South African, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan declined on Thursday to say whether he was confident of the ruling party’s support, less than a week before he appears in court to answer fraud charges in a saga that has rocked the government.
Speaking a day after presenting his mid-term budget to parliament, Gordhan said he had tried not to let his Nov. 2 court case distract him while outlining measures to help kick-start an economy that he forecast would barely grow this year.
Gordhan is accused of fraudulently approving, in a previous post as head of the revenue service, early retirement for a deputy tax commissioner and re-hiring him as a consultant, costing the tax agency 1.1 million rand ($79,000).
He has denied any wrongdoing, saying the case is politically motivated, a sentiment echoed by opposition parties, business leaders and some senior African National Congress (ANC) party figures. The state prosecutor has rejected allegations of political interference.
Asked during a post-budget breakfast meeting whether he was still confident he had political backing, Gordhan said: “I’m not trying to duck, but I’m not going to answer it.”
The ructions in government have weakened the rand and bonds in an economy struggling to create jobs. Some analysts say President Jacob Zuma’s allies are driving the investigation in a bid to oust Gordhan, something the president denied.
“He (Gordhan) is well aware that while he does have some support inside the ANC, the faction that’s supporting him is not winning,” NKC Africa Economics analyst Gary van Staden said.
“If you’re asked if you have support and you say I’m not answering that question, obviously he thinks he doesn’t.”
The African National Congress (ANC) lost its grip on local government in Tshwane, home of South Africa’s capital Pretoria, as results on Saturday gave the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) a second big win in the ANC’s worst election since the end of apartheid.
As final votes were counted, the ANC was leading in economic powerhouse Johannesburg by a slim margin, but as well as defeat. In Tshwane it lost Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes manufacturing hub Port Elizabeth, to the DA.
Of the 9201 council seats in contention, the African National Congress (ANC) has won 5108 eight seats so far, while the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has won 1702 so far.
Meanwhile as President Jacob Zuma thanked the nation for the robust election process on live television and ‘impromptu’ anti-rape protest was staged right in front of him, by a group of women who made reference to President Zuma’s rape accuser ‘Kwezi’, whose rape accusations were quashed in 2006.
This has set the nation abuzz, beyond the elections.
Channels Television’s South African Bureau Chief, Betty Dibiah reports that both parties still need coalition partners in some areas where they do not have outright majority to control a council.
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) failed to take control of President Jacob Zuma’s hometown of Nkandla, local election results showed on Thursday, a symbolic blow to the scandal-tinged Zuma.
Zuma survived an impeachment vote in April after the Constitutional Court said he breached the law by ignoring an order to repay some of the $16 million in state funds spent on renovating his private home in Nkandla, located in a poverty-stricken rural area of Kwa-Zulu Natal province.
“Nkandla” has become a household word in South Africa that is almost synonymous with graft.
The loss, in local polls that are the sternest test the ANC has faced since the end of apartheid in 1994, will also smart because it was at the hands of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a Zulu nationalist party, which widened its tally in the area to 54 percent from 46 percent in 2011.
The ruling party garnered 44 percent.
Zuma, a traditional Zulu with four wives and an earthy style, has helped deliver the Zulu vote in the province for the ANC in elections, and cast his own vote in the area on Wednesday.
But the IFP, which mostly appeals to Zulus, had almost 5 percent of the national vote with most of the tally completed compared to 3.6 percent in the last local elections in 2011.
Nelson Mandela’s body was flown on Saturday (December 14) to South Africa’s Eastern Cape region in preparation for a state funeral scheduled for Sunday (December 15) in his ancestral village.
Mourners lined up along the streets of Mthatha to welcome and pay tribute to the late former South African president when his body passed through on its way to Qunu.
Outside the airport, there was heavy security with armoured vehicles taking position and South African Defence Force soldiers patrolling the area.
Earlier on Saturday the ruling African National Congress (ANC) held a ceremony honouring the anti-apartheid hero.
In a farewell ceremony attended by South African President and ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe and former president, Thabo Mbeki, Mandela’s coffin, draped in the green and yellow ANC flag, was loaded onto a C-130 plane before departing to his final destination.
