South Africa: Heavy police presence as Julius Malema goes to court
September 30, 2014 | 0 Comments
Firebrand Economic Freedom Fighters leader, Julius Malema is facing 51 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering. Several Polokwane streets were cordoned off with police monitoring proceedings outside the High Court. On Monday several EFF supporters held a night vigil of Malema saying they believe their commander in chief is not guilty of the charges. EFF supporters said they believed President Jacob Zuma is persecuting Malema. Police helicopters were also circling above the area as hundreds of EFF supporters are expected to attend the court proceedings. Police said lawlessness would not be tolerated and those who break the law will be arrested immediately. Malema’s co-accused are On-Point Engineering, Lesiba Gwangwa, Gwama Properties, and Kagisho Dichabe. He is out on R10,000 bail while others were given R40,000 bail each. The State alleges that they misrepresented themselves to the Limpopo provincial roads and transport department, leading to a R52 million contract being awarded to On-Point Engineering. According to court papers, Malema had business ties with Gwangwa, a director of On-Point Engineering. Malema’s Ratanang Family Trust was an indirect shareholder in On-Point. The trial is set to continue until October 31st. In an interview with The Africa Report, Malema insisted he was innocent of all the charges and will be found not guilty. *Source theafricareport]]>
Jacob Zuma's secret nuke 'stitch-up'
September 26, 2014 | 1 Comments
QAANITAH HUNTER, LIONEL FAULL* As the government scrambles to limit fallout, we reveal how Jacob Zuma grabbed control of the R1tn deal and negotiated directly with Vladimir Putin. President Jacob Zuma personally negotiated a nuclear deal with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, say highly placed government and ANC sources. This ensured that the intergovernmental agreement announced with fanfare this week took all but his most trusted and intimate inner circle by surprise. A senior ANC leader, who Zuma entrusted with intimate details of the negotiation with Putin, said that Zuma had ironed out details directly with the Russian president on the sidelines of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Brazil in July, and finalised details of the pact during his highly secretive visit to Moscow last month. “It was simple. When Zuma came back from Brazil, it was done,” the senior ANC leader said. The party leader and another well-placed ANC MP added that the details of the deal were finalised during Zuma’s trip to Russia in August. The two sources said that Zuma subsequently instructed energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to sign the deal with the Russians on the sidelines of the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. A joint statement issued by the Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom and the South African energy department on Monday said that the agreement “lays the foundation for the large-scale nuclear power plants procurement and development programme of South Africa based on the construction in South Africa of new nuclear power plants with Russian VVER reactors with total installed capacity of up to 9.6GW (up to eight [reactor] units)”. Deputy energy minister Thembisile Majola told Parliament’s energy portfolio committee, which met on Tuesday, that she had no knowledge of the nuclear deal and had first learned of it through the media. The chairperson of the committee, Fikile Majola, said that he would call Joemat-Pettersson to explain herself to the committee. “We want her to tell us the details surrounding the deal,” he said. Shrouded in secrecy Sources also said that the minister and Zuma did not take the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) into their confidence over the matter. Four NEC members independently said that there was no mention of an impending nuclear agreement with Russia at last weekend’s meeting. One added that some senior party figures were unimpressed that Zuma, instead of resting in Russia as initially planned, had negotiated deals that had not been agreed to by the leadership. He said Zuma only gave details of the deal to his most trusted Cabinet ministers and MPs. This week’s announcement also startled politically connected nuclear lobbyists and industry insiders, some of whom frantically exchanged calls in a bid to understand its significance. A respected nuclear industry leader said the statement looked “pretty definitive”, and news that Russia had clinched a deal to build nuclear reactors blazed unchecked across radio and television bulletins, as well as social media. The announcement was followed by an apparent damage control exercise. A rival to Rosatom said that they had received written assurances on Tuesday morning from a leading member of the South African delegation to the IAEA conference in Vienna that “there will be other intergovernmental agreements signed with the other vendors before the procurement process will start”. A new statement issued solely by the department of energy on Tuesday evening said that the agreement “initiates the preparatory phase for the procurement for the new nuclear build programme”. “Similar agreements are foreseen with other vendor countries that have expressed an interest in supporting South Africa in this massive programme,” it said. “Joemat-Pettersson will lead a delegation to visit France, where bilateral discussions will culminate with the signing of a co-operation agreement between the two countries [and] the South African government is also in discussions towards concluding an intergovernmental agreement with the Chinese government.” Russia leads the race But Zuma’s personal involvement with Putin means that even if similar agreements are concluded with other states, the Russians must be considered clear frontrunners. Rosatom told the Mail & Guardian that Monday’s joint statement was “intended to solely serve as information on the agreement and not necessarily position Rosatom as a preferred bidder”. “The agreement stipulates the overall development of various fields of nuclear power industry, and supplementary agreements will be signed in each field stipulating all details,” added a spokesperson. Senior government and industry sources have been telling amaBhungane for the past 18 months that Zuma has taken a personal interest in the government’s planned procurement of 9?600 megawatts (an estimated R1-trillion’s worth) of nuclear power, regarding it as one of his “presidential legacy projects”. A senior government official said that Zuma and Putin made initial strides towards a nuclear deal at the Brics summit in Durban in March 2013, but hammered out the details during Zuma’s working visit to the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi in May last year. The M&G reported that Zuma had slipped into the driver’s seat the following month, replacing his deputy at the time, Kgalema Motlanthe, as chair of the national nuclear energy executive co-ordinating committee. A month later, Zuma replaced energy minister Dipuo Peters with Ben Martins, in a move widely seen as being intended to tighten control over the nuclear procurement process and tie up a deal with the Russians. Joemat-Pettersson took over from Martins in May this year. Draft agreement According to the official, a draft nuclear co-operation agreement began to circulate between the Russians and the South Africans in July last year. Initiated by the Russians, this apparently sought a commitment from the South Africans to deal exclusively with them. It allegedly contained four clauses that particularly alarmed South African government officials. They included:
- Limiting South Africa to acquiring Russian reactor technology;
- Giving Russia exclusive say over the auxiliary construction contracts;
- Giving Russia a 20-year veto on South Africa doing business with any other nuclear vendor countries; and
- Making South Africa exclusively liable for all nuclear equipment procured from Russia as soon as it left that country.
