Acting Hawks head Yolisa Matakata announced on Friday that the warrant of arrest for Ajay Gupta is unrelated to the Estina Dairy case, which has already put eight Gupta associates in the dock. Given the litany of allegations against the suspect, the Hawks have no shortage of options, but Matakata offered more questions than answers. By GREG NICOLSON.
Amakhosi in KwaZulu-Natal are threatening that there will be hell to pay should control of tribal land be taken away from them, and true to their word the issue surfaced in the first parliamentary debate of the year. With the ANC fractured as it is in the province, and with a general election just over a year away, this matter could menacingly hang around for a while yet. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
If you ever need somebody to ruin a party, consider inviting a dude from a ratings agency. At a Daily Maverick post-Budget event in Cape Town on Thursday, Standard & Poor’s chief Konrad Reuss warned that the so-called Ramaphosa Spring in South Africa could turn into something more like the Arab Spring if the country doesn’t change course fast. This, despite the fact that the Budget has addressed some aspects of the South African economy that the ratings boss believed were previously “very scary”. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The United Kingdom has updated its travel advisory for South Africa, warning that “terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in country”. The advisory follows the kidnapping of a couple in KwaZulu-Natal by two people allegedly linked to a so-called “KwaZulu-Natal IS cell”. There are two essential aspects that require response: the motive for the alert, and South Africa’s vulnerability to an attack. By JASMINE OPPERMAN.
What usually unfolds over two weeks at Parliament – the State of the Nation Address, its debate and presidential reply and the Budget – was successfully crammed into four working days. That it was done from last Friday to Wednesday shows that the national legislature can step up its pace rather than stalling amid protocol and procedure snarl-ups. But by Thursday many MPs sighed a breath of relief that the debate on the DA motion to dissolve Parliament had been postponed and, once the party political caucuses were done, it was time to take time out. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
In this week’s episode of The Big Debate, we interrogate the role of capital and party funding in influencing government decisions and the internal democracy of parties. When the Minister of Finance wrote the Budget, whose voice mattered – the cries of the electorate or the demands of capital? By THABISO BHENGU.
Premier Helen Zille delivered her 11th State of the Province address on Thursday, marking the official opening of the Western Cape provincial parliament. In between loud heckling from members of the house Zille managed to deliver her address in just over two hours, focusing on the water crisis, social housing, health, education and safety. By SUNÉ PAYNE AND LEILA DOUGAN.
Billy Graham was our grand uncle in the “thoughts and prayers” business. Christianity was open for business. From stadium Christianity to television evangelism, after Billy Graham the numbers were staggering, growth in the industry exponential. While the jury may still be out on the overall global trends in religiosity, the shift towards evangelical Christianity, at least in the US has happened. Billy Graham was its greatest proponent. By PATRICK PILLAY.
During his State of the Nation address, newly-minted State President Cyril Ramaphosa made mention of the ocean economy, noting the national effort to develop this frontier for economic growth. Although one of the key initiatives of Jacob Zuma’s presidency, little has truly been achieved through Operation Phakisa; but President Ramaphosa now has an opportunity to breathe life into economic development opportunities at sea. By LISA OTTO.
Dial one of Ajay Gupta’s numbers and all you get, for days on end, is: “You have reached the mailbox of...”. This seems to be a conundrum not only facing the Hawks who are looking for the fugitive but apparently one also faced by Optimum Coal Mine boss George van der Merwe, who urgently needs to raise a Gupta, any one of them, so he can sort out a crisis at the mine. By JESSICA BEZUIDENHOUT for SCORPIO.
The Ntsebeza Inquiry, convened in November by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants to investigate allegations of improper conduct by employees of auditing giant KMPG with regard to work done for the Gupta family, as well as for SARS, is ready to call witnesses. But there’s a snag. It is believed the panel has not obtained the final KPMG SARS “rogue unit” report, its original terms of reference or the contract between KPMG and SARS. As things stand, it is unlikely then that some of those named in the report, including Pravin Gordhan, Ivan Pillay, Johan van Loggerenberg and other implicated SARS officials, will agree to testify or be cross-examined. By MARIANNE THAMM.
