Tag Archives: Zuma

South Africa – Zuma says he is in perfect health and post-election fatigue


South Africa’s Zuma says in ‘perfect’ health after post-election fatigue


South African President Jacob Zuma delivers a speech at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Year of South Africa in China at Tianqiao Theater in Beijing, December 5, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Lee

South African President Jacob Zuma delivers a speech at the closing ceremony of the 2014 Year of South Africa in China at Tianqiao Theater in Beijing, December 5, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jason Lee

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Jacob Zuma said he was in “perfect” condition after recovering from a bout of fatigue that left him hospitalised in June, playing down reports of health problems.

Zuma, 72, has noticeably lost weight since coming to power in 2009. He was hospitalised for two days of tests following what his office said was a demanding schedule in the run-up to May’s national election.

“I think we did overstretch ourselves, I think there was fatigue thereafter,” Zuma said in an interview with national broadcaster SABC that was aired on Sunday.

“There was a period where I really took it easy. I couldn’t say my health was in perfect condition — I’m in perfect condition now — but at that time, one could feel the strain of elections.”

The Sunday Times newspaper reported in June that Zuma’s hospitalisation was triggered by heart problems, diabetes and high blood pressure. His spokesman later dismissed the report, saying Zuma was fine.

Worries about Zuma’s health have raised some speculation he may not see out the full five years of his second term. His ruling African National Congress (ANC) won a 62 percent majority in the May polls, its narrowest victory since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.


We need to talk about Cyril – Ramaphosa and South Africa’s presidency

African Arguments – By Desné Masie

Oh the irony. In 1982, Cyril Ramaphosa, presided over the establishment of one of South Africa’s largest trade unions, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Exactly thirty years later, Ramaphosa, in his capacity as board member of Lonmin PLC, presided over the worst state violence against civilians since apartheid, many of whom were NUM members, when police shot and killed 34 miners during the wildcat strike at Lonmin’s Marikana platinum mine.

Ramaphosa, currently the deputy president of South Africa, has a long history as a firebrand trade unionist, skilled negotiator and senior member of SA’s ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). He was a key figure in South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994. So how did Ramaphosa turn into a millionaire businessman with substantial assets allegedly stashed in tax havens?

Ramaphosa is accused of having sold out the Marikana miners, and while he has been cleared of criminal liability by the Farlam Commission, some of his most ardent critics – such as the Economic Freedom Fighters’ Dali Mpofu, who named him ‘accused number one’ in the “toxic collusion” between police, Lonmin and the State – insist Ramaphosa is ultimately responsible for their deaths.

With Jacob Zuma increasingly an absent president, and embroiled in the Nkandla controversy in which he is alleged to have spent US$23m of public funds on renovating his personal residence, Ramaphosa is becoming an increasingly powerful and controversial figure: he has represented Zuma at official functions, stepping in when the president is nowhere to be seen, and with his connections in the trade unions, business, and politics, and the likelihood that he is the next president, it’s time to talk about Cyril.

Cyril the Negotiator: Cosatu, the ANC and South Africa’s transition to democracy

Ramaphosa’s long political career started as a student politician in the 1970s, and by 1982 he had helped to establish the NUM, and in 1985, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), South Africa’s powerful union federation, currently in meltdown due to a spat with union Numsa (National Union of Metalworkers of SA). His ascendency to the upper echelons of the liberation movement and current ruling party, saw him on the National Reception Committee, which co-ordinated the release of Nelson Mandela. By 1991 Ramaphosa was elected general-secretary of the ANC.

During the period of South Africa’s transition to democracy, Ramaphosa soon established himself as a skilled negotiator and was a key figure in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) as well as in the bilateral talks with Roelf Meyer, a senior member of the National Party. The dialogue between Ramaphosa and Meyer was instrumental in bringing about an agreement between the NP and the ANC, and ultimately, the blueprint for South Africa’s Constitution and the start of its democratic era.

After losing the 1996 presidential competition to Thabo Mbeki, Ramaphosa concentrated his attention on his business interests, despite being perceived as Mandela’s favourite, and his election to the top of the ANC national executive in 1997.

