Tag Archive | SouthAfrica

Anti Corruption Unit overwhelmed

Focus on top down elements of patronage 

….editorial….As Parliament went into short recess, the Anti-Corruptionhawks-2
Unit, the combined team made up of SARS, Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority and Justice Department, divulged that some 400 cases of public service corruption have been “successfully prosecuted since 2014”.

Out of hand

To have that number of public service thieves arrested is no small number but there is a worrying afterthought.   One wonders how many Anti Corruption Unit cases have been dropped or unsuccessfully prosecuted, given the fact such icebergcases are difficult to prove and there is often poor performance of by investigation teams. Like an iceberg, probably only one seventh of corruption in the public service is apparent.

sars logoCases currently under investigation in both the public and private sectors were given as 77, now 78 since Tom Moyane, head of SARS and member of the Anti Corruption Unit itself, at the time admitted to the Committee that he had not spoken to the Hawks about his second in command, Jonas Makwakwa.

Laundry list

The question by MPs was about the mysterious R1,2m deposited into Makwakwa’s private banking account.  According to reports it appears Moyane has subsequently rectified the situation and reported the event.  So yet another enquiry must start, which will only exacerbate the relationship problem between Moyane and the Minister of Finance, Gordhan Pravin.

Added to these national events in Parliament is the fact that corruption investigation remains particularly problematic at provincial and local government levels where it can go on undetected. The story emerging from the Tshwane Municipality is a case in point. The National Council of Provinces has no part to play in such matters.

Top down problem

Over the last few weeks, events in the parliamentary precinct have dominated the domestic media and consequently there is no need to repeat what is patently obvious.  South Africa clearly faces a leadership problem as far as financial governance and policy initiatives are concerned.

hawks logo
Doubt has placed, in the media in main, on the leadership integrity of the Hawks, NPA and, to some extent, with the Anti Corruption Unit inasmuch as their relationship with the President is concerned. A weary public waits for the next story of public service patronage.

Public service heads appear at times uncomfortable when they are reporting to Parliament and seem to be looking over their shoulder at times to see if what they have done or said is politically correct. Troubling is the fact that regulatory bodies are at odds with the ministries that founded them.

Bottomless pits

Although progress has been made on the national level in developing legalmoyane frameworks with provisions and regulations to address theft of public funds, such as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act and the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA), the good guys are still behind in the race to catch the bad guys.   A sad conviction rate of 28% on cases brought before the court by the Assets Forfeiture Unit overall was quoted to the Standing Committee.

Poor leadership

On the same subject, the surprising failure by the President to sign into law the Financial Intelligence Centre Bill to fight money laundering in terms of international prudential agreements has represented a further setback. Hopefully this is only temporary since the country needs to join up the dots to encircle organised corrupt financial activity.

Worse, some government SOEs appear to conducting their own affairs without approval by Treasury. Cabinet members are involved. Witness the extraordinary offer made by the Central Energy Fund, reported in the media, to Chevron for its refinery in Cape Town and downstream activities in the form of 850 fuel outlets, presumably backed by the funds emanating from the sale of the Strategic Fuel Fund (SFF) reserves unauthorised by Treasury.

Upstream mayhem

Tesliso MaqubelaDDG Tseliso Maqubela of Department of Energy has now told the media that SFF sold the 10 million barrels of crude in storage in December at rock bottom price of $28 a barrel to a unit of Glencore, Vitol and a company called Taleveras. The condition of the sale was apparently, Maqubela said, “that the oil (will) not be exported and so the government considered it remaining as part of its strategic reserve stockpile.”

Shadow Minister of Energy, Pieter Van Dalen MP, citing Business Day, said the sale has been connected with Thebe Investment Corporation – “the ANC linked investment arm”, he added.   Vitol is the company that has allegedly bought the fuel stock and which owns Burgan Cape Terminals next to Chevron, the deal being linked by Van Dalen with Thebe for the building of its new storage tanks. Burger had just been awarded a 20-year lease by Transnet for land needed.

cape-town-harbourChevron brought to Parliament its case against Burger saying it was improper to build a new tank terminal next to its refinery for Burger to store oil for trading whilst they had no Transnet pipeline to Gauteng as did others from Durban but the chair of the portfolio committee accused Chevron of monopolistic behaviour. Subsequently the complaint was rejected. It was shortly after that Chevron announced its intention to sell its refinery.

Twisting path

Whether the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson knew all of this when she appeared before the Portfolio Committee of Committee on Energy,tina-joematt her attendance covered in this report, is a moot point.   If she did know something, she is culpable in that she withheld the information, both from Parliament and possibly Treasury.