When President Cyril Ramaphosa quoted – in his inaugural address to South Africa's Parliament – the song “Send Me” by Hugh Masekela, he was not only honouring the musician, but evoking the lyrics of an immensely popular traditional church chorus which highlights themes of self-sacrifice, individual responsibility and the importance of personal change in mindsets. TINYIKO MALULEKE unpacks the full import of Ramaphosa's quotation.
There is a huge potential for reducing our water consumption by implementing “simple” initiatives. Coastal cities could also consider sea water flushing for their urinals and toilets, but this requires significant investment to install dual reticulation systems, replace existing pipes and retrofitting waste water treatment plants. Encouragingly, Hong Kong has been using seawater for toilet flushing since the 1950s. By DYLLON RANDALL.
The Budget has allocated R4.2-billion to the National Health Insurance scheme to be spent over three years, but exactly how it will work remains vague. Also, this allocation is coming from a reduction in tax breaks which might drive those who are struggling to pay for medical aid back to the state sector. KERRY CULLINAN reports for HEALTH-E NEWS.
Everyone in South Africa will be affected by certain measures announced by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba in Wednesday’s Budget. An increased fuel levy and the 1% VAT hike will cause pain in particular for South Africa’s low or no-income households – while NGOs say the commensurate increase in social grants payments will do little to cushion the blow. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Though much of the immediate response to Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s Budget focused on the impending pain for individual consumers, South African business and industry will also be affected: from setting up the systems to process the VAT increase, to preparing for 2019’s confirmed carbon taxes. Labour, meanwhile, has responded to the Budget with disappointment. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Former President Jacob Zuma’s fee-free tertiary education plan was always going to be expensive and so higher education and training was the fastest-growing spending category in the Budget tabled on Wednesday. It’s come at a cost – higher taxes that are most likely to hit the poor the hardest. By GREG NICOLSON.
The EFF boycotted Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s maiden Budget following its earlier calls for his sacking for being a “Gupta stooge”. The DA wanted to stop Gigaba from the floor of the House on Wednesday after a court had ruled hours earlier that he had lied under oath in a debacle over revoking permission allowing for private arrivals at airport facilities. Awkward. But the finance minister ploughed on to deliver the first value-added tax (VAT) increase in democratic South Africa to plug a revenue hole – a move roundly slammed by the opposition as anti-poor. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Property rights are for the rich. They are the legitimising mechanism of economic inequality and social inequity. They place the assets of the most affluent in society beyond the reach of democratic deliberation, and ensure that accumulated patterns of wealth and poverty are passed on from one generation to another. By TERENCE CORRIGAN.
For the first time in democratic South Africa value-added tax (VAT) is raised – by one percentage point to 15% as part of the “tough but hopeful” Budget Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba presented on Wednesday. The VAT hike is central in a set of tax increases, including higher estate and luxury goods duties and an extra 52 cents per litre in fuel levies, to generate an additional R36-billion for the national purse. The tax hikes come alongside R85-billion government expenditure cuts over the next three years to fund inclusive economic growth and social spending, from free higher education to health care and social protection. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
As Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba prepared to give his maiden Budget speech in the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, new information about Gigaba’s tenure as Home Affairs Minister emerged. The DA announced that it has laid a complaint with the Public Protector against Gigaba as a result of a damning court judgment handed down in December – which finds that Gigaba violated the Constitution by lying under oath. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Not even a week since former president Jacob Zuma’s grudging resignation speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa threw him a warm farewell party on Tuesday night in the official residence in Cape Town that Zuma has been vacating. This time it was all smiles, at least on the carefully selected pictures issued, but it’s probably the last time you will see the team like this. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
by Andrew BEATTY / with Michael Mathes in National Harbor, Maryland America's powerful gun industry on Thursday accused its critics of exploiting a deadly school shooting in Florida for political gain, as President Donald Trump watered down demands for tougher regulation with a deeply controversial call to arm teachers.
How did a convict sentenced in 1996 to 10 years for robbery with aggravated circumstances find himself floating around the ANC’s elective conference in Mangaung in 2012, flush with a cool R50-million aimed at stoking factional battles in the ANC? Continuing the tradition at Nasrec in December 2017, pressure was also allegedly placed on the SAPS to launder R45-million to buy votes. Details of this and other horrors of the Shadow State were revealed by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate at a Scopa report-back on Tuesday. The clean-up has begun. By MARIANNE THAMM.
