- Daily Maverick Staff Reporter
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.
Anyone who thinks South African politics is for sissies has simply not been here. It has always been thus. The violence of the apartheid regime followed the violence of colonialism and the Boer War; 1994 was supposed to be the watershed, the last time we had to worry about political violence. But to listen to some people on the campaign trail, and more worryingly, to observe their actions, is to fret that we could be plunged back into the nightmare of people being attacked for wearing certain shirts, of no-go zones, of police Nyalas at every political meeting. It may be that no one is innocent here. But those who have created this climate must bear ultimate responsibility. And that means the ANC has a very special responsibility here. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Very many South Africans are cynical about politics and doubtful whether it will ever be pursued with integrity, with the purpose of serving the people of the country. If we intend debating “ethical leadership” we need to clarify what such conduct means, so that we know what we are looking for, and do not misrecognise what we see. This is a difficult topic because it is easy to become mired in abstruse philosophical questions that may appear to bear little relationship to the issues that trouble us. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
A video clip of President Jacob Zuma reading the ANC’s membership figures at last year’s national general council was a YouTube hit and even tickled Trevor Noah on The Daily Show. Zuma’s penchant for fumbling big numbers is a source of endless hilarity but many people overlooked the message being relayed in the clip. The ANC is bleeding membership and will continue to do so as factional battles and disillusionment plague the party. Why is the ANC leadership allowing so many people, like the entire losing faction in KwaZulu-Natal, to be flushed out? It has to do with a little event called the ANC 54th national conference, next December. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.