South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 30 May 2013

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

VAVI SURVIVES CEC TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY

Zwelinzima Vavi has held on to his position as general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu). President of Cosatu, S’dumo Dlamini, told reporters there was “no question that can arise about any of the leaders here”. He was addressing the media after the federation held a central executive committee meeting. Vavi’s future in the federation was in doubt after allegations of corruption were levelled at him. Vavi said it would have been “grossly unfair” to ask him to step down before the investigation into the allegations was completed. Vavi’s accusers say there was corruption involved in the sale of Cosatu’s old building in Johannesburg. Auditing firm Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo had been appointed to do a forensic audit on the building’s sale.

POLICE UNION MARCHES AGAINST LOW WAGES

Members of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) have marched in cities around South Africa. They are protesting against pay grades for administrative staff. The union is demanding that the police service honour an agreement to change their salary grades, and separate career planning for operational and administration staff. In Bloemfontein, a protestor told President Jacob Zuma to talk to police minister Nathi Mthethwa – or lose votes in next year’s election. Popcru protestors in Cape Town marched to the provincial police headquarters in Green Point. Western Cape secretary Mncedisi Mbolekwa said the union would “shut down essential provincial support services”. Marchers accused commissioner Riah Phiyega of “taking our rights from us”.

NPA FIGHTING ‘FACTUALLY INCORRECT’ VERDICT ON BREYTENBACH

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has not accepted the findings of the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing brought against NPA prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach. Acting communications manager Nomilo Mpondo said the findings of chairperson Selby Mbenenge were “factually incorrect and legally unsustainable”. Mpondo said the NPA would “ask the court to review and set aside the findings and replace them with a finding of ‘guilty’ against Breytenbach”. Breytenbach was accused of improper conduct in the mineral rights court dispute between Imperial Crown Trading and Kumba Iron Ore but has always claimed she was suspended over her decision to prosecute the then Crime Intelligence head Richard Mdluli.

HELLENS TO SUE NPA, ICT OVER ‘IMPROPER RELATIONSHIP’ ALLEGATIONS

Johannesburg advocate Mike Hellens SC says he will sue the National Prosecuting Authority and Imperial Crown Trading (ICT) for suggesting that he and NPA prosecutor, Glynnis Breytenbach, had an affair. Breytenbach was yesterday acquitted on all charges levelled against her by her employer, the NPA, in a long-running disciplinary hearing. The NPA and ICT made the allegation that Breytenbach and Hellens had an “improper relationship”. Hellens told Sapa the NPA and ICT would “regret those allegations through their chequebooks”.  “I am a happily married man with a wife, but of course she understands that it’s politics,” he said on Tuesday.

GEPF INVESTS IN JOB CREATION AND ECONOMIC GROWTH

The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) has allocated R13 billion for investment into sectors that boost job creation and contribute to renewable energy, food security and broad-based black economic empowerment. “With more than R1 trillion assets under management, representing a third of the SA GDP, we think it is prudent to invest in projects that contribute to economic growth and job creation. This, we believe, is in the best interest of our investment portfolio in the long term,” said John Oliphant, GEPF principal officer.  GEPF’s long-term developmental investment strategy has allocated 5% of its total assets for investment in commercially viable South African-based projects that will have positive, long-term impacts on development.

SA SAUDI AMBASSADOR IN YEMEN TO HELP FREE HOSTAGES

South Africa’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sadiq Jaffer, has flown to Yemen to try to secure the release of two South Africans kidnapped in the town of Taiz. Spokesman for the department of international relations and co-operation, Clayson Monyela, said the ambassador and his team “are in the region to engage with local authorities and to try to help the two South African citizens”. Sapa reported that the two, a man and a woman, were believed to have been involved in the development of the hotel from which they were kidnapped. Earlier, Agence-France Presse quoted an official as saying the kidnappers were loyal to a local chief, who was involved in a long-running dispute with authorities about a plot of land, and that it was possible the tourists were being used for bargaining.

NUM MUST RECOUP MEMBERSHIP BY MID JULY, OR LOSE LONMIN OFFICES

The Labour Court in Johannesburg has ruled that the National Union of Mineworkers has until mid July to regain its majority at Lonmin’s mines – or lose its offices. Rival union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has overtaken the NUM’s membership, and wants to claim its offices, a privilege awarded to the majority union. NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka said in a statement that the NUM had until 16 July to “recoup its membership at these operations”. Lonmin spokeswoman Sue Vey said the NUM “have several offices at several shafts, and that’s a privilege of the majority union”. Other unions, such as Solidarity, only had one office. Amcu wants recognition rights as a majority union but is currently involved in an arbitration process with Lonmin over a new recognition agreement.

DA DISPUTES MOKONYANE’S UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES

The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng has disputed premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s claim that unemployment in the province has decreased. Spokesman Gavin Lewis said Mokonyane’s statement was a “misleading, and a clever distortion of the truth”. Mokonyane told the provincial legislature that unemployment in Gauteng decreased by nearly 5% between 2011 and 2012. DA research showed that Mokonyane had not used the expanded definition of unemployment, which shows the percentage of people who have given up looking for work. Lewis said the real picture was “far grimmer”, and that unemployment was almost 7% higher than she claimed, and that the “actual number of unemployed people in Gauteng is almost half a million, or 481,000 more than when she took office in the second quarter of 2009”. DM

Photo: Zwelinzima Vavi (Daily Maverick)

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