Daily Archives: March 16, 2014

Angola: Drought Affects Over 22.000 Peasants in Bocoio

22.915 peasants in Bocoio municipality in the central Benguela province are being affected by the drought that hit their crops in the first 2013/2014 agricultural campaign season.

Speaking to Angop on fiday, the technician of the Agrarian Development Institute in Bocoio (IDA), José Agostinho said that the head town of Bocoio and Passe commune include the localities most affected by the drought.

According to him, in the head town of Bocoio the drought affected 12.915 peasants, while in Passe commune the food crisis is affecting 10.000 families.

The crop of cereals in Bocoio municipality is estimated in the first agricultural season at 760 tons of maize, 356 of beans and 135 of peanuts.

Malawi: ‘Effiecient Energy Use to Reclaim Forest’

Government says efficient use of energy at household level can contribute greatly to the rehabilitation of the country’s diminishing forests and good health among people in the country.

Speaking at the close of the third annual Discover Open Day for Cleaner cook stoves in Lilongwe, on Friday, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Wilfred Masanjala, said programmes that promote natural resource development like the improved cook stoves were appropriate for the Nation.

“Energy for cooking makes up the bulk of the crucial household energy needs because most households rely on either firewood or charcoal for household use and due to that our forests are decreasing,” he said.

He said there was need for all households in Malawi to have efficient cooking technologies at their disposal

Masanjala stressed the need for government’s commitment to address the challenges that the country is facing in terms of energy.

“The cleaner cook stoves programme has raised the profile of women by easing their work in food preparation, they do not have to walk long distances to collect firewood and their health is better because they do not have to inhale a lot of smoke during food preparation,” Masanjala said.

He said it was the desire of President Dr. Joyce Banda to see that by 2020 about two million households in the country use improved cook stoves.

In January last year, Malawi committed as a national partner to the Global Alliance for Clean Cook stoves and established the National Cook stoves Task Force tosupport organisation throughout the country in scaling up access to improved cook stoves.

Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Dr. Yanira Mtupanyama, concurred with Masajnala that cleaner cooking stoves have the potential in helping to replenish the fast declining nature resources Malawi is losing due to deforestation.

“As a country, we are losing our natural resources due to rapid deforestation. We are slowly silting our Lake Malawi as a result of the heavy erosions that are taking place due to cutting down of trees, ” she said.

“Imagine a situation where we can lose our Lake Malawi, where Malawi’s pride and chief source of protein can be worn out, there is need for us to slow down and stop the waste that we are creating and one way of achieving this is using cleaner cooking stoves,” she added.

Village Headman of Pengapenga from T/A Makwangwala in Ntcheu district condemned the wanton cutting down of trees.

“Most people in my area have opted to using cleaner cook stoves in their households as a result bare land in my area is slowly turning into forest.

“I can tell you that out of the 18 villages under my authority, 100 percent of households in six villages use cleaner cook stoves, while the majority of the households in the other villages use these stoves, “she said.

She said the initiative has also created employment for people in her area.

Since 2012, DISCOVER has brought together stakeholders of cleaner cook stoves to learn, share experiences and enhance their knowledge of improved cooking technologies in an intensive three-day training session that is concluded with an open day.

Minister Chabane meets South Africans residing in Australia

Pretoria: Minister for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency, Collins Chabane, will on Wednesday interact with South Africans residing in Australia to discuss how South Africa has fared since the advent of democracy in 1994.

In a statement, Brand South Africa, which will host the discussions, said the interactions would give Minister Chabane a platform to talk about South Africa’s achievements over the past 20 years and to also explore ways in which South Africans in Australia can contribute to the country’s National Development Plan – despite where they reside.

Brand South Africa said the discussions would take place in Melbourne and Sydney.

“It is also important for South Africans to know that they can be part of South Africa’s growth and development despite where they may now reside.

“They are also invited to join 20 year commemorative events organised by the South African representatives in their countries of residence,” it said in a statement.


R100m allocated for damaged houses

Pretoria: Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane says the provincial government has set aside more than R100 million to assist Soshanguve residents who were affected by severe hailstorms late last year.

Speaking to media before meeting with the affected residents in the north of Pretoria, the Premier said the funds, aimed a repairing damaged houses, windows and asbestos roofs, was targeted at those residents who were mostly poor and dependent on grants to sustain themselves.

She said those who had been left highly exposed due to the storms would be prioritised.

The Tshwane Metro Municipality declared a state of disaster in Soshanguve and Mamelodi in December last year after severe storms caused extreme damage to homes and left residents stranded. At the time, the damage was estimated at R100 million.

On Sunday, the Premier said a team had been set up to work with the City of Tshwane to replace the asbestos roofing at the houses.

“After the heavy thunderstorms that engulfed the province late last year, various municipalities had to put their heads together and do an assessment as to what exactly has happened in the province.

“One can safely say that City of Tshwane, like all municipalities, did an audit and we now know that we have got more than 40 000 houses that were affected here in the City of Tshwane that required intervention,” she said.

