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MEC Panyaza Lesufi Does not Want University to Teach in Official Indigenous Language.

While the country is celebrating indigenous languages on Heritage Day, Gauteng Education MEC, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, is opposed to the establishment of a new university that will teach in Afrikaans, one of the official and indigenous languages of the Republic of South Africa. His reasons for the serious objection are not very clear but it seems that around 1988 while he was still at high school, he was involved in school protests, was arrested and detained at Modderbee prison, and upon his release, a letter was written to his school in Afrikaans instructing the school to expel him. He was assisted by the late Rev Beyers Naude to gain admission at another school and a scholarship was organised for him. He completed his high school studies and proceeded to study at the University of the North and the University of Natal for his tertiary education.

That is how his hatred for Afrikaans was born. Although one would sympathise with what he experienced being arrested as a youth and being expelled from school, it is difficult to see why he would make it his personal mission to fight Afrikaans as a language. Afrikaans is the third most spoken language in South Africa after Isizulu and Isixhosa. It is a home language for a majority of the white population of South Africa and nearly all the coloured people. It is a medium of instruction at a number of primary and secondary schools and is now spoken by a sizable number of black South Africans. And yet the MEC appears to be oblivious to these facts and cannot comprehend how anyone in modern day South Africa would regard Afrikaans as his/her mother tongue.

That an MEC for education is opposed to the establishment of a university, when there is an accute shortage of places for high school graduates at tertiary institutions, particularly universities, is even more sinister. The trade union, Solidarity, is doing the fund raising itself, does not rely on government funding either to build or to run the university. This is a first in South Africa that a trade union would show such interest in the education of the children of its members. Instead of opposing them on petty political grounds, the MEC should have been applauding them and using them as an example for other bigger trade unions to follow.

If the University was going to teach in English, would MEC Lesufi not have any objection? If he would not have any objection, is he saying that English speaking children are more special than Afrikaans speaking children? If yes, on what basis?

If the MEC believes that English speaking children will have no opportunity to enter tertiary institutions because of this one Afrikaans university, then he should explain the basis for his belief when there are 20 public universities and 6 universities of technology, many tvet colleges and private universities and colleges in South Africa. All of them offering courses in English. The MEC is only concerned about this one university because it has stated that it will offer classes in Afrikaans. The children who will be attending this university or college are Afrikaans speaking. The MEC feels that it is wrong for them to speak Afrikaans in the new South Africa. He wants to force them to speak English, or if they can’t, then they should forget about tertiary education. Thirty years ago, during the apartheid years, the MEC was offered an opportunity to study at a university in English, by people who occupied the position that he is occupying today. Today, he wants Afrikaans speaking children to be deprived of that opportunity and be doomed to life in the streets.

The fact that Solidarity has decided to build a university shows their level of maturity as a trade union. Their members should be both English and Afrikaans, but they decided that their university should offer courses in Afrikaans. Shouldn’t they have the right to make that choice? After all, the one who pays the piper chooses the tune. Eventually, when they or anyone else, including the MEC, identifies the need for a university in another South African language, then , funds permitting, the university shall be built. The Minister of Higher Education has even said that the institution cannot be called a university because it may not meet certain requirements for accreditation as a university, but rather as a private college. You cannot develop your children by oppressing your neighbour’s children. The MEC should encourage private initiative rather than to pull it down.

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It is not raining, but pouring on Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

For some odd reason, the Public Protector appears to have been in a hurry to make decisions against Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa in two separate matters, one involving an investigative unit within the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the other involving a donation by Bosasa to President Ramaphosa’s campaign for the ANC presidency in 2017. Both Minister Gordhan and President Ramaphosa have indicated that they are referring the reports to the courts to request them to review the findings and to suspend the implementation of the remedial actions suggested by the Public Protector pending the outcome of the review proceedings, both of them claiming irrationality on the part of the Public Protector for their applications for review. The allegations of irrationality are very serious allegations against the Public Protector as they come at a time when there are those who are calling for parliament to inquire into her ability to hold office.

Public Protectoe Busisiwe Mkhwebane during a Court hearing

In the matter against Minister Gordhan, the High Court on monday, 29 July 2019, found in favour of Minister Gordhan and suspended the remedial action recommended by the Public Protector. The case involving President Cyril Ramaphosa was postponed by the High Court on tuesday 30 July 2019 as no judge was allocated to hear the matter. In that case the public Protector had recommended that the Speaker of the National Assembly should drag the President before the parliamentary Ethics Committee and conduct an inquiry on the grounds that the President had deliberately misled parliament when he answered a question relating to the R500 000.00 payment to his son, Andile, by Mr Gavin Watson of Bosasa. The President had said that the payment was in relation to a financial consultancy to Andile Ramaphosa by Bosasa, but later changed that statement and said that the amount was a donation for his election campaign in 2017.

