South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 24 May 2013

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


President Jacob Zuma has urged officials not to “succumb to pressure from name-droppers”. He said it was “unfortunate that some officials and members of the public would resort to that practice of using and abusing the names of Members of Cabinet in this manner to further their own ends, as alleged”. Zuma was finally responding to reports that his friends, the Gupta family, used his name to secure permission to land a private jet at Waterkloof Air Force Base carrying guests to a family wedding. “We call for vigilance and urge all our officials who are entrusted with managing state institutions not to succumb to pressure from name-droppers. They should immediately report to their superiors and to law enforcement agencies, anyone who behaves in this manner,’’ Zuma said.


The Phalaborwa Magistrate’s Court has given three farmers accused of the attempted murder of a suspected rhino poacher bail of R3,000 each, Sapa reported. Limpopo police spokeswoman Captain Ronel Otto said police were told a suspected rhino poacher with horns was arrested on a farm in Gravelotte. She said three men – PP Mare, Chris Naude and Johannes van Zyl – had tied up the man and put him in an open van. The man’s legs and arms were tied and he had a “serious” open wound on his head, Otto said. But investigations showed that “no rhino horn nor any carcass of dead rhino were found on the farm”, nor did police find the  “instruments used to shoot and dehorn rhino” in the man’s possession.  The men were immediately arrested for murder.


President Jacob Zuma has warned against wildcat strikes, saying this kind of industrial action was “hardly the way to advance the interests of marginalised sections of our people”. He said workers  “should demand better salaries and working conditions” but “not wreck the economy”. Speaking in the National House of Traditional Leaders, Zuma told traditional leaders to engage with workers to help them understand the consequences of their actions. He said the “tension in the industry will not help the economy” and could “ impoverish our country”. He said workers had the right to strike but said, “The question is how do you do it? Do we do it to make others lose their jobs, or do we do it so that others can get more jobs?”


The Monetary Policy Committee [MPC] has kept the repo rate unchanged at 5%. “MPC is ready to act appropriately in either direction in the event of material changes in the outlook,” said Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus. The MPC said it was increasingly concerned about the South African economy’s deteriorating outlook including issues that are contributing to the vulnerability of the economy such as the fractious labour relations environment and the associated risks of protracted work stoppages and excessive wage increases and electricity supply constraints among others. “The increasingly fraught labour relations environment, and high wage demands in the mining sector in particular, are likely to continue to impact adversely on the volume of mining exports against a backdrop of falling international commodity prices and concerns about the widening of the current account deficit of the balance of payments,” Marcus said.

South Africa’s credit ratings could be affected by these developments.


Platinum producer Lonmin and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) have failed to finalise a deal making AMCU the majority union at the mine. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, which facilitated the negotiation process, has issued a certificate of non-resolution. Acting chief executive of Lonmin, Simon Scott, said the mine was “disappointed that we have been unable to find common ground but remain hopeful that the dispute will be resolved, which is in all of our interests”. Talks have now been referred to arbitration. AMCU represents around 70% of Lonmin’s employees.


Public service and administration minister Lindiwe Sisulu agrees the public service is “bloated” and “needs to be pruned”. Speaking at a media briefing on the department’s budget vote, Sisulu said an audit of public service structures had discovered shocking levels of unfunded posts. Sisulu said these were positions indicated on organograms that shouldn’t exist. This led to a “great deal of dysfunctionality”, she said, adding that an estimated R8 billion could be saved by cutting unfunded posts alone. Sisulu said the department planned to go through all provinces and “clean out these extraneous members on our system and actually reflect people who have a particular purpose to serve and where the funding exists to do it”.


The Democratic Alliance believes a report on the ‘Guptagate’ affair was “deliberately and cynically withheld from the opposition ahead of the debate [on the issue] in Parliament”. Defence spokesman David Maynier said justice minister Jeff Radebe did this to “disarm” the opposition. Maynier said the report into how a private jet chartered by the Gupta family for a wedding in South Africa was able to land at Waterkloof Air Force Base highlighted the need for an independent investigation. He said its conclusions needed to be evaluated. To that end, the DA had requested copies of statements made to the team by witnesses.


The South African National Defence Force trained some members of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebels, the Mail & Guardian reported. The chief director for Southern Africa at the department of international relations and co-operation, Edward Xolisa Makaya, told the parliamentary oversight committee the SANDF had trained three military battalions over the years and that police trained several officers in the DRC. The SANDF is about to be deployed to the eastern DRC as part of a United Nations intervention brigade mandated to fight the rebels. M23 has threatened “lethal force” against the troops. “”It’s of concern to us that reports from some of the battalions we trained are that some of the soldiers [previously trained by the SANDF] are part of the M23,” the M&G reported Makaya as saying. “There’s nothing we can do. We train as requested and now we are going to be training another 4,000 new recruits within the provision of our bilateral provision with that country.” DM

Photo: Members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) return after taking part in a Capability Demonstration at the Roodewal Bombing Range in Makhado, in the northern province of Limpopo, May 9, 2013. The South African National Defence Force trained some members of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s M23 rebels, the Mail & Guardian reported. (REUTERS)



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