8 October 2012

Africa: Five Minutes - South Africa


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


The Public Protector is investigating the use of public funds to renovate President Jacob Zuma's private home, City Press newspaper reported. Thuli Madonsela confirmed she had already received an official complaint, before the DA's parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, requested an investigation into the R203-million price tag last week in the scandal now dubbed 'Nkandlagate'. The newspaper also reported that the public works department had budgeted for a R28.2 million security upgrade to Nelson Mandela's Qunu home while R3.5 million was spent on former president Thabo Mbeki's home. Neither Mbeki nor Mandela used billions in state funds to develop their home villages, as Zuma plans to do in planning the billion rand development known as 'Zumaville'.


The Gauteng ANC has nominated Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as its candidate to lead the ANC. Provincial leader Paul Mashatile said Gauteng's Provincial Executive Council (PEC) had been calling for the "renewal" of the ANC through a change in leadership. "We have been doing this guided by the objective reality that today [Sunday] our movement finds itself operating in a very modernising world and therefore we are required to modernise the ANC," Mashatile said in his address. The PEC nominated Febe Potgieter as deputy secretary general, and Mashatile himself as treasurer, but remains split on the rest of the top six.

Mashatile said the list would ensure "generational transitional mix".


Transnet is preparing for a one-day strike by port and rail workers who are supporting the 20,000-strong truck strike now entering its third week. State-owned Transnet said on Sunday it had been served with a notice of a walkout "in a week's time" by the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (Satawu) that is behind the two-week trucker stoppage, but did not say when it might occur. "We are considering the notice and will activate our contingency measures to ensure minimal disruptions should the action materialise," Transnet said in a statement. Satawu spokesman Vincent Masoga said wage talks between freight bosses and unions were scheduled to restart on Tuesday after breaking down acrimoniously at the end of last week, but the union was still gearing up for action.


Striking workers from Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) are pressing the global mining company to revoke its decision to fire them. Amplats on Friday dismissed 12,000 workers taking part in a wildcat strike.

Hundreds of strikers, watched by police in armoured vehicles and a helicopter, held a two-hour rally in a soccer stadium near Rustenburg on Saturday, and were urged to fight for their jobs. Workers said the termination notice, delivered to many by SMS, caught them by surprise, despite repeated threats from Amplats that it planned to discipline strikers. The firing of the workers saw the rand drop to a three-year low. In a related move, Atlatsa Resources has sacked some of the 2,500 workers who went on a wildcat strike this week at its Bokoni platinum mine, a joint venture with Anglo American Platinum. Workers have two days to appeal the decision.


NUM spokesman Lesiba Seshoka has confirmed a branch leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) was shot dead on Friday near a mine run by platinum producer Lonmin. Seshoka told Reuters the union leader had been killed "execution style" in the evening hours but gave no further details. Seshoka said the "assassination" followed the death of the NUM brand chairman last weekend, and another attack on a branch leader who escaped, but whose wife was killed. Seshoga said another five members of the union, two of them shop stewards, were killed during the Lonmin violence in August.


Africa is ripe for 'Arab Spring' type uprisings as long as leaders continue to enrich themselves to the detriment of the people they serve, former president Thabo Mbeki said. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Mbeki said the patience of the youth and of ordinary Africans was "waning". Mbeki said if the African population "continues to experience similar conditions as happened in Tunisia and Egypt, similar conditions of standards of living not improving, facing crises all the time, and a small elite which lives well and eats better every day, and flaunts its wealth in the end these ordinary African people, like the ordinary African people of Tunisia, surely will say enough is enough, I think it is imperative of all our governments to clearly focus on this matter."


The mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Parks Tau, will refer allegations of "tender impropriety to the Integrity Commissioner of the City of Johannesburg and the Public Protector", he said in a statement. Tau's wife Philisiwe Twala-Tau has been linked to a R10-million shareholding in an empowerment consortium, Coral Lagoon, that acquired shares in Capitec Bank in 2006 now worth about R1 billion. The consortium won a lucrative contract to manage the Johannesburg council's R2-billion liability redemption fund. Twala-Tau's 1% stake is now worth R10 million. "I am confident of my innocence from impropriety. It is important that when such allegations arise, we should subject ourselves to scrutiny. My decision to refer this matter to public enquiry has been motivated by this approach," Tau said.


KwaZulu-Natal police have confirmed that the body of an Inkatha Freedom Party councillor who was abducted last week has been found in a sugar cane field on the outskirts of Durban. Colonel Jay Naicker said people gathering mushrooms found the body of Themba Xulu and called the police.

Xulu had been shot several times, Naicker said. Five men allegedly posing as policemen abducted Xulu from his home in KwaMashu's A-Section on Friday. Tensions in the area have been high ever since Xulu was arrested and charged for the attempted murder of a National Freedom Party (NFP) member.

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