She said most homes were owned by indigent child-headed families.

The project, which will be administered by the province’s Human Settlements Department, will consist of two phases.

“We will start first with those that are highly exposed, then in the long run, we want to remove [all asbestos roofing] in the province because it is a health hazard. There is already a decision that has been taken in the courts in 2010 that it not healthy to provide roofing through asbestos,” she said.

The Premier said a service provider had already been identified to start work on the project, which is expected to begin on Monday.

She could not pre-empt how long it would take for the project to be concluded.

Premier Mokonyane also addressed hundreds of residents who had gathered at a marquee in Soshanguve Block H.

She said government would work hard to ensure that citizens are well looked after, especially at times where they find themselves stranded due to unforeseen circumstances.


Minister Joemat-Pettersson takes report on legal review

Pretoria: Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson says she has approached the North Gauteng High Court to ask that the Public Protector’s findings into a multi-million fishing vessel tender be reviewed.

Briefing journalists in Parliament in Cape Town on Sunday, the minister said she had sought legal advice following the release of the Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report entitled “Docked Vessels” and had been told that Madonsela’s findings against her were not factually accurate, and that in most cases, no evidence was provided to substantiate the findings.

She said while she will always respect the work and findings of Chapter 9 institutions, she found that Madonsela’s findings were premature, and that matters raised in the report could have been responded to and resolved through an engagement between Madonsela and herself.

“Since the release of the report on 4 December, I have had time to study its contents and I sought the opinion of two senior counsels.

“On 14 January my Director General engaged the Public Protector indicating that the department held a different view to that of the Public Protector on the four allegations made against the minister.

“In response to the letter of the Director General, the Public Protector wrote to the minister stating that her investigation was concluded and the recommendations are final. The Public Protector further advised that if I wished to challenge the findings, I should engage the President or subject the report to legal review. I am thus following the advice of the Public Protector by taking the report on legal review,” she said.

The minister’s announcement comes after Madonsela released the findings of her investigation into the handling of the tender process for the crewing and maintenance of South Africa’s fleet of fishing patrol vessels, which is worth about R800 million a year.

Releasing her report last December, Madonsela found that the awarding of the tender was improper as it did not comply with the department’s supply-chain management requirements.

In 2011, when the incumbent, Smit Amandla Marine, was close to expiring, a new tender bidding process started, but Smit Amandla complained that its tender documents had been leaked to its rival, Sekunjalo Marine Services Consortium (SMSC).

The department had awarded the contract to SMSC, but then withdrew it and notified Smit Amandla to hand over the crewing and maintenance of the fleet of six patrol and survey vessels to the South African Navy. Smit Amandla was given a month to do so.

Minister Joematt-Pettersson said that two days before Smit Amandla’s contract was due to expire, the Public Protector requested her to defer the termination of the contract and to extend it by three months and to defer the “planned abrupt handover” of the services to the SA Navy.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson rejected Madonsela’s request, and Madonsela found the minister’s rejection of this request to be “imprudent and led to fruitless and wasteful expenditure”.

“Hence the Public Protector proposes remedial action by the President, namely, that that the President should “consider taking disciplinary action against the Minister for her reckless dealing with state money and services resulting in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, loss of confidence in the fisheries industry in South Africa and the alleged decimation of fisheries resources and delayed quota allocations due to lack of appropriate research”.”

Minister Joemat-Pettersson said the Public Protector had first claimed there was wasteful and fruitless expenditure. “The Public Protector provides no evidence for this. Instead the report (in 11.1.1) acknowledges and commends the department for having revoked the tender before work started hence no payments were ever made.

“More importantly, the Auditor General of South Africa (AG), who is the relevant and competent authority to express an opinion on fruitless and wasteful expenditure, expressed an unqualified audit opinion on the department’s financial information for the period in question, confirming there was no fruitless or wasteful expenditure,” explained the minister.

She said there was no obligation on her department to grant Smit Amandla the three-month handover extension, in light of the fact that her department had given the company four months’ notice.

The extension, the minister said, would have been irregular as it would have required certain procurement processes to be followed prior to it being granted.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson said Madonsela’s body of investigation did not correlate to the summary of the findings that were made against her.

“The reason for disciplinary action was that there had been a “loss of confidence in the fishing industry in South Africa”. There is no evidence for this statement in the investigation or the body of the report. As far as we know there was no scientific study or survey done to test this issue and one can only assume that it is a perception,” she said.

The minister also said the reason that Madonsela gave for recommending to the President to take disciplinary action against her pertains to the claim that she was responsible for “delayed quota allocations”.

“This statement was made on 4th December 2013 and the quotas were only due for renewal on 31st December 2013. The finding was premature and has now been proven factually incorrect, since quota allocations were allocated on time.”

Minister Joemat-Pettersson said she would therefore be asking the North Gauteng High Court to declare that the report, including the findings and recommendations, are reviewed, corrected, and/or set aside.