Wednesday, July 31, 2013

US Teachers To Carry Weapons

US Teachers To Carry Weapons

Assistant principal Cheyne Dougan at Clarksville High School, Arkansas will be among more than 20 teachers, administrators and other employees in the school district carrying concealed weapons.

US Teaches To Carry Weapons (Wikimedia Commons)
Wikimedia Commons
After a school shooting in Connecticut last December that left 20 children and six teachers dead, the idea of arming schoolhouses against gunmen was hotly debated across the country.

The National Rifle Association declared it the best response to serious threats. But even in the most conservative states, most proposals faltered in the face of resistance from educators or warnings from insurance companies that schools would face higher premiums.

Making use of a little-known Arkansas law that allows licensed, armed security guards on campus, Dougan and other teachers at the school will be considered guards.

"The plan we've been given in the past is 'Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'" Superintendent David Hopkins said. But as deadly incidents continued to happen in schools, he explained, the district decided, "That's not a plan."

In strongly conservative Arkansas, where gun ownership is common and gun laws are permissive, no school district had ever used the law to arm teachers on the job, according to the state Department of Education. The closest was the Lake Hamilton School, which for years has kept several guns locked up in case of emergency. Only a handful of trained administrators - not teachers - have access to the weapons.

Clarksville, a community of 9,200 people about 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, is going further.

Home to an annual peach festival, the town isn't known for having dangerous schools. But Hopkins said he faced a flood of calls from parents worried about safety after the attack last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

Hopkins said he and other school leaders didn't see why the district couldn't rely on its own staff and teachers to protect students rather than hire someone.

State officials are not blocking Clarksville's plan, but Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell is opposed to the idea of arming teachers and staff. He prefers to hire law enforcement officers as school resource officers.

There are other dissenters, too. Donna Morey, former president of the Arkansas Education Association, called the idea of arming teachers "awful." The risk of a student accidentally getting shot or obtaining a gun outweighs any benefits, she said.

"We just think educators should be in the business of educating students, not carrying a weapon," Morey said.

Participants in the program are given a one-time $1,100 stipend to purchase a handgun and holster. Hopkins said the district is paying about $50,000 for ammunition and for training that is narrowly tailored for teachers to respond to shooters on campus.

Sydney Whitkanack, who will enter seventh grade this fall, said she's grown up around firearms and doesn't mind if teachers or staff are armed at school.

"If they're concealed, then it's no big deal," said Whitkanack. "It's not like someone's going to know 'Oh, they have a firearm.'"

The district will post signs at each school about the armed guards, but the identities of faculty and staff carrying weapons will be kept secret, Hopkins said.

Those who participate in the program will continue to receive regular training, he said.

Sherry Wommack said the program is one reason she's taking her son, an incoming eighth-grader, out of Clarksville's schools before the school year begins. Wommack said she doesn't believe teachers should make life-or-death choices involving students.

"I think police officers are trained to make those decisions, not teachers," Wommack said.

Hunt for Cape cops killers

July 31 2013 at 07:55am
By Daneel Knoetze

A police officer with an R5 assault rifle walks past a boy in one of the most dangerous roads in Manenberg. Picture: Henk Kruger
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Cape Town -

The deaths of seven policemen in Cape Town in the past month have caused grief among their colleagues – as well as anger and a determination to hunt the killers down.

A high-ranking officer told the Cape Argus that absenteeism was at an all-time low as members wanted “to be there for one another”.

While Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and Community Safety MEC Dan Plato trade political accusations over policing in the province, the men and women patrolling the streets are anxious and determined.

The shooting of Sergeant Bafundi Mdlalo at his Mitchells Plain home on Monday night brought to four the number of police officers killed in Cape Town in one week.

A firearm was stolen from Mdlalo’s home after he was shot.

A picture of Constable Dumile Thethani gazes out at mourners at a memorial service. Picture: Henk Kruger
Earlier that day, Mthethwa had spoken at a press briefing at the Mitchells Plain police station about attacks on police officers.

* Last Monday, Constable Dumile Thethani, 38, was shot in the head and died when he and his partner were ambushed by two gunmen during a routine crime prevention patrol in Nyanga. The partner was shot in the leg and is recovering in hospital.

* On Sunday evening, Constable Lungiswa Depha, 34, was shot dead by a motorist who had slammed into his police vehicle on Spine Road in Khayelitsha. Depha was on duty.

* About an hour later, Sergeant Landile Yengo was shot dead.

Three other officers have been killed in the Western Cape since July 25. Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer has acknowledged that it has been the bloodiest month yet for the police during his tenure, which began in September 2010.

Police have not made any arrests.

The Cape Argus spoke to three police officers who work on the ground or in managerial positions in crime-ridden areas. The interviews were conducted on the condition of complete anonymity – officers may be impeached for commenting to the media without permission.

“There is a definite fear, a questioning feeling of ‘Who will be next?’,” said a high-ranking officer.

“Members are reaching for bulletproof vests en masse. In the past no one bothered – they just lay in storage. Some members are patrolling in larger groups, they no longer feel safe doing so in pairs. It all shows that there is a new awareness and tension in the air. Today I will be driving in a marked police vehicle, but I am not armed. I must admit the context of the recent murders makes me slightly nervous.”

