A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
MINERS THREATEN PROTESTS OVER PLANNED AMPLATS JOB CUTS
Anglo American’s platinum arm could announce a restructuring plan that will sharply scale back job losses as it tries to balance out cost cuts and the threat of labour unrest. Anglo American Platinum had planned to slash 14,000 jobs and mothball two mines to pull back to profit but industry sources told Reuters that the final plan would be pared back, with as few as 5,000 jobs cut. Militant labour leaders, who closed mines in protest around the platinum belt city of Rustenburg for a day in January when the plans were first unveiled, have said even a scaled back proposal to cut 5,000 or so jobs would be seen as too many. “Obviously, we will not allow this to happen,” Evans Ramokga, an Amplats miner and activist associated with the militant Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), said.
JULIUS MALEMA’S HOME SOLD FOR R5.9 MILLION
The CEO of Magnified Designs has bought former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema’s half-built Sandown house. Norman Tloubatla paid R5.9 million at an auction for the house, almost double what auctioneers had anticipated, Sapa reported. Auctioneers Bidders Choice had hoped to raise between R2.5 million and R3 million for the three-storey property. The house has a private cinema room, a cigar lounge, a pool and a spa bath, a wine cellar, and a coffee bar. But no fittings, flooring, plumbing or windows have been fitted. Malema’s house was seized by the South African Revenue Service to help offset his R16 million tax bill. He bought the property in 2009 for R3.6 million.
SPEAKER AGREES TO GUPTA DEBATE IN PARLIAMENT
Speaker of the national assembly Max Sisulu has agreed to a parliamentary debate on the controversial landing of an aircraft chartered for a Gupta wedding at Waterkloof Air Force Base. DA chief whip Watty Watson asked Sisulu to approve the debate, as the “abuse of government resources in this scandal has seriously undermined the integrity and security of the state and Parliament”. Watson said this is the first time since the sitting of the second parliament (1999-2004) that the speaker has granted the DA a debate of “public importance”. ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga, said South Africa could not “allow a situation whereby our ports of entry and National Key Points are penetrated with impunity”. The DA urged President Jacob Zuma to “make himself available” for the debate.
GUPTA’S GOVERNMENT GUESTS ATTENDED WEDDING IN PERSONAL CAPACITIES
Government says cabinet members who attended a Gupta family wedding at Sun City last week did so in their personal capacity. Acting GCIS spokeswoman Phumla Williams said several ministers were invited to attend the wedding. “Some ministers attended the wedding while others did not attend,” she said in a statement. The jet carrying guests from India coming to the wedding landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base, sparking a national outcry. A committee comprising directors general is investigating the incident. Williams asked media to “respect the investigation period and allow due processes to be followed”.
RESIDENTS ANGRY OVER ASBESTOS DUMPING PLAN
Residents of De Aar in the Northern Cape are horrified that Transnet plans to dump asbestos near the town. Volksblad reported that Transnet has to remove asbestos from train yards to prevent health problems. It planned to dump 520,000 tons of asbestos, from nine yards, into two grooves and seal them. De Aar residents’ association chairman Charel Marais said the area was 300 metres from the municipal boundary. Mike Asefovitz, Transnet’s spokesman, said the company was following the legal requirements to the letter. But Marais claimed the area has strong winds, and that two wind power plants were planned for the town. He said Transnet could not guarantee asbestos fibre would not be blown into the air.
WILL ANC SHOW OUTRAGE OVER CLOSURE OF 310 EASTERN CAPE SCHOOLS?
The Democratic Alliance says the ANC is “hypocritical” over closure of schools. The party was responding to news that the Eastern Cape government is closing down 310 schools in the province. Mmusi Maimane said the ANC had waged a “calculated campaign” to discredit the DA’s decision to close 20 schools in the Western Cape that was based on “an assessment of the best interests of the learners and the availability of suitable schooling elsewhere in the system”. It was also building 49 new schools. Maimane questioned whether the ANC would be as “vocal about the closure of more than ten times as many schools in the Eastern Cape – a province with a well-documented education crisis”.
LAND INVASIONS PART OF PLOT TO MAKE CITY UNGOVERNABLE
Illegal occupation of private land in Cape Town has grown, says human settlements councillor Tandeka Gqada, a member of the mayoral committee. She said the invasions appeared to be part of a co-ordinated effort to “make the city ungovernable”, Sapa reported. “The City is aware, through our law enforcement and other agencies, that information is being provided to groups of people regarding the location of vacant land which they can attempt to illegally occupy,” she said. Gqada said while the city was “deeply sympathetic” to the plight of residents currently without access to formal housing, it had to protect the rights of the hundreds of thousands of people who have gone through the correct channels in order to be provided with a housing opportunity by the City.”
ESKOM PLANS TO SELL $1 BILLION OF BONDS
Eskom plans to sell more than a $1 billion of bonds this year, Bloomberg News reports. CEO Brian Dames said in an interview at the World Economic Forum for Africa in Cape Town that the state power utility would approach the markets to continue fund-raising. Eskom is in the process of replacing old equipment and expanding capacity to meet increased demand and prevent the blackouts that impacted on business in 2008 at the cost of R500 billion. Bloomberg News said Eskom is selling R60 billion of debt in the next five years to help fund the expansion. DM
Photo: The DA has urged President Jacob Zuma to “make himself available” for a Parliamentary debate on the Guptas. (REUTERS)
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