Monday, 07 December 2009
Johannesburg - Failure to reign in ANCYL leader Julius Malema and accepting salary hikes are signs of the poor quality of leadership shown by President Jacob Zuma and his government, Frene Ginwala has told the Sunday Times.
Given the recession and high levels of unemployment, Zuma should not have granted salary increases to his officials, the former National Assembly speaker told the newspaper in an interview.
"Look at the level of political leadership in this country. It's not very good. How many of our leaders lead by example?"
In 1995 former president Nelson Mandela announced salary cuts in his administration, and, more recently Thabo Mbeki refused for years to take salary increases when he was head of state.
This lack of leadership manifested itself in allowing ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema to insult "older people", such as Mbeki, ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya, former defence minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former education minister Naledi Pandor.
"When he (Malema) was speaking the way he was, a number of people stopped me in the street and said: 'How do you allow that boy to speak to elders in this way?'
"If he was engaging in political debate in the national executive committee, no one expects him not to speak his mind. But publicly... you could still put the ideas across with some respect for your elders. Now that is where we are running ourselves down," the paper quoted her as saying.
Following the storm around the appointment of Menzi Simelane as national director of public prosecutions, she said she "fully" stood by her report which was critical of Simelane's handling of Vusi Pikoli's suspension.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Monday, 27 July 2009
Cape Town - The DA is proposing a range of cost-cutting measures for the executive, including doing away with free trips on the luxurious Blue Train, removing the right to a state sponsored domestic worker and cutting car allowances to a meagre R660 000.
Party leader Helen Zille said in Cape Town on Sunday economic times were tough and that the executive, like everyone else, should have to tighten their belts.
"This year, our economy is likely to shrink by almost 2% and we are deep in recession," Zille said.
"In the midst of this economic crisis, the government must demonstrate that it is prepared to make sacrifices and demonstrate some frugality."
Zille said her colleague, MP Anchen Dreyer, had submitted a letter to the director general in the presidency, Vusi Mavimbela, asking for certain amendments to be made to the ministerial handbook.
Fund own travels
This was in order to "reflect a more sympathetic appreciation for the plight that South Africa finds itself in".
One of the proposals is to cancel the right of members of the executive to make use of the Blue Train.
"Members of the executive currently are entitled to travel by train for official purposes at the cost of the relevant department, including travelling on the Blue Train," Zille said.
"It is not necessary for carrying out executive duties to travel on the Blue Train, and should members want to travel on the Blue Train, we believe they should fund this from their own pockets."
Members were entitled to a state-purchased car of a value equivalent to 70% of their annual salary. This equated to roughly R929 000.
"The DA believes that this is excessive. We propose that the benefit be reduced from 70% to 50%.
"This would entitle them to a car worth R663 780, which we believe is more than adequate for the purposes that members of the executive use their cars for."
Cancelling VIP lounges benefits
Another of the party's proposals is to cancel the right for the executive to make use of VIP lounges at airports during domestic trips.
"The DA proposes instead that members should not be allowed to use VIP rooms when travelling domestically, as it is not necessary to their jobs."
Domestic workers for members of the executive were also paid for by the taxpayer.
"Where members of the executive stay in private accommodation, they are... entitled to a domestic worker funded by the state. The DA has requested that this right be removed, so that ministers staying in their own houses pay for their own cleaning service."
The party has proposed a further stipulation that members of the executive not be allowed to use blue lights or sirens when being driven around, except in cases of genuine and verifiable emergency.
Zille said the executive was riddled with examples of "profligate spending".
One example was the communications department, which recently purchased two new BMW 750i cars valued at R1.1m each, for Minister Siphiwe Nyanda.
Another was KwaZulu-Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize's inauguration party two months ago, which cost the taxpayer R10.6m.
"Across the country, citizens are protesting because of the conditions in which they live.
"In the midst of this economic crisis, the government must demonstrate that it is prepared to make sacrifices and demonstrate some frugality.
Zille said the party's proposals were being put into place in the Western Cape, where she is premier.
"We will be putting these to the president's office, in the hope that the national government will give consideration to implementing them too."
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Johannesburg - Correctional services national commissioner, Xoliswa Sibeko, and the department's acting chief financial officer, Nandi Mareka, have been placed on precautionary suspension with immediate effect, the department said on Monday.
"The reason for placement on precautionary suspension is to ensure the investigation into the renting of accommodation for senior executives, amongst others, is not interfered with," said department spokesperson Manelisi Wolela.
"It is important to note that there is no finding on these matters and therefore there is no judgement," he added.
