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Body of missing Parktown Boys learner found
17 January 2020, 11:32 AM

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says the body of a Grade 8 learner who went missing in Brits in the North West has been found. The learner, from Parktown Boys High School was participating in an Orientation Camp. Police Search and Rescue teams suspended the search late last night at the river where the boy went missing.

Lesufi says they have informed the family.

Earlier, Lesufi suspended all sporting activities at the Parktown Boys High and released the boys.

Solidarity asks for moratorium on looming Telkom retrenchments
17 January 2020, 10:04 AM

Trade union Solidarity has asked for a moratorium on retrenchments at Telkom. The telecoms giant has notified unions that up to 3 000 workers could lose their jobs as it struggles with declining performance in fixed voice and data services. Telkom SA says the job cuts will affect its wholesale division Openserve, consumer unit as well as its corporate centre.

In a letter to unions, Telkom says the planned job cuts will be managed in phases, with phase one starting immediately until April.

Solidarity Strategic Specialist Morné Malan says, “There are times when retrenchments are necessary- that is when the sustainability of the company is being threatened. On the other hand, we believe that these particular retrenchments which are unwarranted, threaten the very sustainability which they promise to protect. Our moratorium is basically our way of saying wait before we go onto retrenchments, let’s see if we can’t have a more beneficial agreement which can be beneficial to both parties, something where the employees as well as the employer can agree upon.”

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State owned enterprises to top ANC Lekgotla agenda
17 January 2020, 7:32 AM

The African National Congress (ANC) says state-owned enterprises will top the agenda of its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting and Lekgotla in Irene, outside Pretoria, this weekend.

Eskom’s failure to keep the lights on resulted in the power utility’s board chairperson Jabu Mabuza’s resignation last week. Eskom has been accused of misleading President Cyril Ramaphosa on load shedding.

Professor Malegapuru Makgoba has been appointed as interim chairperson of the Eskom board. Makgoba, a scientist, joined the Eskom board as a non-executive director in 2018.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe says, “Key among the issues that will be discussed is what we have already written out. Remember when we issued a statement, welcoming the resignation of Ntate Jabu Mabuza, we also said that the NEC that will be sitting including the Lekgotla would have high on the agenda – the issue of Eskom, to also assess if SOEs are indeed delivering on what they are expected to be doing.”

Reaction to Makgoba’s appointment

There has been a widespread reaction to the appointment of Makgoba. Nick Binedell, director of the Gordon Institute of Business at the University of Pretoria says unlike Mabuza, Makgoba is neither a business leader nor an energy expert.

“We do not have many experts, global or South African, who really understand that massive complexity of running a big power station and I was looking at the numbers for Medupi and Kusile, I mean it’s just astonishing amounts of numbers. Hundreds of billions of rands of our money have been misspent and they are not productive and they are not working, and we haven’t done the maintenance. These are massive management questions.”

‘Decisive act’ 

Meanwhile, Political Analyst Lukhona Mnguni believes the ANC is weak and the government is failing to make act decisively under President Cyril Ramaphosa. Mnguni also says Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s performance has been dismal, with Eskom failing to generate electricity and SAA in shambles.

“Even with issues such as Eskom, because the President doesn’t want to accept perhaps that the person in charge of the state-owned enterprises, the Minister Pravin Gordhan has not done an excellent job and he needs to review where his challenges have been specially given that there’s been some time for reforms, there have also been complaints either from board members or resigning executives that there is a sense of interference. There must be political responsibility taken.

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Trump impeachment trial opens as watchdog faults White House on Ukraine
17 January 2020, 5:38 AM

The Senate impeachment trial on whether to remove U.S. President Donald Trump from office formally began on Thursday even as a congressional watchdog found that the White House broke the law by withholding security aid for Ukraine approved by Congress.

The assessment from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) was a setback for Trump, but it was unclear if it would figure in his trial in the Republican-led Senate given that key questions such as whether witnesses will testify or new evidence will be considered remain unanswered.