Cyril the Tycoon: The tangled web of Shanduka, Lonmin and Marikana

Where to begin? The tangled web of business interests that form Ramaphosa’s empire have helped him to amass a fortune of an estimated $700m and made him one of Africa’s richest men. With companies spanning almost every conceivable sector of the economy from mining to financial services to McDonalds and CocaCola, it’s almost impossible to escape the net of Shanduka Group, the holding company that is the foundation of Ramaphosa’s business empire.

Ramaphosa’s good fortune has undoubtedly been helped along by his political and union connections as well as the country’s Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) legislation that has aimed to address past racial discrimination through affirmative action in job placement and procurement policies. This has contributed to the creation of a black oligarch class that has succeeded in winning government tenders and amassing holdings in corporations as well as extensive board memberships. It is hardly surprising that Ramaphosa is married to Tshepo Motsepe, who is the sister of fellow mining magnate and billionaire, Patrice Motsepe.

For Ramaphosa it all began with New Africa Investments Limited in the 1990s, with interests in MTN, a large telecommunications and mobile telephony company and culminated with Shanduka Group, which he founded in 2001, and which had a stake in Lonmin’s SA operations at the time of the Marikana massacre. Shanduka was founded as a black-owned investment holding company, and is invested in a diverse portfolio of listed and unlisted companies, with key holdings in the resources, food and beverage industries and has investments in South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius, Ghana and Nigeria.

Following Marikana, the overlapping web of politics and business has been snapping at Ramaphosa’s heels. The Farlam commission revealed email correspondence that may be interpreted as him having unduly used his political influence on the police, and some have argued this is what led to the use of force on the miners. But testimony also revealed that the company paid millions in commissions to agents in the tax haven of Bermuda. Lonmin is thus alleged by the economist Dick Forslund to have used transfer pricing to shift profits. It is this allegation, that Ramaphosa may have assets stashed away in tax havens, and not the Marikana massacre itself, that may yet be his undoing, if found to be true.

Forslund argues that “the amounts were shifted from Lonmin’s South African operations so as not to be used for meeting wage demands, social labour commitments, or be included in taxable income”. Tax avoidance by Lonmin may therefore also have been a key precipitating factor to the violence at Marikana. Ironically, Ramaphosa himself referred to corporate tax avoidance a “crime against ordinary South Africans”. The capital flight of assets from African economies is increasingly being met with opposition because it undermines their economies and revenue collection as I recently wrote here.

Ramaphosa has, however, resigned from his position as the executive chairperson of Shanduka, in order to take up the role of deputy president, and it is expected that he should divest his assets to prevent a conflict of interests.

Is a Cyril Presidency Guaranteed and What Would it Look Like?

Ramaphosa certainly has the political pedigree, but is his path to the presidency guaranteed? I spoke to Professor Steven Friedman, director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg about his thoughts on this. Says Friedman: “Ramaphosa’s role in politics has been that of conciliator and skilled negotiator … and while Ramaphosa would certainly be, for most of the middle class, press and business, a congenial choice, he remains also a loyal servant of the ANC… He is not known for being a big political risk taker or gung-ho reformer … and even though he had significant support to run for the ANC presidency in 2007, he was not up for the challenge, and he became deputy president almost by accident”.

Friedman and I also discussed the issue of Zuma’s perceived absenteeism and Ramaphosa often having to stand in for him, for example, by attending the recently deceased Zambian president’s Sata’s funeral. Friedman is of the opinion that Ramaphosa’s increasingly prominent role was to be anticipated because the ANC is very aware that Zuma is not popular. As an example, Ramaphosa’s predecessor Kgalema Motlanthe was also a relatively prominent deputy, and took the lead with key issues such as the media ‘secrecy bill’. Other potential candidates in the running include Gwede Mantashe, the current ANC secretary-general, fellow BEE tycoon and ANC veteran Tokyo Sexwale, and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, currently head of the African Union and enjoying the support of those making the case for a female head of state. So it’s not the case necessarily that Ramaphosa is being set up as the next president, and further, the ANC normally decides its leadership in terms of its own archaic processes that is partly related to factionalism.

