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Top cop disappears with state car after failing to produce proof of qualifications following promotion

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A high-ranking police official has allegedly gone into hiding after she failed to produce original qualifications when asked to do so.

The officer, whose name is known to City Press, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general last month.

She claimed, among other things, that she possessed a doctorate, that she was a DJ and she was a professor before being appointed as head of technology management services in the SA Police Service (SAPS).

The officer went on to repeat her “qualifications” on a popular SABC radio station. She claimed that she was the first person in the world to graduate with a doctorate in data analytics, obtaining a PhD in information systems science. She said she was studying at the University of Cape Town and went on an exchange programme with the University of Canada.

However, shortly after her appointment, the officer failed to submit her original qualifications to the police service’s human resources division when asked to do so. This led to her colleagues, some of whom were overlooked during the interviewing process, questioning her credentials. And now she is nowhere to be found.

Bethuel Nkuna, president of the Independent Policing Union of SA (Ipusa), said the Dr/DJ/professor absconded after the SAPS leadership demanded that she hand in original documentation to prove that she indeed possesses the qualifications she claims.

Nkuna said it was norm in the SAPS that “one provides copies when you make an application, but produce originals during the interview for screening purposes, of which she didn’t”.

“Ipusa has learnt that she failed to do so during the interview and when asked later, referred management to the union. It is the management’s prerogative to manage the service and the unions. Ipusa has also learnt that since her employment, the officer has not been activated on Persal [the personal and salary system, the central system used for the administration of the public service payroll] as they are still waiting for proof of qualifications. If she has received a salary, that will be advance-based, which must be paid back when her Persal is activated.”

The officer’s appointment came with a new BMW 3 series, a driver, an office and a R2 million a year salary.

“She changed the lock to her new office and disappeared. She took with her the issued car, office keys, cellphone and her driver. The lieutenant-general cannot be reached on her cellphone and senior management has given directives in writing to security guards not to allow her access to the building as they allege to have suspended her,” Nkuna said.

Ipusa wants the SAPS management to explain to South African taxpayers how such a thing continues to happen within the police service.

The union said the appointment was “an insult to rank and file, dedicated, hardworking and experienced members of the SAPS, and, more importantly, to those major-generals who have been working for years but were not considered for this post.”

The police service is yet to comment on the issue. 

Nelson Mandela’s grandchild Mbuso granted bail

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Nelson Mandela’s troubled grandson, Mbuso Mandela, was granted bail of R1 000 when he briefly appeared at the Alexandra Magistrates’ Court on Friday. The case was postponed to June 29.

The 30-year-old was arrested on Wednesday night following a police raid at his Morningside apartment in Johannesburg. He faces charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and drugs.

City Press reported that he was nabbed after the police received a tip off from his landlord who stopped the men in blue during a routine patrol in the neighbourhood after complaints from other tenants.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane confirmed that Mandela was granted bail and would appear in court again next month.

–News24

Monster stepmother kills, chops step into pieces

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A monster stepmother from Zimbabwe’s Kezi area has been arrested in South Africa for killing her six-year-old son and chopping him to pieces.
Colonel Dimakatso Sello of South African Police Media confirmed the incident.

Senzeni Desire Ndebele is alleged to have murdered and dismembered her stepson to spite her husband for reasons not yet known.

She then put the body parts in a sack. It is not yet known when the boy was killed but Senzeni packed her bags on Thursday last week and fled with her other two children.

The body of the boy was discovered on Friday at Turffontein in the city of Johannesburg where she was staying.

Senzeni’s husband and father of the murdered boy, Newton Mntinsi said he had no clue on why his son was slain.

“I’m shocked by what my wife has done to me, we didn’t have any conflict with each other so that I may think she was revenging on my kid, everything was just okay between us,” he said.

Senzeni’s attempt to flee from justice was abortive as she was arrested at Sasol garage in Johannesburg on her way to Eastern Cape.
According to Mntinsi, they are still waiting for the post-mortem results to know when the kid was killed.

–BMetro

Zondo deplores way in which advocate Teffo was arrested inside courtroom

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Chief justice Raymond Zondo said the arrest of anybody, let alone a legal practitioner, inside a courtroom is unacceptable and should not happen.

Zondo made this comment after the arrest of advocate Malesela Teffo inside the high court in Pretoria last Thursday where he was representing four of the accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial. 

Zondo said the SABC had asked for his comment on the arrest of Teffo on the day, and he had not seen the footage of the incident and did not at that stage have information about it. He indicated that he was unable to comment on the matter.

Commenting on Tuesday,  however, Zondo said: “There was no justifiable reason the SAPS could not have waited for advocate Teffo to leave the courtroom and the court premises before they arrested him.

“After all, as I understand the position, the warrant of arrest had been issued about two months earlier and waiting until Teffo had left the court premises would not have made any difference.” 

Zondo bemoaned the conduct of the police. 

“The conduct of the SAPS in effecting the arrest inside the courtroom and the manner in which the arrest was effected on a legal practitioner and, therefore, on an officer of the court, was an assault on the dignity of the court and the judiciary.

“An officer of the court was arrested in a manner that was totally unacceptable and showed disrespect for the judiciary,” Zondo said.

He said the constitution places an obligation on all organs of state, including the police, through legislative and other measures, to “assist and protect the courts to ensure the independence, impartiality, dignity, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts”.

 Zondo said his statement was not about whether Teffo should have been arrested or not. It was about the place where the arrest was effected and the manner in which it was done.

Zondo said he hoped the police would make sure that there were no similar incidents in future.

TimesLIVE

SA’s latest multimillionaire, who played an hour before draw, bags R39m Lotto jackpot

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A person who played an hour before Saturday’s draw has bagged the Lotto jackpot of R39m.

Ithuba said the lucky winner played at about 7.30pm on the FNB App with a wager of R10, less than an hour before the game draw.

“It is interesting, as this player could be based anywhere in the country. We are ready to receive him or her,” said Charmaine Mabuza, Ithuba CEO.

Mabuza said their team of financial advisers and psychologists were available to provide counselling to the winner.

“This shows the different ways our players can play the National Lottery games. As is evident here through our partnership with FNB, we have made yet another winner.”

The Tuesday PowerBall jackpot is standing at a whopping estimated R83m.

TimesLIVE

ANC Eastern Cape conference gets the green light for this weekend

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The Eastern Cape ANC elective conference is going ahead this weekend after a meeting between the party’s provincial and national officials on Wednesday confirmed it’s all systems go.

The provincial task team on Tuesday requested an urgent meeting with national ANC leaders and ANC deployees to, among others, discuss the state of readiness for the conference scheduled from Friday until Sunday.

Task team convener and former provincial chairperson Oscar Mabuyane confirmed that the conference is going ahead.

“It is going ahead, NDRC [national disputes resolution committee] is concluding its verdicts and SGO is finalising final verification,” Mabuyane said.

There had been doubts about the conference proceeding after confusion over whether delegates who have cases pending before the party’s national disciplinary committee of appeals may participate in the conference.

This became a sticking point to an extent that the conference was postponed two weeks ago.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said it was not out of the ordinary for the party’s national leadership to meet a province ahead of its conference.

“It’s normal that we will interact with the province to take stock of its readiness and check if there are matters to attend to. We did the same thing ahead of the Mpumalanga conference,” he said.

Insiders who attended the meeting said it consisted of discussions about logistics surrounding the conference as well as confirmation of eligible delegates.

“The meeting had nothing to do with the conference it was just to discuss logistics and credentials. You cannot decide whether a conference goes ahead in two days because people have already made arrangements, you do that and it’s going to be a logistical nightmare,” said an insider.

This insider said the meeting went well and that nothing big transpired.

“Remember, unlike regional conferences where a province has to take over, here it’s provincial which means the NEC has to take over the running of the conference. So it’s normal practice,” the insider said.

Premier and provincial convener Mabuyane is going head-to-head with former ally Babalo Madikizela, who is also MEC for public works, for the position of chair.

The two, though on opposing sides, are in support of a second term for President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Madikizela was previously linked to Zweli Mkhize who is said to be gearing up to challenge Ramaphosa in December but has in the past week distanced himself, saying he supported the incumbent president.

This is a developing story.

TimesLIVE

Four years on, AG and parliament still in the dark about SAA finances

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SAA has four years of outstanding audited financial statements to submit to parliament.  

Its latest financial statements are due to the auditor-general by  the end of this month. It remains to be seen whether they will be submitted.

“We have three years outstanding in terms of financial statements that SAA owes us as auditors. You can make it four years once we add 2022,” said Zolisa Zwakala, business unit leader in the auditor-general’s office.

The AG’s office told parliament standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that it first audited the embattled company’s financial statements in the 2016/17 financial year. This would also become its last regular audit.

The AG could not complete the following financial year’s (2017/18) audit as the then SAA board requested auditors to pull away while the board was trying to sort out the liquidity and solvency challenges that were overwhelming it at that stage.

Zwakala said that audit was paused in 2019 and was concluded in February this year.

Financial statements for the 2018/19, 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years are still to be audited.

But the auditor-general is adamant the entity will have to account for all the years it was a state-owned entity.

“For the period that SAA was a public entity, there still needs to be accountability for those funds and assets of government,” said Fhumulani Rabonda, Zwakala’s deputy.

“For all the financial years up to the date of the legal transfer of control, there need to be financial statements of a public institution or organ of state that must be audited appropriately and parliament still has a role to oversee that,” he added.

Rabonda said even post the transfer, there is a still a government investment of 49%, which is a state asset and which will need to be overseen by the state.

The state will also have to make sure there is accountability and consequence management for any wrongdoing or irregularities that may have happened while SAA was 100% owned by the state, even after it moves into private hands.ADVERTISING

The government is in the process of selling 51% of its stake in SAA to a private consortium. The entity was placed in business rescue in December 2019 and came out of that process in April 2021.

In February this year, the government announced that sales and purchase agreements for SAA by the department of public enterprises and Takatso consortium were concluded and all that was left were regulatory approvals.

MPs were shocked to hear that the auditor-general’s office has not seen the sale agreement. This, after the National Treasury told Scopa in March that it was not involved nor did it give consent to the transaction.

Treasury director-general Dondo Mogajane told Scopa the finance department played no role in the selection process of the preferred strategic equity partner (SEP) including the conceptualisation, negotiation and finalisation of the terms and conditions relating to the transaction. Public enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan subsequently denied this and the two entities are scheduled to appear before Scopa later this month over the matter.

On Wednesday, Rabonda told Scopa that when the AG requested the sale agreement, the department of public enterprises said it will make the agreement available once the outstanding approvals by the regulatory bodies have been finalised and the transaction is final.

“There are some questions that we have highlighted which will be answered once we have looked at the agreement, to see the role of government in the entity, how we place ourselves there as the public sector auditor, and also understanding the role of parliamentary oversight,” Rabonda added.

He hinted that the Mango Airline, a subsidiary of SAA, was not included in the transaction.

When DA MP Alf Lees lamented as astounding and a disappointment that the AG accepted preclusion from seeing the agreement, the office seemed to backtrack. “The AG must give us legal reasons why they didn’t see this agreement,” demanded Lees.

“It’s not a matter of we are comfortable that we haven’t received the agreement. We don’t have the (annual financial statements) themselves, let alone the agreements.

“We don’t have the annual financial statements (AFS) post 17/18, so it’s part of the engagements that are still unfolding in us requesting and getting the AFS, and everything that accompanies the special transition,” said Zwakala.

She said they hoped to get the outstanding documents in due time as there was no reason they shouldn’t get the agreements.

“There has been no barring as far as I know, to say ‘AG you shall not have a look at this agreement’. So it’s part of the ongoing processes and engagement.”

In February 2020, the department of public enterprises told Scopa the reason SAA had failed for two financial years at the time to table its annual financial statements and annual reports was that should these be tabled, it would effectively be tabled on a liquidation basis, effectively placing the entity into liquidation.

TimesLIVE

Workers boo President Ramaphosa off stage on Workers’ day

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ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa who was expected to deliver the main address at Cosatu’s Workers’ Day celebrations at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg in the North West was booed off the stage by disgruntled South African workers.
Ramaphosa had to be whisked away as protesters demanded that he leaves. 

Cosatu was holding its main Workers’ Day celebrations at the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg in the North West where ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa was expected to deliver the main address.

Workers are claiming that the government is selling them out.

Source – online

Mufamadi denies White House claims

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President Cyril Ramaphosa’s security adviser Sydney Mufamadi denies describing the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an act of “aggression”.

The White House said in a statement on Tuesday that Mufamadi and his US counterpart, Jake Sullivan, had “highlighted the need for an immediate end to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine”.

According to the White House, Sullivan also stressed that the US was ready to work with South Africa in tackling the “crisis in Ukraine”.

The Russian invasion’s impact on supply chains, commodity prices and food security in Africa was also discussed.

The statement raised eyebrows because Ramaphosa and his government have so far maintained a position of neutrality over the war in Ukraine.

In Business Day on Thursday, Mufamadi distanced himself from the statement.

Although he and Sullivan “agreed about a number of things on how to move forward with respect to cooperation between our two countries, particularly our two offices”, Mufamadi said he did not use the words the White House had attributed to him.

Mufamadi said: We had a good discussion. I didn’t issue a statement. They issued a statement and used the language they are accustomed to, which isn’t our language.

This is not the first time that the US has given a different interpretation of a high-level conversation with South Africa.

After Ramaphosa and US President Joe Biden spoke to each other on April 8, Biden stressed in a statement that there should be a “clear, united international response to Russian aggression in Ukraine”.

Ramaphosa’s statement about the call did not mention a wake-up call for unity or Russian “aggression”.

“We shared views on the conflict in Ukraine and agreed on the need for a ceasefire and dialogue between Ukraine and Russia,” was all he said in the statement on the war.

The call between Biden and Ramaphosa followed a day after South Africa, for the third time, abstained from voting at the UN on the question of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

South Africa abstained on a resolution against the invasion, a resolution blaming Russia for the attacks in Ukraine and a resolution to expel Russia from the UN Security Council. All three resolutions were adopted with a large majority.

Several foreign ambassadors to South Africa condemned its government’s “neutral stance” on the war in Ukraine.

However, government maintains that its position is justified because Russia must be part of the solution to the conflict in Ukraine.

-News24

Ria Ledwaba might be barred from contesting the SAFA Presidency

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In a move likely to set tongues wagging and trigger a backlash in South African football, Safa presidential hopeful Ria Ledwaba could be disqualified from contesting next month’s election.

Ledwaba, one of Safa’s vice-presidents and Nomsa Mahlangu, a former national executive committee (NEC) member, face the same fate on the grounds that they were not nominated by their regions.

City Press has reliably learnt that both could miss out because they were not nominated by the regions where they were born. This clause was reportedly inserted last month and hurriedly pushed through.

City Press has seen copies of the Safa statutes and there are differences between the initial and final documents.

Some regional members, who spoke to City Press on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, view the move as an attempt to sideline Safa president Danny Jordaan’s opponents by using the congress to push an agenda.

The clause, under article 25.9 of the Safa statutes, was only included and approved last month.

It states that:In terms of the national list, every candidate for the Safa NEC shall be proposed by his/her own region or by a member whom he/she belongs to and be supported by at least two other members.

City Press has established that Ledwaba, who is a provincial executive member of Safa Limpopo, was not nominated by her Capricorn region of Safa but by the neighbouring Vhembe region in the province.

But those sympathetic to Ledwaba have argued that, as one of the vice-presidents of Safa, she did not need to be nominated by her region to be eligible, as she serves a national constituency.

One regional member protested: This is a clear case of purging. How can you disqualify a vice- president who was nominated and also supported by other regions? It has never happened in the history of Safa and cannot be left unchallenged.

The angry members claimed that some of the clauses were not deliberated at the congress held in Sandton, Johannesburg on March 26, but the changes were “sneaked through” after the meeting.

As a result, there was a move to challenge some of these clauses, added an irate member.

Former executives also barred

It has also emerged that former NEC members will not be allowed to stand for elections.

According to article 30.4(f) of the Safa statues:The members of the Safa NEC must not have served as a Safa NEC member previously and/or served at a higher level than as a Safa NEC member.

It means the likes of Mahlangu, Kirsten Nematandani, Lucas Nhlapo, Elvis Shishana, Buti Lerefolo, Gay Mokoena, Willy Mooka and Abel Rakoma stand no chance of returning to the Safa national office.

Interestingly, according to insiders, this clause was not part of the amendments approved at the March 26 congress.

“There was no article 30.4(f) in the statutes which were last amended by the ordinary congress last month.

“But it has now been included in the signed copy. How is this possible?” asked the members.

“This is more about eliminating the competition. Where is the fairness in all of this?

“If people feel they have the numbers [backing them up to contest elections] what are they afraid of?”

Safa governance committee questioned

This week, Safa told the media that the list of nominees had been submitted to the governance committee for vetting.

But some members have questioned the governance structure, which they insist disqualified certain members on frivolous grounds.

They argued that the committee was hand-picked and curiously ratified by the Sandton congress last month.

One member said: Constitutionally, most of these clauses can be challenged at the highest level and, I can assure you, they are illegal.

Safa failed to respond to specific questions on these clauses when City Press inquired this week.

-City Press

‘Bathabile Dlamini volunteered to face integrity commission’ – Mashatile

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ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile has defended the party for failing to implement the step-aside rule against ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) president Bathabile Dlamini.

The former minister of social development was charged with perjury after she was found to have lied under oath during her testimony in an inquiry into her role in the 2017 social grants crisis that saw millions of grant beneficiaries unsure if they would receive their money.

Dlamini was accused of failing to ensure that the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) was equipped to administer social grants after a contract with Cash Paymaster Services, which was responsible for disbursing grants, was due to expire. Magistrate Betty Khumalo found that Dlamini gave false evidence regarding her knowledge of and involvement in Sassa operations.ANC Women's League president Bathabile Dlamini in ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini in the dock at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court. Photo: Chanté Schatz, News24

Dlamini was arrested, charged and attended her trial until she was convicted in March without the ANC acting against her in line with the party’s step-aside regulations.

Mashatile said Dlamini was convicted for perjury and given the option of a fine, which concluded the matter.

“All of us will know that the constitution of the ANC respects the fact that if you have an option of a fine, we can’t regard that as misconduct and suspend or expel her because we have an option of a fine. However, she felt that this is such a matter of magnitude that she would like the integrity commission to hear her out because there may be other comrades who may be raising other arguments. [But] … being convicted itself doesn’t bring the ANC into disrepute or affect its image,” he said.Following our engagement with her, she has agreed to present herself voluntarily to the integrity commission of the ANC and will be abide by its decision. She has not been forced to go and appear.

He said because they agreed in the ANC national executive committee (NEC) that the matter needs to be attended to urgently, he had already written to the integrity commission to deal with it speedily.

Addressing the disbandment of the ANCWL, Mashatile said the league was still viable and involved in campaigning, but the term of its leadership had expired. The party NEC felt that continuing with the current leadership would be unconstitutional, hence it decided to disband the women’s league’s NEC.

“The women’s league should have gone to conference already because their period of office is five years. But, if you look at where we are, they would have been in office now for seven years. So we felt that we needed to relook at that. There were those who agreed that because of Covid-19 from 2020, they couldn’t have a conference. But it was still felt that it would be unconstitutional and legally indefensible to have a structure that operates beyond its term of office, and therefore a decision was taken that the women’s league NEC be disbanded and replaced with a task team.”

He said they were going back to the party NECin a week’s time to give the names of the task team members who would take over the work of the women’s league.

The task team will be mandated to look at the branches of the ANCWL so that they rebuild a more viable organisation.

Mashatile said the integrity commission processes may affect the women’s league conference, which was set to be held in June.I don’t think, realistically, we can do it in June.

“It may not be possible, but we will come back with a new time frame in terms of the challenges that we are addressing with the ANCWL, and will probably need another four months or so for them to go to conference.”

Zuma was ‘determined’ to hand over Treasury to the Guptas, but resistance stalled it

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  • Former President Jacob Zuma tried to hand over control of the Treasury to the Guptas, before his second term expired.
  • Zuma and the Guptas, however failed to capture Treasury because of the resistance by former ministers Gordhan and Nene and other department officials.
  • Zuma had made several attempts to appoint a finance minister who would advance the agenda of the Guptas.

Former president Jacob Zuma was “determined” to hand over control of National Treasury to the Guptas. However, the resistance by former finance ministers Pravin Gordhan, Nhlanhla Nene and former director general Lungisa Fuzile and other officials prevented Treasury from being captured, the State Capture report said.

The fourth part of the State Capture report was released on Friday. It deals with the attempted capture of National Treasury.

The report details how Zuma and the Guptas through several attempts tried to deploy people to Treasury to work things in their interests.… The fact that the Guptas and president Zuma failed to capture our National Treasury even after relentless attempts to do so over a long period of time is due largely to the ministers of finance that South Africa had during those years, namely Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Minister Pravin Gordhan, the men and women at National Treasury, including Mr Fuzile who was the Director-General and his team of senior officials who, in the interest of the country, put up serious resistance to president Zuma’s and the Guptas’ attempts. The country should be grateful to all of them.- State Capture report

After Nene was dismissed by Zuma on 9 December 2015, for not backing a nuclear deal, Treasury “nearly fell into the wrong hands”, the report read. Zuma had appointed Des Van Rooyen, who did not have a “good track record as a performer”, as finance minister. Financial markets reacted badly to the news of Nene’s dismissal and Van Rooyen’s appointment.

The report indicated that Van Rooyen had been placed in Saxonwold on at least seven occasions leading up to his appointment. The report suggests Van Rooyen was a Gupta appointment, he also brought on Gupta-appointed advisors to Treasury.

Citing Fuzile’s testimony, the report indicated that van Rooyen did not know Mahomed Bobat, whom he appointed advisor ahead of his swearing-in ceremony. Nor did van Rooyen know Ian Whitley, the man he would appoint as chief of staff.

The circumstances of their appointments were also questionable. For example, Van Rooyen appointed Whitley on the day he met him without having reviewed his CV or doing background checks. “No minister in his sound mind would appoint someone as his or her chief of staff on the first day he met him and without having checked his background,” the report read.

Van Rooyen also told the commission he was unaware that Bobat worked for Regiments – a Gupta-linked company – which suggested he did not review Bobat’s CV. “Mr Van Rooyen also did not do any background checks on Mr Bobat but offered him the position of advisor immediately,” the report read.

The commission concluded that van Rooyen had no choice in appointing his advisors as these were people the Guptas wanted him to appoint. “That is the only explanation that makes sense.”

According to the report, in the short time they were at Treasury, Bobat and Whitley sent confidential documents to the Guptas and their associates.I shudder to think what would have happened to this country if President Zuma was not forced to move Mr Des van Rooyen and his advisors out of the National Treasury and if Mr van Rooyen and his advisors had been allowed to continue in National Treasury.- State Capture report

Given public outcry over van Rooyen’s appointment and concerns that the destruction on markets would continue when they reopened on Monday, 14 December – Zuma was pressured to move him out of Treasury. Van Rooyen was moved to the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Zuma reluctantly appointed Gordhan as finance minister.

Gordhan, however faced opposition during his time at Treasury – these were seen as attempts to force him to resign so that Zuma could deploy a Gupta appointee.

Eventually, Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas were sacked in a cabinet reshuffle in March 2017, on the basis that Zuma had an “intelligence report” that implicated them. According to testimony brought before the commission, the intelligence report the president relied on indicated that Gordhan and Jonas were planning an overseas trip to lobby international bodies against the South African government and economy. The credibility of the report has still not been determined.President Zuma dismissed Minister Gordhan because of his resistance to wrongdoing and because he wanted to appoint a minister of finance who carried the blessings of the Guptas.- State Capture report

According to the commission, Zuma needed a pretext to get Gordhan and Jonas out the way, so that someone could be appointed who would advance the Guptas’ agenda and capture Treasury. The person Zuma wanted to appoint was Brian Molefe, who at that stage was implicated in the public protector’s report on the capture of Eskom. The ANC Top 5, however, had blocked this appointment, and Zuma settled for Malusi Gigaba. In the past, Gigaba had been seen to cooperate with the Guptas and their agenda.

“The Guptas were very determined to capture National Treasury before president Zuma’s second term of office expired, and there was by then more or less just over a year left before the expiry of his second term. There was no time to waste.”

The report said that if Ramaphosa was not elected ANC president in December 2017, Gigaba could have possibly done more damage as finance minister.

In February 2018, Zuma was forced to resign. Ramaphosa was subsequently elected president of the country, and then appointed Nene as finance minister.

Meet Jub Jub and Kelly Khumalo’s son

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Jub Jub whose real name is Molemo Katleho Maarohanye, has been in the entertainment industry for most of his life since he started his career as a child.

Kelly Khumalo and Jub Jub

The popular media figure who was born to a celebrity mother who is popularly known as Mama Jackie, has lived quite a colourful life that has been marred with endless controversies. And although nobody has ever questioned Jub Jub’s talents and abilities, details of his personal life are always a hot topic of discussion.

Dwelling on the popular subject of Jub Jub’s personal life, today we take a look at who Jub Jub’s son is and answer all the questions you may have about Jub Jub as a father.

Jub Jub’s son and eldest child is a handsome boy called Christian Khumalo. Christian was born on 11th May 2010 and is currently 11-years-old.

Christian who looks so much like Jub Jub lives with his mother and sister and he is currently pursuing his studies.

Who is the mother of Jub Jub’s son?

Jub Jub and Kelly Khumalo

The mother of Jub Jub’s son is the beautiful musician/actress- Kelly Khumalo. Kelly and Jub Jub had one of those dramatic relationships that we’ve all seen way too many times when celebrities date.

For starters, it is reported that the two went out while Jub Jub was in another relationship with actress Amanda Du-Pont whom he had been dating for three years.

The couple’s relationship ended just as fast as it had started although at least it resulted in the birth of their son Christian.

Speaking about their relationship years after it ended, Kelly Khumalo accused Jub Jub of physically abusing her and claimed that Jub Jub only dated her because she was an “It girl.” Jub Jub on the other hand denied ever laying his hand on Kelly and claimed that Kelly had trapped him into the relationship with muthi or witchcraft.

It is quite hard to know who among the two is telling the truth since we were not there, so far now we will only give you both sides of the story and let you decide.

Jub Jub’s relationship with his son

kelly khumalo

According to sources, Jub Jub doesn’t get to see his son regularly as Kelly Khumalo, who has full custody of their son, reportedly blocked Jub Jub from seeing Christian.

Speaking to Drum Magazine in a past interview, Kelly revealed that her decision to prevent Jub Jub was to protect her son from Jub Jub who according to Kelly had a violent temperament.

After Jub Jub went public about Kelly denying him the chance to see his son, Kelly Khumalo responded via a tweet alleging that Jub Jub had not made any real efforts to see his son and all he did was make excuses in the media.

kelly khumalo

As it currently stands, Jub Jub’s son lives and stays with his mother and he doesn’t really have a working relationship with his father, Jub Jub.

Does Jub Jub have other children?

Jub Jub has been very discreet about his current private life and it is unclear whether he has any other children besides his son with Kelly Khumalo.

The media personality has, however, often shared pictures of himself with two children- a boy and a girl who somewhat resemble him, and we have to say that they are very adorable.

While we are still not sure whether Jub Jub’s son, Christian has any half-siblings on his father’s side, the little boy has a little sister from his mother’s side called Thingo Khumalo.

Who is Jub Jub’s new wife?

After all the relationship dramas that Jub Jub had endured in the past, he finally found and married his better half.

Not much is known about Jub Jub’s mysterious wife who has chosen to steer clear of the public. The much we know about her is that her name is Zenith and the two met during Jub Jub’s incarceration.

Source: News365.co.za

I mistook her to be a monkey, claims white farmer after shooting a black woman

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A white 77-year old  Limpopo farmer has been arrested for shooting at a group of black people who were fishing, claiming he mistook them for hippos.

The incident happened on Tuesday afternoon at a river near Mamojela Park, an informal settlement outside the mining town of Lephalale, where the group had been fishing since the morning.

Linah Motlenelwa, 39, was transferred to a more advanced Polokwane health facility on Wednesday after spending a night at the Elisras Hospital where she was admitted and treated after the incident.

The mother of two who occasionally fishes to sustain her family suffered a bullet wound to her arm.

Limpopo police spokesperson Lt-Col Mamphaswa Seabi confirmed the incident and that the farmer will appear in the Lephalale magistrate’s court on attempted murder charges.

“A 77-year old farmer has been arrested and detained for attempted murder. The farmer alleges that he was shooting at hippopotamus when a woman was shot. We don’t know if he was really shooting at hippopotamus (sic) and missed but ultimately a human suffered injuries,” Seabi said.

Motlenelwa’s partner Piet Lefawane, 38, who was also fishing in the river at the time of the incident, said the farmer fired at them twice with the second shot hitting the mother of his children in her lower left  arm.

“We had been fishing at the river from around 10am before the farmer, who was on the other side of the river, decided to open fire on us for no apparent reason,” Makola said.

Lefawane said the incident happened at about 2pm.

“We don’t know the farmer, he doesn’t know us but he just decided to shoot at us,” Makola said

“When police went to arrest him, I heard him tell them that he had been shooting at monkeys and hippos when he shot at us,” Lefawane said.

He said they regularly fish in the river that separates the informal settlement from the farm, for food and trading as they are not employed.

Lefawane said the farmer is known in their community as a gun-toting old man who often fires his firearm for no reason.

“Apparently, he would just discharge his firearm and shoot widely with people often running for cover. For me this was the first time that I experience it,” Lefawane said.

The EFF’s Waterberg co-ordinator Jeanette Komane, who spent time with Lefawane at the hospital on Wednesday, said the party would try its best to ensure that Motlenelwa gets the best care.

“Our main aim is to give support to the victim. She now needs an orthopaedic specialist, which this hospital doesn’t have,” Komane said.

“We are doing everything to secure the safety and wellbeing of the victim and we are in the process to see what we can do to find her better healthcare.”

–SowetanLive

Under new rules, fewer people will qualify for R350 grant

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  • R350 grant officially extended to end March next year.
  • Anyone with income more than R350 a month is not eligible.
  • This narrows the number of people eligible.

The Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu last Friday gazetted new regulations to govern the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant of R350. 

Previously the SRD grant was governed by regulations under the State of Disaster Act, which has since been lifted. It was introduced to assist those left destitute by the Covid-19 lock down. The new regulations are different in one important respect: qualifying applicants must be poorer than before, raising the possibility that some who previously got the grant will no longer be able to do so. 

The income criteria for access to the grant was previously a ceiling of R595, which was the food poverty line at the time. Anyone with income over R595 was excluded from the grant. The new income threshold is lower at R350. Anyone with income above that will not qualify for a grant. 

Activists who have championed the grant are disappointed at the change. The pro-social grant lobby wants eligibility, in the future, to be set at a higher income level and be progressively more generous. However, the “means test” to determine whether an individual is eligible is not very comprehensive and has been criticised both for shutting people out who are eligible and letting others who do not qualify in.

Zulu has not yet explained the reason and her spokesperson Lumka Olifant said over the weekend that the minister would hold a press briefing soon. 

The other criteria are the same as those under the State of Disaster Act. South Africans over the age of 18, as well as asylum seekers with up-to-date documentation and foreigners from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Angola and Malawi who are in possession of a Special Dispensation permit may apply for the grant. 

When the SRD was first put in place in April 2020, it was restricted to South Africans and permanent residents only. A successful court application by refugee rights group Scalabrini Centre in June 2020, resulted in eligibility being extended to foreigners with certain documentation. Undocumented migrants remain excluded. 

According to the latest statistics, 10.65 million are receiving the grant. The grant has been extended up to the end of March 2023, by which time government has promised a final decision on whether a permanent basic income grant will be introduced.

To access the grant, applicants must not be receiving any other social grant for themselves. This excludes child support grants which are received by parents on behalf of their children. 

Applications are cross-checked against various data bases and financial institutions to determine eligibility. 

-News24

SA bans foreigners from starting small businesses in some sectors

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  • Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi released the National Labour Migration Policy for public comment on Monday afternoon.
  • This will introduce new employment quotas on foreign workers, as well as ban foreigners from starting small businesses in some sectors.
  • “Migrants are in particular concentrated in informal sector – a worrying trend,” government said in a statement.

Government will introduce new employment quotas on foreign workers, as well as ban foreigners from starting small businesses in some sectors.

On Monday, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi introduced the National Labour Migration Policy (NLMP) and Employment Services Amendment Bill for public comment.

The NLMP will introduce quotas on the total number of documented foreign nationals with work visas that can be employed in agriculture, hospitality and tourism, as well as construction, along with other sectors.

The limit on foreign nationals will be set by the minister of labour, and the quotas will differ per occupation, sector or region. Quotas would apply not only to formal employees, but also to anyone paid for any work as well as “platform workers”, such as Uber drivers.

The proposed new legislations will be accompanied by amendments to the Small Business Act, which will limit foreign nationals from establishing small and medium-sized enterprises and trading in some sectors of the economy. This will include a list of sectors where foreign nationals cannot be allocated business visas.

Foreign nationals will include all people who aren’t citizens, permanent residents or refugees

There are four million foreign born persons in SA, representing 4% of the population and 7% of the labour force, government said.

“Especially since 2000, the influx largely of undocumented migrant workers has increased dramatically in an ever-expanding range of sectors. Migrants are in particular concentrated in informal sector – a worrying trend,” the department of labour said in a presentation.

Nxesi said it was critical for government to act and curb the hiring of foreign nationals in the country, as employers were exploiting desperate foreign nationals and “distorting the labour market”.

Nxesi released the National Labour Migration Policy for public comment on Monday afternoon, following an extensive period of consultation with his colleagues in Cabinet.

The policy will now be available for public comment for 90 days, after which it will be referred back to Cabinet with inputs and to Parliament.

The Department of Employment and Labour, Cabinet approved the release of the National Labour Migration Policy for public comment last Wednesday after extensive consultation between government structures, Nxesi and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Nxesi said employers must satisfy themselves that there is no availability of the requisite skills before opting to hire a documented foreign national. He stressed that government would not undermine the rights of foreign nationals in implementing the policy.

“In terms of the law, we can’t ban the employment of the foreign nationals. It will not allow us. The Constitution of this country will not allow us to do that. We can limit and control it. That is what we are trying to do,” said Nxesi.

Nxesi said along with the migration labour policy, the strengthening of border management policy will be prioritised. He said that his department is stepping up inspections to enforce existing labour and immigration legislation.

Deputy director-general of public employment services Sam Marotoba said it was able to identify “red spots” in migration pressures, including those with special dispensation permits and those who have overstayed in the country.

Marotoba said after conducting research and consultations at government level, the department had to hold cluster and socioeconomic impact consultations with legal advisors.

“This is what took us so long and we are going to embark on public consultation processes. In June we will go to Nedlac and depending on the amount of inputs and comments, we will report to Cabinet and Parliament by July,” said Marotoba.

He said South Africa would consult with the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and other regional groupings as the policy is implemented. Nxesi said the consultation process on the policy would be concluded within 90 days.

Pressing labour matters

Nxesi said, after a standoff with truck drivers over the inclusion of their profession in the policy, government had been engaging with truck drivers as recently as last week and was told that truck drivers were looking forward to making inputs on the policy document.

In a veiled reference to the conduct of the EFF who have conducted inspections at restaurants looking for expatriate employees, Nxesi warned that illegal inspections of workplaces looking for documented migrants would not be tolerated and that is was “destructive” and “irresponsible” of political parties to do so.

The National Labour Migration Policy and Employment Services Amendment Bill also makes provision for the “reintegration of the South African diaspora into the domestic economy”. This includes the developing of “incentives” for South African workers abroad to “impart skills and invest in labour market and other initiatives in South Africa”. 

Most of Gauteng’s municipalities are at risk of dysfunction – Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile

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  • Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile is concerned about the state of some municipalities. 
  • Maile said seven of the province’s municipalities were considered at risk.
  • Consumers and businesses owe municipalities billions for services.

Out of 11 municipalities in Gauteng, only two can be categorised as stable. The remaining seven are considered at risk of dysfunction and require significant monitoring, according to Gauteng Cogta MEC Lebogang Maile.

Maile was giving an update on Monday on the state of the province’s municipalities.

The seven municipalities of concern are Johannesburg, Tshwane, West Rand, Rand West, Sedibeng, Lesedi and Mogale.

In addition, two municipalities, Emfuleni and Merafong have been classified as dysfunctional and are in financial distress.

West Rand and Emfuleni are under administration.

Midvaal continues to outperform other municipalities in the province and Ekurhuleni is considered stable.

The criteria the Gauteng Cogta department used to classify municipalities of concern involved a combination of factors, including financial stability and servicing of debt. 

A microscopic look at what drove the municipalities to the state they’re in shows that financially, most are struggling to survive. 

Consumers owe them a combined R79.4 billion  in the over 90-day payment window. A breakdown of the numbers shows that consumers owe R70.3 billion to municipalities for services. Businesses are responsible for R20.1 billion.

Gauteng government departments also owe municipalities R449 million for rates and services.

Maile said the province created a debt management committee and that his department was working on a strategy to help municipalities tailor their revenue collection for sustained growth. 

However, he admitted that poor services hampered residents’ willingness to pay for services and that others had no funds. Only three municipalities, Ekurhuleni, Midvaal and Lesedi, have not reported any overdue accounts.

DA-run Tshwane and Johannesburg recently made headlines with the public shaming of businesses that owed millions in unpaid municipal services. 

The strategy worked for the two metros, with the cities seeing an increase in revenue collection since taking a tougher stance on debt.

The debt that residents and businesses have directly impacts the debt municipalities has with Eskom and Rand Water. Gauteng municipalities owe Eskom R9.75 billion, Maile said. With Rand Water, the picture is just as grim.

The agency is owed R3.15 billion – an increase from R2.94 billion in the previous year. 

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure

In the 2020/2021 financial year, fruitless and wasteful expenditure decreased to R23.62 billion – a R14.28 billion decline from the previous financial year.

Even though the outlook seems dire for Gauteng’s municipalities, Maile shrugged off any mention of administration. 

“No, no, we are not thinking about placing any municipality under administration. All we want is well-run municipalities,” Maile told News24.

‘We watched our homes being swept away and sinking into the ground’

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Residents of Lindelani informal settlement in Ntuzuma, Durban, watched helplessly as their homes were swept away and sunk into the ground during the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal.

Now scores of people from the settlement have moved into the Ntuzuma F community hall – with women, children and men all sharing the space.

The heavy rains left 40 000 people displaced, while 4 000 completely lost their homes.

Xoli Shazi is one of those who watched her home and that of her neighbours being swept away on April 11.

Shazi said one part of her shack was destroyed after a neighbour’s wall fell on to her home. What followed was flooding in her shack, with mud completely covering her furniture. She managed to rescue her children and they ran to her neighbour’s home. But minutes after arriving that house was also washed away. Again, they managed to escape.

She told City Press:Houses were being washed away left and right, leaving big holes where they once stood. We did not sleep, we stood outside in the rain until the morning.

“I was carrying my baby on my back and asked my other child to stand next to me, and I told them if we must die, we must all die together. I was convinced that it was the day we would die.”

It rained non-stop on that day and the rain made a loud, scary sound that still rings in her ears to date, Shazi said.

“In fact, when something falls I get scared and think about that scary day.”

The following day those whose homes were destroyed were moved to a school, where they received donations of clothes, blankets and food. They only moved into the hall on Monday as pupils were meant to go back to school on Tuesday following the Easter holidays.

Shazi said they were still in the dark about what would happen to them, but they know that they cannot stay at the hall forever.

They are not willing to go back to Lindelani.

“We are well taken care of here, I will not lie, but at the end of the day we hope to have our own homes because we do not even have privacy here as we live with many people.”

She also raised concerns about catching Covid-19 as there is no social distancing at the hall.

Sebeh Chilazi had been living at Lindelani since 2010. She told City Press that on that fateful day they went to sleep at around 9pm with their neighbours, who had sought shelter at their home after theirs was swept away. They heard a loud bang at around 10pm and woke up to see that where once stood a neighbour’s shack had turned into a river. The shack was gone.

Chiliza said at that point she could not sleep and was watching things unfold through her window. She noticed her washing line falling off and woke her husband up, and when they opened the door the front yard had turned into a big hole.

She asked her husband to go fetch their seven-year-old son so they could escape. In the meantime, she jumped into the big hole and was swept away by the floods, screaming for help.

She recalls:I had accepted that I was going to die. I do not know how I survived.

On his way to fetch their son, her husband fell and was trapped in the mud. Luckily their neighbour, who had run to their house earlier, managed to save the child and her husband managed to pull himself out of the mud.

Chiliza also managed to pull herself out of the mud and ran into one of her neighbours’ homes which had not been destroyed at the time.

“I was crying uncontrollably because I was thinking about my child, that he would not be able to survive that situation. I thought they had died.”

The women who spoke to City Press said while the living conditions at the hall were not ideal, they were happy that their children were back at school. The children whose schools are now far since their families’ displacement have been accommodated in schools nearby the hall.

When City Press visited the hall on Friday there were also home affairs trucks that were assisting people to regain their identity documents.

On Sunday, Premier Sihle Zikalala told the media that temporary accommodation for those who have lost their homes and are housed in places such as community halls will be set up by the end of this week. 

Zikalala said the  government was looking at setting up 4396 temporary accommodation units. He said 6278 people have been left homeless, 17 438 households were affected by the disaster, and 121 687 people were affected. There are also 7 490 people who are living in shelters in eThekwini, KwaDukuza and in Umzumbe.

–City Press

Mpumalanga MEC wins defamation suit against DA

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Mpumalanga Social Development MEC and provincial ANC Deputy Secretary Lindiwe Ntshalintshali had been awarded R200 000 in damages after she won a civil claim against a former DA councillor.

Ntshalintshali launched the lawsuit against the DA and its former councillor, Naritha Naidu, in the Witbank Civil Court in 2018 when she was executive mayor of the Emalahleni Local Municipality.

Naidu had written a press release, which claimed that:

  • Ntshalintshali’s leadership whilst she was the executive mayor was corrupt;
  • The then executive mayor was the reason Emalahleni currently owed Eskom over R2 billion, and service delivery continued to decline;
  • Ntshalintshali’s performance as mayor was dismal, but she did, however, excel at rewarding herself and her connected comrades with public funds; and,
  • She fraudulently increased the salaries of the Emalahleni municipal manager, Sizwe Mayisela, the chief financial officer, Jabulile Hlatshwayo, and the director of corporate services, Mandla Vilane.

During the court judgment on Friday, Magistrate Daleen Venter found that Naidu, who had since joined Action SA, failed to satisfy truth and public interest in her testimony.

“Literally,” said Venter in her judgment, “all the comments made in the statement are defamatory, as already conceded. Although the defendant failed to establish that the comments she made in her statement were based on facts, she repeatedly confirmed that she stood by her statement. This clearly indicates and confirms the defendant’s malice in publishing the statement.”

Ntshalintshali testified that Naidu did a credit check on her after her husband purchased a new vehicle. She, said Venter, testified that during the publication of the DA’s statement on social media and local newspapers, she was hijacked twice.

Venter said: She was traumatised by the allegations that she was stealing people’s money. Whenever she went to shops, people made derogatory remarks on her and her children were bullied at school. This incident almost killed her emotionally and spiritually.

The magistrate said there are various platforms to express ourselves, and in terms of our Constitution, we ought to have that freedom of speech. However, we must be very careful in weighing our right to freedom of expression against the rights of others, by not harming their dignity and reputation.

Venter found that Ntshalintshali was entitled to an award of general damages to compensate her for the impingement on her dignity and reputation. She added that Ntshalintshali was acting ANC secretary and acting mayor at the time the defamatory allegations were made, and there were rumours that she should not be voted into the posts because she assisted “in the collapse of the municipality”.

Venter said: It was damaging to her reputation. She is a mother and wife, and this statement had a devastating impact on her private life and that of her children who were bullied at school.

“The nature of the defamatory statement, which implied that the plaintiff was dishonest, corrupt, untrustworthy and a thief is demeaning and must have caused a great hurt to the plaintiff when considered against her standing at her place in the political sphere, her political career and her standing in the community,” she added.

Venter said that the allegations contained in the media statement were publicised as facts and all reasonable readers would have understood that Ntshalintshali was corrupt.

“The allegations made in the statement were not fair and could not have been in the interest of the public. The allegations in the statement made were not the truth and, therefore, they could never have been seen as reasonable.”

Mpumalanga DA leader Jane Sithole said that even though the court had made a judgment against Naidu’s statement, evidence from a forensic report in Emalahleni had proved some of the allegations to be true.

“She had to sue because the allegations were not proved anywhere. Now, it’s 2022 and there’s a forensic report that even recommends criminal charges against Ntshalintshali,” Sithole mentioned.

One person shot dead, another wounded at North West ANC branch general meeting

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Community activist advocated for new leadership to take over ward

A 38-year-old man has been shot dead at an ANC branch general meeting (BGM) in Mothutlung, North West, forcing the gathering to collapse.

Ofentse “Chippa” Nkomo was ambushed while standing outside the Mothutlung Community Hall ahead of the region’s ward 20 BGM.

A 30-year-old woman was hospitalised after she sustained gunshot wounds during the incident on Sunday afternoon.

Nkomo, a community activist, had been actively campaigning for a new and young leadership to take over the branch. His friends told Sowetan that he had been going door-to-door since 2018, recruiting new members to the branch with the idea of getting a new leadership elected.

North West police spokesperson Brig Sabata Mokgwabone said: “Police in Mothotlung are investigating a case of murder and attempted murder.

“According to information available at this stage, reports suggest that the 38-year-old man was outside Mothotlung Community Hall where he attended a meeting. He was still outside the hall when a white BMW vehicle entered and stopped in the yard,” Mokgwabone said.

He said it is alleged that two occupants wearing face masks alighted from the vehicle and opened fire on the man. In the process, a woman was struck on her left thigh by a stray bullet.

“The suspects then jumped into their vehicle and fled from the scene. Sadly, the man was certified dead on the scene by Emergency Medical Rescue Services [EMRS], while the 30-year-old woman was taken to hospital for medical treatment,” Mokgwabone said.

He said the motive for the killing is still unknown at this stage and investigations are continuing.

Zahara’s Sama awards stolen

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Six SA Music Awards (Samas) were stolen from musician Zahara’s secure estate in Roodepoort, Gauteng, this week.

The Loliwe hitmaker, whose given name is Bulelwa Mkutukana, opened a case of house robbery at the Honeydew Police Station on Friday.

She told City Press she noticed that her awards were missing when she returned this week from her tour of the Eastern Cape to celebrate 11 years in the music industry.

She said:I don’t know how I feel right now. Those awards meant more than money to me. I don’t even know who they’d sell them to. To me, those awards are a look into my music history. I even have a special room in my house for them.

Mkutukana said she had realised that her Sama statues were missing while she was making a TikTok video on Thursday after arriving home.

“I came back and my gardener said he’d arrived at my house when we weren’t there and had found the front door open. I’d locked the door when I left. I’ve been living there for 10 years and we’ve never had a single break-in before.

“They stole the awards. Nothing else looks funny. We didn’t notice anything else that seemed to have been taken. I only realised that the awards were missing when I was making the video in that room, because that’s where I always make them,” she said.

Mkutukana is one of the country’s most decorated musicians, with more than 25 awards to her name, including 17 Samas, three Metro FM awards, one Nigeria Entertainment Award and one African Entertainment Award USA, which she won in 2020.

She was puzzled about how the intruders could have gained access to her home.

“I live in a security estate and it isn’t easy for anyone to simply gain entrance. You can only get in if someone lets you in,” Mkutukana said.

The star added that she had asked her estate management and a neighbour who had a security camera overlooking her room to provide her with footage that might show who had entered her house and stolen her trophies.

She said:They took six Sama awards. I want them back. I want to cry as I talk about this. What do these people want from me? I won’t let this go until I get my awards back. I can never get them from anywhere again, because they’re irreplaceable.

However, she said she suspected that this might have been the work of people in her neighbourhood who had a longstanding feud with her.

“Some of my neighbours at the estate have been abusing me since I started living there. You can ask anyone close to me about it. At one point, they even cut off my power and made it look as if I hadn’t been paying my electricity bill – but when City Power got there, they told me my supply had been cut off by other people, not by them.

“I won’t leave my house because I love it. I bought it. I’ll get that footage and it will show who stole my awards,” she repeated.

Police spokesperson Mavela Masondo has not yet commented on the case.

EFF faces R10m lawsuit for ‘racist’ statement

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Commercial cleaning company Afri-Services has added to the EFF’s legal woes by slapping the party with a lawsuit of more than R10 million for alleged racist statements published by its labour desk on social media, as well as for allegedly defying an earlier court order to render an apology.

The company, whose headquarters are in Vereeniging, south of Johannesburg, filed its combined summons in the Johannesburg High Court on April 8, requesting that the EFF pay reputational damages for what it deemed “racist and harmful statements propelled by the red berets on Facebook on January 18 2021”.

City Press previously reported that the company had been granted an interdict from the same court in June, which prohibited the EFF from facilitating labour-related disputes between Afri-Services and its employees, particularly those working at the Toyota dealership in Barloworld in Witbank, Mpumalanga.

Its papers also cited that the EFF had deliberately refused to publish a written apology on the same platform and had failed to acknowledge that the statements had caused the company financial losses.

