What day is it again? While it feels like a spiralling eternity, it's only the fifth day of the Pistorius murder trial. And technically, we should be a third of the way through the trial. That's time-wise, but almost certainly not content-wise. REBECCA DAVIS has taken up her seat on a hard court bench for the day's action.
In PR terms, the ANC has had a rough ride in the approach to this year’s elections: deadly and rampant service delivery protests, corruption scandals, poor performance of the economy, successive fuel price increases, the e-tolling mess and of course, the king of all PR nightmares, the Nkandla security upgrades. As of Thursday, rolling nationwide electricity blackouts were introduced into the mix of things that induce frustration and rage among South Africans. The ANC says load shedding will have no effect its election campaign but for as long as the power supply remains vulnerable, electricity outages remain a reality. Someone will have to carry the burden of responsibility. So far it’s the consumer, who might, incidentally, also be a voter. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The Pistorius trial is putting enormous strain on journalists to churn out an incredible amount of content on a trial which pretty much anyone has full access to in other media. We feel it too, and we’re far from perfect ourselves – in fact, we were accused of straining for outlandish new angles on the case just this week. But it must be said that some of the news stories to come out of the trial so far are plumbing new depths of absurdity and desperation. We ain’t judging, we’re just observing. Okay, we’re judging. Here we award our first week’s Oscars for absurd reporting on the Pistorius trial. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union’s (AMCU) strike at Impala Platinum, Anglo American Platinum and Lonmin has entered its seventh week. On Thursday, 12,000 supporters marched to the Union Buildings. They presented a memorandum demanding Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu be sacked and President Jacob Zuma intervene to stop government’s antagonistic stance towards the union and help end the platinum negotiations. By GREG NICOLSON & THAPELO LEKGOWA.
Saadi al-Gaddafi – playboy, would-be pro-footballer and third son of Brother Leader himself – is back in Libya after an uncomfortable exile in Niger. It’s a diplomatic victory for the new Tripoli administration, and a very welcome public relations coup at a time when they really need one. By SIMON ALLISON.
President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered sanctions on people responsible for Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine, including travel bans and freezing of their U.S. assets, and said a referendum by the Crimea region to join Russia would violate international law. By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason.
Economist Joseph Stiglitz seems a politician’s economist. Unlike those economists that President Harry Truman had so famously railed against with his cry, “For God’s sake, will someone please send me a one-handed economist!” after he had heard one too many of those “well, on the one hand, but on the other hand” formulations, Joseph Stiglitz seems never to have been afraid to say exactly what he thinks about things – and his presentation at the Discovery Leadership Summit in Johannesburg was no exception. J. BROOKS SPECTOR listened to the lecture and then spoke with him afterwards.
On Friday the National Union of Metalworkers of SA is expected to provide a full answer to a request by Cosatu for reasons why it should not be “suspended or expelled” from the federation. As we’ve suggested before, this is the latest act in a rather long and overly extended ballet, where everyone knows the final outcome, but is going to extend the misery nonetheless. Cosatu will split. The misery continues. But it’s only now that the full impact of this on workers is really beginning to be felt. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Spare a thought for the witnesses in the Pistorius murder trial. In coming forward to do their civic duty, they must face not only sustained interrogation by some of South Africa’s fiercest lawyers, but also the stress of doing so while being watched or heard by an international audience. If you’re Michelle Burger’s husband Charl Johnson, you’re now also looking at having to change your cellphone number. It’s hardly an enviable prospect – but they still have it luckier than many. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Six weeks after the start of the Association Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) strike began at Impala Platinum (Implats), Lonmin and Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) negotiations have made little progress. In fact, they’ve stopped. While AMCU has finally shown it’s willing to play ball, there’s no love lost between the union and the platinum producers. By GREG NICOLSON.
Not all opinion polls and surveys are created equal. But all too often news websites, newspapers and radio and television stations fail to properly interrogate them. Just as a single-source news article will lack credibility, so does a news report based solely on the results of a snapshot poll or a survey. Journalists should always question how a poll or survey was done, and dig deeper. Context, additional comment and analysis are vital. Researched by Raymond Joseph and Julian Rademeyer for AFRICA CHECK.
For most petrolheads, the quintessential hot hatchback is Volkswagen’s Golf GTI – a car that not only pioneered the genre, but also continued to set the standard. Now in its seventh generation, the current GTI is one of the best yet – but as it turns out, one of its most daunting rivals is also a close relation. DEON SCHOEMAN meets the VW Golf R.