Hence, as Friedman sees it, “Zuma is head of the party, but in terms of dealing with the constituency it makes more sense to put someone more congenial forward.” However, Zuma is presented as being unpopular in the media, which represents elite and key interests groups in South African society, and election results have shown that the rest of the country do not necessarily share the same views. Similarly, the issues raised about Ramaphosa in the media may be reflective of such politicking. Says Friedman: “Ramaphosa is being accused of being a murderer, but everybody knows this is how the game is being played in terms of individual politics, however, if the tax haven allegations are found to be true the political consequences could be potentially bad”.

What awaits the next president of South Africa?

South Africa is on red alert in terms of the erosion of its democratic institutions and the threats to economic stability resulting from, yes the legacy of apartheid, but also, the insidious, incestuous rot in private and public partnerships, the normalisation of corruption and the culture of ‘tenderpreneurship’. Democratic societies are undermined by inequality and rent-seeking between public and private deals that transfer losses to the public with low economic growth and unemployment, while transferring gains to the private through returns on assets and tax avoidance.

One of the key issues that Marikana threw up was rampant socio-economic inequality in South Africa. So while South Africa has a long history of upholding workers’ rights and a strong trade union tradition, rates of unemployment, incidents such as Marikana, and slow growth, are creating further tensions and wildcat strikes. One such outcome of the inflammatory labour relations environment has been the World Economic Forum ranking South Africa last in labour-employer relations in its Global Competitiveness Report due its “hostile labour relations” environment and “labour market inefficiency”.

Despite all this, some have argued that Ramaphosa was, due to his status, always going to emerge from the Farlam Commission unscathed, and it is likely he will not be fingered by the tax avoidance allegations either. We can only hope that if Ramaphosa succeeds Zuma as president of South Africa, that he will not be derailed by vested interests, and that his business acumen and negotiating skills place the economy and society onto a more salubrious path that is not tainted by sybaritic kleptocrats.


South Africa – growing rift between Zuma and Mantashe in ANC

Mail and Guardian

The M&G spoke to several sources who all painted a picture of the ANC president openly at odds with his secretary general.

At loggerheads: Top level ANC sources say the tension between Gwede Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma is intensifying. (Oupa Nkosi)

President Jacob Zuma has sidelined ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe, openly undermining him and directing Cabinet ministers to defy him.

The Mail & Guardian spoke to several ANC national executive committee (NEC) sources – independently of each other – who all painted a picture of Zuma openly at odds with Mantashe.

This is a stark departure from Zuma’s first term, before the ANC’s Mangaung conference in 2012, when Mantashe played the role of an unofficial “prime minister” and strongly backed Zuma.

Now Mantashe is seen as a threat to Zuma and his KwaZulu-Natal backers’ succession plans for when Zuma’s term ends in 2017. ANC members in Mantashe’s home province of the Eastern Cape have made clear their support for him to become ANC deputy president, a plan at odds with the Zuma faction’s ambitions.

But Mantashe says there appears to be a campaign to drive a wedge between him and the president. “That is what they are praying for,” he told the M&G this week.

Clearly aware of the claims of a growing rift, Mantashe said it was something some NEC members “wished for”. One of the contributing factors for the apparent rift is Mantashe’s propensity to speak his mind on ANC matters. The secretary general noted that, although he enjoyed freedom of speech, he was not petty. “I am organisational, I am not petty,” he said.

The tension between the two men seems to be intensifying, according to the NEC sources. Two members said Mantashe was increasingly marginalised by Zuma and his allies. And a former ANC top official said he believed the fight was getting worse.

One NEC member said Zuma appears to be on the warpath against Mantashe in an effort to “save his legacy” and “get more friends” – even if that means not toeing the party line as set out by Mantashe.

The sources detailed numerous incidents that demonstrate how Zuma advised his allies, including Cabinet ministers, to oppose Mantashe. “If the president says something and the secretary general says something else, we will listen to the president,” one source said.

Many of the allegations are based on anecdotal and behind-closed-doors interactions between the two men, but a number of incidents confirm the growing tension.

