Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele yesterday became the first high-profile South African politician to publicly declare all her financial affairs and she challenged President Jacob Zuma to do the same. “What is there to hide?” she asked the president.
She noted that her move followed “a long line” of government tender corruption scandals that had seen conflicts of interest and billions of rand in public money wasted. “The R270 million spent by President Zuma on his lavish Nkandla homestead has been greeted with disbelief across the country. The money splashed on Nkandla could have paid for well over 13 000 RDP homes, badly needed in the rural KwaZulu-Natal communities that neighbour Nkandla.”
While Ramphele’s assets were worth about R55.4m as at June 27, she has not earned an income since she resigned from company board positions last December ahead of the formation of Agang SA.
“Agang SA is waging war on corruption… let’s kick these corrupt leaders out of government,” she said. “We must have leaders who set the right example. That is why today I am opening my finances up for the South African people to scrutinise.”
Ramphele has listed securities in Anglo American to the tune of R918 068; in Gold Fields – where she was chairwoman – totalling R86 377; Sibanye Gold worth R13 558 and funds with PTI Global Select Managers worth R366 797. Her Camps Bay home is estimated to be worth R20m. Indirect holdings in a family trust and investment trusts are worth R40m. She received R300 000 income from them in the past 12 months.
Thabo Leshilo, her director of communications, said the party itself could not divulge its funding as many contributors – including high-net-worth individuals in South Africa and “the diaspora”– would be compromised if they were seen to be associated with an opposition party.
The personal financial transparency, however, puts Ramphele off to a good start in politics.
Perhaps the time has come to redefine the definition of a trade union and the mandate that the labour movement has traditionally ascribed to. The agitation that their actions have produced in recent history leaves much to be desired. Marikana continues to be a hotbed of rivalry and bloodshed and the deeply destructive predicament that has befallen Cosatu is an injustice to the fundamentals on which the organisation was founded.
Also disturbing are the doublespeak that some affiliates are prone to. Take, for example, the Communication Workers Union, which has a habit of issuing puzzling statements on occasion on topics other than wage negotiations. On Tuesday it expressed reservations over the shortlist of candidates for the SABC board.
The union said that while it acknowledged the capability of the nominated individuals, it did not believe all of them were capable. But it did not offer solutions.
It added that the previous board had nearly caused the broadcaster’s collapse over what it claims were undercurrents of factional battles for narrow interests.
“As a result the country witnessed the unprecedented snowballing of resignations that plunged the corporation into paralysis and zigzagging,” it said.
Where was the union then to correct the situation?
“To bring them back to the SABC board will be like expecting a fish to climb a tree as this will take South Africans back to the old SABC that did not work because their modus operandi embarrassed the whole country and nearly destroyed the corporation,” it said, urging the cabinet to apply caution when selecting the final crop of board members.
This critical and morally conscious CWU is the same organisation that publicly rebuked the Sunday Times’ reporting on allegations of corruption against former communications minister “Comrade Dina” Pule, who on Tuesday apologised to the nation for failing to conduct her role in a fitting manner.
The current weakness of the rand and high taxation added to the cost of air fares are causing many South Africans who might otherwise have flown overseas on holiday to look for alternatives. And cruising – especially the cruises by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) ships MSC Opera and MSC Sinfonia from Durban and Cape Town – are proving the answer for many people this year.
Allan Foggitt, the marketing director of MSC in South Africa, said on Tuesday that cruise bookings were already 80 percent higher than last year at this time, with 14 000 more passengers already booked.
MSC is offering a wider choice of destinations this year although a cruise to the island of St Helena has been dropped, and it is making a slightly later start than last year when stormy weather at the start of the season prevented one ship from leaving Cape Town on the due date while another returning from a cruise had to wait outside the port until it was safe to come in.
At the beginning of this week the four-berth cabins on the MSC Opera were already 67 percent booked and those on the MSC Sinfonia were 58 percent full. Pointing out that the cruise fare covered accommodation, meals and entertainment every evening, Foggitt said the Italian-owned ships, which cruise the Mediterranean and Caribbean in the northern hemisphere summer, provided “a taste of the international at a fraction of the price”.
The vessels also have shops providing a wide range of duty free goods, including clothes and jewellery. Mango, SAA’s low-cost airline, offers special flights from Johannesburg’s Lanseria Airport timed to take cruise passengers to and from Cape Town and Durban.
Cruise destinations include Madagascar, Mauritius, Luderitz, Walvis Bay and Portuguese Island off Mozambique.
Edited by Banele Ginindza with contributions from Donwald Pressly, Asha Speckman and Audrey D’Angelo.