An officer working in the Nyanga cluster told the Cape Argus that he was constantly aware of his vulnerability – whether commuting to work or on the job and even at home. Merely being in possession of a service pistol made officers targets for criminal gangs who wanted to increase their arsenals, he said.

The high ranking officer said yet the “anger, determination and camaraderie” felt among the ranks of police in Cape Town arguably overshadowed fears for personal safety.

“It’s incredible. There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of officers calling in sick, for instance. I hear that this is especially true at Harare police station in Khayelitsha (where Depha and Yengo were stationed) since the murders on Sunday.

“Many officers are angered by the audacity of a criminal who will attack a sergeant at his home. They want to be there for one another, they want to bring the murderers to book and they want to continue serving and protecting the public – in spite of the tough circumstances at the moment. This is about more than just a job.”

He had seen fellow officers weeping at their desks on Tuesday. “Others go quietly to the bathroom and cry because they have lost friends. Everyone’s trying to keep strong, but at times the loss is too overwhelming. They do not understand or really care about all the cheap politicking around this issue.”

Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille has said she will work to ensure that money becomes available to reward informants in cases of murders of police officers.

De Lille said that the killing of Sergeant Bafundi Mdlalo in Mitchells Plain on Monday night clearly indicated criminals were targeting police officers throughout the city.

“We must all do everything we can to ensure that we can build safer communities. I appeal to anyone with information that could assist the police in arresting the individuals behind these attacks (to come forward),” she said.

The murder has drawn widespread condemnation, with the council of the Cape Law Society saying its councillors “support the hardworking members” of the police and “encourage them to continue to serve the people of South Africa”.

All condemnations were accompanied by condolences to the families and colleagues of the fallen police officers.

Cape Argus

Call for Phiyega, Mthethwa to resign

July 29 2013 at 07:39pm

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Riah Phiyega Picture: Boxer Ngwenya
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Johannesburg - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and police commissioner Riah Phiyega should resign, the SA Policing Union (Sapu) said on Monday.

“(We) call on (them) the honourable thing - resign from their positions,” the union's leader Mpho Kwinika said in a statement.

“We have been calling for a judicial commission of inquiry into the SA Police Service simply because there is no leadership and management in the police.”

Sapu was reacting to the outcome of an audit released by the police ministry on Sunday, which found that 1448 police employees had committed crimes.

In a statement, Mthethwa said the audit -into how many current police employees had criminal records - had been going on for two years. Mthethwa said the next step was for Phiyega to decide what action to take.

Sapu said the “so-called report” was not credible.

“The lack of credibility in the audit report comes from the fact that even its findings are inaccurate... We have been calling for its terms of reference to be made public,” said Kwinika.

“Sapu would like to challenge the minister and the national commissioner to be frank and honest about the criteria used to determine this figure, the process, and its accuracy.”

The union questioned whether the figure included those employees who were given fines in court, and those found not guilty. Sapu said it did not condone ill-discipline or illegal acts, but wanted clarity on the report.

“We want to reassure the public that as much as we acknowledge that there are few rotten elements within the SAPS... thousands of men and women in blue are people of great integrity,” Kwinika said. - Sapa

Investec Most at Risk From First Strut Default After Murder

Jaco Visser and Renee BonorchisJul 30, 2013 11:28 am ET
(Updates with fund manager comment in 13th paragraph.)

July 30 (Bloomberg) -- Investec Plc’s money manager and Sanlam Ltd. have the most at risk in a looming bond default of at least 925 million rand ($94 million) after the liquidation of First Strut RF Ltd., a South African engineering company.

Investec Asset Management invested 435 million rand in a First Strut note through a company called Bacarac Trading 142 (Pty) Ltd., according to court documents filed in Pretoria on July 16 by Leslie Matuson and John Louw, who were appointed as business rescue practitioners. Sanlam Capital Markets purchased 263 million rand, Fairtree Capital (Pty) Ltd. took 131 million rand of the notes, Prudential Portfolio Managers bought 51 million rand, Rand Merchant Bank invested 50 million rand and Stanlib Asset Management acquired 22 million rand.

First Strut’s liquidation came after the murder of Chairman Jeff Wiggill last month in Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg. Wiggill’s shooting was a contract killing, the Johannesburg- based Star reported last week, citing the bail application of one of the men arrested for his killing. First Strut, which supplied the transport, mining and power industries, was placed in provisional liquidation on July 16.

Investec Asset Management, which manages 40 billion rand in corporate debt, said the First Strut bonds were part of a high- yield institutional credit strategy. “Clients can still expect a positive return for the year ahead,” the Cape Town-based money manager said in an e-mailed reply to questions today. First Strut also traded as First Tech.

‘Provided For’

FirstRand, owner of South Africa’s second-largest banking group which includes Rand Merchant Bank, loaned the engineering company 200 million rand and invested 50 million rand in the bond, Sam Moss, investor relations director of Johannesburg- based FirstRand, said in an e-mailed response to questions today.

The money invested by Fairtree Capital “was held in several credit portfolios, has been fully provided for, and within the mandates given by the underlying investors,” Paul Crawford, a portfolio manager at the Cape Town-based company, said by phone today. “The portfolios remain ahead of their performance targets.”

