• Gigaba Criticises Opposition Parties, NGOs

    African National Congress (ANC) national executive committee member and Minister of Public Enterprises, Malusi Gigaba, has criticised opposition parties and non-governmental organisations for telling foreign countries that South Africa has failed since democracy.

    Gigaba told the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (SADTU) that, "All around us, the opportunists, the pessimists, the opposition and the counter-revolutionists are telling us what we have achieved in the last 19 years has been nothing and this revolution faces its inevitable doom."

    He further states that some opposition leaders have went to countries like the United States and spoke ill of development in South Africa in aims of getting money from them.

    To read article titled, “Gigaba criticises doomsayers,” click here.

    SABC News
  • OUTA Abandons e-Toll Court Battle

    The Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (OUTA) says it will not appeal the Supreme Court of Appeal's dismissal of its challenge to e-tolls.
    OUTA chairperson, Wayne Duvenage, states that the organisation will not appeal the judgment as it is constrained by lack of funding.
    Duvenage notes that to appeal, OUTA will need R3.3 million and can no longer afford to appeal, adding that despite that, the organisation will never stop denouncing the e-tolls.
    To read article titled “OUTA abandons e-toll court fight” click here.

    IOL News
  • NGOs Forced to Work With ZANU-PF

    The Community Tolerance Reconciliation and Development (COTRAD) says that ZANU-PF uses memoranda's of understanding to ensure that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) do not have total autonomy when implementing programmes.

    COTRAD programmes manager at advocacy group, Zivanai Muzorodzi, says that while NGOs want to conduct their activities impartially, his experiences in the Masvingo Province have shown that this is not always possible.

    Muzorodzi explains that, "Every organisation that wants to implement a programme in the community is made to sign a memorandum of understanding,” argues that this is a trick that ZANU-PF uses to ensure that all NGOs follow lines of communication crafted by the party.

    To read the article titled, “NGOs forced to work with ZANU-PF structures,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Parliament Slams Reaction to e-Tolls

    Parliament's transport portfolio committee on transport says Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance’s (OUTA) call for motorists not to pay for e-tolls in Gauteng defies the Constitution.
    The committee has urged both e-tolling critics to demonstrate their respect for the law by accepting the decision made by the courts.
    "The committee is concerned that these two organisations are encouraging citizens not to abide by an Act of Parliament and thus defy the Constitution of the country," states Ruth Bhengu, committee chairperson.
    To read the article titled, “Parliamentary committee condemns Outa, COSATU's e-tolls reaction”, click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • Hlophe, Mdluli Cases Highlight Trend of Cover-Ups - FUL

    Freedom Under Law (FUL) says the cases of former crime intelligence head General Richard Mdluli and Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, though unrelated, have highlighted what it calls “a disturbing trend of cover ups”.
    FUL's former Constitutional Court Judge, Johan Kriegler, says both cases relate to very senior people in very responsible positions being involved in allegations of very serious misconduct.
    “Those charges are then withdrawn against them for reasons that appear to an outsider just weird, inexplicable. We in FUL said these look odd. This cannot be right. We are entitled to know what happened.” - FUL.
    To read the article titled ‘Hlophe, Mdluli cases highlight trend of cover-ups: FUL’, click here.

    SABC News
  • The NPA Crisis that Should Never Have Happened

    Barely a year into his tenure as South Africa’s National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mxolisi Nxasana is embroiled in a highly public scandal.

    Early media reports stated that shortly before new cabinet ministers were appointed, the former justice minister, Jeff Radebe, had asked him to resign because he failed to reveal that he had previously been charged and acquitted of murder.

    Nxasana has reportedly also been accused of nepotism, has two criminal convictions for assault to his name, and has been charged with resisting arrest related to ‘serious traffic offences’. While there should be a transparent and fair process that enables Nxasana to explain these revelations, there is no denying that this debacle will only further dent public trust and cast another ominous shadow over the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

    Public trust in key criminal justice institutions such as the NPA, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) needs to be restored, and a vital first step in doing this is ensuring that a competitive and transparent process takes place when appointing leadership of these entities.

