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ANC commits to fighting corruption
4 August 2020, 4:16 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) says it is outraged and embarrassed by corruption allegations leveled against some of its members who are said to have unlawfully benefitted from coronavirus funds.

The allegations of corruption in the procurement of essential materials to combat the COVID-19 pandemic topped the agenda of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting which took place from 31 July to 2 August.

“These developments cause us collectively to dip our heads in shame and to humble ourselves before the people. We acknowledge the justifiable public outrage caused by the depravity and heartlessness displayed by some elements in government, our organisation, and the private sector. We, unequivocally, condemn all forms of corruption, dishonesty, and state capture involving the public and private sectors, including collusion, price-fixing, tender fraud, bribery, illicit financial flows, illegal imports and misuse of tax havens,” says the organisation in a statement.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe spoke to SABC’s Palesa Chubisi: 

Amongst those implicated in corruption allegations is Presidential Spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband King Thandisizwe Diko who has been at the centre of the PPE contract scandal in Gauteng.

Khusela Diko last week took a leave of absence after allegations surfaced claiming that her husband’s company received an R125 million PPE tender through a friendship with Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku.

Masuku and his wife Loyiso, MMC in the City of Johannesburg, have also taken a leave of absence while the matter is being probed by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU).

The party has committed to fight corruption. “We will comprehensively fight corruption, combining both prevention and punishment. Those who loot
public resources must face the might of the law,” said the party in a statement.

The meeting also reflected on the legacy of anti-apartheid stalwart Andrew Mlangeni who was buried last week.

“The NEC reflected on the legacy of a humble giant whose life was characterised by courage, unwavering commitment to the people, ethical leadership, and the renewal of the ANC.”

Pressure mounts on ANC to equip and empower its Integrity Commission:

Below is the ANC statement after its NEC meeting: 

Court orders that Implats CEO be reimbursed
4 August 2020, 4:11 PM

The Tlhabane Magistrate’s Court in the North West has ordered that the R60 000 bail paid by Impala Platinum Mine Chief Executive Officer, Mark Munroe, be returned to him.

Munroe was arrested for allegedly contravening the Disaster Management Act during the National COVID-19 lockdown three months ago. The court order comes after his defence team argued that Munroe was not charged in his personal capacity, but that he was representing his company.

This comes after the company allegedly issued SMS notices to more than 60 000 Impala employees, including those who were not part of essential services, to report for duty during the lockdown in April.

Munroe made a brief appearance in the Tlhabane Magistrate’s Court, accompanied by his legal representatives. Before the matter could be postponed, the court ordered that Munroe be reimbursed for his R60 000.

He is now out on a warning.

“We are disappointed. We had thought that according to our layman’s understanding, the law could have taken its course and so that those who are implicated in putting lives of workers in danger are brought to book,” says National Union of Mineworkers representative Geoffrey Moatshe.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the province has also expressed disappointment at the court’s decision.

“This is an indication that the court doesn’t have any intention to enforce the laws that are put in place by the government. We call on the courts, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the judiciary to enforce all the laws that are being put in place by the government of the republic and to make sure that everybody respects the laws and nobody is above the law,” says Cosatu Provincial Secretary, Kopano Konopi.

Although Impala Platinum did not want to comment regarding the merits of the case, it has welcomed the court’s decision.

“As far as the state has a duty to uphold these regulations, we fully accept that and we will continue to provide our full assistance to the state in investigating, whatever case they believe they have against the company,” says Impala Platinum Mine Spokesperson, Johan Theron.

The case has now been postponed to 8 September.

Below are the stats for South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world as at August 3, 2020.

Below are SA’s latest statistics:

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SIU optimistic it will recover billions lost through state capture
4 August 2020, 2:47 PM

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says it is optimistic that it will recover billions of rands that Eskom has lost through state capture. Eskom and the SIU have issued court summons to several people to try and recoup R3.8 billion that the power utility’s former executives diverted to the Gupta family.

They include Brian Molefe, Matshela Koko, and Ben Ngubane.