First Strut has 925 million rand of floating-rate notes outstanding, which RMB sold for the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While Stanlib said it couldn’t respond due to client confidentiality, Sanlam Capital Markets, a unit of South Africa’s second-biggest insurer, didn’t immediately respond to telephone or e-mailed requests for comments.

Bullet Wounds

Cosira, a major unit of First Strut, applied for business rescue a week before Wiggill, 59, was found dead, according to an affidavit filed by First Strut chief executive officer Andris Bertulis. Wiggill had bullet wounds to his head and was found next to his black Bentley on June 20, the South African Press Association reported. While his wallet and mobile phone were missing, the motive for the killing was unknown, SAPA said, citing police captain, Augustinah Selepe.

The business rescue process, which tries to protect a company from creditors in the hope it can be salvaged, failed after Louw and Matuson were unable to raise as much as 80 million rand in July. Matuson met with creditors from July 11 at the Johannesburg offices of law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Inc. and asked for the money to keep First Strut afloat for one month, according to court documents.

“All secured creditors were unanimous that they were not prepared to put any further funds into the group,” according to an affidavit by Matuson, which was filed on July 16. “The financial position of the respondent and other entities is so dire that they could not even make payment of the weekly wages due July 12, given that all bank accounts were frozen.”


“The facts behind the bond default and liquidation of the First Tech Group are not yet clear, and we believe that investigations into possible irregularities and, or misrepresentations are taking place,” Bernard Fick, head of Prudential Portfolio Managers, said in an e-mailed statement today. The Cape town-based fund manager, which held First Strut’s bonds in 19 client portfolios, has written down the full value of its holdings to zero, he said.

Bacarac, the special purpose company which acts for bondholders, secured a court order on July 12 to attach all of First Strut’s assets. While there are six named investors in its bond, all of the company’s lenders are not yet known.

Absa Group Ltd., the South African bank controlled by Barclays Plc, loaned First Strut about 30 million rand, according to its investment banking head, Stephen van Coller. Absa didn’t invest in the high-yield note, he said, adding that any losses will be covered by provisions for bad debts.

Bank Guarantor

Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s largest lender, had a performance guarantee facility with First Strut worth 103.3 million rand, according to a document on First Strut’s website. Standard Bank declined to comment because of client confidentiality agreements, said Ross Linstrom, a spokesman for the Johannesburg-based lender.

“Nedbank is one of a number of financiers that has credit exposure to the First Strut Group of companies and is adequately provided,” Mike Brown, Nedbank Group Ltd.’s chief executive officer, said on July 24 without disclosing how much the lender may have invested or loaned First Strut.

Investec said last week its banking unit loaned about 240 million rand to First Strut. Investec didn’t immediately respond to e-mailed questions today.

Investec dropped 1.4 percent to 66.02 rand by the close in Johannesburg trading, its lowest in 11 days, while FirstRand fell 2.2 percent to 28.60 rand, its biggest fall in two weeks.

--Editors: Vernon Wessels, Dale Crofts, Jon Menon, Antony Sguazzin

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


No fear no Favour No membership please......

KZN: Anatomy of an assassination

Niki Moore  SOUTH AFRICA  31 JULY 2013  00:25

Nkululeko Gwala was a loyal member of the ANC in Durban. But he really didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. He was expelled from the party for speaking out against corruption. And when this failed to silence him, his enemies tried twelve bullets on a dark winter night. By NIKI MOORE.