After the brutal knife massacre in a Chinese train station on Saturday, Chinese authorities have promised to go after the “terrorists” with everything they’ve got. But it’s not the terrorists they’re really worried about: the real concern is the great crack in the foundation of China’s economic and social development that the attack has revealed. By SIMON ALLISON.
There are nine weeks to go before South Africa’s fifth democratic elections, and hype should be mounting as the campaign season is now in full swing. Leaders of all political parties are fanning out across the country trying to whip up support and ignite excitement about the elections. But as of this week, the country’s attention is firmly on Court GD at the North Gauteng High Court, where the epic murder trial of paralympian Oscar Pistorius is underway. What does this mean for the elections and how does the trial impact on the political dynamics in the country? By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
In dissecting the character of Oscar Pistorius, much has been written about a certain culture of South African hyper-masculinity within which Pistorius is taken to fall: valorising guns, fast cars, anger, speed, physical strength and violence. If his defence against murder is that he “screams like a woman”, we may have to re-write some of our simplistic gendered assumptions and responses, writes REBECCA DAVIS.
Oscarama, also known as murder trial against world famous athlete Oscar Pistorius, has attracted media from across the world. First they were here for Nelson Mandela’s funeral, now this. The media was the centre of attention at the beginning of proceedings on day two after certain outlets published a witness’s photograph against the expressed orders of the court. GREG NICOLSON was there, shooting with and at the circus.
There’s no easy fix for the Central African Republic. Even once the bloodshed stops, someone has to figure out how to rebuild a state which no longer exists, and prevent it from falling apart again. Only the United Nations has the skills and experience to confront all the country’s problems simultaneously. The good news is that Ban-Ki Moon is finally getting his act together, proposing a solid intervention plan to the Security Council. The bad news is that the UN is a slow-moving bureaucracy, even at the best of times – and it’s far from the best of times. By SIMON ALLISON.
South Africa will need to mount one of the greatest escapes in Test match history in order to stave off defeat in the third and final Test at Newlands. The hosts were 71-4 at stumps with a target of 511 most likely out of reach and an attempt at drawing far more reasonable. ANTOINETTE MULLER picks out five talking points from day four.
In this, the first properly “viral” South African election, the way that politicians, citizens and journalists are now battling it out online has made old-school, paper ‘n ink headlines more than once. What does the latest flap over opposition leader and Democratic Alliance president, Helen Zille, say about new realms of civic engagement in South Africa 3.0? RICHARD POPLAK goes online to find out.
As Russia tightens its grip on the Crimean Peninsula, western nations continue to puzzle out how best to respond to this, the most difficult crisis to erupt in the post-Cold War era in Europe. Fears are growing that there is no easy endgame, and there are important economic aspects that must be examined more closely as well. However, it is just possible that in his desire to consolidate Russia’s new influence on Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin may be overreaching. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a closer look.
While many tuned in to television channels, radio stations or caught up with the minutiae of the Oscar Pistorius trial on the Internet and on their Twitter timelines, some opted for face-to-face encounter with the paralympian as he made his court appearance in an overcast Pretoria. By GREG NICOLSON.
The first day of the Oscar Pistorius murder trial introduced many of the elements we can expect to see throughout the case. A delay, some incompetence; a defence strategy which will see Pistorius’s crack lawyers do everything in their power to discredit witnesses; and an early verbalising of the fear that is claimed to stalk suburban South African streets. By REBECCA DAVIS.
On Monday the National Union of Metalworkers of SA felt compelled to release a statement in which it confirmed that it would not be running as a political party in the May elections. But if you examine the statement carefully, it's clear that it's just a question of time. The union is starting something, and you can talk about formations and fronts and unity all you like - it's going to quack like a political party and walk like a political party. Therefore it will be a political party. It doesn't have a name yet, but we're campaigning hard for Shosholoza. And being in a charitable mood here at the Daily Maverick, we decided it would be nice of us proud capitalists to offer some helpful advice, although we're not arrogant enough to presume that the union will follow it. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
This past week Cape Town saw a flood of design buffs pouring in and marvelling at the Mother City’s abundance. And this in the wake of what insiders deemed a rather haphazard start to a year of design celebrations (albeit commencing with a flashy street party outside the City Hall on New Year’s Eve). By KATHY BERMAN.
A substantial part of the Oscar Pistorius debate is about our justice system and whether the blade runner will get a fair trial. This week, away from the eyes of the world, a grandmaster of forensics – who has testified in war crimes tribunals at the Hague – gave evidence in the Betty Ketani murder trial. And, as ALEX ELISEEV reports, his verdict is that South Africa has a fair and mature legal system.
