The South African government has broken so many promises and backtracked on statements so often it is hard to believe anything it says.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane recently released a statement in which he said cabinet approved a probe of South Africa’s top banks after they stopped doing business with the Guptas.
He said the government was looking into establishing a state bank of South Africa, possibly incorporating the Post Bank.
It was not long before his statement was slated by the ANC and by the Presidency as inaccurate.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa lambasted Zwane’s comments, saying they were “outrageous, appalling, and shocking”. He called on President Jacob Zuma to discipline Zwane.
The Presidency said Zwane’s remarks were issued in his personal capacity.
“The unfortunate content of the statement and the inconvenience and confusion caused are deeply regretted,” said the Presidency.
The conflicting messages from the ANC and one of its ministers do little to instill trust in the government.
However, broken promises and dubious statements are not new in South Africa.
Below are prime examples of why you should think twice before believing what South African politicians tell you.
Zuma said in his State of the Nation address in June 2009 that “between now and December 2009, we plan to create about 500,000 job opportunities”.
Zuma said the second phase of the Expanded Public Works Programme aimed to create about four million job opportunities by 2014.
What really happened: According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, 395,000 jobs were lost between July and December 2009. The DA said in 2014 that only 561,000 of the promised millions of jobs materialised from 2009 to 2014.
The Cabinet has approved that the digital signal be switched on on 1 November 2008. The analogue signal should be switched off in November 2011, said Former Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri in 2007.
What really happened: In June 2015, South Africa failed to meet the International Telecommunication Union deadline to switch over to digital terrestrial television broadcasting. South Africa has still not switched off the analogue signal, five years after its deadline.
On 3 September 2004, Matsepe-Casaburri published the determination that “VANS may self-provide facilities from 1 February 2005.”
ICASA confirmed this after workshops: “VANS may self-provide facilities from 1 February 2005. Self-provision contemplates the procurement of telecommunication facilities by a VANS licensee from any telecommunication facility supplier and to use them under and in accordance with its licence to provide telecommunication services.”
What really happened: The Department of Communications and ICASA backtracked, saying that value-added network service licensees were never given the right to provide their own networks. It took a legal battle from Altech against ICASA and the DOC to make self-provisioning a reality.
On 15 July 2010, former Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda dismissed as “false, spurious, and malicious” allegations he was about to suspend Director-General Mamodupi Mohlala.
What really happened: His statement came days before the ministry, on 23 July, stated that: “In the interests of the Department, the staff, and the government, the Minister has come to the conclusion that it would be best to release Ms. Mohlala from her position as Director-General.”
On 22 May 2001, Matsepe-Casaburri said the licensing of the second national operator (SNO) to compete with Telkom will be finalised in the first half of 2002.
What really happened: The SNO (Neotel) was licensed on 9 December 2005, nearly four years behind schedule.
Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) Committee chairman Tshilidzi Marwala said in 2007 that the LLU process will be completed in 2011.
Marwala said he believed that “by the end of 2007 all the mechanisms will be in place for Telkom to open up the local loop to rivals” and that he expected Telkom to start giving rivals access to its copper infrastructure by January 2008.
What really happened: LLU has still not happened. Telkom is looking at opening some of its infrastructures to service providers, but the process has fizzled out at governmental level.
In May 2006, Matsepe-Casaburri said “Sentech will form the core of our wireless broadband infrastructure network that our country will use to advance its socio-economic development goals”.
Sentech’s wireless broadband infrastructure network would be expanded to enable it to carry voice to the end user in the provision of this service, giving full effect to its multimedia licence.
What really happened: In November 2009, Sentech closed its MyWireless broadband network, following network and funding problems. The wireless broadband network was a political pipe dream.
In March 2013, Communications Minister Dina Pule denied she was romantically linked to Phosane Mngqibisa. Pule said in a 702 interview that she only knew Mngqibisa as a comrade, but had “nothing to do with him”.
What really happened: A letter from Pule’s office in 2009 (as deputy communications minister) showed that she nominated Phosane Mngqibisa as her spouse to accompany her on an official visit to Mexico in September 2009.
Zuma said in Parliament that he replaced former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene with Des van Rooyen, because Nene had been nominated to head up the Brics Bank.
What really happened: Months after being fired from his position as finance minister, Nene had still not received any offer to take up a job at the Brics bank. The DA said it was clear the Presidency had lied.
In December 2015, Zuma claimed that Africa was the biggest continent on earth and that it was larger than all the other continents put together.
The truth: Asia is the largest continent by area. Asia also has the largest population. Africa is a distant second in terms of size.
The Staff Writer – My Broadband