S'bu Zikode was the last person to speak to Nkululeko Gwala on 26 June 2013. “He phoned me several times,” said S'bu, “he wanted to see me urgently that night. He said he had evidence of corruption and he wanted to give it to me to keep in a safe place. He knew that his house was not safe. But I said, let's meet tomorrow morning. Early. Nothing can happen. Come to my office tomorrow morning.”
But something did happen. Nkululeko (34) was shot dead from behind at point-blank range while walking home from the local shebeen where he had been watching soccer. The two suspects who were arrested and then released, have been threatening community members with reprisals.
Gwala's murder made headlines because a few hours before he was killed, a senior ANC politician told a public meeting that Gwala was a trouble-maker, and should be removed.
A little over a month earlier, community member Thembinkosi Qumbela had been shot in a similar fashion. In Qumbela's case, there have been no arrests, and no headlines.
Both of these men worked closely with members of a social movement called Abahlali Basemjondolo (ABM). ABM is a group of concerned individuals whose main aim is to make sure that the government delivers houses according to their Constitutional mandate.
“It is written in the Constitution that everyone in South Africa has the right to adequate shelter,” says ABM President Mzwakhe Mdlalose. “But this is not happening. And the main reason it is not happening is because of corruption.”
ABM is not interested in being part of the political spectrum. Despite rising membership levels, they are not seeking votes or government representation. In fact, they encourage their members to abstain from voting at all.
When asked why, Mdlalose says they have lost faith in the political system.
“We need to remain a pressure group to make sure that elected representatives remain honest and effective, and fulfil their mandate,” he says, adding rather gloomily, “We have found that anyone who gets elected, becomes corrupted right away.”
Since 2007 there have been approximately 36 anti-corruption whistle-blowers who have been assassinated in KZN. In the majority of these cases, these were people within the ruling ANC party who wanted to speak out against corruption. And in many cases, the corruption concerned the building and allocation of houses.
Housing the peripatetic poor in South Africa is an extremely complicated subject. According to ABM, when squatters invade a piece of land, the first people who arrive lay claim to the place, demarcate their own areas, and then become 'shacklords' – i.e. they sublet parts of their 'claim' to newly-arrived 'renters' (in Durban, the shacklords are mainly local, the 'renters' are from the Eastern Cape). If the municipality - usually in good faith - begins to negotiate with these residents about providing houses, they talk to the 'shacklords' who might only make up a fifth of the total population of the settlement. The shacklords are encouraged to evict their 'tenants' and take up possession of their houses, leaving more than a quarter of the original residents back at square one. It's a first-come first-served system that is intrinsically unfair, as neither the shacklords nor the tenants actually have any claim to the land. It leads to internecine violence and protests and a completely arbitrary housing allocation. As a result, many houses end up in the possession of wealthy, politically-connected businesspeople who rent them out.
That is problem number one. The second problem is that the entire housing process is riddled with corruption. The fabulously ephemeral Manase Report, which alleged wide-scale corruption in the Ethekwini municipality, identified the housing department as the most problematic. It's not difficult to see why.
Here's how housing tenders work (and this is based on a real example, with detail supplied by whistle-blowers): the municipality issues a tender of R300 million for 4,500 houses. This works out to a decent price of R65,000 per home. The person who gets this tender, invariably a political buddy, takes R100 million for themselves, and appoints a sub-contractor. Who now has a budget of R45,000 per house. It is extremely likely that he will help himself to R10 million or so and appoint a further subcontractor, and so it goes. The supplier, knowing that he is dealing with a porous government tender, will double or triple his prices for materials. At the end of the day, the house will have actually cost R20,000 to build and will have crumbling walls and a leaking roof. A few bribes have been paid to housing inspectors to look the other way (or they are threatened to keep quiet), and in many cases the full payment has been made to the tenderer long before the houses have even been finished. Essential elements like drainage, ventilation and run-off have oftne been ignored or left incomplete.
It is because of this institutional corruption that ABM believes that state-provided housing is not doing the job.
“We believe that people should be given a piece of land, and they must be given title to that land,” says ABM chairman S'bu Zikode. “The state can then provide essential services, but the people then build the house they want. There can be no corruption, as they will build a house they can afford and they cannot steal as they are only stealing from themselves.”
But the existing corruption is not confined to the building process itself. The most dangerous corruption involves the delivery of the finished houses – which is at the interface of government and the people - and it is because of this that people lose their lives.
Nkululeko Gwala is the latest victim. He was a loyal ANC member until 2010. Even though he spoke out against corruption, he told people that he would never leave the ANC, it was his home. However, the ANC felt differently, and in 2010 the Ethekwini structures told Gwala that his membership would not be renewed. Once out in the political wilderness, Gwala turned independent and became a community leader in his own right in the Cato Crest informal settlement, in the Durban suburb of Mayville and – here's some irony – in the shadow of the massive upmarket Pavilion shopping centre. Gwala led the community protests in Cato Crest, which had been earmarked for a huge RDP housing development.
There were two main grievances: firstly that the process of eviction and resettlement was not being properly conducted and explained; and secondly that the allocation of houses (by the ward councillor, Mzi Ngiba) was corrupt.
“Ngiba sells these houses at night, over the bonnet of his car,” complained Gwala. “Sometimes he sells the same house three times to different people. He owns three houses himself, and he rents them out.”
This is not a new allegation: similar complaints have been lodged against the councillor for Ward 12, Mdu Ngcobo; the councillor of Ward 4, Dennis Shozi; and the councillor of Ward 56, S'thembiso Gumede, among several others. Despite these persistent accusations, however, no action is ever taken.