Alternatively, if she didn’t know that an offer was made to buy Chevron and that SFF had sold the state’s oil fund’s reserves to Swiss giant Vitol, possibly involving Thebe Investments, she should resign immediately as an incompetent.  Where the R4.4bn odd involved in the sale by SFF has landed up is not clear and when the oil will leave SFF’s Saldanha terminal and move to Burger in Cape Town is also not clear.

Clearly, in our view, this has been a major transaction known about at Cabinet level and the DA has called for an urgent enquiry. This will presumably bring the Asset Forfeitures Unit’s number of cases under investigation up to 79.   And so it goes on.  Tegeta and Eskom included.

Nothing but the truth

One senses a continuing cover up by government departments in reporting to Parliament for fear of upsetting any Minister’s apple cart, whereas Parliament should be a refuge of openness, accountability and public oversight on state activities and act as an arbiter to represent the people of South Africa.

vincent-smithIn the darkness, we saw a flash of light and a refreshing change when ANC MP, Vincent Smith, in grilling the Hawks as part of the Anti Corruption Unit interview, reminded them fiercely “This Is Parliament. If you cannot speak the truth, then do not speak at all.”  Whilst that remark may encapsulate the current problem, it may be also the cause of some Ministers and government officials choosing not to speak at all.

Legal jungles

Concurrent with the number of judicial enquiries into strange contracts, bad senior appointments, misuse of privileges and a litany of unaccountable expenditure without proper approval, what also has increased is the statement used by many when speaking to Parliament, including ministers, that the full facts cannot be given “because the matter is sub-judice”.

The number of matters that are sub-judice would not be so great if powers were given back the Treasury to re-assume its proper place in the parliamentary process.  Expenditure, if not approved by Treasury, would never see the light of day.

In conclusion

parliament 6Bad governance and corruption is the fodder that feeds the right wing anger sweeping the world and creates the spectacle that we see almost daily in our National Assembly, the creation of which institution is supposed to be one of the three pillars supporting the Constitution.

Previous articles on category subject

 Parliament, ConCourt and Business – ParlyReportSA

Parliament and the investment climate – ParlyReportSA

Anti-corruption law is watered down, say critics – ParlyReportSA

Nkandla vs NDP: the argument rages – ParlyReportSA

Parliament closes on sour note – ParlyReportSA

 

 

 

Posted in cabinet, Earlier Stories, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Home Page Slider, Justice, constitutional, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Pharmacies get labour relations changes

More controls for pharmacies to consider…..

pharmacy blacksAn amended set of rules for pharmacies relating to good pharmacy practice  were published for public comment by the South African Pharmacy Council, mainly related to labour relations and supervisory regulations regarding jobs and regulations are forthcoming.

The amendments are made in terms of the Pharmacy Act (1974 and refer to minimum standards and job descriptions for pharmacy technicians, pharmacy technical assistants and pharmacy general assistants.

In amending the “rules of good pharmacy practice”, the procurement, storage and distribution of “thermolabile” pharmaceutical products is set down in terms of cold chain storage; issues such as  pharmacy courier services and even name tagging of pharmacy assistants set out and further regulations regarding the calculation of, dispensing fees outlined.

Pharmacies complain that they recently have been under severe strain recently in the light of new regulations on controlled pricing, with smaller pharmacies under extreme pressure to continue in operation against major retail chains opening dispensaries. The days of the “family chemist” are seeing their last, as owners become more involved in government’s stated policy to reduce the price of medicines.

Now introduced are issues on HIV testing carried out by many pharmacies countrywide. Associated bodies and stakeholders had until late December 2013 to submit public comment. The new regulations are awaited.

previous articles on this subject

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/next-for-pppfa-preferential-procurement-are-pharmaceuticals/

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Better year for PetroSA with offshore gas potential

In presenting their annual report and internal audit results to the portfolio committee on energy, PetroSA told parliamentarians that progress had been made on the Ikhwezi gas fields off the Mozambique coast and that four wells were originally drilled with two more recently completed, all resulting in a “sub-sea” pipeline to carry gas ashore from the platform created now being created.

The first actual operational well drilling is to be commenced by the end of 2012 and gas is expected to flow by 2013.   This should extend the life of Mossel Bay refinery to 2020.

CEO, Nosizwe-Nocawe Nokwe would not confirm the size or volumes involved in the Ikhwezi project -chairperson Sisa Njikelana reminding parliamentarians that PetroSA was working in a competitive market and certain facts, especially on crude oil and gas  matters, had to be withheld.

Nevertheless, she commented that PetroSA had received an “unqualified” audit opinion and generally things from a management perspective “were looking up”.

Ms Nokwe said that PetroSA’s activities in the downstream market were a “hive of activity” but from her presentations it had to be assumed by MPs attending that this was in the storage area and not in service station ownership.

