South Africa

FIVE MINUTES: South Africa

By Daily Maverick Staff Reporter 18 September 2013

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

SA ENGINEER PULLS OFF COSTA CONCORDIA SALVAGE OPERATION

A South African engineer has pulled off the world’s most complex and expensive salvage operation that took 19 hours to complete. Nick Sloan, who led the operation for US-Italian contractor’s consortium, Titan-Micoperi, and his team pulled upright the Costa Concordia liner from the island of Giglio. Concordia, a 290-metre-long liner carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew, capsized and sank, killing 32 people in January 2012, after it came too close to shore and jagged rocks tore a hole in its side. “I think the whole team is proud of what they achieved. A lot of people said it couldn’t be done,” Sloane told reporters at the quayside before heading off to celebrate with jubilant colleagues. “I feel good, it’s time for a beer.”

ANC APPOINTS HIGH-LEVEL TASK TEAM TO RESOLVE COSATU ‘IMPASSE’

The African National Congress has established a high-level task team to “engage” the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), secretary general Gwede Mantashe says. Mantashe said the party’s national working committee had resolved to “assist” Cosatu in facing its current impasse. Cyril Ramaphosa will head the team, which includes Baleka Mbete, Zweli Mkhize, Mildred Olifant, Susan Shabangu, Connie September, Ebrahim Patel and Mantashe himself. Mantashe said it was in the interests of the ANC and its alliance partners “to find a lasting solution that will allow Cosatu to unite and continue to lead the struggle of the workers and the labour movement broadly”.

VAVI: COSATU MUST BE INDEPENDENT OF ANC NEC

Zwelinzima Vavi has again emphasised that union leaders should remain independent and not serve on alliance partner the ANC’s national executive committee, Sapa reported. The suspended general secretary of the labour federation was speaking at the National Union of Metalworkers of SA’s political school in Benoni. “It is about a principle guaranteeing the independence of the trade movement; it is also about eliminating any confusion,” he said. Vavi has on several occasions refused to serve on the ANC’s NEC. He said the general secretary and the president of Cosatu should “continue to speak only wearing the face and hat of the mandate they have received from the union”. Cosatu president Sidumo Dlamini is a member of the NEC.

SA SCIENTISTS CREATE WORLD’S FIRST DIGITAL LASER

South African researchers have developed the world’s first digital laser, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has reported. The innovation is a milestone in laser technology, the application of which could be used in the health, manufacturing and communications industries. Science and technology minister, Derek Hanekom, said it was important that technological advancements “improve the lives of our people and help us address some of the many challenges we face as a country”. CSIR researcher, Professor Sandile Ngcobo, who conducted the groundbreaking experimental work as part of his PhD studies, said the digital laser is “a disruptive technology”. He said it was “technology which may change the status quo and which could create new markets and value networks within the next few years or decade”.

DA: ANC CHOOSES CADRES OVER CAPABILITY IN NEW SABC BOARD

The ANC parliament has chosen cronies over the desperate need to stop the downward spiral of the South African Broadcasting Corporation in its choice of a new board for the public broadcaster, the DA says. Communications spokeswoman, Marian Shinn, said parliament had missed its opportunity to “steer the SABC into calm waters”. She said ANC members of the portfolio committee on communications chose candidates on the basis of party political loyalties. “The ANC today chose to ignore the exceptional talent and capacity in candidates proposed and opted to reward party loyalty in the redeployment of cadres,” Shinn said, adding that the DA would oppose the list of candidates in a vote.

DA WILL FIGHT FOR RIGHT OF ALL – HOME AND ABROAD – TO VOTE

The ANC has voted against a proposal that would extend the right to vote on the national and provincial ballot to all South Africans, including those living abroad. They also voted against allowing South Africans who will not be in the province where they are registered to vote on Election Day, to cast a provincial ballot. The opposition DA said it would continue to “fight this matter in court”. Spokesman on home affairs, Masizole Mnqasela, said all South Africans should be allowed to vote equally, regardless of where they reside. “We believe that the Electoral Amendment Bill may be unconstitutional as it stands since it limits citizens’ right to vote in certain instances,” Mnqasela said.

STRIKE CONTINUES AS NUMSA AND RMI TALKS COLLAPSE

Talks between the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and the Retail Motor Industry Organisation have collapsed. Numsa spokesman, Castro Ngobese, told Sapa talks with employers had not yielded any results and that the nine-day strike would continue. RMI’s Jakkie Olivier confirmed no agreement was reached during the negotiations. Meanwhile, paramedics in New Germany in KwaZulu-Natal reported a petrol attendant was seriously injured in what they believed was a strike-related altercation, although police have not confirmed this is the case.

OVER 70 ARRESTS FOR PUBLIC VIOLENCE IN PE

Public violence and looting of spaza shops in Port Elizabeth has led to the arrest of at least 70 people, Eastern Cape police said, adding that the attacks were criminal, and not xenophobic, in nature. The protests started after a Somali shopkeeper allegedly shot dead a man outside his shop on Saturday night. Spokeswoman, Brigadier Miranda Mills, said foreign shop owners had been helped in relocating their property to safer locations. MEC for human settlements, safety and liaison, Helen Sauls-August, condemned the shooting but warned people not to engage in vigilante attacks on foreign nationals. DM

Photo: The capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen at the end of the “parbuckling” operation outside Giglio harbour September 17, 2013. Salvage crews completed raising the wreck of the Costa Concordia in the early hours of Tuesday morning after a 19-hour-long operation on the Italian island of Giglio where the huge cruise liner capsized in January last year. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

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