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Zuma blasts judiciary, backs ANC in first speech after parole

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Ex-president Jacob Zuma on Thursday lashed South Africa’s judiciary but urged voters to back the ruling ANC in local government elections in his first public address since gaining parole from a prison term last month.

Zuma, whose whereabouts are unclear, made an appearance by video link after several thousand supporters gathered for a “welcome back” prayer in the eastern port city of Durban.

“Today we are a state governed by those who know what it is like to be oppressed and denied fundamental human rights,” said Zuma, a former apartheid fighter.

“It is this state that has imprisoned me for contempt of court without trial. Something has gone terribly wrong in our country,” he declared.

Officially, no one knows where the ex-president is serving his parole, granted two months into a 15-month prison sentence for snubbing a graft probe into his 2009-18 presidency.

The 79-year-old was released in early September on the grounds of ill health.

According to rumour, he returned to his estate in rural Nkandla, some 200 kilometres inland.

Thursday’s speech was Zuma’s first public appearance since his release.

It was broadcast on television and played through speakers at the event, which was organised by his foundation.

“The fact that you have come to support me with prayers means a lot to me,” Zuma said in a rambling hour-long address.

Usually energetic, Zuma appeared subdued in a casual patterned shirt and said he was “under very strict parole conditions”.

He lambasted the judiciary for ordering his imprisonment and criticised the graft investigations against him.

But he also urged South Africans to vote for the African National Congress (ANC) – the party that drove the fight against apartheid and which he once led.

South Africans head to the polls on November 1 to elect councillors for more than 250 municipalities across the country.

The vote will be a barometer of the ANC’s popularity after party infighting and shocking violence and looting that followed Zuma’s jailing in July.

The unrest killed at least 350 people and dealt a crippling blow to the economy.

Zuma said the riots showed that “cracks in society are widening”.

He warned that voting for opposition or independent candidates would play in the hand of “our enemies” and “make the ANC smaller”.

The party has ruled South Africa since the advent of democracy 27 years ago.

But it is struggling to regain its former glory and haemorrhaged votes during general elections in 2019.

It had also fared poorly in 2016 local polls.

During apartheid, Zuma was jailed for 10 years on Robben Island alongside Nelson Mandela, later to become South Africa’s first black president.

He then fled into exile and became the ANC’s feared head of intelligence, before returning as white-minority rule came to an end.

Zuma’s supporters, sweltering in the heat at the People’s Park near Durban’s beachfront, vowed undying loyalty to their hero.

Veterans of the ANC’s apartheid-era armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, paraded in camouflage military uniforms, chanting struggle songs.

“Jacob Zuma is our commander and will always be,” said veteran Frank Dlamini, 55.

“We were ready to fight and die for our country. So is Mr Zuma,” he told AFP.

“He’s too old to be in jail and arrested. If they don’t free him, I’ll do something for him,” said Lungiswa Mgidi, a traditional healer.

But Zuma’s failure to show up physically on Thursday was also a disappointment.

After leaving supporters waiting in the sun for hours, his address coincided with winds that ripped through the park, kicking up sand, and few stayed around to listen to the end.

Details of Zuma’s medical condition have not been revealed.

But lawyers have used ill health to justify his absence from a separate long-running graft case.

The trial – relating to an arms purchase when he was deputy president in the 1990s – kicked off in May after numerous postponements.
But Zuma failed to appear in court for the last hearing in September, raising ire among exasperated prosecutors. – AFP

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National

Maya appointed deputy chief justice

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MAKING HISTORY AGAIN . . . Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Supreme Court of Appeal Judge President Justice Mandisa Muriel Lindelwa Maya as the deputy chief justice of of South Africa.

A statement issued by the presidency on Monday said Maya will assume her new role from September 1, 2022.

“Justice Maya will contribute to the ongoing transformation process of the judiciary,” said Ramaphosa in the statement.

“Her ascendency to the apex court will serve as a beacon of hope for scores of young women and make them believe that South Africa is a country of possibilities regardless of gender, social or economic circumstances,” he added.

According to the statement, Maya brings more than two decades of a distinguished career as a judicial officer.

