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  • South Africa: a new president.

    By ACTSA | February 14, 2018

    The South African parliament will elect a new President on Thursday 15 February following Jacob Zuma’s resignation with immediate effect late on Wednesday 14 February.

    The ruling ANC  decided to recall Jacob Zuma, effectively calling on him to resign,  making it clear if he did they would  table a motion of no confidence in him to be debated in parliament on Thursday 15 February.

    It is clearly upto the ANC who is their leader and candidate for president and it is clearly up to South Africans to decide who is the President of South Africa.

    What is of concern of those who see themselves as friends of democratic South Africa particularly those who supported the struggle against apartheid which was a denial of economic as well as political rights is whoever is President South Africa needs to preside over a government that will reduce poverty and inequality, that will enable more citizens to have a decent job, that improves services.  The government must root out corruption. It must uphold human rights, eliminate discrimination and ensure the institutions of the state serve all its citizens.

    Many of those non-South Africans who supported the struggle against apartheid, led heroically by South Africans feel a stake in democratic South Africa. They have hopes and aspirations for a South Africa which deals with the terrible legacy of apartheid and colonialism. They celebrate with South Africans a free democratic, non-racist and non-sexist South Africa. They hope and want South Africa to reduce poverty, inequality, uphold and improve rights. This is the challenge for Cyril Ramaphosa who will be elected as democratic South Africa’s fifth president.

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    Hugh Masekela 1939 – 2018, A great musician and great man

    By Tony | January 23, 2018

    Hugh Masekela was a great musician. He wrote and performed wonderful and inspiring music. He entertained millions. He was also respected and liked by millions for his music and his humanity. Hugh Masekela typified the best of South Africans. He refused to be classed as inferior to white South Africans. He rejected that the apartheid regime tried to deny him and a majority of South Africans citizenship of their own country. He fought against apartheid through his music, through his rejection of racism and through his support for a democratic non-racist and non-sexist South Africa. His music gave pleasure not only to millions of South Africans but millions more around the world. He also gave a voice to those denied it, to the black southern Africans migrating to work in the mines of South Africa, to those living in Soweto and through his work and example showed a different, better, inclusive and more equal South Africa is not desirable but achievable.

    Hugh Masekela was given his first trumpet by Archbishop Trevor Huddleston who later became the President of the Anti-Apartheid Movement and ACTSA’s founding patron. Hugh never forgot this and one of the last times I saw him perform was in London at St James Piccadilly where Archbishop Trevor once lived and in a benefit for the Trevor Huddleston Foundation. Hugh gave a virtuoso performance. I was glad I was there on the evening and now looking back I am even gladder I went.  It was a wonderful concert. I also saw him perform that year in Glasgow to mark International Mandela Day which was fitting as Glasgow was the first city in the world to award Nelson Mandela Freedom of the City.

    The news of Hugh’s death is a sad one but we give thanks for the gift of Hugh Masekela. He was a great musician, performer and great man. He has enriched the lives of millions. He will be missed, most of all by his family but also by many others but he will not be forgotten, his life, values and his music will continue to be celebrated.

    Topics: Features, News | 1 Comment »

    Lord Hain alleges that UK based companies have aided and abetted money laundering, corruption and state capture in South Africa.

    By Tony | January 18, 2018

    Lord Hain alleges that UK based companies have aided and abetted money laundering, corruption and state capture in South Africa.

    Hogan Lovells a willingly gullible or malevolent accomplice?

    Lord Peter Hain, anti-apartheid activist, supporter of democratic South Africa and ACTSA honorary vice president speaking in the UK House of Lords on the 15 January lamented that firms with their H.Q in the UK have allegedly supported money laundering and corruption in South Africa. Lord Hain mentioned a number of firms but focused his contribution on the law firm Hogan Lovells which he said was either a willingly gullible or malevolent accomplice in their investigation into the Deputy Head of the South Africa Revenue Service (SARS) Jonas Makwakwa.

    In May 2016 the Financial Intelligence Centre, South Africa’s Financial Crime regulator ordered SARS to establish whether several “suspicious and unusual cash deposits and payments” into the accounts of Makwakwa and his girlfriend, Kelly-Ann Elskie, were the “proceeds of crime and/or money laundering”. It is reported R1.7 million (about £200,000) had been paid into their bank accounts over a six-year period. The Head of the South Africa Revenue Service Tom Monyane commissioned an independent review by the law firm Hogan Lovells. In October 2017 Tom Monyane reinstated Jonas Makwakwa saying that Hogan Lovells had cleared Jonas Makwakwa of all charges.

