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© Ray Mwareya

First published by GroundUp

A traditional doctor has struck gold with the fears of miners who work the dangerous, disused mines in the hope of finding gold. He also "helps" the buyers of the ore. By Ray Mwareya and Tichaona Jongwe for GROUNDUP.

He calls himself Sekuru Ziso – in Shona, "the grandfather who sees". He is 55 years old, a fortune teller and a traditional doctor.

He has come from Chipinge, a district in south-east Zimbabwe, known for its herbalists, attracting people from as far afield as South Africa, Namibia and Botswana.

"I came to South Africa first in June 2016," says Ziso. "I was told business is brisk among ‘illegal' gold miners."

He says he has already been deported once, after rival South African sangomas alerted the police that he was an undocumented immigrant.

His customers are scores of young Zimbabwean men who risk life and limb working the disused gold mines on Gauteng's East Rand, in Barberton in Mpumalanga and Welkom in the Free State. It is dangerous work. It is also governed by luck; the chance of finding gold.

It is not surprising then that some turn to men such as Ziso. They believe he speaks to their ancestors to guarantee their safety. He burns incense, sprays "magic water", shakes dried rabbit bones. These tools of his trade are called hakata meaning "drop message".

Ziso says he has been telling fortunes since he was 16.

"I didn't attend a sangoma school like you do here in South Africa," he says. "I'm chosen by (the) ancestors. I can't read or write fancy words, but I can chat to your ancestors, and thus predict tomorrow."

When GroundUp visits him, he is making a concoction for his clients who are planning to slip into a mine in Randfontein on Gauteng's West Rand.

"This operation needs stronger, fresh incense to guard the boys' spirits, because I see in my dreams this mine is policed by uniformed men with black guns," says Ziso.

Ziso has different rates for various "levels" of protection. "Level one," he says, "I pray to protect young men from maphogo mine guards in less rich mines." (The maphogo are security guards on patrol in the gold mines on the East Rand.)

"This level of prayer only costs R300," he says.

"Level 2, I pray to prevent rock falls from hurting the ‘boys' at rich mines like Welkom. This service, I charge R2,000."

He tells the miners, "Never go to these mines without my prayer beads. I need to watch your ancestors while you are working underground."

"Level 3 prayer is my highest … I work the spirits of high value gold buyers and miners who try to enter rich legal mines like the ones in Carletonville town."

For this, he charges R5,000 once a year.

Sekuru Ziso concedes that he plays on the emotional fears that diggers have about entering old, crumbling mines and calms their nerves with prayers.

A 25-year-old miner who operates in Barberton, says he refuses to consult or pay for Ziso's services. "I'm a Christian. His rituals are helpless gimmicks. He crooks people out of their money, I think. I don't need his salts under my feet."

Ziso has a service for the gold buyers too he explains: "I plant my dry chicken bones in their homes so that when they are smelting the gold ore, police or sophisticated robbers can never visit them."

A gold buyer who operates illegally in Bekkersdal, says: "Sekuru Ziso is my man when you want a prayer to prevent mine police from fishing out my ‘boys' working underground."

He helps Ziso's prayers come true by paying off the corrupt mine supervisors (he claims the bribes cost up to R30,000 a year). They help him smuggle up to five diggers at a time into the tunnels of mines still in operation. The miners enter wearing helmets, overalls and torches to look like employees.

After working underground for up to three months, playing hide and seek with the mine guards, each of them repays the gold buyer the R30,000 bribe, plus a commission of about R15,000. It is lucrative. Continued arrests, rock falls and deaths don't stop the trade.

"I bought Ziso a maize grinding-mill machine back home in Zimbabwe when his prayers helped my illegal miners win a court case and get released from jail," claims the gold buyer. He pays Ziso R5,000 to "clean his boys' spirits".

Edgar, a 27-year-old immigrant from Zimbabwe, who successfully slipped into a mine in Carletonville and made enough money to buy a lorry, says: "Sekuru Ziso rituals work for me. Last time we went down Carletonville Mine, he bathed us in a bucket of paraffin, naked for two hours. He said the paraffin's strong smell would wash away bad spirits and mine rock falls. We believe him. That is why we pay."

Ziso says: "Whenever your relative or friend, an illegal miner is arrested – just bring to me a piece of his clothing and R1,800."

"I spray my incense water on his clothing and pray with the garment in the mountains for a day," he says, pointing to a low hill on the N3 to Durban, just outside Alberton, Gauteng.

Ziso initially set up a herbal street stall at Duduza Mall in KwaThema on the East Rand. He was unable to protect himself from arrest as an undocumented immigrant and was deported to Zimbabwe in January after spending three weeks at Lindela Detention Centre in Krugersdorp.

"In the evening, I was back across the border, in South Africa," he says. Two gold buyers in Springs paid R3,000 for a smuggler to ferry him back.

