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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

‘The ANC government has been zombified’ – Malema after Nkandla judgment

Still an Inconvenient YouthCommander-in-Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema has vowed not to allow President Jacob Zuma to speak in Parliament again, adding that his party will stop him physically.

“Zuma must step down because he is no longer the president of this country‚” Malema said in the wake of the Constitutional Court judgment on the public protector’s report on Nkandla.

“If Zuma is continuing to stay in office‚ he leaves us no choice but to use practical ways to remove him‚” Malema said.

He added the African National Congress (ANC) kicked him and other members out of the party due to their criticism of the ANC and their attempt to “speak truth to power”.

“The ANC government has been zombified,” Malema said.

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Source: TMG Digital

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Sanral is flogging a dead horse, says Outa’s Wayne Duvenage

The E-Tolls SagaThe Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says Sanral’s announcement that civil summonses will be issued to e-toll defaulters is merely a scare tactic for motorists and a show of force for the benefit of ratings agencies.

Outa says the public “need not panic or become anxious about this latest development‚ as this is precisely what Sanral seeks to achieve”.

Sanral said on Monday that the orders will be handed to individuals and “higher value summonses of mostly companies”.

Owing to the amount owed in the latter cases‚ said the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project’s Alex van Niekerk‚ “the summons has to be managed by the high court”.

Outa‚ however‚ pointed out on Wednesday that a “high court civil claim … entertains debt in excess of R400 000”.

“Civil claims of this nature‚ if properly defended‚ will take many months‚ if not years to bring to fruition‚” Outa said.

“What Sanral would like to have the public believe is that everyone will shortly be receiving a summons to appear in court‚ but this is not the case and is virtually impossible for them or the courts to do.”

Outa’s Wayne Duvenage also took issue with Van Niekerk’s contention that there was “an obligation to act” as “global ratings agencies and the investment community are also looking towards Sanral and expect from us to demonstrate our commitment to financial responsibility and high standards of corporate governance”.

Duvenage said Sanral has “a need to demonstrate to the ratings agencies that they can and will take action‚ following two years of threatening to do so”.

“Eventually‚ there comes a day when they would either have to drop the cause or decide to carry through with their threats‚” Duvenage said.

“Sanral and the government have unwisely demonstrated their decision to press on with their failed scheme‚ which is akin to flogging a dead horse.”

Outa’s statement also claimed that “well-connected debt collection companies stand to make large undisclosed amounts from all historic e-toll fees collected” is another “motivating factor for the renewed drive to create the heightened anxiety levels that will steer some of the public toward settling the e-toll debt”.

It said unpaid e-toll debt incurred before September 2015 totals more than R14-billion.

Source: TMG Digital

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Outa says the fuel levy hike ‘will push up the cost of living’ for everyone

The E-Tolls SagaThe Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa, previously the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance) said it found it “strange” that government “has no problem increasing the general fuel levy by 60 cents over the past two years”.

Yet‚ the civil watchdog said‚ government baulked at “an additional nine cents on the fuel levy to cover e-tolls” as it “would affect the poor”.

Outa’s Wayne Duvenage said the 30 cents-a-litre levy hike – announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan during Wednesday’s Budget Speech – “was predictable during this time of low fuel prices”.

But‚ he added: “We are concerned these high fuel levies (now at 36 percent of the fuel price)‚ will give rise to over R110-billion in the general fuel levies (general fuel levy and Road Accident Fund)‚ which is over 200 percent up on this revenue stream of a decade ago.

“The taxes applied to motorists and the transport industry will unfortunately be passed on to all citizens and will push up the cost of living.”

Duvenage held out hope that Gordhan will call the South African National Roads Agency Ltd and the Department of Transport to see reason and apply rational thinking in halting the failed e-toll decision”.

He also called for more transparency at government entities and said Gordhan should instruct them “to fully grant access to people who are rightfully inquiring about information pertaining to expenditure and tender allocation and if that information is not all there‚ the CEO’s job should be on the line”.