“If people have allegations of corruption against councillors, they must open a case with the police,” says city spokesman Thabo Mofokeng. “When we hear of houses being allocated incorrectly, or invaded by squatters, we do a verification of ownership. If the wrong person is living there, we have to go through a court process to evict them.”
“Some people claim that the houses were sold to them,” he continues. “If this is true, we ask those people to open a criminal case.”
Easier said than done. Our law holds anyone innocent until proven guilty, and a clever criminal can spin out a legal process indefinitely while they hold on to their positions and income. The ANC-dominated municipality in Durban, despite an oft-stated commitment that they will not tolerate corruption, also states that they will not act against a councillor until he or she is proven guilty. There is therefore no incentive to speed up justice, especially if the culprit can use this hiatus to kill or intimidate any witnesses.
Which brings us back to Nkululeko Gwala. Gwala had been leading community protests in Cato Crest since 2010. At the beginning of 2013, aware of red-hot tensions in the area, Durban mayor James Nxumalo told the community that they should elect a committee of ten people to represent them, and that he would then engage with that committee. Gwala was part of that committee.
On Monday 24 June, residents who had been evicted from their shacks by their 'shacklords' blockaded several major roads in Durban to protest their evictions. On Tuesday, they marched on the offices of the two ward councillors in the area, Mzi Ngiba and Zanele Ndzoyiya, and burned them down. Gwala said that the people were angry at the councillors for giving houses to politically-connected people, and for not serving their communities.
“People should get houses on merit and not political affiliations,” Gwala said. “If they say I am guilty of leading the protest then that is fine because I am doing it for the rights of people.”
On the following Wednesday, an ANC delegation met with the Cato Crest residents at the Community Hall. Gwala told a local newspaper, the Daily News, that he was not going to attend the meeting because he was afraid he would be killed. There was an understandable precedent for this: on March 15 this year four gunmen shot down Cato Crest Residential Association chairman Thembinkosi Qumbela. He had been doing similar work to Gwala, and had made similar allegations. His murder remains unsolved, but since his death, Gwala had been receiving similar threats. Perhaps it was just as well Gwala did not go to the meeting: at the hall, ANC MEC for Health and the ANC regional chair, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, singled out Gwala and told residents that he was a trouble-maker.
He told the 2,000-strong meeting that Gwala was not wanted in the area and that he “either leaves the area or the community leaves. He must go. He is not wanted here.” In a heated 25-minute speech, which was recorded by a community activist and handed to the local Tribune newspaper, Dhlomo said that Gwala should be banished and he should “scrub his heels because he is leaving today.”
He said that Ward 101 was the “Gedleyihlekisa Zone” and belonged to Zuma.
Five hours later, at 10.30pm, Gwala was walking home from Mgazi's Tavern where he had been watching a soccer match. Two men shot him 12 times in the head and chest and then ran away. They had frisked him hurriedly for his cell-phone, but it was in a jacket pocket and they did not find it.
When questioned by the Tribune about the incendiary speech, Dhlomo's response was to accuse the paper of planting 'agents' to record the meeting and for quoting him out of context.
Incidentally, Gwala did not live in Cato Crest, he had a business and property in Inchanga. “But I am fighting for people whose voices have been ignored by our leaders,” he said. In Inchanga, he owned a soccer team and was in the process of setting up a youth project. He had also formulated a rewards scheme for promising matric pupils.
“He always wanted to bring change into people's lives,” said his father, Thembinkosi Ndokweni.
Police spokesman Col. Vincent Ndungu said that the police were investigating the murder, but did not regard it – yet – as a political crime.
“This business that we are called upon to investigate MEC Dhlomo for incitement is nonsense. No-one has come forward with any evidence of this incitement. If people get death threats they must open a case with the police. We don't respond to media reports or speculation, we can only respond when people come forward with evidence.”
He had no information about another three community leaders from Cato Crest who are still in hiding, or the evidence of corruption that Gwala said that he had. “No-one has reported anything to us.” However, the police have not interviewed S'bu Zikode either, or the Daily News journalist to whom Gwala spoke just before he was killed. Their numbers are on his cellphone.
The ANC itself seems to have mixed feelings about the culture of murder within the organisation to eliminate political opposition. At the funeral of another slain ANC office-bearer, Wandile Mkhize, who was shot dead on the South Coast on June 2nd 2012, KZN Premier Zweli Mhhize said that while the ANC had no specific knowledge of the motive behind his death, the party had to look at “the confluence of politics, criminality and business, as it was going to cause huge problems within the party.”
Two men were arrested shortly after the murder, and implicated two others. But since then the case has become bogged down in court delays and police inefficiency, to the extent that it almost appears that there is an agenda to subvert justice.
By comparison, the murder of Oshabeni branch chair Dumisani Malunga in September 2012 was solved within a month, as the murderer confessed – a fellow ANC member who had wanted Malunga's job.
Assassinations are the ultimate form of censorship, says journalism professor Jane Duncan. And they're effective: there have been 59 political murders in South Africa in the last five years. During the same period, the Public Service Commission has reported a twelve-fold increase in wasteful and fruitless expenditure, coupled with a sharp decline in convictions for corruption.
The picture is clear.
Investigative journalist Sam Sole of the Mail & Guardian has pointed out that the ANC has promoted the fusing of politics and business through its Black Economic Empowerment policies. This has led to an intimate relationship developing between political power and material accumulation, where election to public office is seen as the fastest way to achieving wealth. As Sole notes, “until the alliance recognises and confronts the reality – confronts its own addiction to short-term gratification – the prospect for a cure will remain remote.” DM
Photo: Nkululeko Gwala (Abahlali baseMjondolo)