In the meantime, on 22 July 2019, the Constitutional Court had dismissed an appeal by the Public Protector against a decision of the High Court, Pretoria, in a matter involving the Reserve Bank. In that matter, the High Court had ordered the Public Protector to pay 15% of legal costs on a punitive attorney and client scale including the costs of three counsel, incurred by the Reserve Bank, again in taking her report on review. The costs amounted to approximately R900 000.00 and she had to pay the 15% out of her own pocket. The majority judgement found that personal costs orders are not granted against public officials who conduct themselves properly but against those who have shown themselves to have acted in bad faith. In the meantime, the EFF had been very supportive of the Public Protector throughout, especially so in the case involving Minister Gordhan. It is not clear why the Public Protector continues to release the nature of reports that she does and why the Courts continue to find that she acts in bad faith and makes falsehoods in affidavits before the courts.

Meanwhile, the Dep Public Protector, Adv Kevin Malunga, has distanced himself from Mkhwebane’s ABSA-Bankorp report, alleging that he was not consulted when that report was made. The SACP has claimed that Busisiwe Mkhwebane is a hired gun. Can this explain her conduct in the recent past? Only time will tell.

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The South African National Defence Force is Deployed to the Cape Flats.

Cape Town, South Africa

CAPE TOWN, with its deep blue skies, the two oceans and table mountain in the background, is one of the most beautiful cities in the World, and yet it is ironic that just a few kilometers from this most beautiful city, which is an attraction for both domestic and international tourists and home to South Africa’s legislative authority, rages some of the most bloodiest gang battles in the world. The Cape Flats, townships such as Mitchell’s Plain, Manenburg, Phillipi, Delft, Bishops Court and others. Very romantic names, and yet people in those areas live in conditions no different from a war zone.  Gangs such as the Hard Livings, the Americans, The Clever Kids, The Thug Life and up to 130 others are competing for territory with deadly consequences for the gang members and for members of the communities in which they operate. For years, the measures taken by the Government were inadequate to address the growing problem which is fueled by drug deals, poverty, unemployment, lack of adequate housing and ineffective schooling. It is hard to imagine how it should be for women and children living in these areas. Gun battles erupt at any moment during the day or night in the streets. Hundreds of residents, mainly children, have been caught in the crossfire, and in most cases, have been killed by stray bullets. The police have been trying to maintain some resemblance of law and order with very little success as shown by the number of murders reported particularly on weekends.

Gang Violence on the Cape Flats

Recently, gang violence has skyrocketed, so much so that in one weekend, up to 50 people were reported killed. The Minister of Police, General Bheki Cele, had very little choice than to turn to the South African National Defence Force for assistance. The State President authorised the deployment of the Defence Force and immediately thereafter, the gangs were outgunned and the guns were silenced.

Members of SANDF on parade.

There are those who have cautioned against the deployment of the army in a matter which might seem to be a purely police matter. But in this instance, the police were running out of options and the place resembled a war zone. The residents of those areas welcomed the deployment of the army. Within a week of their deployment, community leaders reported a huge decline in gang violence, an indication that the army was already succeeding in its objective. It is only hoped that the deployment will remain in place until the violence has been eliminated for the sake of the people of the Western Cape. No one deserves to be murdered or to live in fear of being murdered.

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Battle Lines are Drawn Between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, at loggerheads with the Public Protector.

Following the release of the public protector’s report that President Cyril Ramaphosa has deliberately misled parliament in connection with a donation of R500 000.00 by Bosasa to his campaign for the ANC presidency in 2017 and that there is evidence of money laundering against him, President Ramaphosa has decided to refer the report on judicial review. The Public Protector says that she has referred the money laundering issue to the National Prosecuting Authority-the NPA, for further investigation. By releasing this report, the Public Protector has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons. There are a whole lot of consequences that will arise from her report that will impact on the programmes that the President has embarked on. The timing of the release of the report, when former President Jacob Zuma was testifying before the Zondo Commission, and while he was at pains to withdraw from giving any further evidence under cross-examination, only serves to strengthen the arguments that the Public Protector has taken sides in the divisions within the ANC and that her actions are designed to strengthen the Zuma faction against President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane

If you consider the PP’s report on the Estina Dairy Project, which is also under the spotlight at the Commission on State Capture, and the ruling made by the Court in that regard, then questions should be legitimately asked whether the PP has any desire to assist South Africans in the fight against corruption, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa. If questions are placed upon the President’s integrity, then his capacity to fight corruption will be undermined. Add to that the PP’s report and recommendations relating to Minister Pravin Gordhan, also another anti-corruption campaigner, on whom the PP has also cast suspicions. All these reports and their timing, only serve to weaken the fight against corruption and to dash away the hopes of millions of South Africans who are really struggling to make ends meet as a result of the plundering of state resources. It is understandable that the Public Protector did not start to investigate these matters out of the blue, but that she did so following complaints lodged by certain individuals, but it is the timing of the release of these reports, and the enthusiasm with which she is pursuing cases against the current President and his supporters, that gives the impression that those who benefited from the corruption of the past are desperately fighting back with serious disregard for the economy and the country.