Long and winding road to a nuclear nationPolitically, South Africa and Russia seem determined to get a nuclear build deal done with unseemly haste. But there are many obstacles to it becoming a reality. Before South Africa can start building nuclear power plants, Parliament must ratify every step of the process, from the broad country-to-country agreement down to the allocation of money. Two regulators, those for electricity pricing and nuclear power respectively, must sign off on specific details, and they are bound by their own statutes and rules on fairness and justifiability. The flow of vast sums of money to foreign suppliers, and the accompanying currency hedges, are subject to financial regulations. There are stringent local requirements for environmental impact assessments and consultations with the communities involved (Bantamsklip and Duinefontein in the Western Cape and Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape are currently proposed sites for the nuclear stations). The fairness of tenders – to bidders, but also the citizens ultimately doing the buying – is a constitutional imperative, giving the courts broad powers to review processes if an interested party cries foul. Nuclear build and the manufacture and transport of nuclear fuel are subject to a tangle of international agreements on nonproliferation and safety. South Africa has agreed to adhere to the International Atomic Agency’s 19 milestones for a nuclear build, an anomaly for a country that has an existing nuclear programme. They include securing the money to deal with nuclear waste and the decommissioning of the power plants decades down the line, and having a human resources plan to make sure there are enough skilled people to run the proposed fleet. The guidelines also include a very practical (not to mention time-consuming and expensive) requirement about upgrading the electricity grid to deal with the start-up requirements and output of the new nuclear stations. Early this month, as the United States and the European Union moved to impose sanctions against Russia because of the conflict in the Ukraine, Russian nuclear company Rosatom argued that politics should play no part in decisions on nuclear energy. With safety and enormous sums of money involved, the company said “temporary disagreements” between countries should not be a factor. Between 1998, when South Africa started considering new nuclear build, and 2007, when Jacob Zuma ousted Thabo Mbeki as ANC leader, Russia was not considered a serious contender for any contracts. – Sarah Wild & Phillip de Wet
DA demands full disclosureThe Democratic Alliance said on Thursday that it has applied for full access to all the documents relating to the nuclear deal. It said that under the Promotion of Access to Information Act, it would demand sight of everything related to the decision to co-operate with Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation on the new nuclear fleet, including the minutes of the interministerial committee on energy security chaired by President Jacob Zuma. The party has also written to the parliamentary oversight committee on energy, requesting that it subpoena Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to appear before it and produce a copy of the full agreement with Rosatom, and to clarify Rosatom’s statements. DA leader Helen Zille said that the “extraordinary and unprecedented” situation where both Rosatom and the department of energy issued identical statements made it clear that there was a deal to develop nuclear programmes in “South Africa driven by Rosatom and the Russian government”. Despite the department trying to reinterpret the statement retrospectively, “one can hardly believe that they would have issued the first statement, which is the identical version of Rosatom statement, if there wasn’t some validity to it”. She said there had been speculation for many months about a secret deal being reached between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin concerning the nuclear programme, which will cost an estimated R1-trillion and have to be paid for by generations to come. “We have been very badly burned as a society in the past and with all the secrecy that surrounds this particular deal, we are absolutely determined to get to the bottom of it,” Zille said. – Andisiwe Makinana]]>
Jacob Zuma’s Presidency under Siege?
September 25, 2014 | 0 Comments
James N. Kariuki*
At the end of August this year, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma embarked upon what was called a ‘working visit’ to Russia. Officially, Zuma’s objectives in Moscow included discussing trade enhancement between the Russian Federation and South Africa, searching for investment opportunities and for the South African president to get some rest. But, given their propensity for curiosity, the news media immediately wondered aloud why the details of an official presidential visit seemed to be shrouded by a veil of secrecy in both South Africa and Russia.
Curiosity verged on frustration. First, the ‘resting’ claim for the president was unconvincing. It is true that the Zuma may have needed some rest given his grueling election campaign earlier in the year, his generally questionable health condition and the turbulent events of the first three months of his second term. But, since the trip coincided with the beginning of one of Russia’s notoriously brutal winters, weather alone virtually ruled it out as a vacationing destination of choice for an aging African leader.
On the other hand, if Zuma went to Moscow to promote bilateral trade cooperation and investment opportunities, why is it that his delegation did not include personnel from the relevant Department of Trade and Industry or from the cabinet’s economic cluster? Oddly, the president’s senior official entourage was composed of only the State Security Minister and the International Relations Deputy Minister. To consummate the intrigue, Zuma was not accompanied by a single journalist.
Given the mystique, news reporters were prompted to speculation. What was the ‘real’ purpose of the trip? Why now and why Russia?’
Analysts reminisced that Zuma’s presidency has always been dogged by controversy. But it was precisely in late August 2014, just prior to the Russian trip, that the same presidency became truly embattled. It was at that time that two domestic political crises converged and seemed to escalate uncontrollably to a crescendo.
Political challenges posed by these crises were indeed daunting, sufficiently unsettling to prompt observers to liken them to the infamous US Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. That political scandal pushed President Richard M. Nixon to his historic resignation of 1974 and infected the American body politic forever. It is said that, as a result of the Watergate scandal, the American political system lost its innocence.
The two issues that may forever define the Zuma’s presidency are captured in the general category of corruption and, specifically, they include the so-called Zuma spy tapes and the Nkandla scandal. Remarkably, the otherwise streetwise President has so far fallen short of finding a way to make either of the two problems go away.
Meanwhile, the public passions that the scandals continue to trigger are inflamed by the fact that each is embraced as a crusade attitude of three influential and highly visible public figures. These include Helen Zille, the leader of Democratic Alliance (D.A.) and the largest opposition party; Julius Malema, the leader of the recently formed and recalcitrant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Thuli Madonsela of the Office of Public Protector. Though they act as separate and distinct entities, these have become Zuma’s political nemeses and are hell-bent to the proposition that, come hell or high water, Zuma will be forced to pay for his political indiscretions.
The most enduring of Zuma’s catalogue of political ‘sins’ is what has come to be known as his spy tapes. Just before South Africa’s 2009 national elections, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) cited the tapes as the basis for withdrawing over 700 counts of fraud and corruption allegations against Zuma. But this issue has stubbornly remained unsettled for half a decade and as the core and immovable element in the President’s gathering storm.
The dismissal of the spy tape charges was indeed an indication that the NPA had concurred with Zuma’s contention that the taped conversations between the NPA and the-now-disbanded Scorpions Investigative Unit were convincing evidence that there indeed was a ‘political conspiracy’ against him. The withdrawal eliminated a major legal hurdle for Zuma, clearing the way for him to become president.