He also said that Wednesday’s speech did not give the sense that corruption was “being handled with conviction”.

“We need the removal of those officials who have been responsible for the waste‚ and criminal charges laid where necessary‚ so that a clear message is sent to those who waste and steal our taxes.

“They must fear the potential consequences and thereby change behaviour. In addition‚ we would like to see government claw back on the known lost revenues from people and organisations who have been fraudulently enriched with taxpayers’ money.”

Source: TMG Digital

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Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance urges public to oppose Eskom rate hike

The E-Tolls SagaOuta has released a statement to the effect that Eskom’s latest application to hike up its rates was based on claiming costs for electricity it had never generated.

The former Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance‚ now rebranded as the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse‚ is challenging the power utility’s bid to have the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) give it permission to up its rates.

The organisation announced on Monday that it had contracted energy analyst Ted Bloom to lead its campaign against electricity price increases‚ especially since Nersa had cancelled public hearings into the issue‚ saying there had been a “lack of interest”.

Outa said in its statement: “Eskom has a claim of R22.8 billion in terms of the Regulatory Clearing Account (RCA) despite making a profit of R7.1 billion in the 2013/2014 financial year. Outa believes this is unjust and that most of the claim should have been averted through more prudent management in numerous areas‚ by Eskom’s leadership.”

Despite the official end of the hearings‚ Outa is urging the public to join it in opposing the rate hikes‚ and has opened a portal (www.OUTA.co.za) through which objections can be registered.

“There are glaring concerns that speak to the inefficiencies within Eskom which we believe must be urgently addressed‚” Outa said.

Outa is also contesting the basis on which Eskom is applying for an increased tariff‚ saying that Eskom was claiming “electricity costs and revenue from the public for electricity production it projected‚ but which it did not in fact generate”.

“This is akin to a service provider charging somebody full price for a service it said it would render‚ but which it in fact never rendered‚ or claiming from insurance for a loss envisioned‚ but that didn’t occur.”

Among a series of other charges‚ Outa also says that “Eskom intends to pass a preventable and unfair over-expenditure (estimated at R10 billion) onto consumers”.

“Eskom questionably employed overly-expensive Diesel Turbines when Coal Fired Infrastructure was not running at full capacity‚ and intends to pass a R8 billion bill related to diesel consumption on to consumers.”

Source: TMG Digital

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Mmusi Maimane’s leadership is ‘fairly revolutionary’ for the DA – Ferial Haffajee

What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?Late last year, Ferial Haffajee chatted to Insig about the outlook for Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane in 2016.

Haffajee’s debut book, What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?, is on shelves now.

“I think the very coming into being of a black leader, in the shape of a young black pastor, who crafts himself like Barack Obama, has been fairly revolutionary for the DA,” Haffajee says. “And if you look at its research I think that he resonates with many voters that the party may not have been able to reach before.

“But consolidating a tough party, because as it gets bigger it gets more difficult to run, is certainly going to be his task over the next three months.”

Haffajee adds, however, that her “jury is out” on the DA, an opinion that hit home for her on a drive through Khayelitsha the previous day.

“I don’t think the DA has done enough to bridge inequality in the Western Cape and in Cape Town,” she says.

Haffajee is the editor-in-chief of the City Press and sits on the boards of the International Women’s Media Foundation, the World Editors Forum, the International Press Institute and the Inter Press Service.

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“It is very dangerous to have an uneducated president” – Prince Mashele on President Jacob Zuma

The Fall of the ANCPrince Mashele, executive director of the Centre for Politics and Research and co-author of The Fall of the ANC: What Next?, shared his views with John Robbie on Talk Radio 702 about the challenges facing the ANC in 2016.

Mashele says the weakness of the Tripartite Alliance and ructions within ANC leadership and the ANC Youth League mean 2016 could be a watershed year in politics.

“We are going to see very likely the ANC losing one or two big metros,” Mashele says. “Nelson Mandela Bay, I think the ANC might not get it. Tshwane, they might not get it, and Johannesburg. The party is very vulnerable.”

