South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 17 May 2013

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

WORKERS SUSPEND STRIKE AT AMPLATS, FOR NOW

Miners at Anglo American Platinum have called a temporary halt to a planned strike, saying they will wait and see how the company responds to the issue of job cuts first. Sapa reported workers’ committee spokesman Evans Ramokga said the company was not backing down on retrenchments, and workers had taken it upon themselves to fight. Amplats spokeswoman Mpumi Sithole said management was aware of the issues that had been raised by employees through the media. Government said it was “extremely concerned” about developments at Marikana, acting minister in the presidency, Edna Molewa, told a media briefing. “We are committed to work very hard with the teams in Marikana and throughout the country to bring about stability,” she said.

SA ARMY MISSION READINESS COMPROMISED BY BUDGET CONSTRAINTS

The South African Army’s increased national and continental obligations are being hampered by budgetary constraints, army chief Lieutenant General Vusumuzi Masondo says. Extended periods of deployment, which are above the international norm, had added to the problem. Masondo said such strain on the army’s resources could only be sustained for a “limited period” before its state of mission readiness could be compromised. “Within a limited medium-term budget, we will have to find the means to not only regenerate ourselves, but also to position ourselves to comply with future demands on our resources,” he said.

REPEAL LAWS AGAINST SEX WORK, SAYS CGE

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) says all laws against sex work should be repealed. Commissioner Janine Hicks, speaking at the launch of the organisation’s position on sex work, said decriminalisation was the “only viable approach to promoting and protecting the dignity and rights of sex workers”. The CGE said criminalisation violates certain sections of the Constitution that protect human dignity, freedom of security of the person, and freedom of trade, occupation and profession. Hicks said the point was to remove the abuse of sex workers and the violation of their constitutional rights. Chairman Mfanozelwe Shozi said the view of the CGE would be taken to Parliament, where various committees will debate it.

MORE RHINO POACHERS ARRESTED; MORE RHINO KILLED

Ninety-eight people have been arrested for rhino poaching this year after a further three poachers were arrested in the Kruger National Park over this week.

But while the poaching task team has notched up successes in catching poachers, they haven’t managed to prevent the slaughter of rhinos, with 313 dying this year. The Kruger National Park has lost 13 rhino in the past week, increasing the number of rhino poached in the park since 1 January to 229. SANParks said two poachers were arrested and a third fled during a shootout near Pretoriuskop. He was later found wounded and taken to hospital where another of the alleged poachers is being treated.

CABINET SUPPORTS GUPTAGATE REPORT

Cabinet supports the preliminary report into the landing of the Gupta family’s chartered aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base, acting GCIS spokeswoman Phumla Williams says. She said the “safety and sovereignty of South Africa is of paramount importance” and those violations would be “dealt with firmly and without fear or favour”. In the meantime, public protector Thuli Madonsela said she wouldn’t commit to investigating ‘Guptagate’ yet. She wrote to DA defence spokesman David Maynier, who had requested the investigation, to say she intended requesting  “access to the report so that I can be fully informed of the terms of reference, scope of the investigation, as well as remedies proposed, if any.” She said this would help her exercise discretion “whether or to investigate and which issues to pursue”.

WESCAPE WILL CREATE 200,000 JOBS, SAYS DEVELOPER

The controversial plan to build a multibillion rand housing development near Melkbosstrand outside Cape Town will be sustainable, and will create 200,000 jobs, its developers say. The Argus reported that ARG Design managing director, Alastair Rendall, said it wasn’t just a housing development, but a “about establishing an economy from the word go”. He said the construction of Wescape as well as its administration would create around 200,000 job opportunities.  The proposed development will cost around R140-billion. It is to be built on a 3,100-hectare erf between the Cape Town CBD and Atlantis, which is close to the Koeberg nuclear power station.

VAVI SAYS BIG BUSINESS HAMPERS SMALL BUSINESS

Cosatu secretary Zwelinzima Vavi says big business is an obstacle to the growth of small businesses in South Africa. Speaking to the South African Informal Traders’ Alliance in Kimberley, Vavi said the country was “trapped in an economic structure which we inherited from the days of colonialism and Apartheid”. Vavi said a significant number of informal workers were immigrants, who had come to South Africa in search of work, and were exploited by employers, particularly in the construction, farming and catering industries. “We have to fight relentlessly against such attempts to shift the blame for poverty and unemployment on our fellow African workers and make them scapegoats,” he said, referring to xenophobic attacks on foreigners who are often accused of “stealing” jobs.

CAPE TOWN GOES TO COURT OVER WINELANDS E-TOLL

A lawyer for the City of Cape Town says the South African National Roads Agency Limited has not shown a shred of evidence to prove its proposed winelands tolling project has been properly authorised. Geoff Budlender SC told the Western Cape High Court Sanral had failed to offer any documentation showing its board had come to a resolution on the N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway Project, Sapa reported. He said it was “plainly unlawful” and that Sanral knew it was unlawful. Budlender was arguing for an urgent interdict stopping Sanral from concluding a contract with a toll concessionaire until a court had reviewed the legality of the project. The city wanted a court order forcing Sanral to provide certain documents it had requested on the decision-making process. DM

Photo: Zwelinzima Vavi

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