A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
DOCTORS KEEPING MANDELA COMFORTABLE
Doctors are doing everything possible to ensure former President Nelson Mandela is being kept comfortable, President Jacob Zuma says. He and ANC deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa, visited Mandela in hospital, speaking to his doctors and his wife, Graca Machel. “Given the hour, he was already asleep. We saw him, looked at him and then we had a bit of a discussion with the doctors and his wife,” Zuma said. “I don’t think I’m a position to give further details. I’m not a doctor.” Zuma said South Africans had to accept that Madiba is “now old” and that “as he ages, his health will trouble him”, said Zuma. Mandela’s deterioration this weekend, two weeks after being admitted in a serious but stable condition with a lung infection, has caused a perceptible switch in mood from prayers for recovery to preparations for a fond farewell.
OBAMA VISIT STILL ON TRACK DESPITE MANDELA’S HEALTH
President Jacob Zuma has dismissed suggestions that US President Barack Obama could cancel his visit to South Africa while Nelson Mandela remains critically ill in hospital, the Daily Telegraph reported. Obama, his wife and two daughters are expected on Friday. Zuma told a media conference, “I would imagine if there was such a visit and somebody fell sick, I don’t think I would stop such a visit”. He said Mandela had been ill for quite a while. “If you stopped that visit, people would ask questions,” Zuma said. A spokesman for the US Embassy in Pretoria told the newspaper they were continuing to prepare for Obama’s visit. He said the US president and first lady were keeping Mandela in their thoughts and prayers.
ZUMA: OBAMA WON’T BE SURPRISED BY PROTESTS AGAINST HIS VISIT
President Barack Obama won’t be surprised by protests against his South African visit, says President Jacob Zuma. Addressing the South African National Editors’ Forum, Zuma said peaceful protests were allowed and were a legitimate way, in a democracy, to express people’s different views. But he admitted it was “unfortunate” to welcome a guest to South Africa in this manner, BDLive reported. Some trade unions, political parties and civil society bodies have condemned Obama’s visit, saying he was “unwelcome” and that protests and pickets by “peace loving” would take place.
KING OF MANDELA’S CLAN FLAYS ANC
An Eastern Cape king has slated the ANC, calling members of the party “corrupt hooligans” who ate out of the Gupta’s dustbins. AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo told a people attending a prayer service in Qunu, “Zuma’s leadership is distorting Madiba’s leadership; it’s distorting the ANC’s leadership.” Former president Nelson Mandela is a member of the AbaThembu clan. ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said the king had “no right” to insult Zuma and accused him of abusing his position. ”He can’t insult a head of state and then demand to be respected in return,” Mthembu said.
COMPETITION COMMMISSION SETTLES WITH CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES
The Competition Commission has reached a settlement with 15 construction companies accused of collusive tendering. The Commission said the companies had agreed to the penalties in terms of the “construction fast-track settlement process”, which was designed to encourage firms to make full and honest disclosures on bid rigging. In return, the Commission agreed to penalise them less than what it would have should they proceeded with prosecution of the cases. Over 300 cases of bid rigging came to light during the process. The firms were fined a collective R1.46 billion. The three firms that did not accept the settlement offer were: Group 5, Construction ID, and Power Construction.
SALOOJEE NO LONGER EMPLOYED BY DIRCO; BUT WHERE’S REPORT?
Ambassador Yusuf Saloojee’s contract with the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) has not been renewed. Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told DA defence spokesman, David Maynier, Saloojee’s contract had not been renewed when it expired in December. Saloojee was accused of having taken a bribe of around $200,000 from cellphone giant, MTN, linked to the operator’s attempt to buy a mobile operating license in Iran. But a report resulting from an internal investigation by MTN said no bribe had been paid to Saloojee. Maynier said Dirco’s own report into the allegations had not been made public. “We have to be sure that Ambassador Salooojee was not let off the hook by Dirco and given an easy way out when his contract expired on 31 December 2012,” Maynier said.
ANC LEADER IN KZN SHOT DEAD
Another ANC politician in Durban has been shot dead. Branch leader Sithembiso Ngidi, an executive member of the ward 75 Jacobs area branch, was shot yesterday afternoon after he took part in a door-to-door election campaign in Lamontville township, Sapa reported. Party spokesman Bongani Mthembu said the ANC was shocked by the attack and called on law enforcement agencies to ensure the perpetrators were successfully prosecuted. “Ngidi was one of the hard-working cadres of our movement and his experience as a branch leader entrenched him in communities which he served with distinction,” Mthembu said.
PULE TO APPEAL PRESS OMBUD RULING IN FAVOUR OF SUNDAY TIMES
The communications department is “outraged” by the Press Ombudsman’s decision to dismiss its complaint against the Sunday Times. The department said it would apply for leave to appeal against the ombud’s decision to dismiss all three of Minister Dina Pule’s complaints. “The Press Ombudsman’s decision is unfortunate and cannot go unchallenged,” it said. Ombud Johan Retief said in his ruling he could find “no trace of evidence that the newspaper has lost its independence in favour of the [Democratic Alliance], or that it could justifiably be accused of unethical behaviour in this matter”. He also dismissed Pule’s complaint against editor Phylicia Oppelt. The communications department said Retief’s rulings set “a very dangerous precedent for the South African media”. DM
Photo: Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous
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