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ANC wins tight mayoral election in Mogale City – Business Day (registration)

The ANC narrowly beat the DA to win back the mayoral seat in Mogale City after a marathon council meeting on Wednesday.Patrick Lipudi, the former council speaker, was voted in as mayor with 39 votes to former mayor Michael Holenstein’s 36. Two votes were spoiled.

One member of the coalition government would have voted for Lipudi with the ANC to secure the result.

Holenstein was removed in a motion of no confidence earlier this month following months of political turmoil in the municipality.

The ANC had retained the positions of speaker and chief whip after the party lost its majority following the 2016 local government elections, but lost the mayoral position to the DA-led coalition.

Lipudi had been asked to recuse himself as speaker after he was nominated for the mayoral post. Lipudi, however, refused and chaired the meeting.

Alan Fuchs, DA constituency head of Mogale City, cited several discrepancies. He said Lipudi did not use an independent body to manage the electoral process, and councillors had to use stamps to vote. Parties had used pens to colour block their votes in the motion of no confidence that removed Holenstein.

Fuchs said the DA would consider its legal options on the matter.

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Malema says his lawyer is innocent – News24

Nation – Google News – News24 Malema says his lawyer is innocentNews24EFF leader Julius Malema leaving the Thabamoopo Magistrate's court on Tuesday after the release of his lawyer. (Chester Makana, News24). Multimedia · User Galleries · News in Pictures Send us your pictures · Send us your stories. What To …

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Gauteng mental health board suspended – News24

Nation – Google News – News24 Gauteng mental health board suspendedNews24Johannesburg – The mental health review board has been suspended pending an investigation of its fitness to hold office, Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said on Tuesday. Ramokgopa was delivering her budget in the Gauteng legislature. She said …Fears of …

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220 young people rescued from suspected human trafficking ring in Tshwane – Eyewitness News

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DA goes digital in tracking performance – News24

Nation – Google News – News24 DA goes digital in tracking performanceNews24President Zuma was at his mud-slinging best when answering questions in the National Assembly on Thursday. Zuma tells Freedom Front MP Corne Mulder that a secret vote is a waste, while telling the DA that the ANC will win …

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Crime intel boss has a dodgy past – News24

Nation – Google News – News24 Crime intel boss has a dodgy pastNews24New acting crime intelligence head Major General Pat Mokushane has a criminal record, allegedly ran his private companies from his office and had an affair with a subordinate officer's wife. Mokushane (57), who was appointed to the acting …

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‘No basis to fire Dhlomo’ – News24

Nation – Google News – News24 'No basis to fire Dhlomo'News24Premier Willies Mchunu was adamant on Thursday that Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo would not be fired, despite mounting calls from opposition parties and doctors in the province. Mchunu, speaking at a press briefing at the legislature, said he would …

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Dangerous levels of intolerance exposed in Reserve Bank row – Independent Online

What kind of financial system is sure to collapse if the central bank cares about people’s well-being?

The recommendation by South Africa’s Public Protector that the Reserve Bank’s mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering. It says just as much about mainstream economic debate - and none of that is flattering either.

Mkhwebane recommended that the central bank’s constitutional mandate, which makes protecting the currency its primary goal, be changed to one which requires it to “promote balanced and sustainable economic growth while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected”. She also said the constitution should require the bank “to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation”.

This triggered a wave of protests, as well as an announcement from the South African Reserve Bank that it would take the matter to court. The Reserve Bank had no option. The constitutional court has ruled that the Public Protector’s findings are binding unless they are challenged in court. Her recommendation wildly exceeded what she is allowed to do by the constitution – or democratic good sense - and the Reserve Bank could not allow it to stand.

Democratic constitutions are changed by large majorities of the people or their elected representatives – not by individuals. By making a binding recommendation that the constitution be changed, Mkhwebane signalled that she either doesn’t understand – or does not care – for democracy.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane

Her report is also very useful to a faction of the governing party which wants to deflect charges of state capture by claiming that white monopoly capital already controls the state. There are real questions about the fitness for office of a Public Protector whose report seems more interested in protecting connected politicians and business people than with taking the people’s will seriously.

But the reaction did not stop at insisting that Mkhwebane has no business telling the people what the constitution should say. Much of it objected not only to her saying what the Reserve Bank’s mandate should be, but to anyone at all doing that.

An important debate

The prize for the wildest reaction went to the commentator who declared that Mkhwebane’s ideas on the Bank’s mandate were inspired by someone who denied that the Nazi genocide happened. Others stopped short of tarring constitutional change with the same brush as mass murder but were united in claiming that to suggest that the Reserve Bank’s mandate be broadened is “economically illiterate” and deeply damaging.

Absa, who was the subject of a separate finding by the public protector on the issue of a controversial bailout, asked a court to rule that her proposed change posed a “serious risk to the financial system”. For its part the rating agency Standard & Poor’s, happy as ever to police the boundaries of economic correctness, warned that any interference with the Reserve Bank’s independence could trigger new downgrades.