In June, Mantashe was vehemently opposed to a task team announced by then newly appointed Minister of Mineral Resources Nkgoako Ramatlhodi to mediate in the five-month-long platinum strike.

One source, significantly close to the matter, said Mantashe and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) – Mantashe was previously a general secretary of the union – were firm that government should not intervene in the strike.

They appeared to have argued that government’s intervention would legitimise what they called a “violent Amcu” [the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union]. Amcu, the NUM’s rival, led the violent strike that brought the platinum industry to a standstill.

Mantashe was not coy about this sentiment, repeatedly saying at the time that Amcu was supported by “foreign forces” and “outsiders”.

But despite Mantashe’s reservation, Ramatlhodi pushed ahead, and formed the technical task team – after being emboldened by a directive from Zuma. The source noted that Ramatlhodi went to Zuma’s office in Pretoria where he explained what he (Ramatlhodi) described as a “desperate situation” and was then given the nod by Zuma to intervene.

It emerged that Zuma went as far as directing Ramatlhodi to ignore Mantashe’s objection and to form the task team. At a subsequent NEC subcommittee meeting on mineral resources, Ramatlhodi was reprimanded for not abiding by Mantashe’s instructions. This was done by an NEC member aligned to Mantashe.

Ramatlhodi apparently noted in that meeting that as a member of the executive he took his instructions from Zuma and not Mantashe. He added that he did what he thought was “best for the country”.

But this week Mantashe denied trying to dissuade Ramatlhodi from intervening in the deadlock in the platinum sector. “We met Ramatlhodi as officials in the middle of the intervention,” he said.

During national elections in May, the ANC in Gauteng got a hammering from voters, ostensibly over the introduction of e-tolls in the province. Newly elected premier David Makhura set up a panel to review the tolls, but Mantashe was vehemently opposed to it, saying the scheme had been initiated and implemented by the ANC government.

Makhura pushed ahead anyway, and it emerged that he went to Zuma, who gave him permission to review the controversial e-tolls. This visit to get Zuma’s approval was confirmed by ANC Gauteng chairperson Paul Mashatile.

“People say the president is unhappy about it [e-tolls]. But he is the first person who was consulted and he gave the go-ahead,” Mashatile said after the ANC’s provincial conference earlier this month.

In an interview with City Press last week, Mantashe again reprimanded the Gauteng leadership for taking on the mother party. “If you have an issue, you don’t raise it publicly and threaten the ANC,” Mantashe was quoted as saying.

Two senior ANC sources said that in addition to the approval about the e-tolls by Zuma, it was then further discussed with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

But this week Mantashe denied being opposed to the e-toll review panel: “I did not meet the premier of Gauteng. He came to the office when I was not here. He met with the deputy secretary general [Jessie Duarte, a close Zuma ally], who gave him the go-ahead,” he said.

The ANC in Gauteng has now called for the scrapping of the controversial e-tolls and has sided with opposition parties to figure out how best to settle the infrastructure debt. The ANC almost lost Gauteng in the May general election, with opinion polls citing the e-tolls as an electoral turn off.

But the most damning bone of contention between Zuma and Mantashe has been the appointment of Hlaudi Motsoeneng as the SABC’s chief operating officer.

The M&G reported in July this year that the communications minister, Faith Muthambi, got a directive from Zuma to ratify Motsoeneng’s appointment. Mantashe told the M&G then that the ANC was opposed to the appointment.

Two other sources in the top leadership of the ANC said the friction between Zuma and Mantashe over this matter has not died down.

“The SG [Mantashe] is still very open about it, that the president made the wrong instruction about appointing Hlaudi,” one source said.

The same source added that Mantashe argued that the directive to appoint Motsoeneng had affected the public’s confidence in the ruling party. M&G

South Africa – Gauteng ANC wants Ramaphosa as next president

Mail and Guardian

It supports women leaders but believes Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is the best person for the job.

The deputy president of the ANC and the country, Cyril Ramaphosa, is believed by many party faithful to be the best man to be head of state.