South African President, Jacob Zuma said: “Tomorrow we’ll be saying a final goodbye. We’d like to say to Madiba, go well, Tata, you have played your part, you have made your contribution. We’ll always remember you, we’ll always keep you in our hearts, we’ll always learn from your lessons,”
Mandela’s grandson, Ndaba, while thanking the ANC said: “Without the ANC providing a platform for our grandfather, we would not have known Nelson Mandela. Without the African National Congress, we would have never had the support or the protection to fight the apartheid regime, and therefore would like to thank you. We would also like to thank the MK veterans, as well as the ex-political prisoners for their dedication and their relentless support of our grandfather during the apartheid times.”
The ANC send-off came after nine days of intense and emotion-charged mourning and memorial activities held in Johannesburg and Pretoria which featured three days of lying in state at the Union Buildings in Pretoria from Wednesday (December 11) to Friday (December 13) in which more than 100,000 people queued for hours to say a last personal goodbye to the nation’s first black president.
South Africa suspended a senior foreign ministry official on Thursday after a charter plane carrying nearly 200 guests for the wedding of a family with close ties to President Jacob Zuma used an Air Force base without proper military permission.
The scandal over Tuesday’s flight from India to the Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria has dominated South African media, with newspapers and radio phone-in callers accusing the wealthy Gupta family of influence peddling.
The defense ministry said it had rejected a request from the Guptas to use the base but the Indian High Commission in Pretoria then went behind its back and sought authorization from the Chief of State Protocol at the foreign ministry.
“The clearance should be rescinded and that aircraft should immediately be removed,” it said in a statement.
The foreign ministry said its protocol chief, Bruce Koloane, had been suspended to “allow the department to get to the bottom of this matter”, adding that no “executive authority” was granted for a civilian aircraft to land at the base.
Foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela confirmed that the flight carried some Indian state ministers arriving for the wedding.
The business empire of Gupta brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh covers mining, resources, aviation and technology. Two of Zuma’s children have served as directors of Gupta firms, according to South Africa’s companies database, and the family is a major financial backer of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The Times newspaper labeled the scandal “Guptagate”, but the New Age newspaper – owned by the Gupta family – covered the incident under the headline: “Media ‘wrong’ on jet-set wedding”.
The ANC also called for an explanation as to how the aircraft managed to land at the base, saying it would never allow “a situation where our ports of entry and national key points are penetrated with impunity”.
Officials at the Indian High Commission in Pretoria were not available to comment. Koloane did not answer his mobile phone.
The National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, said on Tuesday that the party would collaborate with African National Congress (ANC) of South Africa to tackle continental and global challenges.
Tukur said this when he led a delegation of the ANC to a meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Addressing State House Correspondents after the closed-door meeting, Tukur said the two parties would synergise to better the lot of the citizens of both countries and Africa in general.
“ANC is a grassroots party like PDP; so we have so many things in common, because our party is well-grounded; we start from home, we go to ward, local government, to state, to region, and to the centre.
“It is all-involving; it is all-inclusive; and that is what also makes ANC to be acceptable to their own leadership. Likewise, PDP is the biggest and strongest here. We want to see the synergy between us (PDP and ANC); we want to support what is happening, to create employment, fulfill needs in terms of what our manifesto encouraged; education, health, agriculture and so on.”
Tukur said the PDP was concerned about the growing insecurity in the country and was doing all things within the limit allowed for a political party to address the problems.
“We are very concerned about growing insecurity, but political parties are not security organisations. Whatever happens concerns us; so, right from the ward level, the home and we are not happy.
“So security organisations who are there to primarily protect, am sure are doing what they are supposed to do. Ours is to ensure that our members are sensitised to be security-conscious.
“We are also encouraging them to give useful information that can help bring these miscreants to book.’’
Treasurer General of ANC, Mr. Mathews Phosa, who led the South Africans, said the purpose of their visit was to further strengthen the relationship between the ANC and the PDP.
“Nigeria and South Africa are very important African countries although there are others too; but the two countries united together will make a serious contribution towards certain direction of the continent
“It is important that we continue to encourage the relationship between the ANC and the PDP. It does not start today, it was there before and we are just building on an existing structure.
“The important issues in the world require that we collaborate at the political level so that we can be focus, advise one another in the AU in the UN and any other bodies over the continent.
“We have challenges in the continent, which we need to confront together; so, the PDP and ANC want to work together and we are here to strengthen the relationship.’’
Phosa maintained that internal misunderstandings within a political party were usual and had the capacity to deepen democracy, if properly resolved.