Robbie asks Mashele about President Jacob Zuma’s recent statements regarding the economy, to which Mashele replies:

“I’ve always said this and people thought I was mad, or maybe on drugs, but it is very dangerous to have an uneducated president. And if there are still people who think I am mad for saying that, I think they themselves are mad. Jacob Zuma has demonstrated it, we don’t need any more evidence of the dangers of an uneducated president.

“I mean, this is a man who is essentially illiterate when it comes to economics, when it comes to numbers. He can’t read numbers. So a guy like that to lead a sophisticated economic power that is in dire straits, you must know you are going nowhere.

“And this is not only dangerous to the country but to his own party.”

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Why Onkgopotse JJ Tabane wants to talk frankly with politicians (Podcast)

Let's Talk FranklyPowerFM’s Sebenzile Nkambule invited Onkgopotse JJ Tabane to talk about his new book, Let’s Talk Frankly: Letters to Influential South Africans About the State of Our Nation, on her early morning show, Power Up.

Tabane is one of South Africa’s leading media and communications specialists, a community activist and a business executive. Let’s Talk Frankly is an exercise in accountability, offering readers a collection of letters to the big names of South African politics, including Gwede Mantashe, Helen Zille, Julius Malema, Signal Jammer, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Mmusi Maimane and Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma.

When asked why he chose to write letters like this, he says: “It’s very difficult to get some of these guys to account. You know, what do I do? Do I wait for Malusi Gigaba to come to my brunch before I can ask him why we are stuffing up the tourism numbers? He probably won’t come to my brunch.” The letters are not all negative, Tabane notes, and do not serve to pick a fight. He is merely saying what he feels need to be said and asking what needs to be asked in the spirit of accountability.

The book is not a compilation of his best letters, but a fresh offering of longer writings than those that we have come to know him by. In the interview, Tabane opens up about his book, his motivations behind writing it, some of the issues he tackles in it, and how it has been received.

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“Transformation” Has Become an Abused Word in Our Society – Ferial Haffajee (Podcast)

What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?Sebenzile Nkambule recently interviewed City Press editor Ferial Haffajee about the pertinent themes and issues in her new book, What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?

In the interview, Haffajee talks about the events that compelled her to write the book: “My newsmaker of the year is definitely something between hashtag Pay Back the Money and hashtag Fees Must Fall, but if I were to choose a second then I certainly think this is the year where the race debate or perhaps even race rage took centre stage for me and became a talking point month after month after month.”

On the title, Haffajee says, “I hope it interests people enough to pick it up.” She continues, “It’s certainly not ‘let’s put all white people back on the boats to wherever’, not at all because I’m very much a child of the Nelson Mandela generation, I am that child of ’94, I completely buy into our constitutional vision, but what interests me is that 23 years hence, why does a new generation of our young people, what we have carelessly called ‘born-free’ in the past, still feel so overwhelmingly that white power stands in the way of a better life in our country? It’s that book, it’s their voices that come to the fore.”

In this insightful podcast, the author explains why she believes “transformation” has become an abused word in our society.

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Sanral Kickstarts Automated E-Toll Payment on Major Plazas for “Safe and Easy” Festive Travel

The E-Tolls SagaJust days after the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa) called the e-toll system a confirmed failure, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) has released a statement hailing a “milestone” for the system.

Wayne Duvenage, chairman on Outa and author of The E-Tolls Saga: A Journey from CEO to Civil Activist, commented on the fact that Sanral has collected less than 1 percent (R40 million) of the outstanding e-toll debt during the first month of the e-toll discount dispensation.

“Outa is now convinced that the e-Toll scheme has officially collapsed,” Outa said in a statement.

“In our opinion, there is no way the e-toll scheme can recover from this reaction to their latest dispensation,” Duvenage said. “The public have spoken and accordingly they have sent a strong message to the government that they will not be coerced, intimidated or fooled into paying these irrational e-toll taxes.”

However, Sanral has confirmed that the automated payment option has been activated at a number of toll plazas, just in time for festive season traffic.

