14 May 2019
During May, we’re publishing and promoting the.news.letter, a digest of essential daily news produced by veteran journalists Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Enjoy!
Trevor Manuel’s battle with the EFF began in earnest in the Gauteng high court today, with Manuel’s lawyer, Carol Steinberg, telling the court that the EFF had outright lied when it claimed that nepotism and corruption led to the appointment of Edward Kieswetter as the new SARS commissioner. The EFF had claimed that Manuel, who chaired the panel tasked with selecting a new commissioner, was related to Kieswetter, and that they had had a business relationship. Manuel is suing the party, its leader Julius Malema and spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi for R500,000. He also wants the court to order the EFF to retract the statement. One of the defences available to someone accused of defamation is the argument that what has been said is true. Steinberg said this would fail. The EFF must still present its argument.
eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is facing charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering in what is set to become one of the most high-profile corruption cases in many years. This morning she was given bail of R50,000 by the Durban Commercial Crimes Court. In essence she is accused of improperly using her influence in the awarding of a suspect R280m tender by the municipality’s Durban Solid Waste (DSW) department. Gumede and the municipality’s regional deputy secretary, Mondli Mthembu, handed themselves over to police before the court hearing this morning. Besides charges relating to the DSW refuse collection contract the pair are accused of manipulating various legal and supply chain processes in the tender system. Another official in the municipality is also expected to be charged.
One man has died and Muslim-owned shops and mosques have been vandalised or set on fire in what appear to be revenge attacks for the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 250 people in Christian churches in Sri Lanka. Police fired into the air and used teargas to disperse mobs in several towns, and the Government has imposed a night-time curfew and banned WhatsApp and Facebook. Islamic militants claimed responsibility for the Easter Sunday attacks.
The ANC’s National Executive Committee meeting yesterday named premiers for seven of the eight provinces it controls. The list does not contain any major surprises but has been criticised for not containing enough women (there are only two). The party has, however, insisted that the as yet unnamed premier of the North West will be a woman and 60% of MECs in provinces led by men must be female. The seven named yesterday are: Oscar Mabuyane (Eastern Cape); Sisi Ntombela (Free State); David Makhura (Gauteng); Sihle Zikalala (KZN); Stanley Mathabatha (Limpopo); Refilwe Mtsweni (Mpumalanga); and Zamani Saul (Northern Cape). Interestingly, Jacob Zuma turned up at the NEC and is the only former president who routinely does so. No sign of him walking away then.
A 4-year-old-girl is in a critical condition after a lion’s claw apparently pierced her skull in an attack at the Weltevrede Lion Farm in Heilbron in the Free State. Netwerk24 reports that Dina-Marie de Beer was in her father’s arms alongside a cage when the lion attacked them through the fence. He sustained several cuts on his arms and shoulders and she suffered head injuries. She was hospitalised in Alberton and is in an induced coma.
The Department of Home Affairs could be the menace on just about any day, but here, courtesy of News24, is a special case: a woman was declared dead and it took two years to convince them that she was alive and kicking. Now that she has a new ID, she is being recognised as a living being … but her husband has been declared a widower.
SA’s unemployment rate edged up half a percentage point in the first three months of this year, with 27.6% now unemployed. The previous figure was 27.1%. The expanded unemployment figure (which includes those who have given up looking for work) is far worse: at 38% it’s a full percentage point up from the last reckoning.
The trade standoff between the US and China escalated another notch yesterday as China announced it would be raising tariffs on $60-billion of US goods from June 1. This follows Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday that the US would more than double its existing tariffs on a basket of around $200-billion of imported Chinese goods – from 10% to 25%. In addition, Trump warned, if China would not agree to a trade deal within three to four weeks, a 25% tariff would be imposed on all remaining imports – worth a further $300 billion annually. Global stock markets fell after China’s announcement yesterday.
Shops in some of South Africa’s top shopping malls will have to stop using plastic bags by the end of this year. Real estate giant Liberty Two Degrees (L2D) has announced that a zero-plastics policy will be applied at its premises which include Sandton City, Melrose Arch, and the Eastgate complex. Some 1,800 shops will be affected. Earlier this year Woolworths announced that four of its stores would no longer provide any plastic bags. The company hopes to phase out single-use plastic bags by 2020, replacing them with fabric bags made from recycled plastic.
Newly crowned Premier League champions, Manchester City, are facing a UEFA Champions League ban according to an explosive New York Times story published yesterday. The New York Times reports that an investigation into illegal funding of the club will conclude this week and is set to recommend a one-year ban from the Champions League – possibly in 2019/20, but more likely for 2020/21. The club is accused of breaking strict cost-control regulations – the so-called Financial Fair Play rules – which were designed to prevent clubs from risking their financial futures by overspending. Manchester City’s current squad has been assembled and financed at the cost of more than $1-billion by the club’s owner, Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the brother of the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. Allegations against the club were first reported by media outlets with access to the Football Leaks files. The files are said to include emails and internal club documents proving efforts by City to circumvent the Financial Fair-Play regulations. In 2014, City agreed to a 49 million pound fine agreement with UEFA after admitting an earlier breach of the spending rules. Click here for the full New York Times story (note: non-subscribers get a limited number of New York Times reads each month).
