Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

23 November 2012

South Africa: Five Minutes - South Africa

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

JUDGE RULES ON NO CONFIDENCE DEBATE

Western Cape High Court judge Dennis Davis has dismissed the application by the DA and seven other opposition parties to compel the National Assembly to debate the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.

ANC chief whip said Judge Davis concurred with the ANC’s views that “the judiciary cannot be expected to adjudicate on matters falling under the authority of Parliament”. However, Davis said the opposition was well within in its rights to bring the motion and demand a debate. Sapa reports that DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, said the opposition was “considering our options with respect to the lacuna judge Davis referred to in the rules of Parliament which effectively enables the majority party to use its majority to stifle opposition debates, opposition motions and indeed any opposition proposal that is put on the floor of Parliament”.

NORTHWEST ANC EMBARASSED OVER MAYOR’S REMOVAL

The DA’s Professor Annette Combrinck has replaced the ANC mayor of the North West town of Tlokwe (Potchefstroom) after a vote of no confidence saw Maphetle Maphetle voted out of office. "The provincial working committee condemns these actions which are alien to our movement and an insult to our people, who have since 1994 consistently voted the ANC into power," Provincial African National Congress spokesman Kenny Morolong said of the ANC councillors who voted for the DA. "The removal of the comrade Maphetle and his replacement with Professor Combrinck has brought embarrassment and shame to the ANC," he said in a statement.

MORE CELL TOWERS FOR SOUTH AFRICA

Eaton Towers, which owns and manages telecom infrastructure in Africa, is planning to build another 250 transmitter towers in 2013, increasing its portfolio by a sixth as growing internet use on the continent drives the London-based firm's expansion. Eaton, one of a number of specialist players to launch services in Africa in recent years, will build about 100 towers in South Africa, another 100 in Uganda and 50 in Ghana next year, Alan Harper, Eaton Towers' chief executive, told Reuters. The company's customers include Vodafone and MTN. Internet use in sub-Saharan Africa will rise to 24.7% of the population by 2020 from 10.5% in 2010, according to Euromonitor International, to be the fastest growing region globally.

E-TOLL BILL WITHDRAWN FROM PARLIAMENT AT LAST MINUTE

The controversial Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Bill (the e-toll bill) has been withdrawn just before its scheduled second reading debate in Parliament today. DA transport spokesman Ian Ollis said it was pressure from the opposition that caused the ANC to withdraw the bill.

“This means that the Gauteng e-toll will not be the anticipated lump of coal in Christmas stockings this year,” Ollis said in a statement.

Opposition parties threatened to stage a walkout during the debate on the bill. “The DA has not given up in the fight against e-tolling and still believes that alternative models can be identified to fund the required infrastructure expansion,” Ollis said. Deliberations on the bill will continue in 2013.

REPO RATE REMAINS UNCHANGE AT 5%

Reserve bank governor Gill Marcus has announced the repo rate is to remain unchanged at 5% following the last meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee this year. "As always, the MPC will monitor developments closely and will not hesitate to act in a manner consistent with its mandate," Marcus said, adding that the decision had been unanimous. "The inflation forecast of the Bank reflects a deterioration in the inflation outlook for 2013 compared with the previous forecast," Marcus said, adding that inflation was now expected to average 5.6% in the last quarter of 2012 and 5.6% the year. Higher wage increases could exert upward pressure on inflation, while it could also have a negative effect on employment.

TWELVE SA BILLIONAIRES ON FORBES’ TOP 40 AFRICA LIST

South Africa has 12 billionaires in the Forbes list of Africa’s 40 richest people, the publisher reported on its website. The minimum net worth required to make the list of richest Africans was $400 million, which is about R3.6 billion. Nicky Oppenheimer was second on the list, Johann Rupert third, Christoffel Wiese sixth, and Patrice Motsepe eighth. Desmond Sacco and Stephen Saad are in the top 20. Cyril Ramaphosa, Lauritz Dippenaar and Raymond Ackerman are in the top 30.

Other South Africans on the list are Gerrit Thomas Ferreira, Koos Bekker and Jannie Mouton. "It is perhaps no surprise that the overwhelming majority of Africa's 40 richest come from the countries with the largest stock exchanges," Forbes said.

PUBLIC PROTECTOR TO CLARIFY ETHICS BEHIND NKANDLA CLAIMS

Constitutional law professor, Pierre de Vos, has asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate whether President Jacob Zuma is in breach of the code of ethics governing members of the executive in connection with his Nkandla home. Independent Newspaper’s political bureau reports that De Vos made his request on Wednesday, which means that in terms of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act, Madonsela must submit a report within 30 days of receiving a complaint. The reason behind De Vos’ request is to establish whether Zuma misled Parliament when he said he and his family had built all the non-security-related features at Nkandla and were still paying off a bond.

HEARING INTO FARM WAGES BEGINS

South Africa’s department of labour has started hearings on the opinions of farmworkers and farmers into working conditions of farm labourers, with the first session taking place in Worcester. Farm workers would attend the hearing while farmers would attend a separate meeting in the town hall on Friday. Farm workers called a halt to their strike, which spread across 16 towns over a two-week period, to give the labour department a chance to address the current minimum wage. Most workers earn between R69 and R75 a day, but are calling for R150 a day. The employment condition commission (ECC), which advises labour minister Mildred Oliphant on labour and wage issues, is looking at the sectoral determination for agriculture.

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