The Mazibuye African Forum, considered a radical anti-Indian lobby group, claims that they’re anything but. Their leader, a young firebrand named Phumlani Mfeka, may find himself as the next Julius Malema. Except he’s smarter, more dangerous, and has a platform that gains support by the day. RICHARD POPLAK took the time to meet him.
On Tuesday the National Assembly passed the Land Reform Bill, which re-opens the door for people to lodge claims for land lost because of Apartheid. The bill returns to the main political agenda our past and restitution for the inhumanity that was forced on the majority of our people. But it also raises questions that have much more to do with the present day politics. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
On Tuesday, reports emerged that the bodies of five more illegal miners had been discovered near a shaft in Roodepoort. This only a week after the rescue of over a dozen who had been trapped underground. While not as dangerous but certainly still illegal, a different type of Zama Zama scours the banks of the Klipspruit River that cuts through southern Soweto. Every day groups of desperate women and men head off in search of small treasures that will bring in enough money for a day’s food. By BHEKI SIMELANE.
Cape Town Pride 2014 (CTP) takes place from 21 February to 1 March. The annual festival aims to celebrate gay rights in South Africa. This year’s theme is “uniting cultures in Cape Town”. However, people from communities around Cape Town have said that they feel CTP excludes them and the serious issues affecting them as gay people.
On 24 February 2014, Uganda passed legislation that criminalises homosexuality. Paul Semugoma, a gay Ugandan activist who recently gained temporary residence in South Africa, says that the legislation’s impact will be extensive among all Ugandan society. The legislation, according to Paul, is more about consolidating President Yoweri Museveni’s power ahead of the 2016 Ugandan elections than about dealing with any meaningful social ill. By Jonathan Dockney for GROUNDUP.
In what might well be Pravin Gordhan’s final budget speech for the South African government – by the end of it he was giving his thanks and best wishes to almost everyone he’d ever worked with - Gordhan gave a full-scale review of the country’s economic fortunes, together with the government’s spending and taxing plans. But this was more than just a technocrat’s speech, with its long recitation of budget lines and changes in the tax code – although those were all there too. It was a careful balancing of financial and political realities. By J BROOKS SPECTOR.
It was not the election year Budget many thought it might be, neither was it designed to drum up the ANC’s narrative of a “good story to tell”. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan used the last Budget of President Jacob Zuma’s administration to provide a reality check about the state of the economy and what the South African state is able to do in a tough financial climate. And while Gordhan might have been under pressure from his party and its labour ally Cosatu to steer towards “radical” economic change, this was not reflected in the Budget. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The accidental sinking of the troopship SS Mendi on a foggy morning in 1917 is long forgotten, but it’s a moving tale of heartbreak, bravery and loss that deserves remembering. Playwright Lara Foot has taken the few facts that are known about this old maritime disaster and woven a story around it, drawing from poetry, oral legend and historical records to deliver a tragedy made personal. By LESLEY STONES.
As with most transitions, South Africa’s hard work of rebuilding our society really began after the formal institution of democratic rule. Racism is one of the most critical conversations that need to be continued for some time. Equally it is one of the most difficult to confront. Talking about racism is to look into our history and confront its legacies that continue to scar the present. Uncomfortable as this may be, we cannot afford to push it aside. Racism lives in the present, manifests itself in different ways and often undermines the very idea of building a new society. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan released the final budget of President Jacob Zuma’s first term administration on Wednesday. Gordhan had to walk a fine line and opposition parties are asking whether he did enough to boost jobs and, more importantly, whether the proposals can be implemented. By GREG NICOLSON.
South Africans can look forward to personal income tax relief of R9.3 billion, while reform of the tax regime will ease the compliance burden for small businesses. Sin taxes go up, as usual, as does the fuel levy, while social grants have been bumped up (marginally less than aspirant president Julius Malema had promised his supporters). Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has presented a no-shocks Budget for the coming year but, due to the low economic outlook, has imposed an expenditure ceiling, binding for the next three years. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The past two weeks of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry have seen detectives hauled over the coals and struggling to defend themselves for not delivering dockets to court and failing to investigate adequately serious and violent crimes such as rape, murder and gang violence. Plus it’s not like the IPID and the police top brass are exactly coming to the Khayelitsha community’s rescue, either. By KATE STEGEMAN.