    It should be remembered that for 18 months the NPA had an acting NDPP in the form of Advocate Nomqcobo Jiba. It was only after the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) took legal action against President Jacob Zuma to force him to make a permanent appointment, which went all the way to the Constitutional Court, that Nxasana was appointed. Considering the December 2011 ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal stipulating that Zuma’s previous appointment of Advocate Menzi Simelane as NDPP was ‘inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid,’ it is fair for the public to have expected far greater circumspection regarding the current appointment.

    Similarly, the opaque appointment of Riah Phiyega, a person with no policing experience, as National Commissioner of the SAPS, also corroded the morale of police officers and reduced public trust in the police.

    In his inauguration speech on 24 May 2014, President Zuma stated that the National Development Plan (NDP), a product of the National Planning Commission, would underpin all efforts to move the country ‘forward to prosperity and success’.

    To his credit, Zuma stated that for the NDP’s targets to be realised - for instance, in terms of economic growth, jobs, infrastructure and ensuring the safety of citizens - it is critical for the performance of the state to improve and for public service corruption and inefficiency to be eradicated.

    Indeed, with South Africa having just celebrated 20 years of democracy, Zuma has an opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by ensuring that over the next five years, there is a revitalisation of various state institutions - including those with a mandate to tackle corruption, such as the NPA, the SAPS and the SIU. As a starting point, it is crucial to address the issue of appointments to these important agencies.

    It is time for the country’s political leadership to heed the calls for such appointments to be made according to a transparent, competitive and non-partisan process. There is already a precedent for this, considering that the heads of Chapter Nine institutions such as the Auditor-General and the Public Protector are appointed after being interviewed and recommended to the president by a multiparty parliamentary committee. The NDP, adopted by the previous cabinet, supports the principle that a transparent, non-partisan body should vet and interview candidates for key positions in the police before appointment, where necessary, by the president. This could be adapted to other criminal justice institutions.

    The NDP recommends that a national policing board consisting of expertise from various sectors and disciplines should be established to set standards for recruiting, selecting, appointing and promoting police officials. Regarding the national commissioner of the SAPS and the deputies, the NDP suggests that appointments be recommended to the president following panel interviews based on a clear set of objective criteria. This is intended to ‘ensure the incumbents are respected and held in high esteem by the police service and the community’.

    This cogent set of recommendations should similarly be applied or adapted to the position of the NDPP, particularly considering the vital importance that this person be ‘fit and proper’ - and also independent. Indeed, there would be many benefits for these institutions - and also for applying the rule of law - if such a transparent and competitive process were to be followed. This would invariably result in heightened public scrutiny of the applicants and include rigorous background checks of the candidates. Any subsequent concerns would be raised and engaged with throughout the process. Arguably, this would go a long way in preventing instances where key appointments are made only for serious problems to arise later on, to the substantial detriment of both the appointee and institution involved.

    A competitive and transparent appointment process will also allow competent candidates to raise their public profiles before they are appointed. Therefore, when they take up their positions, the public and public servants should know that appointees do indeed have the experience, skills and integrity required to head their departments with authority.

    Let us imagine that South Africa decided, for instance, to follow Kenya’s example, where prospective candidates for the position of the chief of police and attorney-general (similar to the NDDP) were rigorously interviewed on national television. Indeed, if the current head of the NPA had been appointed following such a publicly transparent process, the recent revelations would have emerged sooner, and he would have had a fair chance to publicly resolve them and ensure that there would not be a shred doubt concerning his suitability to head the organisation. It is deeply disconcerting and unfair - not only to him, but also to the many honest and hard-working men and women in the NPA - that yet another period of uncertainty will have to be endured, which will only serve as a distraction from their core business.

