Zuma Fate Looms Over ANC Policy Conference

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JOHANNESBURG � South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has opened a major policy conference, an event the party holds every five years to set priorities and programs ahead of the next elections.

But this year’s meeting in Johannesburg is overshadowed by the major political drama haunting the long-dominant ANC, as an increasingly unpopular President Jacob Zuma faces a no-confidence vote in parliament.

The vote was sparked by Zuma’s decision earlier this year to fire a well-respected finance minister and reshuffle his Cabinet. That political upheaval prompted a major ratings agency to downgrade the nation’s sovereign credit rating, which has negatively impacted the economy.

Zuma’s political troubles come as the country grapples with record unemployment � which stands at nearly 30 percent � and an economy in recession.

Calls for Zuma to resign have even come from prominent members of his own party, which has long prided itself for maintaining a unified front.

‘We will never engage’

At the conference’s opening on Friday, Zuma brushed aside the storm clouds over his head.

Many of us have controlled ourselves not to respond to these comrades, because we know them, he told the crowd of ANC representatives. Some of them are not as strong as they project themselves, he said, a comment that triggered laughter.

We know them. But because we are keeping to the discipline of the organization, we are not engaging them in public, and we will never engage them, he said.

This meeting precedes a major ANC political conference in December, at which point the party will choose a new leader to replace Zuma, whose term as president ends in 2019.

Next leader?

That new leader is likely to become South Africa’s next president, and he or she would have the authority to pardon Zuma over the 783 counts of corruption he is currently facing. Already this battle has been painted by experts as a showdown between Zuma’s favorite � his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma � and Zuma’s increasingly critical and outspoken deputy president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Political analyst Judith February says the thing to really watch this week is who comes out on top of the political heap.

Essentially, this policy conference will be a proxy for the December leadership battle, she told VOA. And there will be horse-trading going on behind the scenes, there will be provinces, branches, trying to influence the process. And so, actually, I think policy will end up taking a backseat, and that this really is about the politics.

Source: Voice of America

Cashless payments on the cards for Gauteng commuters

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Pretoria � The Gauteng Provincial Government will in the next three months introduce a pilot project for a single e-ticket for public transport users.

A similar card-based pilot project was introduced in Pretoria last year by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) for minibus taxi commuters on the Johannesburg, Pretoria and Mabopane (JPM) route.

However, according to the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, the project to be introduced by the provincial government will encompass all modes of public transport including taxis, buses and possibly trains.

The department will launch the pilot project for a single e-ticket in October.

Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi on Thursday said the pilot project is one of the key deliverables of the 25-year Integrated Transport Master Plan (ITMP25) to develop a fully integrated Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) System.

Work to realise the AFC includes enabling Europay, MasterCard and Visa card compliance on all transport modes so that they are able to offer a prepaid product that allows for interoperability and integration.

MEC Vadi said significant technical work with municipalities has been done.

Furthermore, the department is in the process of enabling online renewal of motor vehicle licences as well as launch an app to report and monitor potholes along the provincial roads. This forms part of department’s proactive maintenance strategy of the road network, he said in a statement, which outlined progress on the department’s activities.

Transport budget

The department has been allocated R6.8 billion and the bulk of the allocation will go towards transport infrastructure (R1.9 billion); transport operations (R2.3 billion); transport regulation (R314 million); Gautrain (R1.8 billion) and administration (R321 million).

The department plans to improve road infrastructure through construction of new roads and improving maintenance of existing roads. This will include the construction of the first new freeway in 40 years, the PWV15, to reduce congestion and support the Aerotropolis development in Ekurhuleni.

“We will improve systems to ensure the speedy repair of potholes and the resurfacing of the road network. We will mobilise resources for road infrastructure in ways that will avoid the controversy linked to the e-tolls. There will be no e-tolls on our newly constructed freeways,” MEC Vadi said.

The department recently completed 12 major road rehabilitation projects such as the N12, the R82 from Eikenhof to Walkerville and the N14. Work on the remaining section of the N14 is currently underway.

The department said it remains one of the key sources of funding for the Provincial Treasury. Over the past three years, it had collected motor vehicle and other licensing fees amounting to R9.6 billion.

In the past three years, the province has seen significant investment in roads and public transport infrastructure to support the economy, integrate fragmented urban form, improve quality of transport and reduce commuting times.

“The massive rollout of modernised public transport infrastructure such as the Gautrain rapid rail service, the slow but progressive expansion of metropolitan BRT services and the development of the Aerotropolis are examples of mega-projects that are gradually transforming our urban landscape and creating jobs,” MEC Vadi said.

He said despite the corporate governance challenges confronting the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), the Metrorail revitalisation programme in the province has seen the introduction of 18 new trains on the Pienaarspoort-Pretoria corridor.

The Gibela Rail Manufacturing Plant will be ready later this year.

Taxi disputes

MEC Vadi said the department will continue to work with taxi operators to address issues relating to operating licenses.

“I wish to announce that I intend to institute extraordinary measures in terms of section 91 of the National Land Transport Act to close all ranks and routes registered in the name of NANDUWE and WATA in Soweto.

“The route dispute and resulting violent conflicts between these two associations have been ongoing and all efforts at resolving the said dispute, including the section 79 ruling of the Provincial Regulatory Entity, has not helped to stabilise transport operations in the area,” MEC Vadi said.

The provincial department has discussed the ongoing violent conflicts between Uber/Taxify partners and metered taxi operators led by the so-called Gauteng Metered Taxi Concerned Operators with the Ministers of Police and Transport.

“Government as a whole is absolutely clear that unlawful and criminal acts of certain metered taxi operators will be dealt decisively,” said MEC Vadi.

Source: South Africa Government News Agency

Gunfire Rings out Near Jail in Congo’s Capital Kinshasa

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KINSHASA � Gunfire rang out near a small jail in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa on Thursday afternoon and a heavy army presence was deployed at the site, witnesses said on Thursday.

The army and police surrounded the jail in the Matonge neighborhood of Kinshasa. The cause of the gunfire was not clear.

Thousands of inmates have escaped from jails this year in Congo, including about 4,000 from the capital Kinshasa’s main high-security prison last month.

Source: Voice of America

Minister Faith Muthambi: Address at reception hosted by Chinese Embassy Celebrating 20 Years of Hong Kong’s return to People’s Republic of China

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Speech by the Minister for the Public Service and Administration Ms Faith Muthambi at the reception hosted by the Chinese Embassy Celebrating 20 Years of Hong Kong’s return to the motherland Embassy of China, Pretoria, Gauteng ProvinceProgramme Directo…