Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa – court rules on power of community power in customary law

Mail and Guardian

Since the ruling communities under traditional leadership are seeking ways to introduce democracy into their existing systems.

The Constitution handbook. (Madelene Cronje, MG)

Customary law is coming in from the cold. Important judgments delivered this month show the courts supporting, as valid law, community practices that shun patriarchal, antidemocratic and elitist elements often synonymous with customary law, and that move towards a society based on constitutional values instead.

One of these landmark decisions came from a full bench of the high court in Bhisho, epicentre of a strongly traditional society with deep customary law roots.

At the heart of the case was a dispute over who should replace headman JH Fani in the Cala Reserve when he retired.

On the one hand stood the Cala community and the “planning committee” whose members were appointed by Fani as his advisory body. Committees such as this have long been associated with the headmen of the area and its members called a community meeting to discuss Fani’s successor.

During debate it became clear that the man who had acted as Fani’s de facto deputy, Gideon Sitwayi, was favoured by the community and he was duly elected. However, when Fani and a member of the planning committee tried to report Sitwayi’s election to the amaGcina Traditional Council the reaction was far from what they had expected.

Affronted by democratic choice
Although the people of Cala Reserve have chosen their own headman for more than a century the traditional council and its leadership were affronted and angry that someone was chosen by the people themselves, rather than by the traditional council. They acted “unlawfully” they were told, and the traditional leadership would go to the reserve to “introduce” the person they had decided would replace Fani.

It became clear that another reason the traditional council did not want Sitwayi chosen was that he was not a member of the royal family.

When the council arrived to introduce their preferred headman the community was informed there was no question of a meeting, nor any chance for questions: they were there to tell everyone who the new local leader would be. The chief said that whether the people of the area liked it or not, “it is the royal family that decides on the headman”, and that while the people of the area might always have chosen their own headman, a “new law” instructed the royal family to make the choice instead.

That “new law” was the Eastern Cape Act. One of the main tasks of the court in its ground-breaking judgment was to analyse what this law actually said, and whether it in fact prevented the long-standing democratic practices of the Cala Reserve people.

Royal choice
Before the matter went to court however, there was a flurry of letters between all the players, including the provincial authorities, and while this was taking place the royal choice of headman was already being paid a salary and plans for his installation were being made.

No compromise being found, the people of Cala Reserve asked for an interdict: they wanted the inauguration stopped so the courts could consider whether the royal’s choice should be set aside.

That application was granted – but the inauguration went ahead anyway, prompting contempt of court proceedings.

The interdict was followed by a high court judgment, this time reviewing and setting aside the royal decision not to follow the people’s will. Dissatisfied with the outcome, the Eastern Cape premier, the local government and traditional affairs MEC, as well as members of the royal family, appealed to a full bench of the high court.

Writing the unanimous decision of the full bench, Judge Clive Plasket quoted a letter that had set out the case of the royals: “In terms of … legislation it is the prerogative of the royal family … to identify … who will be an inkosana or headman, with no provision stipulating the involvement of the respective community of that particular administrative area.”

Traditional democracy
For the community Professor Lungisile Ntsebeza gave uncontested evidence of the long-standing practices of the Cala Reserve which the court accepted as establishing that for more than 100 years the community had elected its own headman, and that this remains the current practice. The practice checked all the requirements that would allow it to be regarded as customary law.

Provincial legislation on traditional leadership made it clear that this institution was to be “transformed”, said the court, so it harmonised with constitutional principles and derived its mandate “from applicable customary law and practice”. Since it was clearly the living customary law and practice in Cala Reserve for the people to choose their own leader, recognition of that practice by the royal family was required.

During argument, counsel for the provincial authorities and the royal family said the royals were not required to take into account the “popular view of the community” and that “no community consultation is envisaged” in the legislation. Counsel then conceded that the effect of this argument was that the people of the region would enjoy greater democratic rights in relation to choosing a headman under homeland rule than under a democratically elected government.

Community’s choice
The three judges agreed that when the MEC decided to recognise a headman chosen by the royal family even though someone else “qualified in terms of customary law”, the MEC’s choice could not stand. The court made short shrift of the MEC’s claim that the people of Cala Reserve “cannot be expected to be treated differently to other communities”. Provincial law clearly allowed differing ways of choosing candidates, said the judges.

“The intention of the legislature was that the customary practices of each community would guide each royal family in the exercise of its power,” they concluded.