When asked why PetroSA should be interested in such areas of expansion as “downstream”, as she referred to it, Nokwe replied that it was because “PetroSA had a vision of being a totally integrated oil and fuel supply company”.

A good number of the questions from MPs on the annual report surrounded the unsuccessful ventures to obtain crude oil in Equatorial Guinea where R1, 412m had to be written off in the year under review and in Egypt where R945m was also subject to a write off. The audit opinion was naturally highly critical of such ventures, referring to these as “impairments” but not “wasteful and unfruitful”, however, as was pointed out.

Also “significant uncertainties”, according to the internal audit, surrounding the sale of Brass Exploration Limited and PetroSA Nigeria (SOC) which Nosizwe Nokwe reported on as “ventures which were currently in process of litigation” and therefore, she felt, sub-judice as far as any debate was concerned.

Most of the problem with Brass Exploration had arisen because the investment was disallowable under the PFMA as the business was largely family-owned.

equitorial guinea

On further questioning by MPs, Ms Nokwe finally explained that the Equatorial Guinea venture was apparently on the basis that a partner, subject to certain conditions, had to be found in a specified period and as this had not happened, it was felt prudent to write off the exercise as the contractual arrangements appeared doomed. Nevertheless, in the last few days, such a partner has been located and the matter is being re-discussed.

The focus of PetroSA, said Nosizwe Nokwe, remained as sustaining the Mossel Bay GTL refinery and to develop Ikhwezi.   Group profits had risen 54% in the year under review. PetroSA was on the project group involved and supported the quest to ascertain the viability of shale gas in the Karoo.

Crude production figures for the group were given as 0.8 million barrels which was only 50% of target, the department of performance, monitoring and evaluation (DPME) had noted, which was disappointing as Ms Nokwe said, but the challenges at the production facility were now resolved.    Indigenous refinery production stood at 6.5m barrels for 2011/2.

Chief financial officer, Nkosemntu Nika, said that the small income involved was mostly generated from cash interests of the group but that a feature of the balance sheet was that it was debt-free. The crude oil market experienced some difficulties and resulted in a significant drop in storage rental income.

On the reasons for two recent trips to Venezuela and whether these had been “what might be termed as successful”, as put by the questioner, Ms Nokwe replied that indeed there had been two trips and like the Africa focus, the idea was to build relationships in markets not necessarily tied to old routine arrangements such as in the Middle East but to “forge new initiatives”.

No specific contracts or purchases were envisaged in the short term, she said, in view of the fact that Venezuela only had heavy crudes but there was no telling what could be done with a possible refinery at, say, Mathombo, Coega, she commented. SA refineries were geared to light oil requirements and Iran situation had clearly highlighted what the problems were ahead.

When asked about the possibility of PetroSA continuing with the objective defined as the Mathombo project, she said PetroSA needed a lot more support to start getting this “to the drawing board stage”. The country faced a real risk of fuel supply shortage, as stated in the PetroSA annual report, and also in the fuel energy reports contributed to by PetroSA in the past, but, like most, PetroSA awaited the results of IRP findings on energy supply requirements.

However, again she lobbied parliamentary support for a refinery at Coega.

The DG concluded that PetroSA was concerned on the declining feedstock picture and was working with Eskom on LNG development and alternatives.  The tanks at Saldanha Bay were discussed, but only to the extent that spare space could be taken up for rental on the basis of what would suit PetroSA.   As to their future, she said the Central Energy Fund should be asked, as they were studying the matter.

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Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport, Uncategorized0 Comments

New drink and drive limits proposed from 0,05 to 0,02

It is proposed that new limits on blood and breath alcohol concentration levels when driving should not exceed 0,02 gram per 100 millilitres in the case of blood alcohol (as opposed the current 0,05); and  0,10 gram per 100 millilitres of breath (as opposed to the current 0,24). For professional drivers the proposed limits are even stricter.

Comments have been  invited on the draft National Road Traffic Amendment Bill, 2012 with a view to amending National Road Traffic Act 93 of 1996.

The deadline for written submissions is 18 August 2012. In addition to the drink and drive limits, the gazette proposes, amongst other things, provisions in the amendments for:

•    registering and licensing motor vehicle manufacturers, builders and importers
•    registering and licensing number plate manufacturers
•    empowering the minister to prescribe training procedures for licence inspectors
vehicle examiners, driving licence examiners, traffic officers and traffic wardens
•    imposing a duty on drivers to be in physical possession of driving licences
•    regulating the driving school industry

The draft amendment bill also seeks to set 1 May 2003 retrospectively as the date after which, in terms of section 18(6)(a) of the act, any driving licence officially included in an identity document will not be accepted as proof of being in possession of a valid driving licence.

Posted in Education, Health, Justice, constitutional, Security,police,defence, Uncategorized0 Comments


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