Daily Archives: March 4, 2018

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias to meet with the new Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides (Foreign Ministry, 5 March 2018)

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Kotzias, will meet with the new Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Christodoulides, at 11:30 on Monday, 5 March.

Following their one-on-one meeting and the expanded talks between the two delegations, at about 13:00, the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs will make statements to the press. A working luncheon will follow.

On the evening of the same day, Mr. Christodoulides will address a closed event at the Foreign Ministry’s Kranidiotis Amphitheatre.

On 6 March, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus will be received by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, and immediately afterwards he will meet with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Mr. Kotzias and Mr. Christodoulides will then address a workshop at the University of Piraeus.

On the afternoon of 6 March, the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs will attend a session of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on National Defense and Foreign Affairs.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic

SOUTH AFRICA: RAMAPHOSA’S HEADACHES-ANALYSIS

JOHANNESBURG–As President Cyril Ramaphosa faces a backlash over his new Cabinet and Parliament’s resolution on land expropriation, he and new Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene now have a new crisis to deal with.

In the past three months, Treasury was forced to block state-owned entities and government departments from blowing R15bn on irregular purchases.

The companies and departments have continued wanting to spend money Treasury cannot afford because of an R50bn shortfall in the budget.

The largest culprits, a City Press investigation found this week, are state companies SAA, Armscor and Eskom which now fall under new Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. They account for more than 90% of all spend Treasury blocked for flouting tender and procurement laws.

Treasury documents City Press obtained indicate that in the past three months, Treasury has stopped:

– SAA from sourcing R13bn in loans to spend on consultants to provide cultural change services, organisational design and recruiting foreign airline turnaround specialists;

– Armscor from spending R330m on direct procurement to refit the navy frigate Isandlwana;

– The SABC from buying three outside broadcast trailers for R12m without a tender;

– The SA Post Office from spending R67m on manufacturing bank cards, without a tender;

– More than five requests from Eskom totalling about R500m � including R136m on a security tender extension, R127m for a technical supplier contract extension, R85m on a printing tender extension and R43m on a catering contract extension; and

– The environmental affairs department from directly procuring R120m on goods and services without going to tender.

Senior Treasury officials told City Press that all they could do was refuse, but it did not mean the state companies and departments abided by their decision.

In some cases government departments go ahead and deviate [from the rules], said one.

Former finance minister Malusi Gigaba warned of this in his budget speech two weeks ago, when he said a large number of deviations from normal procurement processes have reduced the credibility of the supply chain management system.

Deviations can also result in anticompetitive practices that open the door to corruption and which limit transformation by preventing small businesses from doing business with the state. In future deviations will be allowed only in rare, well-justified cases, he said, adding that Treasury would strengthen collaboration with all law enforcement agencies to fight fraud, corruption and abuse of supply chain management systems.

Two senior Treasury sources said officials at the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer declined numerous requests to deviate from tender laws and extend existing contracts, all of which amount to irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

They said some officials in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and departments demand kickbacks from companies after securing Treasury permission to extend or award contracts without their having to tender first.

Very few companies are able to resist this. Some of these tenders are massive and the kickbacks run into millions, said one.

The other said: When it comes to extensions, government departments and companies will wait until it is too late to advertise a tender. They will then go to Treasury and ask for the current contract to be extended.

Often they will find fault in the procurement process, cancel it and advertise again. In the meantime, they approach Treasury and request another extension. This means that the contract will be extended several times and, while the process unfolds, money bags and brown envelopes are exchanging hands.

SA Shipyards CEO Prasheen Maharaj, for whose company Armscor applied for a R330m tender deviation, had no idea that a deviation was requested in his company’s favour. We wish to confirm that SA Shipyards has never received any tender recently or ever from Armscor or any other state entity through a process of deviation, he said.

Deloitte, for which Eskom asked Treasury for a R22m deviation to supply IT services, was also not aware of the request. Deloitte is not aware that Eskom was about to award a tender to it, said CEO Lwazi Bam.

Although Ramaphosa was forced to retain a number of controversial Cabinet ministers in Monday’s reshuffle, most ministers implicated in state capture � including Lynne Brown, Mosebenzi Zwane and Des van Rooyen � were removed.

He came under fire for retaining others implicated in wrongdoing in the interests of ANC unity, including Malusi Gigaba, Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini. They might be headed for the exit.

Other changes include a plan for arts and culture to be merged again with sports as it was previously, said one insider. The department of small business was also likely to be dissolved and allocated a director-general in the trade and industry department, which would mean that Minister Lindiwe Zulu is a candidate among those headed for a full-time post in Luthuli House, said another.

City Press has learnt that more ministers will be axed in 2019 and deployed to Luthuli House in line with the ANC’s Nasrec national conference resolutions that include that fewer national executive committee (NEC) members serve as ministers.