In the end the court awarded costs against the royals and the provincial authorities, ruling that the royal’s choice should be set aside as “tainted by irregularity” and that the community’s choice must prevail.

The decision has been widely welcomed by rural organisations as evidence that a democratic approach to customary law and leadership will be upheld by the courts where local communities have indicated this is their preference.

Legal Resources Centre attorney Wilmien Wicomb, who represented the community, said since the judgment she had been inundated with calls from traditional communities wanting to know how they could replace their existing systems with more democratic practices.

South Africa – Wits V-C Habib defends suspension of EFF command

Mail and Guardian

Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib took to Twitter to defend the university council’s decision to suspend the Wits EFF command and seven other students.

Wits University's Vice-Chancellor, Adam Habib, has defended the council's decision to suspend the EFF student command. (Paul Botes, M&G)

The decision to suspend the University of Witwatersrand Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (Wits EFF) and seven other students, came after the Student Representative Council (SRC) election debate ended in physical altercations between members of Wits EFF and Project W – a non-politically affiliated student representative group – last Tuesday.

“We suspended violent students and de-recognised a society only after it broke electoral rules and provoked violence. How is this wrong?” asked Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib. He said Wits EFF was welcome to return to campus if it reconstituted, committed to peaceful engagement and respected the code of conduct.

However, EFF’s national spokesperson and Wits PhD candidate Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Habib and the Wits council’s decision to suspend Wits EFF was an attempt to shut down new ideas. “You will never shut down any varsity against an idea whose time has come. EFF is here to stay and there is nothing you can do,” said Ndlozi.

This incident played itself out on social media platforms where the conversation soon changed from political parties being banned at public institutions to a lack of transformation at former white universities, especially with regards to the treatment of black students.

Wits PhD candidate Lwazi Lushaba, left with only two months to graduate, was also suspended by the university.

Lushaba said he received a letter from Habib two days after the SRC election debate debacle. The letter said that Lushaba had participated in activities that were not conducive to free and fair elections and were intolerant to a democratic society.

“The University has received reports of various statements made under the auspices of the Wits EFF, the thrust of which indicates a propensity to interfere with proper governance of the University. I attach copies of some of these statements as Annexure A. It appears that you have associated yourself with these statements,” read the letter.

According to Lushaba, the associations made between him and Wits EFF are based on tweets he posted about constructing an alternative discourse and suggesting different motifs with regards to debates about decolonising, the black lived experience and memory-making. He had argued (on Twitter) that these issues should lead the debate in contemporary South Africa, a conversation that was joined by some Wits EFF members.

The issue contested on these platforms is that the curriculum in former white institutions should change.  Lushaba also aired his frustrations on Facebook.

“I teach to part-time students a second year course in Politics: POLS 2012 – South Africa Politics and Governance. In the first part of the course, I am expected to read together with the students a number of texts by white doyens of South African Studies. These scholars basically compete with each other in their defence of apartheid as having been a democracy of one form or the other,” said Lushaba.

He said it must chill the spine of every black person to hear such a claim, worse still as it is stated under the cloak of scholarly knowledge.  Lushaba said such views indicated that the lived experience of the black colonised in South Africa did not matter in white scholarly circuits. “This is what we teach black students in 2015,” he said.

In an interview with the Mail & Guardian, Wits politics professor Darryl Glaser said transformation of the institution was the biggest agenda over the last two years. He said there has been a radical stance in which issues relating to new cultural politics and demographics of staff are being dealt with.

“The main issues are the transformation of the syllabus, personnel and the introduction to black thought,” he said. The M&G also spoke to political studies master’s student and ANC Youth League member Tasneem Essop (23). Essop was also a secretary general of the Wits SRC in 2012 and 2013.

She said Wits and other former white institutions of learning haven’t changed. Essop said there is a lack of black staff and the curriculum needed to transform.

“They give us silly reasons as to why there are no black lecturers. We need to develop young black academics for the future. There are no courses on black political thought and what we learn is extremely eurocentric,” she said.

Essop said black South African academics were also less preferred to their African counterparts.

“These white supremacists would rather hear about black consciousness from a Kenyan perspective and not from a South African. It is fine for an African scholar to talk about Kenya but not a black South African to talk about the current oppression in all institutions. Our institutions of learning are anti-black,” she said.

As a result of these contested issues at institutions of higher learning, Lushaba said the commotion expressed by Wits EFF and other student organisations was “fairly proportionate to the intensity or pulse of the political contestation [that] erupted on the stage of the Great Hall, aborting what was supposed to be an SRC Election debate among different contending parties”.

