Urgent court application against Free State delegates to be heard on Thursday

The Bloemfontein High Court will hear an urgent application by disgruntled members of the African National Congress on Thursday.

The group wants the elective conference to be nullified, ahead of the party’s 54th National Conference, which starts this weekend. They want all the Free State delegates going to the National Conference to be interdicted as they feel more than 100 disputes from the branches in that province have not been adequately dealt with.

According to reports, most of the disgruntled members are supporters of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is a forerunner to take over from Jacob Zuma at the helm of the ANC.

Ace Magashule, a known supporter of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is expected to stand unopposed for the position of ANC Chairman in the Free State.


DJ Maphorisa calls out Cassper Nyovest for ‘lying to fans’

DJ Maphorisa has called out multi-award winning rapper Cassper Nyovest for allegedly lying to his fans.

Cassper Nyovest recently took to social media to announce his major achievement of 10 million records sold. Meaning that the rapper has sold 10 million copies of his music. The announcement took many by surprise since Nyovest only has 3 albums, of which only two managed to hit the nail when it comes to sales and numbers.

“DREAMS COME TRUE!!! 10 million!!! 10 million!!! 10 million!!! Wow man!!! This plaque just got delivered to my house!!! I’ve passed 10 million units sold in my career!!!! We multi platinum!!! This one is for the fans!!! Your support is truly amazing!!! Fresh prince of Maftown!!!” Cassper posted on Twitter.

However, DJ Maphorisa smelt a rat. The DJ took to Twitter to accuse the rapper of allegedly lying to his fans.

Since then, the tweet has created some animosity between the two local hitmakers, with Cassper having blocked Maphorisa on Twitter.


Lufthansa named in irregular PRASA contract

Deloitte accounting firm found that a R15 million contract appointed to Lufthansa Consulting by former PRASA CEO Lucky Montana in September 2013 was irregular.

Lufthansa is mainly known as an aviation company, but it also has a consulting arm.

Deloitte is one of 13 firms commissioned by Treasury to investigate PRASA contracts above R10 million rand since 2012. The investigations were initiated on the back of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s 2015 Derailed report on mismanagement at the rail agency. Treasury has sat on the reports for almost a year. GroundUp published them last week after they were leaked to the UniteBehind Coalition.

The Lufthansa contract was related to a turnaround strategy for the Shosholoza Meyl rail service, a subsidiary of PRASA, that runs long-distance train journeys between, for example, Cape Town and Johannesburg. It is a popular low-cost option, especially for travellers who cannot afford plane travel. It has been plagued by problems for many years (see here and here for examples).

Deloitte found that Lufthansa followed through with its contractual responsibilities, but the grounds on which the contract was made were irregular. While the contract was relatively small compared to many of the 185 contracts found to be irregular in the leaked PRASA reports, it is an example of how Montana often disregarded proper procedures.

PRASA had started a competitive bidding process in terms of its Supply Chain Management (SCM) policy. But before this process was finalised Montana approved the appointment of Lufthansa on what is called a confinement basis, which involves limiting the amount of prospective bidders, something that is only supposed to be done in exceptional circumstances.

Dr Joseph Phungula, then Chief Procurement Officer (CPO), recommended that Lufthansa be given the contract for an amount of R22,492,200. He also recommended a 25% upfront payment and a 10% contingency amount be approved.

In an undated, handwritten note, Montana responded that “he had already discussed the matter with Mr [Mosenngwa] Mofi, CEO of PRASA Rail Operations and they had agreed to cap the price [of the contract] at R15 million, and that no upfront payment would be allowed.”

Phungula subsequently addressed an appointment letter to Lufthansa on 18 September 2013. The two parties then signed a consultancy agreement on 18 October 2013 with the R15-million contract value stipulated by Montana.

Montana’s reasons could be related to a recommendation from the Technical Committee responsible for assessing the companies bidding for the contract. On 15 August 2013 the committee recommended Lufthansa as the preferred service provider, stating: “Based on their [Lufthansa’s] strategic approach presented and PRASA’s satisfaction with their previous work done for PRASA on the Autopax Turn-around Strategy.”

GroundUp contacted Montana asking him about his communications with Phungula and Mofi and his reasons for bypassing the competitive bidding process, but he refused to answer the questions.

According to the report, Montana also contravened these policies in other contracts unrelated to the Lufthansa deal: “Numerous appointments happened via deviations. Mr Montana and Dr Phungula appear to have been involved in all such appointments we investigated.”

Lufthansa did not respond to requests for comment. PRASA’s acting GCEO, Lindikhaya Zide, has previously informed GroundUp that he will “not comment on” the leaked reports. We have been unable to find a way to contact Phungula. Both Montana and Phungula left PRASA in 2015.

This article was originally published on GroundUp.

Shaun Abrahams extends Zuma’s deadline to make representations on corruption charges

Director of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Shaun Abrahams has extended the deadline for President Zuma to submit representations until the end of January.

The NPA’s spokesperson Luvuyo Mafaku confirmed the extension to News24 on Monday. He said that Zuma’s legal team had come forward sought an extension until February 19.

“He [Abrahams] refused and gave them [until] January 31. He said any further request for extensions won’t be entertained,” Mfaku said.

“He considered a number of issues including the fact that the prosecution team is still evaluating evidential material… the prosecution team will be able to advise him after evaluating evidential material.”

