If you’re looking for all the latest news in South Africa, you’ve come to the right place. Review the day’s biggest headlines on Wednesday 14 October.
While tensions remain high in the small Free State town of Senekal amid a series of contentious court appearances, concerns regarding South Africa’s dire economic prospects and burgeoning unemployment rate renew calls for a stern recovery plan. In sports news, Cricket South Africa (CSA) attempts to recover from a bruising parliamentary session.
TODAY’S LATEST NEWS IN SOUTH AFRICA, Wednesday 14 OCTOBER
Malema threatens civil arrests in Senekal, slams Police Minister Bheki Cele
It’s been a busy week for Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema. The Red Berets’ Commander-in-Chief has been locked in litigation, from the Democratic Alliance (DA) laying criminal charges of ‘inciting violence’ in connection with Malema’s ‘machine gun’ rants to a dramatic court appearance in Randburg stemming from the alleged assault of a police officer in 2018.
Malema criticised the court for denying an application of coverage tabled by members of the media and demanded that the alleged victim of the assault, Colonel Johan Venter, apologise for denying both the EFF leader and MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi access to the funeral of Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
Addressing a crowd of supporters outside the Randburg Magistrates Court on Tuesday, Malema said that he and Ndlozi had done nothing wrong and were, instead, being punished for confronting ‘whiteness’.
Malema’s attention turned swiftly to the tense situation in Senekal. The EFF leader lambasted Police Minister Bheki Cele and investigating officers for failing to arrest all farmers involved in the protest action. Malema reiterated that ‘EFF Ground Forces’ would descend on Senekal when the two men accused of killing 21-year-old farm manager, Brendin Horner, reappeared before court on Friday. Malema said:
“They [police] have not arrested the real culprits who caused anarchy in Senekal. If those people are not arrested we will institute a civil arrest.
On Friday, we are going to Senekal to regain the dignity of our people and that of the police that was lost there. Bheki Cele must regain our respect.”
On Tuesday, farmer Andre Pienaar was denied bail after briefly appearing at the Senekal Magistrate’s Court. Pienaar, charged with attempted murder, malicious damage to property and public violence, is accused of spearheading the protesters’ assault on the courthouse and police vehicles.
Cele, who condemned the violent protest action, has spent the week engaging with the community of Senekal in an attempt to pacify growing tensions and mitigate clashes between farmers, police and political groups.
Tax increases on the cards as South Africa sinks deeper into debt
Cash-strapped South Africans could be hit with a fresh wave of tax increases, as President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed fears regarding the finance ministry’s burgeoning debt profile and economic fallout emanating from the disruptive coronavirus-induced lockdown.
A lengthy document, prepared by the President’s Economic Advisory Council, which outlines a unique recovery plan, proposes four major tax increases:
- Increasing fuel levies and estate taxes
- A ‘solidarity tax’ which will impact higher earners for a period of three years
- Tax increases intended to subsidise a basic-income grant which is expected to cost government approximately R243 billion
- Pension funds and private investors to back public infrastructure projects
The latest proposal is expected to be finalised and elaborated upon during the medium-term budget speech delivered by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on 21 October. Edgar Sishi, Chief Director of the National Treasury, has previously stated that government would look to raise R40 billion through tax increases over the next four years.
The President’s Economic Advisory Council has also proposed massive cuts to the bloated public wage bill; a position which is sure to heighten tensions among trade unions which have already challenged the ruling African National Congress (ANC) on the matter.
UIF relief stutters as pandemic of joblessness looms
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) cannot sustain the current rate of joblessness and will run dry unless drastic measures are taken to bolster the beleaguered relief scheme. This is according to Labour and Employment Minister Thulas Nxesi who, on Tuesday, briefed the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on issues relating to the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS), the Compensation Fund and the future of UIF guarantees.
Nxesi noted that the UIF had approximately R50 billion at its disposal and would need to appeal to government for further assistance if the country entered a recession similar to that of 2008.
The minister added that the TERS system, which is due to come to an end along with the National State of Disaster this week, had been marred by delays and fraudulent transaction; the latter exposed by the Auditor General of South Africa. Nxesi noted that control systems would need to be strengthened and that the TERS programme had identified major flaws in the UIF’s current protocols.
To date, R49 billion has been paid to 11 million beneficiaries through the TERS programme.
DA looks to hold Ramaphosa accountable with new ‘Economic Reform Tracker’
The official opposition party has little faith in President Ramaphosa’s latest economic recovery plan. Looking to hold government accountable for the country’s financial prospects, the DA has launched an ‘Economic Structural Reform Tracker’ which assesses five major pillars, including; Public Finance, Energy Sector Reform, State Owned Enterprise Reform, Reducing Corruption, Labour Market Reform and Sectoral Reforms.
The DA noted that the tracker’s initial report painted a dismal picture of Ramaphosa’s tenure, saying:
“Using this tracker’s methodology, the DA’s initial assessment has shown that out of the 15 reform areas being tracked, 73% of these are still yet to move beyond the rhetoric or conceptualisation stage.
This means that the plethora of commitments by various government functionaries to pursue a sustained programme of economic reform has not been met with a corresponding plan of action.”
Geordin Hill-Lewis, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Finance, added that the importance of economic reform — in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on industries — could not be understated. Hill-Lewis argued that government need to act swiftly — with the added presence of accurate accountability — in order to bring South Africa back from the brink.
Former Eskom Board Chairperson exposes Gupta links
Former Eskom board Chairperson Ben Ngubane appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday and revealed that key decisions were effectively influenced by the infamous Gupta family and associate, Salim Essa.
Ngubane, who is no stranger to the Commission’s hot seat, admitted that a letter from former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, which formed the basis of Zola Tsotsi’s controversial dismissal, had been delivered via an address associated with Essa.
Despite the close relationship between the former board chair and Essa, Ngubane denied that he was appointed as a result of the Guptas’ influence over the state owned enterprise.
Ngubane added that Brown’s letter addressed issues at other key public enterprises, including Transnet and Denel.
Cricket South Africa’s parliamentary briefing raises more red flags
After being forced to deliver a full version of the damning Fundudzi report to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Sport, Arts and Culture, the extent of mismanagement and corruption within CSA has alarmed government.
CSA Acting President Beresford Williams was asked to leave the meeting, after being implicated in wrongdoing. Williams’ predecessor, Chris Nenzani, has been mentioned extensively in the Fundudzi report which has unearthed CSA’s darkest skeletons and goes a long way in explaining the organisation’s collapse.
Independent board member Marius Schoeman noted that Williams was subject to a serious ‘conflict of interest’ complaint but refused to go into detail. CSA Secretary Welsh Gwaza also recused himself following criticism from parliament with regards to the handling and delivery of the Fundudzi report.
Orlando Pirates make huge transfer breakthrough
Orlando Pirates have confirmed the departure of three first team players. Mthokozisi Dube, Gladwin Shitolo and Justice Chabalala will all spend the 2020/21 DStv Premiership out on loan.
Mthokozisi Dube and Gladwin Shitolo will join Golden Arrows until the end of the season while Justice Chabalala will return to Bloemfontein Celtic for the remainder of the campaign.
This comes a week after the club announced the departures of eight other first team players. Orlando Pirates finished the 2019/20 campaign in third place with coach Jozef Zinnbauer now desperate to secure some silverware at the club.
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Read the original article on The South African