According to the document, the alleged racist statements published by the EFF’s labour desk had referred to Afri-Services as a “racist white corrupt company”.

“The EFF labour desk has registered a great victory: a racist white corrupt company called Afri-Services…” was the wording.

EFF spokesperson Sinawo Tambo acknowledged City Press’ request for comment and promised to revert with one, but had not done so by the time of going to print.

Afri-Services said in its court application that the statements had been intended to depict it as a “racist, corrupt company that discriminates and does not recognise the dignity of any racial group other than white people”.

“The words were understood by readers to mean that the plaintiff is a human rights violator and employs apartheid-style tactics and/or has no regard for the human rights of people other than those of the white population in South Africa,” read the papers.

Afri-Services argued that it had suffered reputational damage, which had resulted in the Secunda Mall in Mpumalanga terminating its contract with it.

“During a period of 36 months until July 31 2021, the plaintiff made a net total income of R1 935 812 from rendering cleaning services at the Secunda Mall, being an average net income of R53 772 per month.

“The plaintiff would have made a net total income of R1 935 812 for the period from August 1 2021 to July 31 2024, calculated by multiplying the average monthly net income of R53 772.57 with the period of 36 months,” it said.

The company is claiming R6 452 709.12 in damages “caused directly by wrongful defamation and/or conduct of the EFF by interfering in the contractual relationship between the company and its customer at the Secunda Mall”.

The company is claiming an additional R4 million from the EFF for reducing its esteem in the eyes of the public.

“The [statements] were published with the intention of defaming and injuring the plaintiff’s business reputation.”

300 brand new State vehicles have been gathering dust in Rustenburg since 2018

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  • The Rustenburg municipality spent millions of rands to purchase the fleet but have not used them. Photo: Supplied The Rustenburg municipality spent millions of rands to purchase the fleet but have not used them. Photo: Supplied

NEWS


More than 300 marked government vehicles have been collecting a thick layer of dust after being bought by the Rustenburg Local Municipality in North West four years ago.

The vehicles, worth about R480 million, some of which have grass growing around them, have been parked inside government premises since delivery in 2018, when they were purchased.

The forgotten cars at the municipality’s mechanical workshop on the corner of Bosch and Lucas streets include sedans, bakkies, tractor-loader-backhoes (TLBs), trucks, tractors, and construction, maintenance and waste collection vehicles.

Rustenburg has one of the worst service delivery records in the country, with gaping potholes on the roads, crumbling infrastructure and uncollected rubbish blighting the landscape. The Rustenburg municipality spent millions of rands to purchase the fleet but have not used them. Photo: Supplied

According to insiders, the vehicles were acquired to replace the old and broken fleet to help with service delivery, but a protracted court battle is apparently the reason they have not been used.

An investigation by City Press discovered that many of the vehicles have been marked with municipal stickers, and have been allocated numbers.

Inside the workshop building, there are several marked VW Golfs and sedans, a black BMW that was driven by the former mayor and Nissan NP300 bakkies.https://64b1c415b1f5c7afa5f84510289ce592.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

READ: Eastern Cape authorities to destroy 91 vehicles amid fraudulent car registration syndicate probe
While some of the sedans and bakkies are in a secure building, TLBs – which are commonly used for a variety of tasks on construction sites, including for digging holes, excavation and landscaping – are rusting in the yard.

Next to the TLBs are yellow bulldozers, which are used for clearing land, as well as several eight-ton tipper trucks, which are normally used to carry sand and concrete.

There are also several seven-ton platform trucks and panel vans parked neatly alongside front-end loaders and heavy-duty trucks fitted with heavy-duty cleaning equipment.

A senior municipal employee told City Press that the vehicles were not moved undercover when there were extreme weather conditions.

He said the growing concern was that, by the time they were used, many of their parts would have become rusty and may need to be replaced.Vehicles are gathering dust at the RLM Mechanical Workshop in Rustenburg since 2017. Photo: SuppliedPHOTO:



While most of the cars are still without licence plates, some (including tractors) are mounted on bricks, as criminals have found ways to remove their tyres and other important parts.

City Press has learnt that the municipality splashed more than R141 million of taxpayers’ money to acquire the fleet from KSP Group in the initial payment in 2018, but is unable to use the cars due to the ongoing court case with the company.

The four-year-long litigation started when the municipality stopped paying for the cars, claiming that KSP Group had inflated their price. The company countered this accusation in the North West High Court, arguing that the municipality was in breach of contract after it stopped its payments.

At the time the municipality stopped paying, it had skipped two months worth of invoices, amounting to R251 million.

The municipality approached the high court to request that there be a review and that the R480 million deal, awarded in October 2018, as well as two other associated contracts, be set aside. It claimed that this would stop the “unconscionable conduct” of the company in the matter and the loss to the public purse of what is easily more than R100 million – money desperately needed by the municipality to provide services to the citizens of Rustenburg.

KSP Group defended the matter, arguing that, while its invoices were not being settled, the municipality was in possession of unpaid-for vehicles, machinery and equipment, all of which were new and being used by the municipality for their intended purposes.

In an urgent application to the high court, KSP Group director Kantharuben Govender argued that his company and the Rustenburg municipality had entered into a service level agreement in November 2018 and amended it in February 2019.

“During 2018, the respondent [Rustenburg municipality], following a tender process, called for the provision of a panel of transactional advisers for infrastructure delivery acceleration in the area of jurisdiction of the respondent for a period of three years. The appointment of the applicant [KSP Group] was subject, inter alia, to the conclusion of a written service level agreement and was to incorporate a means of acquisition of the equipment by delivery and payment over a three-year period,” read the court papers.

Govender stated that the municipality was supposed to have paid his company the full amount by the end of December 2019.

“However, in terms of the addendum dated February 8 2019, the respondent decided that it did not want to pay the amounts set out in the agreement over a 36-month period, but that the payment would be restructured as follows: R150 million paid on or before March 18 2019, a second payment of R200 million to be paid on or before July 15 2019 and a final outstanding amount to be paid on or before December 15 2019,” read the papers.

However, the Rustenburg municipality stopped paying KSP Group in June 2019, arguing that it was investigating “the circumstances relating to the tender and the execution and implementation on suspicion of material irregularities”.

The municipality also informed the company that it did not intend to comply with the payment of R200 million, which was due in July 2019.

The municipality opposed the court action by KSP Group through the then acting municipal manager, Edward Komane. He argued that the extent of the price overinflation gave rise to reasonable suspicion that there might have been wrongdoing and that the Hawks had been enlisted to assist in the investigation.

The municipality revealed that the financial irregularities were first picked up by the Auditor-General, when it became apparent that three companies – which had separate contracts with the municipality – were linked, had common directors and staff, and shared premises.

Komane revealed that each company was awarded tenders or contracts by the municipality for material at grossly overinflated sums of money “in circumstances where there were serious irregularities in the procurement processes”.

When called on Thursday, KSP Group’s legal department declined to comment, saying that the matter was still before the court and was therefore sub judice.

READ:  Cabinet members exceed generous spending cap on state vehicles

However, City Press has learnt that the company and the municipality have been negotiating to reach an out-of-court settlement in a bid to resolve the issue while the court has adjourned the case.

“Negotiations are at an advanced stage [and it’s hoped] that an agreement can be reached before the next court date. Yet we understand that the municipality might end up paying the company without interest,” said an insider.

A municipal staffer said the fleet had sparked outrage among opposition parties, who questioned why the local authority had spent more than R480 million on it. They had been calling for an investigation into the matter.

DA provincial leader and councillor Luan Snyders said that the contractual dispute between the municipality and the company had been going on for a very long time.

He said the municipality had failed to disclose the details of the deal to the Rustenburg council since the tender was awarded in 2018.

“But the bid committee who sat and approved the tender should be investigated for any irregularities that might have occurred during that time,” he said.

Snyders said service delivery was disrupted because municipal vehicles were not being used.what a waste A fleet of 300 brand-new vehicles has been gathering dust in Rustenburg, North West, for years. The local municipality spent millions on the cars, tractors, construction vehicles and bakkies.

He added that he had written to the municipality in March to put the vehicles to use, but it had not responded.

Rustenburg spokesperson TJ Matebesi promised to respond to City Press’ request for comment on Thursday, but had not done so by the time of going to print.300 brand new vehicles are gathering dust in Rustenburg since 2017. The Local Municipality has spent Millions in purchasing the cars. Photo: Rosetta MsimangoPHOTO:

Efforts to obtain comment from mayor Sheila Mabale-Huma were equally unsuccessful, as she failed to answer her phone or respond to a WhatsApp message. 

‘Youngest millionaire’ arrested twice for fraud

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Troubled self-proclaimed youngest millionaire Sandile Shezi’s legal woes are mounting after he was arrested last week for failing to pay back another alleged victim’s money.
Shezi was nabbed movie-style at the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court on Thursday after he made an appearance there on another matter. He spent the night in a Sandton Police Station holding cell and was released on bail the following day.HIGH FLYER ….Shezi always travels in style.PHOTO: instagram

Last year, City Press reported that Shezi, a popular crypto trader, was a wanted man after Johannesburg businessperson Allan Ledwaba laid a criminal charge against him for allegedly defrauding him of the R500 000 he had invested in Shezi’s forex trading company.

Ledwaba, along with other investors, deposited large sums of money into Shezi’s company, Global Forex Institute, with the hope of reaping profits worth double their capital.

City Press understands that Shezi has been slapped with a fresh case of fraud after another one of his alleged victims, Angel Mabena, opened a case against him at the Sandton Police Station late last year.

Mabena accused the flamboyant Shezi of defrauding her of R200 000.

He was arrested last week and made his first appearance in the Wynberg Magistrates’ Court. The case was postponed to April 28.

Mabena said she had borrowed money from family members after she was lured by Shezi with the promise that her investments would yield great returns.

Mabena said: We were told that we were investing in his company and, as soon as the company started making profits, we would be getting dividends.

She said she made her investment in 2018 and is yet to see returns or her initial investment from the businessperson.

“He kept promising us our money back. I made him sign a contract to say that I don’t want to invest any more and I wanted my money back. So, when he failed to pay me back, I opened a case against him,” Mabena explained.

The 29-year-old Shezi, from Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, made a name for himself by claiming that he was the country’s youngest forex trader to make millions of rands in personal wealth from cryptocurrency.

Police spokesperson Mavela Masondo confirmed the arrest: We can confirm that the suspect was arrested for another case of fraud as he was appearing in court.

Mabena said the money that she had invested in Shezi’s business was a loan from her aunt. She said that she had to relocate to KwaMhlanga after realising that she had been scammed.

“I have fought with my family. I gave him money which I borrowed from my family members. I had to relocate to KwaMhlanga [in Mpumalanga] because I got the money from my aunt and now our family is divided because of this.

“My family from Johannesburg think that I ate their money and that has caused a rift in our family; R200 000 is a lot of money. It means I had to do a lot of convincing to get that money and now I am telling them stories and that is a problem. I had to move,” Mabena said.

Shezi owns a fleet of luxury cars that include a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Range Rover Velar, a Ferrari California T, a Maserati Grancabrio, a Mercedes-Benz G-Class and a BMW i8.

He is known for travelling first class as he goes on posh vacations abroad and owns a mansion in an exclusive private estate. His company has offices in the plum suburbs of Umhlanga and Sandton.

At the age of just 23, Shezi was already reportedly a millionaire and, according to various media reports, his net worth now stands at R2.8 million.

Floods induced KZN disaster getting worse by day

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Residents in the Palmiet River informal settlement told News24 that they have no food or clothes following heavy downpours and floods in KwaZulu-Natal. At least 341 lives have been lost and 40 723 people affected. “The situation is bad,” Azola Mzathu told News24. “This is perhaps one of the biggest disasters in the living memory of our province.

As of Saturday, 398 people had died in KwaZulu-Natal following floods.

State mortuaries are experiencing a backlog in processing the influx of bodies.

Mop-up operations in the province are continuing.


While most people spent their Good Friday in church or with their families, Nosipho Masinga was in and out of the state mortuary in Pinetown, trying to figure out when she could bury her sister and brother-in-law. They both died in the KwaZulu-Natal floods. 

With the death toll close to 400, many families are in limbo about when they can bury their loved ones due to the backlogs in state mortuaries. 

“I have faced many difficulties that have also affected my mental health. I am so stressed, and it has cost me, and I don’t know what the government thinks of that. My sister died in hospital, and my brother-in-law died at the scene. We wanted to bury them as soon as possible,” Msinga told News24 at the mortuary. 

Her sister Duduzile Mawengu and her husband Micheal died after their home in Dassenhoek, Pinetown, west of Durban, was destroyed during Monday’s floods.

“When we got here, it was chaotic, which caused further trauma for us because when you get here to look for your loved one, they say they don’t know them. This is the second time we have come to look for our brother-in-law, but luckily we found him.

When Masinga got to the mortuary, she was given a reference number and a cellphone number. She was told to keep calling to find out when they would release the bodies to the family. Masinga was not given a clear indication of when the bodies would be released.  Family members assist with clearing debris for mem Family members assist with clearing debris in KwaNdengezi after heavy flooding: AFP

“The problem is they don’t let us see the body because they say it will hurt us, because inside the mortuary, people are bundled in. They don’t want us to see that,” she said

“What hurt me was when a man whose six-month-old child drowned couldn’t go inside and identify his child. They told him to bring a picture. I asked myself how he would find a picture following the flood. They should have let him in to identify him,” she added. 

A mortuary worker who spoke to News24 on the condition of anonymity said that they were under immense pressure, saying:The mortuary has a capacity of around 80, but we are seeing more than triple that, and we are trying to do our best to get to all the bodies with speed. We usually have only nine bodies a day, but since the floods, we are up to an average of 25 per day.

Micheal’s body was taken to the mortuary from his home, while Duduzile was first taken to hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival. 

“We are still waiting to see how long the process will take. I am still worried about my sister, who is stuck at RK Khan hospital, and I don’t know when they will bring her here. I want to make funeral arrangements, but I can’t continue.

“We have spent a lot of money driving around, and when we went to RK Khan to try and fetch her, they said we couldn’t because there was something the police needed to do. We are not allowed to access the body; they said we could only access it at the government mortuary,” she said. 

Masinga said that the mother of five worked as a domestic worker and tried her best to raise her children.  “My sister worked hard for her children, and I am sure of that. She got a husband, and they both tried very hard. Her husband was a worker and got paid very little. “I don’t know how her children will manage. My sister worked as a maid. She worked hard to build her house and did that while working as a maid, trying to raise her children,” she said.A man is seen searching through debris at the Blue Lagoon beach following heavy rains and winds in Durban.

“My sister was loved by many and respected people. She was a churchgoer, and even the church said they had lost a great character. She had even adopted her friend’s child, who died. She never wanted to see another person suffer. I am heartbroken because God took her this way. I will not abandon her children; two of them just finished matric.”

Luke Katenhe and his brother David, who were also at the mortuary, said they didn’t mind waiting for their nephew Leeroy’s body to be released, as it would give them more time to prepare to take his body back home to Zimbabwe. 

“Waiting is not a problem for us. We can not rush the system. Usually, when a person dies like this, and because we are far from home, we can’t process everything in a day, so this will give us time to prepare,” said Katenhe.

Katenhe said they were told to try again on Tuesday to fetch the body. 

“We wanted to bury him as quickly as possible, but unfortunately, when we went yesterday (Thursday), they told us the system was down, and they couldn’t help us with a death certificate, so we couldn’t do anything.

“They told us to try on Tuesday, and they might be able to help us, and the system will be okay, but fortunately, we heard that the system was back, and that is why we are here,” he said. 

Leeroy died in Westville after a landslide crushed the house he was in. To add insult to injury, David found a post, which has since been deleted, asking for donations using the video he took as people tried to dig Leeroy out of the rubble.

“What shocked me was that I saw a video on Facebook. I only shared that video with my family, and then the next day, I saw it on Facebook. It was so painful because this is a tragic thing that happened to me. Secondly, there are people using account numbers and e-wallets to collect money without consulting us.

“When you do something for people who passed away, you must do it properly. People are taking advantage,” said David. 

–News24

Jackson Mthembu’s wife Thembi dies

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The wife of former minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu has died.

Speaking on behalf of the family, Artwel Mthembu confirmed that Thembi Mthembu died at a Pretoria hospital on Thursday morning.

“She had not been well in the past few weeks and she sadly passed away this morning in hospital. This has just opened up wounds as we lost Jackson last year,” he said.

The former minister died early last year from Covid-19-related complications.

Several people took to social media to express their condolences to the family.

Eastern Cape legislature deputy Speaker Mlibo Qoboshiyane wrote on Facebook:The late minister and NEC [national executive committee] member of the ANC Cde Jackson Mthembu’s wife, Thembi, passed away early this morning. Our prayers are with the children, family and relatives. Indeed, birth is the beginning of death.

Lumko Mtimde also wrote:Word just came through that the wonderful wife of the late leader and friend, comrade Jackson Mthembu, has passed away this morning. May the perfect soul of our sister Thembi rest in perfect peace.

Another Facebook user, Charles Awuzie, said it was a sad day in South Africa, adding that the Mthembu family had been through so much already.

“First, Kwezi, their first daughter, took her life at Pelican Parliamentary Village in Cape Town in 2019. Last year, Jackson Mthembu passed away and today, his widow left the world. As a political leader, minister Jackson Mthembu sacrificed his family and everything to serve his country. I hope the country remembers his sacrifices. My heart goes out to the Mthembu family,” he said.

 Death toll keeps rising, Ramaphosa says it’s ‘a catastrophe of enormous proportions’

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  • The official death toll is expected to grow as missing individuals are being located. 
  • The number of missing people has grown exponentially, according to provincial authorities.
  • The confirmed death toll is now more than six times the number confirmed a day before. 

The official death toll in rain-stricken KwaZulu-Natal keeps rising as the bodies of those missing after Monday’s torrential rain are located and confirmed dead.

The spike in the number of deaths can also be attributed to the fact that emergency services are finally able to access areas they could not on Tuesday. 

The province’s Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that at least 259 people had died.

Provincial authorities, who spoke to News24, said the plan was to appraise President Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet, so that he could communicate the official death toll while visiting affected communities on Wednesday. 

“This, however, did not materialise owing to the constant increase in the death toll. Every minute the number goes up, and it is better to get a consolidated number later in the evening that will be communicated to the public,” said an official. 

Addressing the media on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said he had visited a family who had 10 members “swept away by rushing water”. 

He said four members had been located and confirmed dead, but six were still missing.

The expectation that the death toll could continue to rise was alluded to by KZN’s police commissioner, Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, who bemoaned the severe shortage of mortuary vans in rain-battered parts. 

Mkhwanazi said: “As is, there is a limited number of mortuary vans that are available, and police are left having to transport these bodies from the pick-up scenes to mortuaries because there is not enough mortuary vans, that is why we are even assisting with our own resources.”

He was addressing the media from the Pinetown Civic Centre on Wednesday morning.

Mkhwanazi, the national police commissioner, Fannie Masemola, Police Minister Bheki Cele and KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala met with Ramaphosa and other ministers to brief them on the situation. 

Mkhwanazi said:Certainly, there is quite a number of additional resources that have already come down. We have got air support that is already here and a lot of other members that are coming down to support with the rescue operations as well as just to support our members.

Ramaphosa said other provinces had committed to sending aid to KZN, be it in expertise, resources or personnel. 

He went on to describe the situation as “a catastrophe of enormous proportions”, adding that “we need to act with haste to assist affected citizens”.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs confirmed on Wednesday evening 306 people died as a result of heavy rainfall and flooding across the province.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka said members of the KZN provincial executive committee would continue with visits to affected areas to lead the rollout of relief to communities in need.

“Municipal services like electricity, water, and refuse removal have already resumed in some areas.

“Residents are urged to be patient as teams in many municipalities affected by the flooding are stretched to capacity,” Hlomuka said.

He said the team would visit affected communities in the uThukela district municipality to assess the damages and assist in the rollout of relief to the affected communities.

Iavan Pijoos 

–News24

Cogta declares state of disaster in KZN

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The heavy rains that have caused damage to property, flooding, sinkholes and landslides in parts of KwaZulu-Natal have prompted the national department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) to declare a provincial disaster.

On Wednesday, the head of the national disaster management centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, gazetted the declaration.

“After having deliberations with sector departments and the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial disaster management centre, and after assessing the magnitude and severity of the impact of the severe weather events occurring in various municipal areas of the KZN province that resulted in the loss of life and damage to property, infrastructure and the environment caused by heavy rain, flooding, strong winds, landslides, etc and after having considered the information and recommendations received from the provincial disaster management centre, hereby give notice that on April 13, in terms of section 23 (1)(b). of the Disaster Management Act 2002, I classified these occurrences as a provincial disaster,” reads the gazette.

The declaration requires organs of state to strengthen support to existing structures to implement contingency arrangements and ensure that measures are put in place to enable the province to effectively deal with the effects of the disaster.

In the gazette, Tau said emanating from the classification of this occurrence as a provincial disaster, the primary responsibility to co-ordinate and manage the disaster, in terms of existing legislation and contingency arrangements, is designated to the provincial executive.

TimesLIVE

Operation Dudula gang leader Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini found guilty of contempt of court

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Pretoria – Leader of the Operation Dudula movement, Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini, was on Wednesday reportedly handed a “caution and discharge” sentence for missing a court date over an assault case that happened in 2019.

News24 reported that Dlamini was convicted for failure to appear in court in 2019 in the common assault case.Story continues below Advertisment

He allegedly assaulted a tenant at his mother’s house for failure to pay rent.

He appeared in court on 9 September 2019 and was released on a warning, but the outspoken activist reportedly failed to attend court, and a warrant of arrest was subsequently issued.

The assault case is now scheduled to be heard on May 3 in the Meadowlands Magistrate’s Court, and the activist was cautioned that he would be fined or jailed if he fails again to present himself in court.

Last month, Dlamini was released on R1 500 bail by the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court.

Several supporters were outside the court, and they were also at the Johannesburg central police station, where the Operation Dudula leader had been detained.

Dlamini, popularly known as Nhlanhla Lux, was arrested after a case was opened at the Dobsonville police station in Soweto in March. The complainant, Victor Ramerafe, was supported in opening the case by the Economic Freedom (EFF) by virtue of his membership with the party led by Julius Malema.Story continues below Advertisment

Ramerafe’s house was allegedly ransacked by members of Operation Dudula, led by Dlamini after the movement accused Ramerafe’s home of being a drug den.

Dlamini is expected to return to the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court on 27 May.

IOL

Operation Dudula leader Nhlanhla Lux Dlamini hands himself over to police

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Operation Dudula leader Nhlanhla “Lux” Dlamini, also known as Ntlantla “Lux” Mohlauli, on today handed himself over to the police in Soweto.

This was confirmed to The Citizen by the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) regional spokesperson in Gauteng, Phindi Mjonondwane.

While Mjonondwane could not divulge the reasons behind Dlamini’s latest arrest, she said the Operation Dudula leader was set to appear at the Meadowlands Magistrate’s Court where his docket will be revealed.

Police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili also confirmed Dlamini handed himself over to police in Soweto and he was on his way to court.

Operation Dudula’s general secretary Zandile Dabula told The Citizen she was unaware why Dlamini was arrested, but she too confirmed he was on his way to court.

Burglary charges

Last month, Dlamini was granted bail of R1,500 by the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court.

This followed his arrest on charges of malicious damage to property, theft and burglary.

The charges are in connection with an incident this month in which he and Operation Dudula members ransacked Soweto resident Victor Ramerafe’s home in search of drugs.

They were apparently acting on tip-offs that Ramerafe’s home was a drug den, but no drugs were found.

As part of his bail conditions, Dlamini is not allowed to make contact with the complainant. He has also been ordered to hand over his passport.

This is a developing story. More to follow.

–The Citizen

Ramaphosa to visit KZN today as floods inflict havoc in Zululand

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President Cyril Ramaphosa is set to visit flood-affected areas in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

In a statement released by the Presidency, it said that Ramaphosa’s visit would “offer support to affected communities and assess the response of government and civil society to this critical situation”. He will visit areas that have been severely impacted by the floods.

Ramaphosa said: “This is a tragic toll of the force of nature and this situation calls for an effective response by government in partnership with communities. “This situation calls on us to come together as a nation and offer assistance to those who desperately need our care and support.”

Ramaphosa will be joined by Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Minister of Police General Bheki Cele.

In a statement released by the KZN Provincial Government, an assessment by the Provincial Cabinet indicates that many people lost their lives, with Ethekwini alone reporting 45 so far.

The iLembe District, in areas such as Ndwedwe, Kwadukuza, more than 14 are reported to have tragically lost their lives. 

The province has experienced “one of the worst weather storms in the history of our country”.

Some families lost more than one family member. 

“The heavy rainfall … has wreaked untold havoc and unleashed massive damage to lives and infrastructure. 

“Undoubtedly, billions of rand worth of damage has been caused to homes, places of work, roads, bridges, electricity and water supply, and other critical government infrastructure. None of our districts have been spared, but the EThekwini Metro has been the epicentre of this disaster with most of the rain and the worst damage.” 

More than 140 schools have been affected by the floods.

“In particular, 40 learners and 12 educators from Tholulwazi High in Molweni were trapped at school because the bridge they use to cross the river collapsed and the road was washed away by floods,” the statement read. 

Helicopters will be procured jointly by the departments of health, transport, Cogta, and community liaison. 

MECs for education, health, and transport visited the school to bring required resources to support the trapped learners and educators while waiting for the helicopters to evacuate them from the school. 

The province condemns the alleged looting of containers.

“We will not allow what is a tragic development in our province to be taken advantage of by criminals.”

–News24

Indignity in life and death: KwaNdengezi residents line up their dead on the road desperate for help

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“The body will end up decomposing and smelling.”

These were the sombre words of Sizwe Mbotho, a diminutively framed middle-aged man, who stood next to the body of his six-year-old son, Khethokuhle, covered in a white sheet, waiting desperately for hours for emergency services to assist. 

He had walked 10 kilometres carrying his son after the little boy lost his life when when the Mbotho family home in the Dassenhoek Area, KwaNdengezi, collapsed due to a landslide amid catastrophic flooding that wreaked havoc in KwaZulu-Natal. 

News24 found Mbotho desperately trying to flag down police cars and the very few emergency services vehicles that passed by the road.

All the responses were the same: “We are rushing to other areas where dozens of people have lost their lives there.” 

Mbotho said when the torrential downpour started, he was at work, on the nightshift. 

“I received a phone call informing me in the early hours of the morning that there had been an accident that had happened at home. When I made my way back home in the morning, I was informed that our two-room house had collapsed, and my wife and two kids had been buried under the debris.

“Fortunately, my wife and our other child survived the incident, but when my wife tried to go back into the house, our deceased son was buried under a pile of soil and rocks. We tried to dig and save him, but we could not get to him on time.

“Because the emergency services could not access the area, untrained neighbours took it upon themselves to try and assist. They tried to dig him out using picks and shovels, and that also could have resulted in him suffering further harm if there is a possibility that he may have still been alive.”

Mbotho said by the time they found Khethokuhle, he was lifeless. 

He said:When we got to where his body was, he had already lost his life. I then called the police, who said due to the inaccessibility of the area, they would not be able to get to where we were, so we had to carry the lifeless body over 10 kilometres to the main road.

He added that he did not know what was taking the emergency services so long to come and fetch his son. 

As Mbotho waited, about six of his neighbours emerged from the road leading into the Dassenhoek area carrying the body of his 35-year-old neighbour. 

The two grieving families greeted and exchanged condolences. 

Eventually, two police officers from Mariannhill police station driving along the main road in a white double-cab bakkie came to their aid, agreeing to take the bodies to the police station for documentation and eventually to the mortuary. 

A group of residents stood, wide-eyed and in silence, as the bakkie that was already carrying one deceased person, loaded the two bodies at the back of the vehicle. 

With nowhere to sit at the front of the double cab, Mbotho, racked with grief, jumped into the back of the truck and sat with the three bodies. 

An onlooker exclaimed as Mbotho climbed in with the bodies: “Their [the people living in the impoverished Dassenhoek area] have had their dignity stripped away while they were alive and still in their death, they are even denied that dignity and are carried around in an open van one body on top of the other.”

Within a kilometre of where Mbotho’s son and the deceased neighbour were picked up, the bakkie stopped to pick up two more bodies.

In less than 10 minutes, the body count was up to five, and when the bakkie reached the police station, the carnage from the downpour was evident – at the Mariannhill mobile police station alone, there were at least 10 bodies when News24 arrived. 

Dozens more family members were at the police station to request emergency services assistance as their loved ones were either still trapped under the rubble or missing after being swept away by the rain. 

Residents who spoke to News24 said they believed the number of those who had died was far greater than the 45 being communicated by authorities. 

“There is no premier, MEC, MMC, or councillor that has set foot here since the floods and landslides occurred this morning so we are not sure where they are getting this figure of theirs,” said one community member. 

While the police station’s communications officer was not available to confirm how many deceased individuals had been brought to the station, some officers present told News24 that on Tuesday, the station had received “almost 20 bodies”.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala, who visited Hammarsdale in Durban, said the official number of confirmed deaths were 45, with scores still missing. 

WATCH | 70-year-old Hindu temple destroyed in heavy KZN storms

eThekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda on Tuesday afternoon also cited the number of deceased individuals across the province as 45, adding that the storm was different from previous ones experienced in the province.

“This storm is all over the city. So, we are working tirelessly with all our multi-disciplinary teams to clear the infrastructure – the roads that have been blocked as well as our own infrastructure of water and electricity, which is interrupted.”

The eThekwini municipality said rescue operations were continuing to assist residents impacted by flooding caused by heavy rains, but processes were being frustrated by blocked roads as a result of landslides and flooding. 

“Disaster management teams are navigating difficult and dangerous scenarios in the area, rescuing stranded people. We are working with communities, different stakeholders, businesses, and churches to try to ensure that we become more responsive, especially to those communities that are really in need during this period,” said Kaunda. 

Mbotho and some of the family members at the police station said their concern was that should the rains continue as per the weather reports, “more people might die” as the land they were residing on was already unstable from Monday’s downpour. 

“There is also no way for the emergency services to reach us at this point,” said Mbotho.

President Ramaphosa condemns the xenophobic killing of Elvis Nyathi

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the killing of Elvis Nyathi in South Africa’s Diepsloot and described it as immoral, racist” and criminal.

In a statement shared on the President’s website, President Ramaphosa urged people to fight crime, the common enemy not foreigners.

“The events in the Gauteng township of Diepsloot last week were a tragedy. In the course of a single weekend, seven people were killed, sparking protests. This loss of life is deplorable, as is the killing of a fellow African from Zimbabwe allegedly at the hands of vigilantes. Crime is a serious problem in this country. It affects all communities and people are justifiably tired of living in fear of criminals.

“Contrary to what is claimed by some anti-immigration groupings and individuals, the perpetrators of crime are both black and white, male and female, foreigner and citizen. Crime, not migrants, is the common enemy we must work together to defeat,” said President Ramaphosa.

Below is President Ramaphosa’s full statement:

Twenty-five years ago, our new democratic Constitution came into effect. In adopting this Constitution, we affirmed our commitment to a society based on democratic values, social justice and human rights.

We were also making a complete break with our past. This was a past of race-based social engineering that manifested itself through influx control, job reservation, group areas and the dreaded dompas. When our forebears drafted the Freedom Charter in 1955, whose principles have been incorporated in our constitution, and declared that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, they were seeking a society free from ethnic chauvinism, tribalism, racism and sexism.

It is therefore deeply disturbing how the recent incidents of anti-foreigner sentiment in parts of the country echo our apartheid past.

We have seen people being stopped on the street by private citizens and being forced to produce identification to verify their immigration status. We have seen some political leaders making unscientific statements about immigrants to exploit people’s grievances for political gain.

We have seen marches being led on people’s homes and their dwellings raided for evidence of criminal activity. We have seen people being attacked, hurt and even killed because of how they looked or because they have a particular accent.

This was how the apartheid oppressors operated.

They said some people could only live-in certain areas, operate certain businesses or take certain jobs. Under apartheid, black people were deemed suspects by default and stopped by police when found in so-called white areas. Black people were forced to produce a dompas and if they could not do so, they were jailed.

We cannot allow such injustices to happen again.

The events in the Gauteng township of Diepsloot last week were a tragedy. In the course of a single weekend, seven people were killed, sparking protests. This loss of life is deplorable, as is the killing of a fellow African from Zimbabwe allegedly at the hands of vigilantes.

Crime is a serious problem in this country. It affects all communities and people are justifiably tired of living in fear of criminals.

Contrary to what is claimed by some anti-immigration groupings and individuals, the perpetrators of crime are both black and white, male and female, foreigner and citizen.

Crime, not migrants, is the common enemy we must work together to defeat.

We cannot defeat crime through incitement, violence, intimidation and vigilantism aimed at foreign nationals, and specifically nationals from other African countries.

We acknowledge many communities are frustrated by the apparent inability of the police to deal with criminals. Among the measures we are taking to capacitate the police is the recruitment of an additional 12,000 additional police officers.

We are also re-establishing community policing forums (CPFs) across the country. These forums bring communities and police representatives together to improve local safety and hold police accountable. Communities need to work with the police by actively participating in CPFs and reporting suspected acts of criminality.

Even as we intensify our fight against crime, there is no justification for people taking the law into their own hands.

At the same time, we recognise that illegal migration poses a risk to South Africa’s security, stability and economic progress. Illegal migration affects service delivery and places additional burdens on essential services such as health care and education.

Like any sovereign nation, we have the right to implement policies and measures that guarantee the integrity of our borders, protect the rights of South Africans and provide that all who reside in our borders have a legal right to be here.

Controlling migration is the responsibility of government.

No private citizen may assume the role of immigration or law enforcement authorities by demanding that foreign nationals produce identification. Under Section 41 of the Immigration Act, only a police member or immigration officer can ask someone to identify themselves as a citizen, permanent resident or foreign national. If these officers believe, on reasonable grounds, that the person is in the country unlawfully, they may be detained while an investigation into their status is conducted. When doing so, law enforcement authorities must respect that person’s rights and dignity. They may not do so in a manner that is degrading or humiliating.

Enforcement of migration legislation is a priority for government. We are working to ensure that syndicates perpetrating immigration fraud in collusion with corrupt officials are brought to book. This year alone, several people implicated in passport fraud have been arrested.

No private citizen or group has the right to enter businesses and demand its owners produce proof that their businesses are registered or legal. This is the competence of municipal, provincial or national authorities, including inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour and the South African Revenue Service.

Like all other businesses, foreign-owned businesses must obey the relevant laws, including health and safety regulations, have all the required permits and licences, and pay the necessary taxes.

We are a democracy founded on the rule of law. Acts of lawlessness directed at foreign nationals, whether they are documented or undocumented, cannot be tolerated.

Attacking those we suspect of wrongdoing merely because they are a foreign national is not an act of patriotism. It is immoral, racist and criminal. In the end, it will lead to xenophobia, whose consequences we have lived through in previous years. We do not want to go back there because in the main the people of South Africa are not xenophobic.

I want to appeal to all South Africans, but particularly to younger South Africans who thankfully never experienced the true brutality and dehumanisation of apartheid. Let us not become like the ones who oppressed us, no matter how legitimate the grievance.

Let us work together to resolve our country’s challenges without resorting to violence or vigilantism. Let us resist those who want to exploit the problems of crime and unemployment for political gain.

Today, our anger may be directed at nationals from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria or Pakistan. Tomorrow, our anger may be directed at each other.

Let us heed the words of Martin Niemöller’s famous poem about the Nazis in Germany:

“First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Let us focus on defeating crime, no matter who commits it.

With best regard

— Herald

Herman Mashaba distances himself from Elvis Nyathi’s death

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ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba has slammed claims his stance on immigration contributed to the death of Zimbabwean national Elvis Nyathi in Diepsloot.

The 43-year-old was killed in a mob attack last Wednesday night after a day of protests against crime and poor policing of immigration laws. No arrests have been made.

In the wake of Nyathi’s death, many, including the DA, accused Mashaba of holding immigration and political views that fuelled xenophobia.

“Populists like Mashaba are fanning the flames of xenophobia, which could lead to a repeat of last year’s riots and chaos,” said the DA.

Distinguished education professor Jonathan Jansen said Mashaba “fanned the flames of anti-immigrant hatred” and helped create the environment that led to Nyathi’s death.

In a media statement released today Zimbabwe Exiles Forum condemned Mashaba’s reckless and xenophobic sentiments “which the former Joburg mayor spews as every corner, turn and event”.

“Mashaba’s hatred of black people knows no bounds and is well documented so Elvis Nyathi’s death cannot be divorced from the ActionSA leader’s xenophobic activities,” said ZEC in a statement to South Africa Observer.

Mashaba rejected the claims, saying they were disgusting and that he has only called for the rule of law to be respected.

Mashaba also denied he was Afrophobic or xenophobic.

“The only phobia I have is the fear of the breakdown of the rule of law in SA. My call has always been for the application of the constitution as it relates to matters of illegal immigration. Those who bury their heads in the sand are complicit in the worsening of this crisis,” he said.

Mashaba said those who promote uncontrolled migration promote lawlessness.

“We must never apologise for calling for respect of the rule of law. Extremists on both sides must face the full might of the law,” he said.

Mashaba’s party said the murder of Nyathi is a stain on SA’s national conscience.

“No person deserves to die because of their perceived immigration status. Those responsible must face the full might of the law for their heinous acts.

“Our fight is with the ANC government which has allowed lawlessness to thrive in our country. They have failed to correctly document foreign nationals for decades and allowed a free-for-all at our borders. We must never scapegoat foreign nationals for the failures of the government,” said ActionSA.

Dudula marchers issue threat: Once we’re active in all provinces ‘they will see’

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Operation Dudula commended its supporters for not responding with violence when they were “provoked” during their march in Durban on Sunday.

Members of Operation Dudula was marching from the Durban City Hall to the Point police station as part of the official launch of its KwaZulu-Natal branch.

A largely peaceful march threatened to turn ugly when three objects were thrown from Sea Point Towers — a building that accommodates UKZN and Mangosuthu University of Technology students as well as tenants — at the marchers. However, the marshalls, Operation Dudula leaders and police blocked the entrance as people ran towards it.

Operation Dudula chairperson Zandile Dabula said President Cyril Ramaphosa must take note of how peaceful they remained amid the “attack”.

“I hope the president saw what happened there [on Shepstone St], where we were marching peacefully but [people] tried to attack us. We still continued to march peacefully because we are not vigilantes. We are not criminals,” she said.

The movement’s Peter Dimba echoed similar sentiments as he urged supporters to continue with the “discipline” they showed going forward.

“We don’t want to be called a vigilante group because every time we demonstrate to raise our concerns there are names like ‘vigilante’ that pop up. They say we beat people but we did not beat anyone,” he said.

Nomasonto Nkwanyana, a member of Operation Dudula, said they were still preparing to launch in different provinces. “After our launches in the nine provinces, we will start to dudula [push forcefully]. You saw they were provoking us but we remained disciplined. We don’t provoke nor attack anyone, we don’t do anything wrong — but after we are done with our launches, they will see,” she said.

The movement delivered their memorandum of demands to home affairs officials and to the Point police station. They urged home affairs officials to do their work with diligence, especially those in law enforcement.

Dudula deputy chairperson Dan Radebe said they were going to hold home affairs officials accountable for their inaction. “They must remove illegal immigrants, it’s their job. We are not going to do it for them. We are pushing them to enforce the law,” he said.

There is no country in Africa that will give South Africans opportunities, but we are expected to carry the whole of Africa. What are African leaders doing? Why should we give their people opportunities?

Victoria Mamogobo, Put South Africa First

Victoria Mamogobo, from Put South Africa First, said foreign nationals who do not occupy jobs that fall under the “critical skills list” as set out by the department of home affairs should be deported.

“All undocumented immigrants must be deported. Those who are documented but occupying non-rare-skill jobs must be deported. Those who are occupying the informal trading market, documented or not, must leave. We must be left with those who meet the Immigration Act requirements. We will not share non-rare-skills jobs with foreigners.ADVERTISING

“The Immigration Act of 2002 says you must come to SA to offer critical skills and the critical skills list was issued by the department of home affairs. Nowhere does it mention working as a truck driver or a teacher,” she said.

She called for African leaders to take care of their citizens as she called for the protection of borders.

“We want our jobs and borders protected. That is not something we will negotiate … There is no country in Africa that will give South Africans opportunities, but we are expected to carry the whole of Africa. What are African leaders doing? Why should we give their people opportunities?”

Home affairs immigration officer Andrew Dikobo accepted the memorandum on behalf of the department.

“We are taking all the concerns and all the matters seriously. That’s the reason why we are having continuous operations and inspections at the moment, to show that we’re taking this matter seriously,” he said.

TimesLIVE

Zandile Gumede defeats Thabani Nyawose in the race for eThekwini regional chairmanship

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  • Zandile Gumede was elected ANC eThekwini regional chairperson. 
  • She won against Thabani Nyawose following a vote on Sunday evening. 
  • Gumede’s allies won all the other top positions contested. 

Former eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede has been elected eThekwini chairperson, defeating her rival, eThekwini council speaker Thabani Nyawose. 

Gumede, who was not present for the election due to the step-aside rule, received 210 votes while Nyawose received 181.

Gumede’s win resulted in a clean sweep for her slate. 

Thembo Ntuli, a Gumede ally, was elected deputy chairperson with 215 votes while Mthunzi Dlamini received 171. 

The position of ANC regional secretary went to Musa Nciki who received 217 votes. He defeated Nyawose’s ally, Bheki Ntuli, who received 174.

Nkosenhle Madlala was elected deputy secretary, while Zoe Shabalala was elected treasurer – both of them were on Gumede’s slate. 

Gumede’s supporters ululated and sang in celebration after her win was announced shortly after 20:00 on Sunday. 

Delegates rushed to where Ncika was sitting after he was announced as deputy chairperson and carried him to the stage, signing “the time is now”. 

The results were announced on Sunday evening after the Nyawose camp foresaw the looming defeat. The camp also called for regional task team (RTT) members, who were in charge of eThekwini, to be allowed to vote. 

The Nyawose faction made the call, saying provincial task team members in Mpumalanga were allowed to vote during last week’s elective conference. This call was dismissed by the KwaZulu-Natal leadership. 

According to the provincial leadership, other regional conferences had been held where RTT members were also in charge but they were not allowed to vote and the province therefore did not want to have a scenario where an exception was only made for eThekwini. 

Nyawose, who cut a lone figure during the announcement of the results as his entire slate lost out on all the top five positions, congratulated the three members of the Gumede slate who were present at the conference venue.

Shabalala, a former councillor, was arrested in 2020 alongside Gumede for allegedly defrauding the city of millions through a waste removal tender.

The conference was due to elect additional members of the regional leadership on Sunday evening.

ANC leadership candidates are on trial, but the party is already guilty

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If the ANC delegates cared more for the party, the likes of Gumede would not even be in the running

By Makhudu Sefara

While many this weekend will be watching the outcome of the ANC eThekwini region to see if Zandile Gumede or Thabani Nyawose emerge victorious in the chairpersonship contest, the nexus question is why it is even a contest in the first place.

Yes, a Gumede victory will tell a story many of the so-called Radical Economic Transformation (RET) supporters want to hear: those opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa could still mount a good and credible battle and, importantly, win. Given Ramaphosa’s consolidation elsewhere in the country and his more daring takeover of Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters, formerly the home of the disenchanted lot led by Ace Magashule, a victory in the belly of KwaZulu-Natal against CR will mean there is a base from which to build and consolidate.

But a Nyawose victory will send an important message that Ramaphosa’s party takeover is complete. The consolidation is in force. What remains will be whether Nyawose will have the gumption to spread Ramaphosa’s gospel, ahead of the 2024 general election, across the vast province, much of which believes the president is responsible for the Constitutional Court-sanctioned jailing of former president Jacob Zuma, their beloved son. In other words, Nyawose’s victory this weekend might not be enough. The test of his real victory will come the year after next when our country turns 30.

With all that background out of the way, the question is worth restating: why is it even a contest within the ANC? The ANC is haemorrhaging credibility. People call it a party of “amasela (thieves)”; others think it’s synonymous with incompetence given unmet service delivery needs. It is blamed for unemployment reaching hitherto unachieved heights. Even problems with roots in the Ukraine war are heaped on the ANC. 

The point though is that given the huge credibility crisis and socioeconomic challenges facing our country, the ANC delegates to conferences should, theoretically, find it easy to choose between a candidate like Gumede, who is about to go on trial, and another, Nyawose, who has no appointment with prosecutors. It’s a simple deselection. If fair were fair — and money were not an issue — Nyawose should have won even before the conference started. 

But alas, right?

Look at what happened in Mpumalanga last week: ANC delegates decided that, for their dear beloved party that is under siege, it was a great idea to vote for murder-accused Mandla Msibi as provincial treasurer. That Msibi needed to be asked — two days after his election — to step aside is not just an indictment on him but on those who thought that of all ANC leaders in Mpumalanga, the right leader to entrust with ANC funds is one with a pending murder charge. The gun-toting treasurer was charged after a shooting incident in August last year, leading to him stepping aside as MEC of agriculture. 

Do you need a brush with the law, like Zuma, to be popular in the ANC? Are credible leaders so few that the best the ANC could put forward are those the courts must still decide if they should serve jail time or serve the people?

To revert to this important conference in eThekwini, many, and we will know whether they’re the majority within 48 hours, believe the most appropriate person to lead the ANC is one facing 2,000 charges along with 21 co-accused in a R300m waste tender. The state intends to call 41 witnesses against Gumede, who is accused number one. The main claims are that Gumede used her position as mayor to instigate the circumvention of the law, leading to the irregular awarding of the tender to three companies in a scheme involving the former city manager and top officials. 

Whether Gumede is guilty is for the court to establish. But given where the ANC is in relation to public perceptions that it will most probably fail to garner 50% of the votes in the 2024 elections, why are its delegates still considering people like Gumede and Msibi with clouds so dark over their heads? That is the question. Do you need a brush with the law, like Zuma, to be popular in the ANC? Are credible leaders so few that the best the ANC could put forward are those the courts must still decide if they should serve jail time or serve the people? In the case of ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini, she still wants to serve in spite of a court finding her guilty of perjury. Shouldn’t the ANC be demonstrating to voters now that it is acutely aware of its decline and that it is busy self-correcting by rejecting anyone tainting what the believers call the glorious movement?

And, of course, the likes of Gumede and Msibi will argue that they have not been found guilty and that they should not be disadvantaged simply on the basis of allegations, though serious these are. 

But the dark clouds gathering over the ANC must mean that the members — quite apart from the low requirements of step-aside rules — should act in a way that secures ANC interests. If the ANC can’t put the ANC first, why should the voters? As it is, the factional approach to elections sends a message to the general populace that the ANC members, at war as they might appear, are prepared to kill off this proud movement simply because of misplaced loyalties to factions. 

If the ANC delegates cared more for the ANC and not the leaders who give them crumbs from corrupt tenders, Gumede would not be a candidate the RET faction has placed their hopes on to revive an anti-Ramaphosa campaign. In other words, the contest between Gumede and Nyawose would not be a contest if the ANC delegates cared about the ANC.

Yet, Ramaphosa, our slow-to-act leader, and those like Nyawose, who support him, should be contested. Our democracy requires that someone like CR, who wants to do good for our country, should be contested by someone else who wants to do better. But right now, it seems those raising their hands to contest are shady politicians with numerous fraud and corruption claims to disprove. The challenges we face as a country require the standard to be set a bit higher.

Makhudu Sefara is the Editor of TimesLive

Ramaphosa cautions South Africans against demanding passports from foreigners

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  • President Cyril Ramaphosa says demanding identification from foreign nationals in Diepsloot takes South Africa back to the apartheid way of doing things. 
  • However, he said he was happy Police Minister Bheki Cele went to the area to stabilise the area.
  • This week, a mob of people killed Zimbabwean national Mbhodazwe Nyathi.

Denouncing foreign national ID checks in tense Diepsloot, Johannesburg, President Cyril Ramaphosa said behaviour that takes the country back to the way things were done during apartheid could not be accepted.

He was addressing the media on Saturday, ahead of a presidential imbizo in Mangaung in the Free State.

“We cannot accept behaviour like that, where people are hunted down in that way and they are asked questions in that way about their own identity. …it takes us back to the apartheid way of doing things.

Police Minister Bheki Cele visited Diepsloot on Wednesday following a protest over killings in the suburb. Cele said more police would be deployed to the area in the next 24 hours. He added he would be back on Friday with Home Affairs officials to deal with the issues of undocumented foreign nationals.

“We are now in a democracy and we should be very restrained and respectful of the rights of people in our country.”

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele visited the area along with Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and defended the police’s actions. “They have a right to stop you and the onus is on you. They take you to the police station and give you the opportunity [to get] somebody to give your documents [to the police],” they said.

Motsoaledi added that his department would deploy 25 immigration officials to the area for three months to deal with immigration issues.

Despite his concerns about the ID checks, the president was pleased Cele and the police went to the area to stabilise it. 

“We should not be targeting anyone in the way that people from other countries have been targeted. As South Africans, we should always be respectful towards people from other nations, and whatever challenges we have, we should use the law enforcement channels,” he said.

