One of the most sensational leaks alleging serious criminality in the tobacco industry occurred on Twitter earlier this month. Thousands of documents, photographs, sound clips and affidavits were dumped online implicating the multinational British American Tobacco company in various acts of criminality including bribing SAPS, SARS and other government officials and conducting industrial espionage on its rivals. The leak, if documents prove to be true, provide evidence of a serious threat to democracy. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The Hawks’ decision to summon Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and former South African Revenue Service (SARS) officials to their headquarters for warning statements on Thursday can only mean one thing: the onslaught on the National Treasury has resumed. The outcome of the local government elections has signalled that the window of opportunity for President Jacob Zuma, his allies and his friends to have unfettered control of the state is closing. The ANC is disorientated by the results and reeling after the loss of major metros to the opposition. In this scramble for coherence and atmosphere of unpredictability, dangerous and risky actions are possible. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The Hawks are again circling Pravin Gordhan as well as four SARS officials, former Deputy Commissioner Ivan Pillay, Group Executive Johann van Loggerenberg, Pete Richer, former SARS head of strategic planning, and initial head of the investigative unit, Andries van Rensburg, who have all been ordered to report to the Hawks in Pretoria on Thursday for warning statements. The threats of criminal action relate to allegations of an alleged “rogue unit” located in SARS. Pravin Gordhan has been in the Hawks cross-hairs since accidentally landing back in the hot seat as Minister of Finance in December. By MARIANNE THAMM.
If you can wrap your head around the text of Minister Faith Muthambi’s address in Parliament on Tuesday (we’ve helpfully included it for you) it may take you a few moments to shake your head and bounce back to reality. But unlike the fictitious Alice, when you do, you may find yourself very worried indeed. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Long obsessed with the numbers game of majoritarianism, the ANC in Parliament on Tuesday touted its win in 161 of South Africa’s 257 municipalities as proof the party remained “the people’s choice”. There was the usual name-calling of opposition parties as “opportunists”, “racist”, “sell-outs” and intent on “returning South Africa into a colonial outpost”, as the self-proclaimed leader of society emphasised its role in liberating South Africa from apartheid. Called by the ANC as a debate on an urgent matter of national public importance, instead those 68 minutes in Parliament’s first sitting since its electioneering break handed opposition parties a politicking opportunity on a platter. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
The office of the Public Protector was never designed to be the only thing keeping South Africa from nuclear meltdown (emphasis, of course, on the term “nuclear”). When Thuli Madonsela replaced the not-so-respected Lawrence Mushwana in 2009, could anyone have anticipated her battle with President Jacob Zuma? Now, with the looming appointment of ANC favourite Judge Siraj Desai, the war has taken on new urgency. Should the ANC and Desai get their way, Zuma might be on a straightway to the biggest retirement package in human history. And the taxpaying public, suddenly unprotected, will be paying him off for a generation at least. By RICHARD POPLAK.
There was great excitement on Tuesday 23 August 2016 at OR Tambo airport as jubilant fans greeted the South African Olympians returning from Rio de Janeiro. Gold medallist Wayde van Niekerk and silver medalist Sunette Viljoen were not there as they are travelling to compete in France. But crowd favourites including Caster Semenya, Chad le Clos, Luvo Manyonga and Cameron van der Burgh more than made up for this. By IHSAAN HAFFEJEE for GROUNDUP.
Karl Thornton loves his beautiful wife, Amina, and their two gorgeous children very much. But Karl has an obsession that he can’t shake, that uses up their resources and takes him away from his family day after day, night after night. The addiction simply won’t leave him alone – it gets him up at 4am, he secretly gazes at pictures on his phone at work and in the back garden of their modest suburban home, he is building a palace to house the objects of his desire. What is it that has taken over Karl’s life, causing him to neglect his wife and children? Hosted by Daily Maverick’s MARIANNE THAMM.
Monday’s official briefing on the Cabinet lekgotla announced that President Jacob Zuma would chair a new presidential state-owned entities (SOE) co-ordinating committee. Expected to be in place by year end, its structure will echo that of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission which Zuma already chairs. This emerged amid the verbal candyfloss from Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe on the four-day government lekgotla which ended on Friday. This decision effectively means Zuma is taking over from his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa, who since December 2014 has chaired the SOE inter-ministerial committee. Is this yet another twist to Cabinet power plays which previously have seen stand-offs with National Treasury? By MARIANNE MERTEN.