Ziso says he is making a good profit and saving money to buy cattle when he returns to Zimbabwe at the end of 2017.

He came to South Africa because he struggled to compete with churches. "Pentecostal churches, miracle churches," he sighs and shakes his head. "They are drawing too many people to mega-money churches, virtually killing sangomas and herbalist businesses in Zimbabwe."

© Image by Justice Malala from eNCA stream.

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.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's Budget speech this year is one of those strange occasions where the context was almost overshadowed by the event. The nomination of Brian Molefe to become an MP, the swirling speculation about a reshuffle, the question marks over what will happen in the ANC if that reshuffle happens, and the overall context of the party's leadership battle all hung over the speech. So any action by ANC MPs in this context is significant. A small group of them decided to do something different this time. While almost all of the ANC MPs stood up to applaud Gordhan at the end of his speech, this small group of ministers sat solidly in their seats. It was a deeply political statement. By STEPHEN GROOTES.

In the hours after Pravin Gordhan's Budget speech, pictures started circulating on Twitter of this group of people who did not join the standing ovation. One of the images was a picture taken from a paused TV, by the political analyst Justice Malala. He took the picture during the speech itself. Later, another picture, taken by Chris Vick, the spin doctor and current member of Save SA, showed this same group during the actual ovation.

The people who are not standing up and joining in the applause are the following; Social Development Minister and ANC Women's League leader Bathabile Dlamini, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, and Co-operative Governance Minister Des van Rooyen.

There are several aspects that this group has in common. Two of them owe their entire political careers in national office to President Jacob Zuma. Van Rooyen was a backbench MP whose claim to fame was being run out of his town when he was mayor of Merafong, before he, suddenly, became Finance Minister during that awful weekend of December 2015. Mahlobo has done nothing to distinguish himself in office, except to control the spooks for Zuma. Okay, he did do something special; he jammed the cellphones of journalists and MPs that awful night in the National Assembly in 2015.

There is something about the two of them that almost leads directly to a feeling of contempt. It is clear that both are simply in the pocket of someone, they are not their own men, they do what they are told. Gwede Mantashe once appeared to show open public contempt of Van Rooyen, aware that he would suffer no consequence. And of course Van Rooyen has spent almost as much time in Saxonwold as Brian Molefe. Mahlobo has no constituency of his own to protect him should Zuma cast him aside. This makes them both completely and utterly expendable. If someone were to mount a political attack upon them, it is almost certain there would be no help for them from Luthuli House.

They are not ANC deployees. They are Zuma deployees.

The situation around Dlamini is different. She has been part of the ANC for many years. But, increasingly over the last few months, she has tied herself more and more to the Zuma wagon. On the surface, there's nothing inherently wrong with that, it's what politicians in all places do, they pick a champion and go with it. But in her case, she does not appear to even believe that checks and balances on her behaviour should exist. Her treatment of people who dare to ask her questions about the social grant payment fiasco is simply disgusting. She clearly believes they do not have a right to an answer. She does not see herself as accountable to anyone, on an issue that could well turn out to be the worst disaster to hit South Africa since 1994.

She may also be showing that she is not necessarily a competent politician. It was her organisation that decided to issue a statement supporting Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to be the next leader of the ANC in the hours before the party's January 8th Statement. It appears to have backfired, and may even turn out to have been an admission of weakness. Dlamini-Zuma does not appear to have made any progress in this contest since that moment, even as Bathabile Dlamini expresses contempt for the Luthuli House instructions. The league itself has also resorted to releasing statements that simply cannot be understood, as in not making much sense.

The situation around Lindiwe Zulu is more complicated. During the ANC's 2009 election campaign, no one was more pleasant and fun to talk to; she was open, accessible and human. For months on the trot she wore only ANC colours, her background as an ambassador, and her life story in exile (partly in the USSR) all gave her heft and authority. When she spoke, she received respect. At one point she even had to endure the indignity of being called a "street woman" by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, when she was representing Zuma in mediation efforts in that country. Such was her standing that he then actually apologised to her.

But since she entered Cabinet in 2014, she has shown signs of frustration, even anger. At one point she had to be physically restrained from fighting with EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee. Her attacks on opposition parties also appear to suggest that she does not necessarily believe they have a right to even exist; they are personal and pointed. And it is clear which camp she is in. In the hours after Molefe was sworn in as an MP on Thursday, her Instagram feed showed a picture of her with him, and the message that "change must happen". In the context, this is an aggressive political statement.

With all of these different back stories, it is still interesting to ask why these ministers stayed seated at this moment. Was it planned and deliberate, or did it just come naturally?

They must have been conscious of the signal that it would send, and have known exactly how it would have looked. Zuma himself did stand and shake Gordhan's hand as he came down from the podium – if President could do it, why not them? Perhaps Zuma, and the people around him, felt the need to send Gordhan a signal, that he does not actually have their support. In some ways that could be effective, and it would be an obvious signal to him that the war is still under way.