‘My brother was not a criminal’ – relative of Zimbabwean man killed by Diepsloot mobGardener Mbhodazwe Nyathi’s body was sprawled on Thubelihle Street in Diepsloot, metres from his home. He had been killed the night before, allegedly by a mob.

The area was a battlefield between South Africans and foreign nationals this week after several people were reportedly killed.  

On Wednesday night, a mob of people assaulted Zimbabwean national Mbhodazwe Nyathi and set him alight after he returned from work. The mob ran through the neighbourhood, chased people and knocked on doors, asking for ID documents. Nyathi’s murder is under investigation.

According to Diepsloot police records, five murders were reported between 30 March and 3 April.

ANC could lose next elections if it doesn’t renew – Zikalala

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KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala on Saturday warned ANC members in eThekwini that the party will lose the next elections if its renewal programme is not implemented.

Addressing ANC delegates at the party’s eThekwini regional conference at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Zikalala said the electorate was not interested in who would emerge at the conference but was more interested to know how the ANC was responding to the community’s concerns around corruption, arrogance and self-centeredness

“The ANC must take organisational renewal seriously if it doesn’t want to perish.

“If we are to correct the current challenges, we need to revisit the way we do things,” he said.

While fighting corruption within the ANC was part of what was required to renew the ANC, Zikalala warned the ruling party about the dangers of approaching the issue of renewal in a selective way.

“Renewal should also be about the restoration of the ANC’s revolutionary character,” he said.

The conference, whose start on Saturday was delayed by several hours, will see new regional leaders being elected.

Former eThekwini Mayor, Zandile Gumede, is set to contest against the current council speaker, Thabani Nyawose, for the regional chairperson position.

According to the ANC KwaZulu-Natal leadership, the delay was due to the prolonged pre-conference discussions on the delegation list.

The results of the regional elective conference are due to be announced on Sunday.

High profile ANC leaders attending the conference include tourism minister, Lindiwe Sisulu and deputy finance minister David Masondo.

Zikalala said the fact that most of the ANC members in eThekwini were only interested in one aspect of the conference – the election of the region leadership, was a major concern.

“An ANC conference is not an elective conference.

 “There are other important tasks such as the assessment of the ANC’s policies,” he said.

Zikalala took a swipe at ANC leaders who have identified themselves as proponents of the party’s radical economic transformation (RET) faction.

“Radical economic transformation is an ANC policy.

“Therefore, it’s wrong to characterise some of us along with ANC programmes such as RET,” he said.

–News24

De Lille orders DG to stay home and get paid

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The battle between Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille and her suspended director-general, Sam Vukela, is far from over.

In a new twist, De Lille has told Vukela that he should not set foot in the department’s offices tomorrow. The move came after the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council found that Vukela was unfairly suspended. It ordered that he should resume his duties tomorrow.

But, in a letter to his attorney, Faheem Kaka, dated March 8 and which City Press has seen, the minister warned Vukela that the department was appealing the ruling by the bargaining council’s arbitrator Katlholo Wabile.

In his ruling on March 31, Wabile said De Lille and the minister in the presidency “committed an unfair labour practice against Vukela, by extending and continuing to keep him on suspension beyond the 60-day period”.Sam VukelaSam Vukela.Times Live

“The applicant [Vukela] has been on suspension since July 29 2020. This is a period of about a year and eight months.

“Discounting the prescribed period of suspension, notwithstanding the applicant’s willingness to ‘stomach’ it, the suspension has, at the time of writing this award, endured for around 550 days. I find that it has been a very long suspension,” said Wabile in his ruling.

He then ordered that Vukela’s suspension be lifted with immediate effect.

But in a letter seen by City Press, from De Lille’s lawyers Cheadle Thompson & Haysom Inc, which was served to Vukela’s lawyers on Friday, the minister said she would approach the labour court on an urgent basis to appeal the ruling, and ordered Vukela to stay at home.

The letter from De Lille’s lawyers reads: We propose approaching the labour court for a set down of part A of the application on May 5 2022 in order to afford the parties sufficient opportunity to exchange affidavits.

“We kindly request that your client agree that he will not report for work pending the outcome of part A of the application. Your client will continue to receive his full salary and benefits during this time.”

The minister warned that should Vukela decide to go to work, she would approach the court “forthwith” for an order suspending the bargaining council’s ruling and would also seek costs against him.

WHERE IT ALL STARTED

Vukela was suspended on July 29 2020 after it was alleged that he had been involved in massive spending during the funerals of struggle stalwarts Winnie Madikela-Mandela, former Cabinet minister Zola Skweyiya and former chief of state protocol Billy Modise, which cost government a staggering R76 million.

Vukela’s suspension has raised concerns, with opposition parties questioning how the director-general was getting paid millions of rands annually while he remained at home. Vukela earns R1.8 million a year.

In the court documents, Vukela, who has denied all the allegations against him, said he had made protected disclosure of the minister’s alleged unlawful instructions.

In the submission, he attached a directive from De Lille in which she allegedly instructed him to “kindly facilitate the appointment of consultancy company, Oryx Multimedia. I’ve attached the company profile for your perusal and request that the start date be August 1 2019.”

De Lille allegedly wanted the company to “conduct a strategic review of the department’s multimedia positioning across all the platforms – from the web and social media, to in-house publications and communications – and compile a report with recommendations, daily monitoring of current affairs environment relevant to the minister”, among other things.

The startling allegations were contained in an affidavit filed by Vukela in the Pretoria High Court. The affidavit formed part of his efforts to hold on to his job after De Lille initiated disciplinary proceedings against him for his alleged role in the awarding of the multimillion-rand Beitbridge border fence project.

He also asked the court to bar the minister from initiating the disciplinary processes based on the allegations that senior officials were involved in the highly inflated R40 million project.

In the affidavit, in which President Cyril Ramaphosa was cited as a second respondent, Vukela wrote that De Lille was the one who had violated several procurement processes and had participated in the controversial fence tender. He said she also demanded that certain service providers be appointed without following proper procurement processes.

Xenophobia: Isolate vigilante groups

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Government needs to strengthen law enforcement and buttress community policing forums and other structures in order to “isolate” vigilante groups that are taking advantage of the increase in crime in the country to fuel sentiment against foreign nationals.

This is according to Deputy State Security Minister Zizi Kodwa, who spoke yesterday as fears spread that the violence that swept through the Johannesburg township of Diepsloot this week could escalate in Gauteng and fan similar incidents in other parts of the country.

Violence in Diepsloot erupted after a spike in crimes – including murders – that locals have blamed on foreign nationals. As residents went door-to-door demanding proof of South African citizenship or legal residency, Zimbabwean immigrant Elvis Nyathi was brutally killed by a mob, who beat him with an assortment of objects and then set him alight.

Kodwa told City Press that the spike in crime was central to the latest flare up of anti-immigrant sentiments. He said government had identified “border management and control, immigration policy, crime, lack of service delivery and unemployment as the triggers that need urgent attention by the country’s leadership”.

He said:Dealing with crime is important regardless of the nationality of a perpetrator. This will help to isolate the vigilante groups that undermine rule of law, social stability and citizens’ rights

He said government must also strengthen its border management and review its immigration policy.

“The role of state security is to identify the threats and risks to social stability and actions that could lead to the undermining of the rule of law, social instability and constitutional disorder.”

A senior bureaucrat in the security cluster said that the Operation Dudula movement, led by Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli, had been allowed to get out of hand and the country’s security apparatus should have dealt with it by now.

The official said the movement’s influence was evident in other incidents of unrest across the country, but it had lost control of the situation.

“It’s no longer the Dudula group running the show now, but it is clear that incidents still have Dudula influence. You might zoom into Dudula leader, but it is out of his control now. Even if you arrest him and charge him now, it would not assist.”

The source said the security forces should put together a task team to hunt down the perpetrators, “otherwise this thing will get out of hand”.

The senior operative blamed the department of home affairs for having “dropped the ball” in keeping a lid on the foreign nationals being corruptly naturalised. The operative also blames the police’s crime intelligence division for being caught flat-footed.

The source said:Crime intelligence was supposed to be ahead [of the curve] and penetrate these groups. Even the State Security [Agency] should be in that space. It’s bad. We are nowhere to be found.

Another intelligence official said it was now up to President Cyril Ramaphosa to provide political leadership by instructing new national police commissioner Fannie Masemola to prioritise the escalating situation.

GOVERNMENT RESPONDS AFTER VIOLENCE

Police Minister Bheki Cele, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Masemola engaged with Diepsloot residents at the local youth centre on Friday.

According to the SA Police Service (SAPS), a search was under way for the suspects who used this week’s protests “as a cover for criminality” and killed Nyathi.

The SAPS statement read:Police were patrolling the area on Wednesday evening when they came across the incident where the suspects attacked the deceased and set him alight. It is reported that prior to the incident, the group had been moving from house to house claiming to be searching for criminals and demanding either passports or money. The suspects evaded arrest after fleeing the scene.

On Friday, government announced several measures to immediately address the concerns of residents.

Cele said that an additional 16 police vehicles were deployed to the township to improve police visibility, while Motsoaledi said 25 officials from the department of home affairs would be based in Diepsloot.

He added that the officials would in the area for three months to deal with immigration issues.

RAMAPHOSA SLAMS ‘APARTHEIDWAY OF DOING THINGS’

Speaking during his presidential imbizo in the Free State this weekend, Ramaphosa said he deplored “any action that is taken against anyone to the extent that they are killed”.

He said:We should not take the law into our own hands and we should not be targeting anyone the way people from other countries have been targeted. As South Africans, we should always be respectful to people from other nations and whatever challenges we have, we should use the law enforcement channels.

Ramaphosa said it was unacceptable that people were woken up in the middle of the night and asked to produce IDs to prove they were South African.

“The country cannot accept behaviour like that where people are hunted down that way and are asked questions about their own identity, because it takes us back to the apartheid way of doing things. We are in a democracy and we should be very restrained and respectful of the rights of people.”

NYATHI ‘GOT ALONG’ WITH NEIGHBOURS

When City Press visited the one-roomed shack Nyathi shared with his wife Nomsa Tshuma, gory blood stains were still visible on the walls and on the white lace curtain separating the bedroom from the lounge.Blood spatter at the entrance. Photo: Palesa Dlamini/City Press

“This is what they did to my brother,” said Nyathi’s younger brother, Mzayifani Nyathi (35), sombrely.

He gestured to the blood stains on the wall.

The family was still in deep shock after witnessing the brutal attack and killing of the father of four, who, according to Mzayifani, worked as a gardener and did various piece jobs.

Mzayifani said: “It has been and is still so painful because I never thought that this would happen to him, more so because of the loving and generous person that he was.

“And because of how well he got along with his neighbours and people in the area.

“The people here in Extension One knew who he was and what kind of person he was.”

Having moved to South Africa in 2001, for about three years Nyathi “was unable to get a job” and he went back to Zimbabwe in 2004.

However, he returned to South Africa in 2012 and had been in the country since.

“He used that little money he earned from gardening piece jobs to support himself and his wife, as well as his children.”

With a slight smile, the younger man recalled his brother’s humble beginnings:I am actually the one who assisted him with getting into that space because when he returned in 2012, I had started working on people’s gardens and we then began working in the same space.

However, the younger Nyathi later found employment as an Uber Eats driver, which is what he was doing on that fateful night when he received the devastating call about Elvis’ murder.

“I was at work in Melrose Arch at the time. I then drove back to Diepsloot. When I arrived, I found him about a street away from his house, burnt to the ground,” he recalled.

Mzayifani said although they are foreign nationals, the family wants justice: “We are here in South Africa, but it is not by choice. We come here because of the unbearable situation back home. All he wanted to do was be able to provide for his family the best he could.

“We understand the anger of South Africans sometimes, but we wish it didn’t have to escalate to this level. Not every foreign national is a criminal.”

ELVIS NYATHI’S LAST BREATHS

Relaying what happened to his younger brother on that fateful night, Nyathi’s older brother, 48-year-old Godknows Nyathi, told City Press about how his sister-in-law and brother had attempted to hide from a mob that was conducting door-to-door raids in the area.

“My sister-in-law told us that a crowd had been insisting that people show their documents allowing them to be in the country.

“And of course with a loud crowd, as well as the fact that we live in shacks assembled using corrugated iron, it was easy for them to hear what was happening before the crowd got to their shack.”

Godknows says Tshuma told him that the couple ran and hid elsewhere, but unfortunately, “a man who was being chased by the mob or part of the mob ran to the area where my brother and his wife were hiding, and so they were discovered”.

He explained:My brother then started running away, and the mob ran after him saying the reason he was running was because he had a gun, and they accused him of being a criminal. They caught up with him, beat him up and dragged him, insisting he take them to where he had allegedly hidden his gun in his shack.

Nyathi pleaded innocence, but his cries fell on deaf ears.

Godknows told City Press how his brother was subsequently dragged home, where “the mob raided his shack in search of the supposed gun, turning everything upside down while demanding money from them both. Money they did not have. When they did not find a gun – because it does not exist – they decided to take his wife’s passport.”

Godknows told how his brother was then dragged out of his shack to the next street, where he was beaten again and set alight, and then “left to burn like he was nothing”.

Echoing his brother Mzayifani’s sentiment, Godknows, who has been in the country for more than 20 years, said what had left the family in shock over and above “how he was killed” was that “he is someone who did absolutely nothing wrong”.

Ramaphosa tells Mpumalanga leadership to drop murder accused Msibi from ANC structure

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President Cyril Ramaphosa bit the bullet yesterday when addressing the election of Mpumalanga’s newly appointed provincial treasurer, who stands accused of double murder.

Mpumalanga’s 13th elective conference chose Mandla Msibi as its new treasurer yesterday.

Taking to the podium, Ramaphosa told the tent full of voting delegates they needed to reflect on the election, keeping in mind those reflections should be based on the resolutions of the ANC.

“During the course of your elections, you took the step of endorsing and electing one of the comrades who is facing charges. Now, I know you’ve reflected on this and you are going to do further reflection. This matter does need your reflection as a disciplined membership of this organisation.

“Your reflection must be based on the decisions that have been taken by our national conference and must also be based on the decisions that have also been at the national executive committee, which is the highest decision-making body in between conferences in the form of democratic centralism.

“I call on you to reflect on this matter because it is a matter you do need to address to reflect on but more properly set out. The NEC needs to discuss this matter because you’re not the only province that is facing this issue,” he said.

Effectively, this means Msibi will not be able to assume his duties as provincial treasurer until he concludes his case, thus creating a gap in the provincial executive committee.

Msibi faces charges of murder and attempted murder stemming from a shooting incident at a Mbombela shisanyama (buy and braai outlet) in August last year in which two people died.

NEC hotshots like justice and correctional services minister Ronald Lamola appeared pleased with the conference outcome and were seen grinning from ear to ear.

The conference was not without its challenges after two members of the Mpumalanga ANC tried to interdict it. However, the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed the application .

ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile gave the opening remarks. Also making an appearance during the conference was fired former health minister Zweli Mkhize, who was surrounded by delegates, including NEC members.

During nominations on Saturday, Mkhize sat next to ANC organiser Nomvula Mokonyane.

Ramaphosa told conference delegates they had achieved the “golden standard” by delivering a violent-free conference, despite violence that had broken out in certain parts of Mpumalanga in the lead up to the weekend.

Security leading to the Witbank dam where the conference was held was airtight. Delegates had to go through 10 checkpoints before getting to the tent using special stickers on all three days.

On Saturday, supporters of the newly elected provincial executive committee gathered at an intersection singing Struggle songs as they waited on the PEC address and to congratulate them.

Newly elected provincial chair Mandla Ndlovu reaffirmed his support for Ramaphosa to serve as ANC president for a second term.

Ndlovu used his introduction of Ramaphosa to defend his earlier endorsement of the ANC president, saying there was no provincial chairperson who did not talk to the leader of the governing party .

“Comrade president CR, if there is a call from branches, as a true cadre of this movement, president CR accept that call, my president,” Ndlovu said.

A total of 718 delegates voted for Ndlovu and his allies. Leading up to this weekend, the group were referred to as “Focus” and was aligned to Ramaphosa’s camp.

In his closing remarks, Ramaphosa told conference delegates that “we must focus”, while chuckling. He said he deliberately chose those words as he knew the group would get excited

“I knew somehow that the word would excite you… I looked in the dictionary for another word and it wasn’t there. We must be focused and pay attention,” he said.

Speedy Mashilo was elected deputy provincial chair, beating David Nhlabathi, a David Mabuza backer. Mabuza is the country’s deputy president and former ANC Mpumalanga chair.

Muzi Chirwa was elected provincial secretary, beating Pat Ngomane, while Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, a staunch supporter of Ace Magashule (suspended ANC secretary-general), was elected deputy provincial secretary.

Cyril Ramaphosa has now consolidated his power in the party and the government

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What matters is what he does with it

By S’thembiso Msomi

It may have taken him four years, but President Cyril Ramaphosa now has a firm grip on both Luthuli House and the Union Buildings.

If he started his ANC presidency in December 2017 as a leader whose hand had been weakened by the need to keep disparate factions inside the tent following an acrimonious conference that nearly led to a split, Ramaphosa looks set to conclude the term in absolute control.

On the government front, all the key ministries are now held either by politicians who have always supported him or those who were not overtly hostile to him and have now converted.

Even those government agencies that were perceived to be headed by individuals with loyalties to the state capture project have mostly been rid of the rogues.

The departure of Gen Khehla Sitole and his replacement by Gen Sehlahle Fannie Masemola as national police commissioner means that the president and his inner circle no longer have to constantly look over their shoulders out of fear that a Zuma man is in charge at police headquarters and may be up to no good.

Of course Sitole would consider it unfair to be branded a Zuma man. Though the former president did appoint him to the post, he was in no way his first choice.

Numerous reports that remain undisputed indicate that Msholozi had wanted to give the job to a person with neither police experience nor government expertise, but with firm ties to dubious characters who had become close to the president during the twilight of his stay at the Union Buildings.

Desperate to avoid the political crisis that would have been caused by such a controversial appointment, ANC leaders and government officials scrambled to find a candidate whose CV would be palatable to the public while, at the same time, not posing a threat to Baba’s interests.

They found Sitole.

Msholozi didn’t last long enough in office after Sitole’s appointment to tell if the national police commissioner would have been the president’s henchman or not.

But Sitole did get entangled in that convoluted story about attempts to buy a “grabber” that was to be used to spy on Ramaphosa and his backers at the Nasrec conference.  His involvement in that drama meant he could not be trusted by the administration that took power in February 2018, after Nasrec.

Msholozi didn’t last long enough in office after Sitole’s appointment to tell if the national police commissioner would have been the president’s henchman or not

He spent much of the past four years either trying to prove his loyalty to his new bosses or fending off attempts to have him fired.

His situation was made worse by his terrible relationship with Bheki Cele, the former national commissioner who returned to the police portfolio in 2019 as national minister.

When police, along with other state security agencies, suffered an epic fail during the July riots, there were those who suspected that they were ineffective because the man at the helm had split loyalties. A claim, no doubt, Sitole rejects.

Now that Sitole has followed many of the untrusted out of the security services cluster, Ramaphosa can be said to be fully in charge of the criminal justice cluster.

What matters, however, is what he does with this control.

Does he follow the path of his predecessor and seek to use it in the game of consolidating power, at the expense of the country?

Or does he use it, along with the authority he now has by virtue of commanding unassailable support from his party’s key structures, to help set them free from political interference and manipulation, even when that is being done by politicians who profess to be loyal to him?

In choosing Masemola, Ramaphosa seems to be signalling that he wants a professional police service that does its work without fear or favour.

The new commissioner has been described by many who have worked with him over the past three decades as a career cop who “sticks to the blue line” and cares very little about the goings-on in palace politics.

That would be a great relief to ordinary citizens who, for years, have suffered under growing and violent crime while those in charge of the police service seemed too occupied with helping their favourite politicians win one conference or another.

But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, and Masemola has the next few months leading to the governing party’s national conference to prove that he is about fighting crime and keeping citizens safe, and not about politics and politicians.

As for the president, now that he has cleared key state institutions of state capture loyalists, his role is to let those who have been duly appointed do their work without any interference. If he succeeds in doing so, he would leave behind a great legacy when he eventually retires.

S’thembiso Msomi is the editor of Sunday Times

–Sunday Times

Feel sorry for the poor, not for perjurer Bathabile Dlamini

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The former minister refuses to reckon with the seriousness of her conviction while the ANC lacks moral authority to act swiftly against a convict

By Eusebius McKaiser

The idea that being convicted of perjury is not a serious matter is a gigantic lie. Perjury undermines constitutionalism, and we should not normalise such criminal dishonesty.

Former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini’s conviction means she is a threat to a democratic state, and we should resist the South African “ag shame” impulse.

The ANC does not deserve our continued patience with its addiction to unethical governance.

Dlamini was key to the bungling of the administration of social grants during her tenure. The Constitutional Court wanted to develop a comprehensive factual understanding of work streams undertaken by the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) to determine if the agency could take over the payment of social grants from Cash Paymaster Services. Dlamini lied in her testimony at the inquiry run by retired judge Bernard Ngoepe.

As magistrate Betty Kumalo concluded in the perjury case, “[Dlamini] is found to have knowingly and intentionally disposed of false evidence in substance to the effect that the work streams did not directly report to her, that she did not attend meetings of the work streams.”

Consequently, she was sentenced on Friday to a R200,000 fine or four years’ imprisonment, half of which was suspended.LISTEN | Bathabile Dlamini negotiates payment of fine for perjuryANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini was on Friday sentenced to a R200,000 fine for perjury, of which half was suspended.NEWS1 day ago

The court, of course, has a duty to determine what punishment is just and fair. That requires a delicate but important balance between retribution, deterrence and taking cognisance of salient factors that constitute mitigation.

The first problem for Dlamini is that she has shown no remorse. She refuses to reckon with the seriousness of her conviction. That is one reason we should not feel sorry for her.

Truth leads to accountability. Falsehoods undermine accountability. It follows that perjurers are enemies of democracy.

She does not want to admit that committing perjury is constitutionally damaging to society. How was this person ever fit to be in government if she thinks lying under oath is no big deal?

This forces concerned parties to explain to her and her supporters what should be trite.

At the heart of good and effective governance lies a free flow of accurate information about the state.

We cannot hold government accountable if we are fed a buffet of lies about what is going on in government. Truth leads to accountability. Falsehoods undermine accountability. It follows that perjurers are enemies of democracy.

By lying to Ngoepe, Dlamini stopped society from knowing the truth about the social grant crisis. That is inimical to her oath of office, and it furthermore undermines the collective agency of citizens to make up their own minds about the state of the government.

We cannot fully enjoy our democratic rights if we are lied to by the incumbent government. Perjury is fundamentally about dishonesty, and a kind of dishonesty that is constitutionally egregious. Anyone who refuses to see these links between perjury and the undermining of both the administration of justice and the erosion of democracy itself is clearly not committed to keeping our constitutional democracy intact.

What also irks about Dlamini’s arrogance is a weird claim that she did not benefit from her perjury. This is so fuzzy that it pains me to deconstruct the daftness of the thinking.

Perjury is not a victimless offence.

When you obstruct a judicial effort to get to the bottom of the blockages in a social security system, your victims are the millions of South Africans who are dependent on the work of the social development ministry.

The key question is not whether the former minister benefited in direct material terms from intentionally lying to a former judge despite taking an oath to be truthful. The real question is whether citizens suffer when a member of the executive like herself obstructs the administration of justice by intentionally lying about what is going on or not going on in government. The answer to the latter question is obvious.

Millions of South Africans living under conditions of poverty, worsened by unemployment levels edging closer to the 50% mark (on the expanded definition), are dependent on the country’s social security system.

The social development ministry stands between complete destitution and survival for millions.

When you obstruct a judicial effort to get to the bottom of the blockages in a social security system, your victims suffer, and those victims are the millions of South Africans who are dependent on the work of the ministry.

Dlamini did not benefit from perjury, but her perjury certainly caused material harm. That is her real legal, moral and political sin.

Given her refusal to internalise these trenchant realities, we should not treat her with kid gloves. We deserve better.

Dlamini has indicated she will not step down from any ANC leadership position because there are others who have done wrong who have not stepped down. At any rate, she adds, it is up to structures of the ANC to determine whether she should step down as leader of the ANC Women’s League.

If you know you were behaving unethically or unlawfully, then you should fall on your sword as a recognition of wrongdoing

Two things struck me when I heard this. First, the ANC’s shamelessness is so ubiquitous that its leaders would rather engage in “whataboutism” than examine their individual behaviour.

If you know you were behaving unethically or unlawfully you should fall on your sword as a recognition of wrongdoing, regardless of whether others who let society down have suffered consequences for their sins.

Second, the ANC as a political organisation is so lacking in moral authority that it cannot act swiftly against a convict. This is despite the power it has to act without a legal conviction against a member it wishes to discipline politically. The ANC’s organisational culture casually accepts unethical leaders, and even leaders with a record of trampling on the rule of law.

The ANC has a long history filled with many highlights. The party today does not deserve our continued patience with its addiction to unethical and unresponsive governance. Dlamini is not an ANC outlier. Dlamini is exemplary of what the ANC is. It is time we compelled the ANC to take a break from government.

–Sunday Times

Mandla Ndlovu’s faction makes a clean sweep at Mpumalanga ANC conference

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Former ANC provincial secretary in Mpumalanga, Mandla Ndlovu, has been elected the new chairperson.

Ndlovu’s Focus faction made a clean sweep, winning all the top five positions while their main rivals from the Ngci faction lost out during the provincial conference held in Emalahleni on Saturday.

The Ngci faction supported deputy party president David Mabuza when he led the province and he had hoped that former provincial secretary, Lucky Ndinisa, would win the top position to boost his support at the national conference later this year.

Ndlovu’s deputy is former Nkangala regional chairperson, Speedy Mashilo. The new secretary is former Gert Sibande regional chairperson, Muzi Chirwa and his deputy is Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, who was elected at the last conference.

The biggest winner was new treasurer, Mandla Msibi, who had stepped aside from his ANC work as provincial elections manager and was fired from his post as MEC for agriculture, rural development, land and environmental affairs after he was charged for double murder last August.

Msibi insisted that the charges against him were politically motivated and were intended to tarnish his image ahead of the December conference.

In reaction to the elections outcome, Msibi said: Sanity has prevailed. ANC members have spoken. We have been linked to a lot of shenanigans but people said we will elect them. We are really humbled by the responsibility we have been given to serve the ANC

Ndlovu’s faction showed its strong hand by placing most of its members in key municipal positions after the November 1 local government polls.

In the build-up to the Saturday conference, branch members tried to interdict it from going ahead. Their argument was that the provincial executive committee (PEC), which organised the conference, did not have that right as its term had expired.

The national working committee disbanded the PEC about two weeks ago, but put all the PEC members into the provincial task team. This did not go down well with the other factions which had hoped the task team would be all-inclusive.

–City Press

Bathabile Dlamini fined R200k for perjury as the rest of the ‘gang’ have their say outside court

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Despite being given two weeks, ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) president Bathabile Dlamini was unable to come up with the R100,000 needed to pay her fine and keep her out of jail.

She was on Friday sentenced to a R200,000 fine for perjury, half of which was  suspended. 

Her lawyer managed to negotiate that she pay R20,000 and the rest by April 29.

Sitting in the dock she cut a sad figure, her head down as media took photos of her. 

“She’s a single mother, a pensioner,” lawyer Tshepiso Mphahlane argued.

Despite his insistence that she could not afford the fine, Dlamini arrived in court dressed in what appeared to be a designer outfit and shoes and sporting an expensive handbag. 

She completed the look with gold earrings, a large gem in each, a gold necklace and a large gold ring on her wedding finger.

As ANCWL president, Dlamini, 59, earns R70,000 a month to which she adds a R40,000 pension. She has two dependents according to court records.

Dlamini sat forward as she listened to the barely audible proceedings. 

Magistrate Betty Khumalo was scathing in her sentencing.

Dlamini was convicted of lying under oath last month when she gave false evidence in 2018 on the appointment of SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) work streams.

The inquiry looked at whether Dlamini had appointed work streams to ensure the agency could take over the payment of social grants from Cash Paymaster Services

Khumalo said it was untrue that Dlamini did not benefit from the Sassa debacle. 

“[Perjury] is a serious offence,” Khumalo said, “the sentence needs to deter her from committing the same offence again and it needs to deter would-be offenders.

“She is still an active member of society, people look up to her, she is a role model and millions looked up to her for their grant.”Bathabile Dlamin consults her attourney over what she could afford to pay after it was revealed she could not afford the R100,000 fine.
Image: Alex Patrick/Sunday Times

She said Dlamini’s part in the “Travelgate” fraud scandal in 2003, in which MPs were found to have abused travel vouchers, had not been expunged from her record. 

At the time, Dlamini was fined R120,000.

“It goes without saying that both [convictions] have an element of dishonesty and misrepresentation and sentencing [for this crime] should be considered [with the previous conviction in mind].”

Khumalo also lambasted Mphahlane for asking if Dlamini could pay a portion of the fine and not the whole amount — and remain out of prison — as she did not have the funds.

Khumalo said she had given Mphahlane two weeks for sentencing so he could get Dlamini’s affairs in order.

Once sentenced Dlamini had her fingerprints taken in court.Bathabile Dlamini has her fingerprints taken in court room 10 after being sentenced for perjury.
Image: Alex Patrick

She was supported by suspended ANC secretary-general and corruption accused Ace Magashule as well as Carl Niehaus — controversial former spokesperson for the disbanded Mkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association. 

Former North West chair Supra Mahumapelo, who was cleared by the public protector after the delivery of a R1.5m herd of cattle for former president Jacob Zuma, was also present along with various ANCYL members.

Outside the courtroom, Dlamini’s supporters gathered, singing struggle songs and showing their allegiance to the ANC.

When Dlamini and the others joined them — over an hour later — she was swamped by her female fans.

“She’s out,” one woman cried.

“Thanks to Jesus!” another responded as supporters swarmed the leaders, forcing them onto Fox Street.

As the crowd gathered and cheered, the back of a camel-coloured twin-cab bakkie served as a crammed makeshift stage, the speakers.Members of the ANC Women’s League wait for their president Bathabile Dlamini outside the Joburg magistrate’s court on Friday.
Image: Alex Patrick

What followed was a two-hour plus exercise in self-indulgence as every leader took advantage of the microphone.

Mahumapelo was the crowd favourite.

“Our comrade Bathabile, Comrade Butternut. Viva Butternut viva!” 

He mistakenly told the crowd that Dlamini had been given a R400,000 fine.

He said judge Khumalo declared that “Comrade Batha ‘should not go to the cells’”.

“Even if she is found guilty — she must not go to jail — she was given a fine,” he said. 

His message was met with “praise the Lord! and God is great”. 

Mahumapelo would make the sound of the La Cucaracha horn — bo bo bom — whenever a leader went over time.

Niehaus was next.ANC leaders pile onto the back of a bakkie in Fox Street to address the crowd. Their speaker, on the right, was held in place on the head of one of Bathabile Dlamini’s followers.
Image: Alex Patrick

“We have seen the evil plans — they have not succeeded,” he said referring to a ‘faction’ in the ANC.

“Comrades wanted to see her already going to jail. Tell no lies, there are no easy victories.

“I say to comrade Paul [Mashatile, former minister of arts and culture and ANC leader] slow down. Never put yourself first.”

He was referring to Mashatile’s says that Dlamini should step aside over the conviction.”

Mahumapelo then spoke for an hour.

“I’m tired of defending people who were not even there during the revolution … Where were they [ANC members who have not sided with Magashule and Dlamini, like the president] when Carl [Niehaus] was working with Mandela?” he said.

He then addressed the land issue and said “We never hated whites,” but that they were not going to allow whites and Afrikaners to have all the land.

He said he was “a strong tiger, running as fast as a cheetah”.

“I know what I’m fighting for I know what [former president Jacob] Zuma fought for.”

He then slammed Julius Malema and chief justice Raymond Zondo before praising the Cubans for “saving our lives” with Covid-19 vaccines.

He then spent half an hour slamming the media for “lying” about him and Dlamini, but said the media should report fairly even if he did something wrong. 

By this time, most of the audience had dissipated and those left were talking among themselves.

By the time Dlamini had her chance to speak there were about 30 people left and the traffic was able to flow again on Fox Street.

She did not have much to say and said almost nothing about her sentence, besides telling her children that she may go jail.

She said it hurt her that some ANC women leaders had stayed at home instead of coming to support her.

But she was grateful for the leadership from KwaZulu-Natal, the North West, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and other regions, who came to support her.

“Your support means everything to me, thank you.”

TimesLIVE

No masks outdoors: Ramaphosa announces further easing of lockdown regulations

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  • President Cyril Ramaphosa eased the lockdown regulations, focusing on gatherings and the wearing of masks.
  • He addressed the nation following a meeting with the Presidential Command Council.
  • Covid-19 numbers have been on a steady decline in recent weeks.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced significant changes to the lockdown regulations on Tuesday evening.

He addressed the nation following a meeting with the Presidential Command Council (PCC), together with premiers, mayors, ministers and deputy ministers.

Ramaphosa said most of the restrictions on economic activity had been lifted – and now they were able to ease the restrictions further.

“The pandemic has changed the way we work, travel, worship and socialise. It has shattered many livelihoods and devastated our economy, leading to the closure of many businesses and the loss of some two million jobs,” he said. 

Ramaphosa announced that the restrictions on gatherings were being significantly changed.

In previous regulations, the emphasis was on placing an upper limit on the number of people who could attend a gathering.

“The approach going forward is that both indoor and outdoor venues can now take up to 50 percent of their capacity, provided that the criteria for entrance is proof of vaccination or a Covid test not older than 72 hours.

“But where there is no provision for proof of vaccination or a Covid test, then the current upper limit will remain – of 1 000 people indoors and 2 000 people outdoors,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the change to the restrictions on gatherings will be of great benefit to the sporting, cultural, entertainment and events industries in particular.

“This means that if we are vaccinated or have recently tested negative, we will be able to return to watching sports in stadiums and attending music concerts, theatre performances, conferences and other events,” he said. 

As of Tuesday evening, the country had recorded 912 new Covid-19 infections and one fatality. 

Ramaphosa said the maximum number of people permitted at a funeral would increase from 100 to 200.

However, night vigils and ‘after-tears’ gatherings were still prohibited.

The president announced crucial changes to the regulation on the wearing of masks.

“As before, it is mandatory to wear a cloth mask or similar covering over the nose and mouth when in public indoor spaces. However, a mask is not required when outdoors. This means that we still need to wear masks when in shops, malls, offices, factories, taxis, buses, trains or any other indoor public space.

“But we do not need to wear masks when walking in the street or in an open space, when exercising outdoors or when attending an outdoor gathering,” he said. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, in an address to the nation, said government would lift the state of disaster once public comment on the health regulations published by the Minister of health has been completed. He said this does not mean the pandemic is over, merely that the government’s response is changing.

Ramaphosa touched on discussions regarding the national state of disaster, which was extended to 15 April. 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said on Tuesday he would use the meeting to lobby Ramaphosa to end the national state of disaster. 

Ramaphosa said that, due to the changing nature of the pandemic, and due to the progress that had been made through collective efforts, the government intend to lift the national state of disaster as soon as public comment on the health regulations, published by the minister of health, had been completed.

“These regulations, when finalised, will replace the state of disaster regulations as the legal instrument that we use to manage the pandemic,” he said. 

News24

Apology to Ambassador Abravitova and the people of Ukraine

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As we celebrate Human Rights Day, let it be said loud and clear to the people of Ukraine that South Africans do not all share the immoral stance taken by President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC on Russia’s invasion of a peaceful nation, writes Adriaan Basson.


On 21 March 1960, 62 years ago on Monday, the PAC under its visionary leader, Robert Sobukwe, led an historic protest march against the apartheid state’s degrading pass book system.

Under apartheid, all black people (the broad definition) had to carry pass books that classified a person according to their race wherever they went. Caught without your pass book, you were locked up.

“African people have entrusted their whole future to us. And we have sworn that we are leading them, not to death, but to life abundant. My instructions, therefore, are that our people must be taught now and continuously that in this campaign we are going to observe absolute non-violence,” said Sobukwe a few days before the planned protest march.

What followed was one of the most brutal days of apartheid oppression. A police officer opened fire on the protesting crowd outside Sharpeville police office in Vereeniging. His colleagues followed suit and 69 protesters were slaughtered.

After the ANC came into power in 1994, 21 March was named Human Rights Day in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre.

In his address on this day in 1996, former president Nelson Mandela said:March 21 is the day on which we remember and sing praises to those who perished in the name of democracy and human dignity. It is also a day on which we reflect and assess the progress we are making in enshrining basic human rights and values… In the two years of democratisation, we have introduced a human rights culture unknown in the history of the country. Indeed, we compare favourably with most democracies and are in fact pioneers in a number of forms of social change, legislation and constitution making… We are at peace with our neighbours. Our relations are based on mutual co-operation and development. Gone are the days of conflict and intimidation.

This was a time when the ANC celebrated human rights and peace. The organisation and Mandela in particular played a meaningful role in pleading for an end to global conflict. Mandela never shied away from criticising aggressors, whoever they were.

It feels a lifetime ago from President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC of 2022’s refusal to acknowledge the horrors inflicted on Ukraine by Russia’s war.

While Ramaphosa and the ANC were defending Russia; refusing to acknowledge it as the aggressor; having late-night phone calls with the war criminal president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and making no effort whatsoever to reach out to Ukraine’s ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova or her President Volodymyr Zelensky, to hear their side of the story, Russia was bombing a theatre in Mariupol where hundreds of women and children were hiding from the violence.

The word “children” written in huge white letters next to the theatre did not deter Putin’s dogs of war to kill the innocent.

Not even the bodies of dead children could move South Africa. The Mariupol massacre left Ramaphosa cold.

READ | Tinyiko Maluleke: It is Sharpeville Day. Not Human Rights Day

As South Africa celebrates Human Rights Day in 2022, it is time we apologise to Abravitova and her compatriots for our country’s pathetic and immoral response to the invasion of a democratically elected, peaceful nation.

Dear Ambassador Abravitova, please tell your people that not all of us are like Ramaphosa and the ANC. Please tell them about a time, 62 years ago, when our innocent people were also being slaughtered by an oppressive, brutal regime, and about the brave efforts of people like Sobukwe and Mandela to move our country and region to a democracy that respects human rights.

Please tell the Ukrainians the oppressed majority of South Africans know what it feels like to be ignored and shunned by world powers in your hour of need. Thank them for their assistance, as members of the erstwhile Soviet Union, to ANC comrades in the struggle against apartheid.

Remind them the ANC in its struggle against the oppressor of the time, the National Party government, called on the world to implement sanctions against South Africa to bring the oppressive regime to its senses. Tell them to keep believing good may ultimately triumph over evil.

And please tell them, Ambassador Abravitova, we are really, really sorry that our governing party, unrecognisable from the liberation movement that gave birth to it, and our president, who values his so-called relationship with Putin over human rights violations, have shown time and again that they feel f****l for the plight of innocent Ukrainians.

– Adriaan Basson is editor-in-chief of News24.

Dudula ‘victim’ takes on ‘Lux’ after vigilante raid

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Soweto resident denies selling drugs

A Soweto resident has vowed to drag Dudula movement leader Nhlanhla “Lux” Dlamini to court after his house was ransacked after accusations that he was running a drug den. 

Victor Ramerafe has opened a case of burglary, vandalism and theft against the group of people belonging from the Dudula movement after they allegedly broke into his property in search for drugs on Sunday.

Ramerafe, 59, told Sowetan he was shocked when he was welcomed by a mob at his Dobsonville home on his return from a glass-fitting “piece job”.

“I found people singing Struggle songs outside my house and I was instructed to open because they wanted to search it. They said they had been tipped off that I am selling drugs. As I walked through the gate, I saw that some had already entered through the window after breaking down the burglar bar.”

Ramerafe, who is also the secretary of the EFF in Ward 48, accused Dlamini of roughing him up and of telling him that he was not scared of the police as they interrogated him about the whereabouts of the drugs.

“Why would I be this poor If I sell drugs? They are scared of going to the hostel where they know drugs are sold to our children and they come to us because we are easy targets. This has to stop now,” he said.

He said the group allegedly turned his furniture and appliances upside down in their unsuccessful search for drugs.

“At this age and as a member and leader of the EFF in the area, why would I sell drugs? What would that say about me? They see young boys coming here frequently and they conclude. I went to the police station today to open a case against the thugs but they said I must come back tomorrow [today]. I will meet them in court and I will ask the EFF to find me a lawyer,” he said.

He accused the group of stealing his phone, R300 and of breaking some of his belongings, including framed photos of his late parents.

Ramerafe accused the police of standing by as the group allegedly broke into his home while they kept a distance from the house.

Ramerafe’s neighbour, Pat Putsanyane, accused Operation Dudula of having turned into criminals who tormented residents as he said he witnessed them breaking into the house.

“How do you call yourself a “clean-up” campaign when you break into people’s homes with no proof like they did? Even the police do not do what they are doing when they suspect a person to be doing something wrong. This is no different to back in the day when people would burn your home just because they suspect you [to be a police informer]. It’s criminality,” Putsanyane said.

The Dudula groupings’ operations, which are aimed at rooting out illegal foreigners, started in Soweto last year but have since spread to Alexandra, Ekurhuleni townships of Tembisa and Daveyton and the inner Johannesburg, including Hillbrow and Orange Grove.

Dlamini did not answer his cellphone yesterday. 

–SowetanLive

Joburg mayor Mpho Phalatse speaks on effective coalitions and fighting corruption

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SA’s nationwide local government elections held on November 1 2021 saw a continuing trend of no outright winners in some key cities, resulting in coalition governments. This is a relatively new phenomenon in SA, resulting from the decline in support for the ANC, which has dominated politics since democracy in 1994. The coalition governments have been marred by volatility and instability, owing to posturing and power plays.

Research specialist Joleen Steyn Kotze talks to Mpho Phalatse, from the opposition DA, the first woman to be elected the mayor of the economic powerhouse of Johannesburg.

Local government councils are often political theatres. How do you manage this?

Mpho Phalatse: Multiparty governance requires a high level of political maturity and a full understanding of our role in society. It can be brought into focus through the Kenyan proverb, when two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers. Meaning that our political disagreements leave communities without services such as health care, safety, security, housing as well as job opportunities.

While as partners we have agreed on certain principles and values, which are non-negotiables, there are matters that we may not agree on and that require negotiation, which play into processes like budgets. Without the budget there can be no government. Ultimately it is the people who suffer.

So we cannot be ideologically rigid or stubborn. All parties must compromise.

What are the interventions you will advance to ensure meaningful change?

Mpho Phalatse: Before we can start hoisting up cranes and rolling out capital projects, we need get the basics right. These are the foundation on which we are going to build the city we desire.

These basics align with our priorities. When we table the state of the city address in April, followed by the budget in May, these will signal the start of the multiparty government’s full control of the city and its direction.

Some basics include establishing good governance as the gold standard. This means playing by the book, identifying corruption and acting against it. This way, we can stop financial leaks in the system and direct those funds to their intended service delivery programmes.

Through operation Buya Mthetho, a campaign aimed at restoring rule of law and creating safe communities, as well as a revenue collection programme we have identified that our revenue collection is not where it ought to be. So, we have embarked on a campaign to collect as much of the R38bn owed to the city in outstanding rates, taxes and levies. Those who have the means to pay but simply refuse to, have their service suspended until they pay what is owed.

For those who are unable to pay, we have reopened the debt rehabilitation programme. It assists financially distressed ratepayers and defaulting customers to bring their outstanding municipal accounts up to date.

We have also accelerated maintenance projects. Our service delivery teams from City Parks and Zoo, the Johannesburg Roads Agency, Joburg Water and City Power are conducting region-by-region blitzes to fix potholes, clean open spaces and curbs and cut trees, paint lines on the roads, fix traffic signals, repair leaking pipes and taps, and so on. This is part of getting the basics right.

We have deployed an additional 1,800 city police officers to supplement existing patrols to prevent and fight crime in the central business district (CBD) and other business nodes. We will be deploying 150 park rangers to safeguard the city’s open spaces.

The rejuvenation of the CBD is important. We have begun taking back hijacked buildings — buildings, mostly in the CBD, which were either shuttered or abandoned by their owners and taken over by criminal syndicates who then rented out without paying rates and taxes — and returning them to their owners. If the owners can’t be traced, we will convert the buildings into affordable housing, among other things, to bring more people closer to economic opportunities.

And we recently launched a site and services project in the Zandspruit informal settlement that will bring decent housing to communities that have been left behind.

Your term will be five years. What legacy would you like to leave?

Mpho Phalatse: The administration of the city must work, regardless of who leads it politically. This means having professional, skilled and dedicated staff at all levels who appreciate what it means to work for local government.

One can have the best political and policy intentions but, without a working administration, making one’s priorities reality becomes difficult. This is why I am obsessed with getting the basics right.

In short, governments come and go, so we must leave the administration stronger than we found it so that there is smooth transition between governments as well as lasting and equitable development.

How will you ensure balanced consultation in the volatile context of coalitions?

Mpho Phalatse: Consultation and implementation are not mutually exclusive. It is understanding what we need to consult on. For example, we consulted extensively ahead of the adjustment budget. We will also consult before the budget in May.

The budget is a key policy and implementation document. Once we pass it, we’ll get on with the job of delivering services.

There was wide consultation on the appointment of board members to serve the municipal entities. Thus, we have highly qualified board members who must now be given the space to do their jobs. Likewise, we will again consult on appointing the right city manager.

All multiparty partners understand what needs to be done.

What are the lessons from the previous coalition governments?

In many ways we are writing the multiparty government playbook as we go. But key to the success of this project is working together, mutual respect and abiding by the coalition agreement all partners have signed.

In a nutshell, the rules of engagement must be clear, understood and followed.

• Joleen Steyn Kotz: Senior Research Specialist in Democracy and Citizenship at the Human Science Research Council and a Research Fellow of the Centre for African Studies, University of the Free State.

This article was first published by The Conversation.

Mlambo-Ngcuka still considering invitation to run for ANC Deputy Presidency

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University of Johannesburg chancellor and former UN Women executive director Mlambo-Ngcuka has poured cold water on suggestions she should be ANC deputy president. 

According to several publications, Mlambo-Ngcuka’s name has been put forward to contest for the position being eyed by leading figures in the party, including justice minister Ronald Lamola.

The ruling party will hold its elective conference at the end of the year, where Ramaphosa is expected to bid for a second term as party president.

Speaking to City Press, Mlambo-Ngcuka admitted to being approached to run for the coveted position, saying she was “flattered” by the idea, but does not want to stand in the way of a younger person.

She said this was “taking a shortcut” and she hopes young female candidates could be prioritised over herself. 

“I am flattered by the trust that some members are showing me, but I really have to think about it because I was away for a long time,” she said. 

“I just think that the comrades must look among the members much more than they have. I think they’re taking a shortcut because they know me, I’m easy to find and I have always been there. We must not cheat the processes.”

Mlambo-Ngcuka also told Sunday World that the position should not be occupied by a man. 

“Women and young people should be represented in the leadership of the organisation. The position has never been occupied by a woman. We know that the president will definitely be re-elected in the forthcoming conference, but it will be a no-no for him to be deputised by another male. Therefore, I agree that it’s high time we had a female deputy president,” she said.

Earlier this year, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe said he had no ambition to be ANC deputy president, saying he is too old for the job. 

“Anybody will know I do not want to be the deputy president. I think the deputy president must be a younger and more energetic person who is also considered for succession. I am old,” said Mantashe.

“When the president retires, I will retire as well. Why should I chase a position for the sake of a position?”

Candidates rumoured to be running in the ANC’s 2022 presidential race include deputy president David Mabuza, suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule, former health minister Zweli Mkhize, treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu and former treasurer-general Mathews Phosa. 

This will be Sisulu’s second attempt at the presidency.  In 2017, she contested the position alongside co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, but lost to Ramaphosa. 

Sunday Times reported that Mkhize was still in the running to become president, despite corruption allegations in connection with Digital Vibes that led to his resignation last year.

Mkhize said all investigative processes should be allowed to take place.

“You need to respect the processes that are in place and make sure everybody subjects themselves to them.

“President Mandela at some point was called to court and he had to go to court. President Mbeki, at some point there were a lot of issues and allegations about [the] arms deal and so on,” he said. 

-SowetanLive

Water pressure warning for parts of Joburg as Rand Water works on pipes

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Weltevreden reservoir is expected to take about three days to fully recover after restoration of supply

Residents around Weltevreden Park and Fairland can expect a possible drop in water pressure on Wednesday and Thursday due to planned maintenance by Rand Water. 

The bulk water supplier said it has scheduled the planned shutdown of its F34 pipeline from Wednesday to Thursday to tie in a newly installed pipeline to the existing one. 

“Rand Water has formally informed the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) of the planned shutdown to allow CoJ to execute appropriate contingency plans. The CoJ will advise consumers on the impact of the shutdown and, where necessary, provide water tankers.”

Rand Water said five affected meters supplied directly from the F34 pipeline will have water supply restored immediately upon completion of the work. However, the Weltevreden reservoir will take about three days to fully recover after the restoration of supply.