    The country’s political leadership should urgently and publicly ensure that the current NDDP debacle is resolved fairly and speedily. Any future leadership appointments to key criminal justice institutions have to be preceded by a robust, publicly transparent and impartial vetting and interviewing process. This will revitalise these entities and spark a process of restoring staff morale and public support, which would be immensely beneficial for efforts to tackle crime and corruption while enhancing the rule of law in South Africa.
    • Hamadziripi Tamukamoyo, Researcher and Kaveshnee John, Research Intern, Governance, Crime and Justice Division, ISS Pretoria. This article appeared in the ISS Today.
  • South Africa Misses The Mark on Women in Politics

    Following the elections and President Jacob Zuma's recent cabinet appointments, South Africa has missed its last opportunity - so tantalisingly close - to achieve gender parity in politics ahead of the 2015 deadline.
    The 50 percent target for women's representation in all areas of decision-making is enshrined in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development adopted in South Africa in 2008.
    South Africa came under the spotlight at the SADC Protocol@Work summit on 27 May 2014, under the theme, ‘50/50 by 2015, and a Strong Post- 2015 Agenda’. The summit brings together 350 activists and government officials from across the region in the final countdown to 2015 - the deadline for the 28 targets of the Protocol.  
    Women's representation in parliament dropped from 44 percent in the 2009 elections to 40 percent in the 7 May 2014 polls, while that of women in provincial legislatures dropped from 41 to 37 percent. Following the announcement of the new cabinet at the weekend, women in cabinet remain at 41 percent. The proportion of women premiers dropped from 55 percent in 2009 to 22 percent in 2014. In the 2011 local elections, women's representation dropped from 40 percent to 38 percent.
    "South Africa is the one country that should have hit the bull's eye," said Gender Links chief executive officer, Colleen Lowe Morna. The reason for the drop, she noted, "is that South Africa has steadfastly refused to adopt a legislated quota, leaving this to the whims of political parties." 
    The relatively high numbers owed to the ruling African National Congress' [ANC] 50 percent quota. "But the ANC has not always stuck to its quota. And as its majority has declined, both at national and local level, so has the representation of women," Lowe-Morna noted. "We rest our case: the issue is too important to leave to the fate of political parties."
    The ANC adopted a voluntary 30 percent quota for women in 2002, and upped this to 50 percent in 2009. However, the party did not live up to this quota nor did they stick to the zebra proportional representation on the party list, since the first three people on the ANC party list are men.
    Out of the 249 ANC seats at national level, 115 (46 percent) are held by women. This is a four percent decline from 2009.
    The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has always been averse to quotas. Helen Zille came under fire for appointing an all-male cabinet in the Western Cape in 2009. Women hold only 27 of the 89 seats (30 percent). At provincial level, women's representation in the DA declined by four percentage points from 35 percent in 2009 to 31 percent in 2014.
    In her Western Cape cabinet, Zille boasted that she had increased women's representation by 200 percent as she now has two women in cabinet. She added that she would not discriminate in favour of women because they have X chromosomes or against men because they have Y chromosomes.
    "This is simplistic and it is disappointing, coming from a woman leader," commented Lowe Morna. "Zille completely ignores the historical imbalances between women and men. Nowhere in the world have these been corrected without deliberate measures to do so."  
    The new kid on the block, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) got a whopping 25 seats in parliament of which only nine (35 percent) are held by women. At provincial level, the party has 38 percent women. During Women's Month last year, the EFF said they "view the deplorable condition of the majority of women as a slap in the face for women who sacrificed so much for our liberation". With that in mind, although higher than many other parties 35 percent of women is still a slap in the face to gender parity.
    In another show of blatant gender blindness, the Inkhatha Freedom Party (IFP) continues to demonstrate a disturbing decline after each election. Out of the 10 seats in parliament, only two seats (21 percent) are held by women. This is a one percent decline from 2009, and a 14 percent decline from 2004. The decline also extends to the provincial level, down from 35 percent in 2009 to 20 percent women in 2014.
    Agang, led by a woman, only got two seats. However party leader Mamphela Ramphele, said she is not going to Parliament because she wants to reflect on her party's disappointing performance, and is putting forward two male MPs.
    In the 2009 elections, the ANC managed to get 50/50 representation of premiers. In 2014, of the eight provinces that the ANC won, men lead seven, while one province is led by a woman (13 percent). Nationally, there are seven (78 percent) male premiers and two female premiers (22 percent).
    Cabinet is where women's representation should be equal to that of men as the President has absolute control. But women now constitute 15 (41 percent) of the 37-member cabinet, and 16 (44 percent) of the 36 deputy ministers.
    Just before the elections, the national assembly passed the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill. If approved by the National Council of Provinces, the bill will oblige both public and private entities to ensure gender parity. South Africa could have made a head start with its just ended elections. "Missing the mark at this place and time sends out the sad message that patriarchy is still alive and well," noted Lowe Morna.
    - For more information about the Gender Summit underway as well as the figures of women in government, contact Katherine Robinson on 076 227 6517. A multimedia newsletter with pieces suitable for online radio, video will be sent out for your usage shortly.
    Katherine Robinson
  • Swazi Media Faces Restrictions