Themba Harry Gwala was a firebrand leader in the African National Congress and South African Communist Party in South Africa. He was imprisoned on Robben Island from 1964 to 1972.

W Cape affirmative action case sparks protests

No fear No favour No affirmative action.........

29 July 2013 16:23  SAPA

The case against correctional services for its "blatant policy of absolute racial representation" in hiring for jobs has continued, amid protests.

Not white enough before 1994 and not black enough afterwards was the message delivered by a group of angry coloured protesters in front of Cape Town's Labour Court at lunch time on Monday.
Inside the building, Judge Hilary Rabkin-Naicker presided over the resumption of an affirmative action case, brought by trade union Solidarity, against the Western Cape's correctional services department.
Outside, in Loop Street, a group of about 30 protesters called loudly for people to be employed on the basis of merit, not colour.
They held up posters with the messages "Employment Equity is Racism", "Staan Saam Bruin Mense" (Stand together, brown people), and "Job Reservation is Apartheid".
Many of the protesters wore orange, sleeveless safety vests, of the type worn by construction workers.
Written on the front were the words "Post 94, Not Black Enough", and on the back, "Pre 94, Not White Enough".
The court case, which started on April 24, was postponed on May 3 to allow time for both parties to reach agreement on the matter involving nine of the department's employees and one job applicant.
Solidarity brought the matter to court on behalf of the 10.
The union maintains that the department is pursuing a "blatant policy of absolute racial representation" when it comes to appointing job applicants to positions.
It claims this is "unfair, irrational and unlawful".
Rejection on the base of colour
Martin Brassey SC, for Solidarity, told the court on Monday attempts to reach an agreement in the interim had "proved unfruitful".
The case resumed with evidence from correctional services official Teresa Abrahams, who was the "strongly recommended" candidate for a post in the department's Breede River management area, after an interview in 2011.
Responding to questions, she told the court she had heard that she had not been appointed because of the department's application of employment equity targets.
Marumo Moerane SC, for the department, told her: "You were not appointed because the post was abolished."
Abrahams responded: "They reject us ... because we are coloured."
Later, South African Police Service employee Desiree Merkeur told the court she had applied for a job as a secretary in September, 2011, and was "strongly recommended for the post", but had not heard a word since then.
Moerane told her: "Once again, that post was abolished."
He also explained, in detail, the provision of the Employment Equity Act which divides job applicants into four categories on the basis of race – black, coloured, Indian, and white – and further subdivides these on the basis of gender.
Merkeur said she did not understand why the department would shortlist her, invite her to two interviews and strongly recommend her for the position while knowing that level of post was "over-represented for coloured people".
Evidence by three other applicants is to be heard later on Monday.
Opposed to discrimination
​Outside, chairperson of the United People's Alliance Frank Smith said his organisation was opposed to any discrimination in any form.
"We thought that after 1994 there would be no more discrimination; now there's more than before," he said.
Employment equity, Smith said, was racism in reverse.
Protester Envor Barros said people had to be employed on the basis of merit.
"Coloured people must be given a fair share of the pie," he said. In a statement on Monday afternoon, Solidarity said government was contradicting itself regarding the concept of absolute racial representation.
"While this concept is one of the keystones of the [department's] case, the Commission for Employment Equity (CEE) indicated that racial representation does not have to be applied rigidly.
"Dr Loyiso Mbabane, chairperson of the CEE, said during an interview there is no law that requires the composition of an employer's workforce to be an absolute reflection of the demographics of any area."
By implication, this meant that racial demographics did not have to be applied nationally or regionally.
Solidarity is representing Abrahams and Merkeur, and Linda-Jean Fortuin, Christopher February, Andre Jonkers, Geo-nita Baartman, Pieter Davids, Derick Wehr, Jan Kotze, and Deidre Jordaan.
The union said that in all cases "the persons concerned had been identified as the best candidates for the positions they had applied for, and their skin colour was the only reason why they were not appointed".
The case continues with the testimony of so-called "expert witnesses" expected to be heard later this week. – Sapa



Affirmative action is illegal.






Double or nothing: run-off elections will raise the stakes in Mali and Zimbabwe

No Fear No Favours No Despots needed in South Africa......


On a purely theoretical level, run-off elections seem like a great idea. In practice, not so much. With a very high likelihood of both Mali and Zimbabwe heading for a second round of voting, SIMON ALLISON looks at the problems inherent in the double ballot system – and why Zimbabwe should be a lot more worried than Mali.