But that raises another question. Why such a small number? If so many people are thought to be still supporting Zuma, and so many others scared of him, then why did so few ministers take part in this sit-down protest? Could it be that actually very few members of Cabinet disagree with Gordhan, and that he has more support than we think? At the very least, this group looks small and weak. And in politics that is never a good message to send.

There are other questions. Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga once failed to attend an important meeting involving her then position as Gauteng Education MEC in favour of being in the Supreme Court of Appeal to support Zuma. She stood. Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersonn stood. So did everyone else on the ANC benches. So did everyone else on the opposition benches. Which further isolates this small group.

You have to wonder how they believe they will be seen by history. As a small band of crusaders who were shown to be right in their judgement of what was morally appropriate? Or just a small group of has beens who showed that they could be bought, that they did not know and appreciate the difference between right and wrong, and thought that somehow their champion deserved the six-metre statue in his likeness

© Gallo Images

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma has decided not to suspend or to institute an inquiry into the fitness of the NPA’s Advocate Lawrence Mrwebi and Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba to hold office.

This comes after the decision by the North Gauteng High Court granting the two prosecutors leave to appeal against its earlier decision, Presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said in a statement.

Jiba and Mrwebi were invited to make written representations as to why they should not be suspended, pending the outcome of an inquiry into their fitness to hold office.

Also read: South Africans fed up with crime, not xenophobic - Zuma

“Having considered the representations made by Adv Jiba and Adv Mrwebi, and the decision of the North Gauteng High Court to grant the two prosecutors leave to appeal, the President has decided not to suspend them or institute any inquiry until the finalisation of the leave process,” the statement said.

The two are still on special leave as per their arrangement with the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

© Gallo Images

Johannesburg - The ANC Women's League has slammed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's Budget Speech as being "incoherent" with President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address.

It has also accused Gordhan of treating banks implicated in rand hedging with soft gloves.

League spokesperson Meokgo Matuba has warned that if the "incoherence" trickles down to other departments, it will amount to sabotage of Zuma's plans for radical socio-economic transformation.

"Regrettably, there are incoherences between the SONA by the President and the Budget Speech by the minister and we are hoping that this incoherence will not trickle down to various departments who are responsible for implementation of government programmes."

Also read: Guptas will be delighted by MP Molefe: DA

In a statement, Matuba accused Gordhan of treating banks implicated in rand manipulation by the Competition Commission with soft gloves and said this must stop with immediate effect.

"The speech was delivered a few days after the Competition Commission reported on massive corruption done by some of the banks. Very disappointing that the minister did not delve deeper into the corruption of the banking cartels and this will fit the narrative that the ANC-led government is lenient on fraud and corruption by corporates," Matuba said.

The ANCWL has called for harsher punishment against the banks, including criminal charges to be laid against the boards and executives, that they be fined 100% of commission earned from the rand manipulation, and for government to stop doing business with the banks.

SARS praised

On Gordhan's statement that three new banks, including Postbank, had been given provisional licences, Matuba said they wanted to know if any of the new entrants had 50% women ownership to address their call for economic emancipation of black women.

Despite Gordhan raising the alarm that the South African Revenue Services had failed to reach revenue collection targets for 2016-17 by R30.4bn, the league praised SARS commissioner Tom Moyane.

Matuba said, under his leadership, SARS has perfomed exceptionally well and should be applauded.

"The ANCWL applauds the ANC-led government with its good tax administration system implemented by (SARS).The appointment of capable leadership at SARS is yielding positive results," Matuba said.

Also read: Case to stop SA from bankrupting itself begins

However, Matuba said they were also disappointed that there was no substantial increase on corporate tax.

On higher education, the league has called for the fees commission, looking into the feasibility of providing free higher education, to conclude its work and provide government with proposals to implement free higher education in 2018.

On other social issues it wants sanitary towels to be supplied to all girl learners from poor households that cannot afford them.

The league also decried what it called the "snail" implementation of the National Health Insurance and said it hoped there would be progress in 2017.

© Gallo Images

Johannesburg – The Black First Land First (BFL) movement has laid charges of corruption against Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, calling him a "serial lawbreaker".

BLF national convener Andile Mngxitama laid charges against Gordhan on Wednesday at the Hillbrow police station, he told News24.

The charges are related to Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas' affidavit in the State of Capture report in which he claimed that the Gupta family offered him the job of finance minister to replace Nhlanhla Nene.

He told former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela that the family offered him R600m in cash during a meeting and he reported the matter to Gordhan.

"Gordhan did nothing about it, which is breaking the law. Gordhan has broken the law. He is expected to fight corruption; he is expected to act when unlawful activities are reported to him. He has done none of that... He is serial lawbreaker," Mngxitama said.

Mngxitama accused Gordhan of defending those who stole from the Reserve Bank during apartheid.