“The 24-hour shutdown project has been initiated to tie in the newly installed F46 pipeline to the existing F34 pipeline. Both pipelines will be shut down from 5am on March 23 to 5am on Match 24. The project, which consists of three tie-ins, is situated in Fairland and stretches to Weltevreden Park. The tie-ins will be executed concurrently,” said Rand Water. 

The first tie-in is located at the corner of Jim Fouche and JG Strydom roads, the second at the corner of Cornelius Street and JG Strydom Road and the third at the Corriemoor reservoir.

The bulk water supplier has appealed to residents to use water sparingly. 

TimesLIVE

Ramaphosa fires last warning shot to xenophobic Dudula

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CAPE TOWN, – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned against groups mushrooming across the country targeting foreign nationals.

Addressing the National Human Rights Day commemoration in Koster in the North West on Monday, Ramaphosa also warned employers to stop hiring undocumented foreign nationals.Story continues below Advertisment

”We say to employers: do not employ undocumented workers because when you do you are just going to create tension among the people,” he said.

Ramaphosa said those who set up organisation such as Operation Dudula were breaking the law.

Operation Dudula has been targeting foreign nationals operating small businesses, demanding that they leave the country.

”We can’t allow people to use vigilantism to deal with issues,” he said, adding that this was a highly sensitive matter that could turn into deadly xenophobic violence.

According to Ramaphosa, employers who knowingly hired undocumented foreign nationals were breaking the law and contributing to social tensions between South African citizens and foreign nationals.

”We should not allow ourselves to be at war with those from other countries.

“Unemployment should not make us go to war against people from other countries,” he said.

Ramaphosa called on employers to hire properly documented people.

Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola said attacks on black Africans and sometimes Asians showed that South Africans’ humanity was at an all-time low.

In his address, Ramaphosa also spoke about the effects of the war in Ukraine.

”We see a number of gains being reversed; it looks like we are going back. The gains that we see are going to be reversed by that war that is taking place there,” he said.

Ramaphosa said food and fuel prices were going up while Covid-19 had also taken the country back, with two million people losing their jobs.

”Instead of moving forward, we are now finding that we are getting into another trap,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the social grant system now covered 46% of the population, demonstrating that his government is compassionate.

–IOL

Church leader demands R8 million from SABC

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The leader of the Gateway International Church, Themba Sibiya, is demanding R8 million from the SABC in a defamation lawsuit filed at the Johannesburg High Court because he was allegedly labelled a sexual predator and a false prophet during a segment of SABC1’s Izindaba programme.

According to his particulars of claim filed on March 10, the senior pastor argued that the negative sentiments about him aired on the programme in October reduced his esteem in the eyes of the religious community and created the misperception that he ordered women to perform sexual acts during his church service.

Sibiya’s court papers read:

The statements were wrongful, malicious and, further, lacked legitimate public interest. [They] had the consequence of tarnishing and damaging the plaintiff’s reputation and good name in the community He added that he was not aware of any allegations against him, nor that he was the so-called Prophet Deliverance, nor was he aware of any allegations of immoral serious sexual acts against any woman or of any case opened against him with the police service.

“To this date, the plaintiff has neither been charged nor summoned by the SA Police Service on any charges,” read his claim.

Sibiya insisted that the public broadcaster had deliberately portrayed him as a dishonest and immoral human being, and cited this as an infringement of his human rights.

His claim states:The statement is understood to mean the following: that the plaintiff acts in an immoral manner contrary to Christian beliefs; that he is a manipulative and deceitful person; that the plaintiff is unscrupulous; and lacks integrity in that he inflicts pain on women, both emotionally and psychologically

Sibiya further said that the programme had infringed on his right to privacy, as his family had been subjected to threats.

“The defendant [the SABC] failed to ensure that the plaintiff was afforded the same right to privacy as others … The plaintiff has since been confronted by a group of people [in Vryburg, North West] who expressed their disgust at him and threatened to end him and his satanic activities. Furthermore, this humiliation has become such a common thread within the plaintiff’s community since [the airing of the programme] that it has earned him the nickname ‘Pastor Wama Roll-on’,” read his claim.

It added that Sibiya’s ability to generate an income had been affected. He demanded R3 million to compensate for pain and suffering, R2 million for psychological suffering and R3 million for loss of amenities.

“The plaintiff has since been diagnosed with a mental condition (severe or clinical depression) and has been placed on medication for such conditions and is currently undergoing treatment.

“He is also undergoing marriage counselling with his spouse as a result,” read his claim.

Sibiya is further asking the court for an order compelling the SABC to apologise and to pay the costs of the lawsuit and his legal counsel.

Sibiya’s legal representative, Advocate Khana Khomela, declined to comment, saying the matter was sub judice.

The public broadcaster said it had not yet been served with the papers.

“When the corporation is served, it will consider and respond at the appropriate forum, as the SABC does not litigate through the media,” said Gugu Ntuli, the public broadcaster’s group executive of corporate affairs and marketing.

–City Press

Cabinet ‘endorsed’ irregular CEO appointment

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Cabinet endorsed the irregular appointment of the CEO of the beleaguered Amatola Water Board in the Eastern Cape.

However, in a recording obtained by City Press, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu could be heard backtracking on the appointment this month.

He told a delegation of the SA Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) during a virtual meeting on Tuesday that the appointment of the board’s CEO, Petrus Maselaganye Matji, would be reversed.

“We’re saying that the process will be started afresh,” said Mchunu in part.

In the recording, he could also be heard saying that the entity was in dire financial straits and its board deeply divided.

Mchunu said in part: We found that the entity is collapsing.

In addition, he took a swipe at the union, saying it was not blameless for what was happening at the entity. He added that the board was not blameless either, and that its management was extremely weak, compared with others in the country.

It is unclear whether Mchunu knowingly misled Cabinet to endorse Matji’s appointment.

A Cabinet memo that endorsed the appointment was issued by spokesperson Phumla Williams on February 11.

Williams would not respond to specific questions sent to her on Thursday, and referred them to Mchunu’s office.

Sputnik Ratau, spokesperson for the department of water and sanitation, had also not responded to questions by the time of going to print.

FLAWED PROCESS

City Press, however, has seen Mchunu’s letter, dated October 5 and addressed to the entity’s board member, Thabiso Wana – who also chaired the board’s human resources and remuneration committee – which suggested that he was aware that the process was allegedly flawed.

Wana had raised concerns about the recruitment process and Mchunu’s letter was a response to her urgent request to put the CEO’s appointment on hold, placing the responsibility for dealing with the matter on acting chairperson Zamikhaya Xalisa.

The board then sought a legal opinion, which it allegedly later ignored in December.

Bantu Mazingi of law firm Bate Chubb & Dickson found that the panel set up to recruit Matji had been improperly constituted and recommended that the process be “restarted in order to safeguard the integrity of the process”.

City Press has also seen a letter dated February 14 from the current chairperson, Mosidi Makgae, to the Samwu branch leader at the entity, Victor Totolo, stating: “Cabinet has since endorsed the appointment of the CEO candidate, Mr Matji, in the Cabinet memo dated February 11 2022.”

Makgae added that all that was left to finalise the appointment was the administrative process.

“This is much-needed positive news and, hopefully, the organisation will soon be stabilised,” wrote Makgae.

MCHUNU ‘WAS EVASIVE’

City Press understands that Mchunu had been in the Eastern Cape in the previous weeks trying to put out fires following the ructions caused by the Samwu branch at the entity.

Totolo confirmed this and further alleged that Mchunu had tried to evade questions surrounding Matji’s appointment when they met in Gqeberha on March 10.

He said Mchunu had called him after their meeting and tried to persuade him to ask workers to halt their strike action.

Totolo added that it was Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane who had ultimately intervened, which he believed had led to Mchunu conducting a virtual meeting with their delegation again on March 15.

Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Khuselwa Rantjie, confirmed that Mabuyane had “engaged with and supported” Mchunu to resolve the impasse between unions and the entity’s board.

Rantjie said: The premier’s interest was to ensure that the provision of water was restored in the areas that were affected by water cuts as a result of the strike action.

Totolo said it had been a challenge for them to secure the March 15 meeting because Mchunu’s office wanted to cover other issues, rather than specifically focus on the Matji matter.

He said a letter had been received from Mchunu’s office on March 12 inviting them to the virtual meeting on March 15. They had declined the invitation, since it did not mention Matji’s appointment.

A second letter inviting them to a meeting, he said, had arrived from Mchunu’s office the following day (March 13).

Totolo said Samwu had halted its strike action after this second letter and the virtual meeting.

Mchunu had committed to putting resolutions made at that meeting in writing. These included the reversal of Matji’s appointment and the distribution of letters to board members asking why their appointments should not be withdrawn.

However, by Friday, Totolo said they had still not received Mchunu’s correspondence.

“As a progressive and responsible trade union, we’re determined to calm the [situation] at the Amatola Water Board, notwithstanding the fact that we aren’t the engineers of this calamity. However, it’s very vexing when policies aren’t adhered to, and what’s shocking is to have agreements and resolutions that aren’t honoured by the authorities.

“All these issues that relate to reneging on agreements contribute a lot to the mistrust and suspicion that always exist between employers and employees. If they aren’t managed well, they can lead to full-blown industrial [chaos] that has the potential to bring the entire country to its knees,” said Totolo.

‘IGNORED OPINION’

According to Mazingi, whose opinion was tabled before the board in December, they were mandated to determine whether the recruitment process was undertaken in line with the entity’s recruitment policy approved in September 2020, and whether the panel responsible for the process was appointed with the provision of the policy.

He said the entity had had a virtual special board meeting on May 25 last year to discuss the appointment of Xalisa as interim chairperson, as well as the restructuring of board committees.

At that meeting, Mazingi said Xalisa had informed the members that he had received a letter from Mchunu the previous day appointing him acting chairperson, and that he had been instructed to prioritise the objection of the union to the recruitment process of executives and accelerate stabilising the entity through the CEO’s appointment, among other things.

However, the members had expressed their concern regarding the existence of two chairpersons at that meeting.

Mazingi said Wana had addressed a letter to Mchunu on October 17, requesting that the CEO recruitment process be put on hold because, as chairperson of the human resources and remuneration committee, she did not believe that due processes had been followed.

Mazingi found that the panel for shortlisting candidates had indeed not been properly constituted in line with the recruitment policy.

–City Press

Mkhebane lashes out at Ramaphosa

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Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane is crying foul over her impending suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa, accusing him of having a conflict of interest in the matter.

Ramaphosa on Thursday wrote to her to give her 10 days to provide reasons why she should not be suspended.

Mkhwebane is also facing an impeachment process in parliament after a DA motion in 2020 questioning her competence after a number of court rulings emanating from challenges to her reports went against her.

In a speech prepared for her to deliver to the Unisa student chapter of the South African Women Lawyers Association on Saturday, Mkhwebane says Ramaphosa is conflicted on the matter. 

She did not read her prepared speech verbatim at the event and declined a Sunday Times request for an interview.

In the prepared speech she says she wrote to the speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, raising the matter of parliament’s “haste” to deal with her impeachment.

“My legal representative yesterday wrote to the speaker [to note] my displeasure at how things have turned out in respect of how the matter was handled but also to raise my concerns about the continued unfairness of the impeachment process and the case against me, which is entirely based on the challenges I have outlined above,” Mkhwebane’s prepared speech reads. 

“One of the points we highlight in the letter to the speaker, which was dispatched to her office yesterday, is the clear conflict in the president who is and has been the subject of investigations I am leading — a conflict the president himself has admitted to under oath during litigation — pondering the idea of suspending me.”

She says she questioned why parliament would not hold back until the rescission application that is before the Constitutional Court is disposed of. 

“Why does parliament appear to be bent on riding roughshod over this process despite its own rules prohibiting the discussion of matters that are sub judice?  Once again we appeal to the speaker to be even-handed, independent and impartial in executing her duties. These issues can and must be resolved amicably. 

“There is absolutely no need to rush as haste tends to involve trampling on other people’s rights. That said, I am still consulting with the legal team on any eventuality, and on the response to the president’s letter,” the speech reads.

Also yesterday, Mkhwebane reportedly told journalists in East London that the process followed to have her removed was unlawful. 

In her prepared speech, she criticises those calling her incompetent.

“The assessment of the performance of any other organisation is linked to its purpose for existence. For instance, if you want to establish if Eskom performs, you check if they are able to keep the lights on, not if they have lost any cases in court. Similarly, if you wish to establish if the police perform, you check if they are succeeding in the fight against crime; not if they are winning the civil claims lodged against them.

“Sadly, when it comes to the public protector, an odd yardstick is used. Critics don’t establish if we investigate, report on and remedy alleged and suspected improper conduct in state affairs as envisaged in section 182. 

“Instead, they ask how many cases have you won or lost in court? For them, it all boils down to those less-than-20 reports of ours which have been set aside and the eight that we have successfully defended — a fraction of the around 70,000 matters that have passed through our hands.”

She slams those accusing her of being part of the ANC’s Radical Economic Transformation faction.

“We get accused of being ‘hired guns’ and players in the political arena, or labelled ‘RET forces’ by the very same executive and their supporters when we are merely doing our work. It gets worse when the same executives are media and civil society darlings. This gives them a free [rein] to carry on unabated, with impunity.”

We get accused of being ‘hired guns’ and players in the political arena, or labelled ‘RET forces’ by the very same executive and their supporters when we are merely doing our work

Part of Mkhwebane’s speech

Mkhwebane’s speech ends with her telling the students that, should they find themselves heading the office of the public protector, they should be prepared to defend themselves. 

“When you are in that position, defend yourself to the bitter end. As you do, be prepared to lose, to be vilified, to be turned into a laughing stock and even to be bankrupted. As I am.”

Mkhwebane’s spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said the public protector had concluded her roadshow, which started mid-February, in the Eastern Cape on Friday.

However she was expected to return to KwaZulu-Natal because they had not concluded their visit there.

He said the aim of the roadshow was for Mkhwebane to engage leadership of provincial governments, legislature leadership and traditional leaders.

“The aim was to bring to their attention a number of investigation reports that have never been challenged in court, nor implemented. Also to reveal pending investigations in that particular province and the kind of issues that people are bringing up,” said Segalwe.

He said they were also raising issues around non-responsive provincial departments and some who were giving incomplete information to the public protector.

–Sunday Times

I opened way for Ramaphosa to be President: Zweli Mkhize

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Former health minister won’t admit plan to challenge Ramaphosa, but a campaign seems to be under way

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize may be coy about his ambition to challenge for the ANC’s top job in December — but he cannot deny that a campaign to have him run against President Cyril Ramaphosa has resumed.

Mkhize’s Willowfontein homestead in Pietermaritzburg is buzzing with aides and his diary is full of appointments with visitors from as far as Limpopo — it resembles a command post and a nerve centre for his political future.

When a Sunday Times team visited Mkhize’s home on Friday, there were at least nine vehicles in the yard — some with registration plates from outside KZN.

For a man who was removed from public office, Mkhize is in demand.

We are told we ambushed Mkhize — who was in a relaxed mood, in his tracksuit — by bringing our lensman Sandile Ndlovu. So he changes to a white shirt with brown imprints.

After exchanging pleasantries and hearing his analysis of the ANC and the country, we ask Mkhize if he is on the campaign trail to take on Ramaphosa and if anybody has lobbied him to run.

“The only time anybody can talk about being approached is when the branches do proper nominations. If people are talking in-between I think that we should not comment about that, otherwise it becomes ill-discipline — except that you always take very seriously any views people are making about their feelings and possible preferences,” he said. 

After a few attempts to get an explicit yes or no answer, we realise that is the closest we’ll get to Mkhize talking about the ANC’s national conference.

Mkhize is fighting for his political life after the findings of an SIU report into the R150m communications contract with Digital Vibes led to his resignation last year.

He says the resignation was not an admission of guilt, but was designed to give the president a chance to appoint someone to carry on the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. It was also not ideal for him to remain in government while challenging the SIU report because he had to cite the president in his court papers.

Asked if he does not anticipate a situation where — if he is elected president — the allegations against him will overshadow his presidency, he said the solution was to allow all investigative processes to take place.

“You need to respect the processes that are in place and make sure everybody subjects themselves to them.

“President Mandela at some point was called to court and he had to go to court. President Mbeki, at some point there were a lot of issues and allegations about [the] arms deal and so on.”

We have seen high-ranking leaders kind of paying lip service to unity, but a certain level perpetrating a lot of factional mobilisation. We need to be upfront and say the ANC cannot survive internal factions

Zweli Mkhize

But Mkhize is not shy of speaking about a missed opportunity to succeed former president Jacob Zuma when he turned down an offer to become Zuma’s deputy at the party’s national conference in Mangaung 10 years ago.

“When Mangaung came there were views that it was the right time for me to consider nomination [for ANC deputy president]. It was not a public nomination but discussions … 

“I felt that what was important was to maintain diversity in the leadership — uniting the people of SA and dealing with the demon of ethnicity. It’s very important to keep the balance so I felt at that point the responsible approach was that rather someone else, and the incumbent was then approached,” Mkhize explained.

Mkhize at the time was chair of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal and among senior leaders who approached Ramaphosa to stand for deputy, a position that eventually propelled Ramaphosa to the highest office. 

Mkhize’s backers are relying on party structures in KZN to raise his name. They have been hard at work mobilising party structures, especially in influential regions like eThekwini.

Mkhize spoke of an ANC in deep trouble after the Polokwane conference. At the time it was important to look beyond himself and prioritise the organisation, he said. There was so much anger post Polokwane that even the leaders could not control the membership.

“I still feel the trauma of the removal of ANC presidents prematurely. It’s what we call a bad precedent; that if you start, it never ends. It’s not good for the country or the ANC. 

Mkhize paints a picture of an ANC leadership under Ramaphosa that has failed to unite the party — which has led to hopelessness about the direction the country is taking.

What would it take to remedy the situation?

“The trust deficit within the ANC and the population — as we approach conference this year we must confront all of those issues and ask each other difficult questions and get a commitment from each other that we will resolve those issues, so that people can remain believing in the ANC,” he said.

“We have seen high-ranking leaders kind of paying lip service to unity, but a certain level perpetrating a lot of factional mobilisation. We need to be upfront and say the ANC cannot survive internal factions.”

Asked how the party can balance unity and renewal, he said: “I don’t believe you can argue that you compromise on corruption to unite. When you build unity you do it so that you can be consistent when handling investigations or actions on individuals impartially, so that everyone knows this is the route. It must never be that you are exchanging unity for promotion of corruption.”  

It is unclear which faction of the ANC will support Mkhize, but there is speculation that Zuma’s supporters are behind him and that he may be working with NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu and suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule ahead of the December conference. 

“I’ve worked with many comrades in the ANC, I still relate and talk to them — secretary-general and minister Sisulu — in the past two weeks we were asked to assist with discussions with amakhosi and she was there, there are many other comrades I talk to.” 

On his relationship with Zuma, Mkhize admitted that an impression was created in 2015 that they had fallen out after he spoke against the decision to remove then finance minister Nhlanhla Nene. He said the matter was resolved at a later meeting.

“Don’t ever think that there will be an issue that would require you to align yourself with Mkhize or Zuma. There will never be such a situation.”

Mkhize said he and Ramaphosa have maintained a respectful, comradely relationship.

“We had a good relationship of respect for one another; that has not changed.”

–Sunday Times

Bathabile Dlamini might lead ANC Women’s league from jail

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  • Bathabile Dlamini enjoys considerable support among her fellow ANCWL members. 
  • Some have called for her to continue as leader when it heads to conference later this year.  
  • A task team has been appointed by the party’s national working committee to decide on the future of the ANCWL.

Despite her recent conviction for perjury, there seems to be a growing appetite in the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) for Bathabile Dlamini to be re-elected for a second term as leader. 

Talks of leadership renewal in the ANCWL take place as it faces the possibility of disbandment if the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) rubberstamps the move. 

The last time the league held a conference was in August 2015, when Dlamini was elected. 

It was due for a conference in 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic prevented the possibility of an elective conference. 

The ANC barred any conferences from taking place during the pandemic’s peak. 

News24 spoke to several ANCWL leaders across provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Free State, and the Western Cape. 

The sentiment was clear that Dlamini enjoyed considerable support – and would likely be backed to continue leading the ANCWL.

The league is expected to hold its conference in August.

Some ANCWL leaders believe Dlamini, who is expected to be sentenced in April, should not step aside because of this conviction because it was not a criminal trial.

The ANCWL’s KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Nonhlanhla Gabela, told News24 the province had yet to officially pronounce its support, but Dlamini was the preferred candidate. 

Gabela said:”I do not think she should step aside. It is not a criminal case. The feeling of the ANC’s Women’s League in the province is that it would be unfair for her to step aside since it is not a criminal case. There are people in the ANC who have been accused of wrongdoing, but they are not charged.”

The league’s deputy secretary-general, Weziwe Tikana, who also serves as a member of the Eastern Cape provincial legislature, said she would run for her current position.

She said those backing her campaign would also support Dlamini and the other leaders to remain. 

Tikana said sentiment from her backers showed the leaders had fulfilled their mandates. 

An ANCWL leader in the Western Cape, who did not want to be named, said there was some support for Dlamini in the province, but that could change ahead of the conference as other candidates surfaced. 

“We would like to see Bathabile continuing with the ANC’s Women’s League. We do not have another name now. After the recommendations, other names may come up,” the source said. 

Dlamini has yet to indicate whether she will be running for a second term as leader. 

Her election in 2015 was not without controversy.

In the lead-up to the election, there were allegations of vote-buying. 

ANCWL’s future hangs in the balance

The ANC recently dissolved its structures in Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, citing expired mandates. 

The party’s national working committee (NWC) mulled over disbanding the ANCWL, but no decision was taken. 

This week, the NWC appointed a task team, led by NEC members Thandi Modise and Nathi Mthethwa. They will be tasked with deciding on whether the league should be dissolved. 

The ANCWL finalised a report on its road map to the elective conference at its leadership meeting two weeks ago.

News24 has been told that the report explains why the league delayed going to the conference and why it should not be disbanded.

The NEC will decide the league’s future in a meeting at the end of March. 

Tikana and Gabela both believe the league is capable of seeing through the conference, without being dissolved. 

The two leaders blamed the pandemic and not disorganised structures for the delays in holding the national conference. 

The task team was expected to meet the league’s leaders in the coming days, ahead of the NEC meeting. 

Police seize R6m in cash as ringleader linked to several kidnappings arrested in Gauteng

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  • Police arrested the alleged ringleader behind the recent kidnapping of a Lenasia businessman.
  • The man is also linked to five other similar kidnapping cases in Gauteng.
  • The businessman was rescued and reunited with his family.

The police are battling sophisticated syndicates behind the escalating kidnappings of businesspeople in the country.

Police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe said that, in the battle to curb the increasing nature of the crime, it has been established that they are not dealing with one syndicate.

“We have discovered that several groupings in the country are behind the spate of kidnappings. Each group has a mastermind or its ringleader. We are confident that we are making inroads with the latest arrests and identification of these groupings,” said Mathe.

On Thursday night, the police pounced on a group of suspected kidnappers and rescued an abducted Lenasia businessman.

The alleged leader behind the group is a Mozambican. The 43-year-old man was arrested, along with five other members of his gang.

“The man is linked to five kidnapping cases. He has dual citizenship. He has been in the country for several years,” Mathe said.

A kidnapping expert recently told News24 that kidnappings for ransom had emerged as a criminal trend in Mozambique around a decade ago, speculating that the trend had spread over the border into South Africa.

Transnational syndicates often orchestrate these high-profile kidnappings.

The kidnappers know what their victims are worth, and they will usually only be released after steep ransom demands.

But it also appears as if local copycat groups are springing up in South Africa.

Lenasia businessman Luqman Kazi, 34, was kidnapped while on his way to work on 15 March.

Following his kidnapping, a multidisciplinary team was assembled to rescue him. 

The team followed leads, which led them to identified properties. Kazi was found and rescued from a property in Lawley, near Lenasia.

He was reunited with his family.

At the property, police seized a 9mm unlicensed firearm and arrested three people.

At the second property in Lenasia, police arrested three more people, including the alleged ringleader.

Police also seized R6 million in cash.

“The money is believed to be ransom paid during other kidnapping cases. Police also recovered an AK47 rifle, ammunition, a hijacked motor vehicle, a VW Polo, used to kidnap Kazi, military-grade signal jammers and various vehicle registration number plates,” said Mathe.

The six individuals face charges of kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, and possession of a hijacked motor vehicle. 

Meanwhile, police also rescued four Bangladesh nationals in Bertrams, Johannesburg.

The four were kidnapped on 10 March in Musina, Limpopo. 

Mathe said they arrested two Ethiopian nationals linked to the crime. 

Mkhwebane faces chop as Ramaphosa waves axe over her head

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President Cyril Ramaphosa might have given Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane 10 days to justify why she should not be suspended throughout the duration of her impeachment process, but it is likely that her reasons will not be enough to save her this time around.This is according to Law Society of SA vice-president Mvuzo Notyesi, who says Ramaphosa is procedurally correct to suggest that she temporarily step down.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa wrote to Mkhwebane informing her of his intentions and asking her to give reasons why she should not be suspended. In a statement late that evening, her spokesperson, Oupa Segalwe, indicated that she would consult her legal team on Friday morning before announcing a course of action.

“Since Parliament has decided that the impeachment proceedings will ensue, that means the president may suspend her because he’s the appointing authority. In my view, the president is likely to suspend the Public Protector and in such an instance, she may challenge her suspension on various grounds.

“I think the Public Protector will say that Ramaphosa isn’t the right person to suspend her because there’s an investigation she’s [undertaking] about him. This [suspension could] be seen as an attempt to circumvent that investigation,” said Notyesi.

University of Johannesburg professor of public international law, Hennie Strydom, said Mkhwebane should allow due processes to unfold. He also explained that her case was that of someone who looked good on paper, but had been unable to deliver accordingly.

Strydom said:I think there’ve been issues for a long time now about her abilities. That’s the way to go, but if she’s cleared, that would be to her benefit. It’s due process that this unfolds and it should be adhered to.

Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana, who has been openly advocating that this process go ahead, says the fact that Mkhwebane has roughly 18 months left in office does not mean that the process should not continue.

“She’s raised a middle finger to the public and she doesn’t give a damn any more. Her public statements and photographs on Instagram have been downright disdainful towards the president, so – ordinarily – any who cared about their reputation would step down.

Ndletyana said:Any president who takes his job seriously and is concerned about public institutions can’t possibly keep a Public Protector in office when that individual is questioned. We have rules and we can’t apply them purely when it’s convenient. The only reason this is happening now is that she’s been using delaying tactics and pulling all kinds of stunts to avoid this point. It’s the same thing [former president] Jacob Zuma’s been doing.

Concerns about Mkhwebane’s capabilities have been at the centre of her tenure because of several court rulings that have been made against her.

The DA tried unsuccessfully to initiate her removal on several occasions. However, in February 2020, that party finally managed to persuade Parliament to initiate action against her.

Earlier this week, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula informed the president in writing about the decision made by the section 194 committee to continue with its consideration of the motion for the removal of the Public Protector.

Ramaphosa then asked Mkhwebane to explain why he should not suspend her in terms of section 194(3)(a) of the Constitution.

POLITICAL PARTIES REACT

The EFF believes the letter demanding that Mkhwebane plead her case is a “veiled threat”, and that her suspension would be an implementation of the “factional and undemocratic step-aside policy of the ruling party”.

“It’s an objective fact that Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been unwavering in her mandate to hold those in power accountable – and she’s done so indiscriminately, implicating Ramaphosa and his allies. Suspending her is therefore a measure to strip the office of the Public Protector of its teeth.

“It’s premature, rushed and leads us to conclude that it was a decision taken out of fear, rather than being based on rationality,” said the red berets.

DA MP Glynnis Breytenbach said that the process instituted against Mkhwebane was “necessary and urgent, given the numerous negative judgments expressed against the Public Protector”.

Breytenbach said: The DA notes the developments regarding the impeachment process of Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane and the intention of suspension indicated by the president, pending reasons for not doing so provided by her. We hope that this process reaches a conclusion in the near future.

–City Press

ANC blocks Mkhwebane from investigating Ramaphosa

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The ANC has bluntly told embattled Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane that she does not have the jurisdiction to investigate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leaked comments that state funds were being used to bankroll internal ANC election campaigns.

This was conveyed in a letter written to her by ANC treasurer-general Paul Mashatile, who is also performing tasks in the office of the secretary-general of the party.

And in another development signalling the tightening of the noose around Mkhwebane’s neck, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula wrote to the Constitutional Court on Friday, pleading that it was in the public interest to hand down its judgment on Mkhwebane’s application to reverse the pro-impeachment ruling against her before May 4.

Mapisa-Nqakula said this was because the committee investigating the Public Protector’s fitness to hold office had already developed a timeline for the impeachment proceeding against her.

Last Friday, Mkhwebane applied to the Constitutional Court to rescind its ruling that allowed the Parliamentary investigation to go ahead, alleging six issues of “patent errors” and ambiguity. She had also requested that Parliament freeze the process pending the outcome. 

READ: ‘Mkhwebane unlikely to escape axe’ – analysts

Mapisa-Nqakula’s letter came a day after Ramaphosa served Mkhwebane with a notice of suspension. His letter also asked her to explain why he should not suspend her during the Parliamentary inquiry into her fitness to hold office, and gave her 10 days to respond. This letter has been viewed as a mere legal formality.

MASHATILE PLAYS HARDBALL

Mkhwebane’s office is handling last month’s complaint by ANC MP Mervyn Dirks, who alleged that Ramaphosa’s statements in the leaked audio recording made during one of the governing party’s national executive committee meetings were in violation of the executive ethics code. The law gives her office 30 days to conclude the investigation.

Mashatile’s letter marks the second time that the governing party has shielded Ramaphosa from questions on his leaked remarks that his opponents in the ANC stole public funds to contest the party’s presidency against him in 2017.

Last month, the ANC used its majority in Parliament to prevent the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) from summoning the president to give oral evidence on the matter.

Luthuli House insiders said that Mashatile, in his role as caretaker of the ANC secretary-general’s office, received the request for information from Mkhwebane’s office three weeks ago. She had requested the complete audio recording of the discussion that led to Ramaphosa’s remarks.

In Mashatile’s response to Mkhwebane, which City Press has seen, he wrote: “With reference to section 182 of the Constitution … in terms of which you purport to conduct an investigation … you have the power to investigate any conduct in state affairs or in the public administration in any sphere of government (my emphasis) that is alleged or suspected to be improper or to result in any impropriety or prejudice.

“It follows from the above narrative that, in order to exercise the jurisdiction that you have assumed, the conduct complained of must meet the following two requirements.”

Mashatile listed these as the conduct having to emanate from state affairs or the public administration, and having to fall squarely within the ambit of the code of ethics set out in section 2 of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act and amplified in Proclamation R4l of 2000.

He continued: “The ANC is not convinced that the complaint lodged by Dirks and your subsequent inquiry meet these legal requirements and is of the view that, under the circumstances and having had regard to the nature of the complaint, you do not have the necessary jurisdiction to conduct such an inquiry and to request documents and information from a private voluntary association, as you have done in your letter under reply.

“The ANC requires an unambiguous response, as a matter of urgency, which clearly expresses the basis upon which you purport to exercise jurisdiction in this particular matter.”

chief parliamentary legal adviser Advocate Zuraya Adhikarie wrote: 

For the record, he added:  You are aware that [Scopa] in Parliament is seized with the matter at the instance of a complaint lodged by Dirks, an erstwhile member of that committee.

The legal opinion that Scopa obtained cited Mkhwebane as the only authority who could determine whether Ramaphosa had broken the law by failing to declare his knowledge of state money allegedly illegally used by his rivals to pay for their ANC presidential bid in 2017.

On January 18, chief parliamentary legal adviser Advocate Zuraya Adhikarie wrote: The breach of the ethics code falls within the purview of the Public Protector, who is responsible for making such a determination. The focus should therefore be on what information the president has on the matter that can assist Scopa in fulfilling its oversight mandate

PARLIAMENT IN A HURRY

In her letter to the Constitutional Court’s chief registrar, Mapisa-Nqakula – represented by the State Attorney – sensitised the court to the necessity of delivering the rescission ruling before the May 4 commencement of the impeachment process.

“We are further instructed by the Speaker to respectfully request that, if the acting chief justice decides to issue directions for the filing of papers by the parties, then, if at all possible, in the light of the public interest in the finalisation, one way or the other, of the process for the impeachment of the Public Protector, such directions be aimed at enabling this court to reach a decision on the rescission application before May 4 2022,” the State Attorney wrote.

On May 4, the committee is scheduled to commence hearing evidence from witnesses and, on May 31, it will start hearing the Public Protector’s evidence.

MKHWEBANE CITES SEPARATION OF POWERS

On the same day, Mkhwebane wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula through her lawyers, Seanego Attorneys, stating that, while the last decision not to accede to her request for the parliamentary proceedings to be halted had been based on the fact that no legal proceedings were pending before any court, “the situation has changed fundamentally”.

She confirmed that she had filed the rescission application before the Constitutional Court last Friday, stating: “The main thrust of the relief sought herein is to set aside the said judgment, more particularly insofar as it pertains to the constitutionality or otherwise of the involvement of a judge in the relevant panel which triggered the formation of the committee.

“The central issues pertain to the findings on separation of powers and the absence of any constitutional powers for the Speaker to appoint a judge to any office in the legislative sphere. These are fundamental and weighty questions of law,” wrote Mkhwebane.

“The purpose of this letter is to formally inform you of the above and also, most importantly and in the spirit of cooperative governance, to request that you take whatever steps are necessary towards ensuring that the process will not continue while the matter is before the courts. As you know, rule 89 prohibits the National Assembly from discussing an issue which is sub judice.”

HOW THE ANC SCUPPERED SCOPA

On February 16, ANC MPs used their majority in Scopa to torpedo the proposal that Ramaphosa be summoned to give oral evidence, saying that it was sufficient that he had stated that he did not have any information on the alleged misuse of state funds for ANC internal elections.

ANC MP Bheki Hadebe said at the time that Ramaphosa should be “given the benefit of the doubt because he is a man of integrity”. The ANC outvoted the opposition by six to four.

In his written response to Scopa at the time, Ramaphosa confirmed that the leaked recording contained statements he had made at a meeting of the ANC national executive committee. 

However, he said he had no direct or personal knowledge, other than this publicly available information, of who had used public funds, from which institutions or entities they had sourced these funds, how the misuse of public funds had happened and for whose benefit these funds had been used.

In the leaked recording of the ANC meeting, Ramaphosa – who stood accused of using hundreds of millions of rands to campaign for his presidential election – declared that he knew his opponents had stolen state money from the State Security Agency to finance their campaign, but he preferred to keep silent and “fall on his sword” to shield the party’s reputation, rather than use the scandal to his political advantage.

Russia fires ‘invisible’ hypersonic missile in Ukraine for the first

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The Russian military has fired hypersonic missiles in Ukraine for the time in the conflict.Russia Ukraine War Day In Photos© AP Russia Ukraine War Day In Photos

Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry, said its Kinzhal missile destroyed an underground warehouse storing ammunition for Ukrainian troops in the western Ivano-Frankivsk region.

The Kinzhal – or “Dagger” – missile is believed to have a range of 1,250 miles.

Its speed and ability to fly low makes it “invisible” to most anti-missile defence systems.

Russia said it had also destroyed Ukrainian military radio and reconnaissance centres near the port city of Odessa using a coastal missile system, Interfax news agency reported.

It is unknown if the strikes caused any casualties.

“The Kinzhal aviation missile system with hypersonic aero-ballistic missiles destroyed a large underground ammunition depot in the Ivano-Frankivsk region,” said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

Hypersonic weapons are considered the next generation of arms. They can reach more than five times the speed of sound.

The weapons pose a crucial challenge to missile defense systems because of their speed and manoeuvrability.

The head of the UK’s armed forces has previously warned that Britain needed to develop hypersonic missiles to keep up with the military competition.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin highlighted Russia’s hypersonic and long-range missile capability as a threat and Britain’s comparative capabilities as a weakness. “We haven’t (got them) and we must have,” he said.

It comes as Russia expanded its missile strikes to Lviv in the west of the country on Friday.

Russia also launched an early morning attack on Lviv, the city’s mayor said, as British intelligence suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion made “minimal progress” this week.

An update from the Ministry of Defence said Ukrainian forces were continuing to “frustrate” Moscow’s attempt to encircle cities including Kyiv and Mykolai.

Shelling around the capital Kyiv also continued as the number of refugees estimated to have fled the war exceeded 3.4 million.

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–Evening Standard

World’s best sniper, Wali killed in Russia-Ukraine war

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Russia claims responsibility for his death, but Ukraine denies it

Russia is claiming that Oliver Lavigne-Ortiz, otherwise known as ‘Wali‘ and considered to be the world’s best sniper, has lost his life shortly after joining Ukraine‘s defence against the neighbouring country’s invasion.

However, Ukraine denies reports about the alleged death of Wali, who has gone through various conflicts, from Afghanistan to Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Allegedly communicated his position in the combat zone

Although it has yet to be confirmed, there are reports claiming that the Canadian sniper mistakenly communicated his position to the Russians or the area where Ukrainian forces placed him.

His position was allegedly located by the Russian army, who bombed the area, causing the death of Wali.

It sounds surprising that an experienced snipper would make such a mistake, but it has to be noted that the Russian army are using technology that is more sophisticated that the one used in the Middle East by the Taliban, Islamic State and Iraqi militias.

The fact is that no one has heard of Wali in several days, with his case being currently shrouded in the fog of war.

–Marca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Combative Vavi shows Saftu leadership a middle finger

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Under siege Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has hit back at his colleagues for giving him an ultimatum to state why he should not be suspended pending an investigation and disciplinary action.

This comes after the trade union federation’s president Mac Chavalala wrote to Vavi giving him until the end of business on Thursday to state why he should not step aside while being investigated for alleged misconduct.

According to Chavalala, the decision had been taken at a meeting of Saftu’s national office bearers (NOBs) on Monday.

Vavi said the decision and letter of intention to suspend him were unlawful and unconstitutional. He would therefore report for duty as per normal for there was “no case to answer”.

According to Vavi, the NOBs had hurried the decision to suspend him at the Monday meeting without a clear set of allegations he must answer to.

With the exception of a R1,800 bill for Gautrain trips, Bolt rides and airtime racked up by him that was advanced as one of the allegations he is facing, there was no detailed report of the case against him, he said.

Vavi believes the decision to give him the chance to state his case while allegations are “vague” was “taken elsewhere” and vowed it will not succeed.

“In the national office bearers’ meeting, the national treasurer presented credit card transactions claiming that they caused eyebrows to be raised. She made an example of the R1,800 airtime, Gautrain and Bolt,” wrote Vavi in a letter to the NOBs.

“There was not even the decency to ask me to explain the so-called suspicious transactions in the meeting.

Why are you now writing me a letter as if another meeting took place somewhere else, to which I was not invited?

Zwelinzima Vavi

“As soon as the national treasurer presented the report, which I was seeing for the first time, the second deputy president moved a motion that an investigation be launched and that I be placed on suspension with the president hurrying to second [the motion].

“Why are you now writing me a letter as if another meeting took place somewhere else, to which I was not invited, and ask me to answer to a letter on why I must not be placed on precautionary suspension pending investigation regarding these vague and spurious allegations?”

Vavi said he was compiling a detailed account of all the transactions flagged as suspicious during the Monday NOBs meeting and will present them to the finance committee meeting on Thursday.

Once he had done that, he said, he was going to the national office bearers, one by one,  “to point out which one of the transactions is suspicious” to the extent that they warrant “such a drastic decision as to place me on unconstitutional suspension”.

The letter of intention to suspend Vavi stated he was under the microscope for “alleged violations of the constitution, breach of administration and finance policy, and disrespecting and undermining constitutional structural decisions and resolutions”.

Chavalala refused to comment on the matter “pending internal discussions and protocols”.

–Sunday Times

Zwelinzima Vavi locks horns with Irvin Jim

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Battle lines have been drawn over a letter of intention to suspend the former Cosatu boss

The battle for the soul of trade union federation Saftu is on, with general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi in one corner and his Numsa counterpart Irvin Jim in the other.

Sparks are expected to fly at a Saftu national executive committee (NEC) meeting billed for next weekend, with a clear divide between the two.

The conflict escalated this week with a letter of intention to suspend Vavi, a decision apparently emanating from a Saftu national office bearers’ (NOBs) meeting on Monday.

After a defiant Vavi challenged the missive giving him an ultimatum to explain himself, an all-out war ensued, with several Saftu affiliate unions coming to his defence.

With the exception of a R1,800 bill for Gautrain trips, Bolt rides and airtime racked up by him that was advanced as one of the allegations he is facing, there was no detailed report of the case against him, he said.

This while Jim launched a vicious offensive against Vavi on the trade union federation’s WhatsApp group, which this publication has seen.

But he was met with an equally spirited defence from the union that has pledged allegiance to Vavi.

The unions backing Vavi have warned the Saftu NOBs who attempted to suspend him, saying there will be blood on the floor should they go ahead with th

According to these unions, the NOBs have no power to suspend another NOB, a decision they contend rests with the NEC.

Jim has accused Vavi of behaving like a prima donna who is immune to accountability.

Jim and Vavi were close allies during their days at Cosatu, from which they were expelled in 2015. That led to the formation of Saftu.

As Saftu prepares to go to its national congress in two months, it now appears the two will be attending as foes out to finish one another.

“We say without any fear of contradictions that your said letter to the general secretary lacks authority and jurisdiction, it constitutes an unlawful instruction, therefore it can only be disregarded and defied,” wrote Vusi Ntshangase, the general secretary of the Democratic Transport Logistics and Allied Workers Union (Detawu) to Saftu president Mac Chavalala.

“Our view is that your letter [of intention to suspend Vavi] is out of order, to say the least, because it exposes the federation to unnecessary costly litigations. As such, as a union, we encourage the general secretary, comrade Zwelinzima Vavi, to disobey your unlawful letter and continue with his duties as elected by the founding congress until appropriate structures or nature decide otherwise.”

This is what is the liberalism that has engulfed Saftu, Vavi can tell the whole NOBs to look for nearest cliff and jump because he is a popular than the rest of Saftu NOBs.

Irvin Jim

Jim was unimpressed, saying Vavi was not above the trade union federation.

“This is what is the liberalism that has engulfed Saftu, Vavi can tell the whole NOBs to look for nearest cliff and jump because he is a popular than the rest of Saftu NOBs,” he charged.

“An individual like ZV (Zwelinzima Vavi) [has] absolutely no respect of the collective leadership and can simply dismiss the leadership of the federation with absolute arrogance [and] absolute disrespect of the entire leadership that respected him [and] allowed him to explain his side of the story.

“Ours is an appreciation that we are in a democratic dispensation with a bourgeois constitution with a bill of rights. We must be clear to all of you in this group, keep your special eminent ZV and hands off our Saftu NOBs.”

Three other Saftu affiliate unions expressed the same sentiments as Detawu regarding Vavi, with all confirming their availability for the NEC showdown from March 24 to 26.

Ntshangase fired another salvo at Jim in the fiery WhatsApp exchange: “We are not under your hostage wena (Jim). We have suffered enough [from] your self-importance tendency. Your mini-god desired status is rejected. Stop this name-calling and engage on facts & substance. We are not under your hostage Irvin!!!”

Jim said he was ready for war, to defend Saftu against “super-leader” Vavi and affiliate unions that are backing him.

“Saftu nobs are presented as being at fault by Detawu, Fawu, Salipsu, and some other affiliates who don’t mince their words. They call on ZV to arrogantly defy the collective leadership of the federation and lead as a Lone Ranger,” said Jim.

“We (Numsa) won’t be blackmailed just like shuttle politics are deployed we have equal and the same right to ask if this is the federation we have been part of. There won’t be compromises and the battle lines are drawn, we reject ZV’s absolute arrogance to the collective leadership of the federation.

“If the intention is to arrogantly blackmail, gagged them (Saftu NOBs) into submission because ZV is a super leader that can’t account and work with the collect leadership that we have elected, tough luck [because] the battle lines [have been] drawn we won’t be part of such a process.”

–Sunday Times

Hackers demand R223 million ransom after hacking TransUnion SA’s server

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Credit bureau TransUnion SA says it has received an extortion demand from a third party that has obtained access to its server.

TransUnion said the hacker obtained access to its server by illegally using a client’s credentials. 

“We have received an extortion demand and it will not be paid,” the bureau said.

The ransom, according to ITWeb, is R223m. 

“The hacker group, going by the name N4aughtysecTU, which claims to hail from Brazil, is alleging it breached TransUnion and accessed 54-million personal records of South Africans,” the publication said.

TransUnion said when it discovered the incident, it suspended the client’s access, engaged cybersecurity and forensic experts, and launched an investigation.

TransUnion is a credit bureau. It tracks the credit history of borrowers in order to generate credit reports and scores.

“We believe the incident impacted an isolated server holding limited data from our South African business. We are working with law enforcement and regulators,” the bureau said.

TransUnion, without commenting on how many people are potentially affected by the breach, said it was engaging clients in the country about the incident. The bureau would also notify and assist individuals whose personal data might have been affected.

“We will be making identity protection products available to impacted consumers free of charge.”

“The security and protection of the information we hold is TransUnion’s top priority,” said Lee Naik, CEO of TransUnion SA.

 “We understand that situations like this can be unsettling and TransUnion South Africa remains committed to assisting anyone whose information may have been affected.”

TimesLIVE

Malema challenges President Ramaphosa to fire Bheki Cele

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EFF leaders accuses President of being scared of his Police Minister

  • Cyril Ramaphosa told EFF leader Julius Malema that he feared “f****l”.
  • During a question session in the National Assembly, Malema asked Ramaphosa why Bheki Cele had not been shown the door.
  • Ramaphosa said it remained his prerogative to appoint ministers to the Cabinet.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told Julius Malema he feared “f****l” after the EFF leader claimed he was scared to act against under-fire Police Minister Bheki Cele.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa answered questions in the National Assembly on South Africa’s response to the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the economy and crime.

Malema posed a follow-up question to Ramaphosa and cited the recent killings in Khayelitsha and Manenberg.

Malema wants Bheki Cele fired from his Police Minister job for allegedly failing to fight crime

“They [criminals] are no longer hiding. They are shooting people in broad daylight, in front of cameras. They no longer wear balaclavas. They don’t hide. The reason being there is no police in South Africa, and there is no visible policing in all suburbs and townships,” Malema said.

“The problem is that you have taken a person, who was the commissioner, and made him the minister. He has a competing interest of being a commissioner and the minister. He interferes with the powers of commissioners. I can guarantee you, you can appoint any commissioner, that person will never succeed as long as Bheki Cele is there.

“What is it that you are so scared about Bheki Cele? If you think he possesses a lot of support in KZN, why can’t you redeploy him and appoint a capable minister to fight crime? Crime is a nightmare.”

In response, Ramaphosa said:He (Malema) wants to know, as president, what I am scared of. All I can say is that Honourable Malema, I have heard what you said. I fear f****l.

In his State of the Nation Address earlier this year, Ramaphosa promised that resources would be made available to recruit and train 12 000 new police officers.

In Malema’s initial question, he wanted to know why Ramaphosa decided to axe national police commissioner Khehla Sitole, but not Cele.

“The outgoing national commissioner of the police service and I have been in communication for some time about matters that led to the mutual agreement that led to the early termination of his contract. These discussions were, therefore, not related to the crime statistics, but we were instead guided by what would be in the best interests of the country,” Ramaphosa said.

“Honourable Malema knows that, when the president appoints his ministers, he does not consult the public. It is the president’s decision,” Ramaphosa said.

Malema, in response, said: “Any responsible president will know, when you appoint members of the Cabinet, you do so in the best interest of our people. It is not a power that you go around floundering, without exercising it in a rational manner. No one has ever questioned your capacity or your constitutional powers to appoint your Cabinet.”

After a point of order was raised, Ramaphosa had to withdraw the word “f****l”.

–News24

‘I am fueled by rage’: Mbali Ntuli on why she is leaving the political arena

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Mbali Ntuli resigned as a DA member and as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature. 

Ntuli says the political system in the country angers her. 

Her departure adds to a list of prominent politicians who have left the DA in the past three years. 


Mbali Ntuli insists that her departure from the DA, which she joined when she was just 19, was not because she felt bitter about losing the race to become the party’s leader. However, she believes that, if she had won, she would not have left the party.

Ntuli tendered her resignation from the DA and as a member of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature on Thursday. 

After 15 years as a politician, with hopes of making a change in the political establishment, Mbali Ntuli believes the state of the country’s political system has made her angry enough to leave.

“I am tired of politicians, who are not prepared to do the hard work, but want some of the perks that come with it. I have been on committees where few of us are awake. Some are sleeping. 

“Those people are not taking their jobs seriously, and no one is taking them to account because of the way our political party system is set up. I am angry and fuelled by some rage, and I hope my righteous anger will align me more with my purpose as I hit the ground,” Ntuli told News24. 

Ntuli’s journey with the DA began when she was a teen and she rose quickly in the party’s ranks to head its youth structure in 2013. Her journey may be viewed as a stunning political rise for a black woman, who helped grow the DA’s outreach in rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal. 

She said this was one of her most memorable accomplishments in the DA as she leaves the political arena. 

The work she’s done at the party has done very little to change her view of the political space in the country. 

She believes there exists no political alternative that can help take the country out of its unequal circumstances.

