First Thing with Simon Williamson
ANC makes major changes to Secrecy Bill.
While you were sleeping
The ANC on Thursday agreed to a raft of changes to the highly controversial Protection of State Information Bill, with a committee in the National Council of Provinces suggesting the inclusion of a compromise public interest clause – most of which opponents have been calling for over the past two years. A section of the draft law which criminalises the revealing of classified information will not apply when "such disclosure reveals criminal activity". Also permitted is a clause enabling those charged with disclosure to argue that the information should never have been classified in the first place. The bill was voted through the general assembly in November. Mail and Guardian, AFP
Former South African president and joint Nobel Peace laureate with Nelson Mandela, FW de Klerk sparked controversy when interviewed by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday evening. Although de Klerk spoke in general about his dealings in South African history, he alluded to backing the homeland system, and denied black people who lived in them were disenfranchised. De Klerk added he had apologised for apartheid in front of the TRC, but “what I haven’t apologised for is the original concept of seeking to bring justice to all South Africans through the concept of nation states”. He also twice turned down the opportunity to declare apartheid “morally repugnant”. Times Live, CNN
Chinese companies’ credibility could face even more scepticism after China’s government declared on Thursday that the Big Four auditing firms (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Deloitte) must put their Chinese operations into local hands. The heads of operations in these companies in China are mostly run by expatriates, but Beijing’s new decision caps foreign-qualified partners at 40% by this August, and 20% by 2017, while all senior partners must be Chinese. Reuters, LA Times
JP Morgan Chase reported a $2-billion trading loss due to an (do I need to say it) unsuccessful hedging strategy – although the company maintains this will be somewhat sated by other investments paying off, resulting in an estimated quarterly $800-billion loss for the department. This is a bit of a turnaround from the $200-million profit previously predicted, and CEO Jamie Dimon called the strategy “ineffective, poorly monitored, poorly constructed and all of that”. This revelation smacked the stock market, with JP Morgan shares dropping 5%, dragging other financial shares down with it.?New York Times, Moneywatch??Less than half of Algeria’s eligible voters turned out to cast a ballot in parliamentary elections on Thursday, according to the government. Although this marks an increase on the elections in 2007, it only reached 42% - enthusiasm was higher in rural areas than cities. A party of moderate Islamists is expected to show growth, but will struggle to displace the two main parties in the fairly powerless body – none is expected to see a 50% majority. Results are due during the course of Friday. The New York Times, Moneywatch
Less than half of Algeria’s eligible voters turned out to cast a ballot in parliamentary elections on Thursday, according to the government. Although this marks an increase on the elections in 2007, it only reached 42% – enthusiasm was higher in rural areas than cities. A party of moderate Islamists is expected to show growth, but will struggle to displace the two main parties in the fairly powerless body – none is expected to see a 50% majority. Results are due during the course of Friday. AP
Coming up today
The MEC for potholes (also roads and transport) in Gauteng, Ismail Vadi will present his budget for next year at 13:00.
The first theatre in Soweto will open on Friday, and boasts three auditoriums with over 600 seats. The first show at the Soweto Theatre will be The Suitcase, directed by James Ngcobo, which you may recognise if you frequent the Market Theatre.
The European Union will publish its spring economic forecast for the next year: while this is unlikely to be pretty, it will be vital to South African economic fortunes. The forecast includes GDP, inflation, employment and public finances for all 27 member states – who drew the short straw and had to count Greece?
The former editor of The Sun and News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, testifies before the Leveson Inquiry on Friday. As she has been declared a “core participant”, Brooks had advance access to documents and statements, and may question other witnesses through her legal team. Expect a few awkward questions about her ties with British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Lulu Xingwana, minister for women, children and people with disabilities, will deliver her department’s budget speech on Friday. The speech is supposed to address the flood of violence against South Africa’s women, and the effort to deal with it. Sports minister Fikile Mbalula will also present his ministry’s budget.
