May 3, 2021 (GIN) – In riveting testimony before a South African commission investigating corruption and graft, President Cyril Ramaphosa acknowledged that the ruling ANC party did little to prevent corruption, including by his predecessor Jacob Zuma. “State capture and corruption have taken a great toll on our society and indeed on our economy as well,” Ramaphosa said. “They have eroded the values of our constitution and undermined the rule of law. If allowed to continue they would threaten the achievement of growth, development and transformation of our country.” “The governing party ‘could and should’ have done more to prevent corruption,” he admitted. The South Africa Commission on State Capture is probing allegations of graft during former president Jacob Zuma’s nine years in power, including claims that Zuma allowed businessmen close to him – brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – to influence policy and win lucrative government contracts. The Guptas have also been accused of influencing the hiring and firing of ministers. Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene had resisted Zuma’s plans for the government to build expensive nuclear plants and was removed in 2015. Zuma and the Guptas have repeatedly denied the allegations against them. According to the current president, it took time for the ANC to recognize high-level corruption during the period, but that he would not try to “make excuses or to defend the indefensible”. He did not mention Zuma by name. In recent months, former president Zuma defied a court order to appear before the commission, prompting its chief investigator to seek a two-year prison sentence for contempt of court. When the country’s top court heard that case last month, Mr. Zuma again refused to appear — a move that many saw as open defiance of the country’s democratic institutions. Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta arrived from India in the 1990s and set up a small computer business before taking large stakes in uranium, gold, and coal mines. They also set up a luxury game lodge, an engineering company, a newspaper, and a 24-hour TV news station. All three brothers are reported to be billionaires in the country’s rand currency. Atul Gupta was listed by the research company, Who Owns Whom, the richest person of color in South Africa in December 2016 with 10.7 billion rands. Atul arrived in South Africa in 1993, selling shoes and computers from the trunk of his car. Rajesh and Ajay followed their brother, and in 1997 the family, which already had business interests in India, set up Sahara Computers. In 2007, new laws made it essential for big companies to have Black directors — especially if they were bidding for government contracts. Zuma’s son Duduzane began working as a 22-year-old trainee at the Guptas’ Sahara Computers, and he was quickly appointed to the boards of several Gupta companies. One of Zuma’s daughters was a director at Sahara Computers, and one of his wives worked at the Guptas’ JIC Mining Services. The corruption allegations have led to the popular use of the term “state capture” to describe the Guptas’ undue influence of private business interests over government institutions.
Dec. 16, 2019 (GIN) – President Cyril Ramaphosa struck a note of optimism in his message on Dec. 16 – the Day of Reconciliation and the anniversary of two major historical events, now celebrated as a public holiday.
Since the nation attained democracy, he said, citizens have showed the capacity to look beyond their differences ‘in the quest to achieve true nationhood’.
“As we take stock of how far we have come in healing the divisions of the past and building a united nation, we have much to be proud of,” he said.
He cited the Springboks World Cup victory in Japan and the Miss Universe competition early this month as evidence of things achieved.
Diversity in the country is evident in sports, parliament, in places of higher learning and schools, and on television screens where programming reflects the diversity, he continued.
“Racism and bigotry no longer define our nation,” he insisted. “Where they do occur, they are isolated. Where there have been manifestations of intolerance, we have been able to unite behind the values of tolerance and respect for diversity that define our Bill of Rights.”.
December 16 became the Day of Reconciliation due to its significance to both Afrikaner and African people. In 1838, white Voortrekkers proposed a meeting with the Zulu leader Dingane kaSenzangakhona Zulu, with an eye towards settling on Zulu lands. Dingane, mistrustful, took a preemptive measure and ordered an attack. Close to 400 Voortrekkers died at the hands of the Zulus.
Not long after, the Voortrekkers returned with superior weapons (Zulus, said to be strong fighters, were unable to resist the cannons and other firearms not yet in Zulu hands)
Some 3,000 Zulu soldiers were killed in this final battle, which lasted less than seven hours. Not one Voortrekker is believed to have died during the fight although some were wounded.
The bodies of fallen Zulu warriors scattered the scorched earth surrounding the Ncome river – the water itself ran red with blood.
The Battle of Blood River became a turning point in South Africa’s history. The monstrous defeat which befell the Zulu kingdom on that day destroyed Dingane’s political power base. The Zulu kingdom became embroiled in a civil war, as rival leaders vied for control. Dingane fled Natal in 1840, after being overthrown by Prince Mpande at the Battle of Maqongqe.
For the Voortrekkers, the Battle of Blood River entrenched their struggle for self-determination. This militaristic victory is seen as one of the most defining moments for the Afrikaner nation.
The second historical event was the birth of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). This was the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC), launched to wage an armed struggle against the apartheid government.
MK mostly performed acts of sabotage, but its effectiveness was hampered by organizational problems and the arrest of its leaders in 1963. Despite this, its formation has been commemorated every year since 1961.
EFF opposition party poster
May 13, 2019 (GIN) – Frustrated with the failures of the ruling African National Congress, South Africans gave the ANC its lowest turnout since 2004 when it took a record 69% of the vote.
The ANC won a sixth straight term but with the worst ever electoral showing for the iconic party.
Voter turnout was low. Thousands of youth did not even bother to register.
