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Angry Sarri storms out of Chelsea training before Europa League final

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Baku – Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri stormed off in anger after television cameras caught Gonzalo Higuain and David Luiz clashing at a training session in Baku ahead of Wednesday’s Europa League final.

Sarri was seen throwing away his Chelsea baseball cap, kicking it and then picking it up and angrily slamming it to the ground as he left the pitch at the Baku Olympic Stadium, where the final against Arsenal will be played.

The whole training session was open to media and so television cameras caught the incident, which does not bode well for Chelsea in the lead up to the match.

Sarri’s reaction came not long after he had spoken of how he “loved” his players and English football, comments that suggested a departure from Stamford Bridge after just one season may not be inevitable.

The former Napoli boss has been strongly linked with a return to Italy to take the vacant coaching position at champions Juventus.

“I want to think only to the final. I have a contract with Chelsea for two years, so first of all I will speak with Chelsea, but now is not the moment,” Sarri said of the Juventus speculation at a press conference in Baku on Tuesday.

The 60-year-old could replace the departing Massimiliano Allegri in Turin after a difficult season in London, and reports have said that Chelsea would not block his departure.

However, he insists his first season in charge after arriving from Napoli can be classified as a success regardless of what happens at the imposing Olympic Stadium here.

He did not lose a Premier League game until late November and despite his team’s form tailing off after that, they still finished third, ahead of both Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, to secure a return to the Champions League.

In addition, they only lost the League Cup final on penalties against Manchester City, and now have the chance to win the Europa League for the second time in seven seasons.

“For me at the beginning of the season it was really very difficult to understand my players, to understand the mentality, but after a very difficult month in January, in February they started to change,” he said.

“In this moment I love them because I have 22 wonderful men and wonderful players so I’m really happy with them and of course I have to consider it for the future and I have to consider that I love English football, I love the Premier League.”

Sarri added that winning the Europa League — which would be his first major honour — would turn a “very good season” into a “wonderful” one.

“We have had ups and downs, but from the downs we have become stronger, we built a stronger group and that is one of the reasons why we are here tonight,” said skipper Cesar Azpilicueta.

“I think we all deserve to do tomorrow a good game, to play with our heart, to give everything.

“We missed the Carabao (League) Cup final on penalties in an unlucky way so tomorrow we have a good opportunity to be happy all together with the manager. There is no time to talk about this speculation.”


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Euphoria Telecom takes customer excellence to new levels

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The South African telecoms industry has historically been associated with poor service, largely because it has been monopolised by a handful of large players thus eliminating much-needed competition. Fortunately the landscape has changed and new entrants are now offering superior solutions combined with exceptional customer service.

Cloud PBX providers like Euphoria Telecom are redefining service excellence and are now providing a world-class customer experience. Euphoria CEO John Woollam believes that modern telecom providers need to offer exceptional service if they want to survive. “We don’t have the massive customer volumes that first world countries enjoy, so to attract and retain customers is critical, every customer is valuable and needs to be treated with care.”

“We realise the importance of building strong relationships. We pride ourselves on delivering remarkable service to our 4500+ customers. We listen to them and gain insights into what really makes them tick,” he explains. “We have come to understand that while businesses of all sizes really love our system with its host of user-friendly features they ultimately stick with us because of our service. That’s the magic ingredient that leads to long-term loyalty”.

Euphoria Telecom doesn’t lock its customers into lengthy contracts like most other telecoms providers do but instead operates on a month-to-month basis. “For us it’s about creating reciprocal respect,” says Woollam. “We respect our customers and don’t want them to feel trapped. Euphoria was built with the customer’s needs at its heart. This will never change because everyone at Euphoria knows that our rapid and continued success is a result of the positive customer-centric culture which has been built on trust – not fear. We proudly zig where others zag”.

Woollam believes that happy customers are the result of happy staff. That’s why the company also has a dynamic, innovative and creative working environment that promotes freedom and agility. Staff are encouraged to experiment, collaborate and offer new ideas. It’s very much a group effort centered around staff input. Euphoria encourages communication and inclusion. Company culture is an integral part of this flourishing business and it has a direct effect on nearly every aspect of the business.