South Africa’s “original sin” of black land dispossession would be redressed with land expropriation without compensation as part of the “collective action” required to unite the country, but without damaging the economy, agricultural production or food security. This was President Cyril Ramaphosa at his negotiating best: a nod to everyone’s concerns, a call for solution-focused unity of purpose and, ever so subtly, an ultimatum. His response on Tuesday to the parliamentary debate on the State of the Nation Address was a wake-up call for the opposition to up their politicking. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
There are few South African politicians who could get Capetonians out of bed at 5am on a weekday simply for the pleasure of a walk in their company. President Cyril Ramaphosa, it appears, is one of them. On Tuesday, Ramaphosa carried out what now looks to become a trademark move: an early-morning walk with the public, this time far from the Sea Point Promenade. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Former Provincial Commissioner Arno Lamoer was found not guilty in the Western Cape High Court on Monday on charges of money laundering and racketeering – a charge that carries massive fines and even life imprisonment – but guilty on a charge of corruption. Lamoer, after first pleading not guilty, later changed his plea, admitting that he received financial gratification from Cape Town businessman Salim Dawjee between December 2011 and September 2013 amounting to around R75,000. Lamoer was tipped off thrice by former National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega that he was being investigated by the Hawks. We may never know why. The conviction marks the end of a sorry saga of need, greed and high-level corruption. By MARIANNE THAMM.
There is much merit to Refiloe Nt’sekhe’s column on prioritising early childhood development. Quality early childhood development is important and has a lifelong impact; pre-schools are valuable and need to be grown and supported. Two years of Grade R should be integrated into the school system. However, what Nt’sekhe’s article fails to include is the essential role of primary caregivers, a role often overlooked when government refers to education. By DAVID JEFFERY.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s to-do list just got longer. Monday’s parliamentary debate on the State of the Nation Address delivered demands from opposition parties and his own ANC – more money for municipalities, reining in the State Security Agency (SSA), a Cabinet reshuffle to shed State Capture-linked ministers and, depending on the opposition seat, either the speedy implementation or ditching of land expropriation without compensation. But for the first time in years the parliamentary debate focus was on national – not personality – issues. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
In removing Jacob Zuma, it is important to identify his legacies. While he is obviously identified with corruption and State Capture, Zuma also represented a form of warrior masculinity that was conducive to violence. Socially, he actively advanced static, patriarchal cultural positions. Renewed commitment to gender equality and dynamic and emancipatory social visions is needed. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s personal intervention in the current impasse around the controversial Mining Charter has been greeted with relief and optimism by industry players. One of Ramaphosa’s first presidential moves was to negotiate the postponement of court action, slated to start on Monday, aimed at setting aside the charter. But members of community groups directly affected by mining say that – as has become the norm – their views on the matter were ignored. By REBECCA DAVIS.
With the first voter registration weekend for the 2019 general elections less than three weeks away, the ANC faces the prospect of uniting in the aftermath of the recall of former president Jacob Zuma, but at the same time it also has to save face after a decade of defending him. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Hugh Masekela had hardly left this mortal coil when he returned to feature centre-stage as newly ensconced President Cyril Ramaphosa referenced, in his inaugural State of the Nation Address, Thuma Mina (Send Me), a song about solidarity, compassion and renewal, composed by Masekela, Sello Twala and gospel star Peter Mokoena. Bra Hugh was wary of politics and politicians and if we are in any way to celebrate this dearly departed colossus, it would be to honour the catalytic effect of his life, his work and the Afro-centric consciousness, healing and wisdom it offers. By MARIANNE THAMM.
By their own admission, the wage bill across the various Gupta companies stood at more than R160-million in late 2017. With big brother Ajay Gupta now a fugitive from justice in South Africa, the empire isn’t short of cash – it’s just having a mother of a cash-flow problem. By JESSICA BEZUIDENHOUT for SCORPIO.
