South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 20 May 2013

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

NUM WAGE DEMANDS DRIVES RAND DOWN

Big wage hikes demanded by the National Union of Mineworkers, the ANC-allied trade union in South Africa’s coal and gold industries, has helped push the rand to a four-year low, highlighting the ripple effect of the prospect of more turmoil in the industry. The NUM has called for pay rises of up to 60%, a move that has rattled mining investors after wildcat strikes at platinum and gold mines killed 50 people and cost billions in lost output last year. Opponents say government and the mainstream NUM have neglected the rights of workers and sided with mine bosses, a charge they both deny. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, a former top NUM official, defended the NUM, saying that “recent attacks” on it were akin to an attack on the ruling party’s alliance with its labour allies.

ANC NEC DISCUSSES STATE OF THE UNIONS

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe says the party’s National Executive Committee has discussed the state of the trade union movement. He said the meeting had “noted that the recent attacks on NUM and Satawu”. Mantashe told reporters at a post-NEC media briefing that employers should not be biased in favour of one union or another and that “in any area where there is more than one union in a company, all of them must play according to rules”. Mantashe was referring to the escalating tension between rival unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu). Amcu, now the dominant union in the platinum belt, wants the NUM to move out of its offices. Mining company Lonmin said it was in the process of recognising Amcu after “significant changes” in union membership.

WATERKLOOF REPORT OVERLOOKS REAL ISSUE, SAYS CORRUPTION WATCH

CEO of Corruption Watch, David Lewis, says justice minister Jeff Radebe’s ‘name-dropping proposal’ overlooks the real issue that led to the Gupta wedding plane landing at Waterkloof Air Force Base. Lewis said the incident “speaks to a serious breakdown in administration at the highest level”. He asked how South Africans were expected to accept “that if a violation of security of this dimension could have been secured by misrepresentation, that the same does not occur in the issuing of licences or tenders or in the range of administrative decisions that are taken on a daily basis by public officials in their engagement with well-resourced private parties and firms.” Lewis said this reflected “the level of mistrust that acts of corruption of this scale generates”.

A SCHOOL FOR GOVERNMENT BY GOVERNMENT

A school of government will create passionate, professional public servants, says public service minister Lindiwe Sisulu. She said government had revived its plan to train officials, including directors general, who would have to pass the school’s exams before taking up their positions. Sisulu said she was “pleasantly surprised” that public service unions had agreed to a compulsory induction course for all public servants. Sisulu said all 1.6 million employees who will belong to the single public service would need to be retrained. The Single Public Service Bill, which had been eight years in the making, will be tabled this week. Its aim is to create a uniform public service through the three tiers of government. The school will be launched in October.

MANDELA DAUGHTERS SUE FOR CONTROL OF HIS ARTWORKS, MONEY

Zenani and Makaziwe Mandela are suing their father for control of his artworks and his money. The Star newspaper reported that former president Nelson Mandela’s daughters will fight a Johannesburg High Court order that in 2004 ordered his then-lawyer, Ismail Ayob, to stop managing his financial, legal and personal affairs. Billy Chuene, Mandela’s current lawyer, last week filed an affidavit in response to the lawsuit brought by the sisters, who are represented by Ayob. The newspaper reported that Chuene and fellow directors of three Mandela companies and a Trust, George Bizos and Tokyo Sexwale had in 2011refused to release the trust’s money to the daughters without a legal justification.

TWO ARRESTED FOR SHOOTING CAPE TOWN SCHOOLBOY

Two men have been arrested for the murder of killing Cape Town schoolboy Enrico Martin. Wilston Stoffels, 18, and Jevon Snyman, 19, have appeared in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on charges of murdering Martin. He was shot last week and later died at Groote Schuur Hospital. The accused alleged dressed in school tracksuit top and approached Martin as he entered the gates of Spes Bona school. One of them shot him in the head. Spokesman for the National Prosecuting Authority in the Western Cape, Eric Ntabazalila, said the two men would return to court next week after information on bail had been gathered.

ESKOM SERE WIND FARM AWARDED LICENSE

South Africa’s national energy regulator has granted Eskom a license for its Sere wind farm in a move expected to pave the way for construction of the R2.4 billion project to go ahead. “Sere is our first large-scale renewable energy project. It demonstrates our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and to investing in a sustainable energy future,” said Brian Dames, Eskom’s chief executive.  The wind farm, in the Vredendal area of the Western Cape, is expected to generate up to 100 MW of power for the national grid, avoiding nearly 4.7-million tonnes of carbon emissions over 20 years. The Seres wind farm will be completed by the end of 2014 and is being funded by a group of development finance institutions.

POLICE INVESTIGATE DEATHS OF 27 INITIATES IN MPUMALANGA

Mpumalanga police are investigating the deaths of 27 boys attending initiation schools in the province. Spokesman Colonel Leonard Hlathi said 26 of these were being investigated as murders and one remained an inquest. Hlathi said police were awaiting the results of post mortems on the youths. “It’s not a question of arresting currently. It’s a question of effectively investigating these cases,” Hlathi told Sapa. He said once information was collected, it would be presented to the National Prosecution Authority, which would decide how to proceed. Provincial community safety, security, and liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe said someone needed to be held responsible for the deaths of the boys. He said indications were that initiates had died as a result of excessive bleeding and dehydration. DM

Photo: Gwede Mantashe

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