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Miss Universe 2016© TED ALJIBE/Getty Miss Universe 2016

Controversy refuses to leave the Miss Universe crown as Miss France's translator is being accused of tweaking the final answer of Iris Mittenaere. Twitter users have launched a scathing attack on the newly-crowned Miss Universe's translator.

From nine stunning contestants, the judges selected Colombia, France, and Haiti for the final round where the beauty queens were asked one question: "Name something over the course of your life that you failed at, and tell us what you learned from that experience."

The French beauty used the help of her translator to answer the final question and the answer goes like this: "I've failed several times in my life, so I thought that I failed the first time that I went out on a casting because my name wasn't on the list. The very next day, I found that I was in a new book. So I think that when you fail, you have to be elevated, you have to try again, and keep going. If tonight, I'm not one of the winners, I will still have the great honour of being one of the 3 finalists, so I think that I have failed before, but I think this is a great first opportunity."

Related: New Miss Universe crowned

However, social media users say that her original French answer is different from the interpreter's translation.

"French translator said: when I missed my first casting. But she really said the 1st year of Medicine school," French celebrity Solenn Heussaff tweeted soon after the announcement of the winner. "I'm guessing one of the judges understood Miss France's real answer. Congratulations," another user wrote.

Mittenaere has come to the defence of her translator after his error. While addressing reporters at her first press conference as Miss Universe she said: "When I was in my first year of medicine, the first time I didn't have my first year. And I cried a lot, and I said 'Oh my God, and I have now to do it again.' After that I saw I wasn't on the list, I go and I bought another book for medicine immediately. They called me in one week after this, they said 'Actually this was a mistake. You have your first year of medicine. You succeed,'" she said

2 November 2009: PPC signage in Sandton, Johannesburg.

© Gallo Images/Charles Gallo 2 November 2009: PPC signage in Sandton, Johannesburg.Johannesburg - Two government departments and two major trade unions have announced that an investigation will be conducted into how 242 Chinese nationals obtained permission to work and live at a North West plant owned by cement giant PPC.

The Chinese workers were employed as part of PPC’s endeavour to add capacity to its Slurry plant with a R1.7 billion total investment into its new kiln.

While on a visit to the plant on Monday, City Press saw Chinese workers welding, carrying formed concrete structures and standing in a pit surrounded by concrete moulds.

PPC insists these workers have “special skills”.

Chinese company CBMI Construction was awarded the tender for the upgrade project, known as SK9.

Slurry is situated about 20km from Mahikeng, where unemployment, including those who have given up looking for jobs, stands at 44.6%.

According to Stats SA figures, the youth unemployment rate in North West stands at 47.1%, while the rate in Mahikeng is 35.7%.

Dipeen Dama, PPC’s senior project manager, confirmed that the value of the engineering, procurement and construction contract with CBMI Construction amounted to $90 million (R1.2 billion).

Work started in October 2015 and is scheduled to be completed in 2018.

Pipeline installation

Mokgadi Pela, spokesperson for the department of labour, said an application had been received for 400 Chinese nationals to work at the PPC plant.

This figure tallies with the 400 available positions that CBMI advertised in The Times newspaper at the end of July 2015.

The closing date to apply for these jobs was August 14 2015, which left little time to hire local workers as CBMI started work at the plant less than two months later.

The skills stipulated in the advertisements included a minimum of “three years relevant working experience with specialised cement plant equipment installations and operations [China manufactured]”.

They also required height and welder certificates, as well as “pipeline installation experience” and “experience of refractory installations” in “more than three cement factories”.

The advertisements went on to stipulate that there was “no accommodation available – provide own” and there were “no relocation fees”. However, a compound was built to house the 242 Chinese workers on site.

After being informed about the situation at the plant, home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said the department had instituted an investigation into whether the permits used to bring the Chinese workers into the country were valid.

In addition, Pela said: “The department [of labour] will investigate the matter.”

Special skills

Thobile Lamati, director-general of the labour department, promised to look into the matter after being contacted by Dennis George, the general secretary of labour federation Fedusa.

“It seems to me that PPC and CBMI Construction are in violation of our laws in terms of work permits. Could you ask your provincial office to investigate?” wrote George in an email to Lamati.

Livhuwani Mammburu, spokesperson for the National Union of Mineworkers, said the union, which is recognised at PPC, had no idea the Chinese workers were in the country.

