7 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!
It is probably to be expected, but there is little beyond election news out there at the moment (even the rest of the world has gone quiet). The pollsters have been rushing out their final predictions but they are pretty inconsistent so it is difficult to draw any conclusions. Perhaps the most startling in the past few days came from the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) which suggested on Monday that the ANC would drop to 53% of the national vote (from 62% in 2014) at an expected 70% turnout. Its most surprising finding was that the party may go below 50% in its KZN stronghold – 48% or 49% (from 64.5%). But this morning Ipsos issued its final predictions and has the ANC at 61% nationally on a 71% turnout. It suggests that the DA will drop to 19% (down from 22%) of the vote and the EFF rise to 11% (up from 6%). Ipsos adds that ‘it is unlikely that the DA will win the three provinces they set out to do (namely the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng), but the Western Cape is within reach (although they might need a coalition partner to form a government)’. It adds that the EFF is likely to be the official opposition in Limpopo and North West and possibly in the Free State and Mpumalanga.
The ANC has returned the R1-million election donation given to it on Sunday by Independent Media proprietor Iqbal Survé. Khaya Magaxa, acting chair of the party in the province, explained that it did thorough assessments before accepting campaign donations. ‘Due to the fact that this happened a mere three days before the election, we had not time to do such an assessment to consider how such a donation would be perceived given the revelations of the made at the Commission of Inquiry into allegations of impropriety at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC)’. Survé’s relationship with former PIC boss Dan Matjila and loans he received from the fund manager have been under scrutiny at the commission. Survé said on Sunday the company did not want ‘anything in return (for the donation). It is very important that our support is unconditional’. But he did call a press conference to make the announcement.
Here are the main election/political developments since yesterday:
Transnet board chairman Popo Molefe testified at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture today – and once again the Guptas brothers and Brian Molefe emerged as central characters. Popo Molefe said a ‘sophisticated operation’ emerged after Brian Molefe’s appointment as Transnet CEO in which he and others appointed to the company took ‘control of the mechanisms that provide a countervail against rampant corruption and irregularities in the business’. Popo Molefe added: ‘But before he [Brian] became the CEO, the strange thing was that a publication owned by a family called the Guptas had already published that he was going to be the CEO of the company.’ His evidence is continuing.
Two years ago a friendly restaurant opened in Cape Town’s CBD, selling top-notch coffee and the world’s best brownies. But more than that Brownies & Downies gave people with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities meaningful employment – and then the Department of Home Affairs stepped in. The department banned its owner, Dutch social worker Wendy Schultz, from South Africa. TimesLIVE reported on Schultz’s ongoing battle to get her visa renewed, and when she couldn’t get married in SA due to the struggle to get her papers filed she left for the Netherlands in January to marry her South African fiancé. But because she left with an expired visa she was told she was banned from the country for five years. ‘I have battled… to sort out my paperwork with the Department of Home Affairs, but seem to hit one snag after the other,’ Schultz explained on Facebook. ‘The impending closure of Brownies & Downies will not only impact the many young people who are benefiting from the programme, but trainers and other support staff face the prospect of losing their jobs too.’ Brownies has already integrated 12 people with intellectual disabilities into work environments and thanks to the department’s bureaucratic barriers a valuable and compassionate initiative is set to bite the dust.
Volvo Cars plans to roll out a company-wide policy to give all new parents – regardlesss of gender and applicable to same-sex parents and those with adopted children – a full six months off work at 80% pay. A pilot project that replicates Swedish state regulations on parental leave is under way across its sales businesses in Europe, Middle East and Africa. If it is successful, 43,000 employees will have access to the scheme globally.
The Government is being taken to court in a challenge over its decision last year to double the amount of sulphur dioxide that coal-fired power plants and refineries can emit. The environmental group groundWork says government failed to publish the amendments for comment before introducing the change, which it is required to do by law. According to Fin24, the group argues that sulphur dioxide is linked to incidences of low birth weights and stillbirths, and contributes to acid rain.
The Proteas injury woes intensified today with Anrich Nortje being ruled out of the Cricket World Cup in England later this month. Nortje has been struggling to recover from a shoulder injury but fractured his right thumb in a net practice in Port Elizabeth yesterday. He will be replaced by Chris Morris, who last turned out for the Proteas in February 2018. The Proteas are sweating on the fitness of Kagiso Rabada, who cut short his IPL tournament with a back injury; Dale Steyn, who played just two IPL matches before his shoulder injury flared up again; and Lungi Ngidi, who is recovering from a side strain.
Yesterday was a bad day for Liverpool fans as Vincent Kompany broke their hearts with a wonder goal, and news they will have to rescue their Champion’s League campaign without two of their star forwards. Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino were ruled out of the Champions League semi-final second leg against Barcelona yesterday evening, leaving it highly unlikely Liverpool can overturn the 3-0 result from Camp Nou a week ago. Last night Manchester City’s Kompany fired a rocket into the top right hand corner to secure a 1-0 win over Leicester. The goal was enough to take City above Liverpool and back to the top of the English Premier League with just one round of matches to play. In the second Champions League semi-final tomorrow, Spurs travel to Ajax and will have to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg if they want to prevent the young Dutch side from reaching the final.