    Lord Hain alleges that in the process of the investigation its terms of reference were significantly narrowed which Hogan Lovell seems to have accepted. Lord Hain also alleges the law firm did not focus on allegations of money laundering and possible corruption, that they did not challenge a report by Price Waterhouse Coopers not being made available to them and they did not include evidence from an investigation by a specialist police unit – the Hawks. Lord Hain has called on the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) to investigate the conduct of Hogan Lovells with a view to taking action against them.

    Hogan Lovells state that Lord Hain’s accusations against them are without foundation.

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    Cyril Ramaphosa elected the new president of the ANC

    By Tony | December 18, 2017

    Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected as the new President of the African National Congress (ANC) taking over from Jacob Zuma who stood down but who remains as President of South Africa until national elections in 2019 unless the ANC decides to recall him as it did his predecessor Thabo Mbeki.

    Cyril Ramaphosa will be the ANC candidate for President in 2019. The ANC got 62% in the national elections in 2014 and 54% in local government elections in 2016. Many commentators now expect that Cyril Ramaphosa will become the next President of South Africa. Cyril Ramaphosa came to prominence as a trade union leader in the 1980s and a leader of the United Democratic Front.

    In the earlier 1990s he was a key person in the negotiations for South Africa to become a democracy. It has been widely reported that he was Nelson Mandela’s preference to succeed him as President. The ANC chose Thabo Mbeki and Cyril Ramaphosa left a leading role in politics and became a successful businessman. He was a member of the board of Lonmin at the time of the Marikana massacre. He became Deputy President of the ANC in 2012 and Deputy President of the country in 2014.

    In other elections for the “top six” positions in the National Executive Council (NEC):

    - David Mabuza Premier of Mpumalanga province was elected Deputy President
    Gwede Mantashe, outgoing General Secretary was elected National Chairperson of the ANC
    - Ace Magashule, Premier of the Free State province was elected Secretary General by 24 votes.
    - Paul Mashatile was elected Treasurer General
    - Jessie Duarte was re-elected Deputy Secretary General.

    The ANC elective conference will now elect the 80 person National Executive.

    Topics: News | 1 Comment »

    Stalwarts and Veterans of the ANC call on Zuma to resign immediately

    By ACTSA | November 20, 2017

    Stalwarts and Veterans of the African National Congress (ANC) convened a National Consultative Congress 17-19 November in Johannesburg. It was attended by several hundred people.

    They had requested the National Executive of the ANC convene a National Consultative Conference but when it did not the Stalwarts and Veterans convened it. The Stalwarts and Veterans comprise people who have given many years distinguished service to the ANC, to the overthrow of apartheid and the establishment of democratic South Africa. Many had suffered because of their support and actions against apartheid. Attending the meeting were two former Presidents of the country, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Mothlanthe, several former and some current cabinet ministers. The Stalwarts and Veterans say the ANC is in crisis and because it is the ruling party the country is in crisis and it needs to be openly discussed what action to take.

    The declaration from the conference called on President Zuma to resign immediately. It called for future presidents of South Africa to be directly elected and for the members of the ANC National Executive to be directly elected by one member one vote and not through branches as at present.

     

    The conference said there is, “moral degeneration in society that is overseen by a self-centred, non-caring leadership that lacks honesty, integrity and a vision for the future…

     

    [That] Membership of the ANC has come to be seen by some as a path to positions, personal power, privilege and licence to plunder the state resources.”

     

    It called on,  “all women and men of honour and integrity within the ANC and government to stand up against all forms of corruption, expose, reject and isolate the dishonest elements that seek to undermine and destroy our organisation, government and our reputation.”

    The full declaration from the Consultative Conference can be found here.

     

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    UK banks may have been unwittingly involved in South African corruption

    By Robyn | October 25, 2017

    Lord Peter Hain an ACTSA honorary vice president has written to the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond advising him that two UK banks may have been unwitting conduits in the illicit siphoning of millions of pounds from South Africa.

    Speaking on the matter in the House of Lords last week, Lord Hain advised that he had been notified by whistle-blowers in South Africa that the UK banks HSBC and Standard Chartered banks may have inadvertently been involved in the movement of up to £400m of illicit funds. The money is alleged to have been siphoned from the country, passing through Hong Kong and Dubai, both locations where the two British financial institutions hold a significant presence. In an interview with the BBC World Service Lord Hain reiterated that there is no allegation of wrongdoing on the part of the banks but stated it is his hope that the banks will attempt to regain funds illicitly removed from the country.