As some within the ANC lobby for president Jacob Zuma’s successor to be a woman, Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile has openly declared his support for deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to become both the party’s and the country’s next head.

Although Gauteng is not the largest ANC province, it plays a crucial role in the party’s succession battles. Rampahosa is without a definable constituency but has tried to penetrate KwaZulu-Natal – the ANC’s largest province, albeit one that is no longer solidly behind Zuma.

Ramaphosa was not Gauteng’s choice for deputy president at the ANC’s Mangaung national elective conference in 2012, preferring Tokyo Sexwale, but there has since been a change of heart.

Gauteng senior leaders say the province is now trying hard to court Ramaphosa – against the wishes of the so-called Zuma camp.

A Gauteng provincial executive committee (PEC) member told the Mail & Guardian that, before the country’s polls in May, a faction in the Zuma camp attempted to prevent Ramaphosa from accepting invitations to the province’s election campaign events. They wanted him to establish his credentials in KwaZulu-Natal instead.

But the PEC member also said the province “believed in Cyril”, despite earlier concerns that he was part of the Zuma camp. Gauteng’s attempt to embrace Ramaphosa was confirmed by Mashatile this week.

He was speaking a week after ANC Women’s League national executive committee member and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini told the M&G she will support African Union Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma or ANC chair Baleka Mbete for the ANC’s top position in 2017.

Some women’s league branches want Dlamini to replace Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga as league president. Dlamini is keen for the league to discuss a resolution to support a woman president for the country in 2017.

AU Commission chief Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the first choice for many should South Africa gain its first woman president.

The issue of a female head of state has received support in some ANC structures since Zuma said in April that the country is ready to be led by a woman, although some in the ANC have interpreted the suggestion as a strategy by Zuma and his supporters to block Ramaphosa from succeeding him.

This week, Mashatile said his province will throw its support behind Ramaphosa to become the next president. “I know in Gauteng, as things stand, there is a lot of support for the deputy president. We see him [Ramaphosa] as a potential future president. If there is a view that it should be someone else, we should be convinced about the appropriateness of such.

“We do support women leaders, but in a situation where you have a deputy president who is available and you want someone else, you will have to engage us,” said Mashatile.

Factional battles
A senior women’s league member said the problem is that the league never makes decisions based on principle, but is always caught up in the ANC’s factional battles. That is why there was no solid league position prior to the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane elective conference, with some supporting Kgalema Motlanthe for ANC deputy president while others backed Dlamini-Zuma.

The highly placed women’s league member said the only way the body could show the courage of its convictions would be to do some work on the ground and not merely lobby through the media.

The M&G this week spoke to a number of provincial and national alliance leaders on the matter of succession.

“It’s fine if national leadership raised the issue, but with us we will only discuss it when we are there [the 2017 conference],” said Sihle Zikalala, the ANC’s KwaZulu-Natal provincial secretary.

Although Zikalala did not want to comment on Dlamini-Zuma, he was firm in his support for Ramaphosa if he were to lead the party come 2017. “He is a leader of the ANC; he can lead the organisation.”

Healthy debate
ANC Free State secretary William Bulwana said it is healthy for the organisation that Dlamini started the debate about a woman president. “It triggers debate. I don’t see any wrong, really,” he told the M&G.

Declining to be drawn on Ramaphosa’s abilities, saying it would be wrong to “single him out as a person”, he nonetheless spoke glowingly of Dlamini-Zuma. “I think Nkosazana is a very good leader and she has qualities of leadership.”

The party’s Mpumalanga secretary, Lucky Ndinisa, said he agreed with Dlamini on her choice of candidates. “If Bathabile [Dlamini] feels we should support women I won’t have a problem with that, but it is early for us to talk about it,” said Ndinisa. “We need to focus on the resolutions and manifesto of the ANC.”

But Ndinisa also said he holds Ramaphosa in high regard as a leader.

ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete is a contender for the presidency.

ANC heavyweight and Minister of Small Business Lindiwe Zulu said it is only a matter of “when” the ANC will have its first female president. “It’s never too soon. It’s up to the women to make it happen and we will be supported by those men who have gone beyond those arguments of ‘are we ready or not?’ It’s up to us.”

