Weekly News Brief

Weekly News Brief
City Hall, Port Elizabeth - credits: en.wikipedia.org

It’s been exactly a week since the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was deployed to Cape Town communities to address the scourge of gang violence. On Thursday 18 July, more than 1,300 soldiers hit the streets of Hanover Park, Delft, Elsies River, Mitchells Plain and Manenberg, some of the 10 neighbourhoods Police Minister Bheki Cele identified when he announced the deployment a week earlier. These communities are among the worst affected by gang-related murders and violent crime, and over the past few months, they have turned into something akin to a warzone.

In another development, the South African Policing Union this week also said that policing laws regarding the discharge of firearms should be amended to protect officers. There have been multiple attacks on officers in recent months. A Steenberg sergeant died after he was shot in Lavender Hill last month while three officials were shot in Delft this past weekend. One man died. The South African Policing Union (Sapu) said officers should not hold back and shoot criminals when they are in danger.

The Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, this week has been allocated just over R66 million by the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government for the 2019/2020 financial year. KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala announced in his budget policy speech at the provincial legislature on Thursday morning. Zikalala’s office had a total budget allocation of just over R714 million. The premier said the Zulu king was the symbol of unity in the province and the custodian of Zulu culture, which was why he had been allocated R66 million for this financial year.

The State Capture Inquiry this week also heard from an emerging black farmer from the Free State explaining how services were denied to farmers who did not express their support for the governing African National Congress (ANC), which resulted in the death of at least 45 heads of his own cattle. Doctor Radebe made the submission at the state capture commission of inquiry in Parktown on Thursday. The commission heard evidence related to the controversial Estina Dairy Farm project in Vrede. What was supposed to have benefited emerging black farmers in the area was instead used to channel funds to a company linked to the controversial Gupta family.  The commission has been focusing on the farm project, which was intended to benefit emerging farmers but was instead used as a vehicle to channel more than R200 million to a company linked to the Guptas. Zwane has been identified as being central in facilitating the deal in order to benefit the controversial family.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in KwaZulu-Natal called on the eThekwini Municipality to stop paying embattled Mayor Zandile Gumede. Chairperson of the EFF in the province Vusi Khoza said the African National Congress (ANC) must ensure that Gumede was not paid, as she was at home and not working. Gumede was placed on 31 days special leave by the ANC in June.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane said that while President Cyril Ramaphosa was well within his rights to take the Public Protector’s report on the urgent review, Parliament must also establish for itself whether he misled it. Maimane also agreed with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that the donation to Ramaphosa’s CR17 campaign should be investigated by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). But the EFF has gone further, calling on the president to take leave of absence while he deals with the Public Protector’s review.

OTHER THINGS WE LIKED

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has argued that the Public Protector’s remedial action must be tested in a judicial review because it seriously interferes with the exercise of statutory and constitutional powers. Mkhwebane instructed the president to initiate disciplinary hearings against the minister within 30 days of the report but Gordhan wants that order suspended until his judicial review is finalised. Mkhwebane and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) opposed the application.

The Constitutional Court dismissed Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s appeal against a personal costs order. It further criticised her for her conduct in the litigation, including submitting falsehoods to the court. Last year, the High Court reviewed and set aside Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report and ordered she pick up 15% of the applicant’s legal fees. Mkhwebane’s 2017 report into the apartheid-era Bankorp bail-out ordered Absa to pay back more than a billion rand to the reserve bank.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Tuesday that South Africa’s 2019/20 tax revenues could be “significantly lower” than budgeted for and it may need to borrow more than planned.  He also cited the cost of support for struggling power utility Eskom. “This could substantially increase the government’s borrowing requirements for 2019/20, which will require the government to revise its funding strategy and current weekly bond issuance at levels beyond what we had planned,” Mboweni told Parliament.

Weighing in, the Pressure group Accountability said that if Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane was properly advised, she would resign from her position. This followed Monday’s Constitutional Court judgment which found that she acted in bad faith and put forward a “number of falsehoods” in the Absa-Bankorp case. The apex court confirmed the High Court’s order that Mkhwebane personally pay for 15% of the South African Reserve Bank’s legal fees. Accountability Now’s Advocate Paul Hoffman said, therefore, she should quit within the next few days.

Explaining the disbursement of cash to state owned entities, Minister Mboweni said cash injections for state-owned entities like the South African Airways, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and Denel wouldn’t be handed over all at once but in chunks, as certain conditions are met. He was replying to debate on the Appropriations Bill, which was before the National Assembly. The Appropriations Bill provides for budget allocations to all departments and entities and was tabled by Mboweni along with his February Budget. It included provision for R3.2 billion for the cash-strapped public broadcaster. Mboweni also said  that Eskom was currently not financially sustainable and needed an extra R59 billion over the rest of this financial year and next year. Mboweni told Parliament that Eskom would require R26 billion for the rest of this year and R33 billion for the 2020/2021 financial year.

ICYMI

Sue Williamnson: ‘That Particular Morning’

Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

August 31 @ 08:00 – 17:00