A most unsaintly president

A most unsaintly president

Africa's richest politician, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has hinted that he’s keen to abdicate – but he’s holding back because he fears that his sins will be avenged when he relinquishes power. Is President Zuma following his lead? 

For years, Angola has been touted as the epitome of “Africa rising” –  the new frontier of investment, where fortunes stand to be made for those with the acumen and audacity to take the risks and reap the profits. And indeed, on paper, Angola has been just that.

From 2003 to 2013, Angola had one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and the third-largest in sub-Saharan Africa, with oil revenues reaching over US $450 billion and annual average GDP growth at the 11% mark – a remarkable performance by any standards. Kudos to the leadership of Africa’s second-longest serving president, José Eduardo dos Santos.This version of the facts was endorsed in February by the UN General Assembly, which resolved that Angola’s status will rise from low to middle income by 2020. Concrete proof of progress and cause for congratulations all round.

A white Zulu takes us into the heart of the huge black market

A white Zulu takes us into the heart of the huge black market

Did you know that muti is a R6 billion industry? Or that SA imports 300,000 goats annually for ceremonial purposes?

“How many people know that there is R44 billion sitting in coffee tins or under mattresses in thousands of homes throughout South Africa; that there are more than 800,000 stokvels; and that the muti market is a R6bn industry?"

John Dube had saved long and hard for his dream car. “I had over R500,000 with me  but they wouldn’t take my money. Some Fica or such-such thing. They asked me to fill in a form saying where I got my money. Ja, so I filled in the form and, where it asked ‘Where did the money come from?’ I filled in ‘amaKota’. So the salesman says, ‘What’s a kota?’, looking at me like it’s a drug. I explain and he shakes his head. I call the black guy washing the Jeeps. ‘Tshela umlungu wakho what is a kota?’ Tell your white man what is a kota, I say.

The contested Midas touch

The contested Midas touch

No love lost as ex-partners squabble in byzantine row over property deal millions. 

It was meant to rank as one of the most insignificant property deals in history but it has snowballed into a legal fight-to-the-death between two Johannesburg property developers, one relatively small fry, the other who has since made the bigtime and now owns Earl Spencer’s former residence in Constantia, Cape Town.

In December 2003 Barry Sneech sold his shares in the company that owned a Pretoria property (occupied by the vehicle parts group Midas), to his co-director and now multi-millionaire property mogul, Rui Nobre, for a paltry R2.5 million. They were co-directors and equal shareholders at the time.

Two years later, when Sneech learned that prior to taking transfer of his shares in December, Nobre had secretly negotiated the sale of the property for a massive undisclosed profit, he hired lawyers to challenge Nobre’s alleged non-disclosure of information. That, he said, would materially have affected the price he had been prepared to accept for his shares.

But in a controversial 2008 ruling an arbitrator decided that Nobre had had no duty to disclose new developments in their joint company.

Bits and bites

Bits and bites

Transforming the way the world moves.

Two weeks after 175 government representatives came together in New York City to sign the historic Paris Climate Agreement, leaders from national and local governments, civil society, academia, and the private sector gathered in Washington for a Climate Action 2016 summit. While the challenges to tackle climate change span numerous sectors and require actions on multiple fronts, including in agriculture and energy, one area deemed particularly crucial for lowering the world’s carbon footprint is transportation.

The Survé settlement - claim no easy victories

The Survé settlement - claim no easy victories

Vilification and vindication claims fan the flames in newspaper ethics battle.  On 9 May Independent Media executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé reached an out-of-court settlement with former Editor ...

King or queen?

King or queen?

For the amaMpondo, rule by a queen is undermining of male authority and promotes botched circumcisions – so say government representatives in the High Court. (It also happens to be in the interests of the mining industry that Princess Wezizwe should not succeed to the Pondo throne.) 

Despite having been teased with “Murphy’s law” jibes ever since his appointment to the High Court in 2006, Judge John Murphy has earned great respect because of his innovative judgments and exceptional competence.

In November 2015 his Facebook friends were heaping congratulations on him for having cracked a part-time appointment to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal for showing the requisite “high moral character”, impartiality and “at least 15 years of aggregate judicial experience in the field of administrative law, employment law or the equivalent”, which is what the UN General Assembly rules say.

Please call me maybe

Please call me maybe

It takes investors with deep pockets to champion the rights of the little folk. 

Judgment in the Constitutional Court case of Vodacom vs Kenneth Makate, handed down on 26 April, has been applauded as a victory for the small man, a classic case of David versus Goliath.

True – and also misleading. This David would never have reached South Africa’s judicial battlefield had he not had the backing of some serious financial musclemen. It was Makate, a junior Vodacom employee at the time, who conceived the Please Call Me service back in 2000 – an app that has subsequently raked in billions for Vodacom, and other mobile phone operators, here and abroad. All Makate asked was for a slice of the cake, something he had negotiated upfront with his seniors at Vodacom when he introduced them to his idea.

NCIS - South African style

NCIS - South African style

DNA testing not a magical cure-all for the problems of crime detection. 