"R206bn was stolen during apartheid and a report came out. Gordhan has done nothing about it instead he is actively defending and protecting those who have stolen from the Reserve Bank...We have a minister entangled in organisations where he has shares," he said.

Also read: Pravin's World: A new moral vision and power play in a time of disorder

BLF application a 'political ploy'

Mngxitama filed a notice of motion with the High Court in October last year in which he called on Gordhan to comply with recommendations in the controversial CIEX report, Fin24 reported.

The report spelled out how Absa should repay a bailout for Bankorp, which Absa acquired in 1992. Bankorp received the R1.5bn bailout from the South African Reserve Bank in the 1980s and 1990s.

Gordhan's responding papers to the BLF's motion asked that the BLF's application be dismissed.

Gordhan said the CIEX report risked failing to abide by the Constitution and described it as a "26-year-old unsolicited document prepared by retired M16 spies".

Gordhan also said that the BLF's application is a "patent political ploy" and "unprecedented in its political intrigue".

The CIEX report, which was put together in the late 1990s, outlined how the new South African government could recoup monies that were lost because of alleged apartheid-era looting or illicit activities.

The 52-page report was drawn up by former British operative and founder of CIEX, Michael Oatley. CIEX is based in the UK and specialises in recoveries.

WEB_PHOTO_EFF_MARCH_02112016: 02 November 2016-EFF members march in support for president Jacob Zuma to step down.© eNCA online 02 November 2016-EFF members march in support for president Jacob Zuma to step down.

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.

Rorisang LekalakeUniversity of Cape Town

Over the last three decades there’s been some progress towards institutionalising multiparty democracy in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite this elections in the region rarely result in changes of government.

A recent survey by Afrobarometer – a non-partisan African research network – sheds some light on why this is the case.

The survey, which involved 9 500 interviews conducted in 2014/2015 in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, found widespread support for multiparty politics.

But the results also show that opposition parties face major obstacles to winning majority support. These include the fact that they aren’t trusted as much as governing parties and that very often they aren’t seen as a viable alternative to the dominant ruling party.

All five countries are governed by parties that emerged from liberation movements and have been in power for decades since independence. Although some of these incumbents have lost some electoral support in recent years, opposition support has not been high enough to unseat them.

The trust question

The latest findings mirror the results of a survey in 36 African countries in 2014/2015 which found that opposition parties had the lowest levels of popular trust among 12 types of institutions and leaders. While trust in ruling parties was 46%, it was only 35% for opposition parties.

This was an improvement over the situation more than a decade earlier when trust levels in opposition parties was much lower.

Also read: Brian Molefe sworn in as ANC MP

Figure 1: Trust in opposition political parties| 5 countries in Southern Africa | 2014/2015

© Provided by eNCA 

Respondents were asked: How much do you trust each of the following, or haven’t you heard enough about them to say: Opposition political parties? (Percentage who say ‘somewhat’ or ‘a lot’)Afrobarometer

In Namibia and Mozambique levels of trust in opposition parties were found to be at the highest levels ever. But in Zimbabwe trust in the political opposition declined sharply after 2008/2009. Similarly, the proportion of Zimbabweans who said they felt “close to” an opposition party dropped from 45% in 2009 to 19% in 2014.

This dramatic reversal of fortune provides an important lesson for opposition parties in the other four countries. First, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvangirai, was unable to leverage its role in stabilising the country when it was part of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

Secondly, infighting and increasing fractionalisation may have further shaped public opinion about its viability as a party.

Unequal

There’s a much more lopsided distribution of power and resources for opposition parties in countries with dominant governing parties than for those in competitive party systems. This, coupled with a lack of governance experience, makes it difficult for opposition parties to be seen as credible alternatives.

Take the example of Botswana. The Botswana Democratic Party, in power since independence in 1966, is the region’s most enduring dominant party. It has even adopted the slogan “There is still no alternative”. Although the party has been able to maintain a majority of parliamentary seats, its share of the popular vote declined to 46.7% in 2014, the lowest level of any of the dominant parties in the region.

Afrobarometer’s 2014 survey, which took place a few months before the election, showed that 44% of Botswana agreed that the political opposition presented a viable alternative vision and plan for the country (Table 1, below).

Also read: Bathabile Dlamini comes clean

Table 1: Perceptions of opposition viability | 10 countries in southern African | 2014/2015

© Provided by eNCA 

Respondents were asked: Please tell me whether you agree or disagree with the following statement: The political opposition in [your country] presents a viable alternative vision and plan for the country? (Note: This question was not asked in Swaziland.)Afrobarometer

In Botswana’s “winner-takes-all” electoral system, a large part of the opposition’s success in the 2014 election was due to three parties forming a coalition - the Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC). This reduced vote splitting. A recent decision to expand the coalition to include the country’s remaining major opposition party, the Botswana Congress Party, has led to speculation about the chance of an opposition electoral victory in 2019.

