- Paul Berkowitz
After a meeting of its national list committee and national executive committee (NEC) over the weekend, the ANC on Tuesday said members must close ranks and ensure the party achieves victory in the upcoming elections. Efforts to gather information on “state capture”, however, were a flop, with potential whistle-blowers fearing ramifications of putting allegations in writing. By GREG NICOLSON.
ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday that it would be a “fruitless” exercise for the party to continue to investigate allegations of state capture against the Gupta family as they had only received one written submission on the matter. ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa told the Gupta-owned ANN7 television on Tuesday night that this was a “closed chapter”. This is despite Mantashe saying the allegations made against the Guptas were “serious” and him being unable to access a State Security report on the family’s illicit influence. The Guptas can now resume working their political connections and influencing state and ANC processes under full political cover. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Last week Desmond Tutu’s daughter, Mpho Tutu-van Furth, left the priesthood after the Anglican Church resolved to revoke her licence in light of her recent same-sex marriage. Far too often, religion seems to act as a handbrake on achieving gender justice. However, currents of change are beginning to swirl within religious bodies. Some rights groups are working to promote inclusivity and challenge discrimination from the inside. By ANDREA TEAGLE.
In every election, finalising lists of would-be public representatives is a key step. On Thursday, political parties contesting the 3 August municipal poll submit their councillor candidates lists to the Electoral Commission of South Africa. Although votes are cast for political parties, posts in municipal councils, provincial legislatures and Parliament are filled with people from these lists proportional to voting support. The ANC on Tuesday described deployment as a councillor as an honour and privilege, which could be “withdrawn or changed at any time”. At national and provincial level, the governing party has done so – to resolve provincial or municipal political binds or to smooth the path to Cabinet. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Communications Minister Faith Muthambi does not have a reputation of being a friend of independent media. As, so far, the only minister to have an SABC journalist fired for asking her unfriendly questions, you could claim that actually she is not a friend of journalism, period. But her role in the digital terrestrial television saga has been one that could still see this country sentenced to living with the consequences of a wrong decision for the next 50 years. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a ruling that may prevent her incompetence from having generational consequences. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
We tend not to pay too much attention to the International Relations portfolio. With the Presidency, National Treasury, the Police, Education and others preoccupying the news, we are inclined to think that matters like foreign relations are hunky-dory because, well, we are not at war and Donald Trump would probably have about 23 other countries to bomb first. Judging by Al Jazeera’s interview with International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, clearly our cocksureness is misplaced. If the interview was any reflection on how our diplomatic relations are handled, South Africa is in serious peril. It is Nkoana-Mashabane rather than scenes of violence of social upheaval that needs to be banned from television screens. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Forty years ago apartheid police killed hundreds of children protesting in the Johannesburg township. Were you there? We want your help telling this story. In association with the Daily Maverick, the Guardian is looking for first-hand accounts of the Soweto Uprising and its aftermath. By BASIA CUMMINGS for GUARDIAN UK.
It’s sometimes difficult to focus in December. Twelve months of work and an impending, much-needed year-end break tends to blur the edges. Which is exactly when President Jacob Zuma and some in his Cabinet made two significant decisions: firing Finance Minister Nhlanlha Nene and selling off, quietly, almost every drop of the country’s strategic fuel reserve at the special year-end cut-price of $28 a barrel. One of the lucky buyers was the Vitol Group who own a 50% share in VTTI BV who just happen to have gone into a partnership with the ANC’s Thebe Investment Corporation in the building of a new fuel storage facility earmarked for Cape Town. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng has been busy. First he announced that the SABC’s radio stations would feature 90% local music, and last week he said the SABC won’t publish content featuring protests that target government buildings. While the former has been hailed by many, unless you’re a Lotus FM fan, the latter continues to be criticised, with trade union federation Cosatu on Monday accusing the SABC of insulting the public and acting like an autocracy. By GREG NICOLSON.
With local government elections some nine weeks away, Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) member Professor Daniel Plaatjies on Monday said a review of how local government is organised was in order more than 20 years into democracy. He was speaking at the FFC briefing on the recommendations for next year’s division of revenue it recently submitted to Parliament. The proposals include doing away with urban district councils, while streamlining cash-strapped rural district councils. The state of council finances remains in the spotlight on Wednesday when Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu releases the municipal audit outcomes. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
To get to the bottom of a political issue in South Africa is becoming harder and harder. Facts are elusive, spin is everywhere, dire prognostications abound. Nowhere is this truer than in the saga surrounding SARS, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, and his relationship with President Jacob Zuma. From the facts we know, there is a compelling case to believe they are in fact in conflict with each other. The Presidency disagrees vehemently, claiming that “information peddlers” are responsible for a “toxic narrative”. From their side, the Treasury wants the “political noise” to go away. But that is not so easy. Because it seems that at the moment, no other political battle will have as important a bearing on our future as this. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
It was one of those weirdo weekends in South Africa, when the frequencies began to align and the odd, eerie piano music in the background started to sound like some grand gothic opera in which we’re the ghostly extras. All the war talk, all the chatter about ass-kicking and neck-chopping, all the school burnings and tire burnings and vehicle burnings, all the banning of the broadcasting of violence on the SABC—all of it culminated in a steady stream of election violence from both within the ANC and without. Meanwhile, the EFF released a rap song, and Arnold Schwarzenegger was in the country trying to help us get less fat. But we don’t need a diet plan. We need a plan plan. By RICHARD POPLAK.
The South African Communist Party (SACP) was central to President Jacob Zuma’s rise to power and the fortunes of its leaders rose significantly under his presidency. Now the SACP is at the forefront of the anti-Gupta campaign and is also challenging Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko and his henchman Berning Ntlemeza. The long-running dalliance between Zuma and the SACP appears to be over. The party is now the lone voice against the “premier league” faction and is yanking up the pressure, suggesting that those involved in “state capture” engaged in underhand dealing with the rand, with a little help from a friend in a high place. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Before parliament broke for its 11-week “constituency break”, President Zuma’s cabinet promised to communicate its concerns about the recent chaos on the floor of the National Assembly. But parliament has now clocked off, and designated cabinet representative Cyril Ramaphosa has kept conspicuously silent. Besides, what could he possibly say to make things better? By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Amid a mood of nationwide gloom, the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) has released its latest report, a National Growth Strategy designed to turn the country’s economy around in record time. Is anyone going to listen? Should anyone listen? MARELISE VAN DER MERWE asked independent analyst Co-Pierre Georg, of the African Institute for Financial Markets and Risk Management, for a frank assessment.
As the oil price on Thursday clawed back up past the symbolic $50 a barrel for the first time since October 2015, news that Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson and Central Energy Fund CEO Sibusiso Gamede have flogged around 10 million barrels of South Africa's strategic fuel reserves at the bargain-basement price of around $28 a barrel, in a closed tender process and without informing Treasury, has set off alarm bells. The Democratic Alliance is referring the sale to the Auditor General and/or urging Treasury to press criminal charges. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The tenth issue of the South African Child Gauge is due for release later this year, and ahead of Youth Month, there’s some surprisingly good news: the last decade has seen substantial progress in the overall wellbeing of South African under-18s. The country’s children still have some tough hills to climb, but they’re moving – if slowly – in the right direction. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.