Few cases better demonstrate the great value of DNA-matching in crime detection than this one: in the past month, Western Cape police investigating a string of rape and murder cases announced they had arrested a suspect whom they identified as the perpetrator in several of them – based on DNA specimens retrieved from the victims .

In four of the cases where the DNA samples matched the now-arrested suspect, police had previously arrested other suspects on the basis of reports from the community. They were almost immediately released for lack of evidence.

The fact that they are now provably innocent is, tragically, of no account to these men: they were promptly murdered by angry mobs.

Foiled again

Foiled again

Those delectable and healthy-looking roasted vegetables may not be as good for you as they appear. By Dr Ghada Bassioni Using aluminium pots to cook in isn’t a bad thing, but wrapping food in foi ...

Secret security debts devastate Mozambique economy

Secret security debts devastate Mozambique economy

As Mozambique’s mountain of dubious debts tops US$2 billion, there are growing calls for a forensic audit and an international police probe into the officials and entities involved in this massive fraud.

The deals and loans arranged under former President Armando Guebuza, and largely kept secret under his successor Filipe Nyusi, mean that Mozambicans now face the prospect of penury under the yoke of debt repayments on an epic scale. 

The role of the banks involved in the deals, whose terms were far above market rates, is also attracting regulatory interest and criticism. It is clear that the secret lending was undertaken by the country’s state security and intelligence services, and Africa Confidential  (AC) has now revealed yet more detail of the astonishing malfeasance at the heart of the state and who was responsible.

Problems, problems. Smoke and mirrors

Problems, problems. Smoke and mirrors

It’s been dubbed the election of the shapeless against the faceless: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull versus opposition leader Bill Shorten. The date has finally been confirmed for 2 July and, for wa ...

Update: Hillcrest smell

Update: Hillcrest smell

The company accused of a foul smell in Durban’s mink and manure belt, allegedly leading to severe health problems, has denied all liability - after testing the air quality for just 15 days.

Enviroserv, which operates a chemical dump landfill site in Hillcrest, claim the tests show “the average ambient airborne concentrations of selected priority contaminants measured are unlikely to pose a chronic health risk to residents”.

But environmentalists, the Hillcrest community and even the city believe the findings are not good enough calling it “junk science” and “green washing”.

Jansen prophesies academic ruination

Jansen prophesies academic ruination

In his address to the Franschhoek Literary festival in May, Jonathan Jansen quipped that his work as Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State was the second-most difficult job in the world ...
 
A most unsaintly president

A most unsaintly president

Africa's richest politician, Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has hinted that he’s keen to abdicate – but he’s holding back because he fears that his sins will be avenged when he relinquishes ...

A white Zulu takes us into the heart of the huge black market

A white Zulu takes us into the heart of the huge black market

Did you know that muti is a R6 billion industry? Or that SA imports 300,000 goats annually for ceremonial purposes? “How many people know that there is R44 billion sitting in coffee tins or ...

The contested Midas touch

The contested Midas touch

No love lost as ex-partners squabble in byzantine row over property deal millions.  It was meant to rank as one of the most insignificant property deals in history but it has snowballed into a ...

Bits and bites

Bits and bites

Transforming the way the world moves. Two weeks after 175 government representatives came together in New York City to sign the historic Paris Climate Agreement, leaders from national and local governments, civil society, academia, ...

The Survé settlement - claim no easy victories

The Survé settlement - claim no easy victories

Vilification and vindication claims fan the flames in newspaper ethics battle.  On 9 May Independent Media executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé reached an out-of-court settlement with former Editor of the Cape Times Alide Dasnois, which ...

King or queen?

King or queen?

For the amaMpondo, rule by a queen is undermining of male authority and promotes botched circumcisions – so say government representatives in the High Court. (It also happens to be in the ...

Please call me maybe

Please call me maybe

It takes investors with deep pockets to champion the rights of the little folk.  Judgment in the Constitutional Court case of Vodacom vs Kenneth Makate, handed down on 26 April, has been applauded ...

NCIS - South African style

NCIS - South African style

DNA testing not a magical cure-all for the problems of crime detection.  Few cases better demonstrate the great value of DNA-matching in crime detection than this one: in the past month, Western Cape police ...

Foiled again

Foiled again

Those delectable and healthy-looking roasted vegetables may not be as good for you as they appear. By Dr Ghada Bassioni Using aluminium pots to cook in isn’t a bad thing, but wrapping food in foil and ...

Secret security debts devastate Mozambique economy

Secret security debts devastate Mozambique economy

As Mozambique’s mountain of dubious debts tops US$2 billion, there are growing calls for a forensic audit and an international police probe into the officials and entities involved in this massive fraud. The ...

Problems, problems. Smoke and mirrors

Problems, problems. Smoke and mirrors

It’s been dubbed the election of the shapeless against the faceless: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull versus opposition leader Bill Shorten. The date has finally been confirmed for 2 July and, for want of an inspiring ...

Update: Hillcrest smell

Update: Hillcrest smell

The company accused of a foul smell in Durban’s mink and manure belt, allegedly leading to severe health problems, has denied all liability - after testing the air quality for just 15 days. Enviroserv, ...