Wolela declined to elaborate on the investigation. He said both Correctional Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and the commissioner regarded the investigation as "serious".
According to a statement, Mapisa-Nqakula announced the establishment of an investigative team at a special executive management committee meeting on Monday.
The Public Service Commission team would investigate Sibeko's conduct.
Recent media reports said that Sibeko and her Gauteng counterpart were renting properties costing the taxpayer around R35 000 per month.
Rapport newspaper said the rentals were in the exclusive Woodhill area of Pretoria, and were being used while the official residences stood empty.
Democratic Alliance shadow minister of correctional services, James Selfe, welcomed the pair's precautionary suspension, saying the fact that the minister had taken action was "encouraging" but was "only the beginning of what needed to be done".
"The DCS [department of correctional services] desperately needs a turnaround strategy to lift it out of the morass of mismanagement that has characterised the last five years," Selfe said in a statement.
Cape Town - Water Affairs director-general Pam Yako has been put on "special leave" pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged financial irregularities within the department.
"No charges have been levelled against Ms Yako or any official of the department and, until informed otherwise by the outcome of the investigation, the director-general remains innocent," Water Affairs Minister Buyelwa Sonjica said on Wednesday.
A statement issued by the ministry said Sonjica had decided to investigate the department's finances "following allegations of financial irregularities and information alleging maladministration and mismanagement".
Yako had been put on special leave to "allow for an unfettered process of investigation".
The statement said Yako was lending her total support to the investigation and had indicated a willingness to co-operate fully.
"As a responsive government committed to clean and efficient governance we had to look into these allegations with the seriousness that they deserve," Sonjica said.
by Wayne G
"Ask Minister Siphiwe Nyanda what government officials do in a recession..."
What does communications minister Siphiwe Nyanda do in the middle of a recession, where jobs are being lost, houses and cars are being repossessed by the thousand, most industries are in negative growth and we are all being told to watch our spending and tighten our belts?
He goes out and buys, not one, but two top of the range luxury German cars with every extra under the sun attached, thus figuratively speaking running around beltless and shameless.
I sit hear confused and irritated asking myself - what world do our ministers live in? In reality we are being encouraged to save and watch our spending. The government on the other hand, being the well-rounded role models they are, are living like rock stars with an endless supply of funds to buy luxury cars fit for heads of state in most rich first world countries.
While we are grappling with the worst global recession in history our ignorant ministers are rushing out to luxury stores and buying like there is no tomorrow. Eskom, a state owned parastatal, is raising tariffs by 33%; the country is being lambasted by a wave of strikes demanding extra wages, everything is getting more expensive, house hold debt is at its highest in recorded history, and car sales are in negative growth along with most other sales of goods.
Guidelines are flawed
The prescribed guidelines for ministerial purchases are fundamentally flawed and its current practices are not in line with the current economic trends. How on earth can you justify spending R2.5m on two cars when you as a government are pleading poverty, raising taxes, paying your doctors pittances, not supplying your hospitals with the basic equipment used to save lives to name but a few on a very long list?
Minster, I have a friend who was on a flight from Johannesburg to Durban after the final rugby test match between SA and the Lions. One of our senior rugby players and his family were spotted by cabin crew sitting in economy class with the rest of the common man. He and his family were invited to move into business class and he refused point blank saying "he was very happy where he was".
I mention this purely to make a point that you don't have to take everything that is prescribed to you or your misdirected sense of entitlement deems necessary. This form of behaviour should be a lesson to you and all your "bling bling" cronies in government who are rewarding yourselves before you have even started doing your job. At the moment, the way things are going you should be riding a bicycle to the office or making use of our excellent public transport like everyone else.
Minister I challenge you to inform the South African tax-paying public who bought these cars for you out of our hard earned taxes what ceramic surround for controls, ambient interior lighting, adaptive headlights, high beam assist, a three-spoke, leather-covered steering wheel, a R23 400 "rear-seat entertainment" system and a R5 600 "high-gloss satin chrome" paint job help you do your job?
Maybe I am just ignorant but these extras are a slap in our faces. What is wrong with a standard 320d BMW? Most people only dream of owning a 3 series BMW, but you lift your nose up at it and go for the top of the range. Why do you need a 750i BMW?
I will tell you why, because to you it's all about image, image at the cost of all else, as long as you look good in your designer suits, ministerial mansions, and luxury German cars everything else can fall to pieces. This form of behaviour has no place in a third-world country where more than half your population are below the bread line.
Minister, on a more personal level, how do you sleep at night knowing you just spent R2.5m on two cars, while so many South Africans can't even afford a roof over their heads? Do you justify your actions with bureaucratic guidelines and red tape?
