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  • Political Interference Weakening the Rule of Law in SA

    One of the founding values of democratic South Africa is ‘the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law’. The World Justice Project defines ‘rule of law’ as ‘the process by which the laws [in a democracy] are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient’. This means that the level of a country’s democracy is determined by its adherence to the basic principles in which all people – regardless of their economic or political status – are subject to equal legal rules.

    This principle is critically important for the success of any country. It provides a clear national system that is to be applied fairly to every group and person. Without this, the system will increasingly lose credibility and public trust. Criminality and instability increase; putting everyone at risk.

    The criminal justice system is the cornerstone for ensuring the rule of law functions in an effective and healthy way. This is why South Africa’s Constitution places primacy on the independence of various institutions, such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Hawks and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

    Over the past few years, the conduct of various prominent officials within the criminal justice system has severely undermined this constitutional principle and the very foundation of our democracy. Following careful consideration of the hard evidence before various courts, a number of judges have independently questioned the integrity and conduct of some of our most senior officials.

    In the most recent of a long line of such judgments, Judge Francis Legodi of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria delivered a scathing judgment during which he struck the names of Advocates Nomgcobo Jiba and Lawrence Mrwebi from the roll of advocates. Both these officials serve as Deputy National Directors of the NPA; Jiba as Head of the National Prosecuting Services (NPS), and Mrwebi as Head of the Specialised Commercial Crimes unit.

    All South Africans rely on the individuals who occupy these posts to exercise their considerable powers in tackling organised crime and corruption. However, it has emerged through various court cases and legal processes that Jiba and Mrwebi have instead seemed to use their powers to protect various individuals facing serious criminal allegations; rather than in the public interest.  

    Following careful consideration of the evidence, Jiba and Mrwebi stand accused of acting to hinder or prevent the prosecution of prominent persons such as President Jacob Zuma and Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli – the head of the South African Police Service’s (SAPS’) Crime Intelligence Division. Mdluli has been inexplicably suspended on full pay with all perks since 2012 while facing criminal prosecution for a raft of crimes ranging from murder to corruption.

    Many police officials have been disciplined and dismissed from the SAPS for far lesser incidents of misconduct, and with far less evidence available. That senior police and NPA officials have all gone out of their way to prevent Mdluli’s investigation and prosecution seems to point to a hidden network of profoundly dishonest individuals within the criminal justice system, who have either been appointed, or are acting with the primary purpose of protecting certain powerful people from criminal sanction.

    It has been alleged that a central figure in this unholy alliance is Lt Gen. Mdluli; who is allegedly dedicated to protecting Zuma and those close to him from investigation and prosecution. It is alleged that this is the primary reason why Zuma has not been effectively held accountable for the many cases of criminal and unethical conduct that have been levelled against him.

    It has been reported that Zuma attended a party hosted by Mdluli in December 2011 to celebrate the illegal withdrawal of corruption and fraud charges against him by the NPA. Mdluli was irregularly appointed to his position as head of Crime Intelligence on 1 July 2009, two months after Zuma’s ascendency to the Presidency following a clandestine meeting of four of Zuma’s loyal ministers – including then minister of police, Nathi Mthethwa, and his deputy, Susan Shabangu.

    Against accepted protocols for appointing someone to such a sensitive post, there were no senior SAPS officials present at the meeting that preceded his appointment; and Mdluli was not subject to the necessary evaluation or vetting. Then acting national commissioner, Tim Williams, declined the invitation to attend, given that it flouted accepted appointment procedures. Williams later publicly criticised the process as irregular and the appointment as politically motivated.

    Despite reported efforts by Mthethwa to halt all criminal investigations and disciplinary action against Mdluli, the crime intelligence boss was eventually suspended following a successful court application by Freedom Under Law, a non-governmental organisation. There are, however, strong allegations that despite his suspension and criminal prosecution, Mdluli is still actively directing SAPS Crime Intelligence resources to influence political events.

    A similar example is the latest appointment of the head of the Hawks, Lt Gen. Berning Ntlemeza. A warning statement by Innocent Khuba – the suspended provincial head of IPID, who was charged for defeating the ends of justice – alleges that Ntlemeza was long earmarked for this important post by powerful political individuals.

    According to Khuba, he was asked in October 2012 to investigate the alleged involvement of the previous head of the Hawks, Lt Gen. Anwa Dramat, along with Gauteng Provincial head, Major General Shadrack Sibiya, in relation to the alleged illegal rendition of Zimbabwean citizens to the Zimbabwean police in November 2010.