    Swaziland’s Chief Justice, Michael Ramodibedi, threatens the managing editor of a major daily newspaper with immediate arrest if his paper continues to comment on the trial of another top newspaperman.
    In addition, young activists were arrested and charged with treason at the trial of Makhubu and Maseko last month for showing solidarity and wearing T-shirts of the banned Peoples United Democratic Movement (PUDEMO).
    Fear has therefore gripped the nation, to the point that journalists are shying away from reporting on vital issues affecting the rule of law and political dissent.
    To read the article titled, “New crackdown on Swazi media,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • SA Elections: A Test of South Africans' Views on Corruption

    In the wake of the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla, opposition parties have been doing all they can to make this an election issue and keep the tale of excess and waste of R250 million fresh in the minds of citizens.

    Yet, the jury is out as to whether corruption really was an election issue, and whether citizens had been sufficiently angered by the expenditure on Nkandla to shift their voting preferences.

    South Africa has a strong anti-corruption framework and has signed a raft of international treaties and conventions on preventing and combatting corruption. Despite this, South Africa is increasingly struggling to implement legislation on corruption. This is due to various factors, including a lack of capacity and political will.

    The Afrobarometer survey on public perceptions of corruption, which was released last year, provides some insight regarding attitudes towards corruption. It found that 66 percent of South Africans believe the government is failing in ensuring a society free of corrupt and unethical conduct. Only 33 percent believe that the government is succeeding in the fight against corruption, and one percent indicated that they are not aware of its performance in this regard.

    The most recent Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) 2012 South African Social Attitudes Survey (SASAS) shows that 74 percent of South Africans believe that corruption has increased. A small minority of 10 percent believed it had decreased, and 12 percent felt that the situation remained static. It also showed that public awareness of corruption is increasing.

    In 2003, only nine percent of South Africans identified corruption as a key challenge - in 2011, this percentage had increased to 26 percent. More specifically, the survey revealed that 66 percent of South Africans believe that South African Police Service (SAPS) officials engage in corrupt activities, while 38 percent believe that Home Affairs officials participate in corrupt activities.

    It also showed that 37 percent felt that politicians on the national level of government are involved in corruption, while 37 percent suspected that officials managing tender applications were involved in unethical conduct; and 36 percent believed the same of officials employed in judicial services.

    The survey also covered perceptions of the causes of corruption, with 63 percent of South Africans attributing it to the national government and Parliament’s inability to effectively deal with corruption, while 33 percent said that corruption is the result of ineffective and lax punitive measures on the part of the judiciary.