Shame on you and every other government official spending our taxes quicker than we can earn them. Every day you hear about another minister blowing the bank on some or other exorbitant spending spree or their officials running elaborate fraudulent schemes.
Mr Jacob Zuma, the so called "president of the people" is also slipping into the cracks of gluttonous and unscrupulous spending with a new government which is clearly out of control and has no idea about the fundamental difference between money and wealth.
Let it be known that you were voted in by the people, the same people who are struggling to make ends meet on a monthly basis. It is time for you and your government to humble yourselves and come down to our level. You are after all our employees; we pay your salaries and fit the bills for all of this reckless spending that has become the norm in the ANC.
Lastly, to everyone who voted for the ANC. The next time you are on walking or driving on one of our roads and a 750i BMW with ceramic surround controls, ambient interior lighting, adaptive headlights, high beam assist a three-spoke, leather-covered steering wheel, a R23 400 "rear-seat entertainment" system and a R5 600 "high-gloss satin chrome" paint job screams past you at 180km/h throwing dust and rubber in your face, leaving your tiny insignificant image in its rear camera view, wipe the dust out of your eyes and take a look around and remember who you voted for. After all it's your vote that gives them the blank cheque.
These officials should be held accountable for this blatant abuse of power and money. It's no wonder we are such an angry nation, our own government is misappropriating our taxes and hiding behind laws they created to protect their taste for the finest luxuries money can buy.
As the late and great Winston Churchill said, "you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all the people all of the time." We are not fools, so next time you pop into your luxury store and buy some unnecessary item, know we are watching you, and we will not stop until you stop.
Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Cape Town - Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille called on the ANC on Monday to stop using Biblical references in its election campaign after a regional party leader likened Jacob Zuma to Jesus.
"The ANC must be condemned in the strongest possible terms for its selective use of Christianity to further its political goals," De Lille said.
She accused the ANC of trying to portray itself and its leader as "god-like" and urged it to "stop using Jesus Christ, the Bible and Christianity in general to garner votes from the poor and the vulnerable".
The fierce critic of the multi-billion rand arms deal said it was blasphemous to compare a politician facing corruption allegations with Jesus.
"We in the Independent Democrats would like to draw the ANC's attention to the fact that Jesus was never charged with corruption.
"Adultery, the machine gun song and Zuma's failure to condemn war talk and hate speech by the ANC rank and file are examples of why it is insulting to compare Zuma with Christ," she said.
The ID's call comes after the ruling party's Free State leader, Ace Magashule, said the ANC president was suffering just like Jesus Christ did, in an interview published on Monday.
"Jesus was persecuted. He was called names and betrayed. It's the same kind of suffering Mr Zuma has had to bear recently, but he's still standing strong. He's not giving up," Magashule said.
De Lille said it was one of several examples of religious rhetoric used by the ANC in the run-up to the national election.
Johannesburg - The SA Council of Churches (SACC) is trying to "privatise" Jesus and turn the Christian religion into a cult, the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust claimed on Wednesday.
"As the friends of Jacob Zuma Trust in Gauteng province we are not happy or impressed by the attempt on the part of the SACC to want to private (sic) the Christian religion and Jesus Christ in particular," it said in a statement.
"We refuse like many other South African Christians to allow the SACC to conduct itself as if they own Jesus Christ. It has become clear that this religious body wants to turn the Christian religion into some sort of a cult belonging to a particular grouping."
The trust was responding to statements made by the SACC that President Jacob Zuma was "confusing matters of the secular world with matters that are considered to be sacred".
The SACC in turn was reacting to Zuma's telling a rally in Mpumalanga at the weekend that the ANC "will rule until Jesus comes". He has previously made the same remark.
Zuma’s rights as a Christian
The trust said: "We wish the SACC will in future consult with other Christian bodies before thinking that they are the only Christians in this country. It must further desist from embarrassing the Christian community by claiming to be the only body that should give us permission to pray."
The trust's Gauteng chairperson Gaya Mlangeni said Zuma, like SACC members, was a Christian and had "a right to invoke any element of that religion".
"Indeed we agree with the president that the ANC will rule this country until Jesus comes."
SACC secretary general Eddie Makue said the ANC leadership should be mindful that South Africa was a democratic country whose residents determined who should be in power.
"The ANC must be mindful of the mortality of human beings and the immortality of God... mindful that Jesus Christ is one in the tri-une God that we worship.
"We want to remind political leaders that we are living in democracy and in democracy choices of the people are determining factors, and therefore no leader can pre-empt what the decision of the electorate will be."
