Today's Big Stories

Anticipation ahead of e-tolls announcement

Image: EWN

Anticipation ahead of e-tolls announcement

There's an announcement due to begin in just the next hour or so from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa about the future of the e-tolls project in Gauteng. Over the last few months, there has been a review of the process by the Gauteng Provincial Government after many claims that most people in the province have not bought an e-tag and are not paying to use the highways. Various organisations including Cosatu, some business and various political parties have all opposed e-tolls, while some people have claimed it actually amounts to a tax revolt. EWN's Alex Eliseev has been following this issue for the last several years:

At the moment, there's some speculation there will be some dangling of carrots for users, as opposed to getting rid of e-tolls altogether, for instance in terms of here could possibly cutting down on the fees that will be paid. There may be an amnesty period for those who haven't paid. This is going to be another trial and crucial battle for the hearts and minds of motorists.

Chairperson of the Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), Wayne Duvenage:

We also expect some amnesty and a lowering of rates for users. I think they've lost the people, they've lost the will of the people, which is what is needed to make this whole system work. The whole system has been so cumbersome and I doubt this will work.

President Zuma's non-action on Jiba

In EWN bulletins this morning is a report on the response of the Presidency to a specific question about whether President Jacob Zuma was taking action against National Prosecuting Authority deputy head, Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, who has been strongly criticized by the Supreme Court of Appeal in cases relating to Richard Mdluli and the Zuma 'spy tapes'. Jiba also faces a criminal charge of perjury relating to another case.EWN asked this question: "Why, in the light of all of this criticism of Adv. Jiba, has President Jacob Zuma not taken any action against her, why has he not suspended her, or launched any investigation, or any inquiry, into her conduct? Or is there an inquiry underway on the orders of the President?" The subsidiary question is:"Does President Jacob Zuma believe Adv. Jiba is performing satisfactorily in her post?"

The response from the Presidency was this:

The appointment of the National Director of Public Prosecutions and his/her Deputies are informed by weighty considerations which are determined by the prescripts of the constitution, other legislation and the rule of law. The Presidency is aware of the judgements to which you refer and in consultation with the Minister of Justice is giving consideration thereto in order to determine whether any interventions are permissible and/or warranted. You are equally no doubt aware that the General Council of the Bar of South Africa has also initiated proceedings which appear on the face of it, to incorporate much of the judicial comment to which you refer. The doctrine of Separation of Powers allows for exchanges between the Judiciary and the Executive, none of which detracts from their respective functions, duties and responsibilities which must be exercised minded as we all are of due process and the safeguard of individual rights. Uppermost, the interventions of the President will be determined by a need to safeguard and preserve the integrity and independence of the National Prosecuting Authority.

Executive Secretary of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac), Lawson Naidoo:

I think the best that one could say to that response is that it is evasive and doesn't deal with the issue at hand. It is the President who has the powers to remove the National Director of Public Prosecutions and any of their deputies. Additionally, the President and the Minister have had ample time to go through the judgements; it is incumbent upon the President to remove Advocate Jiba pending an investigation into her fitness to hold office.

Public sector strike averted

Confirmation this morning in the EWN bulletins that the public sector wage talks have now ended in a deal that will see workers getting a 7% increase and that a strike has now been averted. National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) President and the lead negotiator for the independent labour caucus, Basil Manuel:

The fact that we spent seven months indicates that it was never an easy road, and even in the end, it was touch and go. In the end, the medical aid subsidy increase to 28% was quite the sweetener, aside from the 7% pay increment. Another issue is the need to recognise the number of children who have increased, versus the number of educators that are in the system.

Price fixing in forex investigated

An announcement from the Competition Commission on Tuesday evening is that it is going to investigate price fixing in the foreign exchange trading market (forex). Portfolio Manager for Momentum Asset Management, Patrick Mathidi:

Essentially, it would appear there are some concerns with regards to transparency. The initial probe started off at the beginning of March in the UK. So I guess the question for us now is: to what extent is this prevalent in our market? The number of players are rather small in South Africa, because you'd need a forex trading licence and you find that it's usually the banks that are playing in this space.

BEE scorecard amendments reviewed

Confirmation late on Tuesday that the Department of Trade and Industry has now withdrawn regulations that would have reduced the number of points awarded to firms through various schemes as part of Black Economic Empowerment legislation. CEO of BEE advisory company EconoBEE, Keith Levenstein:

He (Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies) had to change that initial notice of clarification, because it just didn't make any sense and so he had to cancel that and sort the issue out in a clearer way. I think he may well have bad advisors, because I doubt any of this staff actually really looked at the notice properly. I don't even think he even consulted and instead of stopping something from happening, they just issued an incorrect notice.

Concerns over safety during loadshedding in gang areas

A suggestion this morning from the City of Cape Town's Safety and Security head JP Smith that certain areas in the city’s gangland should be exempt from load shedding:

This essentially stems from a request from the Gang Unit over the weekend. They've said that an already next to impossible job with the gang violence currently happening in Manenberg at the moment is made next to impossible when the street lights go off. You can imagine what it must be like for the residents. So the question is either around exempting the residents from load-shedding altogether - which I doubt would happen - or perhaps taking the street lights off the load-shedding grid or even pursuing load-shedding during the day in the area.

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