11 October 2012

South Africa: African Press Review 11 October 2012

Gloomy economic outlooks and corruption scandals dominate today's African papers...

There's very little but bad news on the front page of this morning's South African BusinessDay...

You have Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus saying the mining strikes will affect growth outlook and job creation, not to mention the negative impact of the truckers dispute.

Experts were yesterday telling a parliamentary committee that the energy department's inability to implement the 2010 Integrated Resources Plan on time will hamper economic growth.

Then there's a lot of fudging over tenders...

Yesterday the Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela (she's South Africa's ombudswoman), said that she suspected failure to conduct due diligence when awarding lucrative tenders could be "systemic" in the public sector.

In Limpopo, for instance, an entire company was set up (apparently with help from sacked ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema) solely for the purpose of securing a public tender worth the rand equivalent of four and a half million euros. The company had no premises, no equipment and no employees, but nobody involved in the tender process bothered to check.

The Treasury has added the company in question, On-Point, to its blacklist of companies prohibited from receiving state tenders. Those behind the On-Point scam may face prosecution for fraud and the misappropriation of public funds.

On-Point has three shareholders, one being the Ratanang Family Trust.

The sole beneficiary of the Ratanang Family Trust is Julius Malema's son. Originally, Julius Malema himself was the sole trustee. His grandmother was later added as a trustee. She's 83 years old.

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of Parliament's transport committee on Wednesday refused to allow the opposition Democratic Alliance to question government officials about the reported 52m euros being spent on roads to service President Jacob Zuma's home village in Nkandla.

She said the issue was a "witch hunt" driven by media reports.

In Zimbabwe, NewsDay reports on the arrest yesterday of Energy and Power Development minister, Elton Mangoma.

Mangoma was taken into custody for allegedly insulting President Robert Mugabe during his address at a Movement for Democratic Change rally seven months ago. His lawyers said they were not sure of the charge except that it related to undermining the authority of the President. Mangoma was released after recording a statement.

The MDC had condemned Mangoma's arrest as politically-motivated and intended to weaken the party's position ahead of the Second All-Stakeholders' Conference, already twice postponed and now due at the end of October.

According to the government-aligned Herald, this is not the first time Minister Mangoma has had a brush with the law, having been arrested in March last year on allegations of criminal abuse of office after he ordered officers in his ministry to buy fuel without following tender procedures.

He allegedly used his position to influence the selection of a company to supply five million litres of fuel this year.

The fuel has not been delivered to date, according to The Herald, despite Government paying nearly four million euros.

A few months later, Minister Mangoma was again arrested for flouting Government tender procedures for pre­paid meters.

He was, the paper reluctantly admits, later acquitted.

There's more bad news for Kenyan MPs, who've already seen their multi-million shilling severance pay plan rejected by the president.

According to this morning's Daily Nation, Members of Parliament are among top public servants facing a major salary cut if the team set up to determine the pay for government workers has its way.

The Salaries and Remuneration Commission is reviewing the salaries of public officers in a move that may rattle many of those already enjoying huge perks.

Those likely to be affected include MPs, permanent secretaries and members of constitutional commissions.

Kenyan MPs, who were allowed to determine their own pay before the Salaries Commission was set up, are among the best paid in the world.

MPs monthly earnings - if you include both basic salary and allowances - stand at 8,000 euros while some permanent secretaries and members of constitutional commissions draw over 10,000 euros each month in salaries and allowances.

Also according to The Nation, Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore has ordered 1,000 combat troops to be deployed in the northern region bordering Mali, to guard against kidnappings.

Rebel groups, including fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, have controlled northern Mali since a coup on 22 March. Burkina Faso is the main mediator in the Mali crisis.

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