Also, he said Zuma should be aware that there were other religions in the country and guard against making divisive statements.
"Finally, we trust that the leadership within the ANC will be sensitive to how their messages are received. They must guard against alienating other religions by statements that they make.
"One must be mindful that although the Christian religion is a majority, there are other religions like Muslim and the Bahai in the country."
Understood in context
Reacting to the SACC's statements on Tuesday afternoon, the ANC said the party had no intention to undermine Christian teachings, values and principles, as the party was founded on those.
"During the 2009 elections campaign, the ANC president visited places of worship in all the nine provinces to seek blessings," the party said in a statement.
The Mpumalanga remark should be understood in the context of Zuma's confidence in South Africans who had, in the last four elections, voted overwhelmingly for the ANC, it added.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
24/05/2009 08:05 - (SA)
Johann Maarman, Rapport
Cape Town - Expensive Cuban cigars found in a former minister's office, people who were paid up to R100 000 a month to "do nothing" and unapproved expenses.
These are some of the latest scandals threatening the ANC after the DA took over the provincial government in the Western Cape.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille caused a political furore on Friday when she revealed that the ANC had transferred for free provincial land to the national government a day before the election.
The land is worth about R500m and thought to be one of the province's biggest assets.
Meanwhile, Rapport learned that several new ministers in the Western Cape are investigating suspect transactions in their departments.
"The list is becoming longer. Things are becoming worse for the ANC in the Western Cape," an informed source told Rapport.
Theuns Botha, the Western Cape minister for health and the provincial leader of the DA, said the land deal was nothing less that "constructive disempowerment".
"I don't know how the Western Cape ANC can justify their actions. It is disgraceful."
Sunday, 19 April 2009
Guest Blog: The ANC and corruption - the irony.
It is almost impossible to believe ANC leaders when they claim that they are serious about fighting corruption.
They never miss the opportunity to emphasize how much the ‘ANC is committed to fighting corruption’. On the other hand, they miss every available opportunity to act against their corrupt colleagues.
The most recent and perhaps glaring example of this is the ANC’s insistence to nominate Mrs. Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the Travelgate fraudsters as candidates for the National Assembly. Both Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela and the five Travelgate MPs (namely Bathabile Dlamini, Mnyamzeli Booi, Beauty Dludlani, Angie Molebatsi, and Duma Ndleleni) are in the ANC’s top 100 candidates for the National Assembly.
Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela, by the way, had a five-year sentence for fraud and theft reduced on appeal to three and a half years for 43 convictions of fraud in 2004. The sentence was suspended for five years. Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela’s suspended sentence will only lapse in July this year by which time she will already be a Member of Parliament. While section 47 (1) e of the Constitution disqualifies ‘anyone who is convicted of an offence and sentence to more than 12 months imprisonment without the option of fine’, it is silent about the eligibility of individuals with a suspended sentence to be nominated to Parliament. This silence, however, does not suggest that it is appropriate to nominate an individual serving a suspended sentence to be an MP. The nomination of Mrs. Madikizela-Mandela reaffirms the dominant perception that the ANC values party loyalty above good governance.
Now let’s turn to the Travelgate fraudsters. They are:
Bathabile Dlamini no 16 on their national list was ordered to repay R120 000 after receiving five year suspended sentence in 2006 for defrauding Parliament of R254 00 in travel vouchers in the Travelgate scandal.
Mnyamzeli Booi no 65 on the list is still facing fraud charges for his role in the Travelgate Scandal.
Beauty Dludlani no 58 on the list was fined R120 000 payable over 40 months for fraud involving R289 000 in the Travelgate scandal.
Angie Molebatsi no 84 on the list was sentenced to pay a R25 000 fine, or three years in jail, plus an additional five year suspended sentence in the Travelgate scandal
Duma Ndleleni no 79 on the list: She was fined R30 000 payable over three years and given a five year suspended sentence in the Travelgate scandal.
The Travelgate fraudsters collectively defrauded Parliament of millions worth of taxpayers’ money. They betrayed the same constituency they were supposed to serve with excellence: the public. The ANC never took any disciplinary action against them when they were nailed. It still failed to discipline them even after most of them pleaded guilty for their crimes. Now it sees fit to re-deploy them to the same institution they defrauded. If the ANC was as serious about fighting corruption as it claims to be it should have not nominated fraudsters to Parliament. Their nominations make a complete mockery of Jacob Zuma assertion that ‘the ANC does not condone or tolerate corruption’. In fact, all available evidence shows that the ANC rewards individuals with a history of corruption with the offer of public office.