However, according to Habib the suspensions were warranted. “This is now about ideas,” he said, “It is about violence and not being willing to commit to peaceful engagement.”

South Africa – is Zuma finally off the hook over Nkandla

Mail and Guardian

While a new cast of characters have the painful task of figuring out how to further secure Zuma’s rural home, the heat is off the president – for now.

Parliament's ad hoc committee has recommended that further steps be taken to ensure Jacob Zuma's safety at Nkandla. (David Harrison, M&G)

A new security assessment of President Jacob Zuma’s rural Nkandla home is in the works, an assessment various institutions agree will in all likelihood find a need for further work to be done to complete, or supplement, over R200-million worth of upgrades already effected.

Parliament, meanwhile, will in coming weeks finalise its current investigation into Nkandla, with no adverse finding whatsoever against Zuma himself.

The opposition Economic Freedom Fighters asked the Constitutional Court to give Zuma lessons in his constitutional obligations, and marching orders on Nkandla, an application that shows little promise of resulting in a hearing.

And despite rumblings from particularly the ANC in Gauteng earlier this year on Zuma’s handling of the Nkandla saga, those noises appear to have been hushed for at least the time being.

So though former ministers, government officials and an architect still face trouble on Nkandla, Zuma himself appears – at least for now – to be off the hook.

Why more steps?
In its final report on Nkandla tabled for consideration last Friday, Parliament’s latest ad hoc committee on the matter recommended “that the executive ensures that all necessary steps are taken to ensure the safety of the head of state and his family is not compromised”.

Why would more steps be required, almost six years into a massive security overhaul?

“Most of the work is incomplete especially those [sic] that relate to security monitoring of the president’s private residence. Consequently, it is clear that the current security arrangements are insufficient and incomplete,” the committee told the national assembly.

The Democratic Alliance’s Mmusi Maimane questions President Jacob Zuma about expenditure, apparently on security measures for his home in Nkandla. (Photos: David Harrison, M&G)

Various MPs expressed shock that a closed circuit TV system supposedly at Nkandla was not operational when they visited the complex.

The committee is not the first group to assert that Zuma is still not sufficiently secure at Nkandla. Almost exactly a year ago the Special Investigating Unit formally recommended another security review of Nkandla “as soon as possible”, and “noted a number of matters of concern” on security there, although in the name of security it would not disclose specifics.

New assessment
Police ministry spokesperson Musa Zondi this week confirmed plans for a new assessment, but said there were no timelines for the process yet as it would depend on discussions with the department of public works.

The department of public works did not respond to questions.

Nkandla has been the subject of four major security assessments and evaluations since 1999 involving either the South African Police Service and South African Defence Force, or both.

Just how more work on Nkandla can be structured to be legal and in compliance with regulations, who will be willing to do the work and who will take responsibility for such a task are all thorny questions complicated by years of investigations.

Nkandla was declared a national key point in 2010. In terms of legislation governing such points, dating from 1980, work necessary to secure a key point must be funded by the owner of the property or from a special government account set up for that purpose. But in an inter-ministerial report on Nkandla released in December 2013, ministers of the security cluster found that complying with that law would be in conflict with the Public Finance Management Act, a modern law that institutes strict controls on the spending of state money, and leaves little room for special accounts.

Cabinet memo
The security cluster ministers also found upgrades at Nkandla should have been governed by a 2003 Cabinet memo, which requires the president to sign off on security measures to be implemented at his private residence, after those measures are determined by the police and costed by the department of public works.

The Nkandla infrastructure should have been subject to an “immovable asset management plan”, the ministers said, which would quantify ongoing maintenance costs (to which no number has yet been put in various investigations), and the capital costs should be apportioned to “the relevant stakeholders”, signalling potential trouble as the SAPS and defence force argues over who requested and should pay for what.

Parliament’s ad hoc committee, chaired by Cedric Frolick, said earlier that the president did not have to pay back the money already spent on his KwaZulu-Natal home.

The individual functionaries, who will have to implement those steps for a new security assessment, will no doubt be mindful of the fact that a dozen department of public works employees involved in previous Nkandla work are being held personally responsible for failing to follow various rules and prescripts.

Two former ministers, who were ultimately responsible for those functionaries, still face censure.

