South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 21 August 2013

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


A cargo ship carrying 147,650 tonnes of coal has broken apart a few hundred metres off the port at Richards Bay with large parts of the vessel underwater, maritime officials said. The 230-metre-long ship, named SMART, ran aground in rough seas on Monday. “Tugs tried to assist the vessel but to no avail. The vessel has buckled and broken in two,” the east coast port’s authority Transnet said in a statement. The single-hull, 151,279 tonne ship is registered to Alpha Marine Corp and flies a Panamanian flag. After loading at Richards Bay it was intended to deliver its cargo to a port in China, according to Thomson Reuters data. “Currently, there is no environmental impact. There is no oil spillage at this stage,” said Preston Khomo, the port manager.


Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) says it plans to cut almost 7,000 jobs at its South African operations including thousands of compulsory lay-offs, drawing an angry response from a labour union and raising the risk of renewed unrest at its mines. Amplats, the world’s top platinum producer and a unit of Anglo American, had aimed for 14,000 job cuts after posting its first loss last year, but lowered the target after a backlash from the government and the unions. After months of consultations with government officials and worker representatives, the company said 6,000 mining jobs would go and that “approximately 900 corporate and overhead employees will also be affected”. The addition of white-collar job cuts might alleviate some criticism of the lay-off plan, since not only blue-collar workers would be affected.


Public works Minister Thulas Nxesi is sticking to his guns in insisting that his department’s report into spending on ‘security’ upgrades at President Jacob Zuma’s private home at Nkandla remain secret. Nxesi told MPs they should wait for public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into the R206 million worth of spending, Sapa reported. “It is insensitive to request a document which deals with the security of the head of state. It is as simple as that,” he said. Nxesi has recommended the report be given to Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence – which comprises members of all political parties – for scrutiny. Nxesi was responding to DA MP Anchen Dreyer who accused government of a “relentless cover up” of the Nkandla scandal.


Oscar Pistorius’ lawyers are negotiating an out-of-court settlement with the parents of his murdered girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The Times reported that Steenkamp and her half-brother, Adam, helped her parents financially. The newspaper said the Steenkamps were looking for R3 million in damages and loss of income, but lawyers on both sides refused to confirm a number. But the Steenkamp family lawyer said “intense” discussions were taking place between lawyers. Pistorius’ lawyers are believed to want to settle the lawsuit prior to the start of the criminal trial, due to start in March next year, in order reduce the payout. If Pistorius is found guilty of premeditated murder it could strengthen the Steenkamps’ civil case.


Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and education MEC Donald Grant have agreed to meet the owners of the land on which the Grootkraal Primary school is situated in the hope they can help find a solution for the school. The 80-year-old farm school is under threat of being evicted, as the landowners want to turn the farm into a game reserve. NGO Equal Education said the school is a source of “immense pride” to the local community. The school’s governing body fought a decision by the WCED to close the school. The court order required the MEC to negotiate with the landowners to reach a new lease agreement but the owners filed an application to evict the school. EE said Zille and Grant hope to find a “ sustainable and just solution to the matter”.


Disgraced former communications minister Dina Pule made a brief apology to parliament today after being officially reprimanded by speaker Max Sisulu. The Parliamentary Ethics Committee had presented its findings on Pule, who it said was guilty of misconduct and of “wilfully” misleading parliament during its investigation of her. Pule was found to have given her boyfriend Phosane Mngqibisa R6 million to organise the ICT Indaba in Cape Town and took him on numerous overseas trips at taxpayers’ expense while denying he was involved with her. ANC chief whip Stone Sizani told eNCA the ANC had accepted the outcome of the investigation, and that it would not “stand in the path of further investigations”. The party now had “information at its disposal it didn’t have before”, Sizani said.


Just over half of South Africans believe government is delivering basic services. According to the 2012 Development Indicators Report. The report also highlighted the increased number of service delivery protests taking place around the country, which were at an all time high last year. Deputy minister in the presidency, Obed Bapela, said the figures showed a “worrying trend”. Bapela said the issue wasn’t one of money, but one of efficiency. The report said 51% of respondents thought government was performing well, down 3% on 2011. In May 2004, those surveyed put government performance at 81%. South Africans are also concerned about corruption, with the corruption perception index standing at 4.30 on a scale of one to 10. This requires “urgent attention”, Bapela said. And race relations have taken a knock too, reaching a record low of 39%.


Democratic Alliance Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane says while “we will always remain grateful to those who liberated us” South Africans cannot allow choices for the future “to be constrained by what happened in the past”. Speaking to students at the Tshwane University of Technology students in Soshanguve, Pretoria, Maimane said the ANC under President Jacob Zuma has moved away from the vision of its predecessors, Sapa reported. “Instead of non-racialism, we are retreating back into the politics of division. Instead of reversing the legacy of Apartheid, our people remain as impoverished as they ever were,” Maimane said. He said change started with getting the basics of government right, stopping corruption and “appointing the right people in the right places”. DM

Photo: Olympic and Paralympic running star Oscar Pistorius reacts ahead of court proceedings at the Pretoria Magistrates court, August 19, 2013. (REUTERS)


Are You A South AfriCAN or a South AfriCAN'T?

Maverick Insider is more than a reader revenue scheme. While not quite a "state of mind", it is a mindset: it's about believing that independent journalism makes a genuine difference to our country and it's about having the will to support that endeavour.

From the #GuptaLeaks into State Capture to the Scorpio exposés into SARS, Daily Maverick investigations have made an enormous impact on South Africa and it's political landscape. As we enter an election year, our mission to Defend Truth has never been more important. A free press is one of the essential lines of defence against election fraud; without it, national polls can turn very nasty, very quickly as we have seen recently in the Congo.

If you would like a practical, tangible way to make a difference in South Africa consider signing up to become a Maverick Insider. You choose how much to contribute and how often (monthly or annually) and in exchange, you will receive a host of awesome benefits. The greatest benefit of all (besides inner peace)? Making a real difference to a country that needs your support.


Please or create an account to view the comments. To join the conversation, sign up as a Maverick Insider.


Sheriff raids Adriano Mazotti’s home and premises to pay taxman

By Pauli Van Wyk

"Man is by nature a political animal" ~ Aristotle