However, Helen Zille’s Democratic Alliance (DA), was not convinced. The timing and alleged grounds for Zuma’s exoneration appeared too convenient to be true. For this reason, the largest opposition party was determined to listen to the spy tapes to determine if there indeed was a bona fide legal justification for exempting Zuma. All told, the DA has spent R10 million for this purpose in six court cases during the past five years to get its hands on the Zuma spy tapes.
Clearly, the DA’s hope in this lengthy pursuit has been to ‘uncover’ whether or not the 2009 decision to withdraw the 700 corruption charges against Zuma was politically-driven rather than legal. More than any other figure, Helen Zille has championed this cause with a devotion far greater than a mere political issue would warrant. This is so because, if the spy tapes can demonstrate that the 2009 withdrawal of charges against Zuma was politically-motivated, those charges can be reinstated in court to the detriment of Zuma and his presidency.
Precisely for this reason, it is said, Zuma has fought tooth and nail for nearly half a decade against the tapes’ lease and at a hefty legal fee borne by the tax payers. Unfortunately, his animated objection against the release started to crumble in the same, infamous August 2014. Specifically, on August 28, 2014, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered that the NPA had to release the contested spy tapes to the DA in five days. Three days later, Zuma departed for Moscow.
The other volatile issue is the Nkandla scandal, the allegation that Zuma has spent R246 million of public funds on his private residence under the guise of presidential security upgrades. In March this year Thuli Madonsela, in her capacity as the Public Protector, released a two-year investigation report that some of the Nkandla modifications were inconsistent with claims of security upgrades and that the President had to pay back for the misspent public funds.
Politically, Julius Malema and Thuli Madonsela are indeed strange bedfellows. The former is the leader of recently formed radical political party, the EFF. As indicated, the latter is the incumbent Public Protector, a government official. Ideologically, they have nothing in common. It is thus a measure of the mounting pressure on Zuma’s presidency that an alliance-of-sorts seems to have emerged between the two in opposition to the Nkandla issue, especially in Parliament. In August, both were demanding from President Zuma a transparent accounting for Nkandla, insisting on the right of the public to know when he planned to pay back for the alleged non-security expenditures.
On August 21, as the EFF aggressively grilled Zuma in Parliament regarding the Nkandla affair, a heated verbal exchange erupted between the Speaker of the House and Julius Malema. As a result of an ensuing chaos and stand-off between the two, the Speaker adjourned the National Assembly while riot police were summoned to physically remove EFF members from the building.
To the extent that the EFF MPs were unrelentingly heckling President Zuma in demanding answers to the Nkandla upgrades, was the President’s failure to provide satisfactory answers undermining proper and respectable functioning of a key branch of government? Are we witness to a specific political scandal of Nkandla escalate into a scathing constitutional crisis of national proportions?
The week before the parliamentary humiliating spectacle, Madonsela had accused Zuma in written form of “being guilty of an attack on the constitution and the rule of law by granting the Police Minister of Police the power to review her (Madonsela’s) findings” on Nkandla. Had the Nkandla infection ballooned into a constitutional crisis for the nation, a matter vastly larger than the original tag of corruption?
Besieged by such rugged news and punishing headlines, President Zuma found himself in a corner. To think through the bombshells thrown at him, he was probably well-advised to seek a few days of solitude and privacy of far away from his troublesome home.
A week after the fiasco in the National Assembly, Zuma left for Moscow. But why to Russia?
Reportedly Zuma and the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, have evolved a bond in which the South African leader derives considerable comfort, a personal friendship that goes beyond the call of duty. It is said that the two have now become very good friends.
Especially in context of the BRICS fraternity, Zuma and Putin meet fairly often and take time to discuss ex-officially matters of mutual concerns. Those include global issues such as the on-going turmoil in Syria, the Israeli-Palestine recent military crisis and the deteriorating condition in the Ukraine.
In all likelihood, Putin feels that he has received bad publicity over Ukraine and probably needs Zuma to boost his quest for political support in Global South. He is basically fed up with the Western negative campaign against what it calls Russian aggression. He is thus may be eager to garner support from Africa and the developing world in general to counter the sustained ‘propaganda’ of the US and its traditional European allies. Presumably, Zuma can be invaluable in this regard.
Conversely Zuma, given his political woes at home, probably needed a shoulder to cry on and a word or two of encouragement from the world’s greatest political survivor of the twenty first century. In recent years, Putin has defied and successfully resisted attempts of powerful Russian forces to unseat him. Could it be the case that Zuma is seriously concerned about political survival at home and went to Russia to seek consolation and advice from the ultimate expert on ‘how to?’
Seen in the above context, Zuma’s real purposes for the visit to Russia several weeks ago was not so puzzling after all. But it could not be public information.