In March this year, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto nervously watched the results of the Kenyan election trickle in. They saw they were in front, which was encouraging, but it wasn’t enough. To win properly, to win outright, they needed to secure more than 50% of the vote – and avoid a dreaded, unpredictable run-off election.
The run-off is something we’ll never have to worry about in South Africa, not unless our Constitution changes radically. We elect our leaders in a proportional representation system, which means we don’t actually vote for the president directly – we vote for Parliament, and then Parliament gets the privilege of appointing the head of state.
But in Kenya, as in many other countries around the world – including Mali and Zimbabwe – the run-off is a vital part of the electoral process. It’s actually a good idea, premised on the theory that no president is really legitimate unless they can claim support from an absolute majority of the people.
Here’s how it works: in the first round of voting, if no candidate gets an absolute majority (50%-plus), then there’ll be another election, usually a few weeks later. This one will be different, however, because only the two most popular candidates from the first round remain on the ballot. This means if the candidate you like didn’t make it, you still get to have a say in choosing your president – and the candidate will know he or she has the support of at least half the country as either their first or second choice.
As it turned out, there was no need for a run-off in Kenya. When all the counting was done and dusted, Kenyatta and Ruto’s politically convenient electoral alliance was well ahead of its main rival, Raila Odinga (with perhaps a bit of help from suspiciously spoiled ballots and supportive constituencies that reported more than 100% turnout), and fractionally over that 50% mark – the final tally gave them 50.07%.
Kenyatta and Ruto could celebrate, but so too could everyone else worried about what the implications of a run-off election may have been. For all their theoretical value, they can be messy, impractical affairs – and expensive too. After months of preparation for the first election, the harried electoral commission has to do it all over again. New ballots must be printed; election observers have to book another flight out or extend their hotel stay; another public holiday must be declared. Run-offs are often a logistical nightmare.
They can also be an exceptionally dangerous time. Cast your mind back to Zimbabwe in 2008, where, contrary to all expectations, Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party came second in the first round of voting, behind Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC who received 47.9% of the vote. This was an impressive achievement from Tsvangirai, but not impressive enough – he wasn’t able to secure the election in the first round, so a run-off was scheduled.
This was the cue for the widespread, well-documented campaign of violence committed by Zanu-PF militias and Zanu-PF-aligned state security forces against any and all opposition. The reaction to Tsvangirai’s success was so swift, and so bloody, that Tsvangirai and his party decided to boycott the second round rather than keep exposing their supporters to the unprecedented levels of intimidation. This, of course, suited Mugabe perfectly well – and he cantered to victory, unopposed.
This is not to say that under a different system, Mugabe would happily have accepted his loss with good grace and ridden off into one of those beautiful Zimbabwean sunsets (although we can but dream …); but that the two ballot system, and the inherent instability of the transitional period between the two ballots, lends itself to post-electoral manipulation and intimidation – especially in countries which are already unstable, and for political parties who have a demonstrated propensity for violence.
This week, two of Africa’s most unstable countries – Mali and Zimbabwe, again – are going or have gone to the polls. Malians voted on Sunday, while Zimbabweans will follow suit on Wednesday. Both countries use the two-ballot system, and in both countries the vote is expected to be close – close enough that run-offs are considered likely outcomes.
In Mali, the sheer number of candidates means that it’s going to be difficult for one to amass more than half the vote (26 people are contesting the election). Preliminary results suggest that former prime minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (known as IBK) has a commanding lead, but will it be enough to avoid a repeat performance on August 11? Unlikely. But despite the administrative headache – and it’s a big one – this might be an instance in which a run-off might actually work to the country’s advantage. With 24 candidates removed from the picture, IBK will take on the second most popular candidate (probably Somaila Cisse, another old establishment figure) in a straight winner-takes-all contest, in which the winner emerges with not just the presidency but a genuine claim of political legitimacy – something that’s been in very short supply in Mali in the last couple of years.
In Zimbabwe, however, the stakes are much higher. Unlike Mali, Zimbabwe’s political divisions are reflected at the ballot box: Robert Mugabe versus Morgan Tsvangirai, Zanu-PF versus MDC-T. Mugabe will be desperate to win in the first round, because the electoral calculations don’t work in his favour in a run-off. The opposition movement’s greatest weakness is that it is divided, primarily between various factions of the MDC with the MDC-T being the most popular. In a run-off, this weakness is nullified because all other opposition figures are removed from the equation, solidifying the opposition vote behind Tsvangirai and the MDC-T.
But Tsvangirai, bearing history in mind, will be just as desperate to avoid a second ballot – and the violence which preceded it five years ago. He’ll want to win fair and square in the first round so that there is no space for Mugabe’s thugs to undermine the popular vote once again.
No one, in other words, wants a run-off election – a good idea in theory, but not always so practical. DM
Photo: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe addresses an election rally in Bulawayo, about 439km west of the capital Harare, July 27,2013. Zimbabwe will hold general elections on 31 July. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo



Look around you..... South African politics is no different from that in Zimbabwe.






Friday, July 26, 2013

Time to say goodbye to Cosatu, Mr Vavi

No fear No Favour No threats of ASSASSINATION........