Earlier, SIU Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, explaining why the unit had opted for the civil route, instead of laying criminal charges, said, “We are working in terms of our mandate and we are part of the law enforcement agencies in this country.  Therefore, we are not saying that by following the money and trying to recover the money the criminal side of things will not happen. When we do our investigations our task that we have got control of is the recovery part that we have got and when we find criminality, we will take it to the NPA. All of these three legs work together at different times and we can only follow one that we got an end-to-end control of which is this one of civil action and recover the money.”

In the video below, Kganyago says more names could be added to the list of those investigated: 

 

Move to reopen intra-provincial nature-based tourism lauded
3 August 2020, 7:18 PM

The move to reopen intra-provincial nature-based tourism as announced by the Minister of Tourism has been lauded as a step in the right direction in revitalising the country’s ailing economy.

According to the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the extended lockdown has not only led to significant job losses but has weakened efforts to protect the country’s biodiversity and protected areas.

The Trust’s Chief Executive Officer Yolan Friedmann says nature-based tourism is easily adaptable to the demands of a ‘no-touch’ economy.

She says its reopening will mitigate both environmental and financial strain.

“We know that this sector has a huge knock-on effect. It is the largest employer of unskilled women for example. And we know that in the deep rural communities, for every one woman that is employed, there are at least five or ten other beneficiaries in her household that she supporting.

“So, first of all, it is a significantly important employer and up-keeper of people’s livelihoods and conditions in SA. Secondly, it supports people in our most deep rural environments. And if you leave those people with no other livelihood options, they then become indirectly part of the erosion of our environment,” Friedmann explains.

Loss of jobs

Friedmann says there is both a direct and indirect link between the loss of jobs in the sector and conservation.

“We have seen an enormous uptick in poaching for example in a number of our parks. We have seen people who are literally poverty-stricken and poverty-driven towards poisoning and snaring of wildlife – relying for example on plants for medicinals because it is the only form of medical health care they can get. So the knock-on effects for our environment have also been significant. And we also know that this coming at a time when parks for example don’t have the resources to be increasing anti-poaching patrols, fixing fences, etc. So the long term damage to our wildlife capital to SA is also going to be significant in our belief.”

Crowd-funding initiative

Meanwhile, the manager of the AviTourism Project at BirdLife South Africa, Andrew de Blocq, says many popular birding hotspots and conservation initiatives were forced to shut down as a result of the national lockdown.

He says BirdLife SA started a crowd-funding initiative to assist some of their freelance bird-guides from disadvantaged communities, who have had no income at this time. They were able to raise R700 000, which is being paid to the guides in monthly instalments. He says the reopening of the sector is promising.

“It has been promising that the dept has taken a consultative approach. And it’s good that the NGOs and those working in the tourism space has been given a voice. Often we say that government doesn’t want to listen, but in this case, they have started to hear us and the wheels do turn a little bit slower than we would like but I don’t think anyone of us envies the position that government is in making these decisions that pitch lives and livelihoods against each other. But we do believe that this latest initiative to open interprovincial tourism is definitely a step in the right direction as applaud them for it,” de Blocq further added.

-Reporting by Genevieve Lanka

Eskom, SIU issue summons to recover funds from former Eskom executives, Gupta family
3 August 2020, 5:07 PM

Eskom and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) have issued summons in the North Gauteng High Court to recover funds from former Eskom executives, former board members, and members of the Gupta family.

The power utility says the funds were corruptly diverted from Eskom to improperly and illegally benefit the Gupta family and entities during their 2015-16 acquisition of the Optimum Coal Holdings operations.

In a statement, Eskom says they lost R3.8 billion in funds illegally. The defendants are former Eskom employees Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh,  Matshela Koko as well as Suzanne Margaret Daniels.

Eskom says it also seeks damages against non-executive directors Baldwin Ben Ngubane, former government Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane, and the Gupta brothers.

Eskom Spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha explains:

Eskom says all the former executives and board members breached their fiduciary duty of care and good faith to the power utility. It says it will continue to review major contracts concluded over the years, and where any evidence of corruption has been discovered it will recoup its losses.

Energy analyst Ted Bloem says Eskom will not be able to recover most of the money and that the process will be costly.

“They are trying to close the stable door after the horse has bolted, the money is gone. For them to get money from Molefe and Koko, most of the money is gone with the Guptas. I don’t know why Eskom awaited for four years before they institute the action. So they are wasting more money by court action.”

Below is Eskom’s statement: 

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