With a stroke of a pen, President Yoweri Museveni made it even more illegal to be gay in Uganda. And don’t even think about “promoting homosexuality”, whatever that might mean. Condemnation of the harsh new measures from western leaders has been swift and categorical. From African leaders, on the other hand, there’s been an ominous silence. By SIMON ALLISON.
Midrand Group’s think tank wizard, Prince Mashele, has co-written a new book called The Fall of the ANC. The text is an unbroken indictment of a very broken political party, and if the doyen(ne)s of Luthuli House hated him before its publication, there’s no word for what they think of him now. Could he be the spoiler the party fears? By RICHARD POPLAK.
If you have no interest in the Oscar Pistorius trial, now might be the time to take an extended sabbatical from work and move to a farm in the Karoo. Otherwise, you’ll need a media blackout. Barring a successful appeal from the Pistorius faction, Tuesday’s ruling by Judge Dunston Mlambo that radio and TV stations may broadcast large chunks of the trial live means that it’s going to be mighty hard to avoid. REBECCA DAVIS surveys what’s to come.
Parliament passed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill on Tuesday, opening restitution and redistribution claims again for another five years. The Democratic Alliance had to face its race bogey, something the ANC can easily exploit on such an emotive issue and something the EFF has little trouble with. By GREG NICOLSON.
While most of the country is poring over recently published election manifestos, and pondering the different visions for the future of us all that they spell out, a political earthquake of possibly bigger significance is beginning to gather momentum. As you read this, Cosatu’s Central Executive Committee is engaged in one of its traditional three-day meetings, but this one could culminate in a vote that sees metalworkers’ union NUMSA being suspended, or even expelled. Should that happen, only a fool would think that NUMSA would be the only union to go. Which means that the entire playing field between unions, employers, and government is about to change. With AMCU sitting in the wings. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
As the purported end of the Marikana Commission and the 2014 elections head for a flashy collision, it is clear that there is no chance that the commission will complete its work by April. Expect that it be extended, again. Despite this, the inquiry is making some startling revelations. GREG MARINOVICH looks at trends at the Marikana Commission.
You know it’s election season when political parties and governments start getting extra testy in their dealings with journalists. Social media now offers a whole new stage for public figures to go to town on those who’ve earned their displeasure. Over the past week, representatives from both the City of Cape Town and the DA have expressed targeted – and, in the case of Helen Zille, deeply personal – criticism of individual journalists in a public manner. Is it fair play? REBECCA DAVIS takes a look.
For those nervous about Nigeria, Lamido Sanusi was a comforting, reassuring presence at the helm of the central bank. He is the country’s Trevor Manuel – a steady pair of hands implementing much-needed banking reforms and fighting corruption. But now he’s gone, sacrificed by a president more intent on consolidating his own power than protecting the Nigerian economy. It’s not a good sign. By SIMON ALLISON.
For around four hundred years, scientists and students have relished the impact that early scientists like Galileo had on learning, knowledge and our growing understanding of the real world – as well as their bravery in confronting both obscurantism and just plain ignorance. Except, that is, perhaps, among one out of every four Americans who still believe the Sun is revolving around the Earth. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes an astonished look at this phenomenon.
In March 2013, Dr Patrobas Mufubenga, a malaria expert, was unanimously appointed a member of the Developing Country NGO Delegation to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria for a two-year renewable term. It is a key position at arguably the most important health funding mechanism in the world. By GROUNDUP STAFF.
South Africa completed yet another great comeback to square the three-match series against Australia 1-1. Graeme Smith has lamented the lack of South Africa playing together as a group and he has every right to, considering the Proteas have been suckling on scheduling’s hind teat for the last five years - despite an emphatic record. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
If you thought the six million job opportunities contained in the ANC manifesto sounded far-fetched, it has nothing on the 32-page shopping list of the Economic Freedom Fighters. The EFF manifesto even makes Numsa’s Irvin Jim sound tame by comparison. It’s socialist transformation on steroids and it’s coming to a mine, bank, farm and even an e-toll gantry near you, once the EFF takes power. Behold the wonderful, meaningful world of Malema. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
There was a time not so long ago that America’s federal financial ‘uber-menschen’ really were widely regarded as the masters of the universe – able to leap tall buildings at a single bound, and by sheer dint of their abundant grey matter, unscramble financial calamities almost before they happened. Then, in 2008, such financial wizards were revealed for what they were – some really smart people caught up in fast-moving events quickly spinning beyond their control. J. BROOKS SPECTOR contemplates those newly released transcripts from the US’ Federal Reserve Bank’s Open Money Committee, just as the apocalypse seemed to be at hand.