The nomination of candidates to Parliament was a golden opportunity for the ANC to show that it is indeed serious about fighting corruption. Yet again, it squandered the opportunity like it has done in the past.
Their nominations undermine the country’s efforts to defeat the spread of the virus of corruption in the public sector. Parliament needs to be a beacon of good governance and ethical leadership. In order to be seen as such, parliamentarians and potential parliamentarians must be beyond reproach. But when the ruling party repeatedly deploys ethically tainted individuals to this institution, it creates the impression that there is nothing wrong in being embroiled in corruption as long as one is a ‘loyal cadre’ of the ANC.
The ANC has never been serious about fighting corruption. The badly thought move to disband the Scorpions is a case in particular. It is an open secret that the Scorpions were disbanded for their success in nailing corrupt ANC leaders despite all the conspiracy theories that the ANC and its alliance partners have advanced in support of the dissolution of the DSO.
The ANC will never be seen to be serious about fighting corruption for as long as it continues to elevate party loyalists with a proven track record of corruption to senior public offices. Unless, it is able to consistently show that it values ethical leadership over party loyalty, its ‘commitment to fighting corruption’ will remain what it is; empty rhetoric.
The ANC has talked the talk on corruption. But it remains to be seen whether it will ever walk that talk.
Guest blog by:
DA Political Researcher
By Michael Georgy
Sunday April 19 2009
South African opposition parties accused the ruling ANC of creating a culture of cronyism and corruption at closing rallies yesterday before a parliamentary election this week.
The African National Congress is almost certain to win Wednesday's election -- but the party still faces its biggest challenge since coming to power at the end of apartheid in 1994.
The main issue is whether it can retain the two-thirds parliamentary majority it needs to change the constitution, as it faces criticism over its track record on crime, poverty and AIDS.
The new breakaway Congress of the People (COPE) party, formed by ANC dissidents, hopes to tap into frustrations with ANC graft scandals.
State prosecutors have given the ANC a boost by dropping graft charges against party leader Jacob Zuma, whom the new parliament is certain to elect president.
His ANC has promised to do more to bring economically disadvantaged blacks into the mainstream economy through land reform and affirmative action programmes.
But Africa's biggest economy is on the brink of recession, and Zuma will be in a difficult position. Union allies are pushing him to spend more on the poor, while foreign investors fear he will steer the economy to the left.
COPE has changed the political landscape, but analysts say its chances of breaking the ANC's dominance have faded after an initial buzz.
"We dared to believe in the even greater hope that South Africa could soon become an equally prosperous, fair and just society," he said. "But soon our hopes were crushed by the harsh realities that some unscrupulous members of the ruling party and erroneous policies imposed on us all."
On Friday, the IFP accused the ANC of employing "terror tactics" and injuring 13 of its members in attacks ahead of the poll.
Critics say South Africa has effectively become a one-party state because people vote for parties, not individuals, giving the ANC an enormous advantage.
"That's how the closed, crony society for comrades works. It's about making a few people rich and everyone else poor," said Zille.
- Michael Georgy
16/04/2009 21:18 - (SA)
Cape Town - DA leader Helen Zille on Thursday accused the ANC of lying about its plans to change the Constitution to deprive local authorities of their powers.
"When I raised concerns about this bill on Monday, the Minister of Provincial and Local Government denied any knowledge of it," Zille said.
"He said: 'If Mrs Zille has such a document, she must produce it.' A spokesperson for his department also feigned ignorance, claiming: 'I don't know where [Zille] got it from but right now, as we stand there are no such plans.'
"ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said: 'The ANC wishes to place on record that it has no intention to diminish in any way the Constitutional powers of local government'."
However, the draft Constitution 17th Amendment Bill approved by the Cabinet, Zille said, empowers national government to usurp powers from local government, and provides clear proof that the ANC wants to change the Constitution to entrench its power.
'Don't let them get two-thirds majority'
"That is why it is so important to keep the ANC below the two-thirds majority it needs to pass the bill to change the Constitution," she said.
"If voters give the ANC a two-thirds majority, the ANC will destroy the capacity of other parties to deliver where they govern.
"This shows that the ANC lies, baldly and blatantly. It treats the people of South Africa with contempt.
"The rug has now been ripped from under the ANC, and six days before the election, the Cabinet has been forced into confessing its plans."
The DA leader and mayor of Cape Town said that the ANC wants municipalities to be reduced to administrative arms of central government.
The ANC now claims the purpose is merely to facilitate the introduction of Regional Electricity Distributors as public entities.