He added that it was shocking to discover they were employed, given South Africa’s soaring unemployment rate.

“We are going to meet the company on site to investigate this further. We want to investigate what special skills the Chinese workers have,” he said.

Mammburu said PPC told the union earlier that the Chinese workers had “special skills” and the company had “gone through all the right procedures”.

Sizwe Pamla, spokesperson for labour federation Cosatu, said it would also ask the labour department to “investigate and act against this troubling trend of bringing foreign workers into the country”.

“If this trend continues, our economy will implode because we will have more unemployed people dependent on government for their livelihood,” he added.

“Our government is doing very little to protect the interests of workers and the local people in general. Chinese companies have constantly ignored our regulations and have taken advantage of the deep well of credulity and servility displayed by our leaders in relation to China.

“We are challenging our government to act decisively ... and prove that they are not prepared to allow China to become this country’s new colonial overlord.”

Local company

PPC spokesperson Siobhan McCarthy said no qualified local candidates responded to the job advertisements, adding: “Constructing a cement plant is complex.”

However, she was unable to clarify what trades the 242 Chinese workers were qualified in, if all the workers were skilled, or whether there were also unskilled and semi-skilled workers among them.

“PPC does not have access to the personnel files of CBMI employees,” she said.

However, McCarthy added that PPC was satisfied that CBMI had complied with all government regulations and protocols on the project, which includes local and foreign workers.

Leon du Plessis, PPC executive for projects, said CBMI Construction created a local company and brought the 242 workers into South Africa using intra-company transfer work visas.

Juan Locke, an immigration specialist at Ashman Attorneys Immigration SA, said foreign companies used intra-company transfer work visas to transfer skills or enable employees with certain skills to enter South Africa.

He said the high numbers of workers brought in for the PPC project was unusual because most companies used the visa to bring in people, such an engineers, “in double digits”.

McCarthy was unable to say how much the Chinese workers were paid because PPC did not employ them directly and, as such, was “not privy to this information”.

“In terms of the contract, CBMI and all its employees are required to comply with all South African laws and regulations,” she added.

Quality assurance

There is a clause in the intra-company transfer work visa regulations stipulating that “a plan is developed for the transfer of skills to a South African citizen or permanent resident”.

McCarthy insisted that PPC was doing this.

“A detailed ... training programme has been developed covering process training, key cement plant mechanical equipment, electrical and automation,” she said.

CBMI Construction is a subsidiary of Chinese company Sinoma, which has worked for PPC in Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In 2015, PPC came under fire for awarding a contract to Sinoma in Zimbabwe. Local construction companies accused the cement maker of sidelining them in the construction of a new cement plant in Ruwa.

Chinese companies are known internationally for bringing their own workers into the countries where they have projects.

The consulting and project management for Slurry is being conducted by Indian company Ercom Engineers.

The project’s quality assurance is being carried out by Chinese company Beijing Axis, Ercom Engineers and PPC.

PPC technical executive Hardie de Beer said key reasons they used Chinese and Indian companies were to save costs and because they worked fast.

In the case of Sinoma, PPC had already established a relationship with the company elsewhere in Africa, he added.

PPC’s SK9 project will increase the Slurry plant’s cement output from 1.2 million to 1.9 million tons a year while introducing technological improvements.

The SK9 expansion will not create any permanent jobs, but is attracting about 140 temporary local construction jobs as well as other jobs.

Dirk Hermann, chief executive of trade union Solidarity, said his union was represented at some PPC sites but not at the Slurry plant.

“The fact that 242 Chinese have been imported is highly questionable. We strongly doubt whether they all have special skills unavailable in South Africa,” he said.

“In the area around PPC-Slurry, people are suffering because of layoffs and unemployment. It is extremely insensitive to import 242 foreigners for the project.”

web_photo_abuse_terror_threat_fear_060616: "abuse; terror; threat; fear"© pixabay.com/Alexas_Fotos "abuse; terror; threat; fear"

BERLIN - German military and government officials condemned sexual abuse and other violence at a special operations training centre in the southern German city of Pfullendorf, and said seven soldiers were under criminal investigation.

The military said in a statement the incidents, first reported by 'Spiegel Online', involved hazing and abuse. They were particularly troubling given earlier reports of maltreatment of women in another unit at the training center.

It said the latest incidents revealed "grave deficits in leadership" at the facility and promised serious consequences.