Democrat Adam Schiff, who heads a team of seven House of Representatives members who will serve as prosecutors, appeared on the Senate floor to read the two charges passed by the House on Dec. 18 that accused Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress arising from his dealings with Ukraine.

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, wearing his black judicial robe, took an oath to preside over the trial and then swore in the assembled senators who will serve as jurors, asking if they would “do impartial justice.”

The 99 senators present signed their assent one by one. One senator – Republican Jim Inhofe – was in his home state of Oklahoma to be with a family member facing a medical issue, according to his office, but was due to sign next week.

The Senate is expected to acquit Trump, as none of its 53Republicans has voiced support for removing him, a step that requires a two-thirds majority. Trump has denied wrongdoing and has called the impeachment process a sham.

Opening statements were due to start on Tuesday.

The abuse of power cited in the House articles of impeachment included Trump’s withholding of $391 million insecurity aid for Ukraine, a move Democrats have said was aimed at pressuring Kiev into investigating political rival Joe Biden, the president’s possible Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3election.

Congress had approved the funds to help Ukraine combat Russia-backed separatists. The money was ultimately provided in September after the controversy spilled into public view.

The GAO said the U.S. Constitution does not grant a president authority to unilaterally withhold funds, as Trump did. Instead, a president can only withhold spending in limited circumstances spelled out by law, its report said.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the GAO said on Thursday.

The GAO’s findings are not legally binding, but its reports are seen by lawmakers as objective, reliable and generally uncontested. It has no prosecutorial power.

Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, who sought the GAO investigation, said the findings undercut Republican arguments that there was nothing wrong with Trump’s action.

“We now have a clear, lucid finding that the Trump administration violated the law and we know that the president ordered the administration to commit an illegal act,” he told Reuters.

Republican Senator John Cornyn said that while there may have been a civil violation of the law, it was not a criminal matter and certainly not an impeachable act.

“The Constitution says you impeach presidents for treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanours. And it’s none of those things,” said Cornyn, a former judge.



It is only the third impeachment trial in U.S. history and no president has been removed as a direct result of the process. Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 before the full House could vote to impeach him. The House impeached Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998, but the Senate did not convict them.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the GAO report bolstered Democrats’ argument that the Senate trial should include new evidence and hear from witnesses.

Schiff indicated that the House prosecutors may call Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, if the Senate permits testimony in the trial.

Documents released this week indicated Parnas, a Ukraine-born U.S. citizen, helped Giuliani investigate Biden and his son Hunter, and was also involved in monitoring the movements of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch before Trump removed her in May.

In an interview with Reuters, Giuliani said he pushed Trump to fire Yovanovitch but did not know if Parnas put her under surveillance.

Giuliani said he was disappointed with Parnas’ decision to cooperate with impeachment investigators.

“I considered him a friend and I considered him to be a man who had character and now I consider him to be a man who will say whatever his phony lawyer wants him to say,” Giuliani said.

Parnas told MSNBC on Wednesday that Trump knew “exactly what was going on,” and his lawyer has released several photos of Parnas with the president.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump repeated his assertion that he did not know Parnas. He called the whole thing a “big hoax.”



State Capture Commission hears of corruption in KZN Police Services
15 January 2020, 1:59 PM

The Commission of Inquiry into State Capture has heard about corruption in the KwaZulu-Natal Police Services through the testimony of retired Colonel Johannes van Loggerenberg.

At the centre of his testimony is how politically-connected businessman Toshen Panday evaded prosecution despite strong evidence of fraud and corruption between him and supply management officials at the SAPS.

Van Loggerenberg told the commission in Parktown, Johannesburg, that Panday was accused of charging inflated prices for police accommodation as well as goods and services during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Then KZN Police Commissioner Mmamonyane Ngobeni allegedly ordered the dropping of charges against Panday amidst allegations that the businessman paid about R30 000 for her husband’s birthday.

In 2013, bribery charges were withdrawn against Panday by the National Prosecution’s Authority Advocate Moipone Noko.

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