Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa – Cape fires cause 10,000 to flee Knysna



Strong winds from the worst winter storm in 30 years fuelled the fires.

At least 150 properties have been destroyed in Knysna, according to the fire service.

The town has a population of 77,000. It lies 500km (310 miles) east of Cape Town on South Africa’s famed Garden Route.

FiresImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Knysna is on a popular tourist trail

“Humanitarian support is being co-ordinated for an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 residents of the Greater Knysna area, after devastating fires,” said James-Brent Styan, spokesman for the Western Cape local government ministry.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would assist in a water-bombing operation to extinguish the fires, its spokesman Simphiwe Dlamini said.

About 150 troops would also be deployed to make sure that criminals do not loot properties that have been vacated, he added.

In May, the Western Cape province declared a drought disaster after two reservoirs had completely dried up. It was said to have been the region’s worst drought in more than a century.

Several other southern African nations were also affected by the two-year drought, which was caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon.

However, many parts of the region are now experiencing bumper maize harvests.

South Africa – e-mails show Guptas asked to buy air time for ANC


#GuptaEmails: Guptas asked to buy airtime for ANC election agents

2017-06-02 21:15

Cape Town – The Guptas were asked to buy airtime for 362 ANC agents in the Free State a day before the 2014 general elections, emails leaked from the family have revealed.

On May 6, 2014, Mosidi Motsemme, an employee at the Free State provincial legislature, emailed a list of party agents to Free State premier Ace Magashule’s son Tshepiso, with the following request:

“Attached please receive a list of FS ANC party agents in need of airtime, they all use MTN. It will be appreciated if air time amounting to R120 per person could be loaded today, 06 May 2014.”

This was “as per directive of FS ANC Chaiperson (sic) “. Ace Magashule is the ANC’s Free State chairperson.

The list was also forwarded to a person named Kabelo Nthongoa, who forwarded it Tony Gupta.

It was unclear if the airtime was ever bought.

The leaked e-mails reveal that the Gupta’s company, Sahara Computers, sponsored trips to Dubai for Tshepiso Magashule and his brother Thatho. Shortly afterwards, they paid for a trip for President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

Zuma’s trip to Dubai was booked on December 4, 2015, shortly before his father fired Nhlanhla Nene as finance minister on December 9.

The flight was from OR Tambo International Airport to Dubai International Airport on December 6, returning on the 20th.

The Magashule brothers’ flights were also booked on December 4. They left South Africa on December 15 and returned on the 24th.

Luxurious hotels 

They stayed at the luxurious Oberoi hotel in Dubai and Sahara picked up the tab. There are emails from the hotel’s sales manager Sarah Ben Haouem to Sahara CEO Ashu Chawla.

Thatho Magashule’s bill was 10 240 Emirati Dirham. This amounts to approximately R36 000 at the current exchange rate.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the emails provided “solid evidence” that the ANC, at all levels, shared a “close beneficial relationship with the Guptas”.

“The corrupt rot within the ANC extends throughout the organisation, all the way through to the provincial structures of the ANC. Members of the ANC have the Guptas on speed dial, providing finances for their every need,” said Maimane.

This week he laid charges of corruption and treason against Zuma, the three Gupta brothers Atul, Ajay and Tony, and eight others.

“To stop the corrupt Gupta empire, we need to stop the whole ANC. Corruption is an enemy of the people that steals jobs and robs the poor of opportunities, and we must end it at once.”

Ace Magashule’s spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The ANC on Friday called on government to institute a process to establish the veracity of the emails and get explanations from those implicated. It said it was concerned by the emails, which contained worrying claims about the nature of the relationship between government and private interests, spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.

He reiterated the ANC national executive committee’s resolution to call for the establishment of a judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of state capture.

The Gupta’s lawyer Gert van der Merwe earlier said the leaks were part of a political smear campaign and that the family had been advised to lay criminal charges against the media houses reporting on them.

South Africa – how Zuma has broken every word of his oath of office


2017-06-02 08:54

It’s no longer a matter of speculation that Jacob Zuma has sold the Republic of South Africa. What we don’t know in full yet is the price tag. But after all the leaked Gupta emails have been carefully analysed we will have a picture of how much Zuma thinks our country is worth.

