Monday, March 17, 2008

South Africa News Bulletin: Mlambo-Ngcuka on Violence Against Women and Children; COSATU Told to Back-off; Motlanthe in Govt.?

JOHANNESBURG

Phumzile calls on SA's good men

Mon, 17 Mar 2008

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on Sunday called on men to take up their responsibility in the war against women and children violence and the scourge of HIV and Aids.

Said Mlambo-Ngcuka, speaking at the fourth Treatment Action Campaign National Congress held at the Birchwood Hotel: "Good men must not be silent on issues affecting women including HIV and Aids. When good men are silent, they become part of the problem."

She said she wanted to see real men speaking out about HIV, being the first ones to take out condoms before a sex act, being the ones to encourage their partners to test and discuss the test results and also being the ones to explain to the rest of the family about infant feeding choices for the Preventing Mother-To-Child-Transmission.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said she believed the country had the necessary supportive environment as contained in the country's legal frameworks, policies, strategies, organisational arrangements, leadership and partnerships necessary to mount a robust response.

The "commitments expressed by the different role players needs to translate into tangible outputs."

She stressed the importance of family in the fight against HIV and Aids, adding that awareness started at home and in the family.

Mlambo-Ngcuka said the recent Noord Street Taxi Rank incident, where a woman wearing a mini skirt was assaulted by taxi drivers and hawkers, was worrisome.

"These stereotypes are some of the things that need to change."

She called for more committed social mobilisation to stop this type of violence.

The deputy president thanked the Treatment Action Campaign and other role players in the fight against HIV and Aids and said government realised that the fight cannot be won without partners.

"It is for this reason that we are grateful for the cordial relations that, even as we differ on one issue or the other, we are able to agree on the fundamentals that are necessary to move forward".

Sapa


ANC wants Motlanthe in govt

Johannesburg, South Africa
17 March 2008 05:16

The African National Congress (ANC) wants its new deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, in government, ANC general secretary Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

"As part of managing the transition we agreed as the national executive committee [NEC] that he [Motlanthe] should be deployed in government and in the executive," Mantashe told the media following an NEC meeting at Esselen Park.

There has been much speculation on whether the ANC's new leadership would want one of its own present in President Thabo Mbeki's government.

This followed an intense leadership battle between Mbeki and Jacob Zuma, who ousted the former to claim the helm of the ruling party.

Mantashe said that the decision was taken by the ANC on Monday. The party's leadership now has to "engage" Mbeki on the logistics of the matter in terms of what position Motlanthe would fill.

"The NEC has taken the decision today ... now execution must start," he said.

Mantashe said the concept of two centres of power is an "artificial debate".

He condemned weekend media reports indicating that NEC member Tokyo Sexwale had called for Mbeki to answer questions relating to the arms deal.

Mantashe rubbished the reports, placing on record that no decision had been taken at the NEC meeting that called on Mbeki to account for matters relating to the arms deal.

He said Sexwale had told the NEC that the arms-deal issue had been hitting headlines locally and internationally and therefore required attention. According to Mantashe, Sexwale had said: "Let's pay attention to this issue."

The ANC's own report on the arms deal is being compiled and will be available to the party's leadership at the next NEC meeting in May.

Mantashe reiterated that the report will be for the "internal consumption" of members of the NEC as its purpose is to inform the new ANC leadership about the arms deal.

The Democratic Alliance submitted parliamentary questions to Mbeki on Monday, asking him to clear the air on his alleged involvement in the arms deal. -- Sapa


Back off, ANC tells Cosatu

Mandy Rossouw and Matuma Letsoalo
Mail & Guardian
Johannesburg, South Africa
14 March 2008 11:59

The new African National Congress (ANC) leadership has issued a stern warning to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) not to interfere in the ruling party's internal affairs.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Mail & Guardian this week, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe set out to define the boundaries of the relationship between the party and Cosatu.

