South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 6 June 2013

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


Workers at one of Impala Platinum’s (Implats) mines have downed tools in an illegal strike, a spokesman for the company said, the latest wildcat action to hit the country. “One person was dismissed because of disciplinary action and his colleagues at the shaft went on strike in sympathy. The shaft didn’t work today,” said Bob Gilmour. He said the walkout was at the No.14 shaft near the restive platinum hub of Rustenburg, where tensions have been simmering amid a vicious turf war between rival unions. More than 50 people died last year in wildcat strikes and violence related to fighting between NUM and the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), which has poached tens of thousands of disgruntled NUM workers.


Public service minister Lindiwe Sisulu says an anti-corruption bureau to be housed in her department will be set up by next month. The bureau will conduct investigations and institute disciplinary proceedings while working with existing law enforcement agencies, such as the SIU and NPA as well as the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and Sars. Sisulu told the portfolio committee on public service the existing bureau was unsuccessful due to a lack of capacity and because it needed legal authority. Sisulu’s legal advisor, Menzi Simelane, said whistleblowers would be protected, and that those who felt threatened could be referred to the police’s witness protection programme.


Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has disputed claims that the city has failed to provide sanitation to residents, saying it has the highest level in the country, with 97.2% having access to sanitation. De Lille said this was despite the fact the city’s population had grown by 30% over the last 10 years. It had spent R131 million on sewerage infrastructure, she said. De Lille’s comments followed a couple of incidents in which protestors threw faeces over the steps of the Western Cape legislature, and at a convoy in which Premier Helen Zille was travelling. Zille’s spokesman, Zak Mabhele, told the Argus this part of the ANC Youth League’s stated intention of making the province ungovernable. But the ANCYL denied being involved, saying it was “disgusted” by the faeces incidents, and that the attacks were not part of a co-ordinated programme.


Deputy public works minister Jeremy Cronin says spending R206 million on upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private home in Nkandla is “clearly outrageous”. Talking to Talk Radio 702 presenter, John Robbie, Cronin said the costs were “clearly hard to justify”. The pubic works department report on its Nkandla investigation is being kept secret, discussed only by the joint standing committee on intelligence. The Democratic Alliance has questioned under what law the report was classified as it had expected it to be tabled in parliament. Cronin said he didn’t think the report was being covered up, but that there “does need to be sensitivity to what might be legitimate security precautions”.


Communications minister Dina Pule’s assertion that businessman Phosane Mngqibisa is not her romantic partner has been disproved. The Sunday Times investigative team responsible for a series of exposes on Mngqibisa and Pule’s relationship and how it impacted on her running of the communications department and the various state owned entities under her purview, reported that official government documents show Pule listing him as her ‘spouse’. Her former boss in the communications ministry, General Siphiwe Nyanda, confirmed to the newspaper the Mngqibisa accompanied Pule on official visits as her spouse. Records show the couple have taken 20 trips together since 2009. Pule accused the newspaper of running a smear campaign against her, and has publically denied on several occasions that Mngqibisa was her partner.


The ANC Youth League’s financial affairs are “shambolic and chaotic”, says ANC secretary general, Gwede Mantashe, in an affidavit. University Events Management, which was contracted to manage the ANCYL’s national congress in Mangaung in 2008, when Julius Malema was elected its president, is liquidating the Youth League. The Johannesburg High Court was told the ANCYL had no assets and no funds to pay its debts. “The respondent at present has no disposable assets and its operations, which are currently limited to auditing its membership and restructuring the chaos, are being funded by the ANC,” Mantashe said. But, he said, the ANC was under no obligation to “take steps to satisfy the judgment debt”.


A father of two children attending the Wilgehof Primary School in the Free State has laid a complaint against it with the Human Rights Commission, the provincial education department and the equality court. His actions have launched investigations into the school’s racist behaviour. Craig Thiem told The Times his children had told him of the racial slurs made by teachers against black pupils. Thiem said on a visit to the school he saw the old South African flag and a poster that depicted black people as baboons. HRC spokesman Isaac Mangena confirmed he had seen the flag and the poster on a surprise visit to the school. “This crushes the stereotype that all white people agree with racism and do not care. There are many of them who are concerned by it,” he said of Thiem’s actions.


Public protector Thuli Madonsela says the public sector needs a “transversal ethics code” rather that different codes of ethics for different departments. Madonsela was addressing an ethics seminar in Parliament. “It will give us a common frame of reference, where everyone will know where to draw the line. Currently people tend to find out that they have crossed the line when told by an oversight body such as my office,” she said. Madonsela said that for ethical misconduct to be addressed, impunity needed to be ended, adding that whistle-blower protection also needed to be strengthened. DM


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