    According to Khuba, Ntlemeza told him his ‘political principals’ wanted him to become head of the Hawks as far back as 2012 following a ‘hit’ to remove Dramat from his post. It has been alleged that Dramat fell out of favour after pursuing various politically sensitive criminal cases implicating individuals close to the president.

    Both Dramat and Head of the IPID, Robert McBride, were illegally suspended by the Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, who suddenly wanted them removed following their attempts to pursue such investigations. Dramat took a generous payout to resign and McBride successfully fought the attempt at removing him in the courts. Ntlemeza was appointed by Nhleko despite not being properly assessed for competency, and a High Court judge finding that Ntlemeza was dishonest and dishonourable.

    Attempts to remove honest professionals and appoint dishonourable and incompetent people at the highest echelons of the criminal justice system have severely undermined the rule of law in South Africa.

    Corruption and organised crime, by all accounts, have increased substantially since Zuma came to power, and he himself has been able to avoid prosecution despite hard evidence supporting 783 criminal charges of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering.

    All South Africans are worse off for it, as there is less public money for services such as education; and more people are murdered or attacked on the street and in their homes. Let’s hope that the changing political environment will result in a system where only the best and most honest people are appointed to fight crime. Until that happens, we will all be worse off while those involved in crime and corruption will continue to thrive.

    • Johan Burger, Consultant, Governance, Crime and Justice Division, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Pretoria. The article first appeared ISS Today.

    Photo Courtesy: book-science.



  • South Africa and the Ratings Agencies – II Fitch

    The most recent decision

    Fitch affirmed South Africa's investment grade rating in June 2016. Long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDR) have been affirmed at BBB- and BBB respectively. The stable outlook remains unchanged.

    Key drivers
     
    The BBB- rating is a reflection of low trend gross domestic product (GDP) growth, significant fiscal and external deficits, and high debts levels. These are balanced by strong policy institutions, deep local capital markets and favourable government debt structure. 

    According to Fitch, political risks have increased since the last review in December 2015, and this political risk is considered mainly in terms of its impact on the economy and public finances.

    The five-year average GDP growth is at 2.2 percent compared to a BBB median of 3.3 percent. Hence the trend of the GDP growth of South Africa remains low compared to its peer. GDP growth was 1.2 percent in 2015 and Fitch predicted that it is likely to decrease to 0.7 percent in 2016 before picking up to 1.5 percent in 2017. This slow GDP growth is due to the constraint in electricity supply as well as the worsening investment climate and conflicting labour relations.

    However, the government has made considerable progress in addressing the issue of power supply with no load shedding so far this year, the maintenance management has improved and more power sources have been added to the grid.  

    Furthermore, other government efforts to improve growth are likely to have a marginal effect. For instance, the use of more private sector funds to build infrastructure for renewable power programme, the creation of a public-private fund to support small and medium enterprises, the reduction of uncertainty and administrative barriers for companies. On the other hand, some initiatives such as the planned national minimum wage, the recently introduced Expropriation Bill and the planned revision of the Mining Charter could frustrate investment according to Fitch. 

    The current-account deficit was 4.3 percent of GDP in 2015 compared to a BBB median of 1.4 percent and Fitch expects only a moderate improvement for 2016 due to lower imports as a result of weak domestic demand and the recent substantial depreciation of the rand. However, the impact of the improvement in export volume over the last three quarters has been partly offset by falling exports prices in dollars due to the decline in commodity price. 

    Net external debt was 13.6 percent of GDP in 2015 compared to a peer median of 3.9 percent. The risks are reduced by a flexible exchange rate and the favourable composition of external debt which is mostly in local currencies and has long maturities. However, the fiscal deficit remains high, with a deficit of 3.9 percent of GDP in the fiscal year ended 31 March 2016. The government in the fiscal year 2017 budget introduced tax measures to raise tax revenue by 0.4 percent of GDP in 2016/17. 

    Further measures will be introduced over the coming two years, bringing tightening to around 1 percent of GDP per year by 2019 fiscal year. The government expects this to bring the deficit to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2017, 2.8 percent of GDP in 2018 and 2.4 percent of GDP in 2019 so that the central government debt to GDP would rise to 51 percent of GDP in 2018 fiscal year. 