Outa is yet to comment on the development.

Press release from Sanral

The South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd (Sanral) reached a major milestone when it switched on the automated payment option at its toll plazas on the following routes:

  • N1 from Pretoria to Musina
  • N1 between Bloemfontein and Johannesburg
  • R30 Brandfort
  • N17 between Johannesburg and Ermelo
  • N2 South Coast route
  • N3 Mariannhill

In addition, the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) also switched on automated payment on the N3 from Heidelberg to Cedara.

At midnight on 4 December the automated pay system on these existing toll roads became operational. Road users with electronic tags no longer have to stop to pay tolls manually with cash or credit cards.

“We have become one of very few countries in the world with a fully interoperable electronic toll collection system with central transaction clearing, says Vusi Mona, communications manager of Sanral.

“Moreover, it is a choice. Those who use our toll road network will experience the convenience of electronic payment in time for the festive season and this is a help to speed up traffic flows at toll plazas.

“Automated payment is done automatically through a tag fitted to the vehicle to identify the account holder, debit their toll account with the appropriate toll fees and automatically open the toll boom – without the need to stop and pay manually. This automated option will not incur any additional costs to the road user.”

Sanral has thereby responded to its customers’ needs – a survey done during August and September this year showed beyond doubt that 70% of customers want to make use of tag technology for improved convenience at toll plazas.

“We continuously strive to make improvements in the way that we manage our road network and make driving on our roads as safe and easy as we can achieve through engineering and world-class technology. Automated payment is one such a way.

“Moreover, it is in line with our Government’s commitment to improve road infrastructure that underpins the competitiveness of the South African economy.

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Ferial Haffajee and Xolela Mangcu Engage in a Fiery Debate at the Launch of What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?

Ferial Haffajee

The launch of What If There Were No Whites In South Africa? by Ferial Haffajee was a high point in a busy month at The Book Lounge, where a number of hard-hitting books have been launched and topics of gravity aired.

Ferial Haffajee and Xolela MangcuWhat If There Were No Whites In South Africa?Haffajee was joined in conversation by Xolela Mangcu, author of The Colour of Our Future: Race and Identity in South Africa. Mangcu said he’d thought Haffajee’s title was a metaphorical expression and was surprised to find that she was being quite literal. He cited some of the statistics that Haffajee uses in her book to illustrate that even if you took all the white wealth in South Africa and gave it to black people, it would not be enough.

“The problem with that analysis is that no serious black scholar makes that argument. It’s a straw argument that’s put up, that then becomes the basis of a counter argument. No serious black scholar I know is saying that the problems can be solved by shifting around the resources,” Mangcu said. He proposed that the most incisive black thinkers are saying that the entire system is problematic: “We have to ask ourselves how to unlock the potential of the four million black young people. It’s not helpful to put them into a dysfunctional system.”

“Numbers matter,” Haffajee replied, saying that she was responding to the narrative she had been hearing from the young generation. They seem to believe that if only the white-owned pot of gold were redistributed, everything would be fine in the country. “The didactic take with the numbers shows that our real challenges of 43 percent unemployment, of where wealth is owned, the 67 percent of commercial land that is still largely white owned. I don’t think the whiteness debate, or the white supremacy debate, is going to give us answers to push forward into better development,” she said.

A second set of numbers pertaining to the black middle class also disturbed Mangcu. “The argument you’re making is: ‘Why is there so much complaining when the number of black people in the middle class equals the number of whites?’ You argue that parity is being reached, but those numbers tell you the problem of inequality. We cannot do social analysis by numbers. The proportions matter. These numbers mean that white people, some eight percent of the population, have the same position in the middle class as black people, who constitute 80 percent of the population. That’s inequality to the factor of 10. Proportions matter because they tell you about the most important value factor in politics – inequality, not poverty,” Mangcu said.