A grave mistake
"We believe this policy step would be a grave mistake on its own and seriously threaten the viability of local government," Zille said.
"But the way the Bill is worded means that its scope is far broader than that.
"It enables national government to limit the executive authority of municipalities in respect of local government matters listed in Part B of Schedule 4 and Part B of Schedule 5.
"This includes electricity and gas reticulation, water and sanitation, fire-fighting, refuse removal, waste disposal, markets, municipal roads and cleansing.
"This Bill will be interpreted widely to enable a centralised ANC to severely limit the mandate of an elected local government, especially where the ANC does not govern and where local authorities legitimately refuse to implement ANC policies.
If it manages to pass this Constitutional amendment, giving itself a range of reasons to undermine local government, the ANC could effectively nullify voters' choice and enforce ANC policy from the centre.
- I-Net Bridge (News24)
Monday, 30 March 2009
30/03/2009 09:02 - (SA)
Almost exactly 15 years ago, Nelson Mandela took the oath of office as President of the Republic of South Africa and our country immediately became the world's most shining example of a constitutional democracy at its best.
We smiled, walked tall and generally looked down our noses at far less perfect democracies like the USA, UK, and Europe.
Today, we are not the world's best example of a constitutional democracy. If anything, the only sort of democracy we can lay claim to is a Selective Democracy, which is probably the worst kind of democracy there is.
Selective Democracy is so bad that it's actually almost better to come right out and admit to being a one party dictatorship of a country in which the favourite national pass time is social one-upmanship.
You know you live in a Selective Democracy when:
When the most visible result of a decade and a half of affirmative action and black economic empowerment is 500 exceedingly rich fatcats and just as many unemployed as there were before. Now, because of these fine examples set by politicians, the whole country is getting in on the Selective Democracy act.
To ordinary people, Selective Democracy means:
The list of examples of Selective Democracy goes on and on and, let's face it, not only politcians and businessmen, but a huge number of ordinary folk who are guilty, even in some small way, of manipulating democracy to suit themselves.
But, who is to blame? Who the heck started it all?
Well, there is only one answer to that. It starts by the people who lead us. Politicians and businessmen.
The examples they set by being so patently selective in the way they either vociferously uphold democracy or simply ignore it when it suits them can't help but have an impact on society.
It is the start of a process that has more and more ordinary law abiding people thinking: "Well, if they can do it, why can't I."
Friday, 27 March 2009
26/03/2009 12:32 - (SA)
Cape Town - Civil society groups and a Constitutional Court judge have added their voices to growing support for Health Minister Barbara Hogan's stand on the Dalai Lama.
Hogan provoked the ire of the government on Tuesday by saying its denial of a visa to the Tibetan leader under Chinese pressure showed it was "dismissive of human rights", and urging it to apologise.
The Helen Suzman Foundation said in a statement it supported the "principled stance" taken by Hogan.
"The notion of a minister having a different view from Cabinet on a matter is not unprecedented nor is it unacceptable for that opinion to be voiced publicly," the foundation said.
"Any censure or other steps that may be taken against Hogan will be deeply unfortunate."
It said Hogan, who "personally" knew the deep suffering of political intolerance, should be commended for reminding South Africans of some basic tenets of their own history and how the country had a special duty to human rights campaigners globally.
Constitutional Court judge Kate O'Regan on Thursday publicly backed Hogan, SABC radio news reported.
"It is a matter of dismay that human rights does not seem to enter into the picture of some foreign affairs decisions that are made," O'Regan was quoted as saying.
She said that like Hogan, she remembered the years of the 1980s "when South Africa was so fortunate to have friends all over the world assisting our human rights struggle".
Managing director of the Afrikanerbond Jan Bosman said the refusal of a visa to the Dalai Lama was an example of a government that puts its own narrow interests first with no regard to internationally acceptable norms.
"It must therefore be welcomed that individuals such as Ms Barbara Hogan, Minister of Health, spoke out against this decision," he said.
"The deafening silence by the rest of Cabinet must be seen as condoning this abuse of the most basic of human rights."
The Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum on Thursday released a letter it sent to President Kgalema Motlanthe earlier in the week expressing its "serious concern" about the denial of the visa.
"We raise our voice alongside the many others of our civil society expressing anger and disappointment," said the letter, which was signed by forum chairman, the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba.
"We were... shocked by the decision to block a visit by one of the world's most highly respected and visible spokespersons for religious faith, tolerance and human rights.
"By acting in a way that reflects Beijing's political demands you have weakened our national sovereignty."
The letter asked Motlanthe to "reflect" on the decision.
