South Africa: Today's latest news and headlines, Wednesday 9 September

Stay up to date with the latest news in South Africa by reviewing all the biggest headlines on Wednesday 9 September.

Despite obtaining a court interdict which prohibits stores from being closed by protesters, Clicks' operations are expected to endure yet another day of disruptions at the hands of Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa notes serious economic challenges faced by South Africa in the wake of a damning GDP report.


EFF protests set to continue despite Clicks' interdict

Following Monday's mayhem — which included isolated incidents of petrol bombings and vandalism — Clicks managed to secure an interdict, courtesy of the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday, which has forbidden EFF members from intimidating or harassing the retailer's staff and customers. While the health and beauty retailer welcomed the interdict, which is aimed at securing the reopening of Clicks stores following days of national closures, the EFF have vowed to continue their protests in line with the court order.

Reacting to the latest legal development, the EFF claimed victory, saying:

"Essentially, Clicks has lost in its attempt to interdict the protest action of the EFF as the interdict issued by the court does not speak to the protests being undertaken by the EFF across the country.
We will continue to protest across all Clicks outlets until the 11th of September 2020."

Tuesday's protest action was marred by further acts of violence. In Port Elizabeth, tensions boiled over when a shopper was confronted by protesting EFF members; the female customer brandished a firearm and was detained by police.  

EFF Deputy President Floyd Shivambu argued that members only resorted to violence in self-defence and that incidents of arson and vandalism were perpetrated by "agent provocateurs who wish to tarnish the good name and reputation of the EFF".

A senior executive responsible for the controversial ad campaign, which labelled African hair as damaged and frizzy, has since resigned.

GDP plummets, Ramaphosa calls for 'swift action'

President Ramaphosa has called for quick and bold action in the wake of South Africa's second quarter GDP results, which showed a massive contraction of 51% on an annualised basis. The drop — the biggest of its kind in 60 years — was largely due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown which halted major economic activity between April and June.

Ramaphosa noted that government's attention remained firmly fixed on post-pandemic economic recovery, saying:

"Now is the time to act quickly and boldly to place South Africa on a rapid growth trajectory. We cannot continue with business as usual. We will use this moment of crisis to build a new economy, and unleash South Africa's true potential."

The president added that, following engagements with the National Economic Development and Labour Council, government would reveal an Economic Recovery Strategy and Presidential Employment Stimulus, which will focus on structural reforms and job creation, respectively.

Nothing festive about Zuma's December trial date

Former President Jacob Zuma will have to wait until December for his much-anticipated 'day in court'. This latest development, which has been slammed by the Jacob Zuma Foundation as a textbook example of delaying tactics and victimisation, was confirmed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

NPA regional spokesperson Natasha Kara noted that the postponement was a result of "pre-trial management issues", including outstanding applications and coronavirus-related travel issues raised by French arms manufacturer, and Zuma's co-accused, Thales.

Zuma and Thales are charged with corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering related to the infamous Arms Deal scandal. The legal matter has been dragging on for over a decade.

De Lille vows to root out corruption amid Beitbridge fence scandal

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille says the department is taking steps to give effect to the report recommendations by the Auditor General into the Beitbridge border fence project.

The Beitbridge project was initiated by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure in mid-March 2020.

De Lille raised concerns over the project and on 20 April 2020, requested that the Auditor General conduct an independent audit into the project.

On 25 April, De Lille requested her department's Anti-Corruption Unit, assisted by members from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), to also probe the project.

At the time, De Lille instructed that project payments be stopped, pending investigation outcomes.

"These investigations revealed that a series of procurement and other irregularities were perpetrated and possible acts of fraud may have occurred.
"The investigation report recommends a number of disciplinary and criminal charges against those involved to be pursued," De Lille said.

The Minister has thanked members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure, as well as the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs for undertaking their oversight inspection at the Beitbridge border fence project this past weekend. (Source: SAnews)


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