Introducing the Spider Solution: Total Drone Package for Power Line Stringing

February 9, 2017

Chinese drone manufacturer MMC has introduced a total drone solution for power line stringing, including services by a team of professional drone operators. SHENZHEN, China, Feb. 9, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Chinese drone manufacturer MMC is introducing their one-stop solution for power line stringing in rugged terrain: the Spider. The MMC Spider package is an innovation in […]

Fistfights, Obscenities Mar South Africa President’s Annual Address

February 9, 2017

JOHANNESBURG � South African analysts predicted high drama during this year’s state-of-the-nation address. President Jacob Zuma is facing low approval ratings as the nation’s economy drags, and his popularity appears to have bottomed out.

Drama, they got, and then some � in the form of a brawl, as rowdy, red-uniformed opposition members fought burly, white-shirted security guards Thursday after more than an hour of bitter haranguing, obscenities and vitriol. Outside the parliament building in Cape Town, police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters.

Zuma has drawn the ire of the opposition � and much of the electorate � after a string of corruption scandals, including his use of more than $20 million in government funds to upgrade his private rural home. His unpopularity, some analysts say, was the driving force behind the ruling African National Congress’ loss of several key municipalities in last year’s local elections. He also has faced a vote of no confidence, which failed, late last year.

Economic woes

Furthermore, unemployment has risen since he took office in 2009, to 26 percent from 24 percent. South Africa’s currency, worth 8 rand to one U.S. dollar when he became president, now hovers around 13 to the dollar. Its instability has been in sync with Zuma’s unpopular political moves, like his sudden decision to go through three finance ministers in a week in late 2015.

The anger against Zuma was palpable both inside parliament and among protesters who gathered in the streets of Cape Town ahead of the annual speech Thursday. Sensing this, the presidency summoned 441 soldiers to parliament, in a move the office said was necessary for safety and security.

That didn’t deter the anger inside the chamber.

“Please leave!” yelled far-left politician Mbuyiseni Ndlozi of the Economic Freedom Fighters as Zuma sat calmly and waited for the speaker of the house to try to restore order. “You don’t belong here. You’re a constitutional delinquent.”

“This entire gathering is unconstitutional,” intoned EFF MP and Hollywood actor Fana Mokoena. “For the first place, it should not be addressed by someone who has flouted his own oath of office!”

Tear gas, stun grenades

Both men were ejected from the chambers. Outside, police sprayed tear gas and lobbed stun grenades at the restless crowd.

When the dust and gas had settled � nearly 90 minutes after he was scheduled to begin � Zuma calmly rose, laughed, coughed, made a joke about feeling the effects of the tear gas, and said one word: “Finally.”

He then launched into a speech that, despite its lack of oratorical flourishes, was in many ways startling. The ANC has vowed to embark on “radical economic transformation” � a plan that Zuma said could fundamentally shift who owns property in the nation.

“We mean fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership, management and control of the economy in favor of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female,” he said.

“We are saying that we should move beyond words to practical programs,” he said. “The state will play a role in the economy to drive that transformation.”

As he spoke and members of his party clapped politely, local news stations changed to a split-screen view of the scene outside parliament as opposition leaders spoke angrily to TV crews and riot police hovered nearby � underscoring the fact that the real political action in South African politics is no longer in the halls of parliament. It’s on the streets.

Source: Voice of America

Western Cape Education on allegations against Wynberg Girls High School hostel superintendent

February 9, 2017

Wynberg Girls High School � Hostel superintendent not guilty of misconduct

Towards the end of last year, allegations were made against the superintendent of Waterloo House, the hostel at Wynberg Girls High School.

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) conducted an investigation into the matter. The school also commissioned an independent investigation, the report of which they have submitted to myself and the HOD.

It is clear from both investigations that this case is a classic example of the kind of hysteria that can be whipped up by people who are irresponsible and have no regard to the reputational damage they can cause to others.

In total, there were 19 allegations against the superintendent.

Probably the two most serious allegations were that the superintendent had referred to black learners using a racist term in an incident that had occurred at the beginning of last year and that she had touched learners inappropriately.

Both of these allegations were found to be without foundation. In the case of the first, the superintendent had in fact called a meeting with the girls because of language she had heard when the girls were speaking to each other.

According to one version, the superintendent said that she had heard the girls calling each other the k word. In another, the superintendent allegedly said that the word the girls were using was as bad as if she had called them the k word. At no stage did the superintendent call anybody by that term.

With regard to the allegations of inappropriate touching, the evidence shows that the superintendent had kissed and hugged the girls when they returned to the hostel in what can only be described as a motherly way. Apparently some of the older girls did not like the display of affection, but this can hardly be described as sexual predatory behaviour, as has been made out in the media.

In respect of the rest of the allegations, there were one or two incidents in respect of each case where the superintendent did or said things that the girls did not like or where the girls interpreted them in a way that portrayed the superintendent negatively.

In many of the issues, the superintendent was simply doing her job. The evidence shows that she had a good relationship with the majority of the girls at the hostel. The impression given in the report is that the superintendent had a genuine concern for the welfare of the girls.

It was clear that there was cause for some unhappiness regarding the management style of the superintendent. But this was blown up into more than it was, after consultation by the girls with an external organisation that they refused to name. This organisation, according to our report, instructed them to make their issues more than what it is to get the attention of the media and social media.

It saddens me that this kind of behaviour has happened at a school with an excellent reputation. If learners have legitimate grievances, they must of course raise them in an acceptable manner. But it is just not on to inflate issues to get attention, and in the process harm the reputation of others.

The superintendent terminated her contract in agreement with the school.

The school has already, even before this incident, embarked on a process of transformation, and is looking at, inter alia, ways of improving their mechanisms for learners to lodge their grievances.

I am confident that the school has the matter in hand, and appeal to people to raise legitimate concerns in an appropriate and responsible manner.

Source: Government of South Africa