    In response to Lord Hain’s letter the UK Chancellor stated ‘The UK government takes allegations of corruption and money laundering extremely seriously and is committed to preventing the proceeds of corruption from entering the UK financial system.’  The Treasury has also issued a statement affirming that the case had been passed on to the Serious Fraud Office, National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with the request that they look into the involvement of the British banking groups.

    This is the latest scandal in the ongoing inquiry into the alleged corruption scandal involving President Jacob Zuma and the influential Gupta family. It is alleged that the powerful business family the Guptas bought political influence with the government for their own financial gain. A phenomena referred to in South Africa as ‘state capture’. Lord Hain’s allegations state the illicitly transferred funds in question were stolen from the South African taxpayer as a result of the ‘corruption and cronyism’ of President Zuma and the Guptas. Both President Zuma and the Guptas strongly deny any wrong-doing , stating they are the victims of a “politically motivated witch hunt”.

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    Are the mining companies trying to escape on the cheap?

    By Campaigns | October 9, 2017

    ACTSA’s position has always been that the the settlement reached in March 2016 on behalf of 4365 ex-gold mineworkers in regard to legal actions against Anglo American and AngloGold Ashanti should be seen as a benchmark and not just a landmark. We continue to assert that the broad terms of any settlement of the ongoing class action should be at least as good as the terms of the March 2016 settlement.

    The six mining companies have now announced the amounts that they have set aside in relation to a possible settlement of the class action. We have calculated that the total of these provisions is approximately $371.2 million. How would this compare to the terms of the March 2016 settlement?

    The settlement reached in March 2016 saw R464 million, which at the time was $30.1 million, paid into a trust for distribution. While not all ex-gold mineworkers will receive the same amount (assuming that claimants with silicosis can prove they worked on Anglo American or AngloGold mines for at least two years, payments depend on the extent of their illness and their age), this equates to $6896 per person.

    Importantly, a further amount was paid to assist the trust to enable payment of statutory compensation to claimants who qualify for it, and Anglo American and AngloGold also agreed to fund the running costs of the trust and all medical evaluations. Moreover, relatives of deceased ex-gold mineworkers who meet the criteria are included in this settlement.

    On the surface, it would appear that the $371.2 million total set aside by the mining companies could compensate 53,828 ex-gold mineworkers – if the $6896 per person figure is a benchmark. Yet, as we outlined in our recent briefing paper Coughing Up, estimates of ex-gold mineworkers with silicosis run into the hundreds of thousands. For example, in 2005 the Government of South Africa’s Department of Labour estimated 480,000 cases of silicosis among ex-gold mineworkers in Southern Africa. A 2010 study estimated there were 288,000 cases of compensable silicosis in South Africa. As a result, paid occupational lung disease compensation for gold mineworkers has been estimated to run into the billions of US dollars. Experts agree that many ex-gold mineworkers with silicosis in Southern Africa have already died but are there no more than 53,828 of them still alive?

    Yet on closer examination the situation is even worse than at first suspected. ACTSA has learnt that it is likely that the $371.2 million figure is inclusive of all other costs. As noted above, under the March 2016 settlement, costs relating to implementing the settlement (including providing medicals, distributing funds and supporting payment of statutory compensation to those who qualify) were treated separately and are borne by the mining companies. Moreover, in this case there are likely to be significant costs incurred due to locating ex-gold mineworkers with silicosis, as many have gone back to their homes in rural areas of South Africa or in surrounding countries. Finally, it is not clear if relatives of deceased ex-gold mineworkers with silicosis will be eligible to receive any compensation under any settlement of the class action.

    All in all, it looks like the mining companies are looking for a bargain as they look to close the book on their appalling treatment of their former employees. Can we stop them from escaping on the cheap?

    Sunit Bagree is ACTSA’s Senior Campaigns Officer

    Topics: Features | No Comments »

    O R Tambo Centenary London Schools Competition

    By ACTSA | September 5, 2017

    As many of you will know this October will mark 100 years since the birth of Oliver Reginald Tambo, one of the founding fathers of non-racist, non-sexist, democratic South Africa and leader of the ANC in exile from 1960-1990.

    As one of several celebrations taking place this year and as part of Black History Month ACTSA is delighted to have partnered with Park View School and the Anti Apartheid Movement Archives Committee to organise a competition for school students in Haringey, North London.

    O R Tambo lived in the borough of Haringey with his family during their exile from South Africa, and this October students age 7-18 from the London borough are being asked to ‘Make a Memorial to Oliver Tambo’.

    Students are invited to commemorate life and achievements of O R Tambo in an array of formats, from a painting to a speech, a photo essay to a magazine or webpage. Whole class and group entries are encouraged and the judging will take into particular consideration the way in which students link O R Tambo’s struggles and story to their own lives.

