A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.
LONMIN, AMCU SIGN RECOGNITION ACCORD
Platinum producer Lonmin and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) have signed a recognition accord in a move that averts threatened strike action by the union. Members of Amcu, which claims over 70% of Lonmin’s workforce, have twice this year staged brief illegal strikes at the company and had threatened to down tools again unless the company recognised it as the dominant union. “I’m delighted to announce the signing of our recognition agreement … This is key to achieving peace, stability and prosperity for all, which will enhance our recent operational performance,” new chief executive Ben Magara said in a statement.
PAGAD LEADER ARRESTED ON EVE OF ANTI-DRUG MOTORCADE
Police in Cape Town have arrested the national co-ordinator of People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad). Abdus Salaam Ebrahim was arrested in a dawn raid, according to the Cape Argus. Pagad spokesmen Cassiem Parker said police are holding him at the Gugulethu police station. The arrest took place on the eve of Pagad’s fourth so-called ‘Motorcade Awareness Campaign Against Gangsterism and Drugs’ the purpose of which are to raise awareness of drugs and drug dealing in certain areas. “If this arrest is an attempt to stop us then it will not work… it will intensify our efforts,” Parker said. Two bombs went off at a house and a car dealership in Athlone the last time Pagad protested in the area but it has denied involvement. Ebrahim was released on parole in 2008 after being jailed for a series of urban terror attacks in the 1990s.
SHABANGU BUILDING GOES ‘FOR A SONG’
Roux Shabangu’s “landmark business building in Pretoria central” failed to reach the auctioneer’s expectation that it would sell for between R150 million to R200 million, fetching only R66 million at an auction in Centurion. High court sheriff Thaka Seboka, who called the Sanlam Middestad building “one of the iconic ones”, said he’d looked forward to “much higher figures” and that it had sold “for a song”. Nedbank bought the building, Sapa reported, in what Seboka called a “worthy investment”. The building was at the centre of a tender scandal in which former police commissioner Bheki Cele entered an unlawful lease agreement with Shabangu, who subsequently failed to keep up with payments on the building after the SAPS deal was scotched.
DEFENCE MINISTER FIRES ARMSCOR’S CHAIR AND DEPUTY CHAIR
The defence minister has fired Armscor’s chairman of the arms procurement parastatal’s board and its deputy chair. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula sacked Lieutenant General Moreti Motau and deputy chairwoman Refiloe Mokoena over “matters of governance”, according to a statement issued by spokesman Sonwabo Mbananga. The axing was done in terms of section 8c of the Armaments Corporation of SA Limited Act that allows the minister to terminate services if “good cause” was shown. “In order to carry out their function, the chair and deputy chair have to efficiently support government and particularly the department of defence,” Mbananga said. “They were not creating such an enabling environment.”
POLICE UNVEIL PLANS FOR A UNIVERSITY IN PAARL
The police department has unveiled its plans to open a police university next year that will turn the academy in Paarl into a university. But members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on police questioned whether such an institution was necessary and its costs, which had not mentioned in its recent budget vote speech. Chairperson of the committee, ANC MP Annelize van Wyk, said Unisa already offered distance-learning courses for police. Lieutenant General Nobubele Mbekela, the divisional commissioner responsible for human resource development, said the department was in talks with the higher education department, and with the University of South Africa but that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had yet to be signed and programmes accredited.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION VESSELS IN DRY DOCK AS OIL SPILLS IN KYNSNA
South Africa’s six environmental protection vessels are all in the dry docks in the Cape Town harbour and the Simons Town naval base while the Knysna coastline is under threat from an oil spill. Democratic alliance fisheries spokesman, Pieter van Dalen, said the vessels are the only boats in South Africa with a mechanism to prevent oil from drifting into the ocean during an oil spill. The cargo ship, the Kiani Satu, recently ran aground carrying 330 tons of heavy oil and 15 000 tons of rice. “I have been reliably informed that 70 tons of that oil has already spilled into the water, and is drifting further into the ocean. Discussions are underway for the rice to be thrown overboard,” Van Dalen said. He said fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Petterson needed to explain why the vessels were badly managed and how “she will prevent an ecological disaster”.
GAUTENG STILL HAS THOUSANDS OF BUCKET TOILETS
Gauteng still has bucket sanitation systems despite claims in 2009 that the “bucket system” had been eradicated. A report in The Times said provincial government had been caught out over a false claim after a written reply to a question in the provincial legislature revealed that 238 households in Ratanda, near Heidelberg, still used bucket toilets. The newspaper reported that while the Western Cape government had been accused of not providing proper sanitation to residents, Census data showed 69,079 households in Gauteng still use bucket toilets and that the City of Johannesburg had the highest number of users at 28,648.
PUBLIC PROTECTOR AND PREMIER MKHIZE SIGN LANDMARK AGREEMENT
Public protector Thuli Madonsela and KwaZulu-Natal premier, Zweli Mkhize, have signed a “ground-breaking response protocol” to expedite investigation processes in cases involving high-ranking officials and office bearers in the provincial government. “We have the power to subpoena people and use search and seizures in order to enforce cooperation with investigations,” Madonsela said. “However, we prefer using soft power and this protocol will help us a great deal in this regard.” All complaints against HODs and MECs will be directed to the director-general (DG) in the Office of the Premier. The DG will have to acknowledge receipt of the complaints within five working days. DM
Photo: The mining community reacts as they are addressed by their leaders at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine in Rustenburg, 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Johannesburg, May 15, 2013. (REUTERS)