Woollam says that to attract and retain talented staff, businesses need to create a culture that everyone enjoys. “Our growth has largely been the result of our employees being enthusiastic about service,” Woollam concludes. “We make an effort to create an amazing experience for each and every customer.  Whether it’s a business with three phone extensions or three thousand, we provide unmatched support every step of the way. That will always be our focus”.

To meet John Woollam and see a brief overview of Euphoria Telecom in action watch this short and informative video clip here:

This article was published in partnership with Euphoria.

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Ramaphosa adds to public protector’s report review woes | News | National

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NEWS ANALYSIS

Despite his measured tone and refusal to be drawn into personal recriminations, President Cyril Ramaphosa signalled clearly on Sunday evening that he was ready for a fight with Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

The president announced that he would be urgently approaching court to review the damning report against him — released on Friday.
The report found Ramaphosa had deliberately misled Parliament when he answered a parliamentary question about a payment received by the CR17 campaign from African Global Operations, formerly known as Bosasa.
Mkhwebane also found that he had breached the Executive Ethics Code by not disclosing the donations to the campaign.

READ MORE: ‘Fundamentally and irretrievably flawed’: Ramaphosa takes PP report on review

She added that there was “merit” in the suspicion of money laundering, because the Bosasa payment passed through “several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign”, and has referred this to the National Prosecuting Authority for further investigation.

Mkhwebane now faces four separate and highly political court cases on three of her reports: the report into the early pension pay-out of former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay, the report on the so-called “rogue unit” at the South African Revenue Service, which has been challenged by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, and the most recent Bosasa report.

Today (Monday) the Constitutional Court will also hand down a crucial judgment on whether she should be personally liable for some of the costs of setting aside parts of her report into the ABSA/Bankorp bail-out in the 1980s.

Even if the Constitutional Court does not hold her personally liable, an adverse finding on her honesty or competence will support the cases of the president, Gordhan and Pillay. On the other hand, if the highest court clears her, it will be a boost to her claim that there is a political campaign to have her removed.   

While Gordhan’s court papers have directly accused Mkhwebane of allowing her office to be used as part of a political campaign against him, on Sunday Ramaphosa carefully steered clear of those kinds of statements. However, he said she had made findings that were not based on fact. Her findings were irrational, they did not have a sound legal basis and they were not arrived at through a fair, impartial and lawful process, he said.

“Furthermore, in failing to provide me with an opportunity to comment on proposed remedial action, the Public Protector has violated provisions of the Public Protector Act, the Constitution and principles of common law,” said the President.

The president also sought to pre-empt the argument that by going to court he was undermining her office. He said while the president was not above the law, neither was the public protector above the law; both were bound by the prescripts of the Constitution. Involving the courts – the appropriate arbiter of this dispute – would strengthen the Office of the Public Protector, he said. 

A consistent complaint in many of the review cases against the public protector relates to how she dealt with evidence: that she did not allow the subjects of her investigations to properly interrogate the evidence she relied on and that she did not properly consider the evidence put before her by them.

Speaking to the Mail & Guardian, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said the president had never been shown the “evidence adduced in a form of e-mails, invitations and instructions”, which Mkhwebane said showed that the president was “constantly informed of the activities” of CR17, suggesting that he knew more of what was going on in the campaign then he said.

He and members of the CR17 campaign team had said he was deliberately not told about donors. On Sunday, Ramaphosa repeated what his team had told Mkhwebane in her investigation. He knew that money was being raised and went to the fundraising dinners, “but I was never informed about the intricate details”.

The most startling part of Mkhwebane’s report was how she laid bare the CR17 campaign’s financial affairs. Having used her extensive powers of subpoena to access bank records and other documents, Mkhwebane revealed that millions were raised and spent in the campaign to deliver the ANC presidency to Ramaphosa.

READ MORE: Public Protector finds Ramaphosa misled Parliament on Bosasa donation

Mkhwebane said: “Out of all the donations received for the campaign, records reflect that there were three single largest donations of thirty million rand … on 9 March 2017; more than 39-million rand … on 29 September 2017 and over fifty one million rand … on the same date into the EFG2 ABSA trust account, which came from the same donor.”