Similarly, in South Africa, the opposition’s strong showing in the 2016 local elections has bolstered its optimism about its prospects in the 2019 national and provincial polls.

This success suggests that confidence in the political opposition may have grown since the 2015 Afrobarometer survey. It could also reflect widespread dissatisfaction with the governing African National Congress and political institutionsleaders and performance on a range of key policy areas.

But public dissatisfaction with government performance doesn’t necessarily translate into perceptions that opposition parties could do a better job, as Figure 2 shows. This is particularly so in South Africa and Zimbabwe. While eight in 10 citizens in the two countries report poor government performance on their top policy priority (unemployment, only 37% say that another political party could solve the problem.

Figure 2: Poor government performance on most important problem and opposition ability to solve problem | 5 countries in southern Africa | 2014/2015

© Provided by eNCA 

Respondents were asked: In your opinion, what are the most important problems facing this country that government should address? - Thinking of the problem you mentioned first, in your opinion, how well or badly would you say the current government is handling this problem, or haven’t you heard enough to say? (Percentage who say ‘very badly’ or ‘fairly badly’) - Thinking of the problem you mentioned first, in your opinion, is there any other political party that could do a better job in solving this problem? (% who say ‘yes’)Afrobarometer

Role of opposition parties

What role should opposition parties play?

Only a minority of citizens in the five southern African countries with dominant parties agree that the opposition’s primary role should be to monitor and criticise the government in order to hold it accountable.

This is true even among respondents who are opposition party supporters (Figure 3, below). In South Africa there’s even been a decline since 2008/2009 in support for opposition parties playing a “watchdog” role.

Also read: 45%: Ramaphosa to feel the heat?

Figure 3: Support for opposition ‘watchdog’ role| 5 countries in southern African countries | 2008-2015

© Provided by eNCA 

Respondents were asked: Which of the following statements is closest to your view? Statement 1: After losing an election, opposition parties should monitor and criticise the government in order to hold it accountable. Statement 2: Once an election is over, opposition parties and politicians should accept defeat and cooperate with the government to help it develop the country. (Percentage who ‘agree’ or ‘agree very strongly’ with Statement 1)Afrobarometer

This suggests that opposition parties might put off potential voters if they are seen to be constantly criticising the ruling party rather than contributing to the country’s development. Opposition parties might do better if they highlight their policy platforms and gain citizen confidence in their plans and capabilities.

This is a crucial insight for opposition parties in the region as it runs counter to the opposition’s conventional role in Western democracies.

Rorisang Lekalake, Research Fellow at the Centre for Social Sciences Research (CSSR)/Afrobarometer Assistant Project Manager for Southern Africa, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

© Gallo Images

Cape Town - Democratic Alliance metro chairperson in Cape Town Shaun August says allegations that he leaked fake party documents to a Sunday newspaper are not true.

August is one of five candidates running for interim provincial leader in the Western Cape, to be elected at the party's provincial congress in Worcester on Saturday.

The party's provincial office has been rocked this week by allegations that August and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille were allegedly involved in the leak of doctored documents to the Rapport newspaper.

The documents relate to an admission of guilt by August and councillor Matthew Kempthorne to the irregular procurement of party T-shirts during the 2016 local elections.

August told News24 on Thursday that he was not guilty of the alleged leak, and is still in the running for the leadership race on Saturday.

"If you are guilty of something, then you need to worry. We are not worried or concerned about it and we are consulting with lawyers," he said.

He said he and Kempthorne had admitted guilt in the procurement of the T-shirts, but that the matter had been dealt with within the party.

Also read: Brian Molefe sworn in as ANC MP

He maintained he was not guilty of the reported leak, and would deal with the issue at the disciplinary hearings, he said.

De Lille's office on Tuesday said De Lille was being investigated for her role in the reported leak and denied that she had been handed a letter of expulsion by the DA regarding the issue.

Her office would not take queries from News24 earlier this week.

August and De Lille have a long-standing working relationship dating back to their time as members of the Independent Democrats. The party merged with the DA in 2010.

A researcher in De Lille's office, Josh Jordaan, resigned as a DA member and a member of its federal council on Monday following the reports, which alleged he had leaked the documents together with August.

DA federal chairperson James Selfe announced this week that he had referred August, De Lille and Jordan to the federal legal commission to be investigated over the matter.

'It's bullshi*t'

The party in the province has also been shaken by allegations from current acting leader Bonginkosi Madikizela that the race card is being used in the run-up to the elective conference on Saturday.

Madikizela told News24 earlier this week that there are people in the province who are using "outdated" race-based ideas to campaign and it is "eroding" the party.

August, however, dismissed Madikizela's allegations that certain people believe a coloured person should lead the DA in the Western Cape.

"It's bullshi*t. Nobody is talking about race," August said.