City Press understands that most ministers who are members of the ANC’s powerful NEC could be sent to Luthuli House full time to manage the party’s operations.

The Nasrec conference also resolved that the post of head of the ANC political school should be full time, which would affect current Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

ANC head of presidency Zizi Kodwa said Monday’s Cabinet reshuffle was not about compromises but continuity and change designed not to disrupt the entire operation of government.

Kodwa said senior party leaders such as Bathabile Dlamini, who is also president of the ANC Women’s League, could not easily be dispensed with because whatever mistakes they have made in one department, it does not disqualify them particularly as the president of the women’s league.

A pending Auditor-General report is expected to nail new Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane for the dire financial state of her former department of water affairs and sanitation.

And, although Gigaba’s name was not mentioned in the former public protector’s State of Capture report, he is expected to be implicated as the judicial inquiry into state capture takes off.

One lobbyist said: Cyril did not have to remove some of them because the processes that are unfolding will determine their fate.

Ramaphosa’s aides say that although there is a positive public sentiment around the new president, the same was not true in his party and the ANC can still split.

Remember the people who messed up were people close to [former president Jacob] Zuma and that is a fact. But you cannot remove them all because then it is a purge. So at least you deal with the Gupta ones as a start, he said.

Another lobbyist said that while he drummed up the unity message, Ramaphosa was keenly aware of growing power contests, saying: We are in a fierce fight and everyone has their man closely marked.

Monday’s reshuffle announcement was delayed from 8.30pm to 10 pm because of delayed meetings.

Ramaphosa first met ANC officials about the reshuffle at 8 am � his first and only meeting with them on the subject, said insiders. Another meeting with alliance partners the SA Communist Party, union federation Cosatu and the SA National Civic Organisation was supposed to start at 5 pm but started two hours late because one of the alliance leaders was on a flight and the meeting could not start without him.

A further delay was caused when Ramaphosa could not get hold of one of the ministers getting the boot, who was also on a flight.

Ramaphosa also has to deal with the storm resulting from Parliament’s passing of a motion to amend section 25 of the Constitution on property rights.

Ramaphosa said there was nothing to panic about and there would be no smash-and-grab of land in our country.

That we will not allow. There is no need for anyone to panic and beat the drums of war, he said this week, adding that the issue would be solved without any problems.

The ANC has also moved to allay fears over its effect on the economy and food security.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said: There should not be any upheaval or worry from the international community … we have implemented major decisions without creating any kind of upheaval. This followed the lobbying of some in the international community to intervene to avoid a repeat of the Zimbabwe land-grab crisis.

SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana said he approached Treasury to request the deviations because the airline was in a dire financial situation.

At the heart of it all were liquidity issues. We understood why Treasury said no, we just wanted to be pragmatic.

When Treasury said no, we went the long route. But the board was anxious to get things done, he said.

But a senior manager at Treasury said Jarana’s requests had no substance.

In any case, we told him what his procurement department had been telling him all along, to allow procurement processes to be followed to the letter.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said it could not appoint Deloitte because Treasury blocked the appointment.

Environmental affairs department spokesperson Albi Modise said the request to Treasury to appoint a service provider directly was informed by the agency’s internal capacity and specialist staff.

Armscor and SABC were unavailable for comment.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICA: POLICE URGED TO USE THEIR WEAPONS WHEN UNDER ATTACK BY CRIMINALS

BISHO, S.Africa–The Deputy national police commissioner for crime detection Lt-Gen Lebeoana Jacob Tsumane on Saturday urged police to use their weapons � the tools of their trade � when they come under attack by criminals.

Tsumane was speaking at the funeral of Constable Kuhle Mateta in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, who was one of five police officers shot dead by a criminal gang at Ngcobo police station on February 21.

Tsumane called on police officers to confront criminals gangs and reclaim the integrity of the state. Let us rise against these headless criminals, let us reclaim our authority of the state. We shall use the tools of [our] trade to destroy gangs and syndicates, criminals, and potential criminals masquerading as angels, prophets, and instruments of God.

Instruments of God and angels of God bring peace and never shed blood. They will never turn against their own protectors and thus we are ready to fight this fight, he said.

Police officers should use their weapons to defend themselves and communities. We’ve got, colleagues, the tools of [our] trade, and this has to be used. Use those tools so that you do not die with your [weapon] in your hand, Tsumane said.

Mateta’s father Bulelani Mateta said, He played rugby in the sevens team. When he joined the police force he gave his younger brother all his rugby medals and said, ‘I’m going for more medals at the police’.

Mateta said he believed some of the rights afforded to criminals should be limited. They go to jail and live on our taxes, we pay for their legal fees. Someone gets arrested, but after two weeks is out of jail and carrying on with threats for more crimes in the community, he said.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) Eastern Cape deputy secretary Xolani Prusente called for a reduction in staff at police head offices. Our problem is not paperwork, it’s the rampant crime on the ground, he said.