Ntuli said:I also think there is no vision for the country and how to make the country just and equitable for everyone. We move from crisis to crisis in this country. We just cannot live in this political system. Even with the formation of coalitions, you do not get a sense that these people are adults, and they are the best of what we have in the country.

She said South Africans need a better quality of life.

“The cost of living is too high in this country, but I think there should be food security and communities should have water. It is not like innovation does not exist. But I cannot decipher whether it is gross incompetence or general laziness or maladministration,” Ntuli said. 

Ntuli’s views on the political dynamics facing the country do not exclude her long-standing views on the DA. She surprised some within the DA’s ranks when she decided to contest for the position of party leader. Ntuli lost by 80% to John Steenhuisen. 

During her campaigning, she did not shy away from sharing her concerns about the party’s direction.

She doesn’t regret daring to run for the position, and she likely would not have left the party had she won the race.

Ntuli explained: Probably not, because I would have been able to put a lot of the things that I have been thinking about into action within the party. Even after I lost, I stayed for a long time because I respected the democratic process. It is good to know when it’s time to leave the stage.

On her analysis of the DA’s political future, Ntuli said the party would have to do introspection on its approach to winning over voters and addressing its political culture, if it ever wants to increase its electoral margins. 

The party has lost several members in the past three years, including former leader Mmusi Maimane, Phumzile van Damme, John Moodey, Herman Mashaba and Athol Trollip. 

Ntuli said the DA would have a challenging task on its hands to undo the electoral losses experienced in the past two elections.

“I think it’s hard to turn back a trend heading towards another direction. There should have never been a case where the ANC should still be dominant, considering how formidable an opposition party the DA was. There should have never been an ActionSA that has taken votes away and even FF Plus that has had some form of resurgence. Those are the questions for the leaders of the day,” she said. 

Community work

Ntuli, whose outreach work helped build support for her political career, said she was heading back to working with communities. 

She plans on creating a non-profit organisation (NPO) that will likely be a formation which is based on outreach work. 

“There are various people and organisations in the country that do outreach work. And I wonder whether we do not need a system based on collaboration, on the kind of change we want to see. I have no concrete plan. 

“How would you be able to create something that an ordinary South African would feel, without politics, they could still be able to contribute to the county? I want to create an organisation that is probably an NPO that will have the space to do many things,” Ntuli said.

–News24

Luxury car gathers dust as Sedibeng mayor refuses to use it

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..R600 000 Jalopy failing to meet the luxurious appetite of madam boss

A Mercedez-Benz GLB, which cost the taxpayers more than R600 000 is gathering dust at the Sedibeng District Municipality in offices in Vereeniging because the mayor is refusing to use the car.

According to Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile’s written reply to questions tabled in the provincial legislature, the car was bought for ANC councillor Lerato Maloka, but the mayor was refusing to use it because “it was not bought according to specifications”.

A Mercedez-Benz GLB which is not fit for Sedibeng Mayor

The DA’s Kingsol Chabalala said this was worrying: For Maloka to refuse to use the vehicle is ridiculous considering that the municipality is facing a financial crisis and is unable to deliver adequate services to its residents.

“The residents of Sedibeng do not have access to tarred roads and some of the roads that are tarred are full of potholes as there is no proper regular maintenance of roads,” Chabalala lamented.

He said it was also worrying that even after the vehicle had been vinyl-wrapped in gloss black, Maloka was still refusing to use it.

“According to the MEC’s reply, vinyl-wrapping the car cost the municipality R29 300. This is a total waste of the municipality’s money and its a shame that the mayor wants to feed her ego at the expense of our people,” he said.

Chabalala urged Maloka to be less worried about the luxury car’s specifications and be more focused on delivering adequate services to the residents.

—City Press

Bheki Cele optimistic cops will crack case of shooting outside Western Cape deputy judge president’s home

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Police minister Bheki Cele is hopeful police will soon get to the bottom of the shooting incident outside Western Cape deputy judge president Patricia Goliath’s home.

Cele addressed the media at a “street imbizo” in New Monwabisi Park, Endlovini, in Khayelitsha, on Thursday. He was visiting the area after five people were killed in the informal settlement on Monday.

The Hawks confirmed the shooting outside Goliath’s home on Wednesday morning but were light on detail, saying this was for “security reasons”.

Cele said he had been told about the incident.

“It was immediately reported to me,” Cele said. “The investigations are going on. I am sure we will be making a statement very soon about what happened.”

According to Daily Maverick, a security guard was injured in the shoot-out outside Goliath’s home. 

TimesLIVE

ANC disbanding Bathabile Dlamini-led women’s league executive

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The ANC has appointed former National Assembly speaker and current defence minister Thandi Modise to lead a task team to determine if the leadership of the ANC Women’s League should remain in office.

The decision was announced by ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe after a meeting of the party’s national working committee. The NWC is responsible for the ANC’s day-to-day affairs.

The move could result in the dissolution of the national executive committee of the women’s league led by embattled former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini.

Dlamini’s NEC has been in office since 2015 and its term of office has expired.

Mabe said the decision was taken after the NWC received a report on preparations for conferences of the ANCWL, ANC Youth League and the ANC Veterans League.

“The NWC noted that the NEC of the ANC Women’s League was elected in 2015 and its five-year term of office has expired. The NWC appointed a task team consisting of Thandi Modise, convener, Nathi Mthethwa and Jenny Schreiner to consider the status of the ANCWL.”

Modise and her team were expected to make recommendations to the ANC national executive committee.

The NEC was due to hold its next meeting from March 25 to 27.

It has already dissolved the provincial executive committees of the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga after their terms of office expired.

The latest move by the ANC comes after Dlamini was last week found guilty of lying under oath by the Johannesburg magistrate’s court, a charge that stemmed from her tenure as social development minister.

According to ANC rules, any member charged with a serious crime should step aside from their position.

Mabe said the party has appointed NEC member Gwen Ramokgopa to assist in the running of the office of the secretary-general as Ace Magashule remains on suspension.

Since Magashule’s suspension last year, his deputy Jessie Duarte has been running matters, but she has taken ill. 

Ramokgopa will work with treasurer-general Paul Mashatile who has been seconded to the office of the secretary-general.

News of Ramokgopa being sent to the office has been met with push-back from some in the ANC, with insiders viewing her deployment as part of a power grab by ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa and his supporters.

Mabe confirmed that the NWC received reports from its subcommittees on  the lifting of the national state of disaster and would discuss them at the next NEC meeting.

The party was satisfied with how Ramaphosa’s administration was handling the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

TimeLive

DA to file urgent court bid against ‘irrational’ extension of the state of disaster

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The DA has instructed its lawyers to bring an urgent court application to challenge an “irrational and unreasonable” extension of the state of disaster in SA.

The party also seeks to bring to an end the lockdown regulations, said its leader John Steenhuisen. 

“It’s not enough to end the state of disaster. The lockdown itself must end. It can’t just become permanent legislation as the government is trying to do,” he said on Thursday.

“When the government moves lockdown regulations into permanent legislation instead, the DA will mount a legal challenge to those too. The lockdown is not in SA’s best interest. On the contrary, it is pushing more and more people into joblessness and deeper into poverty.”

He made the announcement two days after minister of  co-operative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma signed off on an extension to the state of disaster until April 15. At the end of the month SA will have been under a state of disaster for two years.

Steenhuisen said his party would not allow the state of disaster to be “glibly” extended month after month.

“We will not allow our democracy to be suspended indefinitely in favour of rule by decree, with no democratic checks and balances.  

“There is no need to maintain the state of disaster and the lockdown. If needed, the state of disaster and the lockdown can be reinstated when the situation changes drastically.

“There is also no need to move lockdown restrictions into permanent legislation. If the Covid-19 risk goes up the state of disaster can be reinstated.”

The only permanent Covid-19-related regulation that needed to be in place were those enabling the social relief of distress grant to continue being paid.

He took a swipe at the government’s stance on how it was guided by science in taking Covid-19-related decisions, arguing that science said a  lockdown was unnecessary, irrational and unreasonable.

Severe Covid-19 illness and hospitalisation rates were low across the country and so were transmission rates, “and even if they go up, they won’t necessarily drive severe illness and hospitalisation rates with them”, said Steenhuisen,  

“It is time to treat Covid-19 in the same way as we treat other health risks, such as HIV, TB, cancer and maternal mortality. Like other countries, we need to focus on vaccinating the high-risk group.”

Ending lockdown would have a positive impact on the economy, at least for the tourism industry which used to support 10% of all jobs in the country, he said. 

Under level 1 regulations, gatherings are restricted to 2,000 people outdoors and 1,000 indoors. The curfew has been lifted.

“Its recovery [tourism] is hamstrung by requirements such as a negative PCR test to enter the country, imposing a significant additional cost on international tourists. Most countries accept evidence of vaccination or prior infection too, while some, such as Mexico, impose no requirements at all.

“While the rest of the world has filled stadiums for sport and shows, in SA the Soweto Derby had to take place in an empty stadium last weekend.”

The decision to extend the state of disaster was no longer about fighting the spread of Covid-19 but rather the ANC’s desperation to cling to power.

“It is fighting to hold on to the powers it has become accustomed to these past two years. Powers that allow it to evade accountability and oversight.

“Such an unconstitutional power grab cannot be tolerated in an open, democratic society like ours.”  

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba on Tuesday made a similar announcement, saying his party would explore all possible avenues to challenge Dlamini-Zuma’s decision.

“Because of what we fear will become a pattern of extensions that will continue. This may include legal action and exploring collaboration with like-minded political parties to ensure the freedoms of South Africans are restored,” Mashaba said.

TimesLIVE

ANC leaders, former Premier, cops and spies face treason charges over July riots

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  • The police are investigating a case of treason against high-profile politicians suspected of masterminding last July’s violence.
  • Senior ANC politicians, Cabinet ministers, high-profile businessmen, cops, and spies are suspected of fomenting the July unrest.
  • While the police investigation drags, the families of the people who lost their lives are beginning to lose hope that justice will ever be served.

Eight months after launching a treason investigation following the violent unrest in July last year, the police are yet to arrest anyone. 

News24 can, for the first time, reveal that following last July’s rampage, the police are seeking to bring treason charges against several high-ranking ANC politicians and businesspeople identified as masterminds. 

A senior police officer close to the investigation said those implicated include a prominent former mayor of a Gauteng metro, Cabinet ministers, former premiers, Crime Intelligence agents, State Security Agency operatives, and members of the Umkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA).

The officer said the police could link several people, which the State hopes to charge with treason, to specific meetings in locations known to the police through cellphone trilateration – a sophisticated and advanced method of determining the exact location of mobile phones and cars fitted with tracking devices. 

The senior police officer added:We have made a lot of progress, and the takedown is no longer far away. Although the investigation was targeting certain people, we had to cast the net wider to make sure we don’t miss any implicated party.

While the police investigation drags on, the family of 15-year-old Puleng Shabangu, who perished during the riots, has lost hope of ever seeing justice for her. 

Her family claims it has been met with silence from the authorities and political leadership.

In July last year, protests, sparked by the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma, quickly escalated into an orgy of violence and looting. 

Hundreds of thousands of people in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal blockaded highways, torched trucks, malls, and major distribution warehouses. 

About 340 people lost their lives in the wake of the deadliest protests under the democratic dispensation. The losses suffered by businesses are estimated to top R50 billion.

Shabangu, who suffered an asthma attack when police fired tear gas into a looting crowd, was crushed in a stampede at Ndofaya Mall in Meadowlands, Soweto, on 12 July last year, as scores of people tried to flee from the police.

According to her aunt, Kedibone Shabangu, who spoke to News24 last Wednesday, she fell to the ground while calling her mother and aunt for help.

Probe located in top cop’s office

Another Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster functionary said that, because of the investigation’s sensitive nature, a decision had been taken to locate it in the office of outgoing police commissioner Khehla Sitole. 

“Only a select few top detectives are part of the investigation. Sitole gives President Cyril Ramaphosa regular updates on the progress of the investigation. Because of the sensitivity of the case and the names of the people under investigation, the team feels that it cannot proceed without support from the highest office in the country, lest they be fed to the wolves,” the source said.

They said Sitole would not hand over the treason investigation, or any other probe, to Police Minister Bheki Cele when he left office at the end of the month, as per the minister’s request. 

This comes after Cele last week wrote to Sitole asking him to prepare a closeout report, among others, detailing all major police investigations.

A week ago, News24 reported that Cele had also requested Sitole not to make big decisions affecting the police service.

“Sitole will not hand over any closeout report to Cele. The law does not allow the minister to get involved in the administration. Ideally, Sitole should hand over the closeout report to the person who will succeed him. In the absence of that person, Sitole will hand over the closeout report to the president, who is his boss.” 

Sitole, the source said, has already forwarded Cele’s letter to the president. The source said that if the president wanted to give him the closeout report, he would do so himself. 

Sitole declined to comment.

Cele and Sitole have a frosty relationship and have been at each other’s throats since 2018. 

The animosity between the two spilled into the public last year when they appeared before the South African Human Rights Commission’s hearing into the July unrest. 

They both laid the blame for the turmoil on each other’s doors.

A confidential matter

Cele declined to comment about the letter and his interests in major police investigations currently under way.

His spokesperson Lirandzu Temba said, “the minister’s response to this matter has not changed; which is that any correspondence between the national commissioner and himself is confidential. If anything changes, you’ll be informed”.

Acting police spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe also declined to comment about the treason investigation. Kedibone lost her 15-year-old niece, Puleng, in thKedibone lost her 15-year-old niece, Puleng, in the violence.Supplied

“The national investigative hearing into the July unrests are yet to be concluded; it is for this reason that the SAPS will not engage in any matter relating to the July unrests.”

Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga, a special advisor to advocate Shamila Batohi, head of the National Prosecuting Authority, said prosecutors had been working with the Hawks, police detectives, and Crime Intelligence agents to prosecute people suspected of instigating the July riots. 

“The NPA, as with all matters, engaged with law enforcement stakeholders to wit the DPCI, Detectives, and Crime Intelligence. Dedicated prosecutors from the Organised Crime Divisions in the KZN and GP DPP offices were allocated to deal with the matters. The prosecutors guided investigations and got the cases that were brought to the court ready.”

Justice denied

While leadership are at loggerheads, the Shabangu family say authorities and political leadership have made no further contact after initially promising compensation for Puleng’s death. Puleng Shabangu died in the July riots last year after inhaling tear gas and suffering an asthma attack.

“Even to this day, nothing was done. No police came by to say sorry or send their condolences or anything,” Shabangu said. 

She added: Seeing her lying there, if you could see the video, it is very traumatic… In the video, you could see that she tried to open her mouth [to breathe]… You could see that someone stepped on her because her neck was shifted to the side.

Shabangu told News24 she was not aware of any investigation being conducted into her niece’s death, adding she has lost faith in the government, vowing to never vote again after the silence her community was met with after the riots. 

“When they need our vote, we go vote, but when we have problems, they are not there,” he said.

“You wouldn’t want your vote to go to waste. I am not voting for you to have a nice life. I am voting for you so that my family and I can benefit. By voting for you, I trusted that you would take care of us.” 

With the slow pace of investigations into the riots, which Shabangu said had left a deep scar in the community and was still talked about today, Shabangu said the conduct of those elected to power has soiled the president’s image.  

“That’s why we no longer take our president seriously because people elected under him have ruined his image. He might be a good person, but everyone else [is not]. If they are soiling his image, I will take it that my president is like that too,” she said.

-City Press

Zwelinzima Vavi faces suspension as Saftu general secretary

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SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been given until the end of business on Thursday to give reasons why he should not be suspended.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the national office-bearers (NOBs) of the trade union federation on Monday.

In a letter of intention to suspend sent to Vavi he is accused of serious misconduct and misbehaviour which warrants that he be investigated and possibly face disciplinary action.

Vavi confirmed to TimesLIVE he had received the letter and was working on a response.

“Please be reminded that during the [NOBs] meeting [on Monday], at which you were in attendance, the NOBs took note that there are a number of transgressions on your part that are tantamount to acts of misconduct and misbehaviour and warrants investigations and possible disciplinary action,” Saftu president Mac Chavalala wrote to Vavi.

“This therefore, serves to inform you that you are requested to give reasons why you should not be place under precautionary suspension whilst the investigations take place.

“The investigations will, among other things, be about alleged violations of the constitution, breach of administration and finance policy, and disrespecting and undermining constitutional structural decisions and resolution.”

The nature of the misconduct Vavi is accused with was not clear at the time of writing and Chavalala’s phone rang unanswered.

This is not the first time Vavi finds himself in trouble at work.

In 2013, he was accused by a Cosatu co-worker of sexual misconduct in what Vavi described as a consensual “brief intercourse took place while we were standing”.

Vavi was ultimately expelled from Cosatu in 2015.

This is a developing story

TimesLIVE

Foreign nationals approach high court to seek reprieve from Dudula

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The urgent court application is expected to be heard on Wednesday and follows numerous waves of the controversial campaigns in Gauteng townships which saw violent clashes in Alexandra last week, resulting in five people being arrested

In a desperate move, a group of foreign nationals have approached the Johannesburg high court for relief against the so-called Dudula campaign targeting migrant traders, stating the court bid will prevent loss of life in case xenophobic violence flares up. 

The urgent court application is expected to be heard on Wednesday and follows numerous waves of the controversial Dudula campaigns in Gauteng townships which saw violent clashes in Alexandra last week, resulting in five people being arrested

The Dudula groupings’ operations which are aimed at rooting out illegal foreign nationals started in Soweto last year but have since spread to Alexandra, Ekurhuleni townships of Tembisa and Daveyton and the inner Johannesburg, including Hillbrow and Orange Grove.

In an urgent application before the Johannesburg high court, 38 affected foreign nationals approached the court for an order seeking to put a stop to the movement’s activities which include forcing them to shut down their stalls in various townships of Gauteng.

Foreign national Sipho Ncube filed the founding affidavit pursuing the court to interdict the Dudula operations which include assaults, threats and interfering with businesses owned by foreign nationals.

Ncube is among a group of foreigners which include recyclers, motor mechanics, fast food vendors and some who are unemployed from countries such as Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.

Ncube, a victim of the Operation Dudula’s activities, also wanted the court to interdict members of movement to stop from organising and participating in protests at stalls operated by foreign nationals. 

“I have been threatened not to return to my workshop in Johannesburg on 12 March 2022 [or else] my stock will be destroyed and stand to be harmed, if not killed,” stated Ncube in his affidavit.

Last week, at least 10 people were injured during the violent standoff between Alexandra’s Dudula Movement and foreign nationals who resisted attempts to have them removed and blocked from vending in the township.

This followed similar campaigns aimed at forcing undocumented foreigners out of informal trading in townships intensified in the Johannesburg CBD, Hillbrow and Orange Grove.

Ncube stated that their rights to be free from cruel and inhumane treatment which were infringed by the group gave rise to the matter being “inherently urgent”.

“This application raises constitutional rights of manifest importance… It is about stopping violence, threats, harassment and unlawful interference without business operation at the hands of thugs…

“It is uncontroverted that this matter is of national importance that the violence, threats… and intimidation is stopped. Otherwise the country could experience another bloodshed of xenophobic violence,” stated Ncube.

He stated that loss of life was likely to happen if the movement’s activities were not stopped immediately as the circumstances of this case are exceptional.

“There were already violence, injuries, threats and intimidation at the hands of the movement. At present, the movement is law unto itself,” stated Ncube.

He stated that the importance of safeguarding and vindicating their rights cannot be undermined.

“The pressing public need to bring to an end the destruction of our businesses, intimidation and violence at hands of the movement is invariably urgent,” stated Ncube.

He also stated that members of the Dudula campaign have not proven that those that they have targeted are illegal immigrants or were involved in illegal activities.

Lawyer Mabu Marweshe said: “We’ve been approached by foreigners, some of them are victims of Operation Dudula activities, to launch an application on an extremely urgent basis. We expect the court to rule on it on Wednesday morning.”

Sowetanlive

‘They must go to school and get skills, not harass foreigners’ — Snuki Zikalala slams ‘dangerous’ Operation Dudula

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ANC Veterans’ League president Snuki Zikalala has weighed in on the rise of Operation Dudula and the Dudula Movement in response to illegal immigration in the country, telling protesters to go to school, get skills, and not harass foreign nationals

Shops and other businesses in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, were forced to shut last week when locals, who claimed they were part of the Dudula Movement, allegedly searched for migrant employees and shop owners who did not have valid paperwork.

Operation Dudula demonstrations also took place in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg, on Saturday.

Speaking on Newzroom Afrika this week, Zikalala said it is because of the “harsh realities that some South Africans are acting in a xenophobic manner”.

He labelled Operation Dudula as “dangerous” and suggested it was exploiting the unemployed.

“The majority of our youth are unemployed. I think Operation Dudula is a very dangerous movement because they saw a gap in that, they started hyping South Africans’ emotions and we are saying as the ANC that it is inhuman what they are doing.”

He said members of Operation Dudula “are not law enforcement officers” and “can’t just harass individuals in the street”.

“They should not be harassed. Those Dudula people must go to school, get skills, instead of marching and harassing foreign nationals. It is unacceptable.” 

Zikalala said foreign nationals are welcome in SA, but must be documented and legal. He added that the ANC must educate its people about SA’s place in Africa and home affairs must be “fixed”.

Speaking during the presidential imbizo in the North West over the weekend, labour minister Thulas Nxesi said the government frowned upon violence against documented or undocumented foreign nationals.

“All we are saying is that Dudula must come to us … and put in their proposals so that we are able to deal with this matter in an amicable way. We cannot allow violence and that is why we are going to be harsh when it comes to those areas. The police will be there to deal with that.”

He said the government had heard the complaints that some industries do not employ locals.

“We are dealing with that particular matter and the way to do it is to regulate it properly because we are a human rights country. We are a country which has signed a number of international obligations on how to deal with refugees. They also have human rights, we cannot treat them like animals.”

–SowetanLive

SA civil aviation regulator clips off wings of Comair’s planes

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CAPE TOWN,(Reuters) – South Africa’s civil aviation regulator grounded Comair’s planes indefinitely on Sunday over unresolved safety issues, in a move that also affects low-cost airline Kulula and British Airways, leaving hundreds of passengers stranded.

A spokesperson for the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) said it had extended a 24-hour precautionary suspension of Comair’s operator certificate indefinitely.

The suspension was meant to end on Sunday, but Comair has not adequately addressed all the necessary safety issues, the SACAA said. read more

“This morning we communicated to them (Comair) that their air operator certificate is now indefinitely suspended until they close all of the findings,” SACAA spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu told Reuters, effectively grounding the company’s fleet of Boeing (BA.N) aircraft.

Comair said it was unable to confirm when it would start flying again, after working through the night to provide documentation to SACAA following a review of certain policies, systems and procedures.

“This is a huge blow to our customers, employees and the flying public as it effectively takes 40% of the capacity out of the market,” Glenn Orsmond, Comair chief executive said in a statement.

There would be considerable implications for the aviation sector and the country should the suspension be prolonged, he added.

CHARTERED FLIGHTS

Airports Company SA (ACSA), which runs the country’s largest airports, said some of the stranded passengers were placed on chartered flights arranged by BA and Comair, specifically for commuters on the popular Johannesburg and Cape Town route.

“Priority is also given to those passengers who have onward international connecting flights,” Terence Delomoney, ACSA’s group executive operations manager said.

Issuing the precautionary notice on Saturday, the regulator said in the past month Comair had experienced safety problems ranging from “engine failures, engine malfunction and landing gear malfunctions,” among others.

In its investigations, SACAA said it had discovered three so-called “level 1” findings “which pose an immediate risk” and must be addressed immediately.

Gwebu did not elaborate on what outstanding safety issues Comair, which flies local and regional routes from South Africa under the British Airways (BA) livery as part of a licence agreement, needed to address before flying again. Besides flying BA planes, Comair also operates the Kulula brand.

A notice on Kulula’s website showed that Comair had been aiming to resume its schedule by 12 p.m. (1000 GMT) on Sunday, subject to SACAA’s approval.

“We will do everything we can to accommodate customers affected by the suspension on other flights, prioritising vulnerable customers and those who most urgently needed to travel,” Comair said, adding that customers would also be kept informed via text.

–Reuters

Zelenskyy predicts victory in Ukraine, offers Russian soldiers ‘a chance to survive’

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On an address early Tuesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicted victory over Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces in Ukraine and offered Russian troops a “chance to survive by surrendering.

He noted that “the enemy is confused” and did not expect stiff resistance. “Their soldiers know this. Their officers are aware of this. They flee the battlefield. They abandon equipment.

“We take trophies and use them to protect Ukraine,” Zelenskyy said. “Today, Russian troops are, in fact, one of the suppliers of equipment to our army. They could not imagine such a thing in a nightmare.”

He then addressed the Russian soldiers, urging them to surrender.

“Russian conscripts! Listen to me very carefully,” Zelenskyy warned. “Russian officers! You’ve already understood everything. You will not take anything from Ukraine. You will take lives. There are a lot of you. But your life will also be taken. But why should you die? What for? I know that you want to survive.”

“Therefore, I offer you a choice,” the president said. “On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance. Chance to survive.”

“If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you the way people are supposed to be treated. As people, decently. In a way you were not treated in your army. And in a way your army does not treat ours,” Zelenskyy added. “Choose!”

He also praised the Russians “who do not stop trying to convey the truth” despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on protests and journalists who buck his government narrative. Zelenskyy specifically mentioned the woman who disrupted the Russian state television broadcaster Channel One.

He said he is “grateful … personally to the woman who entered the studio of Channel One with a poster against the war. To those who are not afraid to protest. As long as your country has not completely closed itself off from the whole world, turning into a very large North Korea, you must fight. You must not lose your chance.”© Provided by FOX NewsMembers of the Ukrainian military arrive to reinforce a forward position on the eastern frontline near Kalynivka village on March 08, 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine.

The president also warned that Russian military leaders will be held responsible for war crimes.

“Responsibility for war crimes of the Russian military is inevitable,” he said. “Responsibility for a deliberate humanitarian catastrophe in Ukrainian cities is inevitable. The whole world sees what is happening in Mariupol. Kharkiv. Chernihiv. Sumy. Okhtyrka. Hostomel. Irpin. In all our cities.”

Zelenskyy briefly addressed the peace talks with Russian negotiators, saying they appear to be “pretty good.”

“Our delegation also worked on this in negotiations with the Russian party. Pretty good, as I was told,” he said. “But let’s see. They will continue tomorrow.”

–Fox News

World’s best sniper lands in UKraine to stop Russia from capturing Kyiv

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As Russia continues its bombardment of Ukraine, one of the world’s best snipers has made a vow as he takes on Russian troops.

One of the world’s most fearsome snipers has vowed that he “won’t hesitate to squeeze the trigger” as he takes on Russian troops in Ukraine.

The trained killer, nicknamed Wali, arrived in the war-torn nation last week after answering President Volodymyr Zelenskyy‘s call for foreign volunteers,The Sun reports.

Top sniper Wali has said he won't hesitate to 'pull the trigger' in Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Picture: Supplied

Top sniper Wali has said he won’t hesitate to ‘pull the trigger’ in Ukraine’s fight against Russia. Picture: Supplied

The top marksman is said to be on the front line of the besieged capital Kyiv. Picture: Reuters

The top marksman is said to be on the front line of the besieged capital Kyiv. Picture: Reuters

Wail had previously travelled to Iraq on his own to fight against ISIS in 2015.

And this week he vowed that he won‘t be deterred to take his shot at invading Russian troops.

“I don‘t like the idea of shooting anyone. But when the time comes to squeeze the trigger I won’t hesitate,” he told the Daily Mail.

“If Putin really wants Kyiv, he is going to have to pay a huge price. Nobody wants the Russians here and everyone will resist. The damage we can do to them will be crazy. They will lose so many lives, it will become another Stalingrad.”

At present, Russian troops are inching closer to the capital Kyiv and are believed to be just 15 miles from the city as terrified civilians continue to flee their homes.

However, Wali said that he and his team will have the upper hand once Mr Putin’s men pour into the streets and advance into his line of sight.

“This is a huge, built-up city, not some village. Looking out from where I am now I can see so many structures and buildings to shoot from, so many places to hide weapons and launch ambushes from,” he said.


“They won‘t know what has hit them.“The Russians have already failed to take Kharkiv and Mariupol, which are smaller cities. There is no way they can hold on to Kyiv. It will be better for everyone if they decide not to attack.”

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko (right) and brother Wladimir are among those to have stayed to defend the city. Picture: AFP

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko (right) and brother Wladimir are among those to have stayed to defend the city. Picture: AFP

The 40-year-old was previously deployed twice to Afghanistan as a sniper with the Canadian Armed Forces between 2009 and 2011.

So far he says he has not encountered the level of violence and destruction he experienced on his previous campaigns.

But, equipped with a £5000 military-grade .338 sniper rifle, the feared marksman claims he can kill at a range of 1400 meters (1531 yards).

“It’s a high quality rifle. It will do the job but I’ll be sad when I have to use it,” he said.

“Every time I shoot it’s a failure for everyone involved.

“A lot of these Russian soldiers are just boys themselves. I can’t help thinking that not too long ago they were babies like my son. But I’ll do what’s necessary.”

The sniper, who goes by the nickname given to him in Afghanistan of ‘Wali’, previously revealed that he was contacted by a friend on March 4 who had been organising “neutral convoys” of humanitarian aid for several months to bring food to the occupied Donbas region.

Wali told French-Canadian publication La Presse: “He told me they needed a sniper. It‘s like a firefighter who hears the alarm ringing. I had to go.”

He left behind his wife and baby son, who celebrated his first birthday without him.

It comes as …

“I know, it‘s just awful,” he said at the time. “But me, in my head, when I see the images of destruction in Ukraine, it is my son that I see, in danger and who is suffering.

“When I see a destroyed building, it is the person who owns it, who sees his pension fund go up in smoke, that I see.

“I go there for humanitarian reasons,” he added.

His wife, who asked to have her identity kept secret for security reasons, said she reluctantly allowed him to go.

“I knew that if I didn‘t let him go, I would have broken him,” she said.

“It would have been like putting him in jail.”

Wali said he had decided to travel to Ukraine after seeing the scale of the human tragedy. Picture: Reuters

Wali said he had decided to travel to Ukraine after seeing the scale of the human tragedy. Picture: Reuters

Wali told CBC that he and three other former Canadian soldiers who made the journey with him were greeted with hugs, handshakes, flags and photos by Ukrainians after they crossed the border.

“They were so happy to have us,” he said. “It’s like we were friends right away.”

He said he crossed over from Poland, travelling against the tide of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing in the opposite direction.

Wali, who fought alongside the Kurds against ISIS in Syria several years ago, said he had travelled to Ukraine because “I want to help them. It‘s as simple as that.”

He went on: “I have to help because there are people here being bombarded just because they want to be European and not Russian.”

Wali fought in the Royal Canadian 22nd Regiment, making tours of Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq.

In June 2017, one of his comrades reportedly shot dead an Islamic State terrorist from an incredible distance of 3450m – more than two miles away.

Millions have already fled the damage wrought by Russian shelling. Picture: Reuters

Millions have already fled the damage wrought by Russian shelling. Picture: Reuters

A military source told Toronto’s The Globe and Mail at the time there was “hard data on this. It isn‘t an opinion. It isn’t an approximation”.

“There is a second location with eyes on with all the right equipment to capture exactly what the shot was.”

The unnamed sharpshooter used a McMillan Tac-50 firing a .50“ Browning Machine Gun round.

Later, Wali became a computer scientist in Canada.

Even for an experienced combat veteran like Wali, the speed at which his life has changed in recent days is still shocking.

–The Sun

Russia intensifies attacks in Ukraine as two sides hold talks

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LVIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia and Ukraine kept a fragile diplomatic path open with a new round of talks on Monday even as Moscow’s forces pounded away at Kyiv and other cities across the country in a punishing bombardment that the Red Cross said has created “nothing short of a nightmare” for the civilian population.

Meanwhile, a convoy of 160 civilian cars left the encircled port city of Mariupol along a designated humanitarian route, the city council reported, in a rare glimmer of hope a week and a half into the lethal siege that has pulverized homes and other buildings and left people desperate for food, water, heat and medicine.

The latest negotiations, which were held via video conference, were the fourth round involving higher-level officials from the two countries and the first in a week. The talks ended without a breakthrough after several hours, with an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy saying the negotiators took “a technical pause” and planned to meet again Tuesday.

The two sides had expressed some optimism in the past few days. Mykhailo Podolyak, the aide to Zelenskyy, said over the weekend that Russia was “listening carefully to our proposals.” He tweeted Monday that the negotiators would discuss “peace, ceasefire, immediate withdrawal of troops & security guarantees.”

Previous discussions, held in person in Belarus, produced no lasting humanitarian routes or agreements to end the fighting.

Youtube video thumbnail

Ahead of the talks, air raid alerts sounded in cities and towns around the country overnight, from near the Russian border in the east to the Carpathian Mountains in the west, and fighting continued on the outskirts of Kyiv. Ukrainian officials said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces shelled several suburbs of the capital.

Ukrainian authorities said two people were killed when the Russians struck an airplane factory in Kyiv, sparking a large fire. The Antonov factory is Ukraine’s largest aircraft manufacturing plant and is best known for producing many of the world’s biggest cargo planes.

Russian artillery fire also hit a nine-story apartment building in the northern Obolonskyi district of the city, killing two more people, authorities said. Firefighters worked to rescue survivors, painstakingly carrying an injured woman on a stretcher away from the blackened and smoking building.

And a Russian airstrike near a Ukrainian checkpoint caused extensive damage to a downtown Kyiv neighborhood, killing one person, Ukraine’s emergency agency said.

Kateryna Lot said she was in her apartment as her child did homework when they heard a loud explosion and ran to take shelter.

“The child became hysterical. Our windows and the balcony were shattered. Part of the floor fell down,” she said. “It was very, very scary.”

A town councilor for Brovary, east of Kyiv, was killed in fighting there, officials said. Shells also fell on the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel, which have seen some of the worst fighting in Russia’s stalled attempt to take the capital, local authorities said.

Airstrikes were reported across the country, including the southern city of Mykolaiv, and the northern city of Chernihiv, where heat was knocked out to most of the town. Explosions also reverberated overnight around the Russian-occupied Black Sea port of Kherson.

In the eastern city of Kharkiv, firefighters doused the smoldering remains of a four-story residential building. It was unclear whether there were casualties.

In the southern city of Mariupol, where the war has produced some of the greatest suffering, the city council didn’t say how many people were in the convoy of cars headed westward for the city of Zaporizhzhia. But it said a cease-fire along the route appeared to be holding.

Previous attempts to evacuate civilians and deliver humanitarian aid to the city of 430,000 were thwarted by continuing fighting.

Robert Mardini, director-general of the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the war has become “nothing short of a nightmare” for those living in besieged cities, and he pleaded for safe passage for civilians to leave and humanitarian aid to be brought in through the front lines.

“The situation cannot, cannot continue like this,” he said. “History is watching what is happening in Mariupol and other cities.”

A pregnant woman who became a symbol of Ukraine’s suffering when she was photographed being carried from a bombed maternity hospital in Mariupol last week has died along with her baby, the Associated Press has learned.

Mariupol residents including Natalia Koldash rushed to shelter inside a building Sunday as an unidentified plane passed overhead.

“We have no information at all,” Koldash said. “We know nothing. It looks like we are living in a deep forest.”

Associated Press video showed debris from a damaged residential building and another building that a young man named Dima described as an elementary school.

“There was no military at this school,” he said. “It’s unclear why it was hit.”

The Russian military said 20 civilians in the separatist-controlled city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine were killed by a ballistic missile launched by Ukrainian forces. The claim could not be independently verified.

The U.N. has recorded at least 596 civilian deaths since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, though it believes the true toll is much higher. Millions more have fled their homes, with more than 2.8 million crossing into Poland and other neighboring countries in what the U.N. has called Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since World War II.

“All day crying from the pain of having to part with loved ones, with my husband, my parents,” 33-year-old refugee Alexandra Beltuygova said in the Polish border town of Przemysl after fleeing the industrial Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

“I understand that we may not see them. I wish this war would end,” she said.

Russia’s military is bigger and better equipped than Ukraine’s, but its troops have faced stiffer-than-expected resistance, bolstered by arms supplied by the West. The U.S. said Russia asked China for military equipment to use in Ukraine — a claim the Kremlin denied.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that “Russia has its own potential to continue the operation” and that it was “unfolding in accordance with the plan and will be completed on time and in full.”

Russia has denied intending to occupy Ukraine, but Peskov said it “does not rule out the possibility of taking full control of large settlements that are now practically surrounded.”

The war expanded Sunday when Russian missiles pounded a military training base in western Ukraine, close to the Polish border, that previously served as a crucial hub for cooperation between Ukraine and NATO.

The attack killed 35 people, Ukrainian officials said, and raised fears that NATO could be drawn into direct conflict with Russia.

–AP

Case against slain Absa specialist engineer withdrawn

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The R103m Absa Bank fraud case against specialist engineer Xolela Masebeni was withdrawn after a death certificate was presented in the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court on Monday.

Masebeni was shot dead two weeks ago while sitting at home with friends.

Masebeni’s wife, Athembile Mpani, 20, and Gershom Matomane, 29, who was added to the charge sheet on Monday, are the remaining accused in the matter.

They face charges of fraud and money laundering allegedly committed between September and December last year.

It is alleged that R59m was deposited into Matomane’s bank account. He is out on R30,000 bail granted by the Bellville magistrate’s court.

Matomane has a pending case in Bellville, Cape Town, for allegedly defrauding Capitec Bank, with five accomplices, of R3.4m.

The alleged fraudulent transactions were uncovered by Absa’s forensic division, who reported the matter to police.

The investigation alleges that Masebeni accessed a corporate business account and transferred funds

He was arrested by the Hawks in Komani (Queenstown) on January 19 and appeared in the Queenstown magistrate’s court the next day.

The case was transferred to the Johannesburg specialised commercial crimes court as the alleged crime happened in Sandton.

“The state has managed to recover R66m so far and is in the process of seizing three vehicles that were allegedly purchased using the defrauded money. The case was postponed to May 12 for further investigations and more arrests are imminent,” National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said.

TimesLIVE

‘I thought Hlaudi would raise millions elsewhere to pay legends’

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A retired former SABC group executive has accused the public broadcaster of attempting to benefit from its own undue delays by hauling them to court to recover money unlawfully spent during their tenure.

Retired former group executive of corporate affairs Bessie Tugwana, one of the 10 former executives facing a court challenge in the Special Tribunal which seeks to recover R2.5m that the SABC paid to 53 music legends, stated that she had also been under the impression that former COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng was going to raise funds from outside.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the SABC has hauled former executives including Motsoeneng and ex-group CEO James Aguma to the Special Tribunal in a bid to set aside the controversial 2016 decision and recover the R2.5m.

Tugwana argued that the SABC was well aware as early as September 2017 that the decision to pay the music legends was irregular but waited until January 2021 before instituting legal steps to recover the money. 

At the time of the legal challenge, Tugwana argued that the debt was already prescribed in terms of prescription laws.

Tugwana is opposed to a repayment relief sought by the SABC and SIU of recovering the money from her as she’s accused of being collectively liable for the decision taken in 2016.

Adv Steven Budlender, representing Tugwana, argued that the SABC was trying to benefit from its own undue delay by attempting to recover money from someone like her, a retired 67-year-old.

“The Prescription Act provides clearly that the period for most debts is three years and that period starts running as soon as the debt is due… it’s common cause that the payments in issue which are sought to be recovered were made between October 2016 and February 2017,” stated Budlender, adding that the application in the SIU was made in January 2021 — way after three years.

He argued that it was a mandatory provision of the Prescription Act that the debt is after three years considered prescribed.

Budlender argued that if court accepted that if the debt can only be prescribed when the unlawfulness was uncovered, the SABC knew in 2017 that the decision was found to be irregular in an internal forensic investigation.

“The SABC received a report pursuant of a forensic investigation as early as 3 August 2017 and that report said the decision was irregular and breached the PFMA (Public Funds Management Act) and that the operations committee has to be held accountable and that was reported to the SABC Exco on 14 September 2017,” Budlender stated.

He said the application was still lodged more than three years after the SABC was aware of the wrongdoing in relation to the payment.

Budlender argued that Tugwana’s understanding was that the controversial decision, which was announced on national television with the involvement of the minister [of communications], was already approved by the executive committee.

“We plea that Ms Tugwana’s understanding was that the decision had been taken and had been announced live on TV by the minister, the COO and the CEO in the presence of the board.

“Her understanding was that it would be tabled before the Ops Co (operations committee) as [it] was the responsibility of Ops Co to implement it,” stated Budlender.

Budlender said although Tugwana was part of the meeting which agreed on the implementation of the controversial decision, she had been of the understanding that the decision had already been taken.

–SowetanLive

Ex-MEC Bandile Masuku might bounce back

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Former Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku seems to be making a political comeback.

Masuku was removed as health MEC for his lack of oversight in the Covid-19 personal protective equipment corruption scandal that engulfed the provincial health department in July 2020. 

However, he remained a member of the provincial legislature in the finance portfolio and also remained in the ANC’s provincial executive committee.

Posters circulating on social media are touting Masuku as the next provincial treasurer in the upcoming ANC Gauteng provincial conference expected to take place in May.

Yesterday, Masuku told Sowetan he was available should he be asked to stand by branches.

“When comrades and branch tell leaders to avail themselves you have to oblige, and I will be available,” he said.

Masuku, who was elected to the national executive committee of the SA Students Congress (Sasco) in 2002 and became national spokesperson for the ANC Youth League in 2013, believes  his previous leadership roles have prepared him “to manage the assets of the organisation”.

Preparations are underway in the ANC greater Johannesburg region, with ANC regional secretary Dada Morero and ANC caucus leader and former mayor Mpho Moerane expected to go head-to-head.

In an interview with the Sowetan, Morero said the region was well prepared to host the regional conference.

He said out of the region’s 135 branches, 94 branches needed to sit in order to meet the threshold for the sitting expected to take place from April 28 to May 1.

“We’ve received notices from branches that are ready. We’re expecting 10 to 15 branches to sit by the weekend. We have 135 branches in Joburg and we need to reach 70%, which in Joburg is 94 branches, to sit before we can have conference. We need to reach that by the second week of April,” he said.

Morero, who is contesting for regional chair after having served three terms as the regional secretary, said he had never lost a conference before.

“This is not necessarily a next step because I’m still in the same committee, the difference is I’ll be chairing it,” he said. 

“I’ve not lost a conference. I contested as secretary for three terms but you never know. You may go in there and lose.”

Morero said in order to contest at regional level, one needed to have 20% of branches behind them, which translated to 27 branches.

“Conference is on track. There is contestation. In the main, it’s myself and Mpho. There are others but their support is not great,” he said.

“We suspect Eunice [Mgcina] will contest the deputy chair.”

-SowetanLive

SABC decision to pay music legends R50k gratuity unlawful, SIU tells court

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SABC executives rubber stamped an unlawful decision to pay music legends a R50,000 windfall without any business case placed before them.

This is the argument that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the SABC is pushing in the Special Tribunal as it tries to set aside the controversial decision and recover R2.5m which was paid to music legends in 2016.

Former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng and nine other former executives including former GCEO James Aguma have been hauled before the Special Tribunal by the SIU and SABC in a bid to declare their decision, to make “gratuity payments” to 180 music legends, unlawful and set aside.

Motsoeneng and the nine executives decided that 183 music artists would be paid for the role they played during apartheid. Only 53 of them were paid R50,000 each in 2016.

Adv Jabu Motsepe SC who appears for the SIU and the SABC, joint applicants in the matter, argued that there was never a budget for the expenditure and that there was no business case presented for the payments.

Motsepe also argued that the payments were unlawful and there was no policy which authorised it.

“The decision was made without a policy, the operations committee sat there and approved the decision when it did not even have a business case in front of it and the SIU will show that in terms of the delegation of authority framework they ought to have had a business case before deciding on its matter,” Motsepe argued.

Motsepe said the operations committee should have sought a motivation before just approving the decision which essentially committed the SABC to R10m expenditure as 180 legends were approved to receive the “gratuity payments”.

“In this case, there was no policy, the matter was not budgeted for, it’s not a matter that has to do with operations of the SABC and therefore it’s not even in the business plan. Even it was aware that it doesn’t have independent decision-making powers, the operations committee proceeded to make the impugned decision and we say that’s wrong in law and shouldn’t have happened.”

Motsepe said the members of the committee who did not dissent have to be held personally liable for the decision.

The matter continues.

SowetanLive

Water outage in Joburg South enters day 5 as residents protest

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Joburg Water says recovery should begin today

The widespread water outage that has been plaguing Johannesburg’s southern suburbs for several days is expected to be resolved soon, with recovery to begin on Monday evening.

Joburg Water spokesperson Puleng Mopeli said while the Alexander Park Reservoir was stable, monitoring was ongoing at the South Hills Tower where the water level was critically low due to insufficient supply.

“It is estimated recovery may commence later this evening,” Mopeli said on Monday.

Suburbs that fall within the South Hills tower zone include Risana, Linmeyer, South Hills, Tulisa Park, Steeledale, The Hill, Oakdene, Rosettenville and Klipriviersberg estate. 

He said alternative water supply, through water tanks and mobile tankers, was being provided at key sites.

Joburg Water was urging all customers to reduce their water consumption to critical needs only while the system recovers.

Mopeli said there had been steady improvements in the affected areas in and around Johannesburg, with supply to the Linksfield Reservoir restored on Saturday and the Alexander Park reservoir zone challenges resolved on Sunday.

Meanwhile, residents of Linmeyer, South Hills and surrounding areas said they are frustrated by repeated outages which have plagued them for the past two years.

Local ward councillor Michael Crichton believes most issues stem from Rand Water infrastructure challenges. He said recent outages include:

  • an explosion at the Palmiet pumping station last July which left residents without water for nine days;
  • a power failure at the Zuikerbosh purification plant a month later that left residents without water for eight days; and
  • the water outage which has now been ongoing for four days.

“These water outages are nothing short of a full-blown humanitarian crisis,” Crichton wrote in an open letter to water and sanitation minister Senzo Mchunu.

Neighbouring ward councillor Faeeza Chama appealed to residents of the affected areas to join a peaceful protest gathering set to take place at 22 Impala Road, Dikole Section in Johannesburg South on Monday afternoon from 2.30pm.

“We are doing this because we don’t believe all the different stories we are being told. Today is effectively day 5 with no water and we have been told taps will be restored by this afternoon. I know for a fact that they cannot restore us until the tower level is at 30%, and it is only at 26%,” Chama said.

She said they had been told the cause of the outage was again an explosion at the Zuikerbosch plant, but this was not an acceptable excuse because last time they were assured there would be a backup plan should this happen again.

“Clearly the authorities have failed to deliver on that promise.”

TimesLIVE

Lesufi’s visit to Tsakane met with closed schools

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Locals complain about the issue MEC had come to fix

All schools in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni, were closed on Monday morning following a protest by a group of people, including pupils, over the death of a pupil.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona told reporters outside Tsakane Secondary School that a group of people went around the township forcefully closing schools.

“It is very selfish for adults to go around the entire township disrupting schooling because there is an incident that happened. You don’t do that. All learners are now at home because of this incident. We’ve acknowledged that we are aware of the incident as we have visited the school,” Mabona said.

“After understanding what transpired, we will be in a position to say this is how we are going to manage the situation. It is quite selfish [for people to disrupt schooling]. We have suffered during Covid in terms of losing curriculum time. We are still in a recovery mode…This could have been managed better.”

Mabona was in Tsakane accompanying Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on a scheduled visit that was announced to the media at the weekend.

The education authorities went to Tsakane to understand the factors that led to a death of a pupil last week.

Mabona said all the department knows is that there was a scuffle at Tsakane Secondary, involving a teacher and a general assistant at the school. A learner died in the process.

While Lesufi was in meeting with the school leadership, pupils were loitering in the streets. Police were also called to Tsakane Secondary to keep an eye on the situation.

Lesufi will brief reporters after the meeting.

—SowetanLive

‘We cannot treat refugees like animals’: Thulas Nxesi condemns Dudula campaign

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Labour minister Thulas Nxesi on Saturday said the government will not allow South Africans to treat foreign nationals like animals because they too have rights.

Speaking during the presidential imbizo in North West, Nxesi said the government frowned upon acts that made documented or undocumented foreign nationals feel unwelcome in the country.

“What we do not agree with, are the politicians who just jump into the workplaces and say they have come to inspect. Inspect what? Because when they are there, they confuse the people,” he said.

“It cannot be allowed because they are disrupting production in those particular workplaces. We also do not agree with this Dudula approach because it creates confrontation and can lead to violence.

“All we are saying is that Dudula must come to us … and put in their proposals so that we are able to deal with this matter in an amicable way. We cannot allow violence and that is why we are going to be harsh when it comes to those areas. The police will be there to deal with that.”

The discussion was prompted by questions from communities in the Ngaka Modiri Molema district in Mahikeng who had been invited to share their concerns about the state of their province.

Residents raised issues relating to crime, infrastructure, unemployment, an influx of foreign nationals, corruption and disrupted water services.

Nxesi, who was one of about 12 ministers who accompanied President Cyril Ramaphosa, was referring to an incident in January when EFF leader Julius Malema embarked on  controversial inspections of the hospitality industry to cheque the ratio of foreign nationals at work.

