Daily Archives: March 23, 2014

Martha Mahlangu laid to rest

Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma on Saturday joined the family and friends of Martha Mahlangu in a moving funeral ceremony in Memelodi West to bid farewell to the heroine who played an important role in the liberation struggle of the country.

Mama Mahlangu, as she was affectionately known by many, was granted a provincial official funeral, which saw ministers and political leaders, including Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, rally around bereaved family members in a show of support and solidarity.

Mahlangu was the mother of freedom fighter Solomon Mahlangu, who was executed by the apartheid regime after being wrongfully accused on charges of murder and terrorism.

President Zuma paid tribute to Mahlangu, who he described as “a pillar of strength, not only to her family but also to society in general”.

“We have lost a great patriot and a resilient mother, who will be remembered for her humility, dignity and her commitment to building the South Africa that her son died fighting to achieve.

“As we pay tribute to this selfless patriot, we also remember all parents who went through similar pain, whose children were brutally murdered by the apartheid regime in its desperate attempts to stop the dawn of freedom,” said the President.

Mahlangu, who passed away at Steve Biko Hospital on March 12, was a special guest of the President at the State of the Nation Address in Parliament last month.

On 14 March, the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund, with a seed capital of R20 million, was launched.

Mahlangu’s old house in Mamelodi will now be converted into a museum.

“The museum, together with the Solomon Mahlangu Square and Solomon Mahlangu highways, will stand as constant reminders of the legacy of freedom that Mama Mahlangu and her son Solomon left for us,” President Zuma said.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS

South Africa and Saudi Arabia expressed their satisfaction on the significant growth of trade between the two countries

South Africa and Saudi Arabia have expressed their satisfaction on the significant growth of trade between the two countries and agreed to utilise all means to enhance further growth.

This was agreed on at the fifth session of the South Africa-Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission (JEC), held from 18 to 20 March 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. The Minister of Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies and his Saudi counterpart, Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, co-chaired the JEC.

Minister Davies said that total trade between South Africa and Saudi Arabia has more than doubled from R29.7billion in 2009 to R80.1 billion in 2013. He stated that this is an increase of 17.62% on the total trade of R 68.1 billion recorded in 2012.

The fourth session of the South Africa-Saudi Arabia JEC that was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2012 resolved to increase total trade between the two countries to a targeted 60 billion rand within the next five years. According to him, our trade deficit with Saudi grew to R74.8 billion in 2013 from R 62.2 billion in 2012 and stated that South Africa is keen to strike a more balanced trade between the two countries

“We have expressed our desire to collaborate with the Saudi side in the promotion of investments between the two countries. This can be done through the exchange of company visits. To this end, the South African side will make available its top 10 investment projects to its Saudi counterparts. We also invited the Saudi side to arrange a technical visit of Saudi investors to South Africa to attend the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM),” said Minister Davies.

He added that the two countries have agreed in finalising negotiations of the proposed agreement on cooperation in the fields of agriculture, livestock and fisheries.

“In this regards, we have proposed to have one umbrella agreement, which will be submitted through diplomatic channels. With regard to cooperation between Onderstepoort Biological Products and Agricultural Research Council in South Africa and the Centre for Veterinary Vaccines Production in the Kingdom, the details of such collaboration will be exchanged through diplomatic channels,” he stated.

Minister Davies highlighted that the Joint Economic Commission (JEC), also resolved to promote and develop aspects of cooperation in the fields of oil, gas and minerals through participation in conferences and specialised seminars held in both countries.

“This will be achieved through the exchange of meetings between oil and mining companies in both countries and holding bilateral meetings to discuss joint investment opportunities and possible areas of cooperation. The JEC agreed to increase aspects of cooperation in the field of mineral resources, mineral beneficiation, and exchange of expertise for professionals in the field of mining in both countries. Such exchanges would involve learning about mining investment systems, training of professionals, capacity building in the field of information technology related data bases, exchange of information, research and development cooperation in the mining sector, he indicated.

The JEC was preceded by the South Africa-Saudi Arabia Business Forum, that attended by business people from both countries. The Forum mandated the South Africa–Saudi Arabia Business Council to identify complementary projects they will collaborate on.