The amounts of money involved, and who donated them, have dominated public discussion since Friday. The exact number of millions is disputed between Ramaphosa and the Public Protector. But on Sunday evening Ramaphosa acknowledged that “quite a bit of money was raised” but this was not out of the ordinary.

“This happens with all campaigns when people campaign for office, inside their own parties and as we campaign to be elected as public representatives. The money is used for a variety of activities,” he said.

“Others also raised quite a bit of money. We may never really know. The only one we know of now is the CR17 one.”

In her remedial action, Mkhwebane said the Speaker of Parliament should “demand publication of all donations received by President Ramaphosa”. Diko said that there was no law currently that required the disclosure Mkhwebane insisted on. However the president was open to a discussion on a principled change to this position. In that event, and provided the same rules applied to everyone, he was open to disclosing his donors.

She said Ramaphosa still did not know who the donor was of the “three single largest donations”.

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ConCourt to rule on personal cost order against Public Protector

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The Constitutional Court is set to rule on Monday morning on whether Public Protector Busiswe Mkhwebane should be held personally liable for a portion of the legal costs that the SA Reserve Bank incurred to overturn the findings of her Absa/Bankorp report.

Judgment is set to be delivered at 10:00 in Johannesburg. 

The matter relates to the scathing judgement delivered in mid-February 2018 by the North Gauteng High Court, which set aside the findings and remedial action of Mkhwebane’s Absa/Bankorp report. 

The public protector, in report published on June 19 2017, had tasked the Special Investigating Unit with recovering R1.125bn in “misappropriated public funds”, describing the funds as an “illegal gift” given to Bankorp by the SA Reserve Bank in the 1980s. As Bankorp and other banks were later subsumed into Absa, Mkhwebane ruled that the funds be recovered from Absa.

In her remedial action, she also ruled that Parliament should introduce a motion to amend the Constitution to change the SA Reserve Bank’s mandate to focus on economic growth. This caused the rand to fall as investors feared it would limit the central bank’s independence. This section of her report was already set aside in August 2017. 

Following the publication of her report, the SARB, the minister of finance, Absa and National Treasury instituted review applications set aside her directive that the SIU recover funds from Absa. These applications were later consolidated. 

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria set aside Mkhwebane’s findings in February 2018, citing a “reasonable apprehension of bias” in her work. Mkhwebane was also ordered to personally repay 15% of the SA Reserve Bank’s legal costs, while the office of the Public Protector was ordered to pay the remaining 85%. The court stated this was “necessary to show our displeasure with the unacceptable way in which she conducted her investigation as well as her persistence to oppose all three applications to the end”.

Legal challenges  

Mkhwebane’s applications for leave to appeal the judgment in the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal were refused.   

The public protector then sought leave to appeal the section of the ruling relating to her personal liability for the legal costs in the Constitutional Court.

The case was heard in November 2018. Mkhwebane’s legal team argued that a personal costs order could prevent the office of the Public Protector and other Chapter 9 Institutions from operating effectively, as they will be concerned about being penalised. 

In court papers lawyers for the SA Reserve Bank, meanwhile, argued that the court should declare that Mkhwebane abused her office during the investigation that led to her report. The central bank has also asked that its costs in Constitutional Court should be
paid by the Public Protector personally. 

Monday’s judgment will be relevant to another pending legal fees case against Mkhwebane. Her report into the Vrede dairy farm was set aside by the Pretoria High Court in May this year as unconstitutional and invalid. The court’s ruling on legal fees was reserved, awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision in the Absa/Bankorp case.

Fitness to hold office

The apex court’s ruling comes at a time when Parliament is dealing with calls to probe Mkhwebane’s fitness to hold office.

In June Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise referred a DA request for an inquiry into the public protector to Parliament’s oversight committee on justice and correctional services. According to a report in the Sunday Times at the weekend, Mkhwebane has written to Modise threatening her with legal action if Parliament tries to remove her. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa, meanwhile, in a televised address on Sunday evening called Mkhwebane’s finding that he violated the executive ethics code “fundamentally and irretrievably flawed”. The president announced he would be taking taking the report on urgent review.

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