Also read: Why opposition parties in southern Africa struggle to win power

"The race is to win on Saturday. That's the only race we are in.

"Nobody has spoken about colour. Nobody else is bringing it up in the media.

"He is the one bringing it up in the media, and I think that is wrong."

Non-racial leadership

Madikizela told News24 earlier this week that the race of the party's leader should not matter, and that the use of the race card was "eroding" the party's values.

"It is true that historically the coloured population is the majority in the province, but that's not the point," he told News24.

"Why must this issue be raised now when it's a black man who wants to lead this party in the province?

"For the last 10 years, before Patricia de Lille, the province was led by a white man: Theuns Botha.

"That clearly indicates that these are people who are opportunist, who are trying really to play the race card when it is not necessary."

Madikizela said the party's leaders across the country come from all races, despite the majority of people in those provinces being black.

He said most people in the party support the idea of non-racial leadership.

The elective conference will begin at 14:30 on Saturday and will be held at the Susan Hanekom Hall in Worcester.

© Getty Images

COMMENT

Barcelona might well be a club on the brink of institutional crisis.

There are problems in La Masia where the production line is malfunctioning. The style of play in the first team under Luis Enrique betrays the principles that brought Barca widespread acclaim – and titles – under his predecessors.

He has the Messi – Suarez – Neymar trio at his disposal but has laid waste to Barca’s controlled style to make sure they get the ball quickly and often.

Enrique preparing tactical switch

The transfer policy under sporting director Robert Fernandez is turning up more misses than hits, including signings such as Paco Alcacer, Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan.

There is bound to be an upheaval at Camp Nou this summer.

Luis Enrique, Barcelona, Champions League, 02142017© Provided by Sporting News Luis Enrique, Barcelona, Champions League, 02142017

As well as a new coach to replace the confrontational Luis Enrique, a new starting right-back and a new midfielder will have to be bought. Furthermore, squad depth will need to be improved.

Barca could well be looking at an outlay of more than €100m – yet again – just to get the squad up to standard. The problem is that they’ve not got that amount to spend.

The late summer signing of Andre Gomes from Valencia was part-financed by bringing forward a portion of the 2017 transfer budget – estimated to be a shade under €30m – meaning they will only have around €60m to play with. For that, you might get Marco Verratti’s left foot and not much else.

Then there is the issue of Lionel Messi’s contract. The 29-year-old has not yet reached a deal with Barca regarding the renewal of his current deal which expires in 2018.

Barca are right at the very top of their wage budget as things stand – sustaining the MSN trident is no cheap trick – but will have to match Messi’s demands. As he is the only superstar currently pulling his weight, he will be entitled to ask for his market value.

Messi is more than halfway through a four-year deal worth a basic €32m per season after tax but it's structured unconventionally. For the first two seasons of that deal Messi received €22m. This season - and next - he receives €42m.

Messi will no doubt be expecting an improvement; at least €35m per season for the duration of another four-year term.

He has scored 19 goals in 20 league games this season and is shouldering an increasing burden for Luis Enrique’s side, so it would appear to be a no-brainer for Barca to pay up.

Messi’s interests – however - might not be best served by remaining in Catalunya this summer.

These are not the conditions in which Messi can sustain his own streak of success. Barca are on a downward trend - unless something drastic happens – and Messi deserves more than enduring the whistles and boos of a Camp Nou crowd frustrated by a lack of progress.

Barca is all Messi knows. He is the clear boss having grown into the role as leader following the departures of big personalities like Carles Puyol, Xavi Hernandez and Dani Alves. The team is bent to his will.

Barcelona’s 2016-17 season, however, has laid bare the extent of their structural deficiencies not just on the pitch but off it. Messi’s contributions – such as his double against Leganes last weekend – are serving to paper over the cracks. The significant fan dismay around Camp Nou – including recent boos and whistles against Gomes – is said to have agitated him.

What Messi deserves is the assurance that Barca can build a team around him good enough to compete with Real Madrid for the biggest trophies in Spain and in Europe. Currently, they cannot make that promise to him.

Lionel Messi Neymar Barcelona Leganes LaLiga 19022017© Provided by Sporting News Lionel Messi Neymar Barcelona Leganes LaLiga 19022017Luis Suarez Neymar Messi Alaves Barcelona LaLiga 11020217© Provided by Sporting News Luis Suarez Neymar Messi Alaves Barcelona LaLiga 11020217

Barcelona are going to have to rebuild their team and strengthen it for the coming seasons but that is not what Messi needs. Barca’s financial constraints mean that they cannot build easily. Messi wants a team good enough to sustain a treble bid but the irony is that he might have to leave for them to afford it. The indulgence of MSN costs a lot both in terms of investment and identity.

It might be easier for them to create a side without him, as painful as that might sound, and that’s why a divorce is not as unthinkable as it once was.

