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Corruption at KwaZulu-Natal SAPS remains in focus at State Capture Commission
21 January 2020, 5:56 AM

The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Parktown, Johannesburg, will on Tuesday continue to hear evidence of how some government officials in KwaZulu-Natal allegedly benefited from corrupt deals when PricewaterhouseCoopers forensic auditor Trevor White returns to the stand.

Politically-connected businessman Toshan Panday is alleged to have bought gifts and bribed police staff in the province’s supply chain management.

Panday also allegedly received R47 million from police in the province from November 2009 to August 2010 in a move in which procurement procedures were flouted.

White explained to the commission how accommodation for SAPS staff during the World Cup in some instances was. In some instances, Panday’s company would bill twice and charge higher than inflated prices.

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Protests over the lack of water provision in Qwaqwa intensify
20 January 2020, 1:13 PM

Police have used rubber bullets to disperse protesting residents of QwaQwa in eastern Free State. The angry protesters are demanding reliable water supply in QwaQwa, Kestell and Harrismith. Police have arrested 34 protesters for public violence after a municipal vehicle was set alight, several shops looted and roads barricaded with litter.

Earlier, the Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality condemned the stoning of water trucks, saying such actions would worsen the already dire situation in the area.

Angry protesters have vowed to take more drastic action if the authorities fail to address their demands. They are also calling for the current mayor to step down.

Residents have threatened to render the area ungovernable until their demand for reliable water supply has been met. Their anger has been sparked by the tragic death of eight-year-old Mosa Mbele who drowned on Saturday while fetching water in a river.

Traffic has  also been brought to a standstill, frustrating several truck drivers and motorists.

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There’s a pressing need to build a capable state: Ramaphosa
20 January 2020, 12:27 PM

In his weekly letter, President Cyril Ramaphosa has spoken of the pressing need to build a capable state. The President says such a state starts with officials and managers who possess the right skills. He says government will end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage. He has warned that officials will suffer consequences if they do not do their jobs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says several glaring instances of service delivery failures relate to some areas having a small revenue base but also elected officials and public servants have neglected their responsibilities. As part of building a capable state, state owned enterprises need to fulfil their mandates effectively and priority will be given to appointing experienced and qualified boards and managers and providing them with a clear mandate to execute. Ramaphosa has also urged citizens to participate and advise government on the standards of public services in communities.

SAHRC offers legal assistance to families of learners who drowned
20 January 2020, 10:35 AM

The South African Human Rights Commission (HRC) has offered legal assistance to the families of 13-year-old Enock Mpianzi and 13 year old Keamohetswe Shaun Seboko. Seboko drowned at the school swimming pool at Laerskool Bekker in Magaliesburg last week. Mpianzi also died last week while on Parktown Boys High school’s Grade 8 Orientation Camp in Brits in the North West.

It’s understood that Mpianzi drowned in the Crocodile River, after a raft he built together with other learners capsized. An investigation into the incident is currently being conducted by the Gauteng Department of Education.

Manager of the HRC in Gauteng Buang Jones says they will be meeting with the Mpianzi family on Monday.

“The South African Human Rights Commission has offered legal assistance to the Enoch Mpianzi family. We are going to meet with the family today to discuss possible legal options and remedies available to them and to see if we can assist in securing appropriate redress on behalf of the family. We stand ready to mediate this matter between the department, the school and the family, we also stand ready to provide assistance to the family in which to litigate in this matter,” says Jones.

Meanwhile, Human Rights lawyer Richard Spoor says both families can lodge civil claims in the deaths of their children.

“The consequences for a parent if they lose a child are very severe. It leaves a huge hole in their lives, it causes immense emotional distress and trauma, it damages their identity, it takes away a big chunk of the meaning of their lives so yes there are consequences and the law provides for recourse through a civil claim for damages.”

Classes at Parktown Boys High School  have been suspended on Monday,  to allow for learners to receive counselling.

An investigation into the incident is currently being conducted by the Gauteng Department of Education. Department spokesperson Steve Mabona says, “Parktown Boys has decided to suspend classes for today. Our psycho-social team working with other NGOs you know will also provide counselling to learners. So, they felt that probably it will be prudent for them to suspend classes for today and engage in that process.”

News of Mpianzi’s death led to a public outcry, with many condemning the school for failing not only to ensure his safety, but also to report the incident in time.

Director of Adventure Standards Africa, Professor Graeme Addison, says that the right procedures must be followed at all times.