The minister also condemned Operation Dudula, which started in Soweto last year and has since morphed and spread to inner Johannesburg and Hillbrow. The movement aims to root our illegal or undocumented foreign nationals, particularly those setting up shops and engaging in alleged criminal acts in the country.

Nxesi said the government has heard the complaints from South Africans, especially when some employers in the agriculture, security, tourism and hospitality industries do not employ locals. 

“We are even starting to see this in the big retail shops, where they prefer to take non-SA nationals — not because they love them but because they want to exploit them and don’t pay them the agreed salaries and benefits … They are just exploiting cheap labour.”

Though these were semi-skilled people, Nxesi said this did not mean the country did not have those skills.

“We are dealing with that particular matter and the way to do it is to regulate it properly because we are a human rights country. We are a country which has signed a number of international obligations on how to deal with refugees. They also have human rights, we cannot treat them like animals.”

Nxesi said SA had looked at how other countries were dealing with the matter. 

“Countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe and Nigeria say no-one should be employed coming from the outside if there is somebody in that country who can do the job. We can only talk about the scarce skills.”

He said SA has been able to list all the scarce skills where people can employ foreign nationals but only for a particular period.

“In the semi-skilled area, we are saying we must employ South Africans but we must regulate that properly. But what we cannot do in terms of the constitution and the law, we can’t ban them. We can regulate and even put quotas.”

He said the government has released a document giving people three months to comment so that a policy can be finalised and the law can be amended to define where and for how long foreign nationals can be employed.

–TimesLIVE

One glass of wine or beer can cause your brain to age by two years

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If drinking was a sport at the Olympics, South Africans would have probably won gold hands down. Have you ever been to a braai that hasn’t included copious amounts of ice-cold beers? Or enjoyed a weekend that hasn’t included a glass of wine from your favourite wine farm?

Well, my fellow South Africans, we have some bad news for you. According to new research around alcohol consumption and brain volume, drinking even one glass of wine or beer a day has been associated with a brain-ageing effect, as per Business Insider.

Yup, spending a day enjoying a lekker tjop en dop may cause you to lose brain tissue. While this may come as no surprise to some who have seen their friends babbling words of nonsense while being ridiculously intoxicated, previous research had suggested that a few drinks a week could actually boost word recall – not so, says the University of Pennsylvania.

Researchers from the University poured over data collected from 36 000 middle-aged and older adults who had shared health information with the UK Biobank, which included lifestyle surveys and brain scans.

Through their research, they found that individuals who reported drinking often had a stronger association with loss of brain matter. A unit of alcohol, which added to an individual’s daily average was linked to a greater loss of tissue.

“One additional drink in a day could have more of an impact than any of the previous drinks that day,” Remi Daviet, co-author of the study, said in a press release. “That means that cutting back on that final drink of the night might have a big effect in terms of brain ageing.”

It’s natural for humans to lose brain tissue as we get older. However, the study found that consuming one drink a day was associated with the equivalent of two years of ageing. This was based on a sample gathered from 50-year olds. Even more alarming is the fact that four drinks had been linked to more than 10 years of brain ageing.

So, what now?

According to the authors, the levels of alcohol consumed that have been associated with brain changes are well within the national guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, but perhaps this study should prompt a re-examination of these standards, say the authors.

The levels of alcohol consumption linked to brain changes were within national guidelines for drinking safely, and some of the study authors are prompting a second look at the standards.

The law is no more in SA. It’s not going to end well

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There’s chaos on roads, corrupt politicians, extortion, bribery and persecution of foreigners, while police do nothing

By Justice Malala

In the two weeks I’ve just spent in Johannesburg, one phenomenon troubles me even more than the horrific joblessness, the inequality and poverty, the load-shedding and the xenophobic attacks: more and more motorists are tearing through red traffic lights without stopping.

On Thursday I drove from Hyde Park to Alexandra township and back. Nineteen cars drove through red lights. I kid you not. Nineteen. Driving through those streets was like playing Russian roulette — again and again. I was drenched with sweat at every intersection. It wasn’t just the usual suspects (minibus taxi drivers) ignoring the red lights. It was ordinary drivers. What’s going on?

Now, my anecdote does not make a trend. Yet, this sheer lawlessness got me thinking. It’s not confined to the streets. It’s in every sphere of our lives and it’s scary.

Over the past two weeks we have seen driving school operators block roads and march to testing centres demanding that the transport ministry stop the process of booking driver’s licence tests online or at a help desk. They are adamant that they should not be subject to the rules and regulations that pertain to every ordinary person. They want a special dispensation that allows them to bribe driver’s test workers to jump the queue and even place their clients with “friendly” (read “bribed”) testers.

These operators arrived at a meeting with transport department officials carrying guns and threatening lives. This is utter lawlessness, yet the police have arrested no one.

This behaviour is on a par with what happened last year when ministers Thandi Modise, Mondli Gungubele and a deputy minister were taken hostage and held by so-called Umkhonto we Sizwe veterans for hours. These “veterans” believe the law does not apply to them. They can just resort to violence as they wish, and they expect that they will be treated with leniency. This is lawlessness.

Police and metro police forces are not inclined to stop the lawlessness, as we saw with the July riots.

It has become fashionable these days to blame everything negative that happens in SA on alleged “illegal” foreigners. A major crime takes place and politicians will rush to say: “I’m sorry but we have to talk about illegal foreigners …”

Well, these same foreigners are now raided almost daily by people who claim to be “enforcing the law”. In Alexandra last week, police stood by and watched as these “Operation Dudula” members harassed alleged foreigners and demanded that they show them their immigration documents. In the first place, in a crime ridden and lawless society like SA, who walks around with their immigration papers on them? Is the dreaded “dompas” back? And if it is, then who gives some pimply youth the right to harass people at their businesses demanding to see their papers? Where is the law? It’s not there.

This state of lawlessness is everywhere. Last week I was drawn to a tweet by someone called @KabeloKB which said: “Please remind me to decline work on construction sites near Kwa-Mhlanga, Vaalbank, Siyabuswa & Nokaneng. We had armed members from the ‘business forum’ with guns usually used by Fidelity Guards on site today. Demanding a 30% cut on our project or else there will be blood.”

Now, ask anyone doing any sort of major project in KwaZulu-Natal about this. The practice is rife. The entire province is an extortion racket. These “business forums” are no longer even scared of the police. They run the province. It’s not confined to just construction but extends to private mining projects across the country and major infrastructure projects. Business bodies have been calling for years for Bheki Cele and his police commissioner to act. Nothing.

SA is becoming a lawless society. The government has totally given up on enforcing laws and regulations. Police and metro police forces are not inclined to stop the lawlessness, as we saw with the July riots. I have written this before but it’s worth repeating: I’ve been stopped numerous times in Tshwane by the city’s metro police. Without fail, I am asked for “cold drink” whether I have done something wrong or not. They are cash collectors.

The most worrying aspect of the lawlessness I detect is that it’s happening across the board. Bathabile Dlamini went to court and lied under oath because she really believed that the law would never catch up with her. Her numerous fellow politicians in the ANC who destroyed SAA and Denel believed the same thing. So too the civil servants and friends of politicians who stole Covid-19 protective equipment money.

It is this lawlessness at high levels that inspired and drove the riots last July. That lawlessness is everywhere around us. We don’t stop at traffic lights, we steal from our workplaces, we bribe to get access — and our leaders and civil servants are doing the same thing. It makes for a dangerous environment all round.

–Justice Malala is one of the finest journalists to emerge from independent South Africa

Russian forces kill US journalist Brent Renaud in Ukraine

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LVIV, Ukraine — Kyiv Region police says a U.S. video journalist has died and another journalist was injured when they were attacked by Russian forces in Ukraine.

The police force said Sunday on its official website that Russian troops opened fire on the car of Brent Renaud and another journalist in Irpin near the capital. It said the injured journalist was being taken to a hospital in Kyiv.

A New York Times spokesperson said Renaud, 50, was a “talented filmmaker who had contributed to The New York Times over the years.” It said he was not working for the publication at the time of his death.

The police force said: “Of course, the profession of journalism carries risks. Nonetheless, U.S. citizen Brent Renaud paid with his life trying to highlight the deceit, cruelty and ruthlessness of the aggressor.”

Asked about the reports, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told CBS News that the U.S. government would be consulting with the Ukrainians to determine how this happened and would then “execute appropriate consequences.”

“This is part and parcel of what has been a brazen aggression on the part of the Russians, where they have targeted civilians, they have targeted hospitals, they have targeted places of worship, and they have targeted journalists,” Sullivan said.

— Associated Press

University council chair has no degree

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Central University of Technology (CUT) council chairperson Matthew Rantso, who leads PhD holders with only a certificate in hand, is the only such council chairperson among South Africa’s 26 universities.

Rantso is the chief executive of the relatively unknown Exploits Group of Companies located in Bloemfontein, Free State. The company deals with medical and hazardous waste management, alternative sanitation, and medical development brokerage and energy.

There are no records showing that he had any experience in the higher education sector before his election last year. His election ruffled feathers at the CUT.

According to the university’s website, Rantso has an assessor certificate from a Seta as well as a “qualification” from a “continuing professional development” seminar hosted by PwC and the University of the Free State.

Rantso doesn’t inspire confidence

CUT Alumni Association president Mbuyiselo Frans, who also sits on the university’s council, told City Press that he had asked the council to deliberate on Rantso’s credentials and election, but his request had not been entertained.

Instead, Frans alleged that he had been called into an “outside council meeting” by four councillors in an attempt to influence him to change his position.

Frans said he asked the council to review Rantso’s election last year because the latter did not “inspire confidence” due to his qualifications – or lack thereof.

CUT spokesperson Daniel Maritz said the council was not in a position to divulge governance matters to the media. However, he did say that a response to Frans’ request had been given and guidance on procedures provided.

He said Rantso was duly appointed as per the CUT statute that is regulated by the Higher Education Act.

Although the act is not prescriptive in terms of qualifications for council chairpersons, it expressly states that a chairperson should have expertise in the higher education sector.

The higher education department guidelines for good governance practice, as well as governance indicators for councils of public higher education institutions indicate the top criterion to be considered for a chairperson and deputy chairperson is “sufficiently high standing among council members”.

However, this standard is not defined.

“The council members who elected him clearly believed that he has the required leadership skills and governance experience to lead the council. It is important to note that the Higher Education Act and the CUT statute do not stipulate a university degree as a requirement for the position. However, the appropriate skills and experience are required.

“[Rantso’s] appointment is compliant with the CUT statute and the act,” Maritz said.

But Frans said it was expected of a council chairperson to be highly qualified or at least have some form of highly recognised qualification.

Insider paints a picture in collapse

He said:Our institution is on the verge of a governance collapse. On February 9, the institution appeared before the higher education portfolio committee. You’d recall the suspension of former vice-chancellor [Professor Henk de Jager] and deputy vice-chancellor [Gary Paul]. The institution had to account on that.

He said there was also no indication that Rantso had any experience in the higher education sector.

Maritz said the university drew a wealth of knowledge from a diverse range of expertise that members of council brought to the university.

“Therefore experience requirements pertaining to the eligibility of councillors span the entire economy and public sector of the country.”

A university in crisis

A highly placed insider said Rantso’s appointment came at a time when the university was faced with maladministration challenges.

“Our institution is on the verge of a governance collapse. On February 9, the institution appeared before the higher education portfolio committee. You’d recall the suspension of former vice-chancellor [Professor Henk de Jager] and deputy vice-chancellor [Gary Paul]. The institution had to account on that.

“But there’s a general state of chaos at the institution. Students have been striking in recent weeks,” the insider said.

According to a management report tabled at that portfolio committee meeting, the CUT council entered into a mutual separation agreement with De Jager, which led to his departure last year. De Jager and Paul faced allegations relating to procurement irregularities. Paul has been reinstated.

The insider said Rantso’s appointment had worsened tension within the council.

City Press has seen reports tabled by council, management, unions and students at the committee meeting.

In its submission, the National Education, Health and Allied Worker’s Union called for Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande to intervene by appointing an independent assessor to investigate governance, finance and administrative problems.

The union also requested that a holistic forensic investigation be conducted into procurement, promotions and appointments.

At that meeting, an official from Nzimande’s department said they would continue to monitor the situation at the CUT.

Maritz said outcomes of the university’s session with the department would be communicated to the public and media once the matter had been concluded.

He said procurement-related investigations had been conducted in the past and another investigation into allegations of mismanagement was under way.

He said:These investigations have been initiated by virtue of certain irregularities that were detected by means of the vigilance of the relevant line managers – without any reports being received from any union at the CUT.

He said the CUT had a promotions policy for academic employees and was exploring various options related to a promotions policy for support services employees.

Maritz also said a process was under way to appoint a new vice-chancellor.

‘ No fit for Purpose’

City Press has seen an Alumni Association letter addressed to the council, dated May 20 last year.

In it, Frans said they believed that Rantso was not fit for the position of chairperson of a higher education institution.

“The council is the highest decision-making body and is therefore responsible for governance and policy decisions affecting the university, hence we need competent and fit-for-purpose persons to serve in the body, and Rantso does not represent such,” the letter reads.

“We are of the firm view that all external council members must have a tertiary qualification – either a diploma or a degree, not anything lower – as such a council member should have full exposure in higher education, not a mere peep through a short course as we believe is the case with Mr Rantso…

“We are convinced that [Rantso] does not inspire confidence for the CUT [and the Free State] community, especially the alumni of the institution.”

He said the alumni felt demoralised by having Rantso as a chairperson.

“It cannot be this institution that promotes leaders who have lack of formal education in this sector. This sector is so critical that we need individuals who are worth their salt.”

-City Press

Another gag order against Ntsiki Mazwai

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Poet Ntsiki Mazwai has been ordered to pay DJ Euphonik’s legal fees after he was granted a gag order against her in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday.

Judge Denise Fisher found that Mazwai’s comments – which were made on her Twitter page in March last year in relation to a case involving Euphonik, whose given name is Themba Nkosi, and Thato “DJ Fresh” Sikwane – were defamatory.DJ Euphonik DJ Themba Nkosi also known as Euphonik.

Mazwai was dragged to court by Sikwane and Nkosi on separate matters after they made headlines last year when a woman from Pretoria opened a case of sexual assault against them at the Sunnyside Police Station. The woman alleged that the two DJs, who were let go from their radio shows by Primedia amid the allegations, had forced themselves on her more than 10 years ago.

Nkosi applied for a court order to stop the U’wrongo hitmaker from making further comments about him on social media last year after she posted messages alluding to him as a rapist, among other things.

Fisher said that, even though Mazwai had not mentioned Nkosi by name in her posts, any well-minded reader could tell that she was referring to the musician. While it appears that the respondent has purposefully attempted to avoid directly naming the applicant, the only reasonable inference to be drawn from her various posts is that her comments/statements are directed at him [Nkosi].

“Any person who has substantial social media following and who is able, as a consequence thereof, to reach out to and influence a large community of people, as the respondent is able to do, is required to ensure that they exercise temperance and responsibility in the dissemination of public posts. More importantly, the respondent ought to ensure that her public statements are based and founded in truth and in fact,” Fisher’s judgment reads.

In March last year, Mazwai retweeted a message posted by an entity with the Twitter handle @WomenForChange.

The original tweet urged other DJs not to perform with Nkosi to “show every survivor of gender-based violence their respect and support”. The tweet included the hashtag #MuteEuphonik.

On the same day, Mazwai posted on Twitter: “If you want to see the other rapists, watch who is rallying behind other rapists … When DJs put each other on line-ups, it’s like an invitation to rape the groupies party.

She was then asked about her thoughts about DJ Black Coffee booking Nkosi in the line-up for his birthday party, to which she retweeted a post that read: “Birds of a feather flock together.”

This was allegedly a reference to allegations contained in the divorce proceedings between Black Coffee, whose given name is Nkosinathi Maphumulo, and Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa, in which there were claims that he had physically abused his wife.

Fisher added: “What one observes here is a garnering by the respondent of resources in the form of her influence in the public media to create a string of posts which, when read together, reveal that she is spreading a rumour to the effect that the applicant is a sexual predator and, as such, should be muted in the industry and not allowed to appear on line-ups for music events.

“The test for determining whether the words in respect of which there is a complaint have a defamatory meaning is whether a reasonable person of ordinary intelligence might reasonably understand the words concerned to convey a meaning defamatory of the litigant concerned.”

The judge said Mazwai failed to prove that her statement was not defamatory.

“The respondent denies that the tweets are defamatory. They do, however, speak for themselves and this contention is rejected. Counsel for the respondent was unable to tender any alternative and non-defamatory meaning [regarding] the tweets.”

Mazwai made similar comments about Sikwane last year and he also obtained a gag order against her, which was granted with costs that amounted to R200 000.

Fisher said Mazwai declined an opportunity to stop the matter from going to court.

“She was also afforded an opportunity by the applicant’s attorneys to redress and cease her conduct prior to the launching of the application. She stubbornly elected not to do so and rather has proceeded to defend the matter. It is clear that she doggedly defends her position without any cogent basis. Her behaviour in relation to this litigation borders on the contemptuous.”

Mazwai was ordered to pay the former radio host’s legal fees, which will be determined by his attorneys “on the scale between attorney and client”.

City Press

Conspiracy theories against Zondo to follow his appointment

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By Mondli Makhanya

In its assessment of who could ultimately emerge as head of South Africa’s judiciary following the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews, the organisation Judges Matter alluded to the fact that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s role as chair of the state capture commission “may well have an impact on the political considerations of his appointment, although it is difficult to assess how this is likely to play out”.

Judges Matter continued: “Zondo has been praised by some as an unlikely hero in the fight against corruption and bad governance, but he has also earned a mountain of detractors in the political realm, especially regarding the saga involving former president Jacob Zuma’s demand for Zondo’s recusal, and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment for refusing to testify at the Zondo commission. President [Cyril] Ramaphosa may therefore want to steer clear of anything that might count against him in the upcoming ANC elective conference.”

This was the general sentiment among observers after the JSC painted Ramaphosa into a corner by recommending Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) President Mandisa Maya for the position. The JSC had overshot its mandate, which was merely to assess the candidates, with the president having the ultimate say.

If Ramaphosa failed to appoint the first woman chief justice after the JSC had “picked” its candidate, he would be showing that his commitment to the advancement of women was all just talk. But if he appointed her, he would be bowing to the whims of the bunch of bullies who turned the JSC hearings into a truly shameful forum.

It did not help that Maya had effectively been given a free pass by the JSC, which patronisingly failed ask her about her impressive record.

If the president appointed Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo – probably the strongest candidate but one who the EFF, the so-called radical economic transformation (RET) adherents in the ANC and other populist forces have unfairly cast as a pro-Ramaphosa judge – he would be seen as wanting to control the judiciary, again at the expense of a woman judge.While Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga was in with a shot, he was up against formidable experience and seniority, so he did not contribute to Ramaphosa’s headache. Interestingly, the JSC ranked Madlanga third, above Zondo.

With the appointment of Zondo, knowing the blowback and false narrative it would generate, Ramaphosa showed some rare mettle. He reminded the destructive JSC clique and the political forces behind it that it is his constitutional prerogative, and his alone, to appoint the chief justice.

There will of course still be lots of noise about Zondo’s suitability for the role, given that he presided over a commission that was seen by some as a weapon in the ANC’s wars. He was demonised almost as soon as the commission began. This got worse as the body unearthed tons of depressing truths about our recent wasted decade.

The demonisation of Zondo, the Constitutional Court and the judiciary as a whole is about to get worse now that this man, who became the object of so much hate for just doing his job, is the nation’s most senior judge.

As some of the state capture-era cases already before courts and those that will arise from the Zondo commission wind their way through the system, the implicated and their supporters will weave their conspiracy theories about “the real agenda” behind the prosecutions and the impartiality of the judges hearing the cases. We can expect a major uptick in the already concerted assault on the judiciary.Ironically, it will be Zondo, the very person they love to hate, who will have to lead this defence of the judiciary from the front. His two-and-a-half-year tenure before retirement might even be rougher than that of Mogoeng Mogoeng, who, at the tail end of his reign, brought derision and ridicule on himself by behaving like a David Koresh clone.

Zondo, together with his colleagues, will have to ward off insidious attempts to turn public sentiment against judges, the Constitution and the rule of law.

Fortunately, he has shown that he has a tough enough exterior and interior for the battles to come.

That having been said, it is sad that the judiciary is being drawn into cesspits outside the courts instead of just having to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law through its work.

But that is where we are.

So, what of the man himself? Where does he fit in in the pantheon of chief justices who have led South Africa’s judiciary?

We have certainly been gifted with great jurists such as Ismail Mahomed, Arthur Chaskalson, Pius Langa, Sandile Ngcobo and Dikgang Moseneke, who, even though he was robbed of the top role, was an intellectual leader who may as well have been the main guy. Zondo will still have to create his own legacy as chief justice, but his judicial career is already stellar.

He boasts significant judgments that run deep into the two hundreds in different divisions, including the apex court. Although he does have detractors in the judiciary who question his administrative abilities, Zondo is respected for his intellectual heft, resolute leadership and workaholism.

Having made his move, Ramaphosa deftly nominated Maya as Zondo’s deputy. This puts her in pole position to move up to chief justice when Zondo retires, although this is by no means guaranteed.

But by signalling this intention, Ramaphosa may have neutralised many who would have been ready to pounce on him.

Maya will still have to go through another JSC hearing, where she will hopefully be treated with respect and subjected to an interrogation worthy of her experience and intellectual gravitas.

The spotlight will now shift to the SCA position that Maya is set to vacate. The division’s deputy president, Xola Petse, will no doubt want to move up, but his bumbling handling of the recent JSC interviews will surely weaken his chances.

This is also a presidential appointment, which Ramaphosa will make after consultation with the JSC. He can either draw from the ranks of the SCA or go to the senior echelons of the high courts. This will be another terrain on which the vicious propaganda wars will be waged over the next few months. Ramaphosa will again have to determine whether he will be swayed by noise or consider what is best for the judiciary and the rule of law.

What we can appreciate with this development is that, after a long time, there is a proper jurist at the helm of the judiciary, ably backed up by somebody of similar dignity.

In its assessment of who could ultimately emerge as head of South Africa’s judiciary following the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews, the organisation Judges Matter alluded to the fact that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s role as chair of the state capture commission “may well have an impact on the political considerations of his appointment, although it is difficult to assess how this is likely to play out”.

Judges Matter continued: “Zondo has been praised by some as an unlikely hero in the fight against corruption and bad governance, but he has also earned a mountain of detractors in the political realm, especially regarding the saga involving former president Jacob Zuma’s demand for Zondo’s recusal, and his subsequent arrest and imprisonment for refusing to testify at the Zondo commission. President [Cyril] Ramaphosa may therefore want to steer clear of anything that might count against him in the upcoming ANC elective conference.”

This was the general sentiment among observers after the JSC painted Ramaphosa into a corner by recommending Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) President Mandisa Maya for the position. The JSC had overshot its mandate, which was merely to assess the candidates, with the president having the ultimate say.

If Ramaphosa failed to appoint the first woman chief justice after the JSC had “picked” its candidate, he would be showing that his commitment to the advancement of women was all just talk. But if he appointed her, he would be bowing to the whims of the bunch of bullies who turned the JSC hearings into a truly shameful forum.

It did not help that Maya had effectively been given a free pass by the JSC, which patronisingly failed ask her about her impressive record.

If the president appointed Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo – probably the strongest candidate but one who the EFF, the so-called radical economic transformation (RET) adherents in the ANC and other populist forces have unfairly cast as a pro-Ramaphosa judge – he would be seen as wanting to control the judiciary, again at the expense of a woman judge.While Justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga was in with a shot, he was up against formidable experience and seniority, so he did not contribute to Ramaphosa’s headache. Interestingly, the JSC ranked Madlanga third, above Zondo.

With the appointment of Zondo, knowing the blowback and false narrative it would generate, Ramaphosa showed some rare mettle. He reminded the destructive JSC clique and the political forces behind it that it is his constitutional prerogative, and his alone, to appoint the chief justice.

There will of course still be lots of noise about Zondo’s suitability for the role, given that he presided over a commission that was seen by some as a weapon in the ANC’s wars. He was demonised almost as soon as the commission began. This got worse as the body unearthed tons of depressing truths about our recent wasted decade.

The demonisation of Zondo, the Constitutional Court and the judiciary as a whole is about to get worse now that this man, who became the object of so much hate for just doing his job, is the nation’s most senior judge.

As some of the state capture-era cases already before courts and those that will arise from the Zondo commission wind their way through the system, the implicated and their supporters will weave their conspiracy theories about “the real agenda” behind the prosecutions and the impartiality of the judges hearing the cases. We can expect a major uptick in the already concerted assault on the judiciary.Ironically, it will be Zondo, the very person they love to hate, who will have to lead this defence of the judiciary from the front. His two-and-a-half-year tenure before retirement might even be rougher than that of Mogoeng Mogoeng, who, at the tail end of his reign, brought derision and ridicule on himself by behaving like a David Koresh clone.

Zondo, together with his colleagues, will have to ward off insidious attempts to turn public sentiment against judges, the Constitution and the rule of law.

Fortunately, he has shown that he has a tough enough exterior and interior for the battles to come.

That having been said, it is sad that the judiciary is being drawn into cesspits outside the courts instead of just having to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law through its work.

But that is where we are.

So, what of the man himself? Where does he fit in in the pantheon of chief justices who have led South Africa’s judiciary?

We have certainly been gifted with great jurists such as Ismail Mahomed, Arthur Chaskalson, Pius Langa, Sandile Ngcobo and Dikgang Moseneke, who, even though he was robbed of the top role, was an intellectual leader who may as well have been the main guy. Zondo will still have to create his own legacy as chief justice, but his judicial career is already stellar.

He boasts significant judgments that run deep into the two hundreds in different divisions, including the apex court. Although he does have detractors in the judiciary who question his administrative abilities, Zondo is respected for his intellectual heft, resolute leadership and workaholism.

Having made his move, Ramaphosa deftly nominated Maya as Zondo’s deputy. This puts her in pole position to move up to chief justice when Zondo retires, although this is by no means guaranteed.

But by signalling this intention, Ramaphosa may have neutralised many who would have been ready to pounce on him.

Maya will still have to go through another JSC hearing, where she will hopefully be treated with respect and subjected to an interrogation worthy of her experience and intellectual gravitas.

The spotlight will now shift to the SCA position that Maya is set to vacate. The division’s deputy president, Xola Petse, will no doubt want to move up, but his bumbling handling of the recent JSC interviews will surely weaken his chances.

This is also a presidential appointment, which Ramaphosa will make after consultation with the JSC. He can either draw from the ranks of the SCA or go to the senior echelons of the high courts. This will be another terrain on which the vicious propaganda wars will be waged over the next few months. Ramaphosa will again have to determine whether he will be swayed by noise or consider what is best for the judiciary and the rule of law.

What we can appreciate with this development is that, after a long time, there is a proper jurist at the helm of the judiciary, ably backed up by somebody of similar dignity.

Mondli Makhanya is the Editor in Chief of City Press


New intelligence chief needs to be streetwise

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Only the “streetwise” will survive the job of director-general in the State Security Agency (SSA), a former spook has warned ambassador Thembisile Majola, who was appointed to the position by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week.

The former official who served in the agency’s management ranks says: “You must also be incorruptible because there’s a lot of money floating around and the temptation will always be there.”

Majola is the seventh departmental head of the SSA since 2009, following Jeff Maqetuka (who served for two years), Dennis Dlomo (who acted for two years), ambassador Sonto Kudjoe (who served for three years), Arthur Fraser (who served for two years), Loyiso Jafta (who acted for three years) and Gab Msimanga (who acted for a year).

Majola’s former underground “comrade” in the ANC in Mozambique, Joe Ndhlela, describes her as “a very smart and intelligent person who understood what was necessary to execute the task at hand”. Another member of their unit was former SA Revenue Service commissioner Tom Moyane.

She didn’t have a good relationship with Radebe and [the others]. Her ambitions were always clear to see. She rated herself as better qualified for the job and she had educational qualifications to [prove it]
According to cynics, Ramaphosa may have blundered by appointing a person who has historical ties to Moyane, as, during the Zondo commission of inquiry, the latter was depicted as one of the architects of state capture. However, Ndhlela – who is also related to Moyane – said that he had last spoken to Majola many years ago, suggesting that members of the unit may no longer be keeping in touch.

In the department of energy, where Majola previously served as deputy minister, there have been mixed reactions to her appointment. The consensus among her critics and supporters alike is that she had the ambition to become the minister and felt overlooked as the department chopped and changed ministers during her stint between 2014 and 2018.

The official version from government was that she resigned in November 2018 “to attend to family matters”. The unofficial version was that she was no longer getting along with the then minister Jeff Radebe. He is a lawyer by profession and Majola holds a master’s degree in civil engineering, “so she felt she was better qualified for the job”.

Majola has also established herself internationally as a gender activist. While in government, she worked as a chief director and deputy director-general, both in the presidency, before becoming ambassador to Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde, Gambia and Guinea Bissau in 2006.

Majola didn’t get along with any of the ministers and she had this [idea] that she deserved to be appointed because of her engineering qualifications.
In 2009, she was appointed deputy coordinator of core business for the national intelligence coordinating committee, which highlights her expertise in the intelligence community. She worked for the Gauteng premier’s office in 2010 before joining the private sector in the engineering field.

Early in her career, she became involved in the ANC’s women’s movement and then in the underground structures, where she worked with the likes of former state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo, who is currently serving as the minister of public service and administration.

Another former energy department official said Majola had a problem not only with Radebe, but with all his predecessors, including David Mahlobo, Mamoloko Kubayi and Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

“She didn’t have a good relationship with Radebe and [the others]. Her ambitions were always clear to see. She rated herself as better qualified for the job and she had educational qualifications to [prove it],” said the official.

She understood the industry more than many of the ministers. All of them came and found her there and they left her there, so she’d built a network internally
The person said it was only “natural”, given Majola’s competence and background in consulting, that she would have expectations of becoming a minister.

“You could see that she left because she was unhappy. It also seemed as if Radebe was sidelining her and not giving her any meaningful role to play.”

A person still working in the department agreed that Majola “didn’t get along with any of the ministers and she had this [idea] that she deserved to be appointed because of her engineering qualifications”.

She would embark on her own initiatives, working closely with a Zimbabwean national in the department (whose name is known to City Press), added the person.

The official said:

They also worked together in a programme called Women in Energy. If you want to know a lot more about her, take a closer look at her relationship with this Zimbabwean woman.
The former spook said Majola was “a good person who has a lot of experience in executive management. She’s also very systematic and honest. I think she’ll survive the SSA. She’s hard and pushes people to deliver. She also knows the intelligence environment, given her background as an ambassador.

The person warned, however, that although the agency was male-dominated and women officials were often undermined, Majola was “not to be taken lightly”.

“Compared with Kudjoe, she’s a much better leader. She’s smart and I enjoyed working with her. She approaches people with respect, she doesn’t throw her power around and she’s strict, so people hated her because she didn’t want any malfeasance,” he continued.

“Understanding the priorities of the country is also important, especially our security and economic priorities. This country could also reclaim its influence on the continent and continue to play a role in intervening where there’s political instability. That’s the task the agency should take seriously.”

-City Press

Mkhize, Sisulu and Magashule alliance taking shape to snatch ANC from Ramaphosa

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The ANC leadership race will see some senior members trying to build a formidable team to go against party president Cyril Ramaphosa and his lobby group at the party’s national elective conference in December.

There might be an alliance brewing between Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Zweli Mkhize. Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s supporters are lobbying for him to be in the running if he manages to shake off all the charges he faces in connection with the multimillion-rand asbestos roofing project scandal in the Free State while he was premier of the province.

LINDIWE SISULU

A source in Mkhize’s camp told City Press that there was a push from structures in KwaZulu-Natal to link the former health minister with Sisulu in the hope that the ANC would have its first woman president.

“Comrades have approached Sisulu and Mkhize and asked them to consider accepting nominations when the official process starts for deployment into the top six. It was ordinary comrades who approached Sisulu and Mkhize and brought them together.

“Comrades in the branches have agreed that Sisulu should be persuaded and supported, as a matter of principle, to be the next president of the ANC. The comrades met with her because she’s an ANC national executive committee member deployed to KwaZulu-Natal. The two leaders have been seen publicly together in official ANC engagements as NEC leaders.”

The source explained that this would be a vote of confidence in the capacity of women to lead the country and would coincide with the country celebrating 30 years of democracy.Actually, some comrades have gone even further and warned that it’s an indictment on the ANC that, 110 years after its formation, it’s still never elected a woman as its president.

“Comrades are discussing the importance of having a leader as a woman under the topic ‘The future is female’. They say men have played their roles and it’s time for women to take the country forward and usher in a new era of socioeconomic development,” he said.

ZWELI MKHIZE

Mkhize is said to be preoccupied with the allegations he faces regarding the Digital Vibes corruption scandal.

The source explained that Mkhize was not gunning for any particular position, but that the ANC KwaZulu-Natal structures believed he was fit enough to represent them at national level.

So far, he has been backed by ward 1 in KwaXimba, which has up to 4 000 members. He has been spotted speaking at one of their gatherings.

However, since resigning from his post as minister of health, Mkhize has devoted all his energy to clearing his name ahead of the ANC’s elective conference.Zweli Mkhize is riding high since he left Cabinet.Zweli Mkhize is riding high since he left Cabinet. Photo Darren Steward

He was forced to abruptly halt his government career after the Special Investigating Unit found that he, his family and close associates had improperly benefited from an irregular tender.

It also found that the department had incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure of at least R37 million in respect of payments made to Digital Vibes.

In addition, it found that Mkhize’s wife had received R1.5 million and that Digital Vibes had paid more than R6 000 for repairs at Mkhize’s home, transferred R300 000 cash to his son Dedani and had bought a R160 000 Land Cruiser for use on Dedani’s farm in Pietermaritzburg.

READ: Zweli Mkhize fights back

“Actually, Mkhize’s reluctantly attending these meetings where he’s being persuaded to be one of the top six.

“After each meeting, he’s asked to address comrades, but he declines, as he wants to focus on the Digital Vibes matter. He believes that the matter must be managed using the normal legal processes and he’s confident that he’ll be exonerated and that the truth will finally prevail,” said the source.

“Nevertheless, some comrades, who last interacted with him when he was the ANC provincial chairperson, have been asked to persuade him to avail himself for public engagements, as there are fears that he’ll disappear from the public eye. He remains one of the most experienced leaders administratively and politically.

“Even at his surprise birthday party [last month], he didn’t want to speak, but was persuaded to do so.

“He didn’t even want to give interviews, until it was explained that the team interviewing him had been assigned by the family to record and keep the recordings for them,” the source explained.

He added that Mkhize had the ability to unite all factions in a common programme of action of the ANC, a goal the party had had difficulty achieving over the past few years.

ACE MAGASHULE

While his hands might be tied because of the criminal charges hanging over his head, Magashule has not ruled out the possibility of contesting in the governing party’s conference at the end of the year.

He has been fighting tooth and nail for the charges against him to be dropped, with one of his close allies saying the suspended secretary-general would like another opportunity to be in the ANC top six, even if he is not elected president.Ace Magashule. Photo: Jabu KumaloAce Magashule. Photo: Jabu Kumalo

Magashule is plotting to be in on the Sisulu-Mkhize alliance if it materialises, but has reservations about other alliances that would have to be formed to make this possible.

His scepticism centres on KwaZulu-Natal treasurer Nomusa Dube-Ncube, who has a strong relationship with Mkhize and is supposed to galvanise the provincial structures to support the slate.

“Nomusa’s contesting the chairperson position and is likely to win. She’s supposed to help Mkhize get good backing from KwaZulu-Natal, but [Magashule] doesn’t trust her. They’ve never had a good understanding, so it’s difficult to say what might happen,” said one of his allies.

The source said there had been meetings between Magashule and Sisulu where she had negotiated becoming the presidential candidate if they did end up on the same slate.

However, Sisulu’s spokesperson in the tourism department, Steve Motale, denied this, saying: “There are no such talks at the moment. From time to time, Minister Sisulu meets with many leaders of the movement to discuss various challenges facing the ANC, mainly factionalism and the changing character of the party. She has indeed been approached by several structures of the ANC to avail herself for leadership of the party.

“She’s currently applying her mind to her matter and, out of respect for the ANC’s internal processes, she’ll make an announcement in this regard when the time is right,” he said. 

–City Press

The ANC leadership race will see some senior members trying to build a formidable team to go against party president Cyril Ramaphosa and his lobby group at the party’s national elective conference in December.

There might be an alliance brewing between Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Zweli Mkhize. Suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s supporters are lobbying for him to be in the running if he manages to shake off all the charges he faces in connection with the multimillion-rand asbestos roofing project scandal in the Free State while he was premier of the province.

LINDIWE SISULU

A source in Mkhize’s camp told City Press that there was a push from structures in KwaZulu-Natal to link the former health minister with Sisulu in the hope that the ANC would have its first woman president.

“Comrades have approached Sisulu and Mkhize and asked them to consider accepting nominations when the official process starts for deployment into the top six. It was ordinary comrades who approached Sisulu and Mkhize and brought them together.

“Comrades in the branches have agreed that Sisulu should be persuaded and supported, as a matter of principle, to be the next president of the ANC. The comrades met with her because she’s an ANC national executive committee member deployed to KwaZulu-Natal. The two leaders have been seen publicly together in official ANC engagements as NEC leaders.”

The source explained that this would be a vote of confidence in the capacity of women to lead the country and would coincide with the country celebrating 30 years of democracy.Actually, some comrades have gone even further and warned that it’s an indictment on the ANC that, 110 years after its formation, it’s still never elected a woman as its president.

“Comrades are discussing the importance of having a leader as a woman under the topic ‘The future is female’. They say men have played their roles and it’s time for women to take the country forward and usher in a new era of socioeconomic development,” he said.

ZWELI MKHIZE

Mkhize is said to be preoccupied with the allegations he faces regarding the Digital Vibes corruption scandal.

The source explained that Mkhize was not gunning for any particular position, but that the ANC KwaZulu-Natal structures believed he was fit enough to represent them at national level.

So far, he has been backed by ward 1 in KwaXimba, which has up to 4 000 members. He has been spotted speaking at one of their gatherings.

However, since resigning from his post as minister of health, Mkhize has devoted all his energy to clearing his name ahead of the ANC’s elective conference.Zweli Mkhize is riding high since he left Cabinet.Zweli Mkhize is riding high since he left Cabinet. Photo Darren Steward

He was forced to abruptly halt his government career after the Special Investigating Unit found that he, his family and close associates had improperly benefited from an irregular tender.

It also found that the department had incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure of at least R37 million in respect of payments made to Digital Vibes.

In addition, it found that Mkhize’s wife had received R1.5 million and that Digital Vibes had paid more than R6 000 for repairs at Mkhize’s home, transferred R300 000 cash to his son Dedani and had bought a R160 000 Land Cruiser for use on Dedani’s farm in Pietermaritzburg.

“Actually, Mkhize’s reluctantly attending these meetings where he’s being persuaded to be one of the top six.

“After each meeting, he’s asked to address comrades, but he declines, as he wants to focus on the Digital Vibes matter. He believes that the matter must be managed using the normal legal processes and he’s confident that he’ll be exonerated and that the truth will finally prevail,” said the source.

“Nevertheless, some comrades, who last interacted with him when he was the ANC provincial chairperson, have been asked to persuade him to avail himself for public engagements, as there are fears that he’ll disappear from the public eye. He remains one of the most experienced leaders administratively and politically.

“Even at his surprise birthday party [last month], he didn’t want to speak, but was persuaded to do so.

“He didn’t even want to give interviews, until it was explained that the team interviewing him had been assigned by the family to record and keep the recordings for them,” the source explained.

He added that Mkhize had the ability to unite all factions in a common programme of action of the ANC, a goal the party had had difficulty achieving over the past few years.

ACE MAGASHULE

While his hands might be tied because of the criminal charges hanging over his head, Magashule has not ruled out the possibility of contesting in the governing party’s conference at the end of the year.

He has been fighting tooth and nail for the charges against him to be dropped, with one of his close allies saying the suspended secretary-general would like another opportunity to be in the ANC top six, even if he is not elected president.Ace Magashule. Photo: Jabu KumaloAce Magashule. Photo: Jabu Kumalo

Magashule is plotting to be in on the Sisulu-Mkhize alliance if it materialises, but has reservations about other alliances that would have to be formed to make this possible.

His scepticism centres on KwaZulu-Natal treasurer Nomusa Dube-Ncube, who has a strong relationship with Mkhize and is supposed to galvanise the provincial structures to support the slate.

“Nomusa’s contesting the chairperson position and is likely to win. She’s supposed to help Mkhize get good backing from KwaZulu-Natal, but [Magashule] doesn’t trust her. They’ve never had a good understanding, so it’s difficult to say what might happen,” said one of his allies.

The source said there had been meetings between Magashule and Sisulu where she had negotiated becoming the presidential candidate if they did end up on the same slate.

However, Sisulu’s spokesperson in the tourism department, Steve Motale, denied this, saying: “There are no such talks at the moment. From time to time, Minister Sisulu meets with many leaders of the movement to discuss various challenges facing the ANC, mainly factionalism and the changing character of the party. She has indeed been approached by several structures of the ANC to avail herself for leadership of the party.

“She’s currently applying her mind to her matter and, out of respect for the ANC’s internal processes, she’ll make an announcement in this regard when the time is right,” he said. 

Ukraine Ambassador Liubov Abravitova accuses SA of trying to remain friends with both Russia and Ukraine

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Abravitova wants SA citizens to pressure govt into changing its stance on the war

Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova, in her office in Brooklyn, Pretoria (James de Villiers, News24) Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova, in her office in Brooklyn, Pretoria (James de Villiers, News24)

The Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitovabelieves that if enough civil society pressure is placed on the state, it can help to change the South African government’s position regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine. Abravitova speaks to James de Villiers about why she believes Putin won’t be hesitant to use nuclear weapons, why international solidarity will end the war, and why she has to remain strong for the sake of the embassy’s staff. 


The one thing Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa Liubov Abravitova, 41, is sure of is that South Africa is a democratic country. 

Because, while Abravitova is hesitant to criticise South Africa’s diplomatic policy towards Russia’s war in Ukraine, she believes civil society can still change the state’s position. 

The South African government, controversially, abstained from a United Nations (UN) vote last week to condemn Russia’s actions, while President Cyril Ramaphosa called for mediation to de-escalate the situation (and spoke to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Thursday, but not his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky). 

Seated in her office at the Ukrainian embassy in Brooklyn, Pretoria, where several embassies are located, Abravitova shakes her head. 

“Those countries who abstained or voted against [the UN resolution], they have a kind of responsibility why we couldn’t stop immediately Russian aggression in Ukraine,” she says in a thick accent, hesitant to name South Africa directly. 

Her iPhone beeps every other minute with an urgent message coming through, likely updating her about the situation back home, while, outside, Ukrainian soldiers guard the embassy as visitors bring and place flowers and letters of support. 

Two South African Police Service (SAPS) officers are also spotted observing the embassy from across the street. The Ukrainian embassy in Brooklyn, Pretoria (JamesThe Ukrainian embassy in Brooklyn, Pretoria (James de Villiers, News24)

South Africa wants to stay friends with both 

Asked about South Africa’s diplomatic position, Abravitova rubs her chin and takes a breath. 

“The diplomatic or diplomatic answer would be that South Africa wants to stay friends with both important partners, with Ukraine and with Russia,” she says. 

“But South Africa needs to realise that during apartheid times that it was not Russia, but the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), and we had 15 states.” 

A bust of former president Nelson Mandela stands proudly on a cupboard in the corner of the room, while a book named ‘Speeches that changed the world’ featuring Mandela’s image lies on her desk. 

Abravitova says:Russia cannot take the legacy of what each particular country was doing. How many [South African] politicians of today were trained in Ukraine, not in Russia?Cards of support from South Africans on AbravitovaCards of support from South Africans on Abravitova’s desk (James de Villiers, News24)

She points to the sunflowers and postcards of support on her boardroom table (one reads: ‘Stand strong, you will overcome’), and says that it is a sign that South African people stand for the principle of human rights. 

“What I really believe in is that South Africa is a democratic state. You have one of the highest ranks of freedom of media, freedom of speech. So I do believe that South Africans and their voices matter.” 

I ask whether those voices could possibly help to change the government’s position towards Ukraine.

Abravitova closes her eyes, and nods. 

After taking a breath, she adds: “We are eager to bring even harsher sanctions [against Russia] as soon as possible. Because as soon as it affects oligarchs, prominent businesspeople, and then ordinary people, they will be not happy, [and] they will try to look what is really happening.” 

Her brother will ‘of course’ fight in the war 

It has been a traumatic few weeks for Abravitova since Russia embarked on its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. 

While she has a brother, who is still in Ukraine – aged 38 – and who, she says, will ‘of course fight in the war’, she is hesitant to speak about the concerns she has. She says she has to be strong for the other embassy staff, who have family back home. 

Her two children and mother are with her in South Africa. 

“I only can imagine what pain they [the embassy staff] feel. That is why I cannot allow myself to be emotional, because if they see me down…” she says before interrupting herself, clasping her hands and staring at the wooden table. 

Outside, the mid-morning grey skies briefly split to allow a rush of sunlight into Abravitova’s office. 

She rubs her arms, saying she has goosebumps:I believe that afterwards when the war finishes, when Russia withdraws troops, when there’s a ceasefire, what will be painful is to see this country, which was so beautiful, and so efficient and helpful to the world, destroyed.

She points to the Ukrainian flag that stands proudly behind her desk, next to the South African flag.

“That’s why we have our flag, yellow and blue: The yellow is the wheatfields, and this is the blue sky.

“But we will build it back even better, I’m sure. But, today, we just need to save those innocent people being killed.” Ukrainian ambassador to South Africa, Liubov AbravUkrainian ambassador to South Africa, Liubov Abravitova, showing her bust of former persident Nelson Mandela (James de Villiers, News24)

An estimated 2 000 Ukrainian civilians have died in the ongoing conflict, with between 2 000 and 4 000 Ukrainian soldiers, and between 3 500 and 6 000 Russian soldiers reportedly dead. 

A number of key Ukrainian infrastructure has also been targeted by Russian forces, most recently a maternity hospital, where three people died, while 2.5 million Ukrainians are estimated to have already fled the region. 

But, many commentators believe that Putin – who accused Ukraine of being run by neo-Nazis (while its president is Jewish) – underestimated Ukraine’s fightback, and suffered dire consequences as a result. 

When the war will end 

Abravitova says that the war will end as soon as the international society shows solidarity.

One of her staff members brings me a cup of coffee (the Ukrainian emblem proudly visible on the teacup and saucer), and a glass of water. 

The Ukrainian Embassy in Pretoria was established in 1993, two years after Ukraine gained independence from the USSR and one year before the first democratic elections in South Africa.

Abravitova became the very first woman to be the ambassador to South Africa in 2020, after coming to the embassy in 2017. She has 19 years of experience in the Ukrainian diplomatic service. 

The embassy not only serves South Africa, but also 10 other African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Mauritius and Madagascar. 

READ | FRIDAY BRIEFING: Putin’s war – Did Russia make a mistake by invading Ukraine?

Abravitova stares towards the corner of the room and says that she hasn’t spoken to the South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, aside from trying to get South African students out of the country. 

Of concerns that African, mostly black, students and citizens are being blocked from exiting Ukraine, she says that it is because of other countries’ policies towards non-Ukrainian citizens. 

While she shows a map of Ukraine in her diary, she explains: “So between, let’s say Ukrainian and Polish border, you have this grey zone. If you allow all these people with uncertain futures to leave Ukraine, how are they going to cross over to be in this grey zone? They are just going to be stuck in this 30 kilometres area.” 

Her phone vibrates as a call comes through, and I encourage her to take it. As her hands somewhat shake, she answers. It is her mother’s South African doctor phoning to express his condolences with the situation in Ukraine and his outrage with the South African government – who, he says, “does not represent the views of the people which is 100% behind Ukraine”. 

Abravitova smiles as a tear forms in the corner of her eye.

She tells the man over the phone:I think Africa always stands to support the strongest. So as soon as we show today that we are stronger, I do believe that we can change the government’s position as well, just gradually. So let’s hope for this.

Putin ‘miscalculated’ 

Uncomfortably, she stares at her phone after ending the call.

She stands up and invites me for a smoke on the embassy’s patio. 

“In times of war, you can you allow yourself an informal conversation,” she says smiling, seated on a patio chair and lighting up a cigarette. 

-City Press

MPs roasts Emfuleni municipality mayor for letting sewage run into homes

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“Faeces is faeces and if you’re a normal human being, you can see that the sewage is overflowing and getting into people’s homes, but it’s business as usual. The majority of you are from the party I come from, which is a caring movement, and you can see the spillage getting into this man’s home, but you don’t do anything about it. I want to know about the long-term plans. This is a crisis and it is a time-bomb you’re sitting on,” said Faith Mutambi, an ANC MP and chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on environment, forestry and fisheries.

MPs this week had to bear the stench of sewage spills during their visit to Boipatong in Vanderbijlpark.