It would not be completely without precedent. Former Barca president Sandro Rosell has revealed that the time to sell Ronaldinho was after winning the Champions League in 2006 and admits he would have done so had Cristiano Ronaldo or Kaka been available.

Zidane: our lead is nothing

"When you are Barca manager you have to be cold-blooded,” he said to El Periodico.

Messi’s buyout clause stands at €250m but Barca would accept significantly less than that with only one year on his contract. Let’s say for example they take in €150m for him plus the €140m-odd in saved wages over the life of another four-year contract. Those are not inconsiderable sums – especially for a team sorely lacking balance in the squad.

Once upon a time homegrown players like Victor Valdes, Puyol, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Pedro were coming through and ensuring massive fees were not needed to maintain that balance. Those days are over.

The pain of losing Messi is going to come some day for Barcelona. When all is said and done he will have led them through their most successful period in history. Will he retire there? Will he decline?

Footballers usually get around a decade at the very top and in that respect, Messi is already in added time. Wouldn’t it be prudent – and not to mention brave – for Barcelona to cash in while the price is high and ensure they can move forward?

© Daily Maverick

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.

While Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was throwing around some big figures in Parliament on Wednesday, an even bigger one was looming over the Western Cape High Court: R1-trillion, the estimated cost of South Africa's nuclear deal with Russia. The legal challenge mounted by two environmental NGOs to the nuclear deal hit the court this week, with an accompanying bevy of protesters. It has been termed one of the most significant state capture court cases South Africa has yet seen. By REBECCA DAVIS.

"No nukes, no bankrupting SA, no enriching Zuma and Co," read one sign. "Nuclear costs SA equivalent of 1.2-billion buses!" proclaimed another. On a day when South Africa's economy was already in the spotlight, the small crowd assembled outside the Western Cape High Court had one particular aspect of its future in mind. "Phantsi secret nuclear deal phantsi!" the protesters chanted.

In the legal ring: two NGOs, Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities' Environment Institute (SAFCEI), squaring up against Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson's pursuit of 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power. One media outlet referred to it as a "David vs Goliath battle". That's accurate in the sense that the two NGOs behind the legal battle are modestly resourced. But when David took on Goliath, he didn't have one of the most lethal advocates in the country leading his legal team.

Related: Court hears why nuclear deal should be stopped

Acting for the NGOs is David Unterhalter, who has appeared in countless of South Africa's most high-profile legal matters – including representing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Marikana Commission. In this case, David is armed and dangerous.

The court challenge will not deal with the question of whether or not nuclear power is the right energy source to meet the country's needs. Opening the arguments for the applicants on Wednesday, Unterhalter said that his team would show that the inter-governmental nuclear agreement with Russia "fails to comply with what is required constitutionally".

While the government contends that this kind of international agreement is an instance of "executive action", and thus beyond the purview of review, the applicants maintain that it is "a fairly straightforward case of administrative action" which should have gone before Parliament for resolution. While the Russian agreement was tabled in Parliament, it was not subject to a debate and a resolution of Parliament, despite the state law adviser's counsel to Minister Joemat-Pettersson that this was required.

Lawyer Adrian Pole subsequently told journalists that they will also argue that the public should have been granted more of a voice in discussions about South Africa's energy future.

This point was emphasised by the protesters outside court. Criticising the government for making use of "flawed" processes and failing to carry out public hearings, Earthlife Africa's Makoma Lekalakala described the nuclear process as "shrouded in secrecy".

Lekalakala said: "This case was filed in the public interest to hold those in government accountable and prevent secret deals leading to corruption." She also hit out at the possible environmental damage of a large-scale nuclear programme. South Africa is currently dependent on a fossil fuel economy, Lekalakala said. "With nuclear it becomes much worse – it's not just a question of pollution, but also of [how to dispose of nuclear] waste."

South Korean activist Kim Yong-Bock was outside court on Wednesday in solidarity with South African protesters – and bearing an urgent message focusing on nuclear safety. Kim said that the local court case was similar to the ongoing debate in Japan about the constitutionality of nuclear plants.

"The security of life in your country is supposed to be protected by your Constitution," Kim said, warning that after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, wrangling continues as to the liability of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. To the nuclear industry, Kim suggested, "it doesn't really matter if you die or not".

Looking around at the South Africans gathered outside the court, Kim said: "You are potential victims."

The issue of the prohibitive cost of the nuclear build was also prominent among the protesters' concerns. "There are many ways of providing the electricity we need now and in the future without spending R1-trillion or more," SACSEI's Ven Tsondru said. Both sun and wind, she suggested, could generate electricity quicker and cheaper than nuclear energy.

Tsondru explained that the court case's major function was to force government to share both the reasoning behind, and financial details of, the nuclear deal.