The post-Rugby World Cup exodus looks to be gaining momentum as another three Springboks recruitments were announced by overseas clubs in the past two days. French club Montpellier announced that Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard had agreed to terms, and his departure was confirmed by the Bulls today. Pollard will join fellow countrymen Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis and Johan Goosen on the French south coast. There was more bad news for the Bulls today with the announcement that Springbok lock RG Snyman is heading to Japanese club Honda Heat in 2020. Meanwhile the raid by the Sale Sharks on their KwaZulu-Natal namesake continues with prop Coenie Oosthuizen heading to Manchester. At Sale, Oosthuizen will join other recent signings which include Bok lock Lood de Jager and Sharks teammate, hooker Akker van der Merwe. The Sale side has also signed Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez and today it was confirmed the Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Dan, will join their older brother for a short stint before returning to Durban for Super Rugby 2020.
AB de Villiers has turned down a chance to take part in the Australian Big Bash League next year. His decision is a blow to the Australian attempt to match the IPL after his earlier expression of interest was met with wild media speculation. The excitement over De Villiers’ potential participation is due to the fact that Cricket Australia is desperately looking for a marquee talent to sell the competition. De Villiers’ management team initially said he may join the BBL after finishing his commitments in the Bangladesh Premier League, but it emerged yesterday that the prolific South African batsman had changed his mind. The BBL has grown its schedule from eight games per team to 14 each – a full home-and-away schedule. However, many of the Australian team players will not be available for much of the tournament as they will be on tour to India.
The 1960s singer and screen idol Doris Day has died at the age of 97. Numerous tributes have been pouring in for the actress who produced several iconic performances but never won an Oscar. Despite what Time called her ‘carbonated performances’ (which belied a phenomenal talent) her life was not entirely sunny. Forbes magazine has revisited its earlier account of how her husband cheated her out of her fortune and signed her up to a show she didn’t want to do, without her knowledge, which she had to see through to pay off the debts he left her with.
A US college athlete who came second in his hurdles race last year could not face the humiliation of losing again at the weekend, so he borrowed a trick from Superman and got the gold.
An almighty storm is sweeping the country over news that children as young as 10 will be taught about masturbation at school from next year as a new ‘cutting edge’ curriculum is introduced. The announcement of new textbooks for Grades 4 to 12 that treat sexual consent, gender nonconformity, masturbation and single-parent families as mainstream has been met with considerable concern in some quarters. But sex therapist Dr Marlene Wasserman (also known as Dr Eve), one of 80 experts who helped review the curriculum, laughed off the criticism and told TimesLive: ‘Masturbation is normalised and it is threaded through [the curriculum] from grade 4. It begins with self-pride, self-image, body diversity, genital differences, genital changes and touching oneself for pleasure.’ She added: ‘The curriculum was geared for the 2020 South African learner: who is he, she, they? A fluid, gender nonconforming child raised in a family of a mom and an absent dad.’ TimesLive also quoted Hayley Walker, chair of Protective Behaviours Southern Africa, as saying the textbooks were overdue because ‘too many life skills have been left to chance’.
This silliness from Glenny Rodge (@GlennyRodge) wins today’s award:
People say I remind them of Brad Pitt.
I think it might be the T-shirt I wear that has ‘don’t forget about Brad Pitt’ written on it.
Today’s clue compiled by Seerat Hazir is: The gadget that makes a mother dance after a wild night (11)
The solution to yesterday’s clue, Archie is a part of these dynasties! (10), is MONARCHIES – no anagram for a change. Instead ARCHIE is found in monARCHIEs (‘part of these dynasties’).
Here is a compelling multi-media read for you. This time from the BBC, which has traced the story of what happened to a little boy who was caught in a napalm attack in Iraq in 1991, and how a mystery Facebook message last year changed his life – all over again. The boy in the photo is a moving account.
Was the DA’s performance in the election as disastrous as the media narrative now suggests? Perhaps not. What the DA appears to have done is shed the white conservatives who did not have a home in 1999 after the bedraggled remnants of the National Party had got into bed with the ANC. As shameless as the ANC was in accepting the NP’s opportunists back then, so too was the DA’s sleight of hand in which it pretended to be a liberal organisation while vowing to ‘fight back’ – coded language for ‘fight black’. Racists who couldn’t bear to follow the NP into the ANC voted for Tony Leon’s DA as the devil they could live with. In spite of her own commendable history, Helen Zille chose to turn a blind eye to this aberration and her feistiness towards the ANC kept those conservatives happy when she became leader. Inevitably though the DA had to come to terms with the reality of South African politics: that a vast majority of people vote along racial lines. It elected Mmusi Maimane as leader and this year it paid the price for Leon’s cynicism. Conservative whites, uncomfortable with a black man leading the party, left in some numbers to vote for the Freedom Front Plus. But here’s the surprising thing: in spite of their departure and the FF+’s sterling performance, the DA lost little more than 1.5% of the national vote. According to News24 analyst Dawie Scholtz, the DA grew its black voter support by .5%. Take into account the malcontents that Patricia de Lille managed to take out of the party, and that is not a bad performance. It’s actually a pretty good one. And if the DA’s collective leadership is wise to this it might come to the obvious conclusion that it is time to break from the traditions that it clings to and give Maimane his head. He, far more than a Leon or Zille or the old farts still trying to control the party, is positioned to attract an audience that represents an inclusive South Africa – if that is what it really wants.
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