"The ANC is not for sale," said Mantashe. His remarks signal the end of the honeymoon between the new ANC leaders and their staunchest supporters. They also debunk the notion that Cosatu and the South African Communist Party (SACP) are using Jacob Zuma as the Trojan Horse that will enable them to take power.

"The ANC can't be manipulated into executing a programme taken by Cosatu or the SACP congress. The ANC has a responsibility and an obligation to execute the programme adopted by the ANC conference in December."

Mantashe shot down the labour federation's request to have some of its members sit in on ANC national executive committee (NEC) meetings as ex officio members with no voting rights.

"Does that mean we must have ex-officio status in the central executive committee (CEC) of Cosatu and in the central committee of the SACP? If it does not mean that, it means it only goes one way. We can't go there … it is a very selfish approach to engage with.

"Actually it is dangerous to them because we can say 'bring 20 [representatives]' and they get assimilated and basically co-opted and will keep quiet forever. We cannot encourage a situation where the federation takes half or a third of its CEC into the NEC of the ANC. Every time it raises an issue we will say, 'You have 10 people in the NEC of the ANC. What is your problem?'"

He pointed to the decision by Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi to decline a nomination to the NEC. "What has changed between December and now?"

The issue will not be discussed in the upcoming NEC meeting, which kicks off on March 14, he said.

Mantashe encouraged Cosatu to raise issues in the alliance if it wants to exert influence. "They will never sway 86 [NEC members] because they are six. Even if they stand on top of tables they will never do that. They have a better chance of influencing the ANC as a vibrant, independent labour movement."

He described the move by Cosatu's leaders to encourage the federation's provincial structures to identify and compile lists of leaders who should be in the ANC and future government leadership positions as "disrespectful, unprincipled and opportunistic".

"It is a terrible thing. If we want to mess them up, we will do the same thing when they go to their conference. Because they release a list they create an environment that says we should owe them something because they influenced our election. It is short-sighted actually. It's self-serving and defeatist in the sense that it gives them short-term satisfaction. That is very dangerous."

Mantashe said Cosatu should not expect rewards from the ANC for its support.

"You create the perception that you created kings and princes and therefore in return you want to be rewarded. It is the most dangerous thing. It is actually bordering on an ultra-left approach to politics that implies [they] will just come in and take over. It doesn't work in real life," he said.

He also dashed any hopes that Cosatu and the SACP might be able to convince the ANC to nationalise large companies such as Sasol and Mittal Steel.

"The ANC says we can have a state-owned mining company and state-owned bank. It does not say we should nationalise FNB or Anglo Platinum or Sasol. The resolution [taken at the Polokwane conference] is informed by the desire of the ANC to have more resources to enable its programmes to address the issue of poverty. When we do that the consideration will not be immediate satisfaction, joy and sensation about nationalising Sasol."

Mantashe also made it clear that the ANC will continue to support inflation-targeting and budget surpluses, the two key issues that irk Cosatu and the SACP.

"If you have a combination of a current account and budget deficit, the economy will face a disaster. If you look at the small surplus in the budget in isolation then you can get excited and say it's a bad thing. But if you locate it in the overall performance of the economy, you see that deficit is actually growing at an accelerated pace. You see that this is nothing, actually. We will wipe it out in no time.

"On inflation targeting, I think both Zweli [Vavi] and [SACP general secretary] Blade [Nzimande] came back and said, 'We are not fighting inflation-targeting, we just think the rate is too low.' [They] are not saying [they] hate inflation-targeting and will commit suicide [because of it]. They said … it is too narrow, it is too low, which is a debate we can entertain."

Mantashe appeared not to have any problem with suggestions about the flexibility of the labour-market because it has already reconfigured itself. He said the labour movement would have to accept the changes in the labour market and look at how best it can organise vulnerable workers.

Will the real Gwede please stand up?