The Joint Economic Commission (JEC) is an initiative agreed upon between the two countries in order to strengthen economic ties, to attract foreign direct investment from Saudi Arabia into South Africa in targeted sectors and to promote sound business-to-business cooperation.

In January this year, Saudi Arabia overtook Germany to become South Africa’s second largest source of imports, with China being the biggest.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS

Economic Development Department Deputy Minister’s outreach on economic opportunities

Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize and Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Mcebisi Jonas will on Monday, 24 March 2014 attend the Border Industry and the Non-Auto Industry round table discussion on the manufacturing industry in the Border region in the Eastern Cape province. The theme of the Roundtable is, “Community Outreach on Economic Opportunities”.

Deputy Minister Mkhize and MEC Jonas will also visit the Dimbaza Estate as well companies within the Wilsonia industrial area in East London. The purpose of the visit is to assess progress made in supporting small and medium enterprises in the area, but also to take note of some of the concerns toward strengthening existing interventions where appropriate.

SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS

Zimbabwe: Investment Deals – Zimbabwe Loses Out

EMERGING nations are taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s poor relations with Western countries to negotiate economic deals involving billions of dollars, a local advocacy group has said.

In its latest report, the Centre for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG) said the Brics nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China –were taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s standoff with Western nations to negotiate deals that prejudice the country of billions of dollars.

It was noted that four of the five countries that make up Brics have more than doubled their activities in Zimbabwe’s extractive sector.

In October last year, government launched its economic blueprint for the next five years, the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim Asset), focusing on funding from the Brics.

However, the paper said Brics investments in Zimbabwe over the past decade have often been highly controversial and of little consequence to employment creation and revenue generation.

Brics nations make up Zimbabwe’s top three investors, with China leading with investments of US$374,8 million approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority in 2013, Russia with approvals worth US$40,1 million and South Africa (US$39 million).

Brazil currently has no publicly known investments in Zimbabwe’s mining sector. However, Brazilian mining company Vale has a large coal project in the Tete province of Mozambique.

A number of Russian companies operate in Zimbabwe. One company, DTZ-OZGEO (Private) Limited is jointly owned by the Development Trust of Zimbabwe (DTZ) and a Russian company, Econedra Limited.

This company is involved in gold mining in Penhalonga and diamond mining in Chimanimani besides holding several claims in places such as Shurugwi and Vumba.

CNRG said the world’s biggest diamond producer, Alrosa, which produced 26% of the world’s diamonds in 2012, is seeking a joint venture partner to carry out geological explorations in Marange.

Russian firms Rostec and Vneshekonombank were part of a consortium that bought a 40% stake in a project to develop one of the world’s largest platinum fields in Zimbabwe.

They will invest in Ruschrome Mining, a Russian-African joint venture licensed to mine the field.

The Darwendale platinum deposit holds 19 tonnes in proven reserves and 775 total tonnes of metals including palladium, gold, nickel and copper.

Ruschrome is partly owned by the Zimbabwean government and the Center of Business Cooperation with Foreign Countries, an association of machinery and defence firms that will retain a 10% stake in the project.

Ruschrome is currently setting up a pilot open pit platinum mine in Darwendale.

However, CNRG noted that DTZ- OZGEO has performed poorly in terms of transparency, environmental management and corporate social responsibility.

President Robert Mugabe expressed disappointment with the secretive nature of DTZ-OZGEO operations during the Zanu PF People’s Conference held in Mutare in December 2010 and during a meeting with traditional chiefs in Manicaland in 2011.

Turning to India’s investments in Zimbabwe’s mining sector, CNRG said these have often been equally controversial.

Essar, an Indian global company, emerged as the preferred bidder for Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) in 2011 after an international tender had been issued by government.

It set up NewZim Steel, to revive the steel-making capacity at the currently non-functional Zisco plant and New Zim Minerals, which would explore beneficiation of iron ore that is owned by Zisco Steel and create value so that the country becomes a world leader in beneficiated iron ore.

Two years on, operations have not started due to a myriad of challenges, chief of which is the dispute over rights to US$60 billion worth of iron ore reserves in Chivhu.

During the negotiations for the Zisco deal, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce, then under MDC’s Welshman Ncube, agreed to a deal that gave Essar 90% of Zimbabwe’s iron ore reserves, thought to be the largest in the world, for just US$750 million dollars.