On 15 February 2018, the Hawks confirmed that a warrant for the arrest of Ajay Gupta had been issued. Reports circulated that Ajay Gupta has fled South Africa, or at least is evading justice. Subsequently it was suggested that if he has fled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, surrendering him in order to extradite him from Dubai to South Africa to stand trial for corruption will not be possible or feasible – because no bilateral extradition treaty is in force between SA and the UAE. But that is not correct. Extradition between the UAE and SA may not only be possible but compulsory for corruption-related matters. By ANTON KATZ and ESHED COHEN.
“Communication is the vessel we receive our leadership in,” a speaker commented at a civil society-led Water Solutions Summit on Saturday. If this is true, leadership was under the microscope. Because though the discussions were diverse, a theme emerged: a call for clear, transparent crisis communication. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
It is a well-known fact that under the presidency of Jacob Zuma, state spies ran amok. More than enough evidence has come to light that the spy agencies became a praetorian guard of sorts for Zuma and his corrupt friends. So, what does Cyril Ramaphosa need to do to pull the spies straight? JANE DUNCAN answers this question in a series of articles based on her latest book, which includes interviews with key players in the surveillance space.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s maiden State of the Nation Address was designed to give heart to a nation that had been thoroughly pistol-whipped by his predecessor’s excesses and daily embarrassments. To read or listen to reaction, in this he largely succeeded. There was one fascinating exclusion from the speech – and that was virtually any sense of South Africa’s foreign relation. And this seems to have been a calculation by the new president that he will be judged, not by his pronouncements on this or that international issue, but by his success or failure at reinvigorating the nation’s economic circumstances. J. BROOKS SPECTOR takes a look.
Branches of the ANC over the weekend got to grips with life after Jacob Zuma, as national leaders fanned out to regions to explain their decision to recall the former president. While it might seem like mustard after the meal, it’s an important exercise in unity as the 2019 elections campaign kicks off – but not everyone is happy. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
The short-term consequences of Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascension to the presidency are to many exciting and enlivening. It’s well known that a major Cabinet reshuffle is imminent; it should signal the end of people like Mosebenzi Zwane, Bathabile Dlamini, Des van Rooyen, Faith Muthambi, Lynne Brown, and possibly more. The first short-term policy changes are likely to be around the economy, with Ramaphosa’s promise of several summits, and processes designed to bring different constituencies together. These processes could see people being locked into processes and thus their outcomes. But the longer-term changes in our politics could turn out to be more important in the longer run. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promises to shake up government to improve service delivery and to sweep out corruption were amongst the most detailed ever given by a president. The circumstances in which he did so were, however, unique, but expect to see some kind of shuffling of the deck soon. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Even for the deepest cynics among us, it would be hard to dispute that something rather special was in the air at the 2018 State of the Nation Address. An annual occasion which has become a yearly site of conflict and disappointment was transformed for one night into something which felt different. Both inside and outside the National Assembly, Parliament seemed to hum with a new energy. By REBECCA DAVIS.
It was always going to be a tricky mix of manoeuvring in a tight national and party-political space, showing government’s commitment to repair public trust while tackling socio-economic challenges and hitting the right tone. And so when President Cyril Ramaphosa stepped up to the podium in Parliament to deliver his maiden State of the Nation Address on Friday evening, there was the promise to “turn the tide of corruption in our public institutions”, a sharp focus on the economy and youth amid an emphasis on South Africa’s unity in diversity. It was welcomed, but not without qualifications. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Under President Jacob Zuma the bar for a successful State of the Nation Address had become painfully low. If he was able to complete it without any violence on the floor of the National Assembly, the evening was judged a success. There had been no substantial policy for some time, and the entire adress had come to the point where you almost wondered whether it was necessary. But there was a time when it was worthwhile, when it was the big policy speech of the year, when policy debates were triggered, and when the nation’s different constituencies were united in the same chamber. And during that time, the SONA was an opportunity for leadership, for a person to mediate and lead discussions and help our society to come to a decision. The good news is, those times are back. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his maiden State of the Nation Address (SONA) with an appeal to South Africa to leave behind “the era of diminishing trust in public institutions and weakened confidence in leaders” and “all the negativity that has dogged our country”. But there were some concrete announcements regarding governance clean-up, and “turning the tide on corruption in our public institutions”. New dawn. Renewal. It’s a thing now. By MARIANNE MERTEN.