Mantashe insists that there is no contradiction in playing dual roles. Members of the SACP have complained that he has become less visible and has devoted less time to the party since his election to the ANC NEC. They have raised concerns that the dual roles are not sustainable in the long term.

Mantashe said he will attend the crucial tripartite alliance summit in April as ANC secretary general. "If I am there as the ANC secretary general, I will articulate the policy of the ANC to the letter."

Asked if there is any purpose in his remaining chairperson of the SACP, he dismissed the question as unfair. "It is a question that should be put to the party itself. Do they think I add value? I was at the central committee of the party the other weekend. They can decide whether I add value or if I just sit there as a member of the ANC in the party.

"I was in the central committee of the party, I was the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers and Cosatu, in a way. And I was a councillor of the ANC. The most important thing is the discipline -- of being loyal to decisions that you make in structures.

"If there is a view in the ANC and a decision is made, I can't go out there and have a second bite. I must be loyal to the decision. If I go to the central committee of the party and a decision that I don't like gets made there, I must be loyal to that decision. It is not my decision, it is a structural decision."

SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka confirmed the party was "comfortable" with Mantashe in both positions.

"The ANC is a multiclass organisation. They will not accept everything the SACP says. We will not achieve [our goals] through Gwede. We will look to the other 15 communists that serve on the NEC to campaign."


Sexwale tells Mbeki to come clean on arms deal

Sapa and Staff Reporter
Johannesburg, South Africa
16 March 2008 10:11

Business magnate and senior African National Congress leader Tokyo Sexwale has called on President Thabo Mbeki to explain his involvement in the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal, the Sunday Times reported.

Sexwale made an impassioned plea to a hushed ANC national executive committee (NEC) meeting on Friday for Mbeki "to take the ANC into his confidence".

Meanwhile, confidential documents obtained by the Mail & Guardian reveal that arms giant ThyssenKrupp desperately lobbied the government in an attempt to head off a German probe into the arms deal.

The dossier shows that a lawyer for Sven Moeller, a local Thyssen representative, has written repeatedly to Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Brigitte Mabandla and the department's Director General Menzi Simelane to try to prevent the seizure of documents and the interrogation of witnesses in South Africa.

The German prosecuting authorities are probing claims that the company bribed South African officials and politicians to land a contract for warships for the South African Navy, and have formally asked the South African government for assistance. Moeller is a suspect.

So far, the South Africans have not acceded to the Germans’ request.

The “Mabandla dossier” sheds new light on dealings with the ANC during the arms deal bidding process and raises new questions about Mbeki’s role.

The dossier reveals that that Tony Georgiadis, Thyssen’s South African lobbyist during the bid process, paid R500 000 into ANC coffers, as previously alleged by Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille. The ANC has previously claimed to know nothing about this “donation”.

The dossier also reveals that Georgiadis also paid R500 000 each to the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Gra├ža Machel’s development charity in Mozambique and that British police recently raided the London business premises of Georgiadis, who reportedly had Mbeki’s ear at the time of the arms deal negotiations.

The dossier further alleges that Thyssen paid $22-million to a Georgiadis company, Mallar, following the conclusion of the warship deal in 2000.

German prosecutors allege Mallar was used to channel “at least the major part [of the $22-million] to South African officials and Cabinet ministers”. Georgiadis has denied this allegation.

In a clear warning to Mabandla of the German probe’s dangerous implications, the dossier includes a letter from a rogue South African businessman, Nick Achterberg, alleging Thyssen had paid more than R100-million to Mbeki in a Swiss bank account.

However, Achterberg’s letter makes it clear that the claim is hearsay; Thyssen’s lawyers have dismissed it as “fanciful and ridiculous”.

The Moeller letters to Mabandla claim that the German investigation was initiated as a result of Achterberg’s allegations.

The NEC meeting began on Friday in Johannesburg and is expected to finish its business on Monday.

Mbeki did not attend the meeting, although he has the right to attend as an ex-officio member.

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