The disruption witnessed in elections in council chambers, through defeated ANC councillors, feeds into fears that many of us would previously have discounted: that the ANC may be reluctant to concede power should it be defeated nationally in 2019. This has a range of implications including resorting to illegal means to frustrate or obstruct opposition in order to avert defeat. We can no longer discount illegality since there has been ample evidence of the ANC leadership’s willingness to depart from the rule of law, and constitutionalism more generally, in the last few years. Since it has been used to secure benefits, why should such means not be deployed to defend what has been secured and to which some regard themselves as entitled in the future? By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Ten medals at the Rio Olympics was the goal achieved by South Africa’s athletes. They have managed to do this at a fraction of what it costs some of the bigger nations. Sascoc has been presented with a golden opportunity to achieve excellence at 2020 in Tokyo – and it will take a special kind of self-interest to screw this one up. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
Caster Semenya cruised to victory at the weekend, bringing South Africa’s medal count to 10 before the close of the 2016 Olympics. Thinly-veiled anger from her competitors served as a stark reminder that Semenya’s gender still haunts her, despite her increasingly relaxed attitude. But beyond the heated debates – and they are heated – what lies at the heart of the matter? By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
The leaders of southern African countries are getting together for a big chat. And if the official line is bought it’s a time of great pride for the host nation, the Kingdom of Swaziland. Local media and loyal royalists are bending over backwards to praise the king and his men for putting on the show. But underneath the jargon-riddled theme of the summit – too long and confusing to print – critics are lining up to tell a different truth: one of wasted money and people dying of starvation. By SIBUSISO NHLABATSI and BILL SNADDON.
Actor and comedian George Burns, a man whose career included vaudeville, radio, the movies and television over nearly a century, had famously given advice to young actors about how they, too, could achieve success. He said to them, “Sincerity – if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” In politics, just as in entertainment, faking verisimilitude is a fine art. J.BROOKS SPECTOR takes an historical look back over how these two spheres have come together – and what they portend for the current election.
The 2016 local government elections did more than shift power and major municipal budgets away from the ANC. It exposed how the ANC’s antiquated traditions are hampering the rise of young leaders and stunting generational change. The ANC elections campaign recycled the same tired ideas and useless rhetoric, with the only new twist being ageing, uninspiring leaders performing a new dance move. The two main opposition parties saw young leaders Mmusi Maimane and Julius Malema take the lead, redefine the terrain and change the conversation. At the same time, the ANC is gearing to elect a new leadership next year with no strong, young leaders ready to grab the mantle. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
With four of the country’s major metros now in DA hands, the ANC in three of these is going to have to learn how to be an effective opposition. There might be a few lessons to be learnt from the Western Cape ANC who, since losing the country’s second largest economic hub to a DA coalition government in 2006, have never been able to claw back support. Faction-ridden and plagued by leadership scandals, the ANC in the Western Cape has, since its crushing 2016 LGE defeat, embarked on serious introspection. The way forward, it says, is to return to the past and the values of the UDF, the anti-apartheid body which celebrates its 33rd anniversary this month. By MARIANNE THAMM.
An influential watchdog that monitors Malawi’s extractive industries is demanding an explanation for a mysterious payment of $235,700 (89-million kwacha) to Joyce Banda’s former government by a company that landed major oil and gas exploration concessions on Lake Malawi. By Collins Mtika for CENTRE FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM MALAWI.
