s lawyer Ronnie Bokwa approached the newspaper to broker an “armistice”. Oppelt challenged the minister to prove her allegations, or apologise. Pule failed to arrive at the peace meeting, sending deputy-director general Themba Phiri to apologise on her behalf. Pule also face an investigation by the public protector, and another by the police looking in to allegations of corruption against her.

NO DEMINERS MISSING IN SENEGAL, SAYS DIRCO

The department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) has denied that 12 South African deminers have been kidnapped in Senegal, Sapa reported. Spokesman Clayson Monyela said reports coming out of Senegal were “untrue”. German news agency, DPA, quoting a Senegalese agency, said 12 employees of Mechem went missing on Friday, and thought to have been kidnapped in the Casamance region. It said authorities were trying to secure their release, but said it was not clear who could be behind the kidnapping. The Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC) has been fighting for independence in Casamance since 1982 and has banned the clearing of mines in the area. DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma has urged all parties involved in the Gupta aircraft affair to “co-operate fully with the investigation”. (Greg Marinovich)

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