    Some 30 percent assigned corruption to poor transparency in the management of public expenditure processes, while 29 percent believed close links between business and politics is the primary source of unethical conduct in the public sector. Finally, 28 percent indicated that public tolerance of corruption is responsible for the persistence of this problem in South Africa.

    However, South Africa is not alone: the perception that corruption is on the rise is consistent with global trends. For instance, Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2013 revealed that 53 percent of people globally believe that corruption has increased, while 29 percent said that the levels of corruption remained unchanged and only 18 percent felt that they had decreased.

    The findings of the various surveys show that South Africans are concerned about corruption: but to what extent have the election manifestos of the major parties spoken to these concerns?

    In its manifesto, the African National Congress (ANC) indicated its intention to prohibit public officials from conducting business with the state; commit itself to realising and maintaining a high standard of professionalism in the public administration; focus on both public and private sector corruption; enhance the capacity of anti-corruption agencies to educate the public on corruption and to reform the tender system.

    It is not surprising that the ANC has focused on the public service given the ‘revolving door’ between the private and public sector, which has often led to conflicts of interest and has been the basis of several government scandals in recent years.

    The Public Service Commission recently confirmed that there has been a sharp increase in financial misconduct in the public sector. Its findings show that money lost to financial misconduct grew from R100 million in the 2008/2009 financial year to R346 million in 2009/2010; and increased to R932 million in the 2010/2011 financial year. It also predicted that this figure could soar to R1 billion in the following financial year.

    The ANC in government has already passed the Public Administration Management Bill through Parliament, which places a ban on public servants doing business with the state. In addition, President Zuma’s State of the Nation Address this year mentioned the establishment of a Central Tender Board to deal with all tenders across the country, and the appointment of a chief procurement officer to adjudicate on issues of pricing and ensure procedural fairness.

    The Democratic Alliance (DA) manifesto is quite similar, but it seeks to undergird Chapter 9 institutions with greater budget allocations - which have always been a bugbear and stumbling block to these constitutionally mandated bodies to do their work effectively.

    The DA also promised to prohibit public officials from conducting business with the state; commit itself to realising and maintaining a high standard of professionalism in the public administration; protect and invest in the independence of Chapter 9 institutions of the constitution and dismiss corrupt officials. It also said it would enhance accountability in government by reforming the electoral system; promote transparency in tender processes; prohibit the appointment of officials convicted of corruption, violent crime, fraud and theft; and implement lifestyle audits of politicians and public officials.

    The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the ‘new kid on the block,’ has been causing a stir and focused on two key areas, though with little detail. These are to prohibit public officials from conducting business with the state, and to protect and invest in the independence of Chapter 9 institutions of the constitution. Among others, it also undertakes to increase, harness and enhance the efficiency of government institutions to avoid all forms of corruption, and abolish the use of private companies in fulfilling functions and duties government has to fulfil.

    Both Agang South Africa and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) ran campaigns with a heavy focus on issues of corruption. Agang SA indicated that it would implement legislation to protect whistleblowers, while the UDM said it would establish a court specifically designed to deal with corruption.

    At the end of the day however, the voters decided which parties best represent their interests. The results of the 7 May elections will in many ways be revealing of South Africans’ attitudes towards current levels of corruption, and parties’ commitment to transparent and accountable governance.

    Judith February is senior researcher and Wilmont Gertse is an intern at the Institute for Security Studies’ Governance, Crime and Justice Division.
    Judith February
  • Calls for Re-Engagement to Save the Economy

    Opposition leaders have called on the government to re-engage Zimbabweans living outside the country as efforts continue to find solutions to the country's faltering economy.

    The leaders were speaking at a public forum in Harare organised by SAPES Trust, hosted under the theme 'Zimbabwe Going Forward; Consolidating the democratisation Processes and Re-enforcing Re-engagement with the Global Community'.

    Calls for national re-engagement come at a time Zimbabwe is battling with mounting economic problems.

    To read the article titled, “Diaspora critical for economic growth, opposition,” click here.

    All Africa
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