"Discharge proceedings have been initiated against seven soldiers and seven additional soldiers will be moved to different postings," a spokesperson for the German defence ministry said on Saturday.

Spiegel said "sexual-sadist practices" and violent rituals were widespread at the Staufer barracks, and included soldiers being tied down for hours and hosed down with water.

Hans-Peter Bartels, who fields complaints from soldiers for parliament, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper the incidents reflected lingering "macho behaviour that should not be tolerated."

Bartels' told lawmakers in his annual report this week that the number of reported sexual assaults in the military rose 52 percent to 131 in 2016, but the actual number was likely higher.

"What happened at the training centre is repulsive and despicable," Defence Secretary Ursula von der Leyen told broadcaster ARD on Friday evening. She promised a thorough investigation.

Rainer Arnold, defence speaker for the Social Democratic parliamentary fraction, called for a special session of the Bundestag's defence committee to examine the issue.

"This is a case where things were tolerated and nothing was said," Arnold told the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper

Photo_Web_Prince_Harry_210716: Prince Harry paid tribute to his mother, Princess Diana, and Nelson Mandela for their roles in fighting HIV/Aids.© AFP / Matthew Kay Prince Harry paid tribute to his mother, Princess Diana, and Nelson Mandela for their roles in fighting HIV/Aids.

LONDON - Britain's Prince William and his younger brother Harry have commissioned a statue in honour of their mother Princess Diana who died in a Paris car crash 20 years ago to be erected outside their official London home, their office said on Saturday.

Diana, the first wife of the brother's father the heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, was killed when the limousine carrying her and her lover Dodi al-Fayed crashed in a Paris tunnel in August 1997.

William was 15 and Harry was 12 at the time.

"It has been 20 years since our mother's death and the time is right to recognise her positive impact in the UK and around the world with a permanent statue," William, 34, said in a statement.

The princes have formed a committee to advise on the sculptor and to raise private funds to pay for the statue which will be located in a public garden at Kensington Palace.

Work on the statue will begin soon and it is hoped that the statue will be unveiled before the end of the year, the statement from their office said.

The first permanent memorial to her, a 210-metre (689-foot) long fountain was unveiled in Hyde Park in 2004 after years of bureaucratic wrangling and squabbling over the design.

It had to be closed down a number of times after its opening and a committee of lawmakers later said it was "ill-conceived and ill-executed".

William announced earlier this month that he would move into Kensington Palace with his wife Kate and children, George and Charlotte, from his current home in eastern England when he gives up his job as an air ambulance pilot to focus on royal duties full-time later this year.

Amina Mohammed.

© Provided by http://www.news24.comAmina Mohammed.

Addis Ababa - African leaders are set to decide on a successor for African Union (AU) Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on Monday, but even at this late stage, the race for the position is still wide open.

“We can say what we want, but at this point everything is still speculation. We will only know on the day of the elections,” a staff member of the AU Commission, who is privy to the lobbying, told City Press a few days ago.

Out of an unprecedented five candidates, three have emerged as front-runners, but horse-trading, continuous lobbying and a voting process that works on the basis of elimination mean anything could happen on the day.

Secret votes

Kenya’s Foreign Minister, Amina Mohammed, is a favourite, and her team, led by Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, has criss-crossed the continent to shore up support.

There were reports out of Bamako, Mali that she had a team of 90 lobbyists at the France-Africa summit earlier this month.

An official with inside knowledge of South Africa’s lobbying told City Press that Mohammed also enjoys the unofficial backing of President Jacob Zuma.

Although Zuma is bound by regional protocol to publicly support Botswana’s Foreign Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, for the position, heads of state will cast secret votes in the AU assembly.

In recent times South Africa has teamed up with Kenya on its call for African states to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, while Botswana’s president, Ian Khama, has openly voiced his support for the court.

Dlamini-Zuma hinted at a gender summit dinner in Addis Ababa on Tuesday night that, even though she should be neutral, she, too, wanted to see a woman succeed her. It is rumoured that this woman is Mohammed. Dlamini-Zuma said when the AU started implementing its 50-year plan – Agenda 2063 – “women said now that we have you, Ma’am, as a first woman here in 50 years, we must hold this position for [another] 50 years”.

Midnight deadline

Chad’s foreign minister and former prime minister, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has been considered a dark horse, but his name is also mentioned as a favourite.

“Chad is seen to have the backing of Algeria, which wants to have him there to block Senegal at all costs,” said an African diplomat in Addis Ababa.