The project leader for a new assessment will also be aware that the previous project leader, architect Minenhle Makhanya, is being held personally liable for R155-million of state money spent on Nkandla in a continuing matter before the high court in Pietermaritzburg.

Subsequent scrutiny
Various companies and contractors who did work on Nkandla found themselves accused of fraud, poor workmanship, and fleecing the public purse during subsequent scrutiny.

When Police Minister Nathi Nhleko suggested in July that more money would have to be spent on Nkandla, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe characterised it as “reckless” in its timing.

These issues will face a set of ministers and technocrats different from those who dealt with Nkandla between 2009 and 2012, but will not be Zuma’s direct responsibility. The only responsibility he will face in the renewed security assessment and its implementation, according to the findings of the various investigations to date, is to assume ethical responsibility for the effective application of state funds. Demanding as much from those intimately involved, and holding them accountable should they fail, will likely satisfy that requirement.

That represents only a temporary reprieve for Zuma, however.

In mid-June, chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, Paul Mashatile, sought to distance the party from Nhleko’s report, which formed the basis of the parliamentary ad hoc committee’s findings, and the suggestion that more money would have to be spent on Nkandla.

Not the position of the ANC
That was not the position of the ANC, Mashatile said. He was subsequently backed by the party in the province.

Well-informed speculation at the time spoke of a possibility that the ANC would be asked to consider requiring Zuma to pay personally for any new work. Such speculation died down in the two months since, but insiders this week suggested the plan was not yet entirely dead.

Zuma also faces the prospect of a newly empowered public protector demanding, again, that he repay the state for some of the personal benefit he has derived from the Nkandla project. In September the Supreme Court of Appeal will hear a different matter, which has been brought by the Democratic Alliance, that has the potential of declaring Madonsela’s findings to be binding.

And should the Special Investigating Unit’s R155-million claim against architect Makanya fail, the unit has the option of trying to recover the money from those unduly enriched – a group it found to include Zuma himself. – With additional reporting by Qaanitah Hunter and Matuma Letsoalo

EFF goes for the constitutional jugular

The Economic Freedom Fighters do not have a particularly good chance of being heard on Nkandla before the Constitutional Court, but nonetheless in court papers it took the opportunity to express its intense displeasure with Parliament, the speaker Baleka Mbete and President Jacob Zuma.

On August 4, the party finalised papers asking the court to declare that both Parliament and Zuma, in their handling of issues related to Nkandla, had failed their respective duties to uphold the Constitution. That was several days before Parliament’s ad hoc committee on Nkandla tabled its report, and well before Zuma appeared in Parliament to answer, among others, an EFF question about Nkandla – but only one day after public protector Thuli Madonsela said it was up to those who thought her office required protection to do the protecting.

The EFF told the court in its notice of motion that Zuma should be forced to give effect to Madonsela’s recommendations, and the court should declare that Zuma’s failure to do so, and Parliament’s failure to force him to do so, was a failure of their constitutional obligations.

The court accepts direct applications under only exceptional circumstances and at its own discretion. This week, experts said Parliament had not yet formally adopted the ad hoc committee report, which would conclude its Nkandla investigation; the Nkandla matter would be heavily influenced by a Supreme Court of Appeal hearing in September, which itself is likely to be taken on appeal to the Constitutional Court; and that the EFF would be hard-pressed to explain why the Nkandla matter was urgent.

Unhappy: EFF leader Julius Malema.

The experts all agreed that the EFF’s chances of securing a hearing were slim. But the application itself gave EFF leader Julius Malema the opportunity to promise Zuma the party would see him in court – and it gave the party a fresh platform to express unhappiness with not only Zuma but also Mbete. The EFF deputy president, Floyd Shivambu, said in a supporting affidavit Zuma had violated the Constitution, committed a serious constitutional breach, and had undermined the independence and effectiveness of the public protector.

Shivambu said Mbete, though only cited nominally as a respondent to represent the National Assembly, was required to act impartially in her role.

“The experience of the EFF with the current speaker has been that she is not impartial, is prone to procedural lapses, and openly hostile to the EFF.”

To date, the Democratic Alliance has been the party leading the various legal threats and challenges on Nkandla, but it said this week it would not join the EFF in its approach to the court.

The DA’s James Selfe said the party would wait for a determination in its Supreme Court of Appeal case, which is seeking clarity on the public protector’s powers in the matter regarding the SABC’s chief operating officer, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. It is scheduled to be heard in Bloemfontein on September 18.

