Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

26 November 2012

South Africa: Five Minutes - South Africa

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

DA READY FOR ‘LASER-LIKE FOCUS’ ON 2014 ELECTIONS

Helen Zille remains leader of the Democratic Alliance, and Wilmot James retains his position as the DA’s federal chairman. Three deputy federal chairs – Mmusi Maimane, Anchen Dreyer, and Makashule Gana – were also elected at the party federal congress held in Boksburg over the weekend.

Zille said the party had never been “stronger or more united” and would work towards “building a new majority at the non-racial centre of South African politics”. She said she was “deeply aware” of her responsibilities as leader of the DA. "We now need to go back to our branches, to our towns and cities, with a laser-like focus on election campaign 2014," Zille said in her closing speech.

POLITICAL VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN KZN, REPORTER’S CAR SET ALIGHT

A Daily News reporter’s car has been set alight during a violent clash between National Freedom Party and Inkatha Freedom Party supporters in KwaMashu near Durban. Sapa reports that NFP leader Zanele KaMagwaza-Msibi and her convoy were blocked from entering the KwaMashu A Section by around 200 IFP carrying sticks and bottles. A violent confrontation ensued, with vehicles being stoned. Protestors stoned two reporters, setting alight Mpume Madlala’s car. Heavily armed police were on the street, but did not intervene, Sapa said.

ZUMA’S SON SUED BY GOVERNMENT FINANCE AGENCY

The Ithala Development Finance Corporation is suing Edward Zuma for defaulting on a R5-million loan. A Durban wedding planner is also suing him for R1.5 million in outstanding fees for his lavish R2.5 million wedding. The Sunday Times reports that President Jacob Zuma’s son defaulted on two loans, one for R4.4 million and the other for R512,000.

His lawyer, Siphiwe Mncwango, said Zuma was “struggling to pay his debts just like any other South African”. Ithala, on its website, said the company finances projects and businesses that are profitable and sustainable over the long run. “We believe that it is irresponsible to overburden our clients with debts that they will be unable to pay,” it said. Ithala is the KwaZulu-Natal government’s development finance agency.

TAXPAYERS PAID FOR MORE THAN SECURITY UPGRADES AT NKANDLA

Top-secret documents show that despite President Jacob Zuma’s claims to the contrary, the public works department did not just pay for security upgrades to his Nkandla home. City Press reports that taxpayers’ money was also used to build a cattle culvert, new homes for three families moved off the land, a tuck shop and a road to the residence. The newspaper has correspondence from two previous public works ministers that show Zuma was kept abreast of all developments on the property, something else he has denied. The top-secret documents include a cost analysis that shows Zuma was supposed to pay R23 million for the construction of two brand-new houses, but late last year public works put Zuma’s personal contribution at R10.6 million.

HEALTH MEC’S ‘MEDICAL EMERGENCY’ WAS A FUNERAL

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo was attending a funeral in a northern part of the province. This was the “medical emergency” that led him to commandeering Durban’s only medical helicopter on a day it was needed to airlift crash victim Asheen Singh to the nearest hospital. The Sunday Tribune reported Dhlomo flew to Habisa for the funeral of Zachariah Zungu. The health department said at a press conference held over a week ago Dhlomo had flown to the village to deal with a rape scandal involving a doctor and a girl from the area. Paramedics rushed Singh to the Nkosi Albert Luthuli hospital by ambulance, where he died.

ARMS DEAL INQUIRY UNABLE TO FIND FANA HLONGWANE

The head of the commission of inquiry into the arms deal says a central witness in the probe is missing. Judge Willie Seriti told the Sunday Independent they were unable to find Fana Hlongwane. The commission announced 12 key witnesses on Friday, one of whom was Hlongwane. Judge Sereti said the commission wanted to send Hlongwane a letter on Friday to notify him that he would be called as a witness but were unable to find him at either of his homes, in Umhlanga near Durban or Hyde Park in Johannesburg. A man answering his phone told the Sunday Independent he was at a funeral, not in South Africa. Judge Sereti told a press conference that Hlongwane was “a person whose name features in most of the allegations as a possible beneficiary of the arms procurement process. He also features as a suspect in some of the investigations conducted in the matter”.

CASH IN TRANSIT ROBBERS ‘DEAD OR ARRESTED’

Seven would-be robbers were shot dead by the Hawks and nine others were injured when the elite police unit prevented a robbery at a cash depot belonging to a cash-in-transit company. Hawks spokesman Captain Paul Ramaloko said the unit, with a special task force, confronted a group of 20 armed robbers who were about to rob the Protea Coin cash depot in Robertsville. Reuters reported that Ramaloko said police believed they had “got the kingpin down. We are convinced that we got all the robbers - dead or arrested”. Police also confiscated 11 vehicles and four firearms. Ramaloko said police received a tip off alerting them to the planned heist.

THOUSANDS OF MINING JOBS COULD BE LOST IN 2013

South Africa's Chamber of Mines is concerned that widespread wildcat strikes that hit the sector earlier this year and on-going conflict between rival unions could lead to major job cuts, and further violence.

Two workers at a Harmony Gold mine near Johannesburg were killed on Thursday in a clash between the National Union of Mineworkers and the smaller Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union. "What is happening at Harmony is a continuation of what we have observed," said Chamber CEO, Bheki Sibiya, speaking at the Cape Town Press Club. "I think we are still going to observe quite a bit of it before it settles." Sibiya warned that over 10,000 jobs could be lost in the first quarter of 2013.

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