Capable person
The ANC Youth League’s national task team co-ordinator, Magasela Mzobe, said Dlamini is brave to have started the debate about a woman leader now. “In principle it is possible: the ANC branches can elect a female, male, gay or straight president any time they identify a capable person,” Mzobe said.

“The only organisation in South Africa that can give South Africa a female president is the ANC. Only the ANC has capable women who are given an opportunity to lead.”

Senzo Mahlangu, general secretary of the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, said Ramaphosa is the best candidate to replace Zuma. He warned against pushing Dlamini-Zuma or Mbete – both hail from Zuma’s home province – saying it could be seen as tribalism.

“If I were to decide, I would say Cyril. He is not new to politics. He is smart and has a lot of experience as a leader. He is not moved by money or power,” said Mahlangu.

Matuma Letsoalo is a senior politics reporter at the Mail & Guardian.
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Verashni Pillay is an associate editor at the Mail & Guardian.
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Twitter: @verashni




South Africa – is Zuma afraid of poor people at his gate?

City Press

Is Jacob Zuma afraid of the hungry people at his gate?

Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge at the launch of the Sidikiwe! campaign in Joburg on Tuesday (April 15 2014). Picture: Muntu Vilakazi/City Press

She wonders if President Jacob Zuma fears the hungry people knocking at his gate, former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge has said about the R246 million security upgrades to his Nkandla home.

Speaking at the media launch of the Sidikiwe! campaign in Joburg today, she said: “I sometimes ask myself who does he [Zuma] fear in Nkandla? Is it those people knocking on his gate saying: ‘President, we are hungry’?”

Madlala-Routledge was one of three speakers at a press conference geared towards encouraging South Africans to vote “against” the ANC.

“The ANC was the popular people’s movement where the leaders put people first. What do we see now? We see leaders who put themselves first,” she said.

Madlala-Routledge said she joined the campaign out of a deep love for her country and in honour of struggle leaders who “sacrificed their lives”.

“Instead of sitting in your corner and complaining that your government has forgotten us, and indeed they are showing signs that they have forgotten us, go to the polling booth and use your power to express your feelings about those who rule us,” she said.

Madlala-Routledge suggested two ways in which people could exercise this power. The first option was to support smaller parties, which in turn would take away from the majority party.

“If you can’t do this, then you can spoil your ballot. And this is a valid form of expression. It’s not about forgetting about where we come from and the people who have died, it’s about actually remembering that – how many people have died,” she said.

Madlala-Routledge was joined by former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, who said South Africans needed to take a stand. “The ANC is no longer a national liberation movement – they are now just another political party,” he said.

He accused the ruling party of ignoring the pleas of the poor and failing to cater to their needs. “Nelson Mandela said that if we as a party [ANC] don’t deliver, then the people have the right to march against us,” he said.

Kasrils emphasised the Sidikiwe! campaign as a movement that not only encouraged voters to spoil their votes, but that encouraged individuals to vote against corrupt governance.

The campaign has been criticised for encouraging spoilt votes, which will inevitably benefit the ruling party. Kasrils acknowledged the criticism, but argued that a loss in voters to the ANC by 3% or 4% due to spoilt votes would “signal that people are fed up”.

“Vote ‘no’ against corruption and patronage,” he said. Kasrils said, as a struggle elder, he had reached a crossroads – where it felt incorrect for him to turn a blind eye to what was happening in South Africa. Although Kasrils and Madlala-Routledge had been labelled conspirators and subversive, Kasrils said their aim was to aid democracy. “We need to speak up, we can’t be walking around with rose-tinted spectacles,” he said. City Press

South Africa – security cluster continues attempts to derail Nkandla report

Mail and GuardianAspects of Thuli Madonsela’s report on upgrades to Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home are confusing and need clarity, say security cluster ministers.

The Cabinet ministers in the security cluster who conducted their own investigation into the Nkandla security upgrades released a statement on Tuesday morning saying they were seeking “clarity” about certain aspects of public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report.