*James N. Kariuki is Professor of International Relations (Emeritus) and an independent writer. He is based in South Africa. Views expressed in the blog Global Africa are his
The sudden dwindling of Thabo Mbeki
September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments
RAY HARTLEY* Six years ago South Africa’s president was ousted by his enemies in the ANC. Ex-editor Ray Hartley looks back. Between December 2007 and May 2009, South Africa would have two presidents beholden to a party leader outside government. The first, Thabo Mbeki, was no longer president of the ANC but still held office as president of the country. The second, Kgalema Motlanthe, would take over from Mbeki in September 2008 following a series of dramatic events that amounted to a bloodless palace coup. When Mbeki returned to the Union Buildings in January 2008, the shift in the balance of power was palpable. National police commissioner Jackie Selebi, who had stood loyally at his side at the ANC elective conference in Polokwane, where Mbeki lost the ANC leadership to Jacob Zuma, was finally charged for taking money from gangster Glenn Agliotti. Mbeki, who had avoided contact with Tony Leon when the latter was leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, now met with Leon’s successor, Helen Zille, on several occasions. Zille recalls these meetings: “I was amazed how he levelled with me.” At one meeting, Mbeki told her: “They’ve got to get rid of my allies one by one and that’s why they are prepared to do a pact with the devil to nail Jackie Selebi.” Zille left the meeting with the realisation that the battle for power between Mbeki and Zuma was dangerous for the country. “It showed me then what the war between him and his opponents was like and that it was a war over controlling the institutions of state. It was a war over controlling the police. It was a war over controlling the prosecuting authority. Because all of these institutions of state were seen as proxies in the political war.” By September 2008, it was clear that Zuma’s tolerance of Mbeki’s presidency was wearing thin. Judge Chris Nicholson had found that Mbeki and his justice ministers had manipulated the prosecution of Zuma. With this judgment fresh in the public memory, Zuma decided to strike while the iron was hot. The ANC’s national executive committee met at Esselen Park, Johannesburg, to decide on a course of action. A week of tense drama and negotiation followed, during which Mbeki was forced to relinquish the presidency just seven months before his term was due to expire. It had become, observed Frank Chikane, then director general in the presidency, “a bitter fight to the end”. Chikane’s book, Eight Days in September, describes how he heard of the NEC’s decision: “It was after midnight of Friday September 19 2008 – to be precise, just before 1am on Saturday – when the first text messages began to come through: ‘The NEC has decided to recall Mbeki as president of the country.’” What followed was a furious night of text messaging as the ANC’s leaders passed around the information. “If you had monitored cyberspace during these early hours of that fateful day you could have written a prizewinning drama.” The prizewinning drama needed a victim, and it was a role Mbeki would play with sombre dignity. Chikane recalls the president’s reaction when informed of the news early in the morning. “He looked like a soldier who was ready to die, if he had to, for the sake of the country.” Mbeki had the option of ignoring the recall and insisting that proper procedure be followed: a parliamentary impeachment. This would have provided a platform for a public airing of the Zuma camp’s reasons for wanting him out of office. That might have led to serious division in the party, which could not necessarily count on all its MPs to vote with it. Instead, Mbeki chose to go along with the decision, sparing the country a constitutional crisis. A delegation from the national executive committee, consisting of the party’s deputy president, Kgalema Motlanthe, and secretary general Gwede Mantashe, met with Mbeki. He posed two questions: how he could leave office without leaving a vacuum and how his immediate responsibilities would be taken care of. Motlanthe and Mantashe promised to return with an answer later that day. Chikane said that the message came back “to say that the president could not continue with any of his responsibilities, particularly the international commitments”. This was a body blow to Mbeki, who relished his role on the international stage. He was due to be the keynote speaker at a United Nations summit on Africa. “This act,” Chikane noted ominously, “brought us closer to the definition of a coup d’état.” On Saturday September 20, the national executive committee issued a statement attempting to reassure the nation, in which it said: “Our most important task as a revolutionary movement is the stability of our country.” Sounding as it did like a communiqué issued after a military coup, these words were less than reassuring. As if to drive its point home, the NEC then demanded that Mbeki draft his letter of resignation earlier than had been previously agreed. He was to deliver it by Sunday evening. The letter was delivered by courier to meet the party’s new deadline, and then Mbeki addressed the nation in a live televised broadcast, saying: “I have been a loyal member of the African National Congress for 52 years. I remain a member of the ANC and therefore respect its decisions. It is for this reason that I’ve taken the decision to resign as president of the republic.” Zille described the NEC’s move as “revenge, pure and simple”. The ANC’s internal political battles were not serving the country’s interests. On the Monday, Mbeki continued with his plan to minimise the disruption resulting from his unseating. He met with the heads of the defence force and police, and the media were present to record the event. It was clear that the Zuma camp wanted Mbeki out as quickly as possible. The speaker of Parliament replied to Mbeki’s letter of resignation, saying that Mbeki would be out of office effective from Thursday September 25 and a new president would be elected at 11am the same day. Mbeki, by now a study in self-deprecation, chose to comply with the tight deadline. If Mbeki departed the stage with a determination not to cause a disruption, his successor, Kgalema Motlanthe, who was chosen by the ANC’s executive to fill the presidential vacuum on the Thursday, took office with a determination not to ripple the waters. He had a reputation as a deep thinker who avoided factional politics. It remained for Mbeki to bid his advisers and staff a tearful farewell at the Bryntirion presidential estate in Pretoria. For Chikane, Mbeki had “carried the flag of success and was tripped just before he crossed the winning line because of internal party dynamics and not governance or policy issues”. But Chikane’s is a rosy view. The truth is that Mbeki handled power badly. He made enemies at every turn and allowed his off-the-wall contrarianism to rule his better judgment. Mbeki’s years of Aids denialism cost the country dearly. In a devastating piece of research by the Harvard School of Public Health, Mbeki was blamed for causing the preventable deaths of those with Aids by refusing to authorise treatment: “More than 330 000 people died prematurely from HIV and Aids between 2000 and 2005 [because of] the Mbeki government’s obstruction of life-saving treatment, and at least 35 000 babies were born with HIV infections that could have been prevented.” On Mbeki’s watch, the largest post-apartheid scandal, over the 1999 arms deal, festered unattended. He consistently denied that the rot reached the top, but then gave the lie to this by firing his deputy, Zuma, after he had been linked to providing political cover for Schabir Shaik. Mbeki had presided over an unprecedented period of consistent economic growth, albeit at a rate below that required to deal with growing joblessness. He had courageously championed fiscal discipline and had ensured that macroeconomic policy created the conditions for sustained growth. But the manner in which he did this gave a good cause a bad name and emboldened his left-wing critics. In the end, Zuma, who assembled Mbeki’s enemies into an unlikely coalition of the wounded, outplayed him. Now Zuma was the man in charge, and South Africa was about to become his personal empire. *Source mg.co Ray Hartley is a former editor of the Sunday Times and the Times. This is an edited extract from his book, Ragged Glory: The Rainbow Nation in Black and White, published by Jonathan Ball.]]>
Has Jacob Zuma hurt the fight against Aids more than Thabo Mbeki?