We will know how much he thinks he is worth himself because he wouldn’t sell a country of which he is president without indicating how much his own soul – if he had one – was worth.

We will eventually know what is the price tag for South Africa’s state power and machinery according to Zuma. The sale was extensive. He sold the foreigners from India access and control of the most sensitive parts of the state: Cabinet, military facilities, state-owned enterprises, immigration and state intelligence.

Had he had the power he would have given them the commercial banks and other private sector companies. After elbowing Glencore out of Eskom coal contracts, their next big private sector target were the commercial banks.

Those who want commercial banks nationalised must imagine what would have happened had they been under the control of the state. Imagine Mosebenzi Zwane or Lynne Brown as the minister of banks! The Guptas would have staffed the banks with their lackeys, installed acting CEOs across and engaged in a looting frenzy while Zuma giggled.

Former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan blocked the Guptas from implementing their strategy to weaken banking regulations and take control of the banks. Zuma, the Guptas and their associates will never forgive him for that. His dismissal from Cabinet was probably celebrated at the Oberoi Hotel in Dubai.

In the process of selling the country Zuma shred into smithereens the Constitution and his oath of office.

Here is how he broke every word of his oath of office:

In the presence of everyone assembled here, and in full realisation of the high calling I assume as President of the Republic of South Africa,

Verdict: In fact, Zuma’s concept of high calling was to sell the state to foreigners. He had no realisation of what it actually meant to take over the highest office in the land.

I, Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma swear that I will be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, and will obey, observe, uphold and maintain the Constitution and all other law of the Republic;

Verdict: In addition to the Constitutional Court’s findings that he failed to uphold the Constitution, Zuma continued with his constitutional violation. Zuma is totally unfaithful to the country. He wants a second residency in Dubai. He doesn’t obey, uphold or maintain the Constitution. He is faithful only to the Guptas. He obeys, observes and maintains their instructions.

and I solemnly and sincerely promise that I will always: promote all that will advance the Republic, and oppose all that may harm it;

Verdict: His continued stay in power is very dangerous to the interests of the Republic as it serves to advance only that which is harmful to the country. He is insincere. He habitually lies to Parliament.

protect and promote the rights of all South Africans;

Verdict: He protects and promotes the rights of Guptas at the expense of South Africans. He has effected a caste system in South Africa, giving the Guptas preferential treatment in everything that is within his control.

discharge my duties with all my strength and talents to the best of my knowledge and ability and true to the dictates of my conscience;

Verdict: There is no evidence to suggest that he has any conscience to speak of. Nor does he have the talent, knowledge or ability to run a country. His actions are dictated by the interests of the Guptas. He has shown tremendous strength. But that is only for his political survival to continue in his service of the Guptas and his family.

do justice to all;

Verdict: His actions are totally unjust. He punishes patriotic South Africans like Mcebisi Jonas and Pravin Gordhan and rewards traitors like Mosebenzi Zwane and Des van Rooyen.

devote myself to the well-being of the Republic and all of its people;

Verdict: He has devoted himself to being an example of the head of a rotten fish. Needless to say, he is dedicated to the wellbeing of his family and the Guptas. Since he took over, unemployment has risen, economic growth has stalled, income per capita has declined, inequality has worsened and the state institutions that are supposed to be the instruments to serve all South Africans have been weakened and captured.

Most alarmingly, the murder of women is at an all-time high. But his wellbeing and that of the Guptas is guaranteed. From Nkandla to the proceeds of state capture, life has never been so good for Zuma and his friends.

– Mpumelelo Mkhabela is a fellow at the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) at the University of Pretoria.

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A turning point in southern Africa  – the stalemate at Cuito Cuanavale

The Conversation

 Keith Somerville

Professor, University of Kent

University of Kent provides funding as a member of The Conversation UK.