Agang SA is battling to overcome its leader Mamphela Ramphele’s comical week as the Democratic Alliance’s presidential candidate. On Sunday GREG NICOLSON heard the party’s alternate state of the nation address in Johannesburg. The DA debacle isn’t all bad, said Ramphele, but Agang has a lot of work to do if it wants to make any difference at this year’s elections.
The EFF flipped their berets and launched their much-anticipated election manifesto in Tembisa, Gauteng on Saturday, led by their Commander-in-Chief Julius Malema. Thousands of people attended, while the ANC Youth League youth election festival went on a few kilometres away. GREG NICOLSON & THAPELO LEKGOWA went in search of the red team with their cameras.
If you stood in the middle of the Mehlareng Stadium in Tembisa on Saturday and closed your eyes, you could have sworn you were at an ANC rally. There’s a certain vibe at ANC events – the energy of the crowd, the crescendo of voices in chants and song, a pulse that other competing political organisations battle to recreate. But this was enemy territory for the ANC, a red sea of rebellion, the vortex from which the desperate quest for economic freedom throbbed. Julius Malema reigned over the launch of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ manifesto like the new messiah, oozing leftist and populist rhetoric which was both terrifying and strategic genius. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY. Photos by THAPELO LEKGOWA and GREG NICOLSON.
Politics is not exactly about manifestos. So when the DA, the EFF, Agang and the ACDP all launch their manifestos on the same weekend, it is not difficult to see that actually it is more about the pomp than the actual document, particularly for Julius Malema. That said, manifestos are important in their own way. Not only do they outline a different version of the future, they also give us an indication of what the party in question is trying to do. Thus the DA's and the ANC's documents reveal quite a bit. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
On Sunday Polokwane turned blue for the DA Manifesto day. Thousands of DA supporters filled the Polokwane Showgrounds to watch the party’s leadership put on a rousing display of political theatre. The crowd’s T-shirts were a sea of blue. Blue confetti showered down from the heavens. The sky, as Helen Zille pointed out, was playing along, providing an azure umbrella to proceedings. The blue was one of the only aesthetic giveaways that this was not, in fact, an ANC rally. It was the DA’s opportunity to display their new image to a national TV audience, and they seized it with both hands. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The comeback kings did it again with a thumping win over Australia to ensure the series headed to Cape Town at 1-1. ‘A collective: It’s alive’ must have reverberated through the country, with South Africa now still having a chance to beat the Aussies on home soil for the first time since readmission. ANTOINETTE MULLER picks five talking points from the fourth day at St. George’s.
As the clock ticks down to the Oscar Pistorius eclipse, another trial has started in a court across town. The Betty Ketani 'cold' murder case is a fountain of intrigue which splashes higher and higher with each passing court day. It also shows how quickly the legal advantage can swing from one side to the other and all the way back. ALEX ELISEEV suggests that those planning to follow the Oscar show should brace themselves for the ride.
President Jacob Zuma did three things this week that showed he could go back to being the leader he had wanted to be. He went to the Khayelitsha taxi rank on Monday morning to interact with commuters and listen to their grievances. On Tuesday morning he held a live radio interview in which more than 60 community radio stations participated and listeners were able to call in and tell him their problems. On Thursday, he reached out to a terminally ill man in the opposition benches in Parliament and gave him hope that his plea for alternate treatment for cancer would receive attention from government. Where has this president been and why doesn’t he show himself more often? By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Apparently, Nigeria is winning the war against Boko Haram. So, at least, say the spin doctors. But the mounting corpses give the lie to this delusion, and Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan might be better served by acknowledging that his military crackdown isn’t working. After all, the first step on any road to recovery is to admit you have a problem. By SIMON ALLISON.
On Thursday Hlaudi Motsoeneng, through his lawyers, made it abundantly clear that he is not going to go down without a fight. That he is going to do everything he can to stay on as Chief Operating Officer at the SABC. This means he is now directly challenging the Public Protector, if not in court just yet, then certainly in the court of public opinion. At the same time, on Friday, the Mail & Guardian quoted SABC board Chair Ellen Tshabalala as saying she was perfectly happy with his work. Everything seems to indicate that this entire is about more than just Motsoeneng's personal future. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
A crazy toss and three team changes, which included a Test debut for Quinton de Kock, all made for an entertaining day of Test cricket. South Africa managed to win a session for just the second time this series and although Australia will still be the happier of the teams, at least it’s not all doom and gloom for the hosts this time around. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.