Bloemfontein: 6°-23°, clear
Cape Town: 13°-21°, partly cloudy
Durban: 18°-22°, partly cloudy
East London: 16°-22°, partly cloudy
Johannesburg: 12°-20°, clear
Nelspruit: 8°-23°, partly cloudy
Pietermaritzburg: 12°-22°, partly cloudy
Polokwane: 9°-23°, partly cloudy
Port Elizabeth: 13°-21°, partly cloudy
Pretoria: 14°-23°, clear
In case you missed it
Will the real Leader of the Opposition please stand up? While the social networks are having a field day about Zwelen Zille and Helenzima Vavi, a very serious leadership problem is developing in the opposition to the ANC's rule. By CHRIS GIBBONS.
Street Life: 'I wish things would go back to normal' In this instalment of Street Life, GREG NICOLSON talks to a Zimbabwean who came to South Africa when his country’s economy declined. These days, he sells curios on the streets of Johannesburg and dreams about returning home.
Customary law: If it can change, why can't Contralesa? It has been perceived as static and unbending by missionaries, African intellectuals and even the courts, What was so was so and that was that, usually to the detriment of women. But the High Court recently made a ruling that interpreted customary law as a living, dynamic law that protected the rights of a Soweto woman, among others. By SIPHO HLONGWANE.
With Mdluli shift, Zuma steps away from the ledge. Again. Overwhelming public pressure has led police minister Nathi Mthethwa to remove Richard Mdluli, the man with one of SA’s most famous rap sheets of alleged crimes, from his role as chief of criminal intelligence. It’s a win for the public and proof that President Jacob Zuma is the, like, Keith Richards of politics. By GREG NICOLSON.
Algeria: What Arab Spring? Algeria goes to the polls on Thursday to elect a new parliament. With some bravado, the Algerian government has promoted these elections in advertisements as “Algeria’s Spring”, invoking the spirit of the Arab Spring. But this is just another opportunity for the country’s political elite to gain a semblance of legitimacy. By KHADIJA PATEL.
GOP 2012: Lugar is out, long live Lugar While most attention on the American electoral process has focused on the primary process within the Republican Party, South Africans should also take note of the outcome in the Republican primary election for the candidate for senator of Indiana. J BROOKS SPECTOR reflects upon long-time senator Richard Lugar’s defeat.
Zanu-PF foils constitutional plot to protect 'the gays' Those dastardly liberal types responsible for drafting the new Zimbabwean constitution – aka “regime change weapon” – have crossed the line as far as Zanu-PF is concerned with their repeated attempts to smuggle in protection for gay rights and all kinds of other dangerous imperialist dogma. Consensus remains a long way off. By SIMON ALLISON.
From Cape Flats to global heights: Marlon Parker, a force for social change He was a boy who grew up in poverty on the Cape Flats, but that didn’t stop him from dreaming. He wanted to win the Nobel peace prize or even just have a job where he could wear a shirt and tie. Parker’s living the dream alright, as the founder of a massive social non-profit that changes lives and has gone global. By MANDY DE WAAL.
Nerds assemble – Why the biggest film of the year may also be its best Joss Whedon is the nerd uber-prince, and the closest thing fan boys have to a voice of their generation. In his new film– called The Avengers – he has fulfilled the promise of the capitalist corporate entertainment complex. And planet Earth couldn’t be happier. By RICHARD POPLAK.
Audi Q3: A new class of compact Two of the most telling trends in the new vehicle market at present are the growing popularity of crossover vehicles and SUVs, and increasing demand for more compact, more efficient cars. The new Audi Q3 addresses both in a premium package that also promises comfort and performance. But price may prove to be the most important factor of all. By DEON SCHOEMAN.
Rebecca Davis: The new Vox Populi – Twits on Twitter Look, the medium has its uses. It’s often a journalist’s best friend when it gets to breaking news. But it can also be her greatest enemy when it gets to making it. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Osiame Molefe: Despite indications to the contrary, South Africa's democracy is growing up It’s sometimes hard not to despair about this country. I found myself in some despair, comparing us to others, until I remembered a few things.
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Photo: FW de Klerk. REUTERS.