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France and SA to work together to strengthen multilateral relationship

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Pretoria – French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has told South Africans, “France and South Africa will work together to reduce inequality in the world and threats to democracy.”

Le Drian and Minister for International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu clearly enjoy a strong rapport.

“My dear Lindiwe, I have such admiration for your parents who played an enormous part in the liberation of this country,” Le Drian said.

“France and South Africa have common commitments to multilateralism and we want to work together to strengthen multilateralism, especially in the UN Security Council,” Le Drian said.

Relations between France and South Africa have grown in recent years, particularly since the election of President Emanuel Macron, who is a strong proponent of multilateralism.

Le Drian participated in the SA-France Forum for Political Dialogue on Thursday in Pretoria. It is the first time the Forum has been elevated to the Ministerial level, giving greater impetus to the strengthening relations.

Minister Le Drian, who spent 44 years in the French Socialist Party, has previously said that multilateralism is in crisis and that the disintegration of international relations is a reality. It is Le Drian’s view that there is an obsession of the big powers with developing areas of influence, which leads to instability and crisis.

“Multilateralism is only effective if the most powerful accept to use power in lawful frameworks,” Le Drian had said at the Council on Foreign Relations in 2017.

But contrary to France’s defence of multilateralism and the rule of law, Le Drian claimed earlier this month that the Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has the right and legitimacy to organize new elections.

Agreements were signed during the SA- France Forum in the fields of basic and higher education, space cooperation, and biodiversity. The SA National Space Agency will work with France’s Centre National d’etudes Spatiales, and SANParks with Reunion National Park.

South African officials have hailed the fact that under the education agreements students from technology universities in South Africa will be taken to France, trained, and will return to work in universities in South Africa.

Le Drian has a packed three-day program which includes meeting some of the 400 French companies based in South Africa. These companies directly employ over 37,000 local South Africans. Le Drian will visit Sain-Gobain in Midrand which is empowering South African workers in the field of energy saving technologies, providing jobs, training, and skills transfer.

In Cape Town, the Minister will visit an NGO in Khayelitsha called Waves and will announce a grant of R1.58 million from the French Development Agency.

Le Drian will also visit the NGO Jumo which allows Africans to benefit from micro-loans to complete their projects. The French Development Agency has invested US$3 million in Jumo.

No visit to the Mother City would be complete without a visit to Robben Island. This is Le Drian’s first ever visit to South Africa and Robben Island will be a highlight.

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POLITICS

I spent a weekend at Bosasa chief’s house, reveals Masutha

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Johannesburg – Justice and Correctional Services Minister Michael Masutha revealed on Wednesday that he met Bosasa’s Gavin Watson in person once and stayed over at one of the company’s houses in Port Elizabeth for a weekend three years ago.

Masutha made the disclosure while responding to questions posed by the DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach when he led the Department of Correctional Services delegation to brief the portfolio committee on Bosasa-related contracts.

Breytenbach wanted to know if Masutha had met Watson or any of his brothers and other family members. Masutha confirmed that he met Watson and someone whose name he could not recall at a house arranged for his accommodation when the ANC held a Siyanqoba rally for the 2016 municipal elections.

Masutha claimed that he had received a call from an MP colleague, whom he did not name, asking if he was attending the rally. “I indicated that I had made arrangements but there was a difficulty in my office to secure accommodation.”

The unnamed MP, he said, had told him they were aware that comrades were struggling to find accommodation because Port Elizabeth was a small place for the size of the event that was envisaged, and that some locals had been asked to make accommodation available.

Masutha said: “Indeed, accommodation was confirmed. I arrived on Thursday evening and stayed until Sunday morning.”

He also said that on the day of his departure, he called the unnamed MP to thank him and ask him to thank whoever owned the house.

But the MP colleague told him that the owners would be arriving at the house shortly to meet him and that he could thank them directly.

It turned out that one was Watson.

“In the course of thanking them and asking them the cost incurred they said this was part of providing accommodation to delegates who came for the event.”