If the protector’s findings are found to be binding, Selfe said, that would enable a demand for the implementation of her findings on Nkandla.

“The issue regarding Nkandla and Hlaudi Motsoeneng are very similar, except in the matter of Hlaudi Motsoeneng the remedial action recommended by the public protector is very precise,” Selfe said. – Phillip de Wet and Qaanitah Hunter

When Parliament rewrote history

The latest ad hoc committee on Nkandla last week tabled its report for consideration by the National Assembly, with every sign that the report will be adopted by Parliament as a whole – despite the fact that it contains several blatant and critical factual inaccuracies.

In several instances the committee (officially titled “Ad hoc committee to consider the report of the minister of police in reply to recommendations in the report of the ad hoc committee to consider the report by the president regarding security upgrades at the Nkandla Private Residence of the president”) accepted assertions by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko that are flatly contradicted by documents.

Facts accepted by the committee, with its stamp of approval either directly or tacitly, include that:

  • Nhleko could find zero evidence that President Jacob Zuma had “requested anything to be constructed” in his perusal of “all reports related to” Nkandla. In her March 2014 report on Nkandla, public protector Thuli Madonsela relates that Zuma personally told her he had “requested the building of a larger kraal”;
  • The figure of R246-million spent on Nkandla was a cost estimate “by the media and opposition parties”. The R246-million number actually came from Madonsela’s report, in which she “conservatively estimated” that to be what would be required from state coffers before the project is completed, based on work that still had to be done at the time. The actual number (incorrectly rounded down instead of up by Madonsela herself) is R246 631 303.04;
  • Implicitly, the only “alleged non-security features” at Nkandla are the swimming pool, animal enclosures and a social node. The Special Investigating Unit, in a report on an investigation commissioned by Zuma, pointed to roads built for the sole use of the Zuma family, air conditioning installed in family residences, and extensive landscaping around the private residences; and
  • Nhleko’s status as a Cabinet minister does not oblige him to “make favourable judgments towards the president” because the president also appoints people such as judges to their positions.

The committee apparently did not notice that it requires a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly to remove the likes of a judge (and similar presidential appointees) from office, whereas a Cabinet minister serves at the absolute pleasure of the president and is specifically denied any security of tenure.

Consideration of the report by the National Assembly was yet to be scheduled as the Mail & Guardian went to print, but was expected before the end of August.

Both the DA and the EFF were expected to vote against its adoption, as are the African Christian Democratic Party and Freedom Front Plus, but the vote would be easily carried by the ANC, which has welcomed the report as tabled. – Phillip de Wet

South Africa – growing tensions between government and ANC over policy

Mail and Guardian

As the ANC and the state lock horns, some in the ruling party are peeved that Cabinet is leaving them in the dark on vital policy issues.
President Jacob Zuma and ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe. (Madelene Cronjé, M&G)

The long-standing tensions between the ANC and the government have resurfaced, showing once more the difficulties that arise when party presidents enter the middle of their second term of office.

The current strained relations bear some resemblance to the key reasons used to oust former president Thabo Mbeki from the Union Buildings seven months before the end of his term. Mbeki was accused of disregarding ANC decisions and micromanaging the party by using the state.

Now President Jacob Zuma’s administration faces similar problems.

Sources this week said subcommittees of the ANC national executive committee (NEC) are unhappy, saying they are being undermined by Cabinet ministers.

The Mail & Guardian has learned that ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe has called for a review of all subcommittees and that the party is far from agreement on the matter.

‘Answer to the president’
On one side is Zuma, who heads the government, while on the other is Mantashe, who heads the party’s Luthuli House headquarters.

The outcry over the ANC’s representatives in government failing to take their cue from the party has been growing louder. One of the complaints is that some ministers do not attend subcommittee meetings and choose to “only answer to the president”, said an ANC NEC member.

ANC NEC subcommittees take the lead in stimulating debates and drafting policies that, if adopted, are expected to be worked into government policies. Those deployed to government office are mandated to formulate these ANC policies in a manner that agrees with the country’s Constitution, and to ensure they are implemented.

The government is also accused of taking some crucial decisions without consulting the ANC, party sources said. They cite the contentious new visa regulations as an example of legislation that was not discussed and approved by the ANC.

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom, who serves on the ANC NEC, was not briefed about the legislation until after it was passed into law. The new visa rules have caused a public spat between Hanekom and his home affairs counterpart, Malusi Gigaba, because of the negative effect they have already had on tourism.

