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ANC elective conference officially underway
16 December 2017, 4:42 PM

Proceedings are now underway as the 54th African National Congress (ANC) elective conference kicks off at Nasrec, Johannesburg.

The conference got off to a slow start, as delegates waited for almost seven hours before the opening.

Delegates were still registering in the morning at the registration centre at the University of Johannesburg in Soweto. This is despite ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe’s assurance that the conference would resume officially at 2pm this afternoon (Saturday).

A seven-hour wait is a strange phenomenal during the National Elective Conference of the governing party. This led to many journalists having to resort to interviewing delegates who are not officially designated to communicate the party position.

The delay was also caused by the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Saturday morning that had to deal with the court cases that dogged the party in three provinces.

The NEC took a decision to bare those branches that were affected by the court case from participating in the conference.

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Zuma’s free education decision receives mixed reaction
16 December 2017, 4:03 PM

The Universities Association, Universities South Africa, says the announcement on free higher education is concerning, as there was no consultation with key role players before the presidency released a statement.

The association represents over 20 public universities.

President Jacob Zuma announced far-reaching policy changes in which higher education will be fully funded for students from poor and working class homes.

Over 90% of students will benefit from the changes.

Eligible students will be funded through grants, which will include tuition, study materials, meals, accommodation and transport.

Chief Executive Officer Professor Ahmed Bawa says they are also worried about the feasibility Zuma’s plan.

“What we are concerned about is that there was absolutely no consultation about it. That is something we are deeply concerned about. There should have been a discussion with universities, with the policy advisers, with students and so on. That has not happened. Having said that, we think that this has some positive elements. The big question is ‘will they be able to roll out what needs to be rolled out in 2018?”

University students have shown mixed reactions about the announcement.

“I’m feeling happy. This is great news for all of us,” says one of the students.

Economists say the decision may lead to a further downgrade of South Africa.

Economist Dawie Roodt says the funds to support the president’s decision will probably come from other departments, increased taxes or further borrowing.  Roodt says the timing of this decision must also be questioned.

“Why now during this election time for the ANC’s new leadership and I think this is a very populist move by the president and it sounds a bit sinister doing it, especially at this time. We cannot afford it. That is just the reality and I also think the president probably threw whoever is going to take over from him under the bus because once you’ve made an announcement like this you simply cannot overturn a decision like this. So I’m afraid that whoever is going to take over as president has a big problem on his hand or her hands.”

By Jamaine Krige & Lynne Arendse

President Zuma on Higher education fees (Text)

We will not hold ANC elective conference at ransom: Zikalala
16 December 2017, 3:35 PM

Chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala says they will not hold the ANC Elective Conference at ransom due to the court battles taking place on the party’s internal matters.

Zikalala says their main focus now is for the party to have a successful conference that will help advance the interest of South Africans.

He was addressing the media on the High Court ruling in Pietermaritzburg on Friday, which pronounced the provincial elective conference null and void.

Zikalala says the ANC cannot suffer because of 27 members who will not be voting in the conference.

“We are not here for the numbers; we are here for the ANC. The ANC comes first; we must always prioritise the interests of the ANC. We have decided as KwaZulu-Natal that we are not going to hold the conference at ransom and keep the conference debating the participation of 27 comrades. We have just said, we, the  Provincial Executive Committee members, are also coming from delegates and fortunately, the majority of us were elected as branch delegates and therefore, let us not keep debating where we must participate or not.”

He says the delays experienced at the elective conference need urgent attention from the national leaders of the party.

Zikalala says it is unfortunate that the conference has to run behind schedule due to court battles in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State provinces.

Zikalala says this cannot be attributed to the outgoing ANC leadership, but is a problem facing the party as a whole. He says the organisation has to self-introspect on some of its challenges.

“It is a reflection on the organisation in totality and the fact that you will have comrades who will want to bock down the conference around court cases; the fact courts will take time on announcing or issue judgements on the eve of the conference. All of that are issues to be considered. However, we want to thank President Zuma for his sterling leadership he has shown as the president of the country. The last he has done is to provide our people with free education.”

Zanu PF’s 2017 special congress gets underway
13 December 2017, 9:22 PM

Zimbabwe’s ruling party on Wednesday held a special session of the politburo as the party’s 2017 special congress got underway.  This will be followed by a central committee meeting on Thursday before the party’s new leader addresses the main congress on Friday. As the party prepares for the congress, its former leader will not attend the gathering. Former President Robert Mugabe is currently in Singapore.

The congress will among others approve the Central Committee meeting resolutions. Those resolutions saw the endorsement of Emmerson Mnangagwa as president of Zimbabwe and the expulsion of those who supported Grace Mugabe. The congress will also nominate Mnangagwa as the party’s presidential candidate ahead of the 2018 election.

“Preparations for the extra ordinary session of congress are more than 95% complete. Sufficient resources have been mobilised for the event to take place. Party paraphernalia is already in place and accreditation is winding up. A total of 7874 people are expected to attend the congress with 5295 of them being delegates,” says ZANU-PF National Spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo.

ZANU-PF says it is on track to rebuild the economy. “The party has had overwhelming support from the corporate world and many other individual well-wishers. The new dispensation was rejuvenated and reignited, confidence and support cross the nation. This is a good indicator of where the party will be in 2018 as we hold harmonized elections.”

The ANC is expected to be represented by its National Chairperson. “Virtually all former sister liberation movements in the SADC region have confirmed sending representatives to this extra ordinary congress including the communist party of China.”

It is not yet clear who will be endorsed as the Vice President. Click below for more on the story: 

Opposition parties welcome state capture judgment
13 December 2017, 9:13 PM

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has joined the Democratic Alliance (DA) in welcoming the North Gauteng High Court’s decision to set aside President Jacob Zuma’s application to review the public protector’s remedial action on the state of capture report.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo handed down the ruling, saying Zuma should appoint a commission of inquiry into the state of capture report within 30 days. The Chief Justice, and not Zuma, is to appoint a judge to head the inquiry.

EFF Secretary General Godrich Gardee says going forward; President Zuma should no longer be allowed to address Parliament.

“We welcome the judgment by the court and it vindicates the demand that the EFF has made in Parliament that Mr. Zuma should never address the Parliament, he is not honourable. Come 2018 State of the Nation Address, hopefully the Nasrec conference of the ruling party will take a resolution that he should actually not come close to Parliament and address Parliament. The earlier he steps aside, the better for the country.”

Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosiuoa Lekota says the entire leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) is to blame for not recalling President Zuma.

“The blame for this situation must be squarely placed before the entire leadership of the ANC, both for the first five years and the second five years that they have protected him. They themselves have failed to uphold the constitution. This thing of the ANC believing that it is above the Constitution, they think they can allow him and themselves to do as they please with the tax payers’ money.”

The judgment also stipulated that the President should personally bear the costs of the litigation.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says in similar vein, Zuma should be prepared to pay from his own pockets should he decide to appeal Friday’s judgment.

“The ANC has protected the President and the President has failed to lead. I will say that publicly because it is clear Jacob Zuma has never been interested in investigating state capture allegations. If he does appeal, I would doubt that another court would not be consistent to keeping to the cost order so it ought to be in his personal cost in this instance. So him and the Guptas, if they want to continue this racketeering business, they must then fund that legal case.”

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