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Thirty years ago in southern Angola, four military forces were mobilising for the largest conventional battle in Africa since the Second World War. It was a battle that would have huge consequences for Angola, Namibia and South Africa. Indeed it has been referred to as a turning point in southern African history.
On the one side was the Angolan army backed by Cuban forces and Soviet advisers. On the other was the South African backed Angolan rebel movement fighting to overthrow the government.
The rebel Union for the Total Independence of Angola, better known by their Portuguese acronym Unita, had been one of the three liberation groups fighting Portuguese colonialism. But it is the pro-socialist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) which won power in 1975 and formed the government.
With western support and arms supplies from South Africa and the Reagan administration, Unita’s campaign to topple the government turned Angola into a Cold War battleground. The climax of this was the battle at Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola that lasted from March 1987 until the end of June 1988.
There are still fierce arguments about how important the battle was, who won and whether the South African army was really defeated.
That those who fought in the battle should have wildly different interpretations of its importance is not surprising. This is brought out strikingly in a new edition of Fred Bridgland’s book The War for Africa: Twelve Months that Transformed a Continent. Originally published in 1990, it’s an account, primarily from the South African side, of the military campaign that reached its climax at Cuito Cuanavale.
Contesting narratives
The ANC and it’s leader Nelson Mandela, the Cubans and the Angolan government claim the South African army was decisively defeated. The veteran ANC military intelligence chief Ronnie Kasrils, described it as
a historic turning point in the struggle for the total liberation of the region from racist rule and aggression.

But many South African who fought in Angola swear that they were never defeated, as South African author and academic Leopold Scholtz noted in his book on the battle.
Objective observers declared the end to have been a tactical military stalemate between the allied forces on either side. But it was a stalemate that led to major strategic realignments with huge consequences for the whole region, leading to the independence of Namibia, the withdrawal of South African and Cuban forces from Angola and the eventual dismantling of apartheid.
Nelson Mandela lauded the result of the battle during a visit to Cuba in 1991 to thank Fidel Castro for supporting liberation struggles in southern Africa. The future president of South Africa said in his keynote speech:
The decisive defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale was a victory for all Africa. This victory in Cuito Cuanavale is what made it possible for Angola to enjoy peace and establish its own sovereignty. The defeat of the racist army made it possible for the people of Namibia to achieve their independence. The decisive defeat of the aggressive apartheid forces destroyed the myth of the invincibility of the white oppressor.

Stalemate in Cuito Cuanavale
At the time of the campaign and the key siege of Cuito Cuanavale, Bridgland was a journalist with unrivalled access to the rebels. Through the rebels, he also got access to South African Defence Force (SADF) in southern Angola. He says that the chief of the SADF, General Jannie Geldenhuys, gave him unfettered access to his officers and men on the frontline.
His account of the Cuito Cuanavale campaign is detailed and fascinating, but clearly written from one side. It was impossible for him to report from the Angolan government and Cuban side. The South Africans had been in Angola almost continuously since their unsuccessful bid in 1975 to put UNITA in power.
Their present objective was to weaken the socialist-oriented Angolan government, stop it from supporting the ANC and the Namibian Swapo movement. The aim was then to create a buffer to stop Swapo guerrillas entering South Africa-occupied Namibia.
The fighting lasted from initial skirmishes in March 1987, through the smashing of the Angolan army advance at the Lomba river in September-October 1987. Then followed the siege of Cuito Cuanavale by the South Africans and Unita from January to the end of March 1988. It ended with the Cuban bombing of the Calueque dam on 27 June 1988.
The battle for Cuito Cuanavale ended in stalemate with the SADF and Unita unable to overrun the Angolan positions and the Angolan-Cuban force unable to continue the offensive. The South Africans admitted to losing 79 dead, with two Mirage fighters and one Bosbok spotter plane shot down, plus three Olifant tanks and four Ratel armoured vehicles destroyed, as Bridgland describes in his very detailed book.
Politics by other means
The combination of being fought to a stalemate in the battle, and the heavy loss of life and material that couldn’t be replaced, was something South Africa couldn’t ignore. On top of that was the attack on the Calueque dam which demonstrated Angolan and Cuban air superiority.
Taken in the context of the domestic political violence, the growing economic crisis and international pressure, the results of the Cuito Cuanavale campaign were crucial in persuading the leaders of South Africa’s National Party to cut their losses. They did so following talks with the Soviet Union, Angola, Cuba, Britain and the United States.
This led directly to a ceasefire agreement on the total withdrawal of South African and Cuban forces from Angola. Also agreed was a timetable for UN-supervised elections in Namibia, leading to independence in March 1990. By this time, the ANC had been unbanned and Mandela released.
Cuito Cuanavale was not a military victory for any of the combatants. One must view it in the light of the maxim of the 19th century military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz that war is the “continuation of politics by other means”. There was never going to be a decisive military victory in southern Angola.
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale was a turning point, but one that needs to be taken in context.