Mahamat’s nomination came two hours before the midnight deadline in October and his backers had to scramble to find an official to receive it.

Algeria does not support Morocco’s bid to become an AU member after it left the AU’s predecessor, the Organisation for African Unity, when it recognised the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic as a country.

Senegal is seen to be backing Morocco’s bid.

Mahamat is a veteran diplomat and Pan-Africanist fluent in English, French and Arabic, but Chad had a recent turn at the AU top job and this could count against him.

Central Africa is also the only region fielding two candidates - the other being Equatorial Guinea’s Foreign Minister, Agapito Mba Mokuy, who, at 51, is the youngest, but also the weakest contender.

“If countries decide to vote according to regions in the first round, this could split the central African vote and Chad is likely to lose out,” an official on the AU Commission said.

Heads abstained

Senegal’s Abdoulaye Bathily, the former UN special envoy for central Africa and a former minister and academic, has also run a strong campaign, painting himself as a Pan-Africanist who can bridge the divide between Anglophone and Francophone Africa. He is fluent in both those languages.

He might, however, be undermined by Senegal’s stance on Morocco and Anglophone hostility. “Senegal was the one who led the campaign to abandon the elections in Kigali, which alienated many countries,” the AU official said.

None of the three candidates fielded for AU Commission chairperson during that summit mustered a two-thirds majority because half of the heads of state abstained owing to lobbying led by Senegal.

Senegal said this was necessary out of protest against what it termed the low calibre of the candidates. Hours after the unsuccessful vote, Bathily’s candidacy emerged.

Venson-Moitoi has a slender chance of emerging as an outside candidate during the voting process, should the battle become too bruising.

Even though her lobbyists claim that they have support from 25 out of the 54 member states, at least two election watchers said this was overoptimistic. In Kigali she at most mustered only 13 votes.

“How can you have any chance when your own president isn’t even campaigning for you?” said an African diplomat in Addis Ababa.

Botswana’s Khama does not attend AU summits and his country isn’t held in high esteem by the continental body.

Justice Dikgang Moseneke (File)© Provided by http://www.news24.comJustice Dikgang Moseneke (File)

Johannesburg - The Constitutional Court judgment on Nkandla was meant as a lecture on what kind of president the country hoped for, former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke said during his book launch on Saturday at the Apartheid Museum.

"It was a wonderful moment to lecture each other about the kind of society that we wanted to create and the kind of Commander-in-Chief that we hoped for."

Speaking during a dialogue at the launch of his book My Own Liberator, Mosaneke told attendees the Nkandla judgment was an opportunity presented to the Constitutional Court to educate South Africans on public power as well as the Constitution.

"The Nkandla moment presented that opportunity to interact with our people and to tell them about the legal, constitutional and normative underpinning of public power and why we are duty bound to deploy it honestly, effectively in order to produce good outcomes and to produce a just society."

Moseneke was joined by former Justice and political activist Albie Sachs who himself was launching his book, We the People.

In March 2016, the Constitutional Court ruled that President Jacob Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution when he did not comply with then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's remedial action regarding payment for the upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.

After the judgment, Zuma apologised for the Nkandla matter in a televised address to the nation.

The Constitutional Court gave National Treasury 60 days to determine the reasonable costs of the non-security upgrades.

It said that Zuma had to pay within 45 days of the court approving the Treasury’s report.

The costs included R2.3m for the so-called fire pool, R1m for the amphitheatre and R1.2m for the cattle kraal.

Khomotso Phahlane© Provided by http://www.news24.comKhomotso Phahlane

Johannesburg - The owner of the company that allegedly paid for acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane’s expensive sound system boasted about his police connections and allegedly told his ex-wife that “black people are easier to bribe”.

This allegation forms part of an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) investigation into Phahlane’s alleged underhand dealings with the chemical supplier Crimetech.

Crimetech is owned by businessman John Henry Deale, whose company was awarded a R50 million contract to supply the police’s forensic department with chemicals and other items used for investigations.

The company allegedly paid for Phahlane’s R80 000 sound system. However, the top cop denies the allegation and claims he paid for it himself after asking the company to source quotes for him.

Deale’s ex-wife, Suzette Hartmann, who was once in business with him, made a sworn statement at the Sandton police station in March last year.

In the statement, which City Press has seen, Hartmann alleges her ex-husband had connections within the SA Police Service (SAPS).