Mutambi, ANC MP Robert Mashego, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on water and sanitation, and DA MP Cheryl Phillips visited the township this week, where they expressed their dismay and disgust at the sewage running into residents’ homes.

ELM Executive Mayor Sipho Radebe

Mutambi confronted Emfuleni Local Municipality mayor Sipho Radebe and water services authority entity Metsi a Lekoa’s chief director Madoda Besani in full view of community members, who were part of the engagement.

The delegation, along with the community members, went to the home of Majoro Meyi, who has had dirty, foul-smelling water flowing into his house for months.

He is just one of the people who have been affected by this problem, according to the Reliable Environmental Protection & Care Agency (Repca), the community group responsible for alerting the portfolio committee to the problem.

Mutambi said that it was unacceptable that it was Radebe’s first visit to Boipatong since he had been elected mayor in November, and that it was a pity that those who had voted for him were being treated in this manner.

She said:This poor man [Meyi] can’t litigate because he doesn’t have the resources and doesn’t know what to do. It’s unfair and inhumane. I’m speaking to you as the mayor. This is criminal; I should be opening a legal case. I can smell the stench, even with my mask on, but this man must sleep with it, eat with it and do everything with it

Repca spokesperson Steve Moloko expressed relief and appreciation for the MPs’ presence in Boipatong, and said he believed there would be some sort of recourse in the future.

The organisation has tried to seek assistance from government for two years, but claims that the Gauteng department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs told it to “get lost” when it asked for assistance.

The community faces many issues, but the most glaring one is the stench that permeates the air as the government officials walk along the streets.

The township has hardly any tarred streets and its roads are riddled with potholes.

Moloko said:We believe someone will listen to us and try to effect change, given that the chairperson is seeing for herself all these things that have been happening for the past two to three years

Frustrated community member Phaladi Taapi said that the sewage woes became severe when the local municipality decided to build cottages for residents.

“The problem started when the municipality built back rooms for us because the infrastructure was only enough to cater for our houses, so the sewers became blocked,” he explained.

Besani agreed, adding that the problem could have been avoided if the town had followed the proper procedures for building the additional structures in people’s homes.

Besani said:The challenge here is that the infrastructure’s old and is working over capacity at the moment. All these lines are midblock and some of the back rooms are built on the lines, which exacerbates the problem

Not only is the infrastructure outdated and in very poor condition, there is also an overall lack of maintenance that causes the Rietspruit catchment to experience regular spillages, resulting in environmental pollution. For more than five years, water quality results from the catchment have indicated that the water there is steadily deteriorating.

The department has appointed Rand Water as an implementing agent of the section 63 Vaal River System Intervention project in the Emfuleni Local Municipality for a period of three years. The agreement was signed on October 5. The estimated total cost of the intervention is R7.6 billion and, so far, the department has transferred R100 million to Rand Water to kick-start operations and site establishment.

Radebe believes this intervention will bring much-needed relief to the community.

“When national government decided to put Emfuleni under section 63, which is the Water Act, we saw that something was being done to mitigate the problem – which started even before we had democracy.

“We’re trying to [address the issue] by all means, hence this section 63 intervention. I can assure you that, by next year this time, if you come here, you’ll see a different Emfuleni. Many of the complaints of the community are because of frustrations and lack of communication about what will happen. I am happy about this visit, [we have gained] more insight into what’s happening,” he said.

Phillips said the group would be visiting the area again soon to see whether any progress had been made.

“They always say: ‘How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.’ Perhaps we could change the gentleman’s house from where the sewage flows.

“That would be a start, but we need to come back and make sure that the instructions are implemented,” she said.

–City Press

How civil servants milk the state | Their R60 million grab

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Despite the political leadership’s repeated promises to crack down on public servants doing business with the state, employees who hold strategic positions in national and provincial departments continue to hold positions as directors of private companies that are scoring big business with government.

The companies they are part of have generated about R60 million in contracts with government. And these are only the ones that have been detected.

This phenomenon, says the Public Service Commission (PSC), which is the organ of state that monitors and evaluates the functioning of the civil service, is hindering service delivery and fostering a culture of corruption.

According to the PSC’s 2020/21 report, many directors-general, deputy directors-general, heads of department, chief directors and directors are serving as directors in various companies in the country and also get paid for their duties in the private sector.

This is despite the Public Administration Management Act, enacted in 2014, explicitly prohibiting public servants from doing so.This latest report found that nearly 1 500 of these senior government employees failed to disclose their positions and generated more than R59 168 555 in undisclosed remunerative work done outside their daily duties.

The report was presented to the standing committee on oversight of the North West provincial legislature by the commission’s provincial commissioner, Moeketsi Solomon Leballo, this week.

The report doesn’t mention the names of the companies, departments and directors, but the shocking statistics indicate that this has resulted in at least 1 371 cases of conflict of interest involving government tenders worth billions of rands.

NO ACTION TAKEN

Despite the evidence at its disposal, government has failed to take disciplinary action against the transgressing public servants who did not disclose their positions in the private sector and were conducting business with several departments during previous financial cycles.

Briefing the commission in September, the department of public service and administration recommended that disciplinary action be taken and that criminal cases be laid against the public servants if it was proven to be true.At the time of this recommendation, the commission had discovered that there were up to 1 539 public service employees who were conducting business with the state in April 2020. Of those, 1 111 were from provincial departments and 428 from national departments.

But during the financial year of 2020/21, the PSC discovered that those public servants also accepted gifts and sponsorships worth more than R1.5 million, and failed to disclose this.

About 581 have failed to disclose their directorship positions in private companies doing business with government.

The report also indicates that 139 have been serving in various companies on different occasions and listed them as “repeat offenders”.

OBSTACLE TO FIGHTING TO CORRUPTION

City Press has learnt that this figure has contributed to a lack of service delivery and played a role in the high level of corruption in the country.

From the report’s total number of 1 491, national departments have the highest figure with 798, while provincial departments have 680. Other government components complete the list, with 13 people conducting business in various companies.

The commission says the conflicts of interest are part of the problem that government is facing in combatting corruption and expediting service delivery.

This is also partly the reason that some of the departments are performing poorly because accounting officers are conflicted. According to the report, most of them were not first-time offenders.

The commission also discovered that 296 directors- general, deputy directors-general, heads of department, chief directors and directors failed to disclose their immovable properties, which was also flagged, while 576 failed to disclose their vehicles.

In its endeavour to contribute towards strengthening accountability in the public service, the PSC issued a circular on the implementation of unlawful instructions to executive authorities and heads of national and provincial departments to stem the tide of irregular conduct in the public service.

“The purpose of the circular is to assist executive authorities and heads of department, including public servants, with their duty to act within the confines of the law and to report irregularities as well as any unlawful instruction encountered in the public service. It is hoped that the circular will be implemented accordingly across the public service,” read the report.

The commission indicated that it had issued more than 181 recommendations for leadership and management practices. It also referred more than 48 cases to the integrity and corruption portfolio, and also recommended that 42 cases needed monitoring and evaluation.

In its recommendations, the PSC warned departments to immediately reverse a number of irregular appointments and discipline officials who were responsible for the transgressions. 

The commission recorded that the most common grievance was government’s lack of urgency in filling vacant positions, the inability to speedily deal with disciplinary matters, salary problems, unfair treatment and the undermining of authority.

The commission also instituted several investigations relating to appointment irregularities of service providers and procurement irregularities after complaints were lodged by members of the public. As part of the recommendations put forward after discovering irregularities, the commission referred some cases to law enforcement agencies for further investigation and prosecution, and also instructed accounting officers to reverse some appointments.

But not all the complaints lodged were investigated, as they did not meet certain criteria.

The report revealed that 872 cases were investigated, but whistleblowers’ identities were not protected enough, which was concerning as many had been threatened.

Of the 872 cases reported, 56% of the people who reported various crimes through the National Anti-Corruption Hotline had been identified, while 44% remained anonymous. The commission also discovered that many (490) of the cases that had been reported came from public entities, while national departments had 215 and the rest were in different provinces.

It was noted that even though the figures related to corruption were high, the number was the second-lowest since the inception of the hotline in 2004.

SCHOOL VANDALISM

The commission also gave special attention to the impact of Covid-19 in the health sector and the department of education.

It noted that while the main focus was on the health sector, the education sector was forced to shut down entirely.

“With the periodical review of the lockdown restrictions, a decision was subsequently made to allow the department of basic education to introduce the phased reopening of schools for grades 7 and 12 with effect from June 1 2020. The schools were required to ensure adherence to the necessary health and safety measures as per the directions issued by the minister of basic education regarding and measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19.

“It is within this context that the PSC conducted unannounced inspections of selected schools during the first two weeks of June 2020 to assess compliance with the minimum health, safety and social distancing requirements in mitigation of Covid-19,” read the report.

The commission also discovered that the supply of personal protective equipment was not sufficient and needed to be replenished as soon as possible.

“While the department of basic education ensured that necessary social distancing was observed by accommodating an average of 20 pupils in class for grades 7 and 12, this was largely due to the department using classes ordinarily reserved for other grades. Even more worrying was that, at the time of the inspections, no less than 1 672 schools were vandalised during the lockdown period, which compounded the shortage of classrooms. This was indicative of the historical infrastructure challenges affecting the pupil:teacher ratios in schools, which the department will have to address urgently as other grades prepared for the reintegration.”

It also recommended that the departments improve their monitoring systems on issues related to ethical behaviour, leave management, payment of suppliers and audit action plan monitoring to avoid irregularities.

GRIEVANCES

Apart from nondisclosure, the PSC also received the second-highest number of grievances from public servants compared with the previous financial year of 2019/20. In 2020/21, the commission recorded 677 grievances, which was 130 fewer than those recorded in 2019/20.

City Press

We should be treating our neighbours the way we want them to treat us

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Xenophobia, like the racism of 100 years ago, is no quick fix for protecting jobs

By S’thembiso Msomi

This month marks 100 years since the Rand was turned into an orgy of bloody violence as what started out as a mineworkers’ strike quickly turned into open rebellion against the government of the Union of SA headed by prime minister Jan Smuts.

The full story of the revolt is skilfully retold by journalist and author Nick Dall elsewhere in the newspaper, so I’ll spare you the details. However, at the heart of the strike, in which 22,000 white mineworkers downed tools, was anger over the Chamber of Mines’ plan to remove the “colour bar” reserving certain skilled and semiskilled jobs for whites.

The labour riots were the culmination of more than two decades of upheavals in an industry hard hit by the Anglo-Boer War and World War 1. With the mining industry in the doldrums by the end of 1920, bosses believed they would make massive savings by scrapping the colour bar, hence making it possible for them to hire more black workers at a fraction of the wages  they were paying white labour.

The white mineworkers organised themselves under the slogan “Workers of the world unite and fight for white South Africa”. They clearly thought their interests would best be served by racist laws and regulations that kept black “outsiders” out of “white South Africa” and its labour market.

Though the Rand Rebellion was eventually crushed by the Smuts regime, it played no small part in Smuts’s defeat during the subsequent general election in 1924. He was replaced by a government that had come into being as a result of a pact between the National Party and the Labour Party — the two political parties that had shown sympathy towards the strikers’ demands.

One hundred years later, SA is a different country and operates within a constitutional order that outlaws racial discrimination and promotes equality. Yet the age-old battle over access to jobs and other economic opportunities continues to play itself out.

This past month alone, we have witnessed a number of protests and vigilante activities targeting undocumented immigrants — mostly from Asia and other parts of Africa — who are accused of “stealing” South African jobs.

A colleague, Naledi Shange, was in Alexandra township this week where an organisation calling itself the Dudula Movement went around demanding that business owned by foreigners, or that hire immigrants, be shut down.

On a number of occasions, the Dudula Movement’s actions led to violent clashes as those they wanted to close down fought back.

Justifying their illegal action, one of the Dudula Movement activists told Shange: “If the cycle is not broken now, my sister, who is in school, will go through the same thing. Until when will it be like this? Change has to come and it is now or never. Already we are crowded in Alex — we live on top of each other, we struggle for services and we compete for jobs with foreigners. It’s not OK.”

A few decades from now, our own grandchildren may be migrating to the likes of Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda looking for opportunities

Like the white mineworkers who, 100 years ago, blamed the presence of black workers for the lack of better-paying jobs, this Alexandra resident believes SA’s high unemployment would miraculously disappear with the deportation of foreign nationals.

But as Wits University professor Loren Landau says elsewhere in this edition, “evicting foreigners will do nothing to create jobs … If anything, it will hurt by destroying business, limiting regional trade and tarnishing Brand SA across the continent.”

We ignore this warning at our peril.

A growing number of political parties and politicians are jumping on the bandwagon of blaming foreigners for our economic woes and high levels of crime, even though they know very well that the causes of high and racialised unemployment are both historical and structural.

They do so out of the belief, sometimes justified, that this will win them votes. We have seen a few whose political fortunes have improved on the back of anti-foreigner sentiments. But in the long run, this will neither improve the lot of the poor and the unemployed nor solve SA’s economic growth and development crisis.

While it is true that SA has an obligation to create and protect jobs for locals, we should not try to do so through means and methods that send a message of hostility towards our neighbours.

Who knows, a few decades from now — especially given the current trend of de-industrialisation and the general decline on both the political and economic fronts — our own grandchildren may be migrating to the likes of Nigeria, Uganda and Rwanda looking for opportunities.

Would we want them to be treated the same way we currently treat others?

By S’thembiso Msomi is the Editor of Sunday Times

–Sunday Times

Spoilt for choice, Ramaphosa looks to Zondo to do the heavy lifting

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By Franny Rabkin

Despite the drama around the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) interviews for the chief justice post in February, choosing one of the four nominees was always a nice-life problem for President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The candidates were all of a very high calibre and had the independence and integrity we can expect of the leader of the judiciary in SA.

Political considerations and the shambolic interviews aside, the exercise facing the president should have been to look at what SA needs from its chief justice at this time and to ask which appointment would best achieve this.

On this score, the choice of Raymond Zondo is to be commended in a number of respects. He was the deputy and next in line. When former president Jacob Zuma overlooked deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke in favour of first Sandile Ngcobo and then Mogoeng Mogoeng, the snubbing of Moseneke — especially the second time — caused a huge upheaval. By already indicating that he will nominate Mandisa Maya — the choice of the JSC and the majority party in parliament — as deputy chief justice, the president may be restoring predictability and stability in the chief justice race.

Zondo’s appointment is also a fitting honour to a jurist who has served SA with distinction for many years. Like most judges, this work has for most of his career been away from public attention. But as chair of the state capture commission, Zondo is now a household name. His work ethic, with relentless efforts to get through oral testimony, including in night sessions, and apparently monumental capacity to retain detailed evidence, have been on daily display on television sets across the country. This is good for public confidence in the judiciary which, according to recent research, has declined.

It cannot be business as usual … Much will depend on his ability to work well with his deputy

Zondo also exhibited backbone in how the commission pursued its contempt case against Zuma when the former president’s snub of the body put the rule of law at risk.

However, at this juncture, any chief justice in SA faces significant challenges. One of these is the state of the Constitutional Court. This week the apex court retracted a judgment it had delivered in full a few days earlier. Several senior lawyers said this was an unheard of step but the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) said it had happened before that the Constitutional Court has recalled judgments.

The case was between law firm Barnard Labuschagne Incorporated (BLI) and the SA Revenue Service (Sars). On Friday, a new judgment, which came to the same order, was handed down. In it, acting justice Owen Rogers said the original judgment was “rescinded by the court of its own accord” because it emerged after the judgment was delivered that Sars had filed written submissions “of which the Constitutional Court was unaware”.

So, court papers from one of the main parties to the litigation did not reached the judges. The OCJ said the bungle had happened in the registrar’s office and said Zondo had asked the secretary-general of the OCJ to urgently look into how the situation arose “and to look into other challenges in the registrar’s office with a view to finding a permanent resolution”.

The same week the Constitutional Court was handing down its first version of the BLI v Sars judgment, the finance minister had, in a different case, gone back urgently to the highest court asking it to clarify an earlier judgment on tender regulations — because of a “patent error” in a footnote and an “omission”. The two combined had led to confusion about whether the regulations were now in force, said the minister. The uncertainty had caused the National Treasury to issue a communique that no new tenders should be advertised until there was clarity. The court will hear argument and is yet to pronounce on this.

But in December 2020 DispatchLIVE reported that the office of the chief justice had admitted that an application for leave to appeal to the Constitutional Court, from Jarrod Blignaut, incarcerated in St Albans prison, had simply gone missing and had been missing for a year despite inquiries from his attorneys.

Though small errors are sometimes corrected after a judgment is handed down, in August last year the Constitutional Court reissued its judgment in the [Jon] Qwelane hate speech case a month after it was handed down (and 11 months after the case was heard), and corrected six errors in the judgment — including two in the order. Such extensive corrections are unusual and perhaps explain why counsel and media were sent away without a copy of the judgment after waiting at the court’s general office for several hours after hand-down. The changes did not affect the outcome of the matter, said the court when it reissued the judgment.  

Just how bad things really are may be unclear but there is fixing that needs to be done at the highest court. On this score, Zondo was not the strongest candidate

Then, the court twice last year announced it would hand down judgments on a specified date only to announce that due to “unforeseen circumstances” the delivery of the judgments had been postponed.

Asked about these incidents and an impression that the apex court is not functioning well, the OCJ said Zondo has asked the secretary-general to report back to him as soon as possible and was “confident that the problems in the registrar’s office will be resolved soon”.

It was also acknowledged during the recent JSC interviews that there were systemic obstacles to the Constitutional Court’s ability to deliver judgments within the time guidelines established by judicial norms and standards.  Constitutional Court justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga spoke in his interview of the huge increase in the workload of the justices of the Constitutional Court since a constitutional amendment had broadened the court’s jurisdiction — and how the load had affected the delivery of judgments.

This week, the Constitutional Court finally dismissed, in three lines, an application by public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to rescind its earlier judgment on her CR17 report. She had filed an answering affidavit in September and there had been no movement on the application since then.

Just how bad things really are may be unclear but there is fixing that needs to be done at the highest court. On this score, Zondo was not the strongest candidate. Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo’s administration skills are legendary and Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA)  president Mandisa Maya also runs a tight ship. In her interview, Maya detailed to the commission the undertakings she had made in her 2017 interview for SCA president and how she had delivered on each of them.

This may be contrasted with the affidavits filed in court by Zondo in his applications as chair of the state capture commission for extensions of its end-date, in which he expresses confidence he can deliver certain sections of the report by specified dates and then does not.

He will take up office as chief justice with one month left to deliver on an eye-watering number of state capture work streams. Based on his latest affidavit the sections of the report that are still outstanding are the Free State asbestos project, the Free State R1bn housing project, the State Security Agency and crime intelligence, Eskom, Prasa, the attempted capture of the National Treasury, the closure of Gupta bank accounts and the cabinet reshuffle, Estina, parliamentary oversight, the SABC and ANN7, EOH and the City of Johannesburg, the big picture and the summary of the report.

Another possible challenge for Zondo will be the litigation that may follow the state capture report. When asked about it during his interview, Zondo said the chair of a commission did not have to get involved in the litigation and that he could simply decide to “abide the outcome” and “let the judge decide”. There may be some challenges to the state capture commission that could be defended with little involvement from Zondo. But if the challenges were to allege bias by him it may be hard for him to not get involved.  

The JSC, which has been the subject of intense criticism and which the chief justice must chair, will also need immediate attention. Here, Zondo may be the strong choice by the president as it emerged this week that the JSC, under Zondo’s leadership, had resolved in October last year to “set aside a day or two when its members would meet and discuss its entire mandate”.  

This was what the JSC’s Yvonne van Niekerk told civil society organisations after they had written to the commission and asked for an undertaking that the JSC would publish a code of conduct and criteria for judicial appointments to flesh out those in the Constitution before conducting any further interviews.

The letter from the JSC said it was possible that this could happen at the regular meeting of the JSC the day before the April interviews. The one round of interviews that Zondo has already chaired was a success and he appears to have the respect of the JSC, which issued a statement of support after his appointment. All of this bodes well.

Zondo takes the top judicial job at a time when it cannot be business as usual and with several mammoth tasks he must juggle. Much will depend on his ability to work well with his deputy.  

–Sunday Times

Fresh bid to stop Prince Misuzulu’s installation as Zulu king

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Royal family faction tells Ramaphosa not to recognise anyone as king yet

The coronation of a new Zulu king could be further delayed if President Cyril Ramaphosa accedes to a request from a faction of the Zulu royal family that is opposed to Prince Misuzulu’s elevation to the throne.

The faction has written to Ramaphosa to tell him of their intention to appeal a court judgment last week that paved the way for the coronation of Prince Misuzulu. 

The letter comes as divisions within the royal family played out in public again when the two factions held separate prayer events yesterday to mark a year since the death of king Goodwill Zwelithini. 

One group, led by Zwelithini’s brother Prince Mbonisi, met at KwaKhethomthandayo Royal Palace, while the opposing side gathered  at KwaKhangelamankengane Royal Palace where Prince Misuzulu and traditional prime minister Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi were in attendance.

Prince Mbonisi’s lawyers informed Ramaphosa of the intention to appeal the judgment, which conferred legal recognition on a royal family meeting at which Prince Misuzulu was named as heir to the throne. The lawyers said the meeting in May last year had not been valid.

“We urge that the dispute of the Zulu royal family over the legal validity of the meeting of May 14 2021 be allowed to run its course without it being about the constitutionality of the president’s exercise of his constitutional power to recognise a king for the Zulu kingdom,” the letter said.

“As long as there are legal proceedings over the legal validity of the meeting … and the selection or identification of Prince Misuzulu Zwelithini, the president should not endorse any application and submissions made to him by anyone in terms of … the Traditional Leadership Act for the recognition of a person as king.” 

The Prince Mbonisi group is believed to prefer Prince Buzabazi as heir to the vacant throne.

Judge Isaac Madondo last week dismissed an application by Prince Mbonisi to halt the coronation of Prince Misuzulu.

The judge said Prince Mbonisi had not been party to the royal family meeting at which Prince Misizulu had been nominated as the next king;  therefore he could not dispute the outcome.

The letter to Ramaphosa, which the Sunday Times has seen, said: “We hold instruction to lodge an application for leave to appeal the aforementioned judgment and orders of the honourable deputy judge president Madondo on the basis, amongst others, that its findings on the meeting of May 14 2021 are legally untenable and wrong.

“The Zulu royal family as defined in the act, together with the Zulu royal council, has to date meticulously followed the statutory and traditional procedures for the identification and selection of a member of the royal house to serve as king. It has not yet met to select a king for the Zulu kingdom,” the letter read. 

The lawyers asked the president to withhold recognition of a new king until the legal processes were complete, and to offer an undertaking in this regard to “our clients”.

“If such an undertaking is made, we anticipate that the honourable president will abide by the decision of the court in any pending or subsequent applications by the Zulu royal council and the Zulu royal family,” the lawyers said. 

A recent statement from the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government said the matter of the Zulu succession was being handled in line with legislation that provides for the president to deal with such disputes. 

For a coronation to take place, Ramaphosa will have to sign and gazette the decision. 

King Zwelithini died in March last year in a Durban hospital after suffering a Covid-related illness. In a disputed will he nominated his wife, Queen Mantfombi Dlamini-Zulu, as the regent. But she herself died less than a month later. In her will she nominated her son, Prince Misuzulu, as the next king. 

-Sunday Times

Joe Biden threatens World War III

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President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday that any attack against NATO could spark World War III.

The president spoke about the conflict at a House Democrat retreat in Philadelphia, vowing again to defend “every inch” of NATO territory from Putin and the Russians.

“Granted, if we respond, it is World War III, but we have a sacred obligation,” he said to his fellow Democrats.

Biden reminded Putin he had deployed 12,000 American forces to NATO countries on the Eastern front to protect them.

But Biden also warned fellow Democrats from urging on military action in Ukraine itself.

He said any military action against Russia in Ukraine could escalate quickly, cautioning Democrats from supporting the idea of sending in American-operated warplanes and tanks or any American troops into Ukraine.

“Just understand. Don’t kid yourself. No matter what you all say. That’s called World War III. OK?” Biden said.

Apparently referring to Putin, Biden continued, “Let’s get it straight here guys … that old expression, don’t kid a kidder.”

“We will not fight World World War III in Ukraine,” he concluded.

The Biden administration continues ratcheting up pressure on Russia through economic measures, including sanctions.

The President taunted Putin earlier Friday for believing the United States and Europe would not unite to support Ukraine and punish Russia with economic sanctions.

“He hoped to dominate Ukraine without a fight. He failed. He hoped to fracture European resolve. He failed,” he said during a speech at the White House.

“He hoped to weaken the transatlantic alliance. He failed.”

–Breitbart

Ramaphosa has ‘utmost confidence’ in Zondo as he elevates him to chief justice

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Already acting as such, Raymond Zondo will take office on April 1, with Mandisa Maya likely to be his deputy

SA’s new chief justice is Raymond Zondo, the presidency announced on Thursday, and President Cyril Ramaphosa has the “utmost confidence” that he’ll excel.

Zondo, already acting as chief justice, will officially take up office on April 1, said the presidency.

Ramaphosa’s decision followed an extended public nomination and consultation process that culminated in widely criticised interviews by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) in February. After the interviews, the JSC recommended Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) president Mandisa Maya for the job.

However, in terms of the constitution, the choice is at the president’s discretion. He must consult with the JSC and leaders of political parties in parliament, but he is not bound by their views.

The presidency said Ramaphosa had “indicated his intention” to nominate Maya for deputy chief justice, a post that would become vacant upon Zondo’s elevation.

With Zondo just more than two years from retirement, the choice could be viewed benignly as good succession planning by the president. Zondo, the deputy chief justice after all, is already at the helm of the Constitutional Court, while Maya is an outsider to that court. But critics may see the move as a weak attempt to kick the can down the road after the JSC interviews degenerated into shambles, through no fault of the four candidates — Zondo, Maya, Constitutional Court justice Mbuyiseli Madlanga and Gauteng judge president Dunstan Mlambo.

“This nomination will be subject to the process outlined in Section 174(3) of the Constitution,” it said, a section which requires the president to consult the JSC and leaders of parliamentary political parties.

The chief justice post has been vacant since October last year, when judge Mogoeng Mogoeng retired.

In September 2021, Ramaphosa invited public nominations for the post, appointing a panel, chaired by judge Navanethem Pillay, to evaluate nominations made by the public and shortlist nominees who fulfilled the requirements for nomination.

After considering the report of Pillay’s panel, Ramaphosa identified the four candidates. 

The presidency said Ramaphosa then asked the JSC and political party leaders “to express their views regarding the suitability of any of the four nominees for appointment as chief justice”.

The Sunday Times reported that when the president consulted with political parties in November last year, the ANC supported Maya, the DA had “no objections” to the candidates and the EFF did not respond to the letter from the president.

Though Ramaphosa was criticised for the public nomination process, the presidency said it demonstrated “not only the value that South Africans place on the judiciary, but also the depth of experience and capability within the senior ranks of the judiciary”.

“As the head of the judiciary, the chief justice is a guardian of our constitution and the laws adopted by the freely elected representatives of the people. The chief justice stands as the champion of the rights of all South Africans and bears responsibility for ensuring equal access to justice,” said Ramaphosa.

Zondo was first appointed as a judge of the labour court in 1997 and was judge president of the labour and labour appeal courts from 2000 and 2010.

He was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2012 by former president Jacob Zuma. In that round of interviews, Maya was also recommended for appointment to the highest court by the JSC, but did not get the presidential nod.

Zondo was appointed deputy chief justice in 2017. He was selected to chair the state capture commission by Mogoeng. In this capacity, he must deliver his final report thereon to the president by the end of April.

While he has made a number of requests for extensions, Zondo has also been praised for his work ethic at the inquiry, hearing evidence late into the night over many days to finish on time.

Zondo holds a BJuris degree from the University of Zululand and an LLB from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN). He also holds an LLM (cum laude) from the University of South Africa (Unisa).

–Sunday Times

SA to mediate in Russia-Ukraine conflict

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SA has been asked to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said the request was discussed in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Ramaphosa said he told Putin the conflict between the two European countries should be settled through negotiations.

He did not give details about how he planned to work with the two countries, but said SA was approached to mediate due to its historical ties to Russia and as a member of Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and SA).

“President Putin appreciated our balanced approach. We believe this position enables both parties to subject the conflict to mediation and negotiation. Based on our relations with the Russian Federation and as a member of Brics, SA has been approached to play a mediation role,” said Ramaphosa.

This is not the first time SA has been asked to mediate conflicts in other countries. 

Here are four times SA has been called on to intervene;

eSwatini

Last year, the Swaziland Solidarity Network appealed to the SA government to intervene amid weeks of rolling mass action calling for an end to the regime under King Mswati III.

The eSwatini government shut down the internet as pro-democracy marchers headed to the capital.

The network said the situation in the landlocked nation had reached boiling point.

“If they allow blood to spill, there may not be any soap to wash the blood. The situation may be so dire that people will flee to SA.

“SA will find itself absorbing half the Swazi population, which will add to the burden already created by Zimbabweans and many other African refugees who are in SA. It’s in the best interest of SA to intervene on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc),” said the network’s spokesperson Lucky Lukhele.

King Mswati III remains in power.

Lesotho 

In 2018, Ramaphosa appointed former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke to lead the mediation team of Sadc facilitation in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The decision was in line with the resolution taken at the Sadc Double Troika Summit held in Luanda, Angola, to encourage reform processes in that country.

This is where it was decided Ramaphosa should continue with the facilitation, and recommended he appoint high-level personalities to support him.

“I take this opportunity to thank justice Moseneke for availing himself to support us in this important mandate as we continue to assist our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of Lesotho in their search for a lasting and sustainable solution to their political and security challenges,” said Ramaphosa.

An international peace and security report by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia found that while there was some success in mediation, “the continued political infighting between the government and opposition parties threatens the national dialogue process and the implementation of the multi-sector reform in general”.

In 2019 it said despite the intervention, “the full restoration of peace and normalcy in Lesotho has yet to be achieved”.

Trends in SADC Mediation and Long-Term Conflict Transformation author Dimpho Deleglise argued that mediation efforts by Ramaphosa in the country ultimately failed because of his errors in “its impartiality, inclusivity, and its ability to address a host of proximate and underlying causes of Lesotho’s recurrent conflict”.

Mozambique

In 2016, the former leader of Mozambique’s rebel movement Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, called on former president Jacob Zuma to mediate in the country, saying he was favourably disposed towards mediating in the conflict between Renamo and the Mozambican government.

However, eNCA reported that former international relations and co-operation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said Dhlakama had not contacted the SA government.

She said Mozambique “has a democratically elected government” and the opposition sits in parliament. Thus, if somebody in the Mozambican opposition were to approach the SA government, the first thing Zuma’s cabinet would do would be to speak to the Mozambican government.

Dhlakama’s call came after Zuma was called in 2012 to mediate in Zimbabwe as part of SA’s responsibility as the Sadc mediator to facilitate the implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

According to several observers, SA’s mediation in Mozambique in 2016 and the early 1990s was rejected by parties on the grounds of perceived bias.

“The Sadc’s failure to collectively respond to the situation in Mozambique may be attributed to the shared perception of the country’s successful post-conflict status. Further, [Mozambique’s ruling party] Frelimo’s solidarity with Sadc member states ruled by liberation movements may view intervention as a betrayal of that solidarity,” claimed another international peace and security report by the Institute for Peace and Security Studies

Zimbabwe

In 2008, former president Thabo Mbeki was the region’s mediator in Zimbabwe’s political crisis with the backing of the SA government. 

Reuters reported that Mbeki brokered the deal between late Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai that was to establish a unity government.

“Mr Mbeki’s facilitation efforts in Zimbabwe have proven his dispassionate vision for a lasting political solution to the challenges facing Zimbabwe,” said former deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe. 

“Accordingly, our government has full confidence in Mr Mbeki’s ability to build on the historic successes already made in the power-sharing negotiations under his mediation.”

Despite Mbeki’s relative success, the Institute for Security Studies said in 2020 “the crisis seemed to be more or less exactly where it was in 2008, give or take a few changes in the players on both sides of the yawning political divide”.

ANCWL pushing for Bathabile Dlamini ‘second term despite perjury conviction

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As embattled ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) president Bathabile Dlamini awaits her sentence after being convicted for perjury, structures pushing for her second term have vowed to drum up her campaign ahead of the organisation’s national elective conference in June.

Dlamini was on Wednesday found guilty by the Johannesburg magistrate’s court for lying under oath over her involvement in the social grants distribution crisis.

Her sentence has been scheduled for April 1.

This would deal a huge blow to her prospects to hold on to her post, from which she earned a R70,000 monthly salary, according to revelations by her lawyers during mitigation. 

The ANCWL’s biggest provincial block, KwaZulu-Natal, has however vowed to continue rallying behind Dlamini and her ambitions to secure a second term.

The structure claimed SA’s justice system had been captured and that it had “eyes” in relation to politicians within the ANC.

ANC Woman’s League boss Bathabile Dlamini

ANCWL KZN secretary Nonhlanhla Gabela said the provincial structure was “still grieving” over Dlamini’s conviction.

“We will be supporting her even after her sentence because we believe in her ideology. She deserves a second term. As the province we did not have any other option or candidate because of the quality of leadership she gave us,” Gabela said.

With the party’s integrity commission expected to summon her to explain her conviction, Gabela dismissed calls for Dlamini to step aside.

“Bathabile’s case is not for fraud, so it will be contrary to the resolution of the ANC which talks about corruption, fraud and serious crimes. But let’s wait for the process,” she said.

ANC spokesperson Dakota Legoete said he would have to double check if Dlamini’s perjury conviction was covered by the party’s resolution on dealing with wrongdoing.

“I still have to look it up and get clarity from our legal team,” Legoete said.

Prosecutors have recommended that Dlamini be slapped with imprisonment or a hefty fine as she had been previously convicted for fraud and paid a fine of R120,000 to avoid going to jail in 2006.

Dlamini is set to face disciplinary action for misconduct by the ANC should the court slap her with a custodial sentence.

Greater Johannesburg regional chairwoman Ndivhuwo Sekoba said the structure would also push for Dlamini to be elected in absentia if she was imprisoned or suspended as many people had lied with impunity in the party.

“Even if they send her to jail, we will elect her in that venue [conference]. We are not going to allow this to happen to any woman leader during our time,” Sekoba said.

Sekoba said Dlamini was now rehabilitated as she had spent over a decade without being found guilty of theft and fraud.

OR Tambo regional convener Nomnikelo Yehana said the region was yet to decide who it wanted to lead the ANCWL.

“We have not discussed her legal issue and we have not taken a decision to back her or any individual candidate. We are still going to canvas our own preference,” Yehana said.

–SowetanLive

Bathabile Dlamini faces jail term for perjury

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  • The State wants Bathabile Dlamini to serve jail time or, at the very least, pay a hefty fine. 
  • Dlamini was found guilty of perjury for lying under oath in a 2017 inquiry.
  • The State contends it is unforgivable that Dlamini’s transgressions occurred while tasked with “taking care of the country’s most impoverished and downtrodden”. 

The State wants the harshest possible punishment for former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini after she was found guilty of lying under oath in a 2017 inquiry into the social grants debacle at the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa). 

During mitigation of sentencing proceedings on Wednesday, State prosecutor Matthews Rampyapedi said it was unforgivable that Dlamini’s transgressions occurred while she was spearheading a department tasked with “taking care of the country’s most impoverished and downtrodden”.

He asked the court to severely punish Dlamini, in order to deter other public servants from committing similar offences. 

“When one looks at the position held by the accused at the time, she was the minister of social development at a national level. If this kind of practice can be done at such level, what then should become of any Tom, Dick and Harry down there?

Rampyapedi said:At the pinnacle of this offence, Your Worship, is accountability. We expect a certain standard of honesty in our public servants – not only ministers or the president, but all public servants. 

“At that point, she [Dlamini] was not only taking care of a department that is taking care of our impoverished and downtrodden… if the court really takes that into consideration, I really think we would be making a mockery of justice if a harsher sentence is not meted. 

“If we were to come to court every day and listen to people lying and, at the end of the day, just pat them on the back and say we heard you were lying there, but it is fine, we will see what we will do about it, then we [as legal practitioners] might as well just stay at home.

“Therefore, it is imperative that the community out there should see the justice system at work. And a very good point to start is in cases like this. That perspective out there that the law is only there to protect the rich and the politically connected can only be dispelled.

“The effects of the sentence should be felt as far away as Cape Town, where our parliamentarians are sitting. It should be felt as far as Mahlamba Ndlopfu, in Pretoria, [the official residence of the president of the Republic of South Africa] or at the Union Buildings or everyone else who has been entrusted with serving our people.

“And our submission, as the State, is that imprisonment is not far-fetched. If the court feels that this is harsh, then we submit that a hefty fine should be imposed. Failure of which she should go and serve time.”

Dlamini’s legal representative, Tshepiso Mphahlane, pleaded with the court to be lenient.

He said his client was a pensioner and a single mother, who had to take care of an extended family. 

Mphahlane said there were not many cases of perjury that he could cite, and very few led to a jail term. 

He asked that the magistrate, Betty Khumalo, give Dlamini a suspended fine, given that her job as ANC Women’s League president, which pays R70 000 a month, was coming to an end. She would then be left with an income of R40 000 as a retired Member of Parliament. 

Dlamini’s allies, who include suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo, ANC national executive committee member Tony Yengeni, former minister Des van Rooyen and Women’s League members, said the transgression did not warrant anything more than a suspended fine. 

Her allies said Dlamini’s prosecution and conviction were politically motivated as there was “a push to disband the Women’s League and ensure that a more pro-Ramaphosa person is placed at the helm”.

Dlamini was on Wednesday found guilty of perjury by Khumalo for lying under oath during a 2017 inquiry into Sassa, which saw millions of grant beneficiaries unsure whether they would receive their money.

Khumalo found the prosecution had proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt that the former minister had lied under oath. 

Khumalo found the inquiry qualified as a formal judicial process, despite Dlamini’s defence team arguing last month that she should not be found guilty of perjury because Section 38 proceedings, such as the Ngoepe Inquiry, were not formal judicial ones. 

The magistrate said:I am satisfied that she testified and gave false evidence during the inquiry instituted by the Constitutional Court into the 2017 inquiry into the social grants debacle at the SA Social Security Agency.

“All the evidence points to the minister, the accused herein, having at least two or three meetings with the workstreams at their instances, which will mean meetings of the workstream or meeting with workstreams. 

“I am, therefore, satisfied that the State has succeeded, beyond a reasonable doubt, to prove the case against the accused on the main count.”

Sentencing was postponed to 1 April. 

–News24

Rolling blackouts escalated to stage 4: Find your load shedding schedule here

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South Africans will have to endure yet another bout of Stage 4 rolling blackouts.

Eskom announced that it will implement stage 4 load shedding from 9am on Wednesday until 05:00 on Friday; thereafter Stage 2 load shedding will continue until 05:00 on Monday.

It said the power cuts are due to shortages in generation capacity as a result of overnight generation unit failures and in a bid to manage its emergency reserves.

The ailing power utility initially announced that stage 2 load shedding will be implemented from 9pm on Monday until 5am on Tuesday and then be repeated from 9pm on Tuesday until 5am on Wednesday.

Eskom further urged the public to reduce the consumption of electricity in order to reduce the strain on the power grid.

Load shedding schedules:

This will be updated when the municipalities release their revised load shedding schedules for stage 4.

Johannesburg residents can follow City Power on Twitter for the latest information.

City of Tshwane residents can find their load shedding schedule here.

There are new schedules for Ekurhuleni residents, which can be found here.

The City of Cape Town’s Twitter feed is the go-to place for updated load shedding information. You can also visit the load shedding website of the City of Cape Town here.

US rejects Poland’s offer to send MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine

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The United States has rejected Poland’s offer to send its MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine via a US airbase in Germany, saying the proposal raised “serious concerns” for the entire NATO alliance.

Warsaw made the surprise offer on Tuesday amid repeated appeals from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for more warplanes to replenish his country’s air force as it defends against invading Russian forces.

The Polish scheme proposed that the Russian made MiG-29 fighter jets be delivered to a US base in Ramstein, Germany, and then be deployed to Ukraine.

But Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the prospect of the jets flying from a US-NATO base “into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance”.

“We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one,” Kirby said in a statement.

“It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it,” he added.

While a significant part of Ukraine’s air force remains intact since the war began on February 24, both Ukraine and Russia have sustained significant losses and neither controls the airspace over the country.

Ukraine’s air force fleet consists of ageing Soviet-era MiG-29 and Sukhoi-27 jets, and heavier Sukhoi-25 jets – and these are the only planes Ukrainian pilots could fly immediately without additional training.

And while Ukraine has stepped up calls for Western allies to supply it with military jets, providing Kyiv with warplanes poses serious risks.

Russia has warned that supporting Ukraine’s air force would be seen in Moscow as participating in the conflict and open up suppliers to possible retaliation.

NATO has said it does not want direct conflict with Moscow, a fellow nuclear-armed power, and US President Joe Biden has ruled out sending American troops into Ukraine to fight, something the Pentagon has said would apply to troops on the ground or in the air, flying missions.

After Poland announced its offer, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told US legislators that Washington had been caught off guard.

“To my knowledge, it wasn’t pre-consulted with us that they planned to give these planes to us,” Nuland told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “So I think that actually was a surprise move by the Poles,” she said.

While several legislators pressed for the jets to be rushed to Ukraine, Nuland refused to commit Washington to support or facilitate the exchange.

“I will continue to convey the very strong bipartisan view of this committee that these planes need to get to Ukraine,” she told the panel. “There are a number of factors to consider here and there are some mixed views among Allies and even within the administration.”

Earlier on Tuesday, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said his country would stand by Poland if it handed over the jets, noting that it could face the “direct consequence” of its decision.

“And so we would protect Poland, we’ll help them with anything that they need,” Wallace said on Sky News.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said any decision about delivering offensive weapons must be made unanimously by NATO members.

“This is why we are able to give all of our fleet of jet fighters to Ramstein, but we are not ready to make any moves on our own because … we are not a party to this war,” he said.

Separately, the US military announced it would reposition two Patriot missile batteries to Poland to proactively “counter any potential threat to US and Allied forces and NATO territory.”

–Aljezeera

Tough 24 hours ahead’ as rains drench Sydney, forcing snap evacuations’

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Flood warnings stretched across Australia’s east coast on Tuesday and tens of thousands of Sydney residents fled their homes as torrential rains again pummelled the country’s largest city, flooding several large suburbs.

Australia’s eastern rivers were already near capacity following record downpours in several parts of Queensland and New South Wales states over recent weeks, cutting off towns, and sweeping away farms, livestock and roads.

A 67-year-old woman and her 34-year-old son were found dead on Tuesday near an abandoned car in a stormwater canal in western Sydney, authorities said, while Queensland police confirmed the death of a man missing in floods since February 27, taking the death tally to 20 since the deluge began. Most people were found dead either in flooded homes or in cars attempting to cross flooded roads.

Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Dean Narramore said minor to major flooding was occurring from the Queensland to Victoria border, a distance of more than 1,555 kilometres (966 miles).

“A tough 24 hours or even 48 hours ahead,” Narramore said during a media briefing on Tuesday as he forecast up to 120mm (5 inches) of rains across Sydney over the next 24 hours, with the storm expected to clear by late Wednesday.

Heavy rains lashed Sydney with some suburbs having received up to 200mm since Monday morning, exceeding March’s mean rainfall of around 140mm and triggering snap evacuation orders in the southwest of the city. Television footage showed flooded roads and submerged cars in Sydney’s northern beaches, with residents in low-lying areas told to be ready to evacuate.

Amid flash-flooding warnings, authorities asked Sydney’s 5 million residents to avoid unnecessary travel on roads and allow plenty of extra travel time for public transport. Trains were cancelled on some routes due to flooding on tracks.

Emergency services estimate around 60,000 people in NSW face evacuation orders, and urged people to follow them.

“People make decisions based on past history and I think this event has shown that there is no past history similar to this event,” New South Wales Emergency Service Commissioner Carlene York told reporters.

In the state’s north, frustration was growing among many flood-hit residents as they struggled to clear debris and sludge, with power and internet still down in several towns. Authorities fear even more rain will hamper relief efforts as emergency crews look to clear roads to deliver essential supplies.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is trailing in polls ahead of a federal election due by May, has ordered more defence force personnel to flood-affected areas.

New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, on a tour of the flood-hit areas, took responsibility for his government’s shortcomings over rescue and relief measures.

“From stories and people I have met, the heartbreaking stories over the course of the week where people felt isolated and abandoned, I don’t want anyone in my state to ever feel like that,” Perrottet told ABC Radio on Tuesday.

Reuters

Fix issues fuelling Dudula

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This year has seen an escalation of coordinated anti-migrant pushes against foreign nationals who are being hounded out of several communities in Gauteng and other parts of the country. 

Operation Dudula, or as others call themselves the Dudula movement, has increasingly strengthened its hand, raiding shops and vendor stalls owned by foreigners. 

Their actions are illegal and must be condemned. 

These groups would have us believe that their wrath is only aimed at undocumented foreign nationals. 

The reality, however, is a different one because mobs by their very nature operate on a fluid set of rules, which, above all sense, seek to exert power indiscriminately. 

Yesterday saw yet another episode of clashes between foreigners and locals in Alex. 

As to be expected, violence or the ever present threat of it, is a constant and worrying feature of this ongoing conflict. 

Yet, despite the obvious threat to social stability in certain communities, the government appears to be largely reactive and narrow in its approach to the problems highlighted by our immigration crisis. 

Considering the prevalence of this kind of vigilantism by groups such as Dudula, it is inconceivable that there appears to be no policing strategy to clamp down on those who have opted to take the law into their own hands, periodically creating anarchy in communities. 

While we believe that policing alone will not be a silver bullet to deal with this problem, we are equally mindful that there can be no workable solutions stemming from an environment where violence and lawlessness continues unabated. 

Police cannot be passive spectators to the potentially dangerous situation unfolding before us. 

Second, we must deal with the deep rooted corruption in our immigration system, which has made our country even more vulnerable to those from the rest of the world who come through our borders with criminal intent rather than to seek refuge. 

Importantly, the government can no longer turn a blind eye to the fault lines that exacerbate the kind of push back we are seeing from some locals against foreign nationals.  

Our unemployment problem, largely caused by systemic exclusion of young black people from economic opportunities, has become the single biggest threat to our national security and social cohesion. 

Our country needs tangible and widespread interventions to open up opportunities for people to gain meaningful employment. 

–Sowetan

‘Protests won’t change driving licence renewal deadline’

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Transport minister says renewal backlog is on track and March 31 remains the cut-off date

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says the grace period to renew expired driving licence cards will not be extended beyond the end of March despite protests at driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) causing further backlogs.

The protests are the latest crisis affecting the renewal of licence cards after the closure of DLTCs due to Covid-19, faulty equipment and systems and corruption where officials sold online block bookings for bribes. The backlog was worsened by the breakdown of the only machine able to print the cards, which is back in action after being sent overseas for repairs.

Speaking yesterday in Akasia, Pretoria north, Mbalula said government has increased capacity with the Waterfall and Centurion centres and remains on track to clear the renewal backlog. He noted that as of February 25, 401,13 cards had been produced and the backlog, which only relates to those who have lodged renewal applications, stands at 534,807.

In August Mbalula extended the grace period for the renewals to March 31 due to the backlog. All learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired between March 26 2020 and August 31 2021 are deemed to be valid until the end of March.

Despite calls for the deadline to be extended, Mbalula stood firm.

“We are increasing our capacity, so the backlog will not be an issue. I am making a call for people to go out and renew their cards, because we won’t extend the grace period,” Mbalula told reporters while struggling to be heard over the group protesting outside.

Last week the National Driving School Association of SA embarked on a protest after the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) introduced new features on the online licence booking system.

A court interdict brought by the RTMC against the protesters has failed to stop the disruptions.

A number of motorists have also complained of problems with the online registration system but Makhosini Msibi, CEO of the RTMC, says the system is functional and slots are available.

“The system was upgraded so that people can book from their homes. Those who do not have access to the internet can go to a DLTC kiosk for assistance and do not necessarily have to use a driving school to get a slot,” he said.

–Sowetan

Maimane predicts Chamisa’s victory in 2023 elections

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A prominent South African opposition leader, Mmusi Maimane, has predicted that Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU PF party will lose elections to the opposition in 2023.

Maimane, who now leads One SA Movement after ditching SA’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said Zimbabwe “will be free” in 2023.

The outspoken One SA Movement recently described President Emmerson Mnangagwa as a “quarter Mugabe”, in reference to the late former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe.

Posting on Twitter on Sunday, Maimane said South Africa will pay if vote-rigging is allowed to happen in Zimbabwe in 2023. He wrote:

Next year Zimbabwe will be free… As SA we will not entertain any rigging, oppression of voters or denial of voter rights.

SA pays the price of the oppression in Zimbabwe and we are done. Allow people to vote including the diaspora. The time for corrupt regimes is over.

Maimane recently criticised Mnangagwa for the alleged crackdown on the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) and its leader Nelson Chamisa.

Riot police, armed with batons, tear gas and water cannons violently dispersed CCC supporters who had gathered for a rally in Gokwe Centre, a town located in Zimbabwe’s cotton-growing belt over a week ago.