South Africa – Zuma cabinet reshuffle court case postponed


2017-05-29 10:26

Cape Town – The application by President Jacob Zuma to appeal an order to hand over the record of decision to reshuffle his Cabinet will not go ahead on Monday as planned due to a bereavement in the legal team, DA MP James Selfe said on Monday.

Selfe said the application for leave to appeal was due to be heard in the Gauteng North High Court on Monday morning, but was postponed to either Thursday or Friday due to the bereavement.

He did not have further details, but said the bereavement was not on the side of DA’s legal team.

The opposition party succeeded in an application to get the president’s record of decision to reshuffle the Cabinet late on March 31.

The reshuffle ousted Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas as minister and deputy minister of finance, among other changes.

Judge Basheer Vally granted the DA’s request to get the record of decision, but the presidency has countered with an unusual request to the DA – that it provide the so-called “Intelligence Report” that apparently sparked Zuma’s actions.

This report apparently led to Zuma instructing Gordhan to return abruptly from an investor roadshow in London.

Comment was not immediately available from the presidency.

South Africa – Zuma survives ANC NEC vote

Mail and Guardian

Still President Jacob Zuma (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)
Still President Jacob Zuma (Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko)

President Zuma has survived another motion for him to step down at the ANC national executive committee meeting at the weekend.

The motion is believed to have been raised on Saturday during the meeting of senior ANC leaders – held between Friday and Sunday at the St Georges Hotel on the outskirts of Pretoria.

Sources within the NEC said 18 members spoke in support of the motion, with 54 against it.

The motion, a second in less than a year, was tabled by ANC veteran Joel Netshitendze. This comes weeks after the ANC’s alliance partners – the South African Communist Party and labour federation Cosatu – called for him to step down as the country’s president following his unpopular Cabinet reshuffle which saw competent ministers sacrificed while under performing ministers remained.

The first motion for Zuma to resign was tabled by former tourism minister Derek Hanekom, who was later sacked by Zuma.

While Zuma has survived, he still has to face another motion of no confidence by members of Parliament sometime this year. The motion of no confidence in Parliament was tabled by the Democratic Alliance.

The impeachment case by the Economic Freedom Fighters is expected to be heard in the Constitutional Court on September 5.

ANC insiders say Zuma was prepared to step down after the ANC elective conference in December where a new leader is expected to succeed him.

The meeting decided to open the succession debate, with nominations for new leaders only starting in September.

The meeting also endorsed the top Six officials’ proposal that the Eskom decision to reappoint Brian Molefe be reversed.

The 18 members who supported the motion were:

  1. Pravin Gordhan
  2. Joel Netshitendze
  3. Joe Paahla
  4. Aaron Motsoaledi
  5. Philly “Mr Cash” Mapulane
  6. Susan van der Merwe
  7. Tito Mboweni
  8. Thulas Nxesi
  9. Blade Nzimande
  10. Paul Mashatile
  11. Fikile Xasa
  12. Oscar Mabuyane
  13. Jackson Mthembu
  14. Enoch Godongwana
  15. Siyabonga Cwele
  16. Rob Davies
  17. Gugile Nkwinti
  18. Mathole Motshekga

South Africa – Molefe to return as chief executive; the Zuma gravy train moves on


Brian Molefe to return as chief executive of South Africa’s Eskom

Fri May 12, 2017 6:55am GMT 

 An Eskom logo is seen at the entrance of their head offices in Sunninghill, Sandton, February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

1 of 1Full Size

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s state power utility Eskom said on Friday Brian Molefe would return as its chief executive on Monday after the board revoked its decision to grant him early retirement.
The public enterprises minister blocked Eskom in April from giving Molefe a 30 million rand ($2.25 million) pension payout and instructed the board to look at other options.
Molefe, who is largely credited with stabilising electricity supplies following months of rolling blackouts, resigned last year after he was implicated in a report by an anti-graft agency on alleged influence-peddling.
($1 = 13.3622 rand)
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, editing by Larry King)