A three-person disciplinary panel this morning found Israel Folau guilty of a ‘high level breach’ of Rugby Australia’s player code. Folau, a fundamentalist Christian, breached the code of conduct with a social media post that said ‘hell’ awaited ‘drunks, homosexuals, adulterers’. According to a statement from Rugby Australia, the panel will now ‘take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction’. Folau has the right to appeal, but the breach could be serious enough for both the Waratahs and Rugby Australia to cancel his contract.
Jaco Peyper will be the only South African referee officiating at the Rugby World Cup in Japan later this year. A panel of 12 referees was named yesterday with Peyper the only South African on the list. France has four officials in the panel, England, Australia and New Zealand two each and Wales also has one. No South Africans were listed among the assistant referees but Marius Jonker is one of four TMOs named. England’s Wayne Barnes and Welshman Nigel Owen will be officiating at their fourth World Cup tournaments.
The annual Costume Institute Gala, better known as the Met Gala because it is held at the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art in New York, is considered the biggest event on the US fashion fundraising calendar. According to Vanity Fair it is where the most famous faces from the realms of fashion, film, music and art come together to raise money for the Met’s Costume Institute and celebrate the grand opening of its latest exhibition. Yesterday’s event, chaired by Vogue editor Anna Wintour, has set Twitter alight. Some of outfits really are jaw-dropping. Katy Perry came as a cheeseburger and then switched into a candelabra; Harry Styles turned up in a sheer Gucci blouse with lace detail; and Jared Leto carried his own head. Trevor Noah? He turned up in a t-shirt. You can have a look at some of the fantastic creations here.
Ever heard of Headis? It’s a sport that combines table tennis and soccer. Really. According to Now This, it is played by about 100,000 people around the world. So not a huge following in the bigger scheme of things. It is, however, astonishing to watch.
A disposable coffee cup that made a cameo appearance in the Game of Thrones (GOT) has got fans of the faux-medieval fantasy series in a flap. The cup appeared in front of Daenerys Targaryen – the Dragon Queen – for a few seconds in a feast scene where metal goblets and hollowed-out animal horns were the utensils of choice. The cup has been analysed, over-analysed and turned into memes. Starbucks quickly claimed responsibility and took the opportunity to plug its Dragon Drink, a pink mango and dragon fruit concoction. The GOT is not the first show to make this sort of blunder and The New York Times points out that in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which is set in a world without modern technology, a car can be seen in the background as Sam and Frodo converse in a field. A car is also visible in a scene of Braveheart, which is set in 13th-century Scotland.
Today’s tremendous tweeter is cluedont (@cluedont) who reveals:
My dyslexia has reached a new owl.
And of course we are going to reflect on the royal birth! Here’s @cluedont again:
Breaking news: two humans produce human.
Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: The Queen invested two years in Rocky Balboa for her latest instalment? (5,4)
The solution to yesterday’s clue, Does one write about circuital verbs? (14), is CRUCIVERBALIST – an anagram of ‘circuital verbs’ (about is the anagram indicator) and is the definition for a crossword compiler who writes clues that make you go round in circles:
Media companies are looking to feed you advertising based on your mood. As creepy as that sounds, some of the biggest names in the business are pursuing the idea, including the New York Times and USA Today. Some are already using ‘psychographic segmentation’, including ESPN which has decided not to feed adverts to people whose teams are losing. Which suggests they know which team you do support. The Guardian takes a look at this new frontier in managed information.
And because tomorrow we exercise our voting rights we bring you a second Big Read that takes you into the heart of a platform that has had a profound impact on elections all over the world. Based on interviews with 65 current and former Facebook staff members, Wired magazine charts the hellride inside the social media behemoth as FB tried to come up with the fixes Mark Zuckerberg promised the world, including how to provide trustworthy news.
There is a misplaced notion out there that not voting tomorrow amounts to some sort of protest against the way the country has been let down by politicians. In fact, this might be the most important election since 1994. The country is at a crossroads thanks to the atrocious leadership of Jacob Zuma and the poll amounts to an opportunity to choose the party best equipped to take the right direction. That said, it is telling that the most of the ‘we won’t vote’ threats come from poor communities complaining about service delivery. These are the people who feel the sharp end of government failure most keenly – and whose voice will grow and grow if governance doesn’t improve significantly. Voters have choices to make today, but so do the politicians who they elect: ultimately their conduct will determine which path we take after tomorrow.
Like you (hopefully) we will be queueing and making our crosses tomorrow. the.news.letter will return and try to make sense of it all on Thursday.
We welcome your insights, observations and compliments (especially your compliments) so please send them to thenewsletter.daily@gmail.
GroundUp’s Disclaimer: Although we like the.news.letter and are promoting it in May, we don’t produce it. If you want to express how much you love or hate it, please email Chris, Jonathan and Martine.