“The right personnel, the right equipment, the right procedures should be followed. We’re not sure what procedures were followed, but, certainly, if the person was a trained professional, that person would know to give a safety talk, to equip the learners with life jackets, to have supervision throughout the event and to take action if somebody goes missing; which, of course, means you’ve got to count heads and you’ve got to act quickly. A person will drown in less than two minutes.”

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There’s a pressing need to build a capable state: President Ramaphosa
20 January 2020, 9:52 AM

Dear Fellow South African,

A few weeks ago we celebrated the start of a new year and a new decade. This gave us an opportunity to reflect on our plans for the year ahead but also to think deeply about the challenges that confront us. Of these challenges, and perhaps the most pressing, is the need to build a capable state. This is a task that does not capture the imagination of most people, yet it is essential to everything we want to achieve.

Walking through the streets of Kimberley and other towns in the Northern Cape a fortnight ago drove home the point that if we are to better the lives of South Africans, especially the poor, we need to significantly improve the capacity of the government that is meant to as improve their lives.

It was disheartening to see that, despite progress in many areas, there were several glaring instances of service delivery failures. Many of the places we visited struggle to provide social infrastructure and services simply because they have such a small revenue base. But, in some cases, elected officials and public servants have neglected their responsibilities. A common feature in most of these towns, which is evident throughout all spheres of government, is that the state often lacks the necessary capacity to adequately meet people’s needs.

As public representatives and civil servants we derive our legitimacy from our ability to act professionally as we serve the public and manage state resources to the benefit of the public. We also need to ensure that we embody the Batho Pele principles. Putting people first. It is through such an approach that we can have a state that places people and their needs at the centre.

Yet, the achievement of such a state is undermined by weak implementation. Poor coordination and alignment between departments and lack of effective oversight has meant that policies and programmes have not had the necessary impact on people’s lives.

That is why this administration has prioritised the task of building a capable state.

Much of this work happens behind the scenes, ensuring that policies are aligned, processes are streamlined, technology is effectively deployed, budgets are adhered to and programmes are properly monitored and evaluated.

A capable state starts with the people who work in it. Officials and managers must possess the right financial and technical skills and other expertise. We are committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage. There should be consequences for all those in the public service who do not do their work.

Through the ongoing and focused training of civil servants, the National School of Government will be playing a greater role in providing guidance for career development.

A capable state also means that state owned enterprises need to fulfil their mandates effectively and add value to the economy. State companies that cannot deliver services – such as Eskom during load-shedding – or that require continual bailouts – such as SAA – diminish the capacity of the state. That is why a major focus of our work this year is to restore our SOEs to health. We will do this by appointing experienced and qualified boards and managers. We will be clarifying their mandates, and give them scope to execute those mandates.

One of the most important innovations of this administration is the introduction of the district-based delivery model. This way of working is a departure from the top-down approach to the provision of services and will ensure that no district in our country is left behind. It is a break from the ‘silo’ approach, where different parts of government operate separately from each other.

This aims to produce a single, integrated district plan in line with the vision of: ‘One District, One Plan, One Budget, One Approach’. It will give us a clearer line of sight of what needs to be done, where, how and with what resources. By pooling resources, by focusing on projects that directly respond to community needs, and by setting delivery targets on a district-by-district basis, we will be able to better meet our people’s needs.

Through the proper execution of the district development model, we will be able to know which police station needs vehicles, which rural clinic has run out of medicine, which businesses are struggling to obtain water use licenses, and respond in a targeted manner. District-based development is the basis for growing and sustaining a competitive economy.

Although we face great challenges, we do not have a dysfunctional state.

None of this will happen overnight. Much of the work will not be immediately apparent. But as we make progress, people will notice that government does things faster. Already, for example, we have drastically reduced the time it takes to get a passport or receive a water licence. As we continue to improve, people will notice less interruption of services, more roads are being built, infrastructure is better maintained, more businesses are opening up and more jobs are being created. Those who follow such things, will notice that government audit outcomes are improving, money is being better used and properly accounted for.

For this work to be successful, citizens need to get involved. We must all participate in school governing bodies, ward committees and community policing forums. It is on citizens that government will rely to advise us on the standards of public services in communities. It is on you that we depend to hold those who are failing you to account.

Where government needs help, we should be prepared to draw on the skills, expertise and resources of the private sector and civil society. If we all work together to build a more capable and developmental state, we will be that much closer to realising the South Africa that we all want.

Best wishes,

Cyril Ramaphosa




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