"As leaders of diverse faiths and communities, we believe South Africa has erred in its judgement."
The Tibetan spiritual leader, along with other Nobel Peace Prize winners, was to have addressed a peace conference aimed at thrashing out ways of using football to fight racism and xenophobia ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
On Wednesday, government spokesperson Themba Maseko said Hogan's comments were "rather unfortunate".
"The comments of the minister of health were rather unfortunate in the sense that this position on the Dalai Lama is an official position of this government."
Maseko repeated government's stance that the Dalai Lama was refused entry because his presence would draw the world's attention away from World Cup preparations.
But he conceded that relations with China also played a role.
Cape Town - The government's refusal to grant the Dalai Lama a visa highlights the need for the regulation of political party funding, political analyst Judith February said on Thursday.
"We just had the situation with the Dalai Lama, so I think it is reasonable to ask whether the ANC received funding from the Chinese recently to fund its election campaign," February, an analyst for the Institute for Democracy in South Africa (Idasa), told the Cape Town Press Club.
The Dalai Lama was refused a visa to attend a 2010 World Cup peace conference to have been held in Johannesburg starting on Friday.
The event was cancelled after Nobel peace laureates FW De Klerk and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu withdrew in solidarity with the Dalai Lama.
Shrouded in secrecy
"The whole process of party funding is shrouded in secrecy," February said.
"There are no regulations of private funding to political parties. This is a big gap in our anti-corruption apparatus. It needs to be fixed sooner rather than later."
Idasa took five political parties to the Cape High Court in 2005 to get them to reveal their funding.
The organisation was unsuccessful in its application, with the judge ruling that political parties were private bodies which did not have to make their books public.
Issues with funding
She said all political parties had had issues with funding, including the ANC, DA and Independent Democrats.
"I think most political parties agree on a situation of 'show yours and I'll show you mine'," she said.
February said it was worrying that Parliament had shown no movement on the issue, despite the ANC taking a resolution at its conference in Polokwane in 2007 calling for transparency on contributions to parties.
February also spoke on the upcoming April 22 elections.
ANC could be hurt in polls
She said there was a good chance that the ANC might be hurt in the polls after the way in which it handled corruption charges against party president Jacob Zuma.
"I think that the ANC is in danger of losing the two-thirds majority in Parliament," she said.
"Some of the pressure to drop the charges against Zuma might hurt them at the polls," she said.
"The ANC needs to be very careful in the way it deals with this issue."
February said she expected the DA to "do very well" in the Western Cape and the ANC had itself to blame for losing support in the province.
"The party did not do a good job in running the city," she said.
"I think that in Helen Zille people see a leader of integrity. The city of Cape Town has had no corruption scandals. That sticks with people."
Thursday, 26 March 2009
24/03/2009 14:44 - (SA)
Johannesburg - A peace conference involving Nobel laureates was postponed on Tuesday over Pretoria's refusal to grant a visa to the Dalai Lama, angering the grandson of Nelson Mandela.
Mandla Mandela, who helped plan the event, said the rejection of the Dalai Lama was "unfortunate" and tainted his illustrious grandfather's efforts to bring democracy to South Africa.
"It's a sad day for South Africa. It's a sad day for Africa," he told reporters.
Nelson Mandela, along with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president FW de Klerk, were to host the peace conference on Friday in Johannesburg, bringing together Nobel laureates from around the world.
The conference was to discuss how soccer can fight racism and xenophobia, as South Africa prepares to host the 2010 World Cup.
Officially South Africa says it does not want a visit by the Dalai Lama to draw attention away from preparations for the World Cup, insisting that his visit has merely been "postponed."
Government stands by decision
Thabo Masebe, spokesperson for President Kgalema Motlanthe, said he could not say when the Dalai Lama would be allowed to visit.
"We made the decision. We stand by the decision. Nothing is going to change," he told reporters.
Now that the peace conference has been scuppered, the event's chairperson Irvin Khoza said he did not know when it would be rescheduled.
Tutu and De Klerk had earlier indicated they would withdraw from the event over the controversy, while the Nobel peace committee said it would have to withdraw its support unless the Dalai Lama was allowed to attend.
"For me personally, and the role my grandfather has played in founding our democracy, together with his colleagues, this rejection by the government to not issue a visa to the Dalai Lama is really tainting our efforts of democracy," Mandla Mandela told a news conference.
"I don't think that as sovereign independent country, we need to succumb to international pressures," Mandela said.
Pressure from China
The government has denied that the Dalai Lama's visa was rejected due to pressure from China, a key trading partner.
