Friday, 16 August 2019
A South African court on Thursday awarded a second punitive costs order against the country’s top anti-corruption official, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, after finding an investigation conducted by her office showed “gross negligence”.
Pretoria High Court Judge Ronel Tolmay ordered the Public Protector’s office to pay 85% of the costs of the Democratic Alliance and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac).
Both had challenged a report conducted by Mkhwebane’s office into an allegedly corrupt farm deal involving ruling party officials. The court also ruled that Mkhwebane should personally pay 7.5% of the legal fees incurred by both parties.
Oupa Segwale, a spokesman for the Public Protector, said on Thursday that Mkhwebane would appeal the judgment as the ruling on personal costs will instill fear in the anti-corruption office and prevent it from conducting investigations without fear or favor.
“She believes she has done this investigation in good faith. She does not just litigate haphazardly, she thinks long and hard about it,” Segwale said.
The decision nonetheless heightens scrutiny of Mkhwebane, an official who has been accused by President Cyril Ramaphosa of abusing her office after she said he was involved in serious misconduct linked to donations to his campaign for leadership of the ruling party.
In July, the Constitutional Court ordered Mkhwebane personally to pay legal fees, estimated at 900,000 rand ($59,000), after a report her office published in 2017 demanded the mandate of the Reserve Bank, the country’s central bank, be changed. A lower court said that report was flawed and had been published in “bad faith”.
The judge said on Thursday that Mkhwebane had failed to investigate numerous irregularities properly and objectively by not interviewing victims and provincial politicians implicated in the Estina matter, among the best known cases of “state capture” in South Africa.
Estina refers to a government project set up in 2013 to help landless black farmers. The project was eventually found to have been defrauded of about 230 million rand ($15 million) by powerful political and business interests.
“The failures and dereliction of duty of the Public Protector in the Estina matter are manifold. They speak to her failure to execute her duties in terms of the constitution and the Public Protector Act,” Judge Tolmay said.
“Her conduct during the entire investigation constitutes gross negligence. She failed completely to execute her constitutional duties,” said the judge.
Prosecutors in the Estina case have said the public money invested in the dairy project was siphoned off, some of it into accounts linked to the Gupta business family and high-ranking members of the African National Congress.
The Guptas deny any wrongdoing, their lawyer Rudi Krause said earlier this year.
Published in World
Cameroonian Navy has begun a search for an unknown number of Asian and European seamen who were kidnapped Thursday aboard a vessel in the Gulf of Guinea off the southern port of Douala.
“(They) were abducted this morning,” said the source, who gave no details about the number or nationality of the kidnap victims. The name of the vessel was also not given.
“The kidnappers are probably Nigerian pirates,” the source said. “Cameroonian forces have launched search operations.”
An official at Douala port confirmed the kidnappings, and said the seamen had been taken after their ship came under attack.
“We don’t know the number of abducted seamen for the time being,” the official said.
The Gulf of Guinea, whose coastline stretches in a huge arc from Liberia to Gabon, is notorious for piracy as well as oil theft, illegal fishing and human and drugs trafficking.
According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) 62 seafarers were taken hostage or abducted in the area in the first half of 2019.
The Gulf of Guinea accounted for 73 percent of kidnappings and 92 percent of hostage-takings at sea worldwide, it says.
The 17 countries in the Gulf of Guinea and adjacent regions have limited surveillance and maritime defence capabilities.
They have been trying for several years to bolster their means of intervention and to put in place closer collaboration.
Published in Travel & Tourism
The Thai government on Friday launched additional rain-making operations in the Northern, North-Eastern and Central regions to tackle serious droughts.
According to the Director-General of DRAA, Surasee Kittimonthon, six aircraft from the Air Force and Army division joined the Department of Rain-making and Agricultural Aviation (DRAA)’s fleet in carrying out the cloud-seeding operations in the air.
Kittimonthon said the cloud-seeding operations will carry out its artificial rain duties until the end of September, to fight worst drought in many years.
“Though the drought has slightly eased in some areas due to monsoon rains in the past several days, almost 200 reservoirs, including 19 major reservoirs, are running very low and are in urgent need of replenishment.
“By means of artificial rain-making so that there will be sufficient water for consumption to last through the current and following seasons,“Surasee said.
He also said all 11 rain-making units around the country would fly missions whenever the climate was right, because the window of opportunity was limited as the wet season would soon be over.
The Thai cabinet last month approved a 30 million baht (or 971,310 U.S. dollars) fund for the mission to ease drought in the three regions.
News reports that on Aug. 1, the the department of Rain-making and Agricultural Aviation, launched the cloud-seeding efforts to help generate much-needed rain for drought areas in the central-north and north-east regions of the country.
Some areas need urgent rains to replenish the region’s eight major and 11 medium-sized reservoirs, where water levels have dropped drastically and sit at historic lows for this time of the year, Xinhua reported.
Published in World

Tullow Plc has made oil discovery in its Jethro-1 exploration well, drilled on the Orinduik licence offshore in Guyana.

The well is expected to hold 100 million barrels of oil in excess of expectations. Tullow Guyana B.V. is the operator of the Orinduik block with a 60 per cent stake. Total E&P Guyana B.V. holds 25 per cent with the remaining 15 per cent being held by Eco(Atlantic) Guyana Inc.

Mr Kweku Andoh Awotwi, the Executive Vice President, Tullow Ghana, said the initial discovery suggested that it was in commercial quantities.

Mr Awotwi was speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the Tullow Ghana Media Capacity Building Programme on Essentials of Upstream Oil and Gas Industry in Accra.

The two-day training is designed to equip participants with fundamental knowledge of the oil and gas sector. It is also to provide an in-depth understanding into technologies, coverage and operations, particularly in Ghana of the sector.

The event was facilitated in collaboration with the Aberdeen Drilling School and the RigWorld Training Centre. He said the discovery in the South American country meant that there are opportunities for people in the Tullow organisation.

“At one hand it is good for Tullow PLC and at the other hand it is good for staff of Tullow Ghana, currently half of the people on the rig are Ghanaians,” he said.

The Executive Vice President said more wells needed to be drilled to see what was in there.

A statement issued by the Company said the Jethro-1 was drilled by the Stena Forth drillship to a Total Depth of 4,400m metres in approximately 1,350 metres of water. It said an evaluation of logging data confirmed that Jethro-1 was the first discovery on the Orinduik licence and comprises high quality oil bearing sandstone reservoirs of Lower Tertiary age.

The well encountered 55m of net oil pay which supports a recoverable oil resource estimate which exceeds Tullow’s pre-drill forecast.

It said Tullow would now evaluate the data from the Jethro discovery and determine appropriate appraisal activity.

This discovery significantly de-risks other Tertiary age prospects on the Orinduik licence, including the shallower Upper Tertiary Joe prospect which will commence drilling later this month following the conclusion of operations at the Jethro-1 well.

The non-operated Carapa 1 well will be drilled, later this year, on the adjacent Kanuku licence to test the Cretaceous oil play.


Published in Engineering
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