She is the first woman to hold the positions of deputy president and president of the Supreme Court of Appeal. – Staff Reporter

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Jessie Duarte laid to rest after succumbing to cancer

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SUCCUMBED TO CANCER . . . ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte

ANC deputy secretary general and former ambassador Jessie Duarte was laid to rest on Sunday afternoon.

She succumbed to cancer on Sunday morning and, as per Muslim rites, she was buried after a funeral service at Westpark Cemetery in Johannesburg.

In his message of condolence, President Cyril Ramaphosa described Duarte as a selfless leader whose love and passion for assisting the poor were immeasurable.

“Jessie Duarte’s sense of justice was keen. Her sympathies for the poor, the vulnerable, the destitute, and the marginalised ran deep.

“She had empathy and could walk in other people’s shoes and see through their eyes. It is this that enabled her to see the suffering of our people and empathise with them.

“She took up their cause and stood firm on her principles, even when her stance attracted criticism or personal attack. She was a champion of the oppressed everywhere,” said Ramaphosa.

The president said ANC officials had planned to visit Duarte on Sunday afternoon, but were instead met by the news of her death.

He stressed the pivotal role played by her in her pursuit of equality.

“As the secretary of the Federation of Transvaal Women, she was part of building and leading a powerful women’s movement that directly challenged the oppression of black women and shook the foundations of the apartheid state.

“She mobilised women across the country to resist the restrictions imposed upon them by a racist and sexist political system and a patriarchal society.”

Ramaphosa declared a special official funeral for Duarte.

She was granted the special funeral as a result of having been South Africa’s ambassador to Mozambique from 1999 to 2003.

The 69-year-old Duarte was undergoing cancer treatment and had been on medical leave since November last year. – News24

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Eskom puzzled by municipalities taking it to court

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JUST PAY UP . . . Eskom Central East Cluster general manager Agnes Mlambo wants municipalities to settle their accounts on time and avoid unnecessary court battles

National power utility Eskom says it does not understand why some municipalities failing to settle their accounts on time choose to rush to the courts instead of simply paying what’s due.

Eskom’s Central East Cluster general manager Agnes Mlambo said this after Letsemeng Local Municipality in the Free State and Matlosana Local Municipality in the North-West were forced in two separate court rulings this week to settle the arrears for their bulk electricity supplies and always pay on time as they are legally obliged to do.

Mlambo, who is responsible for the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal region, says she finds it incredible that some municipalities are willing to spend millions on legal costs instead of using the funds to pay for electricity services delivered by Eskom.

“This proves the unwillingness of these municipalities to do the right thing, which is to fulfil their legal duties by paying Eskom for electricity supplied,” Mlambo is quoted as saying in a statement.

“These municipalities collect revenue from electricity sales at a mark-up from their customers, but do not pass the revenue on to Eskom.

“In the meantime, Eskom must cover the costs of diesel, coal, salaries and other expenses to keep supplying electricity to these non-paying municipalities.”

Eskom provincial spokesperson Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg said the judgments conclude lengthy legal battles that started in 2020 when the power utility served the municipalities with notices to interrupt electricity services due to non-payment of their electricity accounts.

“Both judgments are unambiguous on the obligation of the municipalities to service their Eskom current accounts and pay arrear debt,” said Van Rensburg.

She said since the start of the legal proceedings, the two municipalities have been taking payment holidays but they now have to pay.

In January 2020, Letsemeng’s arrear debt totalled R41.1-million.

Now, two and a half years later, the municipality’s overdue debt has risen to R119.7-million and it is faced with paying the legal costs of both parties.

And similar to Letsemeng, Matlosana’s arear debt stood at R422.4-million in January 2020 and has now reached a staggering R1.054-billion.

Eskom Northern Cape and North- West Cluster general manager Marion Hughes said payment for services is imperative for institutions to be sustainable.

“We should not have to use extraordinary measures, like the courts, in order to receive payment for services rendered,” said Hughes.

“For Eskom to survive another 99 years and more, a high sense of responsibility and commitment is needed by all.” – Staff Reporter

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