Ranjeni Munusami   South Africa   25 JULY 2013    02:25

Zwelinzima Vavi is under siege. On Thursday it was revealed that he is under pressure from his family to leave politics due to the continuing death threats made against him. Apart from fighting allegations of impropriety and disloyalty from within Cosatu, he could soon be immersed in even murkier waters. Over the past few days, talk has been rife in ANC circles of an allegation of sexual harassment laid against Vavi. The Cosatu general secretary is in the fight of his political life, and his only survival could be in changing his perspective. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi’s Twitter bio reads as follows: “There can be no greater honour than to serve the working class”. On Thursday he informed his over 91,000 followers on Twitter that it was true that he was under pressure from members of his family to quit politics but clarified “…that's them, not me. Going nowhere!”
It has been his consistent refrain this is the campaign to remove him as the general secretary of the trade union federation began. Vavi believes the attack on him is an attack on the working class and therefore he needs to fight all the allegations against him and remain as the face and voice of Cosatu to protect the workers of South Africa.
It is true that throughout his tenure as Cosatu general secretary, Vavi has been outspoken against government failures, corruption, the plight of workers, abuse of public office and inequalities in society. And it is also true that since February, when the onslaught against him from within Cosatu became public, Vavi has been consumed with clearing his name and as a result less vocal on societal issues.
If there is one thing Vavi has earned respect for is the ability to speak out against the powerful, even at great cost to himself. But the truth is that this character trait has made enemies of his closest comrades and friends and he is now something of an outlaw within the Alliance. Vavi’s position became particularly untenable when he became critical of President Jacob Zuma’s leadership, which has earned him the wrath of the president’s allies in the ANC, the SACP and in his own trade union federation.
This became apparent ahead of Cosatu’s 11th national congress last September when a group of unions led by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the National Educational Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) considered putting up a candidate to run against Vavi. In response, unions allied to him, led by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) then wanted to challenge Sdumo Dlamini for his position as Cosatu president. The warring factions ceased hostilities on the two senior most positions in the federation to prevent the congress from being derailed by the leadership battle.
Vavi has been treading water since then and was clearly uncomfortable in the run-up to the ANC’s Mangaung conference, when it became apparent that the Zuma camp was heading for a landslide victory. He got into further trouble when he tweeted at Mangaung that the outcome of the elections was “a formula for disaster, that it shows disunity”.
The ceasefire held for only a few months, and at Cosatu’s central executive committee (CEC) meeting in February it became clear that there was now a concerted effort to dislodge and silence Vavi. Concurrent with allegations that he manipulated the sale of Cosatu’s old headquarters for personal benefit and also acted improperly in securing the purchase of the new building, Vavi has also been accused of being politically disloyal. He stands accused of collaborating with opposition parties and rival unions, which seeks to undermine his standing in the Alliance and also explain why he is so critical of the ANC government.
It came to a point where just about any possible allegation was thrown at him in the hope that something would eventually stick. All of these allegations are being probed by a two-person facilitation team, which is in the process of receiving submissions from affiliate unions and Cosatu office bearers.
According to Business Day, among the submissions are claims that Vavi is building a “personality cult”, which, like many of the other allegations against him, is difficult to make tangible as an offence. Cosatu’s finances are also being audited in the hope that some sort of fraud or corruption will be exposed. Vavi appears quite confident that none of the allegations can take him down and has offered to resign if anything of substance is proved against him.
The investigation reports are due to be considered at Cosatu’s CEC meeting at the end of August, and it is possible that his fate will be decided then.
In the meantime, Vavi is clearly spooked by continuing death threats against him. He has spoken publicly several times about threats that he would be poisoned or killed in a car-crash and he has taken it seriously enough to boost his security detail and become distrustful of all forms of electronic communications. Paranoia levels are rocketing in Cosatu with Vavi and others aligned to him suspicious that they are under surveillance and their communications intercepted.
Although Vavi has reported some of the threats to the Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and police management, they are clearly not interested in quelling his fears or getting to the bottom of the allegations – whether they are real or a scare tactic. The South African security and intelligence agencies are also notorious for getting involved in factional battles in the Alliance and it is therefore not farfetched to believe that Cosatu is on their radar.
Daily Maverick understands that word got around at the ANC national executive committee lekgotla last weekend that an allegation of sexual harassment against Vavi has been reported to Cosatu. The allegation, which appears to stem from an affair with a staff member, has increased pressure on Vavi as it will now put his personal life in the spotlight.
It is the context of all these allegations and threats that Vavi revealed on Thursday that his close family members want him to quit politics. “Well, I hear that they are plotting now that they will convene a family imbizo in December, to plead with me to walk away because they think that it's not worth it. They fear that one day I will arrive back home on my back in a black coffin,” he told eNCA.
He also said that his wife has been his pillar of strength. “My wife is a very, very strong character, I must say, and without her support I will be perhaps in deeper water than I am today.” This is probably an indication that his wife will stick by his side to help him navigate the harassment charge.
Even if Vavi survives the Cosatu investigations due to insufficient evidence, does he genuinely believe that he can dust himself off and continue in his role as general secretary and the chief defender of the working class? Does he believe his detractors will back off after all this and allow him to continue to be a thorn in Zuma’s side for another term? It is clear that the intention is to pelt Vavi with so many allegations that he becomes hamstrung and a discredited voice. And then they want him to limp off into the political wilderness.
Vavi needs to cease to be a hopeless romantic about Cosatu and the Alliance. If he continues simply to fight fires in the hope that reason and the interests of Cosatu members will eventually triumph, he might as well kiss his career goodbye.
Vavi’s family members are correct about one thing: his time in Cosatu has run its course. His position in the federation has become untenable and his hope that the vast membership of Cosatu will come to his rescue is a pipe dream. Cosatu members are trying to hold on to their own jobs and cannot liberate Vavi from the political juggernaut he is caught in.
Vavi needs to liberate himself. He needs to quit, yes, but he needs to quit Cosatu, not politics.
Vavi is a powerful political figure and his track record his earned him trust and credibility across the political spectrum. People across race and class divides genuinely believe that he is a leader with integrity who looks out for the public good and is strongly opposed to corruption and abuse of power. He needs to harness the public trust and goodwill and reinvent himself outside Cosatu.
Finding a political home will not be easy for Vavi as he is devoted to the ANC, but is uncomfortable in it now. The current and developing political parties could try to woo him but he might find his own politics too divergent from theirs. Vavi needs to decide what he stands for politically – whether it is to continue to “serve the working class” or to broaden his focus – and let that define his political place. This could be fighting from inside to realign the ANC or outside to oppose it.
It will require real courage to take the next step knowing the seismic activity will ensue once he does. But that step needs to be taken. Vavi might not end up in a body bag, but his Cosatu political career certainly will. DM
Photo: Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi is seen at a news conference in Johannesburg, Thursday, 25 August 2011 following a meeting of their central executive committee. Vavi dismissed reports about division within the federation's ranks and said Cosatu was not divided on ideological and political lines. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA