South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 3 September 2013

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

NEW SIU HEAD MUST CONFIRM ‘NKANDLAGATE’ PROBE

The first job for newly appointed head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Advocate Vasantrai Soni, must be to publically confirm whether the Unit will be investigating the irregular spending of more than R206 million on President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla, the DA says. Spokeswoman on public works, Anchen Dreyer, said Soni had “an ideal opportunity to demonstrate to South Africans that he will lead the SIU in a principled and dedicated manner and not be unduly influenced by political considerations”. Dreyer said public works minister Thulas Nxesi earlier this year said the SIU would investigate the Nkandla scandal. “Soni has a responsibility to do everything in his power to live up to the SIU’s mandated mission of fighting corruption through quality investigation, wherever it may occur,” Dreyer said.

BDS SOUTH AFRICA CONDEMNS SINGING OF ‘SHOOT THE JEWS’

A director of the board of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) South Africa has condemned the singing of an adapted version of the controversial South African protest song, Shoot the Boer. The adaptation, ‘idubula ijuda’ (Shoot the Jews) was sung by protestors opposed to the performance of an Israeli musician at an event hosted by local supporters of Israel at Wits University. Professor Farid Esack, in a statement from the board of BDS South Africa, said they condemned “any and all incitement to violence and racism – including anti-Semitism and Zionism- even if it were to come from within our ranks”. Esack said “unequivocally” distanced itself from the singing of this song and its sentiments. “Also, to tarnish all Jews with the Zionist brush is racism regardless of who does it. Racism is racism and racism is abominable,” he said.

SANRAL KNEW NON-COMPLIANCE IN E-TOLLING WOULD HAMPER PROJECT

The South African Roads Agency Ltd went ahead with Gauteng’s e-tolling project despite knowing people would be opposed to it. Democratic Alliance national spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, told residents of Tembisa during a walkabout to assess how e-tolls would affect small businesses in the area, said Sanral knew “as early as 2009” it would face “widespread opposition”, Sapa reported. According to documents received by the DA, Sanral knew high levels of public compliance were a critical success factor for the project. The agency’s own research showed in April 2009 that 61% of people were willing to pay a toll fee and that 39% would not be willing to pay toll fees”. That number increased to 40% a few months later, leading the organisation to write that should a sizeable group not comply, “it could become virtually impossible to implement”.

UNION LEADERS WARN GOLD BOSSES ON IMPENDING STRIKE

Union leaders have warned that mine owners’ handling of pay talks could provoke violence, while bosses said wage hikes would force mine closures and cost thousands of jobs. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which represents about two-thirds of more than 120,000 unionised gold miners, is set to strike from today.  The Chamber of Mines, which negotiates on behalf of firms, told Reuters a pre-emptive lockout was an option but it would be taken as a “last resort”. AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa, whose union has not yet called a strike, said a mines lockout would provoke trouble. “I have informed the minister of police that the manner in which the gold CEOs want to approach this wage negotiation, through an offensive lockout, will result in violence,” he said

ZUMA MUST BE A WITNESS IN ‘GUPTAGATE’ SCANDAL SAYS UNION

One of the Waterkloof Air Force Base officers implicated by a government-appointed task team investigating the scandal over the landing of a private aircraft at the base plans to call President Jacob Zuma as a witness in the military court. Lieutenant-Colonel Christine Anderson and two others will appear in court again later this month. National secretary of the South African National Defence Force Union (Sandu), Pikkie Greeff told Sapa if Zuma weren’t on the state’s witness list, he would be subpoenaed in terms of the Military Discipline Supplementary Measures Act. Greeff said Zuma seemed to be the “central figure” in the scandal and should answer questions. Zuma’s friends chartered the plane in question, the Gupta family, for a wedding in South Africa. Greeff said the government’s task team implicated Anderson although she was not formally involved in the investigation.

KZN TEACHERS EMBARK ON WORK-TO-RULE ACTION AHEAD OF EXAMS

Teachers in KwaZulu-Natal have started on work to rule action with final matric exams and the Annual National Assessments (ANA) coming up soon leaving education department officials scrambling to avert a crisis. The Daily News reported senior SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) official saying the aim was to “frustrate” the department into meeting their demands. The official said there would be no extra classes for matric pupils despite finals starting at the end of October, and acknowledged this would impact on pupils’ revision. Sadtu wants over 800 posts to be filled, payment of 37% in lieu of benefits to all FET workers; creation of new jobs for both teaching and non-teaching staff; and the disclosure of more than R175 million spent for teaching development.

ARCHITECTURAL TENDER ILLEGALLY AWARDED, SAYS CITY OF CAPE TOWN

An architectural contract worth R700 million for the expansion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) was illegally awarded, says the City of Cape Town. A forensic report into the tender has been handed to the public protector and the CTICC board advised to bring disciplinary action against the three staff members involved, the Cape Argus reported. Architectural Design won the tender but other bidders claimed the company had scored the lowest points, according to the CTICC’s own criteria. The company was also involved in producing drawings for the tender specifications, which, complainant Greg Truen from Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects said was “very irregular”.

ZUMA SHOCKED BY DEATH OF MAIDENS RETURNING FROM REED DANCE

President Jacob Zuma says he is “shocked and saddened” by the death of seven young women, the driver and two minders in a road accident outside Eshowe following the annual reed dance hosted by King Goodwill Zwelithini at his eNyokeni Palace. “We are shocked and saddened by this tragic and horrific loss of life in this manner following a successful cultural event that promotes self-confidence among young women,” Zuma said, sending his condolences to the victims’ families and King Goodwill. Transport minister Dipuo Peters it was time the “carnage” on South African roads was stopped and that she was “saddened by this loss of so many of our people’s lives”. KZN Road Traffic Inspectorate spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, said the driver had lost control of the bus and smashed into the barriers. DM

Photo: President Jacob Zuma (REUTERS)

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