- Khadija Patel
The ruling party has recorded a massive and unprecedented plummet in membership. President Jacob Zuma told the opening of the ANC’s national general council (NGC) in Midrand on Friday that a frank assessment was needed as the party’s traditional support base were unhappy and choosing to abstain during elections. The president revealed that the ANC’s membership had dropped to 769,870, a drop of 450,187 members. In his organisational report, secretary general Gwede Mantashe told delegates that ANC branches were “polluted” by factional politics and the party was at risk of “being sold to the highest bidder”. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
As the African National Congress starts is national general council (NGC) on Friday morning, a strange air of the unpredictable has arrived to break the baking Gauteng heat. What just two days ago looked like a pretty boring event has suddenly taken on a strange twist, which just may turn out to be a significant one. At the same time, it appears that at least one party veteran is worried enough to confirm in public that he has produced a document showing what the party should do to regain the trust of South Africans, and to avoid losing elections. And Gauteng province is being troublesome. Suddenly this NGC is looking just a little more interesting. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Appeal handed down a long-awaited judgment on whether the SABC was within its rights to ignore the public protector’s finding that chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng should be suspended. The public broadcaster is left with egg on its face, while there must have been corks popping in Thuli Madonsela’s office. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The Democratic Alliance was engulfed in scandal last week, but on Thursday party leader Mmusi Maimane led a spirited attack on the African National Congress and its funding company, Chancellor House. The World Bank has joined the list of those looking into the company's deal with Hitachi and for Maimane it couldn't have come at a better time. By GREG NICOLSON.
Almost everything and everyone, it turns out. If last week's anti-corruption march had a vague focus, Cosatu's national strike on Wednesday included something for everyone. The demands however aren't the point. It was an attempt to foster unity while the federation is fractured, a search for relevance while Cosatu is under unprecedented pressure. By BHEKI C. SIMELANE & GREG NICOLSON.
There’s a sense that we’ve reached something of a tipping-point in this fifth Parliament, with the majority of political parties bent on losing the more carnival-esque elements of recent proceedings and putting noses to grindstones. Rule changes are being mooted in several important respects, while the Democratic Alliance has now come forward to claim the procedure for asking questions of the executive is being tampered with. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The ANC national general council (NGC) takes place this weekend and while succession is not on the agenda, it looms large. The ANC in Gauteng is taking some fresh ideas to the NGC, such as investing retirement funds into the economy, and sticking to its guns on old issues such as e-tolls. Gauteng ANC chairperson Paul Mashatile also wants a forum of provincial leaders to replace the “premier league” and believes that instead of another bruising leadership battle, the ANC structures should elect its leaders by consensus. In a candid interview with RANJENI MUNUSAMY, Mashatile said Gauteng was “open to persuasion” on the next presidential candidate.
Want to become a South African judge? Expect to have your personal history closely scrutinised. Drunk driving, a flirtation with the Broederbond, and a former life as a Democratic Alliance MP are just some of the skeletons that have been unearthed so far. This week’s hearings of the Judicial Service Commission, to appoint 17 new judges, are giving white male candidates a particularly thorough going-over. The demographics of the judiciary remain foremost on many commissioners’ minds. By REBECCA DAVIS.
As the band gets ready to play and the curtains begin to twitch in anticipation of being raised on the African National Congress's (ANC's) national general council, it is hard to discern what the main theme or outcome of this event will actually be. That there will be power plays and factional battles, and policy debates is not in doubt. But, in another indication of the unique space the ANC is in at the moment, that could be a rather boring gathering. Despite the fact that it could, quite literally, determine the future of the country. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Last week, when the Rhodes Must Fall Movement, in solidarity with a number of other groups, disrupted an event at which economist Thomas Piketty was to give an address, the movement promised that chaos would be forthcoming if their demands regarding the conditions for workers at universities were not met. On Tuesday 6 October, they marched as promised on campuses across the country. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
The Democratic Alliance Student Alliance's victory in Student Representative Council elections at the University of Fort Hare in May was a surprise given that the institution is historically a stronghold of organisations aligned to the African National Congress. But it remains to be seen whether the change in student leadership will turn around the ailing institution. By SIBUSISO TSHABALALA for GROUNDUP.
In an excerpt from a plenary lecture he presented to the International Sociological Association World Congress in July 2014, PETER ALEXANDER argues that while Thomas Piketty has produced a seminal tome that greatly enhances our understanding of a critical problem facing humanity, his treatment of Marikana reveals significant limitations.
After the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) launched its report into Eastern Cape's emergency medial services last week, the inquiry is set to go national. It will offer health users a chance to describe their experiences with ambulances and provide recommendations on how to fix the system. By GREG NICOLSON.
Wednesday are slow days at Stretch Inc so the company decided to put the time to use and open a soup kitchen in Zonnebloem, Cape Town. Within only a few weeks Stretch Kitchen has attracted a number of sponsors and it is already feeding more than 100 people once a week. By LIESL VENTER, CSR NEWSROOM.