Controversial e-tolls
The controversial e-tolls also did not receive the ANC’s blessing before they were rolled out, giving the party no chance to analyse the system’s influence on voters. The NEC raised concern about this matter in 2012, at the height of Cosatu’s protests against the tolls.

The state’s battle to create more jobs is another bone of contention. In a report to the NEC lekgotla two weeks ago, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said the government has neither the capacity nor the resources to create new jobs for the next two years. But the party has instructed ministers in the economic cluster to make a plan to create employment to fulfil its promise to the electorate.

The ANC has also expressed its impatience with the delay in switching over from analogue to digital broadcasting. South Africa has missed several digital migration deadlines over the years.

Another ANC NEC member, who is a Zuma supporter, told the M&G this week that those close to the president have already warned him during caucus meetings that because this is his final term as the country’s president, “there are going to be many challenges and some will start disregarding you”.

As part of strengthening the ANC NEC subcommittees, some chairpersons are likely to be replaced, among them communications subcommittee head Lindiwe Zulu and international relations chair Obed Bapela.

‘Internal processes’
Zulu refused to answer the M&G‘s questions. “There are internal processes. I don’t want to engage on [the matter] until things are finalised. It does not make sense to talk about something that is not finalised,” she said.

M&G sources claim that some in the party are dissatisfied with Zulu because she is too outspoken and often speaks her mind in public, something the ANC frowns on.

A senior Luthuli House official said, however, that discussions are underway to move Zulu to the party’s economic transformation subcommittee because she is the minister of small business development.

Bapela, who has led the international relations subcommittee for only a year-and-a-half, is likely to be replaced by a party member in the international relations department.

“The arrangement on the international relations subcommittee has always been that the international relations minister’s deputy chairs that committee,” said a diplomatic source with intimate knowledge of the discussions.

“The thinking was that this person should be a practitioner in international relations [and] advise the minister on other things.”

This subcommittee was chaired by deputy international relations minister Ebrahim Ebrahim until the ANC’s 2012 Mangaung congress.

Bapela’s subcommittee is accused of taking decisions that contradict the government’s position, complicating diplomatic relations.

For example, the international relations department was reportedly embarrassed by Bapela’s reaction to the court ruling that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir be arrested while he was attending the African Union summit in June in Johannesburg.

Bapela was one of ANC leaders who immediately called on Pretoria to consider cutting ties with the International Criminal Court, which had issued a warrant of arrest for al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane stayed silent on the matter, leaving the Cabinet to issue an official statement after the fact. Bapela could not be reached for comment at the time of going to print.

‘Subject to revision’
A third NEC member, who heads one of the subcommittees, told the M&G that “all subcommittees are subject to revision. It’s a genuine discussion. I don’t think it is aimed at purging some people.”

He blamed some ANC leaders for “personalising the discussions” and said “subcommittee chairs have been consulted by the secretary general [Mantashe]. I know there will be people who will be unhappy, but the intention for the review is to make the subcommittees more effective,” he said.

The same NEC member said the scope of some subcommittees was too wide, resulting in certain issues not being dealt with effectively.

“The principle is to correct that. It makes sense that we are reviewing the subcommittees because we are going to the national general council [in October],” said the NEC member.

“There is nothing sinister about evaluating structures and committees. The [secretary general] has got to report to the [national general council].”

There are, however, some in the NEC who are sceptical about Mantashe’s reasons. “We sent that proposal back to the [national working committee] because we know this is not about the committee wanting this; it’s about Gwede,” the first NEC member said.

A Luthuli House official who sympathises with Mantashe blames certain leaders for “sensationalising” the matter. “Remember, Pallo [Jordan, a former NEC member] was changed halfway. It happens from time to time. If you are minister of telecommunications but sit in a social cluster, you lose out on discussing telecommunications issues,” the official said.

“Obed Bapela should be sitting where local government is.”

Mantashe said there is nothing surprising about moving people around in NEC subcommittees, as this was not a new practice.

“You appoint Lindiwe Zulu to the communications subcommittee and when she is appointed the minister of small business development, she can’t still remain there,” he told the M&G.

No different
Mantashe cited the case of Bheki Cele, former police commissioner and the current deputy minister of forestry, fisheries and agriculture, who will be moved from the peace and stability subcommittee because of his new job.

It would be no different for Bapela to be moved out of the ANC subcommittee on international relations to the one on legislature and government, he said.