But Chinese diplomats told local media that Beijing had urged South Africa to deny the visit or risk damaging bilateral relations.
A spokesperson for the Dalai Lama has also blamed Chinese pressure for the refusal.
After South Africa announced its decision, China expressed appreciation for countries that shun the Dalai Lama.
"All countries should respect China's sovereignty and territorial integrity... and oppose Tibetan independence. We appreciate relevant countries' measures," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters in Beijing.
China vehemently opposes any overseas activities by the Dalai Lama, whom it considers a separatist seeking independence for his Himalayan homeland. He denies such charges.
He angered China earlier this month by marking the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising with a speech saying Chinese control had turned Tibet into a "hell on earth."
After the end of apartheid, South African foreign policy had made a strong focus on human rights around the world.
That reputation that has been dimmed after South Africa refused to condemn Myanmar's military junta or Zimbabwe's repressive President Robert Mugabe while it held a rotating seat on the UN Security Council.
Monday, 02 February 2009
January 30 2009 at 11:23AM
By Michael Georgy
The head of South Africa's new COPE party has accused the ruling ANC of undermining democracy by seeking a political deal to save its leader Jacob Zuma from prosecution on corruption charges.
Zuma is expected to become president after an election, due around April, that the ANC is almost certain to win despite revived graft charges against him.
Mosiuoa Lekota, leader of the newly formed Congress of the People (COPE) and a former defence minister, said on Friday that the ANC would use its domination of South African politics to seek a political solution to Zuma's legal problems.
"You have no guarantee that after the elections they will not do that," he said. "And I can tell you Zuma does not want to go to jail and so they will do this thing."
Zuma's allies say he is the victim of a campaign to ruin his political career. The ANC denies it will try to help Zuma in a way that undermines South Africa's constitution.
COPE, made up of disgruntled ANC members loyal to former president Thabo Mbeki, who the party pushed out of power, has vowed to challenge the ANC in the poll.
"We must make sure that the security forces are neutral and loyal to the constitution, and depoliticise the public services. If we lose on this, South Africa is going to go down the route of Zimbabwe," said Lekota.
South Africa has been criticised for not taking a tougher line on Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe to ensure that a democratic government is created after a disputed election, although the ANC has called for strong action against him. - Reuters
Monday, 26 January 2009
24/01/2009 21:14 - (SA)
Johannesburg - Voters should withdraw their trust from the African National Congress after 15 years of corrupt one-party dominance, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said on Saturday.
He was launching his party's election manifesto at the Nasrec centre in Johannesburg.
"I submit that after 15 years of broken promises and insufficient service delivery, they should not be entrusted with another term in office," he told supporters at the packed Nasrec centre.
Corruption and the growth of unemployment were the central issues in the election campaign, he added.
"I submit that after countless corruption scandals, they have abused your trust once too many".
Holomisa said like the National Party under apartheid, the ANC acted not to advance the interests of ordinary South Africans in need of jobs and social services, but of its own elite.
Cronyism and corruption
"The National Party thought they'd mastered cronyism and corruption; this ANC government has bettered them at their own game."
He said the ruling party could no longer be trusted to respect the courts and the independence of the judiciary, as its leader and presidential candidate, Jacob Zuma, was trying to escape prosecution for corruption.
"Can we trust them to be custodians of the judiciary, when they attack judges? Can we trust them to fight crime when their leaders are dodging their day in court?"
He lamented the way in which former president Thabo Mbeki was forced to step down, and said his successor Kgalema Motlanthe was not allowed to be a responsible head of state but forced to rush through legislation that benefited those in the ANC.
"Fifteen years into democracy we are witnessing the dangers of one-party dominance. For instance, vital decisions - such as the removal of the head of state - are casually taken by a few dozen people without even consulting parliament," he said.
"The caretaker president that the ruling party has appointed now appears to be under pressure to rush into law legislation that the ruling party prefers.
"He is expected to do this irrespective of his constitutional obligation and the oath of his office which oblige him to consider each law carefully.
"His duty, as we all know, is to act in the interest of all people," Holomisa said.
Motlanthe has come under pressure from the party to sign the SABC law, which allows Parliament to sack the board of the public broadcaster, and legislation disbanding the Scorpions.
Holomisa said the elite organised crime unit was punished for investigating senior ANC members.
He vowed that the UDM would bring back the Scorpions, take away powers from ministers and put it into the hands of accountable director generals, increase government spending to fight HIV/Aids and improve the quality of schooling.
Holomisa was expelled from the ANC in 1996 for accusing then public works minister Stella Sigcau of corruption.