South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 9 September 2013

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

PUBLIC PROTECTOR REFUSED TO DROP NKANDLA INVESTIGATION

Public protector Thuli Madonsela has resisted pressure from cabinet ministers to drop her investigation into R206 million spent on President Jacob Zuma’s private home at Nkandla. The Sunday Times reported that Madonsela was twice asked to stop her investigation, but that she said it was her duty and her right to continue the probe requested by DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko. The ministers – including justice minister Jeff Radabe, state security minister Siyabonga Cwele, public works minister Thulas Nxesi and police minister Nathi Mthethwa – said the auditor general should handle the investigation with the Special Investigations Unit. To date, neither the AG nor the SIU has started investigating the costs involved in the “security upgrade”.

STRIKE OVER AT WALTER SISULU UNIVERSITY

The crippling strike at the Walter Sisulu University in Mthatha, which resulted in students being sent home, is over. Higher education minister Blade Nzimande said the signing of an agreement between unions and university management was an indication of all parties’ commitment to the restoration of the culture of teaching and learning at the institution. Nzimande said he trusted all efforts would be made to ensure the academic year wasn’t lost and that students would be “assisted in every way possible to catch up on lost time”. He said both parties showed leadership when they took into consideration the “long term viability of the university” and did not “threaten the significant gains made over the past two years”.

MANDELA LAWYER SAYS DAUGHTERS WILL WITHDRAW CASE

Nelson Mandela’s lawyer Bill Chuene has confirmed that two of the former president’s daughters have offered to withdraw the civil claim they brought against him earlier this year. Chuene told the Sunday Tribune there had been a “firm offer” to withdraw the case, made by Wesley Hayes, the lawyer representing Makaziwe Mandela and Zenani Dlamini. The daughters tried to have Chuene, George Bizos and Tokyo Sexwale removed as directors of various Mandela investment companies so as to access Mandela’s money. Mandela was discharged from hospital last week.

MANTASHE ADMITS TRIPARTITE ALLIANCE IS AT ITS WEAKEST

A report on the relationship between members of the tripartite alliance, titled the ‘State of the Alliance: The Previous Five Years’, contains searing criticism of Cosatu and the leadership of its suspended general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said Cosatu behaved like an opposition party in the way it criticised the ANC and its leadership. The Sunday Independent, which has seen the report, said Mantashe admitted the alliance has never been weaker. Mantashe wrote that the “antagonistic nature of the relationship is characterised by an emphasis that Cosatu will not give the ANC a blank cheque. It (Cosatu) is also conscious to suggest that (it) cannot be a labour desk of the ANC, an alien concept that best demonstrates suspicion”.

GUPTAS ACCUSED OF NOT PAYING CONTRACTORS

Contractors working on mines owned by President Jacob Zuma’s friends, the Gupta family, say they are not paying their bills. Marius Nel, a contractor with Shiva Uranium, told the Sunday Times he was owed R2.2 million and a further R2 million over an accident that took place on the mine and had been waiting for the money since May. Nel said he’d issued summons against Shiva, which, in turn, had filed a counterclaim for equipment allegedly damaged in an accident.  Another company, RS Engineering, said it was owed R150,000 and a Stilfontein tyre company is owed nearly R500,000.

DA: INVESTIGATE MBETE OVER GOLDFIELDS CLAIMS

ANC national chairwoman, Baleke Mbete should be investigated over claims she threatened to sink Goldfields’ mining licence unless her shareholding in a 2010 empowerment deal was increased. Democratic Alliance spokesman on mineral resources, James Lorimer, said if the report in the Mail&Guardian were true, Mbete’s behaviour would “amount to criminal conduct”. Lorimer said unless government restored credibility to its system of awarding mining rights, South Africa would fail to attract “credible investors”. Former chair of Goldfields, Mamphela Ramphele, and the company’s CEO, Nick Holland, have previously alleged the mineral resources department was “prescriptive” on who was to be included in the empowerment deal.

A QUESTION OF THE COST OF MINISTERS’ CARS

Ten cabinet misters and deputies have spent R7.3 million on new cars in 2012 and 2013, according to information supplied to the Democratic Alliance via parliamentary questions. City Press reported that ‘cheaper’ cars were being bought by ministers that when President Jacob Zuma’s administration first came to power in 2009, with none costing over R1 million. A public outcry led former public service minister Richard Baloyi to say government would consider downgrading the types of cars bought by ministers in a new ministerial handbook, which still hasn’t been produced.

TIME FOR PHIYEGA TO EXPLAIN MDLULI SITUATION TO PARLIAMENT

It is “high time” national police commissioner Riah Phiyega came clean on what is happening in the South African Police Service’s crime intelligence unit, says DA police spokeswoman, Dianne Kohler Barnard. City Press reported on Sunday Phiyega wants disgraced former head of crime intelligence, Richard Mdluli, back on the job despite allegations of murder, corruption and theft from the unit’s ‘slush fund’ levelled against him. Kohler Barnard said parliament should be told what disciplinary action had been taken against Mdluli as he’d been suspended for over a year and that Phiyega must explain why a person accused of murder and corruption should be allowed back in the SAPS. DM

Photo: Nkandla (REUTERS)

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