As the debate on the Banting diet rages on and on, Professor David Sanders says the country’s real nutrition problems are high rates of low birth weight, malnutrition, obesity and disease. All of these occur in an environment in which large food corporations have penetrated the market, offering food of questionable nutrition that is cheaper than healthy alternatives. By ASHLEIGH FURLONG for GROUNDUP.
In March, State Security Minister David Mahlobo announced that his department was investigating a group of prominent South Africans named in a bizarre blog as agents on the US Central Intelligence Agency. We never quite heard back from him whether Thuli Madonsela, Julius Malema, Lindiwe Mazibuko and Joseph Mathunjwa were guilty of espionage. Now there’s a new conspiracy theory afloat – that Malema and Unite Against Corruption convenor Zwelinzima Vavi want to overthrow the government. This time the allegation is courtesy of North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo. With the ANC’s national general council this weekend, this is a conveniently timed allegation. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Sandoz, the only company selling intravenous Rifampicin – used to treat seriously ill patients with tuberculosis and drug-resistant bacterial infections – in South Africa, is discontinuing the drug. Although an alternative drug for treating tuberculosis is available it is “dramatically more expensive”, and intravenous Rifampicin is also needed for serious drug-resistant bacterial infections. One healthcare specialist said not having the drug seriously limits the treatment options for patients. By GROUNDUP STAFF.
Charges against President Jacob Zuma have lingered throughout his rise and tenure as president of the country, even though they were withdrawn in 2009. It may be that an important phase of the legal battle will come to a head in the near future. Even if the court decides the charges ought not to have been withdrawn, it is not clear how this matter might unfold; whether Zuma will ultimately actually face trial. The hundreds of fraud and corruption charges do not merely concern his fate. The functionality and independence of state institutions have been undermined in a range of ways over the past 10 years. How this question is addressed will be important in determining whether we can recover the independence and respect for state institutions that are the cornerstones of democratic rule. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
The release of the most recent crime statistics has been accompanied by expected expressions of outrage and worry about the performance of the South African Police Services and National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. Less time will be spent interrogating the social conditions which gave rise to the country’s crime epidemic in the first place. Some of the most crucial factors came into play during South Africans’ earliest days of life, REBECCA DAVIS discovers.
This week 94 healthcare workers in the Free State became criminals for fighting for their jobs and confronting a system in crisis. Civil society groups are now challenging the Gatherings Act, which, if it is kept in place, will continue to be used as a tool to silence dissent and limit accountability. By GREG NICOLSON.
Over the weekend the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced that it had demoted its shadow police minister, Dianne Kohler Barnard, after she re-posted a comment on Facebook suggesting that some aspects of South Africa were better under PW Botha. The African National Congress celebrated the DA's discomfit, while DA leaders muttered earnestly about how they would use their structures to deal with this. Kohler Barnard herself had already apologised, but it is a story that will stick around for some time. As a political incident, it is rather revealing about where our politics is, and about the strengths and dangers of us, as South Africans, discussing our lives on Twitter and Facebook. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Last week, the Democratic Alliance has suffered a series of nightmares. First, a Facebook blunder involving praise for PW Botha. Then, a DA-affiliated hereditary leader was found guilty of serious criminal charges. Then, they lost a ward in their Western Cape stronghold. Maimane has been driving for five months—how is he going to bring his ungainly political rig back onto the road? RICHARD POPLAK spoke with him in order to find out.
Ten years after the brutal murder of 22-year-old Stellenbosch student Inge Lotz and the subsequent acquittal of her then boyfriend Fred van der Vyver of the killing, amateur forensic sleuths Thomas and Calvin Mollett have discovered that prints of the hammer implicated in her killing were found on a bloodied towel left at the scene. Once dismissed and vilified, Thomas Mollett is now an author and sought-after guest speaker. In a new book, Mollett suggests the new findings on the towel, and proof that other evidence was fabricated by experts, warrant a retrial. By MARIANNE THAMM.
On Saturday in Soweto, in front of 2,000 people, rock star economist Thomas Piketty offered a bleak assessment of the new South Africa – a country that is, in some ways, more unequal than it was 25 years ago. And while he has solutions, don’t expect them to be implemented here any time soon. Especially not by the event’s sponsors. SIMON ALLISON reports on a Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture that was as notable for its glaring hypocrisies as its scholarship.
Claims by the police minister and the police commissioner that foreigners are a major source of criminality not only risk increasing anti-migrant sentiment in a country where xenophobic violence is rife, they prevent us from identifying and addressing the real sources of insecurity. And, in fact, the recently released crime statistics do not show that immigrants are disproportionately responsible for crime. By ALEXANDRA HIROPOULOS and LOREN B LANDAU.