Prusente also urged communities not to harbour criminals and to report them to police. Communities, you know the criminals in your areas, we urge you to report them, not [only] when you are the ones affected.

Five policemen from Ngcobo police station were killed on February 21 in a nighttime attack by gunmen who robbed the police station of 10 firearms and fled the scene with a police vehicle they hijacked from two policemen, who they then murdered. The police van was later found abandoned in a ditch off the road a few kilometres from the police station.

On February 23, seven suspects died in a shoot-out between a South African Police Service (SAPS) special task team and heavily armed suspects at the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries Church at Nyanga village, Ngcobo. Ten suspects were arrested, and further arrests have been made over the past few days.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICA: POLICE URGED TO USE THEIR WEAPONS WHEN UNDER ATTACK BY CRIMINALS

BISHO, S.Africa–The Deputy national police commissioner for crime detection Lt-Gen Lebeoana Jacob Tsumane on Saturday urged police to use their weapons � the tools of their trade � when they come under attack by criminals.

Tsumane was speaking at the funeral of Constable Kuhle Mateta in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, who was one of five police officers shot dead by a criminal gang at Ngcobo police station on February 21.

Tsumane called on police officers to confront criminals gangs and reclaim the integrity of the state. Let us rise against these headless criminals, let us reclaim our authority of the state. We shall use the tools of [our] trade to destroy gangs and syndicates, criminals, and potential criminals masquerading as angels, prophets, and instruments of God.

Instruments of God and angels of God bring peace and never shed blood. They will never turn against their own protectors and thus we are ready to fight this fight, he said.

Police officers should use their weapons to defend themselves and communities. We’ve got, colleagues, the tools of [our] trade, and this has to be used. Use those tools so that you do not die with your [weapon] in your hand, Tsumane said.

Mateta’s father Bulelani Mateta said, He played rugby in the sevens team. When he joined the police force he gave his younger brother all his rugby medals and said, ‘I’m going for more medals at the police’.

Mateta said he believed some of the rights afforded to criminals should be limited. They go to jail and live on our taxes, we pay for their legal fees. Someone gets arrested, but after two weeks is out of jail and carrying on with threats for more crimes in the community, he said.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) Eastern Cape deputy secretary Xolani Prusente called for a reduction in staff at police head offices. Our problem is not paperwork, it’s the rampant crime on the ground, he said.

Prusente also urged communities not to harbour criminals and to report them to police. Communities, you know the criminals in your areas, we urge you to report them, not [only] when you are the ones affected.

Five policemen from Ngcobo police station were killed on February 21 in a nighttime attack by gunmen who robbed the police station of 10 firearms and fled the scene with a police vehicle they hijacked from two policemen, who they then murdered. The police van was later found abandoned in a ditch off the road a few kilometres from the police station.

On February 23, seven suspects died in a shoot-out between a South African Police Service (SAPS) special task team and heavily armed suspects at the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries Church at Nyanga village, Ngcobo. Ten suspects were arrested, and further arrests have been made over the past few days.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Scant Progress Made in Electing Women Parliamentarians Worldwide

In advance of International Women’s Week (March 5), a report by the Inter-Parliamentary Union finds little progress is being made in increasing the number of women parliamentarians around the world.

Before 2016, the Inter-Parliamentary Union reports the number of women being elected to Parliaments around the world was increasing annually on average by six percent. But it says this encouraging upward trend seems to have come to an end.

Over the past two years, the IPU finds the number of women in national parliaments globally has increased only by about one percent. It says women represent fewer than one-quarter of world parliamentarians.

IPU secretary-general, Martin Chungong says women are faring better in countries that have electoral quota systems than in those that do not.

So, this actually calls for more countries to adopt quota systems to try to level the playing field,” he said. “We need more and more women in parliament to create a critical mass so that parliamentary decisions and outcomes are adequately informed by the interests of both men and women. And this… is a very major factor for legitimacy and effectiveness in decision-making processes.

Progress in Africa

A look at the IPU’s League table of 193 countries, shows a number of bright spots. As in past years, Rwanda comes out on top in the rankings, with more than 61 percent women parliamentarians. Senegal in ninth position outranks 10th placed Norway, with nearly 42 percent female representation. These compare favorably with the United States, which ranks 100, with a dismal showing of just over 19 percent women lawmakers.

Regionally, the report finds the Nordic countries leading. It says Europe, which has made the greatest gains in the number of women MPs, also recorded the greatest losses. It shows some improvement being made in Latin America, with Argentina, Chile and Ecuador as trailblazers.

IPU says sub-Saharan Africa has stabilized at nearly 24 percent and Algeria was the only country in the Arab region to hold elections for its legislature last year. While female participation in Asia’s electoral process remains low, the report says the Pacific region, with 15.5 percent women MPs, holds up the bottom of the rankings.

Source: Voice of America