A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
AMCU ORGANISER SHOT DEAD IN NORTH WEST
North West police have confirmed a regional organiser of trade union Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has been shot dead. Spokesman Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said Steve Khululekile was killed at Billy’s Tavern near Anglo Platinum’s Khomonani mineshaft, Sapa reported. Ngubane said a group of men dressed in blue overalls came into the tavern, where the victim was watching soccer with friends, and shot him four times in the back. UDM president Bantu Holomisa said while tensions between unions, miners and mine owners in the area were common, it was “worrying that this gentleman was expected to testify before the Marikana Commission of Inquiry and it appears that he has been killed to prevent him from doing so”. Holomisa suggested AMCU leadership should apply for “the close protection they are entitled to”.
RAMAPHOSA PUNTS ONE MESSAGE, ONE LEADER FOR ELECTON 2014
Cyril Ramaphosa has told delegates at the Free State ANC’s electoral conference that President Jacob Zuma would lead the ANC’s 2014 election campaign. The ANC deputy president said despite the organisation many involved in the election effort, “We must have one message, and one leader – Jacob Zuma.” Ramaphosa’s remarks came as some analysts speculated that he might replace Zuma as the face of the election in light of the Nkandla spending issue, Guptagate and other scandals that have plagued Zuma and his administration. Ramaphosa called on ANC members to unite ahead of next year’s elections, and to put the province’s residents interests ahead of factional loyalties.
MAGASHULE RETAINS FREE STATE PREMIERSHIP
Free State premier Ace Magashule has been re-elected without any objections being lodged. The ANC in the province reran its elective conference in Welkom this weekend after last year’s effort was declared null and void by the Constitutional Court. A faction of the party had questioned its outcomes. But members unanimously voted for the same candidates as they had in last year’s election. Besides Magashule, the other four top leadership position were also nominated and elected unopposed. They are deputy-chairman Thabo Manyoni, provincial secretary William Bulwana, deputy-secretary Mamiki Qabathe and provincial treasurer Msebenzi Zwane.
DA USING WATERKLOOF DEBATE IN ITS ZUMA ‘VENDETTA’
The ANC in parliament has accused the Democratic Alliance of trying to make the upcoming snap debate on the Gupta’s jet landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base about President Jacob Zuma. In a statement, the office of the ANC chief whip said the DA’s call for Zuma’s presence during this debate was “nothing but arrant nonsense” and said the opposition wanted to “use the topic as a smokescreen to pursue its obsessive vendetta against President Zuma”. The ANC chief whip said the debate was “about the controversial Waterkloof Military airport landing, not about ‘summoning the President to account on the Waterkloof landing’.” DA chief whip Watty Watson in turn said it was “clear that the ANC is losing its enthusiasm to scrutinise the Gupta family’s use of the Waterkloof Air Force base” as it had delayed the debate until 4 June.
GUPTA FAMILY WANTED DIPLOMATIC PASSPORTS
The Gupta family tried to get diplomatic passports issued for brothers Ajay, Atul and Tony, citing the fact that they often travelled with President Jacob Zuma on international trips to promote South Africa. The department of international relations and co-operation, to whom the request was made, denied it. The Sunday Times, which is being sued by the Guptas for R500 million, reported that the Guptas felt they deserved diplomatic passports as their family had invested heavily in South Africa. The newspaper quoted Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, asked if the brothers had the president’s blessing to apply for diplomatic passports, said, “People do not tell the president when they wish to apply for passports”.
POLICE FEAR GANG WAR IN CAPE TOWN
Police fear the outbreak of a gang war in Cape Town after a suspected gangster was shot dead outside the Goodwood Magistrate’s Court. This followed an attempted hit on another man believed to be a high-ranking gang member. The Weekend Argus said an attempt was made on the life of Colin Booysen, brother of Jerome ‘Donkie’ Booysen, believed to be the leader of the Sexy Boys and member of the 26s. Booysen survived the attack. But William Gouws, allegedly a member of the 26s, was gunned down on Friday just before he was about to appear in court on charges of possession of ammunition. Insiders told the newspaper the violence is the result of tension between the 26s and the 28s.
NUM WILL FIGHT AMPLATS PLAN TO CUT 6,000 JOBS
The National Union of Mineworkers says it will oppose Anglo Platinum’s plan to cut 6,000 jobs at its mines. The platinum mining company said earlier this year it planned to shed 14,000 jobs in terms of a review its business and challenges that had eroded profitability. But after an outcry by various stakeholders, revised its proposals “to reduce the number of mining and processing jobs affected to approximately 6,000”. The NUM said it was “highly perturbed” by Amplats’ “decision to bypass the stakeholder meetings scheduled for next week and go ahead with such an announcement,” general secretary Frans Baleni said in a statement. He said the NUM would “do everything within the framework of the law to oppose these retrenchments and is determined to even mobilise for strike to show its disapproval”.
GUPTA PROPERTIES DELIVER MEGA TAX BREAK
The value of the Gupta estate in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, has been devalued significantly, leading to a major tax break for the wealthy family. City Press reported that the property, worth an estimated R26.5 million, was valued for property taxes at less than a third of its worth. According to the newspaper, city valuation records show the valuation of the property has also dropped significantly, by around R3 million, from 2008 when the last citywide valuation was done. Most property owners in Johannesburg are preparing for an increase of at least 5,3% in new taxes. DM
Photo: Cyril Ramaphosa and President Jacob Zuma (REUTERS)
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