“We have sought clarity on some areas which we believe are confusing and became evident in our detailed reading of the report,” reads the statement. “The next step is for the office of the public protector to respond, after which we will be able to make a more informed decision on the way forward.”

The ministers emphasised their respect for the public protector’s office but said they were within their rights to seek clarity. Government has faced criticism for placing pressure on Madonsela’s office, which should be independent as a chapter nine institution. The security cluster in particular were involved in a damaging court battle with her office to prevent the release of the report, and further pressures on her office were detailed in her report.

Both the Minister of State Security Siyabonga Cwele and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega tried to institute an investigation involving Madonsela’s office about leaks from her provisional report to the Mail & Guardian. Madonsela noted the incident in pages 103 to 106 of her “Secure in Comfort” report.

She at the time informed both Phiyega and Cwele that neither her nor her staff would be party to either investigations, adding that it created uneasiness in her office.

“The investigations by the minister of state security and the national commissioner of the SAPS [South African Police Service] caused discomfort among the members of the investigation team, who perceived it to be aimed at intimidating and victimising them and me,” she said in one damning section of the report. “My team and I were especially offended by insinuations that the leak originated from my office and that I had personally admitted to the leak.”‘

Increasing political pressure
Concerns also mounted before the release of the report of increasing political pressure being placed on Madonsela’s office.

Veiled threats were made at the time over the timing of the report’s release, with powerful figures demanding it be released earlier so as not to affect upcoming elections. Other government figures investigated by Madonsela in the past came forward to challenge her findings, while others called the report into doubt. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said it would be treated as a political report and, according to claims, the party planned to tell its supporters to ignore the report.

But ministers insisted that no undue pressure was placed on the public protector, when this question was raised after the reports release.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga spoke from her own point of view, saying the public protector needed to develop a “thicker skin”.

“The public protector is free to investigate anything so there should no holy cows. And in return people are free to also defend their rights, so she mustn’t feel too sensitive … They have a right to raise their voice as she has a right to investigate.”

Apply his mind
The security cluster meanwhile added in their Tuesday statement that Madonsela’s office “has an enormous responsibility to ensure its findings are factually accurate and consistent with the law”.

The security cluster ministers include Cwele, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor and Correctional Services Minister S’bu Ndebele. Mthethwa was involved in the upgrade and taken to task in Madonsela’s report for poor leadership and failing to “properly” apply his mind when signing the declaration of President Zuma’s Nkandla home as a national key point.

Also on Tuesday, National Assembly speaker Max Sisulu – according to a Beeld report – decided to investigate the Nkandla report before the May 7 elections.

Sisulu decided to set up a multiparty parliamentary committee to consider Madonsela’s report “Secure in Comfort”, the paper reported.

Beeld quoted Democratic Alliance chief whip Watty Watson and Freedom Front Plus chief whip Corne Mulder, who both confirmed that Sisulu would appoint an ad hoc committee.

“The speaker phoned me and told me he planned to set up an ad hoc committee and that he wanted to consult,” said Mulder. “The speaker said the ad hoc committee would have to work morning, noon and night up to the elections on May 7 to get the work done in time … He [Sisulu] said he wanted to complete it before May 6. That means the committee should present a report before then and then the National Assembly should be called upon to consider the report.”

According to parliamentary rules, the speaker needed to consult with political parties before setting up such a committee. – Additional reporting by Sapa

Verashni Pillay is an associate editor at the Mail & Guardian.
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South Africa – ANC must stop protecting Number One!

Mail and Guardian

Editorial: Stop protecting Number One

Cabinet ministers and government officials have been protecting Jacob Zuma since the ANC’s 2007 Polokwane conference, at the expense of the people.
Editorial: Stop protecting Number One

President Jacob Zuma, aka Number One. (AFP)

“It is difficult not to reach the conclusion that a licence-to-loot situation was created by government,” public protector Thuli Madonsela argued in her carefully delivered presentation on the Nkandla report. Madonsela hammered nail after nail into the series of ­fictions produced by President Jacob Zuma’s administration about the upgrading of his private residence at Nkandla.