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POLITICS

Why ANC forced Mabe and Kodwa to step down

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On Monday, the party’s national working committee (NWC) took the decision after ANC head of the presidency Zizi Kodwa was accused of drugging and raping a woman, days after the organisation cleared official spokesperson Pule Mabe of the sexual harassment of his personal assistant.

On Tuesday, ANC Veterans League president and NWC member Snuki Zikalala told Independent Media that the decision on Mabe and Kodwa was taken because criminal charges could be laid against the pair.

Zikalala said the decision was in line with the Mangaung resolution that once a member was implicated in criminal activities, he or she should step down to attend to their woes.

“This is in line with ANC policy,” he said.

Zikalala also said the ANC was worried about its credibility and integrity in society.

“If the NWC did not take that stance, we would lose popularity as a leader in society. It is a question of trying to regain the trust of society,” he said.

“Society can’t trust us if we have spokespersons that constitute the face of the ANC and have this baggage with them. We hope that they are cleared, go recuperate and then come back to serve the organisation properly.”

But ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, briefing the media, claimed that Kodwa and Pule voluntarily offered to step aside and the national working committee accepted their request.

“It is good leadership when leaders of the ANC, even when they feel that they are innocent, step aside until the allegations have been tested,” he said.

He said the duo still remained members of the national executive committee, and Dakota Legoete would continue to act as the national spokesperson.

Magashule conceded that damage could have been caused by the sex allegations involving the two, saying “whether these are allegations or facts, there are public perceptions”.

He said that whether perceived or real, such matters affected the base of the ANC.

“That’s why we want to engender confidence in South Africans by making it clear the ANC stands for truth, fairness and the support of women. The ANC is against violence meted out to women, men and children,” Magashule said.

Mabe’s accuser refused to comment, while Kodwa could not be reached.

Mabe said: “I have requested the organisation to allow me to extend my leave so that I can recover fully from the strain this whole episode has subjected me to.”

Calls to Kodwa went unanswered.

The stepping aside of Kodwa and Mabe from their positions was welcomed by the ANC Women’s League and the SACP.

ANCWL secretary-general Meokgo Matuba said they were happy that the ANC leadership had acted on the matter.

“We still maintain that if there are cases to be reported to law enforcement agencies, we will support and believe in those who say they will open cases.

“Those who are accused should respect the rule of law. We believe a person is innocent until proven guilty by a court of law,” Matuba said.

She said that it was important for the alleged victims to lay charges so that the alleged perpetrators could clear their names.

“There must be a process where a person gives their side of the story in a proper institution, in this case a court of law,” Matuba said.

SACP national spokesperson Alex Mashilo said Mabe and Kodwa should be commended for taking the pressure off the ANC by stepping aside voluntarily.

Mashilo reiterated the SACP position that where there were allegations of gender-based violence, organisations throughout society should take disciplinary steps.

“It is crucial that authorities, established in terms of our constitution to deal with such allegations, are informed by the alleged victims, whom we encourage to open cases because that is the right thing to do.

“If a case is not opened, things become difficult,” he said.

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VIDEO: The “sultry” ANC campaign that upset scores of people

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It seems every political party is committed to putting their foot in it with their campaign strategies ahead of the 2019 Elections. The DA bought us billboard-gate and now, the ANC have released a video that wouldn’t be out of place in a skincare commercial.

The party have been accused of exploiting female sexuality in a bid to convince the electorate to vote for them in May. The clip that’s got everyone chirping features Rethabile Lethoko – a South African model and entrepreneur – discussing why she supports the ANC.

Fikile Mbalula defends controversial strategies

Mbalula is the head of elections for the ANC. The buck ultimately stops with Mbaks when it comes to situations like this. In fact, the saucy advert blew up while he was defending another campaign controversy. The government have been accused of exploiting the poor by plastering images of poverty-stricken citizens across their posters.

Speaking at a press conference, Mbalula denied that the ANC had done anything wrong with this approach. He claimed that his team has to document what they see because it is the reality for many South Africans:

“When our volunteers take these pictures, it’s a reminder of how much work we still need to do in government to make their lives better. It’s a reminder of where our vote comes from, because these are the people who vote for the ANC. That is why we continue to campaign there.”

Fikile Mbalula

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