The Constitutional Court of the Republic of South Africa, Johannesburg

The Constitutional Court, the highest court in the land, has dismissed the Public Protector’s appeal against a cost order granted by the High Court in Pretoria, that the Public Protector, in her personal capacity, pays 15% of the legal costs incurred in a matter involving ABSA Bank and the Reserve Bank, in which she had found that ABSA was liable to pay back an amount of R1.125bn bail out provided by the Reserve Bank to Bankorp between 1985 and 1992. All these decisions are a bad reflection on the Public Protector in that she appears to be making wrong decisions on a frequent basis. The impact of her decisions on those who are affected is tremendous. It is not clear as to what could be prompting the Public Protector to make these hasty decisions. The SACP has accused her of being a hired gun, a charge which she has denied. It may also be speculated that, perhaps there are powerful individuals in her office, who are churning out these reports and misleading the Public Protector. Why would the Public Protector be prepared to damage her reputation? Who is pressurising her to make these reports which all seem to be designed to protect those who are accused as being the masterminds and active participants in the State capture projects?

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Zuma threatens to withdraw from the State Capture Enquiry in South Africa.

Judge Raymond Zondo, Head of the Zondo Commission into State Capture in South Africa

Former President Jacob Zuma’ s lawyers have questioned the line of questioning adopted by evidence leader for the commission, Adv Paul Pretorius. Former President Zuma always said that he would like to be given an opportunity to clear his name as he says that he has continually been targeted by the media on allegations of having allowed state institutions to be captured by the Guptas. Now that the former President has been given the platform, he should be utilising it to the full.

Former President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, in the witness stand at the Commission.

He has been implicated by a number of witnesses who testified before the commission. It is only fair that their vesions be put to him so that he can get an opportunity to put the correct version on record. Listening to the arguments by his advocates, one would get the impression that they are being overprotective of him and are afraid that the case might implicate him more. Withdrawing from further participation in the commission might also leave the evidence before the commission unchallenged and might lead the commission to make negative findings against him. But perhaps further participation might be even worse. But to say that the evidence leader should limit his questions will leave many questions unanswered.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Adv Paul Pretorius

In the meantime, Zuma’s supporters have vowed to stand by him during the inquiry. Carl Niehaus of the MK Veterans said that they will support Zuma and ensure that he is not treated unfairly by the commission, but that they are not against the work of the commission. It is a show down between those who blame state capture for South Africa’s economic woes and those who deny its existence. Developments that will be even more interesting in the weeks to come. President Ramaphosa has been placed in a very difficult position because his tough stand on corruption is alienating many of his erstwhile comrades. No doubt that his tough move has already stemmed the tide of corruption, particularly with the exit of the Guptas from the country and the expulsion of Bosasa from Correctional Services, but more support is needed for the mop up operations to clean municipalities, which is another frontier where the country was bleeding rands and cents.

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Ramaphosa’s Dream City: A Missed Opportunity for Zuma.

In his State of the Nation address on 20 June 2019, President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke about building the first city since the end of apartheid in South Africa. This idea and its potential to solve a multitude of social and economic problems is long overdue. If Zuma had had such a dream, and spent the billions of rands lost to state capture in building such cities, we could have had at least three such mega cities and the population composition of places such as Soweto and Alexander would be very different today as masses of people from these townships would be encouraged to settle in the new cities. And President Zuma would have been justified in naming the city after himself. Imagine Zuma City, a lasting legacy for South Africans.

Zuma had bad advice, and we are where we are today. But it is not too late for Ramaphosa to start with the project and no doubt the support from the private sector will be tremendous as there will be enormous benefits to be gained from such a project. In my view, once the first city is well under way, then a second one should commence, then the third one.And President Ramaphosa can have the pleasure of naming it after himself. Imagine Ramaphosa City or Matamela City or even RMC City. Then a lasting legacy would have been bequeathed to successive generations of South Africans.

This project in my view, should start tomorrow as it will solve our unemployment and crime problem at once. There is plenty of land between existing towns and cities as for example, between Johannesburg and Witbank/Emalahleni or between Pretoria and Emalahleni. There is no need to wait.

TT Thete is a contributor for DigiiNewsNetwork