“This is what informs the anger of the black middle class: official statistics showed 27 percent for unemployment in the black community, unofficially, 40 percent. Unemployment in the white community was a mere seven percent. These are vastly different worlds! Do you know that consumption expenditure above R100 000 in the black community exists at eight percent? In the white community, this figure is at 80 percent. These vastly different experiences where 54 percent live below R600 per month, whereas 0.8 percent of white people live at that level. I don’t want us to get into a sense of comfort …”

Haffajee challenged him, saying that this was the theme she was writing about. “Does the growth and development of one group lie in the hands of the other? Many groups of people, when asked, assumed that the grouping of white people was far higher than it was. This comes from our history, the voice, the networks, the positions of white people in the corporate sector, but the numbers are nowhere near equal. We bring American style discussion to the table, but that’s not the case,” she said. “Our challenges are different when it’s a black majority we’re talking about.”

Mangcu continued: “All social revolutions – forget what the Marxists tell you! – are started by the middle class. The middle class are the ones who are closest to the glass ceiling. The Black Consciousness movement was formed at the University of Natal by a group of black medical students. It’s a mistake to focus on incomes and class as a sign that we’re moving towards parity. Philosophically and historically, class does not explain the social experiences that anger the black middle class. You can be a member of the black middle class as much as you like, but if you come to the University of Cape Town and are treated like rubbish, it makes you angry. It doesn’t make you the first person in history to be angered like this. My problem with the book is the focus on incomes and the growing middle class. I think it’s a mistaken analysis and race comes into the picture, precisely because of this.

“It took me a relocation to Cape Town to start writing about race! I keep all my columns. I’ve never written about race as I’ve done in the past two years, because you can have all the Harvard PhDs you like, but if you’re treated like dirt … I’m not ‘grateful’ for being around the table.” Mangcu reflected on his recent appointment as full professor at UCT: “I’ve had to work twice or thrice as hard as people who haven’t come close to what I’ve done. Those things have nothing to do with class. They have to do with the way one is treated in the world. It makes people angry …”

At this point a white woman in the audience inserted herself into the discussion. In an unrepentant tone, she said: “I’m sorry, what you’re saying is extremely interesting and challenging, but we’re here for Ferial Haffajee’s book.”

A resounding “Hear, hear!” rang out. “Ferial, they don’t want to hear what I have to say,” Mangcu said, with good grace. What was not said is that the interlocutors at these discussions are invited by the publisher, usually at the specific request of the author. One must presume that Haffajee had invited Mangcu, knowing full well that he would offer her a robust critique of her text.

Later, in the question and answer session, Mangcu again reflected on the general unwillingness to address the problems of racism. “I think it’s irresponsible. I worry about my children, that we don’t talk about this. We’re going to leave our children with things that haven’t been spoken about, so when we talk about racism, we should be told to shut up and concentrate on corruption in government.”

A young man introduced himself as one of the angry black middle class, interested in the tone of the conversation. He said, “The conversations we’ve had with young people is that we’re told that we need to relax a little, to change our tone. The everyday violence of black life is totally different to the conversation we’re having right now. I’m really interested in the reaction of white people.” He noted how hard people try to protect “white fragility”. When young black people talk about the problems of structural inequality and racism, the first thing that comes to the defense of whiteness is white fragility. That’s an example of white fragility when a black man is sitting down, narrating his experience, and he is told, “We don’t want to listen to that.”

“That’s what happens every time we have this conversation. It’s fine for us to be sitting here with 95 percent of the audience white. We’re not having an honest conversation about what it means to be South African and listening to the experience.”

This fascinating and multifaceted discussion covered many topics which are not fully represented in this report. Those present had very different reactions to the author and her interviewer, and the Q and A session positively sizzled with articulate, insightful, astute commentary. While there were those in the audience who were acutely embarrassed by the silencing of Mangcu by the white woman, it is heartening that such a disruption could itself come under the spotlight and be examined in a civil public forum.

There is no doubt that this important book that raises a discomforting question will provoke much more discussion of a vital nature if South Africans are to move beyond “the enraged debate” that prompted Haffajee to write What If There Were No Whites In South Africa?
 

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Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted live from the event using the hashtag #livebooks:


 

 

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