September 24, 2014 | 0 Comments
KATE WILKINSON* Has President Jacob Zuma set back the fight against HIV and Aids more than his predecessor? Helen Zille believes so but the evidence shows otherwise. Has President Jacob Zuma done more damage to the fight against HIV and Aids than his predecessor, Thabo Mbeki? Helen Zille, premier of the Western Cape and leader of South Africa’s opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA), thinks so. On her official Twitter account, Zille recently tweeted: “If Mbeki set the Aids fight back, Zuma has done so far more.” In another tweet, Zille claimed that Zuma’s “multiple concurrent sexual partners” had “equally undermined [the] fight against Aids”. Is there any truth to her claims? A reader asked us to investigate. Zuma’s ‘role model’ impact Zille told Africa Check that it “is certainly my opinion that Zuma has done far more than Mbeki to set back the fight against Aids”. She said that while Mbeki had publicly questioned the link between HIV and Aids, “it was possible to get across the fact that unprotected sex is the primary cause of transmission”. Zuma, by comparison, “is notorious for having sexual partners outside his current marriage relationships”. “He made world headlines when he announced that he had knowingly had unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman and had a shower afterwards to stop himself getting Aids. And this very graphic example of behaviour that leads directly to the spread of Aids had a far stronger role model impact than anything obtuse that Mbeki ever said on the subject.”South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence and Behaviour Survey, which shows that “469 000 new HIV infections occurred in the population two years and older during 2012”. Her tweet and an article published in the DA’s newsletter argue that these infections are being driven by “multiple, concurrent sexual partners”. However, the HSRC report notes that it “has been argued that concurrency [multiple, overlapping sexual partners] does not fully explain the high HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa”. It states that “it remains crucial to reduce exposure to multiple sexual partnerships irrespective of concurrency”. A journal article published in 2012 by Francois Venter, an HIV clinician, scientist and deputy director at the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, and Lucy Allais, professor of Philosophy and Director of the Wits Centre for Ethics, concluded that “some forms of concurrency and some forms of serial partnering are important drivers of HIV infections”. “It does not follow from this that where there are higher rates of infection they must be driven by higher rates of these forms of partnering, and whether these forms of partnering are more common in sub-Saharan Africa is not known.” A study conducted in KwaZulu-Natal found “no evidence to suggest that concurrent partnerships are an important driver of HIV incidence in this typical high-prevalence rural African population”. It also advised that HIV education messaging should be aimed at “the reduction of multiple partnerships, irrespective of whether those partnerships overlap in time”. Zille also ignores the fact that people can engage in concurrent sexual relationships responsibly, says Mary Crewe, director at the Centre for the Study of Aids. “People may have moral issues about multiple concurrent sexual partners but you can be safe if you are using protection.” A president in denial Zille’s comments isolate Zuma and Mbeki’s “role model impact” from the steps that they and their respective governments took to respond to the HIV and Aids crisis. Their interventions, or lack thereof, cannot be ignored. Marcus Low, head of policy at the Treatment Action Campaign, a South African HIV and Aids activist organisation, told Africa Check that “while President Zuma’s response to Aids has not been perfect and he has often failed to set a good example, his shortcomings in the Aids response pale in comparison to those of former President Mbeki”. Nicoli Nattrass, director of the Aids and Society Research Unit and professor in the University of Cape Town’s School of Economics, explained in a 2008 African Affairs journal article that government opposition to the use of antiretroviral therapy hardened when Mbeki became president. “In the early years of his presidency, [Mbeki] championed a small group of Aids denialists who believed that HIV is harmless and that Aids symptoms are caused by malnutrition, drug abuse and even ARVs themselves,” Nattrass wrote. Government resisted introducing a national prevention of mother-to-child transmission programme. They only did so after being forced to act by the Constitutional Court in 2002. Under increasing pressure, government announced in 2003 that it would implement a national antiretroviral treatment programme. “The gains that were made under Mbeki were hard won. It was a completely different environment. Gains were made in spite of Mbeki, not because of him,” Venter told Africa Check. A study by Harvard University estimated that “more than 330 000 lives or approximately 2.2-million person-years were lost because a feasible ARV treatment programme was not implemented in South Africa”. Improvements in response to HIV and Aids Zuma’s personal actions and comments are certainly open to criticism. However, a number of key HIV and Aids indicators have improved under his government, despite Mbeki’s poor start.
- HIV incident rate down
- Aids deaths down
- More people on ARVs and increased life expectancy
- HIV counselling and testing increased
- Prevention of mother-to-child transmission improving
Op-Ed: Youth unemployment in SA – Apartheid is alive and well
September 22, 2014 | 0 Comments
By GCOBANI QAMBELA & SIMAMKELE DLAKAVU*
There are a number of white South Africans who complain that the local job market excludes white recruits. This narrative, when it arises, often comes with fears that “our children won’t get jobs” and that there is “no future” for them in the country. But are these fears valid? By GCOBANI QAMBELA & SIMAMKELE DLAKAVU.
Concerns about racism against whites in the job market are largely due to government attempts to reverse the effects of Apartheid, through Employment Equity, Affirmative Action and Black Economic Empowerment, amongst other measures. However, even with these attempts, the South African job market still reflects our racialised, gendered and economic exploitative past. White men and white women still have it good in South Africa, and as a group, they have the smallest chance of being unemployed.
This is asserted in the “graduate destination survey” that was published in 2013 by the Cape Higher Education Consortium (made up of Stellenbosch University, the University of Cape Town, University of the Western Cape and Cape Peninsula University of Technology) on “Pathways from University to Work” which cautioned that graduate entry into pathways of employment in South Africa continues “to reflect Apartheid-era patterns of discrimination.” The report from the survey found that whites (at 61%) and Indians (at 58%) attained employment in the private sector, while only 35% of Africans and 45% of coloured graduates were able to attain employment in the private sector. The report notes that the unemployment rate for coloured and African people would be significantly larger if it were not for the intervention of the public sector, which employs a large number of African (at 42%) and coloured (at 45%) graduates. Despite this, African graduates maintained the highest unemployment rate (at 19%) with coloured graduates following at 7%. The report emphasised the importance of social capital and connections in graduates being able to attain employment.
Jeremy Seekings, in his 2003 Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR) working paper, Do South Africa’s Unemployed Constitute an Underclass?noted, “In South Africa, evidence from the mid-1990s suggests that, at the end of the Apartheid era, one section of the unemployed suffered systematic disadvantage in terms of access to employment. Given that people get jobs in South Africa primarily through friends and family, people without such social capital are relegated to an especially disadvantaged position in the labour market and society in general.” The opening up of universities, especially the traditionally white universities, to larger numbers of black students, was meant in part to not only allow black students a chance to gain their rightful place in higher education but also to increase the chances of entry into labour market alongside white peers. Yet despite such measures, being white still remains the “strongest indicator” in South Africa for whether one will be able to find work or not, particularly in the private sector.
While recent scholarship suggests that graduate unemployment in South Africa is “a much exaggerated problem” and that “there is little cause for concern about broad trends in graduate unemployment”, the CHEC report informs that African students (at 75%) are the most likely to ‘walk from door to door’ approaching government departments for assistance, in comparison to only 9% of whites; this is indeed a worrying sign that African graduates “are more desperate to find work” in comparison to their peers. These African students occupy the duality of being the ‘new’ so-called “privileged blacks” as they boast education (often) from some of South Africa’s finest universities, while at the same time being structurally constrained in South Africa from being able to translate this ‘privilege’ into anything that meaningfully alters post-graduation life circumstances.