    However, achieving these targets will be challenging given that GDP growth is likely to be low. Pressures to increase expenditure are rising due to increasing dissatisfaction with public service delivery. The decreasing support for the ruling party may also add to the challenge of bringing down the budget deficit. Revenue estimates underlying the deficit expectations have been conservative and the National Treasury has a strong track record of keeping expenditure below the ceilings. Fitch expects the deficit to be at 3.3 percent of GDP in 2017 fiscal year and three percent in 2018 expecting that the general government debt could rise to 53.3 percent of GDP in 2018. 

    On the other hand, inflation increased to seven percent in February 2016 before slowing down to 6.2 percent in April, above the inflation target of three to six percent. The South African Reserve Bank has reacted by raising interest rates in total by 200 basis points to seven percent since 2014. Contractionary monetary policy enforced by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) shows its independence and commitment to containing inflation. 

    Governance indicators are slightly stronger than structural indicators such as per capita income, which are weaker than those of BBB category peers. The banking sector remains sound due to careful regulation although the weak economy will gradually affect asset quality and profitability. 

    Possible reasons for a rating change

    The reasons for a rating downgrade would include:

    • Weakening fiscal policy, for instance an upward revision of expenditure ceilings leading to a failure to stabilise the ratio of government to GDP or an increase in contingent liabilities;
    • Failure of GDP growth to recover sustainably, including lack of policy change to improve the investment climate;
    • Increasing net external debt to levels that lead to financial strains; and
    • High political instability that negatively affects the economy or public finances.

    Motives for a rating upgrade would include:

    • A track record of improved growth performance strengthened by the successful implementation of growth-boosting structural reforms; and
    • ​A considerable reduction in the budget deficit and in the government debt to GDP ratio.

    Agathe Fonkam (agathe@hsf.org.za) is a researcher at the Helen Suzman Foundation. This article first appeared on the HSF website.

    ​Photo Courtesy: license.umn.edu



  • MANGO: Planning for Financial Sustainability
    Management Accounting for Non-Governmental Organisations

    The Management Accounting for Non-Governmental Organisations (MANGO) is a United Kingdom-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) that helps aid agencies, NGOs and nonprofits to work more effectively. MANGO’s mission is to strengthen the financial management and accountability of NGOs and their partners.

    MANGO is conducting an online course on Planning for Financial Sustainability from 24 October to 9 December 2016.

    This online course focuses on building a financing strategy so that you can achieve your mission and objectives now and in the future.

    This course is aimed at:

    • Senior managers (e.g CEOs, programme directors, finance managers) of national NGOs;
    • INGO Programme managers who support local partner NGOs;
    • INGO country programme managers who are responsible for developing a financing strategy for their programmes; and
    • May also be suitable for members of local board of trustees (e.g. Chair and Treasurer).

    The training is especially effective is a programme manager and a finance manager from same organisation attend together.

    Previous financial management experience or training is not a requirement for this course although it is advantageous to complete our Getting the Financial Management Basics Right course first if you are completely new to financial management.

    At the end of the course, participants will be able to:

    Do

    • Carry out a financial risk assessment using selected analysis and mapping tools to identity critical threats facing their or partner NGOs;
    • Analyse income to identify their or partner NGOs’ current and desired financing mix;
    • Analyse financial statements using financial ratios to assess the donor dependency and reserves status of their or partner NGOs’ current and desired financing mix;
    • Carry out a resources audit to establish the potential for alternative financing options in their or partner NGOs;
    • Create an action plan for the next steps to finalise their financing strategy.

    Know

    • Describe the four key features of a financially sustainable NGO;
    • Describe the components of a financing strategy for an NGO;
    • Explain why it is important to have diversified income in an NGO;
    • Outline options for building up unrestricted reserve funds to create a safety net and support future development; and
    • Outline options for financing and managing central support costs across the organisation.

    Feel

    • Recognise that being highly donor dependent makes NGOs more vulnerable to external threats;
    • Appreciate the importance of managing key stakeholder relationships; and
    • Gain confidence to take forward the design of a financing strategy for their organisation as a collaborative effort.

    To register, refer to www.mango.org.uk/bookonline/1542.

    For more information, refer to www.mango.org.uk/training/sustainabilityeworkshop.

    For more about the Management Accounting for Non-Governmental Organisations, refer to www.mango.org.uk.
     

