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South Africa: Tense political landscape does not augur well for country’s future

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By Sihle Mavuso

While the political landscape in South Africa has been tense over the past week, it remains to be seen how senior political party leaders and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration will handle some of the thorny issues gripping the country.

This includes the President’s involvement in the Phala Phala scandal which continues to will haunt very much like the Nkandlagate which haunted his predecessor former President Jacob Zuma.

The more the President ducks the matter, the more it haunts him.

That was evident when he appeared before the national assembly – albeit virtually – to answer questions over the last few days.

The EFF which has kept the fires around the matter burning wanted Ramaphosa to be held accountable and fought running battles with the Speaker of the national assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

In the end, the EFF was ejected from parliament for being disruptive. However, their aim of keeping the matter in the national discourse was achieved.

To show that the EFF won the day, even Mapisa-Nqakula later revealed that she was considering asking Ramaphosa to come back to answer questions regarding the matter.

What’s next for Ramaphosa? The only way out for him now is to drag the matter until the ANC conference is over.

But Phala Phala is not be the only focus for law enforcements agencies.

The arrest of former Transnet executives is a matter that remains under the scrutiny and the eye of many South Africans.

Despite being granted R50 000 bail last week after the National Prosecuting Authority effected its campaign to nab those implicated in State Capture, former Transnet group chief executive officer, Brian Molefe and former CFO Anoj Singh have yet to account for the charges of fraud and corruption.

File picture: Mlandeli Puzi – Eskom’s former chief executive, Brian Molefe.

The same goes for Regiments Capital Directors Niven Pillay and Litha Nyhonhya who were also arrested.

Taking a step back, we will remember that these arrests follow the recommendations made by chairperson of the State Capture Commission of Inquiry, Chief Justice Raymond Zondo in his report.

The Commission probed allegations of state capture during the Zuma’s presidency between 2009 and 2018.

Investigations into the matter had later revealed that these officials were involved in in overseeing a Transnet locomotive tender of 2012 worth R54 billion.

It is alleged that the tender was riddled with corruption so much that the costs escalated as kickbacks had to be paid to several people.

Meanwhile, there are still questions over other investigations involving Molefe who has also been cited for corruption involving the country’s power utility, Eskom during his tenure as an executive there.

What now after Transnet arrests?

This is the beginning of a long winter of despair for Molefe and Singh.

We are likely to see them facing prosecutions like that of former Crime Intelligence boss, Richard Mdluli, who after being granted parole for another conviction, another case was waiting for him in court.

In short, Molefe and Singh are likely to once again find themselves in the dock when the Gupta brothers are finally brought back to South Africa to face the long arm of the law for their alleged role in the state capture saga.

The comment by Ramaphosa in his weekly newsletter last week show that the current administration is turning the tide against corruption was an indication that more arrests are imminent over state capture cases.

KwaZulu-Natal DG arrest over Mhlathuze water board corruption

Another arrest that has made headlines and is an issue that many will also continue to keep an eye on is the arrest of Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize, the DG (Director General) in the Office of the Premier in KwaZulu-Natal.

Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA) – South Africa – Durban – 30 August 2022 – Dr Nonhlanhla Mkhize appeared briefly with her other co accused in Durban specialized organized crime on charges of corruption

Initially, many were puzzled as to why Mkhize was arrested for corruption that occurred in an entity that does not report to the provincial government.

It later emerged that she took part in a panel that awarded a tainted tender.

In November 2018 there was a Mhlatuze Water procurement project where the entity had to appoint a panel of legal service providers to render services on an ad-hoc basis over three years.

It was when a law firm owned by one of the suspects, Ralph Mhlanga, was appointed. Prices were then inflated so that the law could be able to pay kickbacks to suspended Mhlathuze water CECO, Mthokozisi Duze and CFO Babongile Mnyandu, who are among those who were arrested.

What shocked the world was that when the chairperson of the Mhlathuze water board, Thabi Shange, got hold of a forensic report, she was threatened and forced to hand it over to those implicated.

What’s next for Mkhize?

Duze and Mnyandu’s fate was long sealed at the water board. It is known in the corridors of the water board in Richards Bay that they would not come back.

Their arrest makes it easy for the board to fire them without even negotiating a golden handshake with them.

A similar fate awaits Mkhize at the Office of the Premier in the capital of Pietermaritzburg. After surviving several attempts to oust her, Mkhize has finally given her detractors enough ammunition to kick her out.

It would be remembered that a few years back, Mkhize was found guilty by the public protector to have authorised dubious expenditures while she held a similar position in the Mpumalanga provincial government.

The tenders were related to the memorial service of the late Nelson Mandela. Her skin was saved when she took the report for review and she won.

Fearing that then Premier, Sihle Zikalala, was going to use the Mkhwebane finding which was challenging, to oust her, Mkhize dashed to court to get an interdict.

The interdict meant that Zikalala could not act against her using the report she was challenging in court – the interdict was granted and she was saved.

With this arrest, her days as the big shot in the provincial government are nearly over. It is now a matter of when not what.

Operation Dudula and foreign patients in South African hospitals

With operation Dudula activists dead set on barring foreign nationals from accessing health care at Kalafong Provincial Tertiary Hospital in Pretoria it appears that the group is not willing to back down despite rife criticism from various sectors of society.

Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA) – Members of the anti-immigrant group, Operation Dudula.

The political standoff between Operation Dudula and members of the EFF also raise eyebrows as the red barets contest that Operation Dudula activists act with impunity by not affording foreign nationals to be treated at the medical institution.

This matter is likely continue grabbing headlines in the coming weeks as the movement insists that South African health services should prioritized for South African citizens.

What has become evident however is the the current volatile political climate does not augur well for South Africans who have repeatedly called for political and economic stability in the country.

Mavuso is a journalist at www.iol.co.za and writes on current affairs in South Africa and parts of the SADC region.