The intention of this fictional narrative has been to establish complete impunity for Number One by delegitimising any institution that finds against the president.

The road to Nkandla meanders through a broken independent prosecutorial authority, a divided judiciary and a haemorrhaging public purse.

It began in 2007 when Zuma, backed by Thabo Mbeki’s enemies, emerged victorious at the ANC’s Polokwane conference. At Zuma’s first press conference as ANC president, it seemed even his closest allies thought him unlikely to impress. ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa was chief baby-sitter and protector, fielding many questions, especially those related to the economy, while Zuma looked on. What we saw that day would come to define his presidency.

Days later the Scorpions recharged Zuma with corruption, in one of the crime-busting unit’s last acts.  Zuma and his “coalition of the wounded” had already pushed for the Scorpions to be disbanded, and Parliament soon moved to do exactly that.

The premiers of the Western Cape and Eastern Cape were purged and Mbeki himself was “recalled” in September 2008, ostensibly “to heal and unite the African National Congress”. ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe described the move as a way of dealing with high court Judge Chris Nicholson’s ruling that Mbeki may have been involved in a political conspiracy against Zuma.

With Zuma the ANC’s presidential candidate in the 2009 election, moves to protect him went into top gear. “Spy tapes” leaked to Zuma’s legal team were used to push the National Prosecuting Authority to drop serious charges against him. Days before the poll, the NPA’s acting head – against the advice of two senior counsel and the NPA team itself – dropped the charges.

The tapes detailed conversations in 2007 between then Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and other players, including former prosecutions chief Bulelani Ngcuka, then justice minister Brigitte Mabandla and Mbeki himself. The tapes purportedly showed McCarthy’s willingness to “manipulate” the timing of the charges against Zuma, based on how this might affect Mbeki’s chances in the leadership contest at Polokwane.

Zuma duly became South Africa’s fourth democratic president. But the “spy tapes” have not gone away. A high court judge ruled last year that the NPA should hand them over, but the government appealed. The matter is now before the Supreme Court of Appeal, which is expected to make a ruling only later this year – by which time Zuma will probably be serving a second term. Given past experience, the battle to protect Number One is likely to continue.

The obsessive drive to shield him has left a woeful trail of destruction. The intelligence service is in a shambles, the government has resorted to apartheid-era legislation and a “secrecy Bill”, which will have the further implication of insulating the country’s first citizen.

The judiciary and the judicial selection process have also been compromised. Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe was accused by Pius Langa’s Constitutional Court of attempting to influence judges in Zuma’s favour. This set senior judges against each other, and the Judicial Service Commission’s probe into the matter drags on to this day. This ugly battle has damaged the judiciary’s credibility and raised questions about the integrity of some of our top judges.

As Zuma has consolidated his power, and as his family and cronies have benefited from his presidency, he has appointed weak or compromised figures to head key organs of state. It seems no one of independence is allowed to hold key positions in law enforcement agencies; as a result, these institutions are barely able to do their job of pursuing criminals.

Which brings us to Nkandla – a monument to squandered resources and a symbol of everything that is wrong with South Africa under Zuma.

Cabinet ministers and government officials have fallen over themselves to protect Number One at any cost. They have used secrecy laws to block information. They have used the device of ministerial inquiries to contain damage to the presidency. They have vilified the constitutionally enshrined office of the public protector. They have noisily attacked media scarecrows. Government time, energy and resources have been spent trying to save Zuma and his acolytes from public scrutiny.

The ANC took a momentous decision in September 2008 when it “recalled” a president. Today, the ANC could do the same – or at least ensure Zuma is not the party’s presidential candidate in May and spare the country impeachment proceedings. Instead of protecting him, the ANC needs to put the country and its people first. It should support and strengthen bodies such as the public protector, rather than undermining them, and should bolster the independence of the judiciary and the criminal justice system.

Given the massive challenges facing South Africa, we cannot afford another five years of a bloated and self-serving administration. The ­protection and enrichment of one man, his family and cronies cannot be a state priority.

It is time to protect all of South Africa’s people, not only Number One.  M&G