The legal proceedings have already forced the government's hand in revealing certain aspects of the previously secretive nuclear deal. The original court application was filed in October 2015. From papers revealed to the applicants in 2016, the NGOs said that it appeared that despite denials from the governments of both Russia and South Africa, a binding commitment to buy a fleet of nuclear reactors from Russia had already been signed.

On Wednesday morning, protesters were keeping one eye on Parliament, where Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was due to deliver his Budget speech that afternoon. Ears would be pricked for reference to the nuclear deal, which President Jacob Zuma did not mention in his State of the Nation Address a fortnight ago.

Earthlife Africa's Lekalakala told the small crowd outside the Western Cape High Court that they expected the Finance Minister to announce in the Budget that afternoon that "we cannot go ahead with nuclear now". If he were to give endorsement to the nuclear deal, she said, he would be "undermining you and me".

As it turned out, Minister Gordhan's Budget did not mention the nuclear deal at all – unless you count a veiled reference to protecting future generations from today's debt.

To SAFCEI'S Liz McDaid, this was a positive sign.

"We applaud the Minister of Finance for acting in the public interest and not wasting money on the nuclear deal," McDaid told the Daily Maverick. "We will continue to monitor government with respect to the nuclear deal. If we are successful with our court case, the decision to procure nuclear will be overturned."

Traffic jams heading towards the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town© Getty Images Traffic jams heading towards the Green Point Stadium in Cape TownJohannesburg – Johannesburg has seen a significant improvement in traffic congestion, reports TomTom in its 2017 Traffic Index. The report detailing the worst traffic congestion in South Africa.

In a study of 390 cities around the world, Johannesburg – South Africa’s most densely populated city – stands out for its implementation of, says TomTom, "effective traffic management systems", earning special recognition from an international panel of traffic experts.

TomTom is celebrating those cities that have beat traffic congestion with the introduction of its TomTom Traffic Index awards.

Six cities have been chosen for special recognition by an international panel of traffic experts. Each expert nominated three cities and subsequently all experts voted to determine the award-winning cities from the nominated cities. Along with Johannesburg, winners include Moscow, Stockholm and Rio de Janeiro.

BEATING TRAFFIC IN SA: The city of Johannesburg has been praised for its efforts in combating traffic congestion. Image: TomTom© Image by TomTom BEATING TRAFFIC IN SA: The city of Johannesburg has been praised for its efforts in combating traffic congestion. Image: TomTomMost congested cities in South Africa: Overall daily congestion level

1 Cape Town 35%

2 Johannesburg 30%

3 East London 29%

4 Pretoria 26%

5 Durban 22%

While Johannesburg has long been considered South Africa’s most traffic-congested city, the TTTI shows a marked improvement in the biggest metropolitan municipality’s ranking since 2009. Johannesburg has also surpassed Cape Town’s traffic congestion rating on the Index, ranking 70th globally with Cape Town positioned in 48th place.

© Image by TomTom

Johannesburg has, however, experienced a 3% increase in traffic congestion since 2015 and currently sits at a congestion level of 30%. Traffic congestion has also worsened in Cape Town by 5%, to a new average level of 35%.

Megan Bruwer, project coordinator for the Stellenbosch Smart Mobility Laboratory, says: "Infrastructure development is a major contributing factor to Johannesburg’s improved ranking in the TomTom Traffic Index.

"The Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, Open Road Tolling and numerous ITS applications implemented along freeway corridors have also had a positive impact on traffic congestion, not to mention the establishment of the Gautrain."

Looking at TomTom’s historical data, traffic congestion is up by 23% globally since 2008 and 10% on 2015. The TomTom Traffic Index also provides useful comparative information between South Africa’s major metropolitan municipalities, with both Johannesburg and Pretoria indicating a decrease in traffic congestion between 2009 and 2012 and maintaining a relatively even traffic congestion rating in the following three years.

Etienne Louw, TomTom South Africa’s managing director, says: "Throughout South Africa, TomTom is empowering traffic authorities and key decision makers at all levels of government with highly-accurate historical and real-time insights into traffic flows and incidents.

"Coupled with the real-time traffic information provided by TomTom’s navigation solutions, existing road infrastructure can be utilised with increased efficiency to counter rising traffic congestion.”

How it works

Using data from 2016, the TomTom Traffic Index looks at the traffic congestion situation in 390 cities in 48 countries on six continents – from Rome to Rio, Singapore to San Francisco. TomTom works with nearly 19 trillion data points that have been accumulated over nine years. This is the sixth year of the TomTom Traffic Index.

Johan Jonck, Arrive Alive, said: "Motorists in these cities would easily admit to the frustrations of heavily congested traffic. The Arrive Alive website has shared advice on some safety techniques for safer driving in heavy traffic as well as some suggestions to avoid the rage.

"Keep in mind that you should not get angry sitting in heavy traffic as you are part of the congestion! with some careful pre-planning some of this can be avoided and with the right mindset you may be able to share roads responsibly and safely!

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