South Africa’s Olympic team is one that mirrors South Africa. It’s a story of a group of people who have overcome challenges and adversity and who have grown up far quicker than we have as a country, even if they were wearing a tracksuit they looked like they need to grow into. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
On Friday afternoon, after a few delays inspired by yet more internal problems in the Tshwane ANC, Solly Msimanga was finally elected as the new mayor of our capital. It was a moment rich with symbolism. The DA is now running, technically at least, the capital of South Africa. On Monday morning, Herman Mashaba, barring political accidents, will probably go through the same process in Johannesburg, snatching the biggest and most significant metro of them all out of the ANC’s hands. For the DA, the really hard work starts now. And there is a mountain to climb. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Four years ago, South Africa would not have batted an eyelid at the challenge of facing New Zealand on their home turf in a Test series. They still shouldn’t, but recent results and rumblings of discontent mean this series could define the formerly number one ranked team’s next 12 months. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
A shift in power is now unfolding in the country with Democratic Alliance (DA) mayors being elected in former African National Congress (ANC) strongholds. The DA’s multiparty pact with other parties and the Economic Freedom Fighters’ (EFF’s) decision to vote for opposition party mayors has delivered a second deadly blow to the ANC after the local government elections thrashing. While the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) emerged with an insipid statement about the elections outcome, behind the scenes, President Jacob Zuma showed he is unruffled by the crisis facing the party. And the ANC Youth League is now leading the charge to purge Zuma’s detractors and choose his successor. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Key metros across the country, hung after the local government elections, are starting to take shape. On Thursday, the DA’s Athol Trollip was elected mayor in Nelson Mandela Bay, Lynn Pannall was sworn in Mogale City and on Friday the party’s Solly Msimanga is set to be elected in Tshwane. The EFF’s request to the DA to replace mayoral candidate Herman Mashaba in Johannesburg has been watered down, so opposition parties will lead in all of the major election battlegrounds. By GREG NICOLSON.
A professor, two judges and two advocates with links to state security. That’s the new shortlist from which the next Public Protector will be selected next week. Thursday’s meeting of MPs in charge of this process had its jovial moments with quips of “This candidate must fall”. But it seemed political parties decided it was not yet the time to fight. That will happen at the next, and final, meeting – and Judge Siraj Desai is set to be the target of the political crossfire. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Since 2013, Kenya has been governed by the Jubilee Coalition, an alliance of political parties under the leadership of President Uhuru Kenyatta. Ahead of next year’s poll, Kenyatta is tightening control even further, turning the coalition into a single party – with himself at its helm. By NJERI KIMANI.
Humanitarian work in war zones is always risky, but it has just become a lot more so. While horrific abuses against civilians in South Sudan are nothing new, the attack on aid workers in Juba showed that United Nations peacekeepers are even weaker than previously thought. By SIMON ALLISON for ISS Today.
When the IFP, the DA and the EFF – the three biggest opposition parties in KwaZulu-Natal – address a joint media briefing in Durban this Thursday morning to unpack their co-operation arrangement to gang up against the ANC, it will mark the stalling of a juggernaut that had until August 3 crushed any semblance of political resistance. By CYRIL MADLALA.
Veteran journalist Sylvia Vollenhoven’s just-published spiritual and political memoir, The Keeper of The Kumm – Ancestral Longing and Belonging of a Boesmankind, arrives at a critical moment in the post-apartheid deconstruction of identity, what it means to be Black, African or a First Person in South Africa. The memoir dovetails beautifully with the stream of consciousness that has been released in the slipstream of Wayde van Niekerk’s spectacular Olympic victory. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Two weeks after the local government elections, the EFF announced a creative solution on Wednesday to punish the ANC while maintaining the party’s independence in opposition. The DA, meanwhile, announced a coalition with four smaller parties. In the next few days, councils in key metros Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane, and Johannesburg will elect new mayors – all set to to elect their first leaders outside of the ANC. By GREG NICOLSON.
Matthews Sesoko, the man who signed off the final Independent Police Investigation Directorate report exonerating Hawks head Anwa Dramat and Gauteng Hawks Head Major-General Shadrack Sibiya on the Zimbabwean rendition matter, has been summarily dismissed. In a disciplinary hearing, Sesoko, who is in hospital, was dismissed from the department after being found guilty in absentia of gross misconduct and defeating the ends of justice. By MARIANNE THAMM.
So, it’s official. As official as non-coalition coalition politics gets. The EFF will back DA candidates in the Gauteng metros, the ANC will be out of power in the big cities, and Julius Malema can carry on being the centre of attention. The EFF’s decision to back opposition candidates but not form formal coalitions with them is, in one sense, the perfect calibrated response to a difficult situation, and in another, a recipe for loads of disruption in the longer term. But all that matters to opposition parties is keeping the ANC out so they can now manoeuvre among themselves. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
South Africa ranks third of the 22 countries with a high incidence of TB. Patients with HIV are a whopping 26 times more likely to contract TB, yet there are significant challenges in diagnosing the disease in people with HIV. Funding, also, is a significant challenge. But there are signs that the tide is starting to turn. Late in July, the launch of a R1.2-billion Africa Health Research Institute in KwaZulu-Natal was announced, potentially making research data from the largest population study in the country available to tackle these two dreaded diseases. MARELISE VAN DER MERWE found out more.