The Ministry of Mines and Mining Development refused to transfer the mining rights to Essar, demanding a revision of the deal first.

“Essar’s intention to export iron ore which would earn the company billions of dollars for just US$750 million is exploitative and clearly shows the deal is a bad one for Zimbabwe. There are fears money could have changed hands for Zimbabwe to accept such a terrible deal,” CNRG said.

The centre noted that South African investments to the Zimbabwean economy remain questionable. South African companies operating locally export raw chrome to South Africa where it greatly appreciates in value through beneficiation.

‘China is the biggest investor in Zimbabwe’

Since 2000, China has been Zimbabwe’s biggest investor. The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) recently revealed that China emerges as a consistent top investor in Zimbabwe from 2010, with its investments contributing US$670 million from a total of US$930 million worth of projects approved last year.

By end of October, ZIA had approved US$374,8 million worth of investments, mainly in the areas of energy and mining.

China has also made inroads in Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector, taking up several farms acquired by government during the land reform programme.

They grow a variety of crops ranging from tobacco, wheat, sorghum to soya beans, the majority of which is exported to China.

“There is no evidence that China’s agricultural produce is contributing to food security in Zimbabwe. Maize, Zimbabwe’s staple food, is shunned by Chinese farmers,” the centre said.

China has become a major player in the country’s economy through their joint venture enterprises like Anjin Investments, involved in diamond mining ventures with the military at Chiadzwa, and Sino-Zimbabwe Holdings which previously had a concession in Marange as well.

Although Anjin has the largest diamond concession in Marange, it has been accused of not remitting to treasury.

Zimbabwe: Cuthbert Dube Finally Leaves PSMAS

CUTHBERT Dube’s stint as group chief executive officer of Premier Service Medical Aid Society (PSMAS) finally came to an end last month although he is challenging the move, The Standard heard yesterday.

After his retirement by the PSMAS board, Dube had continued to report for duty and occupying his office, sparking speculation over the goings-on at the institution.

Dube has been at the helm of PSMAS since 1992. He joined the group as internal auditor in 1986.

Cosmas Mukwesha, PSMAS group legal secretary and secretary to the dissolved board told The Standard that Dube had gone on a pre-retirement leave which ended on February 28.

“As far as the board is concerned he [Dube] effectively retired at the end of February,” he said.

Mukwesha said Dube and his lawyer Jonathan Samkange had a different interpretation of what was obtaining and wrote to PSMAS insisting that Dube was still the group chief executive officer.

“He has communicated to the board. I received that communication from the lawyer,” he said.

Dube is in the eye of a storm following revelations that he was earning over US$500 000 monthly in salary plus allowances at a time the society was failing to pay service providers.

This resulted in members being turned away from hospitals.

Samkange of Venturas and Samkange law firm insisted his client was still part of the executives at PSMAS.

“He is still there. He is the chief executive officer but on leave. PSMAS said he had accrued too many leave days and he had to take some,” Samkange said.

In January, PSMAS board announced that it was retiring Dube alongside board chairperson Meisie Makeletso Namasasu.

The remaining board later dissolved itself after it emerged that they had also benefitted from the gravy train with some pocketing nearly US$300 000 annually in sitting allowances.

While the former PSMAS board said Dube had been retired, the government insisted he had been fired after his abnormal salary got into the public domain.

Dube’s hefty salary together with those of parastatals such as ZBC drew the ire of ordinary people who felt that the executives were living large at a time the majority people in the country were finding it hard to put food on the table.

Last week Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced that cabinet had set the salary ceiling for chief executive officers of parastatals and public institutions including PSMAS at US$6 000.

But Dube’s lawyer, Samkange said PSMAS was a private limited company where government had no shareholding.

“The only interest government has in PSMAS is through the Public Service Commission where some of the subscribers are civil servants. End of story,” Samkange said.

“I know they won’t do that [cutting Dube’s salary].”

Samkange said Chinamasa must be honest and concentrate on the real issues where chief executive officers were bleeding loss-making parastatals by drawing fat salaries.

Samkange said Chinamasa could have been misled into believing that PSMAS was a parastatal.

Under Dube’s leadership, PSMAS was transformed from being a solely medical aid society for government employees to accommodate subscribers from the private sector.

Dube chaired the boards of hospitals and foreign units under PSMAS wings.