    Event Start Date: 
    Monday, 24 October, 2016
    Event End Date: 
    Friday, 9 December, 2016
    Event Venue: 
    Online
    Event Type: 
    Training


  • CECS: A+ PC Technician and Networking
    Community Computer Education Society

    The Community Computer Education Society (CECS) is the oldest computer training -governmental organisation in South Africa and was established in April 1985 for the technological empowerment of the historically disadvantaged. CECS offers the most affordable and quality computer training in South Africa.

    CECS is conducting a course A+ PC Technician & Networking from 22 October 2016 - 18 February 2017 in Johannesburg.

    CompTIA A+ and N+ certification is essential for anyone entering the computer support field. In fact, this credential not only validates your skills in tasks such as installation, diagnostics, configuring, performing preventative maintenance, and basic networking, it is becoming a qualifying factor in the hiring process. If you are preparing yourself for a position as an IT Technician, Help Desk Support, or a variety of technical roles, getting certified will serve you well. With many companies now requiring A+ and N+ certification of their computer support technicians, obtaining the necessary A+ and N+ training is a critical first step towards a better job.

    CECS has combined the A+ and the N+ certification to form the A+ PC Technician and Networking (N+) course. CECS is a member of CompTIA since 2004.

    Course Benefits

    You will be charged about a third of what commercial training institutions charge for this type of course, yet we maintain the quality of training which is comparable and in some respects surpasses that of commercial training institutions. Commercially, this course will cost about R12 000.

    The exam fees are R1 000 each of the two A+ certifications and R1 300 for the N+ certification. This is because CECS is a member of the CompTIA Education to Careers (E2C) programme and is able to offer this to CECS students. Commercially, you will be charged about R1 800 per module that is R5 400 just for the exams.

    You will be provided with extensive sample tests to improve your chances of passing the exams the first time.

    About the Certifications

    CompTIA A+

    The Comptia A+ certification demonstrates competency as a computer technician. The 2011 objectives require that a candidate successfully pass the A+ Essentials and one elective: IT technician, remote support technician, or depot technician. CompTIA is vendor neutral but does lean toward Microsoft Windows.

    A+ Detailed Course Outline

    CompTIA N+

    Network+ is a certification that attempts to measure skill as a network technician: understanding of network hardware, installation, and troubleshooting. Topics include network hardware, connections, software, and different protocols used in local area networks (LANs) and wide area networks (WANs).

    Times: 9h00 - 16h00

    Saturday Classes (16 Saturdays)

    Time: 9h00 - 15h00
     
    For more information, refer to www.cecs.org.za/index.php/computer-training-courses/a-pc-technician-networking-course.
     
    For more about the Community Computer Education Society, refer to www.cecs.org.za.

    Event Start Date: 
    Saturday, 22 October, 2016
    Event End Date: 
    Saturday, 18 February, 2017
    Event Venue: 
    123 Pritchard Street, 3rd Floor House of Movements, Johannesburg
    Event Type: 
    Training
    Location: 
    Johannesburg


  • MS-TCDC: Middle Managers Leadership Development Programme
    MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation

    MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation (MS-TCDC) is a training centre for development cooperation in Eastern and Southern Africa. MS-TCDC is situated close to Arusha in Northern Tanzania. The Centre offers regular courses in current development topics and methods.

    MS-TCDC is conducting the Middle Managers Leadership Development Programme from 12-16 December 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania.

    Course Objectives

    To implement a leadership development programme for Middle Managers. This five-day module is aligned to the competency areas of the Senior Leadership development program (SLDP) and the AA Leadership Competency Framework (LCF). The modules focuses on Manager as a leader and aims at creating a sustainable Leadership Pipeline Federation-wide which will be supported by robust Talent and Performance Management processes so as to identify potential leadership talent.

    The course is aimed at typical role holders (includes but not limited to): Programme Coordinators, Programme Manager, Senior Programme Officers, Project Coordinators, Sponsorship managers, HR Managers, M&E Advisers, - Senior Professionals, Subject Matter Experts, line managers.

    Course Fee: US$350

    To sign-up for the course, refer to www.mstcdc.or.tz/application/application-middle-managers-leadership-development-programme.

    For more information, refer to www.mstcdc.or.tz/course/middle-managers-leadership-development-programme.

    For more about MS Training Centre for Development Cooperation, refer to www.mstcdc.or.tz.

    Event Start Date: 
    Monday, 12 December, 2016
    Event End Date: 
    Friday, 16 December, 2016
    Event Venue: 
    Arusha, Tanzania
    Event Type: 
    Training