Never miss a beat when it comes to the latest news in South Africa; review the day’s top headlines on Thursday 10 September.
While Eskom has managed to pull its embattled power generation predicament back from the brink, thereby averting further load shedding schedules, unrest in Alexandra has forced technicians to abandon a clamp down on illegal electrical connections. Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa reflects on a tough question and answer session with the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF).
TODAY’S LATEST NEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA, Thursday 10 SEPTEMBER
Load shedding averted but power protests rock Alexandra
Eskom has provided relief to frustrated South Africans by suspending its deeply disruptive load shedding programme which has been in place, at varying stages, for more than a week. On Wednesday afternoon, the embattled power utility noted that its capacity to generate power, following several plant breakdowns and repair delays, had ‘significantly improved’.
Eskom, which, due to serious operational and financial mismanagement, has racked up an enormous debt approaching R500 billion, suspended power station managers following a move to Stage 4 load shedding on Thursday 3 September. The utility is expected to provide a report to the South African public today.
Meanwhile, unrest over the removal of illegal electrical connections in Alexandra, Gauteng, has forced City Power technicians to retreat. City Power Spokesperson Isaac Mangena confirmed that only 4% of Alexandra residents paid for electricity and that most residents relied on dangerous illegal connections. Despite being supported by members of the police and South African National Defence Force (SANDF) personnel, City Power officials, who aimed to identify and remove illegal connections on Wednesday, were met with violent protest action at the hands of residents.
Protesters resisted City Power’s operations in the area and proceeded to blockade roads with burning tyres and debris. Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) spokesperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar confirmed that the area remained volatile.
Eastern Cape ANC attempts to quell ‘mutiny’
The African National Congress (ANC) is facing a wave of factional infighting in the Eastern Cape, following Nelson Mandela Bay Councillor Andile Lungisa’s outright refusal to accept a suspension handed down by the party’s Provincial Executive Committee (PEC).
Lungisa, who is no stranger to controversy and holds a strong support base in the Eastern Cape, has vowed to challenge the PEC’s demands arguing that the latest directive issued by the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) did not speak to his ongoing legal troubles. In 2018, Lungisa was convicted of assault after attacking a Democratic Alliance (DA) councillor with a water jug.
Lungisa, who lost his appeal before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, says that he is being targeted for an “ulterior purpose” and has vowed to fight the PEC through the party’s conflict resolution mechanisms.
A recent ruling by the NEC, which followed a wave of corruption related to the distribution of funds intended to relieve coronavirus-related burdens, noted that any ANC members facing legal charges would need to step aside pending judicial outcomes.
EFF violence and harassment draws Cele’s ire
While Police Minister Bheki Cele has agreed that Clicks should face consequences for its racially insensitive ad campaign which depicted African hair as damaged, he added that the rule of law needed to be upheld. Cele was responding to the wave of protests, led by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which has led to closure of Clicks stores.
The national demonstrations have been marred by petrol bombings, incidents of vandalism, intimidation and harassment. Although Clicks managed to obtain a court interdict, barring EFF members from closing stores and targeting staff, the retailer kept its doors closed on Wednesday fearing further reprisals. Cele added:
“Police should ensure that the rule of law is maintained. They must deal decisively with those who choose to break the law.”
Cele confirmed that at least 10 protesters, including an EFF Member of Parliament, had been arrested on charges related to the destruction of property, resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer.
The Minister of Police said that the incident involving a 52-year-old Port Elizabeth shopper, who brandished a firearm during a confrontation with EFF protesters, was being investigated.
Clicks has since suspended two senior executives and culled the product line, TRESemmé, with immediate effect.
UIF Ters suspended amid more corruption concerns
Just one day after South Africa’s Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) announced an extension of the Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) to 15 September, serious irregularities uncovered by the Auditor General have, once again, halted pay-outs. The UIF announced released a statement on Wednesday afternoon, saying:
“The Fund will release a statement announcing when payments will resume again. Whilst understanding the frustration this might cause, we are committed to pay deserving and authentic workers.”
The most recent setback which has added to the woes of millions of South Africans who have suffered financial losses as a result of the coronavirus-induced lockdown comes just a week after a damning report penned by the Auditor General. The Auditor General of South Africa Kimi Makwetu found that, in addition to overpayments and duplicated payments marring the Ters programme, an estimated R440 000 had been paid to deceased individuals.
Ramaphosa reflects on lockdown during Sanef engagement
During a long-awaited question and answer session with Sanef on Wednesday night, President Ramaphosa was forced to confront issues of corruption and gender-based violence, all against the backdrop of an extended lockdown which, although managed to save lives and reinforce South Africa’s medical response to the coronavirus, wreaked havoc on the country’s already embattled economic prospects.
Facing a barrage of questions around government’s inability to uproot corruption within the ranks of the ANC, Ramaphosa reiterated that his job was not to arrest nor prosecute but rather to strengthen the position of law enforcement agencies. The president added that government was taking proactive steps in the fight against corruption, saying:
“What I have said is that history will absolve me. The determination to put things right is there. We may be moving at a slow pace, but we are painstakingly putting things right.”
Ramaphosa also touched on the livewire issue of Eskom and load shedding, explaining that the utility’s unbundling process would create healthy competition and, ultimately, increase performance, particularly within the generation sector.
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Read the original article on The South African