Because of the poor relationship that the Mbeki leadership had with Luthuli House, the Polokwane conference decided to abolish the office of the head of the presidency in the ANC – which was held by Smuts Ngonyama under Mbeki – and resolved to make the secretary general’s office the party’s nerve centre.

This was in addition to doing away with the two centres of power, where the party president is not necessarily the state president. The expectation was that having the party’s president as head of state would strengthen the ANC’s hand in guiding government programmes.

The 2007 congress also resolved that “the ANC remains the key strategic centre of power, which must exercise leadership over the state and society in pursuit of the objectives of the [national democratic revolution]”.

Little improvement
But all these efforts appear to have done little to improve relations between the state and the ANC, with the second term of office remaining a difficult time for party leaders.

Mantashe denied that there is a rift between government and the ANC over the implementation of policies, but conceded that more needs to be done to improve the working relationship.

“If things were going as smoothly as we liked, there would be no need for a lekgotla twice a year,” he said.

South Africa – Malema says he will see Zuma in court


“Let’s meet you in court,” said Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema at the close of this afternoon’s question-and-answer session with President Jacob Zuma in Parliament. 
Malema got the last word after Zuma, who was asked when he was going to pay back the money for Nkandla, referred to the parliamentary process that is currently under way. 
Although speaker Baleka Mbete had not “recognised Malema”, he stood up and said: “It is very clear that we are never going to get an answer. Let’s meet in court.” 
In his reply, Zuma also answered that the Public Protector’s report had stated that he should instruct the minister of police to determine how much he should pay back for “security upgrades” at his home in Nkandla. 
This was despite the Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, pointing out last week that her report did not say this. 
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane corrected Zuma, saying that Madonsela’s report required him to determine, with the treasury’s assistance, how much he should pay back. 
The sitting took place with members of the controversial Parliamentary Protection Services standing guard outside the doors of the National Assembly. A DA member commented that he recornised two of the new recruits – former SAPS members – mostly dressed in white shirts and black pants, from a previous sitting of the house, when the EFF MPs were forcibly removed. 
After Malema asked his question and Zuma said that the parliamentary investigation was still under way, EFF members repeatedly rose for points of order even though Mbete had not recognised them. 
Opposition MPs – especially United Democratic Movement MPs, whose leader Bantu Holomisa was unable to speak due to the constant interjections – became visibly fed up with the EFF’s behaviour.

South Africa – Lonmin could be about to shed 6,000 jobs


Lonmin says 6,000 South Africa jobs at risk in proposed restructuring

Platinum producer Lonmin (LMI.L) said on Friday it was planning to close or mothball several mine shafts, putting 6,000 South African jobs at risk, because of depressed metal prices.

Platinum’s spot price XPT= is at 6-1/2 year lows less than $1,000 an ounce, while power and labour costs in South Africa have risen sharply.

“Lonmin is highly geared to platinum group metal prices. At current metal price levels, the company is EBITDA negative (loss making) and our cost minimisation plans are designed to improve this position as much as possible,” it said.

Lonmin said the planned closures would likely affect a total of 6,000 employees including contractors. In a letter to a labour union obtained by Reuters, the company had spoken of 4,500 jobs, about 15 percent of its workforce.

Job cuts are a thorny issue in South Africa, where the unemployment rate is over 25 percent and union militancy has been on the rise, especially in the mining industry.

South Africa – Tutu in hospital with persistent infection

Mail and Guardian

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been hospitalised with an undisclosed but “persistent” infection, his foundation said.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. (AFP)

“Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was admitted to a Cape Town hospital on Tuesday for treatment to a persistent infection,” a statement released by his foundation said.

The 83-year-old Nobel peace laureate is expected to be discharged this week.

“His family hopes he will be able to return home in a day or two,” said the statement.

The anti-apartheid icon last December cancelled plans to travel to a meeting of Nobel laureates in Rome, in order to battle prostate cancer, which he has lived with for 15 years. In 2011 he was hospitalised for “minor” elective surgery.

He was hospitalised again in 2013 year for a persistent infection, but tests at that time showed no new malignancy.

Tutu survived an illness believed to be polio as a baby and battled tuberculosis as a teenager.

Under apartheid, Tutu campaigned against white minority rule during the years that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned and was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

Officially retired, he is still outspoken on the world’s injustices, and is widely viewed as South Africa’s moral compass. – AFP



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