Wednesday was day two of business at Parliament after the electioneering break. Order of the day included the joint multiparty women’s caucus discussion on decriminalising sex work, an African parliamentary budget office international conference, and the odd committee dealing with a bit of legislation. The real action shifting the political and governance landscape had been spirited away from the parliamentary precinct to a Johannesburg township field, a Sandton hotel and a Cape Town church. And yet, Parliament is not immune from the fallout. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
The lessons of the Zuma rape trial have a bearing on the type of future leadership we must seek. In the normal course of events someone acquitted of a criminal charge should be left in peace and in some cases compensated for the wrong accusation. That does not apply even if Jacob Zuma was correctly found “not guilty” in his rape trial. The complainant could not appeal. That was the prerogative of the state, which did not do so. His innocence remains ambiguous and his way of trying to establish it in the trial, as well as outside the court room, comprised patterns of behaviour that were themselves violations of democratic, constitutional, cultural and gender equality values that are meant to be held sacred in this country. By RAYMOND SUTTNER
July’s ASEAN summit provided a rare opportunity to reflect on the recent Hague ruling on the Philippines’ dispute with China in the South China Sea. However, the summit concluded without a clear response from the region, allowing China to continue with belligerent actions in the region. By MANDIRA BAGWANDEEN.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will on Wednesday finally announce the role it intends to play in local government following intense negotiations over possible coalitions. With both the African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) unable to secure the EFF’s support for coalition governments in the hung metros, negotiations were still underway with smaller parties on Tuesday on the formation of minority councils. The new councils will now be in uncharted territory with posts, policies and budgets all up for debate and no majority to push these through. Continued turbulence at national level could also impact on the functioning of municipalities. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
On the fourth anniversary of the Marikana massacre, the platinum mining belt is facing a different kind of violence. A new report by Doctors Without Borders (Medicins sans Frontieres/MSF) has highlighted the disturbingly high levels of sexual assault – on men, women and children – in the region. The overwhelming majority are never reported, and most of the victims never seek help. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
The Government’s wholesale re-engineering of South Africa’s immigration, customs and policing regimen through the Border Management Authority Bill on Tuesday hit a roadblock in Parliament. In the making for seven years – an indication of the snail’s pace of state policy-making – the presentations to MPs by Home Affairs, National Treasury and the SAPS highlighted entrenched departmental boundaries. But concerns arose that constitutional amendments and other legislative changes would be needed to give effect to this proposed authority, whose commissioner is directly appointed by the president. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Craig Williamson, one of apartheid’s most ruthless spies and assassins, is one of many “agents” named in a massive data leak posted on a Twitter account, @EspionageSA, and which points to wide-scale industrial espionage, fraud, racketeering, corruption and bribery by agents representing and working on behalf of British American Tobacco SA (BATSA). While the allegations are not new, the explosive documents reveal how members of SAPS, the State Security Agency, the Hawks and SARS were drawn into BATSA’s attempts to eliminate competition in South Africa. These actions ultimately led to the destabilisation of SARS and the purging of its top executive structure in 2014. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The ongoing civil war in Sudan proper has been largely ignored, with attention focused on the chaos in South Sudan instead. But as world media and the international community turn a blind eye, at least one person is paying attention: Thabo Mbeki. The former South African president is enthusiastically leading the mediation process between Khartoum and rebel groups, even though he’s got some serious trust issues. By SIMON ALLISON.
It is now almost common cause among supporters of all three main parties that the results of the local government elections have almost capsized our particular little kayak. The ANC appears to be determined to ignore that it’s in danger of running aground, the DA is picking up steam, and the EFF is moving along at dead slow. But our country’s captain is not someone who likes to appear impotent, while the cannon has already been fired to find a replacement for the braid cap. And in the middle of it all is the feeling that whoever does assume command of the bridge will themselves simply rearrange the deckchairs. So then, what does that all mean for the good ship South Africa over the next three years, until the whirlpool of our 2019 elections holds us in its grasp? By STEPHEN GROOTES.
