Authorities of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) yesterday began a weeklong capacity building exercise involving state lawyers (prosecutors) throughout the country. The aim is to adopt new strategies that would help to reduce penalties applied to certain crimes committed under the state of emergency.The training is supported by the United States of America (USA). The government proclaimed a state of emergency beginning August 6, 2014, under Article 86 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, under which certain constitutional rights and freedoms of the people are suspended.The measure, according to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was to help in the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).The training is being held at the Montserrado County Administrative Building in Bentol City, under the theme: “Effective Prosecution under the State of Emergency.”For example, a person found guilty of petty larceny misdemeanor (crime), which is usually punishable by 30 days or up to a year in jail, will, under the new arrangement, be immediately released after filing a bond.Other offences, including murder, armed robbery and rape will not be exempt under the effective state of emergency strategy.Speaking yesterday during the opening session, Solicitor General, Cllr. Betty Lamin Blamo recollected that prosecutors won more cases at the Supreme Court level, during the August Term of Court, which was overshadowed by the Ebola virus and the imposition of the state of emergency.“We lost only one case at the Supreme Court level at that court term. We did well,” she declared.Cllr. Blamo did not mention the one case that was lost at the High Court.She said reducing overcrowding at prison facilities throughout the country was one of the major issues that will be discussed during the forum.“We will be discussing means of stopping people from going to jail during this state of emergency,” adding “This does not mean that we will not be sending people to jail. We will be sending to jail those accused or convicted of murder, rape and armed robbery.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
13 October 2010 These are great days to be a South Africa-based multinational company. If nothing else, the 2010 Fifa World Cup shone a light on our ability to host a successful world-class sporting event – and demonstrated the achievements made in 16 years of democracy. I have lived and worked out of Johannesburg for the last three years, after 30 years’ business experience across 25 countries and five continents. This allows me to appreciate what those who haven’t had the opportunity to work in South Africa cannot, and what some local business leaders also find difficult to grasp.Legacy of apartheid Yes, South Africa has problems. With its history, how could it be otherwise? Most citizens are concerned about crime, even though it seems to be on the decrease. But in my experience people are even more concerned about our future direction, particularly opportunities for their children. A system built during apartheid for the support of a 10% minority will invariably struggle as it gears to provide for the majority, without depriving the previously advantaged. This is both a herculean and sensitive pathway for us to navigate. Undoing the apartheid legacy is still a subject of debate. The solution must be in repairing the damage in a way that supports relatively strong economic growth, so as to eradicate widespread race-based poverty, the ultimate consequence of apartheid. Growth strategies require complex trade-offs and value judgments.Passionate debate The remarkable thing is how South Africans have gone about grappling with these difficult questions. No country debates its policy issues more passionately. So, for example, when the ruling African National Congress’s youth league calls for the nationalisation of mines, the response from their seniors is cool, considered and rational, while also conscious that sensible solutions to deep, racially-based economic inequalities are needed. Indeed, the mining industry itself is encouraged to participate in these debates, even though it is seen as having colluded in the apartheid system. Much of 2010 has seen rigorous engagement between the government, the established mining sector, organised labour and emerging black mining businesses seeking better paths to transformation while recognising their common interest in the sector’s profitability and growth. That process is not complete, but there are signs that a balance will be found, continuing the country’s happy culture of constructive internal engagement developed in the 20 years since political parties were unbanned and political prisoners such as Nelson Mandela released.Political support The political support for the mining industry is as good as anything I have seen anywhere. Contrast, for example, the South African government’s decision to delay a new mining royalty regime because of the global financial crisis, with the punitive tax laws passed by the Australian government. Similarly, political support for mining in the US is somewhat more fragmented than in South Africa. Yes, the government is taking an increasingly tough line on safety and the environment. But that is their job, and these are areas where the industry has work to do. There have been one or two worrying regulatory decisions on mineral rights, but we are not unlike many jurisdictions where those with the best lawyer benefit from weaknesses in legislation. The key is that we recognise and correct our weaknesses – this has been our history. The nature of conversations between business and trade unions is also refreshing. While unions sound uncompromising to the unfamiliar ear, the focus is invariably on finding solutions to issues in which we have common interests, such as occupational safety. Even wage negotiations, while tough, are aimed at finding mutually acceptable solutions. These conversations are far more difficult in “developed” jurisdictions. South Africa is remarkable in its ability to innovate from within. It is the only country to successfully stage three major global sporting events – the cricket, rugby and soccer world cups. To be so consistently successful points to more than luck. Mark Cutifani is CEO of the multinational AngloGold Ashanti mining company. This article was first published in South Africa Now, a six-page supplement to the Washington Post produced on behalf of Brand South Africa. Download South Africa Now (PDF, 2.12 MB).
11 May 2012Some of the most expensive properties in South Africa have been bought by foreigners, it’s true. It is also true that the Western Cape especially is home to small colonies of Germans, French and British expats. You can even buy proper Austrian meatloaf and German magazines in Constantia in Cape Town.Currently there is a small, but notable, trend establishing itself: British retirees are increasingly looking to South Africa in their golden years. It turns out that it’s not just due to the fantastic climate or amazing scenery – it’s about saving their pensions.‘Solvency-II for pensions’Due to the worldwide economic crisis, there have recently been a number of proposals – dubbed the “Solvency-II for pensions” – made by the EU that directly affect pensioner’s pockets. The Telegraph reports that the country’s biggest companies (6 850 companies with final salary pension schemes) could see their liabilities skyrocketing to more than double what they are now, and analysts warn that this could force them to close.The bad news continues; according to the Alexander Forbs National Pension Index, retirement incomes in the UK have fallen by £13 000 since 2000. Richard Evans illustrates the real term implications of this in The Telegraph with the analogy that a 30-year-old could expect two-thirds of his or her final salary in 2000. That number has gone down to 39 percent.SA one of seven ‘places to retire’What does any of this have to do with the South African property market?Quite a bit in fact; due to the weak local currency, a British retiree can live well in South Africa – even on a diminished pension. Shelter Offshore, an international expatriate advisory website, indicates that South Africa is currently rated among the seven places to retire for an affordable lifestyle, along with Argentina, Northern Cyprus and Slovenia.Importantly, foreign pensions are not taxed here, whereas a tax-free income limit of £9 205 only will apply as of 2013, after which a tax of 20 percent to 45 percent will take effect in the UK.Craig Featherby, Cape Town-based regional manager of deVere Group, a UK financial advisory firm, recently revealed that “over-55s have lost faith in the UK’s economy, tax and pension system; last year 252 000 people left the UK, and 24 000 of them came to SA.“Certain fears may remain as far as currency fluctuations are concerned, but retiring here must be an attractive option, I think interest might well increase,” believes Jan le Roux, CEO of Leapfrog Property Group.It is safe to assume that many of these retirees will invest in the local property market in their favoured areas: Cape Town, the KwaZulu-Natal coast and, occasionally, in Sandton, Johannesburg.Local market to benefitIt is true that foreign investment makes a small contribution to the local property market.According to the FNB Property Barometer, the impact remains unchanged at four percent. The report does look back at the heydays of 2008, where these investments comprised 20 percent of the market. It is safe to say that such peaks will not soon be repeated.“That being said, four percent may sound low but, one must keep the domino effect in mind; today’s sellers are often tomorrow’s buyers,” says le Roux.As such, South Africa isn’t set to become another Mallorca, where over 60 percent of properties are not owned by local Spaniards but by other nationalities. But it does seem that the local property market could benefit from British pensioners moving here.Sapa