After announcing the elections to be free and fair, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the party faithful: “Our people have spoken and spoken emphatically. They have voted for a more equal society, free from poverty, hunger and want.”
He vowed to purge his party of “bad and deviant tendencies” as he prepares to appoint a new cabinet that will not work merely to fill their own pockets.
The party always knew this would be a tough election. Ramaphosa is leading a divided party, criticized for its slowness in delivering basic services
Ramaphosa is also believed to be facing a revolt within the party by Zuma allies, one that could surface in the coming weeks as he decides on the makeup of his new government.
Observers have said South Africa’s economy, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, would be further weakened if Ramaphosa is removed by his own party. He narrowly won the party leadership in late 2017, weeks before Zuma was pushed out.
Ramaphosa urged ANC leaders not to hang the party’s “dirty linen in public” and said the party must be renewed “so that we cleanse it of all the bad and deviant tendencies.”
Meanwhile, at least one political grouping was celebrating this week. South Africa’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) thanked voters for giving them more seats in the next National Assembly.
In its second presidential and parliamentary election, the party grossed 10.7% of the vote, up from 6.3% five years ago.
EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi offered “deep and sincere gratitude” to the party’s supporters. “In each of the 9 provinces more people believe in the EFF than they did in 2016 and 2014. It is a sign that our revolution is on course and soon it shall be realized and accomplished,” he said.
The ruling ANC despite winning the polls, slipped to holding 230 parliament seats, while the main opposition Democratic Alliance now holds 84, the EFF’s 44 means they maintain their spot as the second main opposition party.
Aug. 27, 2018 (GIN) – The day of reckoning is arriving in Southern Africa for the hundreds of thousands of Blacks whose lands were taken forcibly by white settlers – a crime that goes unpunished despite promises for land reform year after year. Pressure is growing on governments to take action and return ancestral lands to their original owners. But government leaders have been cautiously backing away from some of their early militant calls for justice. ‘It’s true whites stole the land, but they also have Namibian blood’, said Namibian President Hage Geingob. “Whites are also Namibian,” he said diplomatically at a Heroes Day commemoration in northern Namibia. Geingob was the country’s first prime minister and was one of the drafters of the Namibian constitution which protected property rights of people who owned land prior to independence. At the time of independence, nearly all commercial land was owned by the white minority, which constituted less than 0.5 percent of the population, while 70 percent of the population lived on what is now classified as communal land. More than 17 million hectares of land are still in the hands of whites in that country. This week, President Geingob admitted that national efforts to restore lands to black farmers over the years had flopped. In response, he is planning a “national land conference” from Oct 1 to 5 to discuss ways to speed up “peaceful and sustainable solutions to the challenges of inequality, landlessness and the pains of genocide – whether voluntary or uncompensated.” Meanwhile, in South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to speed up land reform in order to undo “a grave historical injustice” against the black majority during colonialism and the apartheid era. It was a reference to the 1913 Natives Land Act that reserved almost 93 percent of the land for the white minority and legalized the historical dispossession of the African population. At a gathering of more than 350 farmers this week on a game farm in Bela-Bela‚ Limpopo‚ to discuss land reform, they were caught by surprise by a tweet from President Donald Trump reading: “‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers’,” It infuriated many of the attendees for its misinformation. “I’m worried about the politicians and the politics in our country if they don’t get (land reform) right,” said Andre Smith, 49, who grows pecans and other crops on 100 acres in the Northern Cape. “We don’t love Donald Trump and his outspokenness.”
Apr. 16, 2018 (GIN) – As Winnie Madikizela-Mandela was lovingly laid to rest with full state honors, her beloved country was being buffeted by published reports of a massive diversion of monies from the most vulnerable people, to whom she dedicated her life, to the wealthy.
Among the victims of the apparent looting of government funds are Black farmers in the Eastern Cape. Reporters from the Saturday Dispatch found that promised lands were abandoned, unproductive and derelict.
In Vrede, in the province of Free State, a dairy project meant for Black farmers was skimmed of $21 million in public funds. A family with close ties to former President Jacob Zuma took over the government-backed project.
Prosecutors say only about 1 percent of the money invested by the province actually went into dairy farming. Leaked emails indicate that some of the money was sent to the United Arab Emirates and put into accounts registered to the Guptas, close friends of President Zuma. The money then made its way back to South Africa through a maze of bank transfers, according to spreadsheets, logs and an invoice in the email trove.
The black farmers who were supposed to be beneficiaries of the project ended up receiving nothing — an outcome that, to many, symbolized the corruption that flourished under the ANC.
In his state of the nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to resurrect the economy and create jobs, adding “This is the year in which we will turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions.”
A onetime anti-apartheid labor leader, Mr. Ramaphosa went into business in the late 1990s and quickly became one of the richest men on the continent, with a fortune now estimated at $450 million.
Perhaps the biggest unprosecuted crime in the country, however, is a multi-billion dollar arms deal that included advanced weaponry such as warships, fighter aircraft and new submarines to “counter military threats.”
European arms dealers had long been preparing for this. With the extensive use of bribes – estimated at one billion dollars – they proceeded to sell weapons that the country did not need and could not afford.
With the stepping down of Jacob Zuma and his immunity lifted, the former president must now face corruption charges over the $2.5 billion arms deal.
Winnie Madikizela-Mandela had opposed the excessive spending on weapons.