    Entrants will be split into three age categories and with a prize for each category, including, amongst others, a trip to the Houses of Parliament hosted by anti-apartheid activist Lord Peter Hain.

    Deadlines for entry to the competition is 4pm Thursday 19th October. For further information on the competition, including how to enter and tips on planning your winning entry, please click here to read online or download the leaflet here.

    Topics: News from ACTSA | No Comments »

    Bell Pottinger campaign used potentially racial divisive material says independent review.

    By Tony | September 4, 2017

    Bell Pottinger campaign used potentially racial divisive material says independent review.

    Bell Pottinger accepted a commission from Oakbay Investments Pty Limited (“Oakbay”) a holding company for the Gupta family interests in South Africa. It is alleged the Gupta family have significant influence on South Africa government policy, who gets appointed to key roles and who gets, benefits from large government contracts. Referred to in South Africa as “state capture”. The allegations are denied. The commission was in essence to run a PR and marketing campaign to move attention from the alleged close links between the Guptas and key people in, connected to the South African government. Bell Pottinger sought to do this by putting out a counter story, narrative.

    Bell Pottinger commissioned an independent review of its work on the Oakbay account by international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills which has found that, “certain material created by Bell Pottinger…. was potentially racially divisive and/or potentially offensive and was created in breach of relevant ethical principles. [Bell Pottinger's] senior management should have known that the campaign was at risk of causing offence, including on grounds of race.”

    “the BP account team used other tactics in relation to the economic emancipation campaign which arguably breached the relevant ethical principles‚ including taking steps which might mislead or undermine journalists who were asking questions in relation to the campaign.….members of BP’s senior management should have known that the campaign was at risk of causing offence‚ including on grounds of race.….In such circumstances BP ought to have exercised extreme care and should have closely scrutinised the creation of content for the campaign. This does not appear to have happened.”

    The Chief Executive of Bell Pottinger although not involved in this account resigned shortly before the report was released.

    The Huffington Post South Africa has put four questions to Bell Pottinger, others have put similar questions.

    1. How much did Bell Pottinger earn from the Oakbay account?

    2. Would Bell Pottinger now consider paying profits from the account toward some charitable organisations, maybe like those working toward reconciliation efforts in South Africa?

    3. Are (ex-CEO) James Henderson and (former BP partner) Victoria Geoghegan going to be the only employees held responsible?

    4. Would there be another apology issued to South Africans affected by the divisive campaigns?

    Others have also asked about other PR and marketing commissions e.g. allegedly for the ANC Youth League Bell Pottinger has run recently in South Africa.

    Bell Pottinger has so far not answered.

    Bell Pottinger gave up the Oakbay account in April 2017.
    Bell Pottinger was accused of running a campaign in South Africa on behalf of Oakbay which was divisive, offensive and stoked racial tensions. It is reported that the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), a UK trade body has found Bell Pottinger guilty of breaching its code of conduct in its work on the Oakbay account and the PRCA should state what measure it plans to take on 5 September.

    The logical conclusion of the independent review and the reported PRCA finding is that Bell Pottinger did indeed run a divisive, offensive PR and marketing campaign in South Africa for Oakbay recognising it may well cause racial tensions.

    Topics: News | No Comments »

    South Africa: President Zuma survives eighth no-confidence vote

    By Tony | August 10, 2017

    On 8 August a motion of no-confidence in President Zuma was defeated in the national assembly (parliament) by 198 votes to 177 with nine abstentions. To have been carried the no-confidence motion needed 201 votes (50% +1 of the Assembly).

    This was the eighth motion of no-confidence in President Zuma all of which have been defeated. This was the first conducted by secret ballot. It came several months after President Zuma sacked the Minister and Deputy Minister of Finance and amid increasing allegations of corruption and patronage at the centre of government.  On the face of it seems it was a comfortable victory for President Zuma however after allowing for a couple of vacancies and that a number of MPs did not vote it is estimated between 26-36 ANC MPs voted for the opposition motion of no confidence. The ANC has 249 MPs. The combined opposition in theory has 151. However two smaller parties usually vote with the ANC reducing the opposition to 141.

    Some think that having survived the no-confidence vote President Zuma will be strengthened. Others think the vote shows increasing divisions and tensions within the ANC which will hold its five yearly elective conference in December. President Zuma has said he will step down as President of the ANC at the conference. He may continue as President of the country until 2019 but then will have completed the maximum of two terms allowed under the constitution.

    Topics: News | No Comments »

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