A round-up of the day's news from South Africa.
COURT RULES DA’S NKANDLA APPLICATION IS URGENT
The Western Cape High Court has ruled that a Democratic Alliance application to have a public works report into the upgrade of President Jacob Zuma’ private home is urgent. It will be heard on 18 February 2014. Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko approached the court at the end of September for an order compelling the department to hand over the report, classified top secret by its minister, Thulas Nxesi. Mazibuko said the DA’s argument was that “the ‘Nkandlagate’ scandal and its subsequent cover-up is a matter of public importance”. She said the fact that the report had been delayed for nine month meant it “must contain information that is of considerable interest to voters who will be voting for their public representatives next year”.
JSC TRIBUNAL POSTPONES HLOPHE HEARING
The Judicial Service Commission (JSC) tribunal hearing into a complaint of misconduct against Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe has been postponed indefinitely, BDlive reported. Lawyer for Constitutional Court judges Chris Jafta and Bess Nkabinde, Selby Mbenenge SC, asked for the postponement as his clients intend asking for a high court review of an earlier decision to continue the hearing. Jafta and Nkabinde had asked to be excused from testifying, as they believe the tribunal is illegitimate. They contend, through Mbenenge, that it was not properly appointed, that its rules were invalid, and that there was no complaint to investigate.
SOUTH AFRICA CHALLENGES UN TO REFORM SECURITY COUNCIL
The United Nations Security Council remains “undemocratic, unrepresentative and unfair to developing nations and small states”, says international relations minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. She said reforms are needed as the current system, in place since 1945, “disenfranchises the majority of the member states of the United Nations”. Sapa reported that Nkoana-Mashabane challenged the UN membership to “celebrate the 70th anniversary of the United Nations in 2015, with a reformed, more inclusive, democratic and representative UN Security Council”.
SKILLED PEOPLE, ACCOUNTABILITY COULD TURN AROUND COMMS DEPT
The audit reports of the department of communications and its entities have regressed due to unstable leadership and a lack of consequences, an executive in the auditor general’s office has told parliament. Alice Muller said the a disclaimer opinion for the SABC and the qualification opinion for the Universal Services and Access Fund had contributed to the outcome, BDlive reported. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) received an unqualified audit, but failed to meet 67% of its targets. Muller again singled out ineffective leadership for the problem, among other reasons. But Muller said the department could be turned around if skilled people were appointed and people held accountable.
SAB GRANTED INTERDICT TO STOP VIOLENT PROTESTS
The labour court has granted South African Breweries (SAB) an interdict to stop striking workers from taking part in violent protests and stick to picketing rules. Members of the Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) burned tyres and reportedly threw stones at the depot and passing cars outside SAB’s Chamdor brewery and depot in Krugersdorp. They also blocked the road with stones. SAB human resources director, Yokesh Maharaj, said SAB was “deeply concerned by the acts of violence and intimidation” and urged Fawu officials to ensure that their members abide by picketing rules and also by the rule of the law”. SAB has offered workers a 7% average wage increase, which will increase the average monthly pay for shift workers by R1 196 to R18 283.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE SAA CADET PROGRAMME
South African Airways’ cadet programme will be investigated by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) says Solidarity. The trade union requested an investigation after the airline admitted it had no white male cadets. Dirk Groenewald, head of Solidarity’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices, said the programme’s admission requirements “discriminate unfairly against white men and amount to nothing more than a quota system”. Solidarity took on the case of 10 men who applied for positions but claim they were rejected on racial grounds. Solidarity wants the programme open to all races and both sexes.
SA SCIENTISTS DISCOVER EVIDENCE OF A COMET HITTING EARTH
A black ‘pebble’, believed to be the nucleus of a comet, is the first evidence of a comet hitting earth, a team of South African researchers has discovered. The pebble, named Hypanthia for Ancient Alexandra’s female mathematician, astronomer and philosopher, was found in Egypt, the Mail&Guardian reported. One of the researchers, Wits University’s David Block, said a comet exploded above Egypt 28 million years ago, forming yellow silica glass spread over a 6,000 square kilometre radius. The pebble was found at the centre. Sophisticated chemical tests by the SA team led them to come to the “inescapable conclusion that it represented the very first known hand specimen of a comet nucleus, rather than simply an unusual type of meteorite”.
ZUMA: SOUTH AFRICA’S RATE OF FATAL ROAD ACCIDENTS ‘ABNORMAL’
South Africa’s high rate of fatal road accidents is abnormal, says President Jacob Zuma. Speaking at the opening of the R245 million R81 road in Limpopo, Zuma said South Africa needed a “radical change of attitude and a commitment to working on reducing road carnage”. He urged all South Africans to obey the rules of the road all the time. Traffic accidents cost the economy R306 billion a year. “We’ve had some horrific collisions in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, which claimed dozens of lives. The situation is abnormal,” said Zuma. DM
Photo: Nkandla (REUTERS)
The 2016 Rio Olympic medals are already showing defects including rusting and chipping.