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Parliament failed in its oversight at Prasa: Justice Zondo
30 June 2020, 7:08 PM

Justice Raymond Zondo has told the state capture commission in Johannesburg that he is worried and surprised that no one took an interest in the prosecution of cases brought by the board of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa). Zondo is chairing the commission that is probing allegations of corruption and fraud in the public sector during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure.

Zondo says Zuma and his ministers ought to have asked questions regarding the cases of alleged corruption, among other things.

Zondo was responding to former Prasa board chair Popo Molefe’s testimony at the commission.

Molefe detailed how law enforcement agencies were allegedly paralysed and failed to act on the Prasa cases. Molefe said many competent officers and prosecutors had been sidelined during the Zuma era.

He also told the commission how former Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi allegedly went ahead with projects worth billions of rands despite knowing they were irregular.

In the video below, Tuesday’s state capture hearing:

The former Prasa board chair cited the Moloto Corridor project as an example. He said Maswanganyi and his team went ahead with the initiative knowing very well that it had been deemed irregular and not viable by National Treasury.

Molefe says the former minister continued work on the Moloto project without any regard for procurement policies despite his board canning the project. Monies awarded to many other irregular contracts have also not been retrieved to date.

Molefe says Siyangena Technologies for instance owes Prasa about R6 billion, including interest.

A visibly angry Justice Zondo said Parliament failed in its oversight role.

“Parliament must be interested in these things, the governing party must be interested in how their own deployees perform their jobs. Are they displaying a fight against corruption that the party says it’s committed to? Is that commitment to fighting corruption? It’s very very worrying, very, very worrying. You may have been doing what was considered to be your job but it raises a lot of things because it gave an opportunity to various institutions if they were committed to fighting corruption.”

Zondo says he is also concerned that years later, not much has been done about the reported Prasa cases. He also highlighted that with COVID-19 there should be an even clearer determination by organs of state to recover monies stolen at state-owned entities.

Molefe has concluded his testimony. He was the chairperson of the Prasa board from 2014 to 2017.

Unfinished Limpopo High Court over budget by more than 100%
30 June 2020, 4:29 PM

Parliament has heard that the construction of the High Court in Polokwane has exceeded its initial budget by more than 100%.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) revealed this during its briefing to the Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. The SIU says the initial budget was R3 billion, but more than R6 billion has been spent. Yet the court buildings are still not finished.

The SIU says only four out of the eight planned courts have been built. The Unit also identified poor workmanship and low quality building materials.

Committee Chairperson Bulelani Magwanishe says this is unacceptable and those responsible must be brought to book.

In the video below, parts of High Court in Polokwane officially opens:

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Mapisa-Nqakula defends SA-Turkey arms deal
30 June 2020, 2:44 PM

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has defended the decision of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee to approve the sale of arms to Turkey.

Mapisa-Nqakula says the sale was approved after advise from departments such as State Security, Defence Intelligence as well as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

Answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the Minister said there was, therefore, nothing that prevents the country from selling arms to Turkey.

“Currently there no impediments in law to trade with Turkey in terms of our act. In terms of the provision of the act, there’s always careful analysis and consideration before granting approval. For now, there is nothing preventing us from trading with Turkey. There isn’t even an arms embargo,” she said.

Some members have raised concerns that South African manufactured arms could be used in countries like Libya and Syria.

Turkey has faced backlash over its involvement in the Libyan war with France’s President accusing Ankara of massively importing jihadists into Libya.

French President Emmanuel Macron has labelled Ankara’s intervention as “criminal”.

Turkey has intervened decisively in recent weeks in Libya, providing air support, weapons and allied fighters from Syria to help the internationally recognised government based in Tripoli repel a year-long assault by eastern military leader Khalifa Haftar.

Turkey has also been engaged in talks with Russia in an effort to find a solution to the Libyan crisis. – Additional reporting by Reuters

Used COVID-19 test kits found dumped next to Eastern Cape highway
29 June 2020, 5:16 PM

A large number of discarded used coronavirus test kits have been picked up by health laboratory service officials in the Eastern Cape.

The kits were apparently dumped next to the N2 between East London and King Williamstown.

The discarded test kits had been discovered by a passer-by. They were still in plastic sleeves and contained the details of the person from whom the sample was taken.

At this stage it is not clear how the kits ended up on the side of a national road.

The Eastern Cape health department’s spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, says investigations are under way but the matter is between the National Health Laboratory Services and the courier company they use.

“We are working with them to establish the facts of what happened, because it happened, while the items were in transit while outside our facilities, so NHLS has to answer together with the courier company they were using,” he says.

Burundi’s new cabinet includes officials under Western sanctions over rights abuses
29 June 2020, 2:35 PM

New Burundi President Evariste Ndayishimiye unveiled a 15-member cabinet including two ministers who are under US or European sanctions over theiralleged role in violently crushing street protests.

The 52-year-old Ndayishimiye, a retired army general, won last month’s presidential election as the ruling party’s candidate, defeating six opposition contenders. He had been due to take office in August, but the death of predecessor Pierre Nkurunziza earlier this month brought the succession forward.

The new cabinet unveiled late on Sunday includes prime minister Alain Guillaume Bunyoni, who has been under US sanctions since 2015 over his alleged role in violations of human rights and repression of dissent during violence sparked by Nkurunziza’s decision to seek a third term in office.

In the video below, is a discussion on Burundi without the late President Nkurunziza:

Critics accused Nkurunziza of violating a constitutional limit of two five-year terms per president. He denied wrongdoing.

Gervais Ndirakobuca, who is also on the US sanctions list, was appointed as interior minister. Neither the government, nor Bunyoni and Ndirakuboca, were immediately available for comment. Bunyoni, an influential figure in the ruling CNDD-FDD party, was one of the key allies of Nkurunziza, serving as security minister during the violent crackdown on unrest in 2015.

The United Nations has said in recent years that under Nkurunziza’s rule, members of the state security forces and the ruling party’s youth wing routinely gang-raped, tortured and killed political opponents. The East African nation of 11 million people is one of the world’s poorest countries. It became an international pariah after Nkurunziza stamped out protests triggered by his decision to run for a third term in 2015.

Donors cut off funding while Nkurunziza shut down the UN human rights office and withdrew Burundi’s membership in the International Criminal Court.

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