She alleges the connection included Phahlane and other senior police officers within the forensic division.

Risking lives

Phahlane was a divisional commissioner in the police’s forensic investigation department before being appointed acting police commissioner.

Hartmann makes serious allegations against the police, including that her ex-husband once said: “Things will turn around with a black person because they are easier to bribe. He often said they earn such small salaries in the SAPS that bribes can be counted on.”

Another allegation regarding Crimetech includes that it supplied expired chemicals, non-compliant brushes and spray canisters to the police’s forensic unit.

This is contained in a sworn statement by the SAPS’s own forensic senior officer, Colonel Sandragasen Moonsamy, who is based at the Local Criminal Records Centre (LCRC).

Moonsamy, a commander based at the East London records centre, compiled a report that made several findings against Crimetech.

In the statement, he implicates Phahlane in protecting Crimetech and risking the lives of police officers in the process.

Moonsamy also laid a criminal case against Phahlane, which in now being investigated by Ipid.

“On March 3 2014 I was busy with an evaluation at the Pietermaritzburg LCRC; I found a large quantity of chemicals delivered by Crimetech on the floor in the investigation booth. Upon closer inspection I saw that this large quantity of chemicals had expired 15 months prior, being January 2013,” Moonsamy’s statement read.

Fingerprint brushes

Moonsamy further states that when he enquired why the expired chemicals had not been stored in compliance with the occupational health and safety regulations, his concerns were not taken seriously.

Moonsamy adds that a month later, “I was at the offices of legal services in Pretoria with Major General [Vincent] Khunou where he mentioned ... that he had done tests on the chemicals and that the results showed they could still be used ... I note that Khunou was not qualified to test any chemicals and declare them okay.”

According to the statement, not only had the chemicals expired a few years before, but the fingerprint brushes supplied did not meet the record centre’s specifications.

Moonsamy included in his statement a letter written to Crimetech in November 2010, requesting that the brushes be replaced “with correct specified brushes urgently.

“Many of these brushes had been deployed in the field [crime scenes] and complaints were coming back that the brushes had destroyed otherwise perfect fingerprints, thereby reducing the effectiveness of forensics and, in turn, allowing criminal suspects to remain undetected,” the statement reads.

According to the affidavit, “In 2011 and 2013, there were explosions recorded in the country in which Crimetech Aeroprint spray canisters exploded”.

One incident in Lichtenburg led to a report being issued that “utilisation of the aerosol spray canisters be put on hold until its safety be guaranteed in order to safeguard our members”.

However, Moonsamy states that “sometime during 2012 or 2013, Phahlane visited the Eastern Cape at the SAPS’s Bisho Training Academy.

Auditing company

“I distinctly recall Phahlane stating that, despite the risks with the canisters exploding, we must use them or suffer [the] consequences. It was clear to me that his approach was unlawful”.

Moonsamy states that he escalated his complaint to the then police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, but received no joy.

“I believe that Phahlane must ultimately be held responsible for the purchasing of excessively outdated chemicals from Crimetech because he was the divisional commissioner of forensic services and the person ultimately accountable.

“In view of the fact that [this] massive abuse of public funds runs into excess of R50 million, I request thorough investigation into the supply of the chemicals, the procurement process, the disposal of the out-of-date chemicals and Phahlane’s role in protecting the suppliers.”

Phahlane’s spokesperson, Brigadier Sally de Beer, denied the allegations against Phahlane, saying the findings of an investigation conducted by an independent auditing company, CPN Forensic and Accounting Services, cleared Phahlane of similar allegations.

De Beer sent a statement issued by Phahlane months ago in which he said: “These allegations were contained in a letter dated June 25 2012, which was sent by the general secretary of Popcru [Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union] to General Riah Phiyega, who was then the serving national commissioner of the SAPS.

“This matter has, over the years, been rehashed by certain individuals for their own purposes. The allegation made by Colonel Sandragasen Moonsamy of East London, which has been publicised in the media, was part and parcel of those made by Popcru and formed part of CPN’s investigation. When approached by them, he could not substantiate his allegations.”

Deale did not respond to a list of questions sent to him, despite giving an earlier indication that he would.

