South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 22 August 2013

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


Six weeks of wage talks between South African gold producers and unions have failed to bridge the chasm between their positions, increasing the prospect of crippling strikes in a declining industry battling low prices and soaring costs. Gold mine stoppages would inflict more damage on the economy, which is already losing $60 million a day to a strike by 30,000 workers in the car manufacturing sector that accounts for 6% of gross domestic product. The two opposing sides in the gold sector remain poles apart after the weeks of talks, with virtually no narrowing of the gap between employers, whose latest offer was a 5.5% hike for basic wages, and unions. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents 64% of the country’s roughly 140,000 gold miners, is seeking a basic wage for entry-level underground workers of R8,000 a month, a 60% increase.


Dr Mamphela Ramphele has disclosed her personal income – just under R56 million – and has criticised President Jacob Zuma for failing to reveal his for “1,565 days to date”. The AgangSA leader said with each passing day, suspicion of Zuma’s integrity mounts”, Sapa reported. “What is there to hide?” she asked reporters in Johannesburg. Parliament requires that all members disclose their private financial interests, something Zuma has avoided since he came to power in 2009. Ramphele said Zuma had “used a convenient technicality to side-step this requirement” and that she disclosing her own financial affairs for the country to scrutinise, in line with the need for accountability, and to set an example for Zuma. “We seem to talk a lot about fighting corruption. Well, today I am going to put my money where my mouth is.”


South African police, following up on a tip off from Interpol, have bust a child porn syndicate involving two teachers, a retired school principal, a dermatologist, a lawyer and a businessman in four provinces. The Times reported police are investigating a further 26 people and more arrests are imminent. Spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said six members of the syndicate have already appeared in various South Africa courts. The newspaper reported experienced police officers from around the country were seconded to the operation, who then raided dozens of homes in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Free State, seizing computers, DVDs, books, magazines, and other digital devices.


Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula refuses to disclose information about new arms deals but much of the information is freely available on the internet, says Democratic Alliance defence spokesman, David Maynier. He said the minister’s stance was “ludicrous”. “It is symptomatic of the new paranoia spreading like an oil slick in government under President Jacob Zuma,” Maynier said. He pointed out the department of defence’s own white paper requires it to “publish an annual Acquisition Master Plan to indicate all new acquisition projects”. Maynier said there is “a considerable amount of information on the various capital acquisition programmes readily available online on Google”. The minister replied to a parliamentary question saying the information was “confidential”.


Kenny Kunene has resigned from the party leadership of Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Front with immediate effect, The Star reported. The high-spending businessman man known as the ‘sushi king’ joined Julius Malema’s party as its head of campaigns, mobilisation and special projects. “Obviously I’d like to see economic freedom being realised and I will remain an economic freedom fighter for ordinary people,” he told the newspaper. “The direction I am taking from now will determine if I will still be active in EFF,” he said. Kunene shocked South Africans when he wrote a scathing open letter that ripped into President Jacob Zuma and his administration.


The Kiani Satu has sunk. The cargo ship that ran aground two weeks ago off Buffels Bay near Knysna sank 110 nautical miles off the coast in 100 metres of water. A spokesman for the Knysna municipality said the SA Maritime Safety Authority had assured them the site was “very far and very deep and poses no serious environmental risk to the South African coast”. The environmental affairs department had told Samsa there was no remaining oil threat to the Garden Route coast, Athane Scholtz said in a statement. “Cape Nature has requested that the public be aware of the clean-up still happening inside the reserve and to respect any possible restrictions of movement that it may imply,” Scholtz said.


Former Springbok rugby hero Joost van der Westhuizen is on his deathbed, according to an interview posted on the BBC’s website. Van der Westhuizen told BBC Sport in a telephonic that he realised  “every day could be my last”. He said he’d been on a rollercoaster since he was diagnosed with the incurable motor neurone disease but that he believed  “there’s a bigger purpose in my life and I am very positive, very happy”. Van der Westhuizen, who now runs the J9 Foundation, a charity that raises awareness about motor neurone disease, said he once led his life at “a hundred miles an hour” but had discovered since being diagnosed with the deadly disease that “you understand that life is generous.”


ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has called on the working class not to abandon the ANC. Speaking to the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (Popcru) political school, Mantashe warned the party would “drift to the right” should the working class leave the ANC, Sapa reported. He said those leaving the party thought it would become “static” but said the reverse was true. The ANC would more conservative, which would be  “brutal on the working class”. Referring to the current crisis in Cosatu, with unions split over leadership, Mantashe said, “When you begin to worship individuals then you are going to kill the thing [Cosatu].” He said Cosatu needed to concentrate on its principles. “Once you close your eyes to those fundamental principles you are going to see the battles that are running now,” he said. DM

Photo: Joost van der Westhuizen (REUTERS file photo)



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"Joyfully to the breeze royal Odysseus spread his sail and with his rudder skillfully he steered." ~ Homer