Initially President Zuma was given until 30th of November to make his representations. The deadline followed the Supreme Court of Appeal’s dismissal of Zuma and the NPA’s decision to appeal a 2009 ruling calling the dropping of Zuma’s charges irrational.

The NPA refused to comment on whether Zuma had made any representations or not before the November 30 deadline. However, 11 days into December it is clear that he did not.

Zuma and Abrahams best of buddies?

Abrahams granting Zuma an extension comes less than a week after a High Court judge ruled that Abrahams must vacate his position as the head of the NPA. The ruling found that there were issues with the removal of the previous NPA head, Mxolisi Nxasana.

Abrahams was told to leave and the judge said that Zuma could not appoint a new NPA head due to his impending charges. Instead, the judge ruled that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa name a new head in 60 days.

The same day the ruling was handed down, Zuma and his legal team appealed, therefore keeping Abrahams in his job.

On Monday, Abrahams returned the favour as he kept the charges away from Zuma by granting this extension.

Why talk of unity in South Africa’s ANC is disingenuous, and dangerous

South Africa is gripped by anxiety laced with anticipation as the much anticipated African National Congress (ANC) 54th elective conference draws closer. All the country’s nine provinces have consolidated their leadership preferences for the ANC’s presidential race from the branches. But the question about who will emerge victorious remains difficult to answer as a neck and neck scenario emerges.

The conference has very important implications for the country’s future: the president of the ANC becomes the president of South Africa. Whoever leads the ANC determines the kind of leader the country will get, and what policy trajectory will be taken.

President Jacob Zuma has been the president of the ANC and the country for almost a decade now. His tenure has been marked by successive controversies, some of which led to attempts to oust him. All were foiled. He’s presided over the ANC’s declining electoral prospects, South Africa’s downgrading by international rating agencies, and allegations that he manoeuvred his allies into positions that allowed them to manipulate state tenders and even government appointments.

In a few days, he will not be the president of the ANC any more. So, who is likely to succeed him? The frontrunners are Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The Premier of Mpumalanga, David Mabuza has thrown a spanner in the works. He has called for a vote for “unity”, suggesting that no particular candidate should be backed unless they agree on a unity ticket.

Mabuza’s call makes predictions about the conference impossible because the province he leads commands the party’s second biggest membership after KwaZulu-Natal.

I believe that the “unity” narrative feigns a solution to what is not a problem, but a manifestation of it. “Consensus leadership” – which the “unity” narrative wants to be the outcome of the elective conference – fudges internal organisational democracy. The absurdity is that if it was allowed, it could mutate into a political system where people’s choice doesn’t matter, while leadership is simply imposed. This is where and how dictatorship starts.

More about power elites sharing the spoils

Branches in Mpumalanga have already voted. The tally shows that 223 supported the “unity” approach which under the ANC’s electoral process these will be considered abstentions.

But Mabuza’s stunt to cajole for a non-contest doesn’t make him a kingmaker, or show that he’s mastered the art of brinksmanship. If anything, the ploy has weakened his position in the presidential race because the province he leads isn’t unanimously behind this particular manoeuvre.

In any case, what exactly is the “unity” that Mabuza says he’s vehemently pursuing? Is it really about uniting the ANC? Why doesn’t it rhyme with Zweli Mkhize’s campaign – he’s one of the other presidential hopefuls – framed around the same concept? How does it relate to the ANC’s Through the Eye of the Needle report, where the attributes of the leadership of the party are defined?

Why does it appeal largely to those who perfected the politics of the slate which determines their positions in the party and state, those with a cloud hanging over their heads? How is it to, anyway, play itself out in the presidential race? Is it to take the form of horse-trading? If so, how does it differ from Zuma’s remarks at the end of the ANC’s 5th policy conference, that whoever loses the race for the presidency of the party should automatically become the deputy president?

Aren’t these all inventions of the same logic, essentially seeking power-sharing deals, which are about the political elites trying to accommodate each other in the leadership positions? The unity narrative is a facade. If anything, it institutionalises the very phenomenon it seeks to expunge from the ANC: slate politics.

Contest for the leadership positions is part of the democratic process. It only becomes a problem when sullied by slates, which are the function of factionalism.

Unity issue misses the point

Talk about “unity” and “consensus leadership” misses the point. It’s deflecting attention from the fact that the ANC is atrophying. The contest for the leadership of the ANC is in fact about proximity to state resources, not restoring its foundational value. As Senator William Marcy put it

To the victor belong the spoils.

Ramaphosa talks tough against this. He doesn’t mince words. During his campaign he has consistently critiqued the status quo and unambiguously taken a stand against corruption. This is a good start for the ANC’s redemption. He insists that a commission of inquiry into state capture should be established, as recommended in the public protector’s report. This implicates Zuma and the coterie that makes up his oligarchy. It’s a move that’s ruffled feathers and unsettled those who have been shielded from being pursued for allegedly bagging ill-gotten gains from the state.

What’s disturbing is that the “unity” narrative could easily be a ploy to preempt Ramaphosa’s presidency, contriving to ensure that if he succeeds he will be entrapped in the consensus leadership arrangements. This would emasculate his vigour in pursuing those alleged to have looted the state.

Another possibility is that it’s being used to co-opt those with a sense of ethics into the company of those who are ethically compromised so that they could all look the same.

However, the questions around the call for “unity” are answered, it’s important to remember that when the ethical edifice collapses, society becomes the victim of the leadership of scoundrels.

This article was originally published on The Conversation here.