© Copyright (c) Daily Maverick 2013, All Rights Reserved

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

This week, the story broke of an alleged covert media campaign aimed at increasing ANC support ahead of the 2016 municipal elections. Among the allegations: that a so-called ‘War Room' for the ruling party planned to disseminate false information about opposition parties, use ‘digital influencers' to lobby for the ANC on social media, and plant pro-ANC comment in the media. Cue shock and horror – but when it comes to modern political campaigning, how much of this is actually out of line? By REBECCA DAVIS.

In the end, the most dramatic aspect of the ANC's "War Room" may have been its name. Court papers revealed this week by amaBhungane appear to have blown the lid on a covert operation intended to win back voters to the ruling party before the 2016 local elections, but executed shambolically.

The original story: Inside the ANC’s 'black ops' election campaign

Using Young Turks of the party like Shaka Sisulu, trading off a dynastic political legacy, the idea seems to have been to exploit South Africa's rapidly expanding digital space to appeal to youthful users of social media. PR expert Sihle Bolani, who is suing the ANC for work she says she was not paid for, has detailed some of the planned initiatives in court papers and subsequent interviews. They include: the establishment of a news site to carry pro-government stories; the use of influential individuals on social media to broadcast a positive ANC narrative; and a plan to print fake opposition party posters.

There are many questions which remain unanswered at this stage, including the level of knowledge of the project from the ANC's top dogs. Bolani's allegations of the planned War Room initiatives have already caused consternation, however, with legal threats from the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters coming in quick succession. If the details of the proposed campaign are substantially truthful, though, how far do they deviate from what is now considered acceptable in modern political canvassing?

Let's start at the beginning, when ad agency Ogilvy & Mather held an "inception meeting" for the ANC campaign at its offices. Not much to see here: the practice of hiring external teams or agencies to support the campaigning of sufficiently well-funded political parties is long established.

Local advertising veteran Reg Lascaris, for instance, was contracted by the ANC to craft its image before the 1994 elections.

"It's like dealing with any other client," Lascaris told the Daily Maverick. "You get briefed, you present the work, you act according to their wishes." The advertising agency generally works in concert with the party's own communications unit.

"In the end, a political party has a manifesto, and a manifesto is a product," Lascaris said. "You're applying the same principles – trying to convince a consumer that you have a better political proposition. [Ad] agencies don't do all the work. They do a part of the work. [The party's] communications department is always working to try to convince people that what they're doing is right."

The extent to which political parties tend to outsource campaigning functions differs from country to country. Political strategist Ryan Coetzee – credited with modernising the DA before moving to the UK to run campaigns for the Liberal Democrats and the anti-Brexit lobby – explains the distinction:

"In the US, campaign teams are entirely made up of professional agencies that you hire in, for data, polling, communications, fundraising – everything. In South Africa and the UK, however, parties tend to do most things in-house, but it is quite common to hire an advertising agency."

On Wednesday, Daily Maverick conducted a quick poll of local political parties to determine whether they contracted external advertising agencies before the 2016 municipal elections.

The Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus both confirmed that they did so. Neither would give details about which firms were contracted, and the DA declined to elaborate on what services they provided. FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald said his party sought assistance "to make and place ads on radio and TV only".

The Congress of the People (COPE) did not use any ad agencies, spokesperson Dennis Bloem said, and neither did the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP). Economic Freedom Fighters' spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said that the EFF also rejected ad agencies before the last election in favour of "just volunteers and activists of the EFF in branches".

Coetzee stressed, though, that while hiring an ad agency for a political party is common practice in South Africa, hiring a PR agency – as the ANC allegedly did in the form of Sihle Bolani's firm – is "very uncommon". He explained:

"The reason PR agencies don't get hired is because parties have in-house communications operations and PR agencies simply don't have the strategic grasp, content or intensity to run political PR." Coetzee added: "If an outside agency knows more about what your strategy should be than you do, you definitely have a problem."

The use of "digital influencers" – prominent social media users – is becoming increasingly popular as a marketing tool. That includes the marketing of political messages.

"These days, it is quite common to mobilize supporters online, and to use influential people as part of your online communications," Coetzee says. "Think, for instance, of the way celebrity endorsements tend to be used, or how in the [Brexit] referendum campaign both sides used influential people to make their case online. Twitter and Facebook are commonly used. There is nothing particularly new about this: parties have always sought endorsements from influential people. It's just that these days digital channels exist where they didn't before."

Even if social media influencers were paid to tweet positively about the ANC, this would not contravene any laws – in the same way that it is not illegal for brands to pay people to tweet about shoes or cellphones, though the morality or ethics of such a practice may be up for debate.