Maimane slammed Mnangagwa for his alleged thuggery. He tweeted:

Do not use the police to frustrate your political opponents Emmerson Mnangagwa.

You think you are [Russian President Vladimir] Putin but you are quarter [late former Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe.

The world is not going to tolerate thuggery anymore. SA is already paying the price for your brutality and corruption.

A CCC member, Mboneni Ncube, was stabbed to death by suspected ZANU PF activists on Sunday last week at a rally that was being addressed by Chamisa in Kwekwe, Midlands.

-Sunday Times

Student debt is now more than R16 billion

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Universities SA (Usaf) has told Parliament that public universities are owed more than R16 billion in student debt, and that it costs these higher education institutions about R1 billion to service that debt every year.

In recent years, the country has seen protests by students demanding that historical debt be scrapped and that they be allowed to register to continue with their studies.

Last year, the SA Union of Students (Saus) called for a national shutdown of universities because of these same demands, which have been repeated by the union and other student organisations every year.

In 2019, the department of higher education made R967 million available to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to settle historic debt owed to universities by 52 514 students.

Head of operations and sector support at Usaf, Linda Meyer, this week told the portfolio committee on higher education, science and technology that historical debt had increased from R14 billion in 2019 to R16.5 billion at present.

Meyer said:It’s really about universities being financially exposed and [there are] remaining growing concerns. We can’t have a situation where universities are facing the same fate as SAA. We need to find very tangible solutions to address our student debt issue.

She added that a “systemic impediment” was that these higher education institutions serviced the debt at a cost of about R1.2 billion a year.

“This is money that’s being taken from important academic programmes across the academy,” she pointed out.

Meyer also told the committee that 120 000 students could not graduate because they owed universities about R7 billion in total.

This, she said, was antithetic to the higher education ethos and system of producing the necessary skills for economic growth, and contributed to the skills shortage in the country.

“On the back of this, we’re also faced with challenges of the highest youth unemployment rate in the world and a growing percentage of university graduates are unable to be absorbed into the labour market. Many systemic challenges relating to [indebted] students being unable to access university records are contributing to this.”

Meyer said there was a need for a sustainable solution to the student debt crisis.

Last year, Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande told Saus that, while the department was aware that many families struggled to pay university fees, his department was “not in a financial position to be able to support institutions to clear all the debt of fee-paying students”.

However, students who are funded by Nsfas are allowed to register if they sign an acknowledgment of debt form.

In his maiden budget speech last week, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwan announced that Nsfas would be allocated R32.6 billion and that any further shortfalls would be funded within the baseline of the department of higher education, science and technology.

Meyer told the portfolio committee on higher education, science and technology that, according to research, students funded by Nsfas – “contrary to popular belief” – did better at universities than students who were not funded by the scheme.

“We ascribe this primarily to the fact that they don’t have insecurity about their financial stability within the university sector,” she said.We need to get commitment from government to find the money to deal with this debt issue. It can’t be left to universities.

She added that students faced severe stress every year as they battled to cope with their debt burden.

“We really need to accept that when we invest in our students in higher education, it’s an investment in the economy. It isn’t a cost – it’s something that’s critical for us to turn the face of our economic stability around within our country,” she said.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal, which has been battling with student protests over these issues in recent weeks, told the portfolio committee that, at the end of last year, it was owed R2.2 billion in student debt.

However, university vice-chancellors have long argued that writing off student debt would lead to the collapse of these higher education institutions.

VACCINATIONS ON CAMPUS

Meyer also told the committee that 85% to 90% of university staff and more than 70% of the student population had been vaccinated against Covid-19.

“It’s important for us to mention that, as Usaf, in the absence of a government policy or department of higher education directive, we obviously can’t instruct universities to act in a particular manner. They have well-established governance structures within the specific institutions that we must respect.

“If we want a sense of normality, we must revert to science and do what’s best for us. We must ensure that, in highly populous areas on our university campuses, we do whatever’s practical and required in terms of our legislative parameters in the Occupational Health and Safety Act to safeguard our staff and students at our public institutions. [Not doing so] equates to a criminal offence,” said Meyer.

Several higher education institutions have adopted policies that no staff or students will be permitted on to their campuses if they are not vaccinated.

Student leadership at the Durban University of Technology told the portfolio committee that some students slept outside the institution because they were not allowed to access their residences because they had not been vaccinated.

How to save the troubled ANC: Ngoako Ramatlhodi

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By Ngoako Ramatlhodi

Following years of slow and consistent decline of electoral support for the ANC, almost three decades since the first democratic elections in South Africa, we are certainly at a tipping point, with the prospect of the party losing the 2024 national election.

Last year’s local government election results were the latest and worst example of a downward spiral in this regard.

Twenty-seven years after the advent of democracy, we remain the most unequal society in the world, with the black majority continuing to languish at the bottom of the economic ladder.

WHAT WENT WRONG?

The strategy and tactics document adopted in December 2007 answers this question in the following words: “The main content of the National Democratic Revolution is the liberation of Africans, in particular, and black [people], in general, from political and socioeconomic bondage … Therefore, fundamental to the destruction of apartheid is the eradication of apartheid production relations.This is more than just an issue of social justice. It is also about the fact that these relations had become a brake on the advancement of technology and competitiveness of the economy.

This quotation is the reinstatement of the tried and tested policy of the ANC. In an article titled The ANC’s Fatal Concessions, republished in the Times on September 1 2011, I had this to say about our Constitution:Pro-apartheid forces sought to and succeeded in retaining white domination under a black government. This they achieved by emptying the legislature and the executive of real political power…

“We thus have a Constitution that reflects the great compromise, a compromise tilted heavily in favour of forces against change … This imbalance is reflected across the length and breadth of the country in economic, social and even political terms to some extent.

“The objective of protecting white economic interests having been achieved with the adoption of the new Constitution, a grand and total strategy to entrench it for all times was rolled out. In this regard, power was systematically taken out of the legislature and the executive to curtail efforts and initiatives aimed at inducing fundamental changes. In this way, elections would be regular rituals handing empty victories over to the ruling party…

“In the past 17 years, we have witnessed sustained and relentless efforts to migrate the little power left with the executive and the legislature to the judiciary. The main drivers in this process [have been] the opposition, who feel relatively strong in those fronts, given the mainly still untransformed judiciary.”

This synopsis leads us to the next question.

WHY DID IT GO WRONG?

In the same article I penned in 2011, I sought to answer this question along the following lines:In case we do not remember, it was the collapse of the then Soviet Union which provided the most immediate catalyst to negotiations for a new and democratic South Africa.

“In apartheid South Africa in the late 1980s, the regime could only keep a modicum of law and order through the state of emergency, as it could no longer rule in the same old way. On the other hand, the masses were no longer willing to be ruled in the same old way. An orderly retreat for the regime meant giving up elements of political power to the black majority, while migrating substantial power away from the legislature and the executive, and vesting such in the judiciary (given the untransformed nature of the said judiciary).

“Interestingly, and perhaps reflecting the balance of forces at the time, the movement was willing to make this fundamental and substantial concession. However, the concession described cannot be explained only as a reflection of, or the result of a balance of, forces at the time. In this regard, one ventures to suggest that the negative experience suffered by the black majority under the apartheid government might explain the ease with which the liberation movement embraced what one calls the emptying of the state.

“Pro-apartheid forces sought to and succeeded in retaining white domination under a black government. This they achieved by emptying the legislature and the executive of real political power. On the other hand, the liberation movement was overwhelmed by a desire to abolish any form of discrimination and, as a result, made fatal concessions.”

The above is part of the explanation of why we are at a tipping point and on the verge of losing the very political power we won through successive general elections.

The wrongness of our thinking manifested itself in many ways.

On the eve of the negotiations that gave birth to democratic South Africa, we suspended the armed struggle, we abolished the political underground, we dissolved our intelligence, we abandoned mass struggles and we forgot about international support. We became a liberation movement in name only, a body that sought to wage the struggle stripped of all organisational tools to do so.

Our energies were consumed by the rush, just like the gold rush of old, as we competed against one another in the race to be absorbed into the bosom of the system that we once fought so hard to defeat, having forgotten what we had always preached:Apartheid cannot be reformed, but must be destroyed and dismantled.

Faced with this reality, the ANC’s ability to pursue the struggle to achieve the objectives of the national democratic revolution were reduced to nought.

The 1994 strategy and tactics document of the ANC described our breakthrough as a beachhead. The beachhead analogy could best be understood by remembering the day in 1652 when Jan van Riebeeck set foot for the first time on South African soil, disembarking with compatriots from three ships, the Reijer, the Dromedaris and the Goede Hoop.

So in 1994, we understood that the journey to liberate our country had only just begun. This realisation is at variance with the actions described above in preparation for negotiations. In fact, it was a false proclamation to delude ourselves. The harsh reality was that we had sown the seeds that would result in a miscarriage of the revolution.

At its 1991 Durban conference, the ANC revived the position of Speaker of the House and renamed it the national chairperson. Party president Oliver Tambo was elected to that position and became the custodian of ANC policy, organisational discipline, ideology and doctrine.

To the uninitiated, at its inception, the ANC was conceived as a parliament of the people, in opposition to the white Parliament of 1910 that gave birth to the white Union of South Africa. Hence the position of Speaker of the Parliament of the people.

The last Speaker of the ANC parliament before the party’s banning in the early 1960s was Govan Mbeki.

As conceived, the position of national chairperson would be occupied by senior comrades such as Mbeki and Tambo so that they would have enough authority to address problems manifesting in the organisation.

We changed this in (then) Mafikeng in North West when we elected Mosiuoa Lekota as chairperson instead of Nelson Mandela. In the position of national chairperson, Mandela would have been able to mediate the early skirmishes between Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. We might possibly have saved the movement from the cancerous factional battles currently devouring it.

CHALLENGES OF MASS RECRUITMENT

After its unbanning, the ANC went on a massive recruitment campaign, but without initiation and guidance of new members through political education, and without evaluating each initiate’s suitability to be a member or occupy leadership positions in the branches and other levels of the movement.

A liberation movement worth its salt would not have made such an error.

Interestingly, this was not forgotten when it came to deployments to government positions, which suggests that failure to create a structure similar to the deployment committee to deal with the question of new members might have been a commission, rather than an omission.

If so, this would speak to the abandonment of ideological posture, where political education is reduced to the work of a subcommittee of the national executive committee, instead of the work of the entire movement, undertaken by members who have undergone the initiation process and those still being mentored.

The introduction of a political initiation is being suggested as one of the initiatives to address the subjective weaknesses tearing our organisation apart.

This initiating body should be composed of tried and tested cadres who should recruit to its ranks members of the ANC earmarked for intensive political education and ideological reorientation. These new recruits would become full members of the political initiation structure on completion of tasks tabulated in the training programme.

Chief among these tasks would be observing the code of conduct of members in relation to the following: their interaction with the whole movement and society at large, and their behaviour once deployed to leadership positions, particularly in government.

Leadership positions remain open to all ANC members. In fact, membership of the political underground should not entitle anyone to a position of leadership in the ANC or in government. Members of the political underground should earn leadership positions in the same way as any other member of the party.

The movement, as a whole, includes the ANC, the SA Communist Party, trade union federation Cosatu, the SA National Civic Organisation and other organs of the mass democratic body.

The code of conduct of the political initiation should prohibit its members from exposing such membership to those not recruited to join. Primary compliance should be determined by the observance of this rule.

THE TWO CENTRES OF POWER

This debate is as old as our democracy and it was occasioned by the situation in which the ANC became a liberation movement in government.

The perspective that won the day in the past was that, in order to have cohesion in all matters political and administrative, the president of the ANC had to be the head of the state, the chairperson of the province had to be the premier, and so on, cascading down.

Experience of the past 27 years has exposed the weakness of this system in giving too much power to individuals who became too big for the organisation.

We have witnessed with horror and dismay the ugly consequences of the concentration of power in individuals with very little internal accountability. Over time, it has become clear that we need to give serious thought to separating the position of president of the ANC from the position of president of the country. That is the option I prefer.

The system, without internal checks and balances, such as we have, has proven to be a total failure in terms of delivering on the goals of the national democratic revolution.

The country needs a strong ANC, able to rein in its members and deployees from doing as they wish in positions of leadership.

To build such a strong ANC, we need a strong team of full-timers at the headquarters, led by the president and the secretary-general.

Their job should be to reconstruct and redirect the ANC into the liberation movement it proclaims to be – ideologically, organisationally and in line with our revolutionary doctrines, ethos and discipline – to undo the damage visited on the movement when we allowed colonialism of a special type to reform us, instead of destroying it.

We need a new way, which is a movement distinct from the reformed and corrupt ANC, as represented by many of its leaders who fell prey to the poisonous venom injected by the ugly tentacles of colonialism of a special type that remains strong and robust.

We cannot renew the ANC in its current form. We must reconstruct it to restore its ability to eradicate apartheid social relations.

The observations made in my 2011 article remain relevant today. However, new developments have come to the fore that require serious attention.

Since then, the role of a transformed and independent judiciary, the chapter 9 institutions and elements of civil society have proven to be a bulwark against primitive accumulation methods adopted by some members of the ANC. These are the members who sought to join the ruling class of a colony of a special type, over which the ANC government is presiding.

The primitive accumulation that marks this colony found expression in piranha-like feeding on state resources at the expense of the victims of colonialism of a special type.

Ngoako Ramatlhodi is a member of the ANC Veterans League

City Press

Declaration of no fly zone is an invitation of nuclear strike: Putin warns western powers

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Western powers against imposing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, saying any such attempt by another country would be seen as a step into the military conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

“Any movement in this direction will be considered by us as participation in an armed conflict by that country,” Putin said during a meeting with Aeroflot employees outside of Moscow on Saturday.

He added that imposing a no-fly zone would have “colossal and catastrophic consequences not only for Europe but also the whole world”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the absence of a no-fly zone gives Russia the “green light” to continue bombing Ukrainian cities and towns. He has lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you”.

NATO has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorised aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.

But as the United States and other NATO members send weapons to Kyiv and more than 1.2 million refugees spill through the continent, the conflict is already drawing in countries far beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Putin reiterated his aims in Ukraine are to defend Russian-speaking communities through the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification” of the country so that it becomes neutral.

Ukraine and Western countries have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for the invasion he launched on February 24 and have imposed a sweeping range of sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow.

“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said, speaking to a group of women flight attendants at the Aeroflot training centre.

The president also said there were no conscripts involved in what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”, which he said was being carried out only by professional soldiers.

“There is not one conscript and we don’t plan for there to be,” Putin said. “Our army will fulfil all the tasks. I don’t doubt that at all. Everything is going to plan.”

Putin also dismissed rumours that some sort of martial law or emergency situation could be declared in Russia.

“Martial law should only be introduced in cases where there is external aggression … we are not experiencing that at the moment and I hope we won’t,” Putin said.

— Al Jazeera

Declaration of a no-fly zone is an invitation of a nuclear strike: Putin warns Western powers

0

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned Western powers against imposing a “no-fly zone” over Ukraine, saying any such attempt by another country would be seen as a step into the military conflict between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

“Any movement in this direction will be considered by us as participation in an armed conflict by that country,” Putin said during a meeting with Aeroflot employees outside of Moscow on Saturday.

He added that imposing a no-fly zone would have “colossal and catastrophic consequences not only for Europe but also the whole world”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says the absence of a no-fly zone gives Russia the “green light” to continue bombing Ukrainian cities and towns. He has lashed out at NATO for refusing to impose a no-fly zone over his country, warning that “all the people who die from this day forward will also die because of you”.

NATO has said a no-fly zone, which would bar all unauthorised aircraft from flying over Ukraine, could provoke widespread war in Europe with nuclear-armed Russia.

But as the United States and other NATO members send weapons to Kyiv and more than 1.2 million refugees spill through the continent, the conflict is already drawing in countries far beyond Ukraine’s borders.

Putin reiterated his aims in Ukraine are to defend Russian-speaking communities through the “demilitarisation and de-Nazification” of the country so that it becomes neutral.

Ukraine and Western countries have dismissed this as a baseless pretext for the invasion he launched on February 24 and have imposed a sweeping range of sanctions aimed at isolating Moscow.

“These sanctions that are being imposed are akin to a declaration of war but thank God it has not come to that,” Putin said, speaking to a group of women flight attendants at the Aeroflot training centre.

The president also said there were no conscripts involved in what the Kremlin calls a “special military operation”, which he said was being carried out only by professional soldiers.

“There is not one conscript and we don’t plan for there to be,” Putin said. “Our army will fulfil all the tasks. I don’t doubt that at all. Everything is going to plan.”

Putin also dismissed rumours that some sort of martial law or emergency situation could be declared in Russia.

“Martial law should only be introduced in cases where there is external aggression … we are not experiencing that at the moment and I hope we won’t,” Putin said.

— Al Jazeera

Chippa Mpengesi set to challenge Jordaan for Safa presidency

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While all eyes have been on incumbent Danny Jordaan and Ria Ledwaba to fight for the Safa hot seat later this year, a dark horse has emerged in the form of Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi.

City Press has reliably learnt the Chippa United owner has been approached by some regions in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape to contest the Safa presidential elections.

A cagey Mpengesi this week confirmed that he had been approached, but said he had not made up his mind yet because he was still consulting other stakeholders.Mpengesi said: Yes, it’s true that I have been approached and I am still applying my mind. This to me shows that people believe in me and think I have a bigger role to play in South African football. I have done this before at Safa Western Cape and, if I decide to contest, it won’t be the first time.

He added that Safa needed young blood to take football forward.

Asked how this would affect his position at his club, the 45-year-old businessperson said he was ready to let someone run the affairs of the Gqeberha-based outfit.

Sources close to Mpengesi said he was seriously considering standing for the Safa top seat, so he has been delegating power at his club.

In January, Mpengesi appointed his son, Sandiso, as the club’s new general manager. And last week, he roped in former Bloemfontein Celtic CEO Khumbulani Konco to be the club’s chief financial officer.

Sources said the appointments were calculated as Mpengesi was gradually offloading some of his responsibilities to challenge for a spot in the Safa leadership, as either president or deputy president.

The source said:Chippa is an ambitious man and won’t be shy to take this responsibility. He doesn’t want to be in the PSL executive committee as he feels it will limit his ambition of spreading his wings across the country. He has been meeting people secretly, trying to get support on the ground. But he needs to make sure that his club survives relegation [this season] because they are really struggling. It is important that he leaves the club in good hands and doesn’t have to worry about anything. If he joins Safa, he can’t afford to have divided loyalty.

However, our source also warned that it would be suicidal for Mpengesi to challenge Jordaan as a lone ranger, and advised him to join forces with Ledwaba’s slate.

“He can’t just go it alone and think he will make it. He needs to go to the regions to garner support,” the source said. “Winning the Safa elections is not as easy as it looks from the outside, but Chippa has what it takes to get something.”

The source said that Jordaan was already ahead of Ledwaba in terms of support on the ground following recent regional general meetings to elect leadership.

–City Press

Shock as Mbeki omitted from proposed ANC renewal commission

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Former president had been expected to play a major role

The exclusion of former president Thabo Mbeki from a list of names proposed as members of the ANC’s renewal commission has raised eyebrows

As many as 10 names were discussed at a meeting of the national working committee (NWC) on Monday after they were presented by the party’s top six officials.

The list included national executive committee (NEC) members Thoko Didiza, Ronald Lamola and Senzo Mchunu.

Members of the NWC were, however, said to be shocked to learn that Mbeki, who they had expected to play a major role in the commission, was not on the list.

The Sunday Times understands this became a sticking point, with several people in the meeting questioning the decision.

Mbeki had already started working on the renewal programme and recently visited the ANC in the Free State to help the party rebuild.

“We have said they must reconsider. Thabo Mbeki is one of the cadres of this movement, he’s a reservoir of knowledge and it would be a terrible mistake if he was not in that commission,” said a NWC member.

He said everyone was shocked by the omission of Mbeki. “There was no explanation. Questions were raised but we never got the answers. So we said they must go and reconsider.

“We need him there, if he can’t be there he must just come in as an adviser or something,” he said.

Members of the working committee were adamant that serving NEC members such as Didiza, Lamola and Mchunu should not be included in the renewal commission.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe confirmed that the NWC meeting agreed that the top six officials should go and “clean up” the list and present it to the next NEC meeting at the end of March.

Mabe did not explain if this cleaning up meant adding Mbeki to the list, but said the issue raised at the meeting was that the 10 names being proposed were too many for the commission.

“There is no issue with TM [Mbeki] playing a role in the commission, the issue was the number. So it was referred back to the officials,” Mabe said.

–Sunday Times

‘Don’t allow Gupta enabler to grab Optimum,’ warns Hermione Cronje

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Hermione Cronje warns family partner is set to acquire valuable coal mine

In one of her final acts as head of the Investigating Directorate, advocate Hermione Cronje has warned that Dubai-based British businessman Daniel McGowan was involved in state capture and should not be allowed to get his hands on one of its biggest prizes — the Guptas’ Optimum Coal Mine.

In an affidavit filed late last week, Cronje alleges that McGowan is a “potential suspect” in a huge money-laundering investigation involving the Guptas and has a history helping the family in their state capture project from as far back as 2013.

McGowan, who has presented himself as the saviour of Optimum and the jobs of 1,500 workers, was supposed to have taken control of it from business rescue practitioners this month.

However, he is now fighting a record-setting bid to preserve Optimum, said to be worth more than R4bn, by the National Prosecuting Authority, which believes the Guptas bought the company with the proceeds of crime — and with McGowan’s help.

After a fallout with the Guptas, McGowan in court papers presented himself as a victim of the family who was unaware of their alleged criminal activities. But Cronje disputes this, alleging that McGowan knew who he was dealing with when he went into business with the Guptas.

“At the time that the Gupta family and Salim Essa were in a position to perpetrate acts of state capture, McGowan was an enthusiastic participant in commercial ventures that state capture provided the Gupta family and [Gupta business partner] Salim Essa,” Cronje states.

Cronje alleges that one of the “first acts McGowan performed for the Guptas was the valuation of ‘dairy land’ in Vrede, in the Free State”.

“At a time when the improper Gupta family role in the Estina dairy project in Vrede was already a matter of national controversy in SA, McGowan was actively assisting the Gupta family to evaluate a proposal to buy more dairy land in Vrede.”

Cronje says that in 2015, McGowan helped the Guptas buy Duduzane Zuma [Jacob Zuma’s son] an apartment in Dubai, which the Sunday Times reported was in the iconic Burj Khalifa skyscraper. Essa emailed McGowan and his company lawyer, asking them to review the contract of sale and advise on it.

Cronje alleges that McGowan helped the Guptas buy Optimum in 2016 through a $100m loan from a Dubai-based Gupta company controlled by Ajay Gupta’s son, to Centaur Ventures in Bermuda, a joint venture between McGowan and Akash Garg Jahajgarhia, the man who married the Guptas’ niece at the infamous Sun City wedding. That money, alleged to be ill-gotten, landed up in the account of Centaur Mining SA, from which R842m was put up as security for a Tegeta loan to help buy the mine. Cronje alleges the transfer constituted money laundering.

“(McGowan) had no rational, lawful reason to channel his money this way, as opposed to paying Tegeta directly from [Dubai Gupta company] Griffin Line,” said Cronje.

Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said the R842m debt, ceded to McGowan’s new company Templar, means he is now the largest creditor of Optimum Coal Mine, positioning him to buy the mine “at a throwaway price”.

Cronje alleges that McGowan was central in laundering R313m through Griffin Line, to Trillian — a company the Guptas used to score huge contracts from Eskom and Transnet from which they allegedly received kickbacks. This money, she alleges, was then “laundered through Cutting Edge and Sahara Computers into various Gupta family companies in SA”. She states that McGowan suggested ways to Essa “to paper the money flows from Centaur to Trillian and offered to ‘use the same template as we use for Griffin if you agree’”.

Cronje states that last year, because the NPA was concerned about the future of the mine and job losses, it took the “unprecedented” step of meeting McGowan and his company to allow him to explain his involvement with the Guptas.

“The NPA has never previously met with a potential suspect in a serious commercial crime investigation to inform him/her of the possibility of a preservation order over property in which s/he has an interest,” she states.

At the time that the Gupta family and Salim Essa were in a position to perpetrate acts of state capture, [Daniel] McGowan was an enthusiastic participant in commercial ventures that state capture provided the Gupta family and [Gupta business partner] Salim Essa

advocate Hermione Cronje

Upon reviewing McGowan’s representations, Cronje states, the NPA had no choice but to proceed with its bid to preserve the mine and prevent the “implementation of a business rescue plan that will … also result in the transfer of assets acquired through state capture crimes to one of the original participants of state capture”.

In his affidavit filed last month, McGowan claims to have had no knowledge of the Guptas’ alleged criminal activities before going into business with them.  After falling out with the family, who are now on Interpol’s red list, McGowan became embroiled in a court battle with them in Bermuda — which he says proves he was unaware of their state capture project. 

“I did not have (and could not have reasonably had) prior knowledge that Griffin Line funds may have been the proceeds of criminal activities of the Gupta family (and especially Messrs Garg and [Ajay Gupta’s son Kamal] Singhala); I state they were misusing Centaur for their criminal activities that caused harm to the company, and they refused to respond to my requests for information and documents relevant to their activities involving Griffin Line and the Gupta family,” McGowan states.

“I had no reason to believe that the monies we were loaned or paid were proceeds of crime. (Indeed this is still not clear to date.) We were not party to money laundering, or state capture of any kind.”

But in her affidavit, Cronje states the payments from Gupta companies were “money laundering transactions by which the Gupta family laundered proceeds of crimes committed against SA organs of state and used these proceeds to prop up the finances of Gupta family entities within SA”. 

In response to questions, McGowan’s lawyer Brett Tate said his client was introduced to business opportunities with the Guptas through a business partner who was an associate of Essa. This information was volunteered to the NPA, he said.

Regarding the Estina project, Tate said McGowan did not assist with any valuation of land and his voluntary disclosure has been “twisted … into an allegation that Mr McGowan somehow assisted the Gupta family with the Estina dairy project”.

“Mr McGowan’s position is that the suggestion is baseless and only highlights the NPA’s desperation to make allegations which are unsupported by the facts,” said Tate.

Regarding the allegation that McGowan helped buy Duduzane Zuma a house, Tate said McGowan’s partner, Garg, asked for and received assistance from his company’s legal counsel.

“It is McGowan’s understanding that the property purchase was not concluded and it is not clear what negative inferences can be drawn from this … McGowan further believes that the suggestion is baseless and only highlights the NPA’s desperation.”

Asked about McGowan being a “potential suspect” in money laundering relating to the $100m loan and R300m loan to Trillian, Tate said, “McGowan is unaware of any such allegation or suggestion”.

About whether McGowan knew what the Guptas were up to, Tate said his client “denies this allegation … and further believes that if the Guptas were engaged in criminal activities as alleged by the NPA, it was for the NPA to investigate such and take the necessary action. Mr McGowan does not believe the NPA can attempt to place the blame for NPA shortcomings on him.”

Tate said that because of pending litigation with Trillian liquidators, he couldn’t comment on claims that he suggested ways to “paper” money flows to the company.

–Sunday Times

Desperate dash for safety as SA students flee Ukraine war zone

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Youngsters describe heartbreaking scenes, panic — and zero help from SA

“I’m alive, a walking corpse, a body with no soul left. My eyes are tired of crying, but finally I’m feeling safe.”

Ansuria Moodley, a final-year medical student in the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine, described the hell she and three other medical students endured as they fled the war-ravaged country this week. 

The South African student said she’s a wreck, but her story has a happy ending as she’s made it safely to Slovakia, crossing the border on foot.  

Moodley had been living in a small apartment in Dnipro and was scheduled to graduate as a medical doctor in a few months,  when the Russian invasion began on February 24. 

After agonising about whether to hunker down or try to flee the country, Moodley, her friend Sundeep Singh from India, and two other South African students, known only as Tumi and  Mahommed, banded together last Saturday night to try to get out of Ukraine. 

During their journey they witnessed the war first hand.

First you are hit by fear. They make people scared and you cannot think and so then panic sets in. And there’s news all around you, and people tell you things and lie to you and you lose people and you see terribly sad things and eventually all communication breaks down

Ansuria Moodley, SA medical student in Ukraine

“First you are hit by fear. They make people scared and you cannot think and so then panic sets in. And there’s news all around you, and people tell you things and lie to you and you lose people and you see terribly sad things and eventually all communication breaks down.”

The group of four left Dnipro late on Saturday after waiting many hours for a train on platforms where the throng of people grew hour by hour.

All the announcements were in Ukrainian, but luckily Sundeep could understand what was going on.  “Sundeep speaks Russian and language is what saved us.”

They had their Jack Russell, Mowgli, with them. “Ukrainians just love dogs on another level. So that all helped,” Moodley said.

“Eventually when the train arrived, Tumi  and I looked at each other and ran for the last coach. The Ukranians were blocking foreigners and pulling them off, but she ran with our dog and I ran with the bags and we piled on and turned to pull Mahommed in.

“People outside were trying to drag him away, but I grabbed his shoulder and we pulled him in.”

The four students huddled in the packed train on what was supposed to be a 13-hour trip to Uzhhorod, near the border 1,200km away. 

Dustbin bags covered the windows and the passengers were ordered not to switch on any kind of light. The conductor tried to keep order on the train, and eventually wept as she pleaded with locals to be kind to foreigners.

“That train travelled so slowly — I could probably have walked faster. We just had to sit in the dark. We were near a surgeon who had two little kids of four and two who just cried because they were scared in the dark and wanted to get off. We couldn’t breathe.”

The train was packed to capacity with people sleeping in the toilets and over the couplings between carriages. The journey took more than 24 hours.

Eventually they arrived in Uzhhorod, where they again encountered chaos. 

They heard more horror stories, witnessed shootings and met up with people who were lost and alone. 

On Thursday Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukrainian soldiers of using civilians as human shields.

Moodley said she witnessed first-hand  Ukrainian soldiers and police using black and Indian people as human shields while they were under attack by Russians, shouting that their lives meant nothing.  

“They were using black people as human shields,” she said. 

The AU reacted to accusations of racism in Ukraine on Monday: “Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable, dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach of international law,” it said in a statement.

A video widely shared on social media showed a Nigerian woman with her young baby being forcibly made to give up her seat to another person.  

But some foreigners said they received a warm welcome in neighbouring countries, such as Moldova, Hungary and Romania, and a relatively smooth transit.

After eventually finding a hostel and being turned away because they had a dog, the four students headed for a sports hall where they were finally able to stop and rest. And then they walked to Slovakia.

“That border post was just a free-for-all. No passports, nothing to buy even if you had money. 

“We couldn’t understand the language and eventually we found people from an NGO. I still have no idea who helped us or why, but we were brought here to this little apartment where we are safe,” Moodley said.

When asked what  had upset her the most, Moodley broke down and wept.

“The children. So many children. All over. Forced out of their homes, many of them just with their mothers, so confused and scared,” she said.South African medical student in Ukraine, Ansuria Moodley.
Image: Supplied

“What you see on TV or in the news is one thing. But to witness it in the flesh, to see first hand the suffering and you try to imagine what is going on in the minds of the people around you …  it gets overwhelming,” she sobbed.

She is haunted by the cries of the little children who were stuck on the long train journey with her. Repeating their pleas in Ukrainian and then translating to English, Moodley cried: “I want to go home. I want to go home.”

“What sticks in my mind is the family that was with us when we walked across the border. A father in a wheelchair, a kid and a dog. And that dog is their life and the only reason that little boy smiles. These are people whose lives have been shattered and they have nowhere to go,” Moodley said.

Her two South African friends made their way to Budapest in Hungary and were due to fly home.

“I have finally stopped crying,” she said. She is  staying in a small apartment next to a photographic studio with Singh.

Though she is facing pressure to come home to her family, she is determined to stay in Europe until she is qualified. “Somehow I am going to be a doctor.”

On Saturday, after feeling slightly recovered and a little less traumatised, Moodley and Singh headed out of their small apartment in Slovakia to do the one thing they felt would make them feel good: sign up to do volunteer refugee work.

“It’s the only thing we can do right now that will help.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/HFJilyCv3-U?playsinline=1&enablejsapi=1&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.timeslive.co.za&widgetid=1

Meanwhile, a South African television news producer and her four crew members have been evacuated from Ukraine after two of them were shot by a suspected Russian “death squad”.

Dominique van Heerden, who works for Sky News, was in a car with her colleagues — including chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay — when they came under fire after unsuccessfully trying to visit the town of Bucha near Kyiv.

Dramatic footage from Sky shows the attack.

The Guardian reported that Ramsay was shot in the lower back and camera operator Richie Mockler took two rounds in his body armour.

Van Heerden’s LinkedIn profile says she was born and raised in SA before moving to London in 2003.

“I do recall wondering if my death was going to be painful,” Ramsay said, recounting the moments before he was shot. “But what amazed me was that [being shot] didn’t hurt that bad. It was more like being punched, really. 

“This war gets worse by the day,” he added.

Mandisa Malindisa, 25, a fourth-year medical student at the university in Kharkiv, arrived home in Johannesburg on Friday after escaping to Hungary. 

She is among a group of students  who said they received no support from the South African government.

“The embassy did nothing for us. Still now we are on our own.”The West will not soon forget SA’s stance on the invasion of UkraineIt is going to take Europe and the West a long time to forget that SA failed to condemn Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine when it was given the …OPINION & ANALYSIS16 hours ago

She claimed she knew of four South Africans who were still stranded in Hungary without money to fly home. 

Another medical student who fled Ukraine also told the Sunday Times South African students had to fend for themselves.

The 24-year-old, who did not want to be named for fear of jeopardising funding for her studies,  was in the fifth and penultimate year of her medical degree at a university in Kharkiv when the Russian troops rolled in last week.

Unlike other South African students, she said her group  didn’t experience racism when they fled Ukraine. She and two black friends crossed into Hungary at the Uzhhorod border where they were treated the same as everyone else. “We were the first three South Africans into Hungary.”

They went straight to the South African embassy in Budapest and got “zero” useful help.

She and other students sheltered the first night in a subway station, then went to the railway station the next day to get on a train.

“I was lucky, I had time to pack a bag. Others had only the clothes on their backs.”

When a train for evacuees finally arrived mid-afternoon, there was “chaos”.

“We had to squash  into the last carriage of the train. People were pushing and shoving to get on. I had my hair pulled, my eyes gouged … it was a terrible experience. We were hanging on to the doors, and all the time there were bombs going off. Luckily the stampede eased and I was able to push myself on. I was one of the last people on.”

There followed a 24-hour train ride across more than 1,000km, much of it spent in a four-person compartment into which nine people had squeezed. “It was horrible. The bathrooms …”

Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the department of international relations & co-operation, said he sympathised with  the plight of students but government policy was that South African missions abroad do not offer financial help to those in distress, and can only play a facilitating role. “There’s no budget for it, and that is not unique to SA.”

Monyela said some South African diplomats in Poland had, “from their own pockets”, helped evacuees with “accommodation, food and even clothes”.  The diplomats had also gone to the border to ensure there was no racial discrimination against South Africans.

Speaking from Budapest yesterday, SA’s ambassador to Kyiv, André Groenewald, said out of about 50 South Africans, 10 were still driving to safety.

“We are working together with the Ukrainian ambassador to make sure that we don’t have any stumbling blocks.”

UN High Commission for Refugees representative to SA Leonard Zulu said  1.2-million refugees had left Ukraine for neighbouring countries. “We are assisting everyone regardless of their nationality, race or creed who are in need of protection.”  

–Sunday Times

Cyril Ramaphosa makes sweeping changes

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Months ahead of the ANC’s national elective conference, allies of President Cyril Ramaphosa are about to seize control of some of the party’s most strategic committees.

In a move seen by insiders as a consolidation of power by the Ramaphosa-aligned faction, the ANC’s national working committee (NWC) this week adopted a proposal to include non-members of the national executive committee (NEC) as members of the disciplinary sub-committees.

This move also saw individuals, whose loyalty to the ANC president was in doubt, being dropped.

The sweeping changes will also see the co-option of 11 unelected leaders on to the NEC sub-committees, the biggest number since the ANC’s first post-unbanning conference in 1991. Most affected are the national disciplinary committee (NDC) and the national disciplinary committee of appeals (NDCA).

The next NEC meeting, scheduled for later this month, is expected to finalise the proposed changes.

THE RETURN OF MBEKI-ERA FIGURES

Coming into the powerful disciplinary structures are former public service and administration minister and erstwhile UN big-wig Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and former deputy justice minister Johnny de Lange – both long-serving members of the Thabo Mbeki administration. Former water and environmental affairs minister Lindiwe Hendricks and ex-deputy minister of provincial and local government affairs Ntombazana Botha are also included. Both served under Mbeki.

In the mix is former National Director of Public Prosecutions Vusi Pikoli, entrepreneur and former director-general of public administration Robinson Ramaite, Thabo Mbeki Foundation CEO and lawyer Max Boqwana, and BEE pioneer Thandi Orleyn. Former Gauteng integrity commission head and erstwhile senior civil servant Ralph Mgijima, ANC head of legal affairs Krish Naidoo and SA Institute of Professional Accountants board member Karenza Millard have also been roped in.

Out is Jacob Zuma-era labour minister Mildred Oliphant, who has headed the NDC since just after the Nasrec elective conference in 2017, and tainted former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane. Mgijima is earmarked to take over from Oliphant, while De Lange is set to replace Mokonyane.

OUT WITH THE OLD

Among those who will retain their seats in the NDC are former ministers Susan Shabangu and Faith Muthambi, as well as Deputy Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Nocawe Mafu. Exiting the structure are Bongani Bongo, Tito Mboweni, Nathi Mthethwa, Sdumo Dlamini, Pinky Moloi, Beauty Dlulane, Ngoako Ramatlhodi – all former ministers and deputy ministers.

In the NDCA, Deputy Public Enterprises Minister and former Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle will be retained alongside parliamentarian and former Northern Cape premier Sylvia Lucas.

Leaving the appeals committee are former state security minister Siyabonga Cwele, long-serving former deputy minister Rejoice Mabudafhasi, embattled former health minister Zweli Mkhize and Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola.

Lamola, a key ally of Ramaphosa’s, is set take over as chairperson of the legal and constitutional affairs sub-committee from Mkhize.

Former state security minister David Mahlobo, a former Zuma confidante who is believed to have thrown in his lot with Ramaphosa, is set to replace Tony Yengeni – one of the leading lights of the radical economic transformation (RET) clique and an avowed foe of the president – as head of the peace and stability sub-committee.

Reliable Ramaphosa ally and Human Settlements Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi steps into the shoes of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana in the economic transformation sub-committee.

Godongwana, a key figure in the Ramaphosa contingent, held the position for a long time, but can no longer do so as the party committee has to monitor the work of government’s economic cluster.

Supporters of the revamp this week said that “political considerations have proven to contaminate disciplinary processes”, which has often led to the image of the party being brought into disrepute as the cases took a long time to conclude.

There had long been complaints that disciplinary measures within the party – including at the provincial, regional and branch levels – were applied selectively and along factional lines to purge opponents.

An NEC member said it was “rubbish” to accuse Ramaphosa of trying to capture the party’s disciplinary machinery, adding: There is an inherent conflict of interest with disciplinary issues when NEC members are involved.

The person cited as an example the ANC’s ethics monitoring body, the integrity committee, saying that it was staffed by people who were not members of the NEC.

“It is about removing the influence of political considerations from the disciplinary processes,” the source said.

Another NEC member said the matter was ventilated extensively during the last NEC meeting, which identified a pattern that most disciplinary cases “dragged on for too long”.

The failure to process cases timeously was blamed on the overloaded schedule of the NEC members, some of whom serve on other sub-committees, in government as ministers and in Parliament.

The source said:The second consideration was the usage of disciplinary processes to fight factional battles, so it was best to bring people from outside who will exercise impartiality when listening to the cases.

With the changes, the idea was that at least three or four members of the NEC would become part of the overhauled structures, but the chairperson would be a person from outside

‘WE ARE STILL WITH NDZ AND ACE’

But in Mpumalanga, the plan might not have gone smoothly as the RET faction of the ANC in the province is still in control after initial fears that the executive structure would be disbanded and reshuffled to accommodate Ramaphosa’s supporters.

For years, his supporters have been pushing to join the provincial executive committee (PEC) and even went so far as to take the party to court, claiming that the structure had outlived its term. On Monday, however, when the NWC finally decided to disband the structure, it retained the same leadership and members.

Newly appointed ANC Mpumalanga coordinator Lindiwe Ntshalintshali said the changes would not hamper conference arrangements, adding that those who were disgruntled over the new provincial task team (PTT) would not become a stumbling block.

Ntshalintshali criticised Ramaphosa’s supporters, who have tried to worm their way into the PTT or have already endorsed him for a second term, without verification from branches.

Ntshalintshali said:We are still firmly an NDZ [Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 2017 lobby group] province and CR [Cyril Ramaphosa] supporters are suffocating. We are not apologetic about it.

“We [suspended ANC secretary-general] Ace Magashule. If they prefer other people, then that is well and good because conferences are highly contested. When you look at the state capture report, there are a lot of people who would have been asked to step aside and some of them are in the executive – such as the secretary-general was – and they were not an accounting authority.

“Those comrades [CR supporters] are too desperate and I think they are just wasting their resources because branches are the ones that nominate [candidates] for the conference and if you go to court while the branches are the ones that nominate, it is a futile exercise. I think it’s four members or so and they claim to be representing other members of CR22, which we do not know,” she said.

Ntshalintshali said it was premature to pronounce on who the province would be supporting at conference, and warned those who have already endorsed Ramaphosa to refrain from undermining the branches. In particular, she mentioned the leader of the Nkangala region, Speedy Mashilo, who has been known to be part of the RET faction but recently made a U-turn and endorsed Ramaphosa.

“Right now, they are trying very hard to push a second term [for Ramaphosa], but it won’t work. We have warned those from our province to stop pronouncing on this second term. They must stop it. Branches are going to be voting delegates. So, you might shout as hard as you want, but those who are able to vote are against that.”

PROVINCIAL CONFERENCE IN DOUBT

Ntshalintshali is part of the Focus slate and she is punted as the deputy secretary of the province, while the PTT convener, Mandla Ndlovu, is expected to contest for the chairperson position.

“We have lobby groups and most of the nominations of the branches are more on the Focus slate. Where we are, we think we are going to be uncontested,” she said.

Former Mpumalanga PEC member Peter Nyoni is part of the group that wants an “all-inclusive” structure and believes that disbanding the provincial structure was useless, bearing in mind that the task team is led by the same members.

“We started speaking about these issues even before 2017 [Nasrec conference]. They went to conference with bogus branches. It has nothing to do with the factional battles going to this year’s national [conference] elections. We said we want an all-inclusive PTT, but this one only takes care of those who have been there. It’s not a matter of replacing the PEC with the very same structure … they should have drawn in comrades from a wider spectrum into its ranks.

“We are convinced that the conference date, which they have put forward, is not going to materialise because we have not exhausted all the processes,” Nyoni said.

–City Press

Fuel price may hit R40 a litre

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine thousands of kilometres away could drive the local fuel price up to R40 a litre, while a fertiliser shortage and associated high prices could affect South African farmers and, consequently, food security, experts say.

Agricultural Business Chamber of SA chief economist Wandile Sihlobo wrote in his weekly market report this week that there were concerns about the war’s effects on stocks and prices of wheat, maize and sunflower oil, of which Russia and Ukraine are major producers.

In addition, Russia is important for agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and the minerals or chemicals used in them.

According to Trade Map data, Russia is the world’s largest exporter of fertiliser (by value), followed by China, Canada and the US.

Sihlobo wrote that it was unclear to what extent fertiliser exports would be disrupted, but sanctions against Russia and the exclusion of certain Russian banks from the global Swift system could negatively affect that country’s trading activity.

Swift is a global provider of a secure financial messaging service that connects more than 11 000 financial institutions.

Sihlobo wrote that any shortages and higher prices could affect South African farmers in the winter grain production areas, who had to start planting within a month or so and were ordering their fertiliser now.

Shané Rudolph, an agricultural economist at Agri Enterprises, said some fertiliser prices had risen by about 70% recently, and further increases could put pressure on farmers and affect food security.

The increases so far have been due to limited supplies in major producing countries such as China, India and the US, as well as higher shipping costs due to Covid-19.

Sihlobo explained that South Africa was Russia’s 36th-largest market for fertiliser materials and that the country imports about 80% of our annual need for fertiliser because we could not produce much locally, due partly to a lack of the necessary minerals.

Most fertiliser imported by South Africa is used in maize production (about 41% of total fertiliser consumption), followed by sugar cane production (18%). Fertiliser makes up about 35% of local grain farmers’ input costs, and also a large part of the costs of other agricultural commodities and crops.

According to Sihlobo, farmers who planted summer crops would only have to buy fertiliser by the third quarter of the year in preparation for the 2022/23 production season. However, there was still a lot of uncertainty about where prices were going.

Experts also warned that exporters of South African wine and fruit, especially citrus, could feel the pinch during the war in Ukraine.

Sihlobo wrote that South Africa exported a lot of fruit to Russia. In 2020, 7% of our citrus exports (in value) went to that country, as did 12% of apples and pears.

He said in an interview with Moneyweb that South Africa was on the eve of the citrus harvest season and if fewer citrus fruit went to Russia, producer prices could fall.

Last year, Russia received 6.9 million litres of South Africa’s wine exports, with a value of about R207 million, according to News24.

Tim Hutchinson, executive chairperson of DGB, South Africa’s leading premier wine company with brands such as Boschendal and Douglas Green, told News24 that the organisation’s shipments intended for Russia and Ukraine were being held back because of uncertainty over Swift payments.

Rudolph said that, apart from fertiliser prices, the oil price directly affected farmers’ input costs and could make food prices more expensive for the end consumer.

The ongoing war sent oil prices to more than $114 (R1 710) a barrel on Friday. By Thursday, the under-recovery on the fuel price was about R2.10/litre, which meant that fuel could become a further R2/litre more expensive next month, following this week’s R1.46/litre price hike at the pumps.

André Thomashausen, emeritus professor of international law at Unisa, said that, in a worst-case scenario, South Africans could expect to pay about R40 for a litre of fuel.

According to Agri SA, fuel costs make up about 13% of grain and oil seed farmers’ production costs. About 80% of grain in th–e country is transported by road.

Agri SA is therefore concerned about the rising input costs for farmers, which will be further burdened by Eskom’s tariff increase of more than 9%, which will come into effect on April 1, as well as an increase of 6.9% in the national minimum wage.

The Russia-Ukraine war had already led to an increase in certain agricultural commodity prices, such as wheat, which had risen by about 20% since the beginning of this year, said Rudolph.

Ukraine has about 42 million hectares of agricultural land and is one of the three largest grain exporters in the world.

UKRAINE’S VITAL ROLE

Analysts believe the closure of ports and railways in the country, known as the breadbasket of Europe, could affect exports of products such as maize and wheat.

Russia accounts for 18% of global wheat exports and Ukraine for 8%. More than 40% of Ukraine’s annual maize and wheat consignments are distributed to the Middle East or Africa.

According to Sihlobo, the international prices of maize, wheat, soya beans and sunflower oil are now between 11% and 35% higher than they were a year ago.

Although higher commodity prices are good for farmers and partially mitigate the effects of higher fertiliser prices, they are bad news for consumers.

Food price inflation in South Africa is rising rapidly. Dawie Maree of FNB Agriculture expects consumer price inflation and food inflation to rise in the short term. Fuel price inflation, which has a major impact on food prices, was 6.2% in the second half of January.

–City Press

ANC throws Gwede Mantashe under the bus over Zondo Commission

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..Mantashe accuses Zondo of meddling in ANC internal fights

The ANC has taken a veiled swipe at its own national chair, Gwede Mantashe, for taking shots at the state capture inquiry after it made damning findings against him.

Mantashe on Wednesday fired arrows at the Zondo commission, accusing it of making findings against him based on assumptions instead of facts.

It was on this basis, Mantashe told journalists, that he believed the commission’s chairperson, acting chief justice Raymond Zondo, had erred in finding that investigating authorities may find a prima facie case against him should they dig deeper.

Mantashe said this was why he was taking Zondo to court seeking a judicial review to set aside and invalidate the findings that relate to him.

At the briefing at his government offices in Pretoria, Mantashe cautioned the commission not to get caught up in ANC internal fights.

But on Thursday, the ANC, without naming Mantashe, said that as much as it understood individual members of the party wanting to exercise their legal rights to review the commission’s findings, this must not detract from the party’s principled stance to support the commission.

Said ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe: “The ANC notes and respects the right of individual members of the organisation to exercise their legal and constitutional rights and remedies in respect of the commission’s findings and recommendations against them. This must not detract from the organisation’s principled support for the commission and its work.”

Mantashe is among ANC leaders who are implicated after the release of three instalments of the Zondo commission report. Others are  ANC NEC members Nomvula Mokonyane and Thabang Makwetla, as well as ex officio member of the NEC, the scandal-prone former president Jacob Zuma.

As far as Mantashe is concerned, Zondo found that there was a possibility that he might have breached provisions of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca) when he received Bosasa-funded security upgrades at his three properties.

Mantashe fell short of dismissing the finding was tantamount to a fishing expedition since it passed on the matter to law-enforcement agencies with a qualifier that there was “a reasonable suspicion” that something would stick.

The ANC said its support of the Zondo c