I believe in God. I believe that life is a theatre and we are here to play our roles. Can our scripts be rewritten or are we doomed by our destinies? I am TURKMEN TERZI, a journalist who came to South Africa as bureau chief for my news agency and watched from afar as my country Turkey transformed into a mad dictatorship. Unlike hundreds of journalists in Turkey who are being persecuted for doing their jobs, I enjoy the safety of South Africa for as long as you will have me.
Despite the fact that the elections that occurred nearly two weeks ago were “only” local government elections, they have come to assume a massive national significance. The reason is that several important myths and impressions have now been dispelled. In some way, the bedrock of our politics, the assumptions that would always underpin whatever decision or strategy was decided upon, have now been shown not to be true. This is the case mainly for the ANC. The idea that it will always be dominant, always rule “until Jesus comes” (or Mangosuthu Bhutelezi gives up the leadership of the IFP) has been shattered. But other important assumptions have also been destroyed, including the idea that the DA is only a “white” party. This is going to make it much harder for the ANC in the future, even if it does actually get its act together. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
On 14 March 2011, drugs with a street value of R13-million were found during a raid in two residential properties being leased by Grace Kunjana. The police did not have a warrant to search the properties but had received a tip-off from a confidential informant. Kunjana was subsequently arrested. She was charged with possession of and dealing in drugs. By Safura Abdool Karim for GROUNDUP.
There were two key lines by ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe at the media briefing on Sunday night after a four-day national executive committee (NEC) meeting. The first was that the NEC “unanimously agreed to take collective responsibility for the poor performance of the ANC” in the elections. The second was that the ANC was “psychologically ready to be in the opposition benches” in municipalities. These were indicators of where the ANC stands on dealing with its Zuma problem and the state of coalition talks. But the more critical decisions were that the budget should be “reprioritised” and the principle of no-fee increases at universities should remain. Could the ANC resort to populist moves to rescue itself? By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Some time this week Parliament’s committee established to find the next Public Protector will announce when it will meet to deliberate on who should succeed Thuli Madonsela, whose term ends on 14 October. It’s the next step in a process that saw 14 candidates interviewed over 19 hours until 03:06 on Friday. And while the boxes of transparency appear to be ticked – interviews were televised live, public comments solicited and received – questions remain about the process and some of the shortlisted candidates. The committee has until 31 August to table its chosen candidate for approval in the National Assembly. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Thursday’s parliamentary interviews for the next Public Protector were a marathon production off different party political scripts. ANC MPs raised the spectre of regime change and the ghost of foreign control of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the interview of Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, the head of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). The centre successfully went to court for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir last year. Controversially, al-Bashir was allowed to leave the country after attending the June 2015 African Union summit - and government set off on its own lawfare, appealing its legal defeats in this case all the way to the Constitutional Court. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
“This is Radio Freedom, the voice of the African National Congress and its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe…” The ANC is a long way from the days when a crackly prohibited radio broadcast from exile was the only way the organisation communicated with ordinary people in South Africa, and yet loyalty was unwavering. Now, 22 years into democracy the ANC spent a reported R1 billion on an election campaign that delivered its worst ever electoral performance. The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) meeting is being closely watched to see how the party assesses its performance and responds to the backlash from voters. But the party’s own research rang the alarm bells before the poll and this was disregarded. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Renée Scheltema spent the past several years travelling the world in search of ways to drive sustainable change. The result, Normal is Over, is part problem-solving, part pilgrimage: an unusual, visually rich portrait of some of the world’s brightest and most innovative ideas. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Sifiso Mxolisi Ndlovu and Miranda Strydom recently edited a massive collection of essays and comments in a book titled The Thabo Mbeki I Know. There is already an impressive library of books devoted to the second president of the democratic Republic of South Africa. Hence the question: why the need for a further volume about a man about whom much has already been written and who is still alive? By DENNIS DAVIS for GROUNDUP.
Rape. Five days after the #RememberKhwezi protest, it came up in Parliament during Thursday’s interviews to choose the next Public Protector. Western Cape High Court Judge Siraj Desai (remember Mumbai?) was up next. But then a senior member of Parliament’s protection services attempted to evict four Rape Crisis activists for their T-shirts featuring “Rape Survivor Justice Campaign”, the initiative to get the government to convert all 298 courts already dealing predominately with sexual offences into specialised courts, not just the 57 promised three years ago. By MARIANNE MERTEN.