When asked by the Daily Maverick, the EFF, IFP, FF+ and COPE denied using digital influencers, with COPE's Bloem elaborating: "We depended on WhatsApps, direct calls and physical door-to-door contact with the voters".

The DA was somewhat more cagey on this matter. Spokesperson Mabine Seabe responded: "The DA has never engaged in paid relationships with digital influencers."

Where we reach the unambiguously problematic aspect of the ANC's alleged conduct, however, is the proposed distribution of misinformation about opposition parties. This would amount to a breach of the Electoral Code of Conduct, and as such is legally actionable. The Independent Electoral Commission put out a statement on Wednesday noting this week's reports, but indicating that it would not be taking action on the matter until the civil case brought by Bolani against the ANC is settled.

"The Electoral Commission believes that this legal process should be allowed to be concluded and that it would be premature to comment on such allegations," the statement read.

In Coetzee's view, the bottom line is that the exploitation of new forms of media and communication for political campaigning is fair game, normal and ethical – except when it comes to using them to spread false information.

"Fake sites, Twitter bots and fake Twitter accounts and the like are an abomination," he says. "The job of an election campaign is simply to communicate the party's vision and agency persuasively. There should be nothing sinister about it. All this fake information stuff is a direct threat to democracy, actually, because the system depends on citizens making a choice based on essentially accurate information."

WEB_PHOTO_WATER_21_PM: JOHANNESBURG, 21 March 2016 - We know that South Africa is facing its worst drought in two decades. What we don’t know is that there’s a looming public health crisis. While lower income areas tend to be worst affected, the nation as a whole is at risk.​© eNCA JOHANNESBURG, 21 March 2016 - We know that South Africa is facing its worst drought in two decades. What we don’t know is that there’s a looming public health crisis. While lower income areas tend to be worst affected, the nation as a whole is at risk.​

JOHANNESBURG – Parts of Johannesburg including the deep south, Soweto, Midrand, Sandton, and Randburg will be experiencing evening water restrictions for the immediate future because of high water usage, Johannesburg Water announced on Thursday.

The council said in a statement: "The intention is to reduce escalating water consumption since the announcement of water restrictions by the Department of Water and Sanitation.

"Johannesburg is still under level 2 water restrictions, despite the recent rainfall. Water levels at the Integrated Vaal River system have not risen sufficiently to above satisfactory levels.

"Technicians will be closing outlet valves of these reservoirs as listed on the attached plan between 8pm to 4am."

Certain areas fed by the Integrated Vaal River System will have no water between those hours until the water supply is stabilised.

READ: Joburg prays for rain as water restrictions loom

The council explained: "This is a method that we have successfully used to stabilise supply in areas around Lenasia, Northcliff, Fairlands and Blackheath, which were struggling with supply in November 2016. One other factor that contributed to our success in these areas is consumers who have since reduced their consumption significantly."

The Johannesburg metro police are monitoring wasteful water use and have issued 665 fines to people found contravening the water services by-law.

Residents are urged to continue reporting non-compliance by phoning the JMPD 24/7 line: 011 758 9650.

Johannesburg Water thanked all residents and visitors to the city who have heeded the call to save water and urged residents to continue doing so.

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Cape Town - A man who stole military equipment, including assault rifles and hand grenades, from the Simon’s Town Naval Base has been sentenced to six years behind bars, the Hawks said on Thursday.

Duncan Gouvias, 22, was convicted and sentenced last week after pleading guilty in the Wynberg Regional Court to charges of burglary and contravening the Firearms Control Act.

His two co-accused - Dilian Sewkumar, 18, and Karabo Ramokgopa, 19 - are expected to plead on February 23.

Gouvias was handed a 43-year sentence for five charges. The sentences would run concurrently, meaning he received in effect a six-and-a-half-year sentence, Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said.

Some of the jail terms were suspended for five years. He was prohibited from possessing a firearm or applying for a firearm licence during the suspension period. Should he be convicted of similar offences during the period, the suspended sentence would kick in.

Western Cape Hawks head General Nombuso Portia Khoza said the accused had "cooked their own goose" when they targeted the naval base, a National Key Point, in August last year.

"It cannot be business as usual when young people with their whole future ahead of them get involved in such senseless acts. We are extremely grateful to the team for swiftly recovering the weapons before innocent lives could be lost," Khoza said.

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