A black woman friend, at 24 years, already held three degrees (a Bachelor of Social Sciences degree (in Psychology and Law), joint honours in psychology and law, and an LLB degree (all from a highly rated university), yet it took her nearly a year and a half to find a job in South Africa. The stories of these students are too plentiful – young black graduates with undergraduate and post-graduate degrees too often have to go back home to often poor rural and township areas after completing their degrees as a result of not being able to find a job.
There are many prevailing false assumptions and generalisations that are painted of “these” unemployed graduates setting typologies that suggest black unemployed graduates are mediocre, lazy and entitled. Such arguments can be found in articles and arguments presented by the likes of University of the Free State Vice-Chancellor, Professor Jonathan Jansen, in his article ““THE BIG READ: Dear Jobless Graduate”. He paints a picture of a jobless graduate as a “male [or] female, in the early to mid-20s, mostly black, from a poor family, and from all nine provinces”. He states that these young people often have transcripts that don’t reflect excellence. He says they have “floppy” and “thin” CVs that often “make no reference to voluntary work or holiday occupations”. He further says that “While you were concentrating on passing, other students were focused on excelling; there is a big difference”. Although common, this is a completely flawed generalisation that paints black unemployed graduates with one paintbrush.
As young black graduates ourselves who have worked since our teenage years, formed and supported a number of volunteer initiatives, worked both professionally with local and multilateral international institutions, represented our country in many international youth forums, with transcripts that have distinctions as well as numerous accolades and recognition awards locally and internationally, this still did not spare us both from experiencing unemployment in South Africa. We are not unique; there are many of our black peers who have worked as hard as we have but also could not find work. This is not a result of lack of initiative from black youth, but is by design and the direct consequence of living in a country with blacks having political freedom but existing in a context of untransformed labour. This is a structural issue that black youth cannot fix alone without the necessary support from both the government and the private/non-governmental sector!
This happens in a context where, during orientation week for example, most universities sing the same tune, affirming students as the “cream of the crop”, reminding them that they were accepted from “thousands of applications” and that upon graduation students are almost not only entitled, but guaranteed a certain promising future. Wits University, for instance, boasts greatly about their “illustrious alumni” of people “who have excelled in every field of endeavour”. Many black students quickly realise that this is not a future that is guaranteed to all, but is rather racialised, classed and gendered toward white males and white women in our labour market context – one that is still keen to exclude black graduates. DM
*Source DM.Gcobani Qambela is a graduate student in medical anthropology focusing on sexual and reproductive health of men.
**Simamkele Dlakavu is human rights television producer and runs a social enterprise aimed at developing rural and township youth in South Africa.
Do 40 000 whites own 80% of South Africa?
September 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
ANIM VAN WYK* Land ownership in SA remains heavily skewed across racial lines 20 years after apartheid. But is 80% of it in the hands of 40 000 white families? The claim that 40 000 white families own 80% of the land in South Africa has been widely circulated since Andile Mngxitama, an MP and “commissar for land and agrarian revolution” with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), raised the issue in an open letter to business tycoon Richard Branson in May this year. In Mngxitama’s letter – written after the Virgin founder purchased a 40-hectare farm near Franschhoek in the Western Cape province – Branson’s acquisition was described as “stolen land”. ‘Native majority are landless’ “The dominant idiom since 1652 is that of the settler, who imposed it upon the native majority through force of arms,” Mngxitama wrote. “The result of this conquest is that, about 350 years later, the native majority is landless and only about 40 000 white families own up to 80% of our land.” Mngxitama later repeated the claim on Twitter, writing: “?#Land101 SA is constituted by 123-million hectares. 80% of SA land owned by only 40,000 white families. SA population [about] 53-million.” In a subsequent television debate with Cornelius Janse van Rensburg from the Afrikaans “business rights watchdog” AfriSake, the EFF’s spokesperson in Gauteng, Mandisa Mashego, was adamant that “80% of this country’s land is deemed as agricultural land and 80% of that land is owned by 40,000 white families”. Glaring, Janse van Rensburg responded: “It’s nonsense, it’s not so.” Can the claim be dismissed as nonsense, or is there some truth to it? 79% of SA in private hands Mngxitama was emphatic when we spoke to him: “40 000 white families own 80% of the land. Deal with it.” He said his claim was supported by a recent state land audit, data collected by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and research conducted by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at the University of the Western-Cape. Mashego did not respond to questions. So what does the data tell us? The state land audit, carried out by the office of South Africa’s Chief Surveyor-General and published in 2013, did indeed find that 79% of South Africa’s landmass was in private hands. But that includes land owned by individuals, companies and trusts, and all urban real estate as well as agricultural and mining land in South Africa. Therefore, according to Mmuso Riba, the chief surveyor-general, “there is no basis” for the claim that whites own 80% of South Africa. ‘Land ownership deeply skewed’ One possible source for Mashego’s claim is a dataset on land utilisation that is still used by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries despite the fact that it is more than two decades old. The data was compiled by the Development Bank of Southern Africa in 1991. (According to the department’s spokesperson, Makenosi Maro, updated data will only be released towards the end of 2016.) The 1991 dataset shows that 100 665 792 hectares – or 82.3% of South Africa’s surface area – consisted of farmland. Of this, 81.9% (or 86 186 026 hectares) was considered commercial agricultural land. The rest – situated in what were formerly “black homelands” established under the auspices of the apartheid state – remains classified as “developing agriculture”. Cherryl Walker, professor of sociology at the University of Stellenbosch and author of Landmarked: Land Claims and Land Restitution in South Africa, prepared a fact sheet on land distribution for PLAAS last year. According to Walker: “Land ownership is still deeply skewed along racial lines, but these figures [by the EFF] do not illuminate the current land dispensation.” One farmer, one farming unit? Should the EFF’s Mngxitama and Mashego be referring to 80% of farmland – and not 80% of South Africa’s landmass – it is possible that the most recent census of commercial agriculture is the primary source of their claims. It was carried out seven years ago by Stats SA. The census found that there were slightly fewer than 40 000 farming units, defined as “one or more separate farms in the same provinces that are farmed as a single unit”. Importantly, the census report explained: “The number of farming units… does not represent the number of farmers, as a specific farming unit can be operated by more than one farmer, and one farmer can operate more than one farming unit.” The census also did not reflect the racial composition of farm owners, nor the surface area of the farming units. Small farms likely excluded There is another caveat. For a farming unit to be included in the census it had to be registered for Value Added Tax (VAT). In South Africa it is compulsory to