To insist that anyone who proposes changing the Reserve Bank’s mandate is economically damaging and stupid is as contemptuous of democracy and dangerous to the economy as Mkhwebane’s excess. It is undemocratic because it seeks to close down policy debate by declaring that only one view of the Reserve Bank’s mandate can ensure a healthy economy. It is dangerous because it blocks the search for economic remedies by seeking to bully even those who propose only mild changes to what the country now has.

The idea that the Reserve Bank should have a broader mandate is neither radical nor dangerous. The most famous central bank, the US Federal Reserve, has a broader mandate. Its dual mandate requires it to seek maximum employment as well as price stability.

The Australian equivalent’s mandate includes “maintenance of full employment and economic prosperity and welfare of the people”. The European Central Bank, famed for its love of austerity, has a mandate to seek “sustainable growth”.

And the the Bank of England’s website says that, subject to its goal of price stability, it aims to support the government’s economic objectives.

In South Africa, not only has the view that the central bank’s mandate is too restrictive been repeated periodically but it may well have been implemented for a while. In 2010, then finance minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to then Reserve Bank governor, Gill Marcus, proposing a mandate which included growth and employment. Marcus reacted positively, which suggests that the bank acted on Gordhan’s letter. The financial system survived.

The US, European and Australian financial systems have also not collapsed. Their mandates have not triggered a downgrade and no one has accused these societies of economic illiteracy.

So either double standards are being applied or we are being told that restrictive central bank mandates are essential only if countries are in particular parts of the world (such as Africa) and governed by particular types of people (Africans).

And why does a change in the Bank’s mandate undermine its independence? A central bank loses its independence if politicians (or anyone else) can tell it what to do, not if its mandate changes.

For all its flaws, the Public Protector’s proposal would retain the Reserve Bank’s independence, leaving it to the bank to decide what promotes the “well-being” of the people or “transformation”.

Closing down debate is common

None of this means that the Reserve Bank’s mandate must change. Or that central bank independence must go. But it does mean that no one should be discouraged from debating the issue, as people routinely do in other democracies and market economies. What, besides that prejudice which we prettify by the term Afropessimism, explains the insistence that we may not debate what is freely discussed in most other places?

Closing down debate in this way is common in South Africa. It also lies behind complaints of policy uncertainty which does not mean, as it does elsewhere, that government keeps changing its mind and sending mixed messages – the macro-economic framework has been stable for more than two decades. It means, rather, that some people – who some others may take seriously – raise policy ideas the economic mainstream does not like.

This demand that people can say anything they like about economic policy as long as the mainstream likes it too offers a misleading view of the economy. It says that there is nothing wrong with it except political interference and that it will flourish if politicians simply leave alone what is done now.

The contrary evidence is offered by mainstream organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank itself which have shown that the current economic rut is a product of problems in the private economy as well as what government does.

This means that the economy must change. This, in turn, requires new ideas. They will not emerge unless everything is up for debate and ideas are not silenced because they trigger the fears and prejudices of a few.

* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Conversation

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Does the Auditor-General need more teeth? – Daily Maverick

Nation – Google News – Daily Maverick Does the Auditor-General need more teeth?Daily MaverickThe 2015-16 local government audit outcomes saw limited improvements, said the Auditor General (AG) on Wednesday. Irregular expenditure exploded while there was a reduction in fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Unauthorised expenditure remained …Municipalities won't improve if no …

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Sassa denied leave to appeal ruling on social grant deductions – Independent Online

Pretoria – The Black Sash Trust said it was disappointed by the North Gauteng High Court’s decision to refuse the application for leave to appeal an earlier ruling which allowed Net1 to deduct money from the accounts of social grant beneficiaries.

In May, the court ruled against the order by the Department of Social Development and South Africa Social Security Agency (Sassa) to stop Net1 from allowing deductions from accounts of grant beneficiaries.

In his judgment, acting Judge CJ van der Westhuizen said: “The applications should not be granted because the issues raised in the application were not appropriate to the approach adopted in this judgment and particular in view of the relief sought.”

The court also dismissed an application by Black Sash to be part of the proceedings.

Sassa, the minister of Social Development and Black Sash later sought leave to appeal this judgment, believing that the court’s decision left grant beneficiaries vulnerable.

The leave to appeal application was heard on Tuesday and was refused.

“In refusing the application, the court found that there is no distinction between social grant beneficiaries’ accounts held at Grindrod Bank and any other bank account held at another bank; and that the regulations do not operate to restrict beneficiaries in the operation of their bank account,” Black Sash explained in a statement.

The trust said it was disappointed by Tuesday’s court ruling.

“We are disappointed by today’s outcome, especially given the Constitutional Court’s March decision which recognised that grant beneficiaries’ accounts do require special protection,” Black Sash said.

“We remain committed to protecting grant beneficiaries from exploitation and unlawful deductions from their social grants.”

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