A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
AUDITOR-GENERAL TO INVESTIGATE ‘GUPTAGATE’ SCANDAL
The Auditor-General, Terence Nombembe, has confirmed his office will investigate the ‘Guptagate’ scandal after the Democratic Alliance asked him to do so. “Parliament cannot shy away from its responsibilities and must complement this investigation with its own inquest into how important state procedures could be so arrogantly abused by one family,” said MP Diane Kohler-Barnard. She said the investigation would determine whether any unauthorised, irregular, or wasteful and fruitless expenditure occurred as a result of the use of state resources by the Guptas. It will also determine the chain of command in the approval of expenditure and use of state resources.
MALEMA ALLIES’ HOUSING TENDERS TO BE RE-ADVERTISED
The Limpopo department of human settlements will re-advertise tenders reportedly worth R900 million that were awarded to allies of expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema. The Star reported the contracts were awarded in December, and that a President Jacob Zuma appointed national intervention team ordered the department to re-advertise the housing tenders. But spokeswoman Dieketseng Diale told Sapa the move was because the tender process had been “clouded by misreporting and malice, rather than by maladministration”. Diale said the department stood by what it said, that the “process was fair, transparent and free. There was no manipulation whatsoever”.
SA’S ONLY TWO COASTAL PATROL BOATS IN DRY DOCK FOR A YEAR
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) says it is able to deal with pollution along coastline even though its patrol vessels have been in a dry dock in Simonstown for over a year. Chief operations officer Sobantu Tilayi told Sapa the authority had found “commercial solutions” to deal with oil pollution if the issue arose. Earlier, Democratic Alliance transport spokesman Ian Ollis said Samsa didn’t have the capacity to keep South Africa “safe from illegal infiltrations via our coastline” or protect the waters and marine life from “drug trafficking and oil spills”. The two patrol vessels in the dry dock carry equipment allowing them to deal with oil spills.
SKILLED CADRES SHOULD BE DEPLOYED TO SOE BOARDS, SAYS GIGABA
Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba says he won’t apologise for deploying ANC cadres to parastatal boards as long as they have the skills for the position. Speaking to the Cape Town Press Club, Gigaba said cadres such as South African Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus and former governor, Tito Mboweni, had the “requisite skills” to run the bank. He admitted that cadre deployment had not worked in many instances, but that this would be avoided in future. Gigaba said the department had asked people to submit their CVs if they were interested in such positions, and had now developed a database of “suitably skilled individuals”. “We have tried to create and lay a firm basis for stability on the boards so that we don’t have massive turnovers, and we assess the boards every year,” he said.
NXESI TAKES ‘BOLD’ CONTROL OF PRESTIGE PROJECTS
The ANC has congratulated public works minister Thulas Nxesi on his “bold and progressive plans” to stabilise the department and fight the fraud and corruption that has plagued it. Nxesi, during his budget vote to parliament, said the department was investigating all “prestige projects”, including the controversial upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’s private home at Nkandla. He said prestige projects, although a “fraction of the mandate of public works” accounted for much of the negative publicity it had attracted. The portfolio had now been centralised and given a new structure with a direct reporting line to the director general, Nxesi said. A number of high-priced projects had been cancelled too.
MADONSELA’S NEW DEPUTY COVERS HIS BACK
Public protector Thuli Madonsela’s new deputy has criticised her to parliament, the Sowetan reports. Kevin Malungu reported wrote a letter to the portfolio committee on justice and constitutional development saying he regretted the “unpleasant altercation” that took place between them and Madonsela. He was referring to an altercation over the extent of her powers between Madonsela and certain members of the committee. Malungu said the views expressed by his boss were “personal” and “do not reflect my views or those of staff at the office of the public protector or any official policy adopted”. He said while the office of the public protector was independent it wasn’t beyond parliamentary oversight.
GAUTENG HEALTH MEC LIABLE FOR R2.8 MILLION DAMAGES
A six-year -old child has been awarded damages of R2.8 million by the High Court in Pretoria. A further R1.2 million award for future loss of earnings is still pending. Doctors at the Charlotte Maxeke in Johannesburg amputated Tembisa Kometsi’s legs in October 2009. Beeld reported that the court found that members of the hospital’s staff were negligent in their monitoring and treatment of the child, as she had become dehydrated. This affected the circulation in her lower leg. Kometsi had been admitted a month earlier after being burnt on the legs and arms by boiling water. Her legs were removed after she developed gangrene. The court found the Gauteng MEC liable for damages.
BISHOP’S HOME RAIDED, LUXURY GOODS SEIZED
A retired bishop from Port Elizabeth has had R2.9 million worth of luxury goods were seized from home by the Asset Forfeiture Unit. eNCA reported that Reverend Samuel Banzana’s home was raided after the Eastern Cape High Court granted the National Prosecuting Authority a protection order, effectively freezing the prominent bishop’s assets. Banzana is being investigated for allegedly accepting kickbacks from a construction company to whom he awarded tenders for RDP houses. Banzana manages the Mzingisi Trust, which was founded by ANC veteran Govan Mbeki. The AFU took possession of three luxury cars and will also seize his home. Banzana has 14 days to respond to the allegations against him. DM
Photo: Julius Malema (REUTERS)
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