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March
Johannesburg Metro councillors march to Eskom headquarters
9 July 2019, 4:25 PM

Some councillors in the Johannesburg Metro are living in fear, as locals in their respective areas are frustrated about challenges of electricity supply.

Earlier on Tuesday, councillors from the African National Congress (ANC) Caucus staged a march outside the Eskom headquarters in Sunninghilll, north of Johannesburg.

They are demanding that the power utility improve its supply of electricity to their areas.

Locals have reportedly threatened some councillors from Ivory Park, Diepsloot, Soweto and Orange Farm and vandalised their homes after blaming them for the electricity problems.

ANC Chairperson in Johannesburg Geoff Makhubo led the march.

“Eskom is not giving customers in those wards proper service. When the transformers burn or they blow, Eskom takes its own time to replace, putting the lives of these councillors that you see behind me at risk; because they are the face of service delivery in the wards. Therefore, we are saying to Eskom: ‘no, it’s enough. We want you to work with us, to work with the communities and get people electricity, which is the basic right by the way,'” says Makhubo.

The ANC councillors have given Eskom seven days to respond to their list of demands.

The power utility’s Customer Relations Manager in Johannesburg, KK Msisi says he accepts the memorandum.

“On behalf of the organisation, I accept this memorandum and commit to responding within seven days as requested,” says Msisi.

Zandile Gumede
ANC KZN remains mum on suspended eThekwini Mayor’s future
9 July 2019, 3:52 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) in KwaZulu-Natal is mum on whether eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede will resume her duties on Wednesday or not.

Gumede was placed on special leave after being charged with fraud and corruption in relation to a R208 million refuse removal tender.

There’s speculation that her leave could be extended.

ANC provincial leaders continue to evade questions about Gumede’s future.

Unless a decision is made on Tuesday, the embattled Mayor is expected to return to the Durban City Hall on Wednesday morning.

Early in June, the ANC in the province asked Gumede to take a 30-day leave of absence while it is discussing her fate, citing charges against her as a reason. The 30-day period comes to an end on Tuesday.

During Gumede’s time away, there has been several protests to the ANC’s offices by her backers demanding that she return to office. They accused the party’s leadership in the province of inconsistency over their handling of party members facing criminal charges.

Disgruntled branches have cited the case of the Regional Secretary of the Gizenga Mpanza region Musa Zondi who was convicted and sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for murder.

While Zondi is appealing the case, the ANC is said to have taken a decision to reinstate him to his position.

Gumede’s supporters have also made repeated calls for the City Manager Sipho Nzuza to be suspended. This followed reports that Nzuza is to be state witness in Gumede’s corruption case.

DJ Fresh
SABC terminates DJ Fresh’s contract
9 July 2019, 1:46 PM

Thato Sikwane, who is popularly known as DJ Fresh, has been fired from the SABC.

The broadcaster says it has terminated his contract with immediate effect following unsuccessful engagements between the two parties.

DJ Fresh was suspended for using offensive language on air.

SABC Spokesperson Vuyo Mthembu says the public broadcaster will communicate in due course on who will take over Metro FM’s breakfast show.

“The termination follows unsuccessful engagements between SABC Radio Management and Mr Sikwane, subsequent to his usage of offensive language on-air, which also resulted in the SABC being found guilty and sanctioned by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) for contravention of clause 6 of the BCCSA’s Code of Conduct.

“In addition his conduct has also brought the SABC into disrepute. Mr Sikwane was afforded an opportunity to remedy his contractual breaches and unfortunately he had failed or refused to do,” explains Mthembu.

Bombing
Mortar bomb hitting northern Iraq leaves several dead
9 July 2019, 1:30 PM

At least three people were killed and four wounded when three mortar bombs hit the northern Iraqi town of Shirqat on Tuesday, police officials and hospital sources said.

Police officials in the area said Islamic State militants were involved in the attack and the mortars were fired from a nearby mountainous area were militants are still active.

“Daesh (Islamic State) fighters are hiding in (the) Makhoul mountains area and use it as a launch pad for their attacks,” said Shirqat police colonel Khalil Sahan.

Islamic State has recently mounted a series of hit-and-run attacks aimed at undermining the government.

Iraq declared victory over the group, which once held large swathes of the country, in December 2017 but after they were defeated and driven out of areas they controlled for years, the militants have adapted their tactics to insurgent-style attacks.

Tito Mboweni
Mboweni comes under heavy criticism for SABC’s bailout letter
8 July 2019, 9:49 PM

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has come under strong criticism for describing the SABC as the implementing tool of the Communications Department. This is contained in the letter he wrote to the department saying that National Treasury could not back the R3.2 billion guarantee it was asking for on the behalf of the public broadcaster.

The letter is dated June the 25th. This is a week before Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams appeared before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee, and yet she made no mention of the letter.

William Bird, Director of Media Monitoring Africa, has described Mboweni’s assertion as extremely dangerous.

“It’s a fundamental and deeply anti-democratic, ludicrous and offensive statement frankly, to suggest that, that’s the role of the SABC. Now when you’ve got some of the most senior figures in government in letter allegedly making those kinds of deeply at odds democratic theory statements. The chances of the SABC being able to bring the public with it are radically reduced,” says Bird.

Continuous engagement with SABC

Professor Anton Harber from Wits University says both Finance Minister and Communications Minister should continue engaging with the SABC in order to find a solution on the way forward.

Harber says part of the reason for keeping the SABC in a dire financial situation could be to exert political influence over it. He adds that in order to protect the independence of the SABC as well as preserve the nation’s democratic right to be informed, government has to clearly understand the SABC’s mandate.

“I think  if there are issues with the SABC’s turnaround strategy there appears to be a strong good board there that is being open about its plans the minister should be saying clearly what he wants to see differently and how that can be addressed quickly. I think there’s always attempts to pull back on the independence of the SABC to try and get greater political control and influence over the SABC. The minister has to get right what the function and the role of the SABC is. The board has to be absolutely firm and strong in protecting their right and to make sure they’re serving the public interest,” Harber explains.

Misleading Parliament

The African Christian Democratic Party’s member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications Steve Swart alleges that Ndabeni-Abrahams misled Parliament on the contents of the letter she received from Mboweni on the SABC issue.

“Why the Minister of Communications did not disclose this fact to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee last week, when she appeared before it. She would have known that the guarantee had been refused by the Minister of she should have disclosed that as well to the Portfolio Committee,” says Swart.

The Democratic Alliance says Mboweni does not understand the SABC’s constitutional role. The party’s member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications Phumzile van Damme says the SABC is independent.

“Can Minister Mboweni read about the mandate of the SABC, and that the SABC is independent and while the Minister can give input, the ultimate authority lies with the board,” explains van Damme.

On the other hand, Bird has commended the SABC for the improvements it has made in the midst of financial constraints.

“Six out of the ten top performing media in our elections monitoring were from the SABC. That’s an incredible achievement in such as short space of time. We’ve seen the board being open and committed. Show me any another public funded entity that has given that amount of detail on their turnaround strategy to Parliament,” says Bird.

 

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