register for VAT when a business’s turnover reaches a certain threshold. In the census year the bar was set at R300 000 over a twelve month period. Peter O’Halloran, who writes on tax matters for Farmer’s Weekly, says this would have excluded smallholdings surrounding the major cities and farms that are too small to make them economically viable. “Commercial farms might number 40 000 or so according to the census, but in terms of land owners who own farms, this number could be much higher. VAT registration and compliance is highly onerous and the small operator will shy away from that. My take is that the smaller farmers and recreational farmers make up the majority of farmland owners in South Africa.” Unions join the fray Of the farming units registered for VAT in 2007, only 39 966 were identified as “active” at the time of the census and included. The majority of farming units (33 249) were owned by individuals, with 2 167 belonging to companies, 2 259 to close corporations and 874 described as “family-owned”. How many are owned by black or white farmers? It is difficult to say for certain. A Black Economic Empowerment (AgriBEE) scorecard – that measures elements such as black ownership and skills development – has been introduced for the agricultural sector. But the Agricultural Business Chamber said in its latest survey report it is “very difficult to measure the BEE compliance of the agricultural sector as whole, as so few enterprises have determined their score, never mind obtained accredited scorecards”. Black or white? Frustrated by pressure from legislators and politicians, agricultural unions have carried out land audits of their own. To date, two have been completed. The KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union did not publicly release their audit so it cannot be independently assessed. Its chief executive, Sandy la Marque, forwarded Africa Check a copy of a presentation, which put white ownership at 15.4% of the province’s surface area with the ownership of a further 23.11% listed as “unknown”. Agri Free State had their audit assessed by the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy, a university based research network. They found that only 2.96% of commercial agricultural land in the province was black-owned. Another 10% could not be fully accounted for. (Note: This is the case, for example, where land is owned by trusts or companies and it becomes virtually impossible to define ownership as either white of black. Free State Agri refers to the Anglo American Corporation, which has a BEE rating, but not necessarily an AgriBEE rating and is listed on foreign stock exchanges, but has significant domestic shareholding.) To complicate matters further, both unions’ counts of state-owned land are at odds with the state land audit. The Surveyor-General said his office would refine their audit in time. At this stage they are surveying and registering land owned by the state. This includes a great number of schools, health facilities, police stations, vast tracks of land in the Eastern Cape and a significant chunk of the Kruger National Park – all of which were not previously recorded as state land. Conclusion: The claim is incorrect Claims that 40 000 white families own either 80% of South Africa, or 80% of the country’s farmland, are incorrect and not supported by the available data. Although a state land audit has shown that 79% of South Africa is privately owned, this includes land owned by individuals, companies and trusts, and includes all urban real estate and agricultural and mining land in South Africa. This would include land owned by both black and white South Africans. It is also unlikely that the number of commercial farming units captured in the 2007 census – slightly less than 40 000 – reflects the true status of all commercial agricultural land in South Africa. Certainly huge disparities remain and land ownership continues to be heavily skewed across racial lines twenty years after the end of apartheid. But none of the datasets support the claims made by Mngxitama and Mashego. Given the inherent sensitivity of the land debate and the importance of land reform in South Africa, it is vital that debate around the issue and policy decisions is informed by accurate, current data. *Source africacheck]]>
SA won’t look nice without white people – Julius Malema
September 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
Julius Malema[/caption] Holding out an olive branch to a mostly white audience during a plush lunch at Kelvin Grove in Newlands, Cape Town, today, Malema – wearing his signature red overalls and beret – said that there were many misconceptions about the EFF. The EFF was not embarking on a racial struggle, but a struggle for economic freedom, he said, adding that the party had filled a vacuum left by the ANC after it had discarded its principles. “This country won’t look nice without you guys. We complement each other. We have even started dating each other,” he told a packed audience at an event organised by the Cape Town Press Club. Malema said there were also many Afrikaners at his son’s school, which according to media reports is a private school. “I want him to know that white people are human beings … I told him they can be bossy at times. We must not be scared of each other. We must grow up together.” He warned, however, that whites needed to share in the country’s wealth, that unproductive land needed to be expropriated, and mines and banks needed to be nationalised. “There cannot be two nations, one for the rich and one for the poor.” Appealing for whites to embrace change, he said: “Your security is guaranteed by the empowerment of poor people.” If there was no redistribution, Malema warned that there would be an “unled revolution”, which would lead to anarchy. The controversial EFF leader arrived at the venue in the heart of the southern suburbs about 35 minutes late after apparently getting lost.]]>
Zuma: 67 South Africans dead in Nigeria church collapse
September 17, 2014 | 0 Comments
Sixty-seven South Africans have been killed in a building collapse that occurred at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Nigeria, President Jacob Zuma said in a statement on Tuesday. Scores more sustained injuries when the multi-storey guesthouse belonging to the church collapsed on Friday. “This is a particularly difficult time for South Africa. Not in the recent history of our country have we had this large number of our people die in one incident outside the country,” said Zuma. “Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues that have lost their loved ones in this heart-breaking tragedy. “The whole nation shares the pain of the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who have lost their loved ones. We are all in grief,” he said. On Tuesday evening, Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation tweeted that the government struggled to gather information earlier. Zuma said he had directed various government departments to ensure that relatives of the deceased were taken to Nigeria to identify their loved one’s bodies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHJfGVmuYHg Government wanted to ensure that the bodies were repatriated as soon as possible. Zuma thanked the families of the deceased and the Nigerian government for their co-operation with the South African government. He also extended his condolences to Nigeria and all other nations affected by this tragedy. “May the souls of the departed compatriots rest in peace,” he said. Nigerian preacher and televangelist TB Joshua on Sunday linked the deadly building collapse at his Lagos megachurch to a suspicious aircraft but rescue workers ruled out the theory of foul play, AFP reports. Joshua, dubbed “The Prophet” by fanatical followers because of his purported predictions and healing powers, showed footage of the moments leading up to the collapse on his emmanuel.tv network. Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said 42 people were killed in Friday’s incident, while 130 escaped or were pulled out alive from the rubble. In the security camera footage, apparently from opposite the vast church compound, what is described as an aircraft is seen over the building four times at 11.30am (1030 GMT), 11.43am, 11:45am and 11.54am. The uncompleted building, five floors of which are visible above a high wall, is then seen to collapse at 12.44pm, throwing up huge clouds of dust into the air. “After the incident, the strange aircraft does not return,” a commentary accompanying the images adds. There was no independent verification of the authenticity of the footage but Joshua has said he would make it available to Nigeria’s security agencies. SCOAN is located in Ikotun, near Lagos international airport. Rescue work delayed Joshua’s theory about the low-flying plane featured in a number of Nigerian newspapers on Sunday. But NEMA’s southwest co-ordinator Ibrahim Farinloye rejected claims of sabotage and said extra floors were being added to the building without changing the foundations. “If it were an act of terrorism or sabotage, it would have gone into rubble,” he told AFP at the scene. Building collapses are common in Nigeria because of the use of sub-standard material and flouting of construction regulations. NEMA rescue workers were only able to access the site properly at 9.00am on Sunday and the emergency services and media had previously complained of being attacked by church security. The Lagos state building control agency also complained that its officials were obstructed and Farinloye indicated more lives could have been saved had rescuers been able to get to the building sooner. Rescuers wearing protective facemasks and boots used excavators to remove slabs of flattened concrete and were hunting for anyone still trapped under the wreckage of twisted metal and masonry. The building was believed to be a guesthouse for foreign members of SCOAN and green mattresses were clearly visible among the debris. It was not known how many people were inside the building when it collapsed. But Joshua preaches to massive crowds at the megachurch every week and, according to his website, SCOAN “hosts thousands of national and international visitors” each year. “People travel from around the world to witness and receive from the mighty work that God is doing in the life of Prophet TB Joshua,” it states. Joshua said on his Facebook page TB Joshua Ministries that reports that the church auditorium had collapsed and that there had been heavy casualties were not correct. “The few people that were there are being rescued,” he said on Friday. *Source SAPA]]>
South Africa's fight against government corruption yielding results
September 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
South African has recovered millions of rand, as it ups its fight against a wave of corruption within the government.[caption id="attachment_11937" align="alignleft" width="480"] Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe says government is sending a strong message to international investors that there is a high level of trust in the country[/caption]
Revealing several investigations into corrupt activities at a number of government entities, Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe said “progress was being made in the fight against corruption but more could be done”.
“Corruption is cancer and depriving citizens of what they are entitled to in terms of services from the State,” Radebe told a media briefing in Cape Town, adding that there was an urgent need to speed up the process of investigations in government departments and the justice department.
The anti-corruption task team recorded close to 550 incidents by the end of March 2014 against 300 incidents by March 2013.
“[The] government is sending a strong message to international investors that there is a high level of trust in the country and it’s safe to invest here,” Radebe said.
“We have to be transparent about uprooting corruption and not only look good, but that we are doing it to create a better life for the people in SA.”
He said people who want to invest in the country must predict what procedures are and the justice system must work.
Radebe added that “no one was above the law and that President Jacob Zuma was not dodging corruption charges”.
Tax payers had to fork out R246 million ($23.8 million) on the President’s private homestead Nkandla in Kwazulu-Natal and opposition party members are demanding that Zuma pays back some of the money.
An investigation in the Eastern Cape at its Educations department led to the special investigations unit recovering close to R6 million with several arrests.
An investigation into World Cup related corrupt activities by the Department of Arts and Culture yielded several high profile arrests.*Source African Report]]>
AngloGold seeks to split global and South Africa mines
September 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
Africa’s biggest bullion producer AngloGold Ashanti said on Wednesday it was restructuring its mining and exploration operations outside South Africa under a new UK-based company and was also seeking $2.1 billion in a rights issue.
The company said in a statement that such a move “would allow independent management teams to execute distinct strategies in order for each entity to compete as effectively as possible.”
The statement said the move was “in the context of the current industry and macro-economic environment”
Its share price fell almost 6 percent on the news in opening trade in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
AngloGold will have a shareholding of above 20 percent in the new company that will seek a listing in London and be led by chief executive-designate Charles Carter along with president and chief operating officer Ron Largent.
Srinivasan Venkatakrishnan will remain chief executive of AngloGold Ashanti and will be joined by Christine Ramon as chief financial officer.
Proceeds from the cash call will be used to pare back debt.
*Source African Report/ReutersRead the original article on Theafricareport.com : AngloGold seeks to split global and South Africa mines | West Africa Follow us: @theafricareport on Twitter | theafricareport on Facebook]]>
Petra finds $10 million-plus white diamond
September 10, 2014 | 0 Comments
Petra Diamonds Ltd has found a 232.08-carat white diamond at its Cullinan mine in South Africa, which four analysts predict could fetch between $10 million to $16 million.
Shares in the diamond miner, which operates primarily in South Africa, climbed as much as 7 percent to a high of 189.2 pence in early trading, the biggest rise on Britain’s FTSE 250 Midcap Index on Tuesday.The Cullinan mine is famed for the largest rough gem diamond ever recovered, the 3,106 carat Cullinan Diamond found in 1905, which was cut into stones that are part of Britain’s Crown Jewels. The recent find is Petra’s largest white diamond since it unearthed the 507-carat Cullinan Heritage in 2009 from the same mine. That rough white diamond was given a “flawless” clarity grade and fetched $35.3 million, a record price for the company. “We estimate a sales price in the order of $10 million to $15 million, given Gem Diamonds’ recent sale of Type II white at about $70,000 per carat and assuming some losses for cutting/polishing,” Numis Securities analysts said in a note. “The extra revenue would go straight to the bottom line”, Numis said. Petra, which reported revenue of about $473 million in the previous financial year, declined to specify how much the diamond could fetch. A company spokesman told Reuters the stone would most likely be snapped up by a buyer from traditional diamond hubs such as the United States, Europe, Israel or China, who could cut the stone into polished gems. “It’s more a case of the clients coming to us, rather than us needing to approach clients,” he said. Petra said it expected the diamond, that has no measurable nitrogen impurities to be sold in October-December, the second quarter of its financial year. Investors are also awaiting the outcome Petra’s sale of a rare 122.52-carat blue diamond recovered from Cullinan this year. Analysts have pegged the stone’s value at more than $35 million. The sale period closes on Friday. The miner, with five producing mines in South Africa and one in Tanzania, sold a 29.6 carat blue diamond to U.S. luxury jeweller Cora International in February for $25.6 million. Petra has in the past year retrieved some large blue diamonds from Cullinan, which was one of the five non-core mines it bought from Anglo American Plc’s De Beers unit – the world’s biggest diamond producer by value. *Source theafricareport/Reuters]]>