There was always going to be behind-the-scenes drama. Who exactly can and may lay claim to the legacy and heritage of the United Democratic Front will remain a matter for debate. Two separate invites were sent out for Sunday’s commemoration of the launch of the UDF at the Rocklands Civic Centre in Mitchells Plain 34 years ago. One was emailed on an ANC Western Cape letterhead while the other went out under the banner of the UDF. And while it was a day of remembrance, Struggle songs and speeches, it was also a day of sadness – sadness that South Africa and the ANC in 2017 could be at such a low point. By MARIANNE THAMM.
On Saturday afternoon Mduduzi Manana resigned as the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, two full weeks after being filmed hitting a woman in a nightclub in Fourways in Joburg. His resignation followed 14 days of intense public pressure, amid renewed discussion about how men are able to attack women in our society, seemingly with impunity. But his resignation will spark other questions – about why he resigned, whether it was of his own free will and whether this could in fact be the start of a new political culture. At the same time, it may also indicate how much power has flowed away from what you could call the centre, to the hands of ordinary citizens. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Far too many people are trapped in poverty in middle-income countries like South Africa. Over the next few weeks ANN BERNSTEIN will argue that instead of programmes that ameliorate poverty, we should focus more attention on eradicating it; focus less on inequality and far more on how to expand dramatically the opportunities available to poor people. In the past few decades, global poverty has fallen for an expanding population. The key cause of this stunning advance was economic growth. Too often governments in India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa focus on increasing grants and other redistributive programmes, rather than on growing their economies. Today’s article spells out the implications of the fact that in the past few decades more people have moved out of poverty – and more quickly than ever before in human history.
Several high-level meetings unfold in Parliament this week to get to the bottom of the slow, if any, movement on State Capture inquiries by four committees asked to do so. It’s just one of the political pickles facing exercise of the national legislature’s constitutional oversight mandate, alongside ministerial snubbing and misleading of committees and now also a DA call for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into “government’s complicity in allowing Zimbabwean First Lady, Grace Mugabe, to flee the country in the dead of night to avoid criminal prosecution”. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Following the chaotic White House charade of multiple conflicting responses to the tragedy in Charlottesville last week, the problems of Trumpian government continue to become ever harder to ignore. As an aside, J. BROOKS SPECTOR wonders if anyone is beginning to study seriously the implications of the 25th Amendment to the Constitution – the one that allows a cabinet to declare that a president is unable to continue his duties and must be replaced by the next one in line. Mike Pence, are you listening?
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) convened in Pretoria this week and once again let the Democratic Republic of Congo wriggle free of setting a deadline for elections, deciding instead to appoint a special envoy. At the SADC summit, leaders also tackled another problem country, Lesotho, and membership issues. By PETER FABRICIUS.
On Sunday, the Bishop Lavis Action Community (BLAC) held memorials at four of the sites where lives were cut short in what it called “the bloodiest three weeks in the area’s history”. This was the first of a series of attempts to reclaim the streets and heal the community, the organisation says. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
While heads of state of southern African nations gathered at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) in Pretoria for the 37th edition of the SADC summit, migrants from the African diaspora protested outside against poor and dictatorial leadership in their home countries. By IHSAAN HAFFEJEE.
The Springboks got their Rugby Championship campaign off to a winning start, even if they were “solid, but unspectacular”. Considering that this time last year it looked like they might never score a try – never mind win – again, the relief is welcome. ANTOINETTE MULLER takes a look at what the scribes had to say.
Outspoken ANC MP Makhosi Khoza was removed on Thursday as chairperson of Parliament’s public service and administration committee on the instruction of Luthuli House. This came two days after five ANC MPs boycotted the committee over objections to her being in that position. Officially, the deployment rejig in Parliament is attributed to “a breakdown of relations” and is called “re-organisation”. But the reality is that ANC factional battles, and the use of disciplinary action as a tool in the ANC kit to manage these fractures, has reached well into areas of governance and state. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
This is the third installment of Open Secrets’ series, Declassified: Apartheid Profits. While researching the recently published book Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Open Secrets collected approximately 40,000 archival documents from 25 archives in seven countries. This treasure trove contains damning details of the individuals and corporations that propped up apartheid and profited in return. Many of these documents were kept secret until now. OPEN SECRETS believes that it is vital to allow the public to scrutinise the primary evidence. Here we invite you behind the scenes to look at the documents that informed the book. This week we zoom out and unpack some of the ways that the private sector colluded with the apartheid government to bust sanctions and some of the tools that made this possible.
Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s application for a declaratory court order that a Cabinet member cannot intervene in the relationship between banks and their clients was dismissed on Friday. Effectively, the ruling by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria says the court action was not necessary as ministerial involvement is already impermissible in law. How this may play out in the on-going political machinations amid #GuptaLeaks and state capture remains to be seen. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Last weekend in Charlottesville, a Nazi-infused white supremacist rally in support of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a failed confederate general in the US Civil War, became violent and resulted in the death of one individual. As a result of the at times wantonly aggressive rhetoric of United States President Donald Trump, who shepherded the attention of ethno-nationalists on his lumbered path to executive power, many had feared that such an event was inevitable. By DAVID REIERSGORD.
If all goes well for the disgruntled ANC members in the KwaZulu-Natal case currently before the Pietermaritzburg High Court, the party could ultimately see its national elective conference postponed by three or six months. Even if they lose, this case has exposed the split in a province that needs unity to remain formidable. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Here’s the good news: the “Dagga Couple” trial, which has captured the public imagination since it kicked off on 31 July, has not been a complete waste of time. While the State and its co-defendants Doctors for Life have done their best to queer the pitch, all they have really achieved is an exposure of their own hypocrisies. So no, the trial will not bring an immediate answer to the question of cannabis legalisation in South Africa, but it may do something equally important – it may take the country beyond the lies of “morality” and into a truthful assessment of the plant. By KEVIN BLOOM.
A case of reckless and negligent driving has been opened following an early morning crash involving two SAPS VIP unit vehicles on Johannesburg’s M1 on Thursday. The crash saw traffic delays of more than 30 minutes on the busy freeway and has once again raised question over the behaviour of drivers of blue light convoys. By ORATENG LEPODISE.
This August the media will focus on women as consumers, as beneficiaries of state services, and as victims, in a much needed effort to bring attention to gender-based violence, but it is important that we don’t forget women as workers, because it’s precisely the invisibility and undervaluing of women’s labour that plays a key role in reinforcing gender inequality. By ANNIE DEVENISH.
The South African government is divided on whether or not to charge Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace for assaulting a model in Sandton on Sunday. Police Minister Fikile Mbalula wants to charge her but International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane fears this will seriously damage South Africa’s relations with Zimbabwe – and the continent, official sources say. By PETER FABRICIUS.
The gloves are off between the South African Communist Party and the ANC, which has hit back over “extremely ill-advised and gravely unfortunate” demands by the SACP that “revolutionary discipline” should be applied to President Jacob Zuma instead of to the MPs who voted against him. As usual, though, it’s still too early to sing d-i-v-o-r-c-e. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Recently, the public has been seized with the capture of state institutions by the Gupta family. What has not received enough attention, though, are the ways in which systemic weaknesses in how the security services are being regulated, have contributed to the problem. While those who are responsible for plundering the public purse must be brought to book, these systemic weaknesses must be addressed, too, otherwise others will simply take their place at the trough. By JANE DUNCAN.
It’s only a matter of time before Mamokuena Bulane’s two fractured houses collapse because of operations at the Reskol diamond mine in Kolo, Lesotho. But this 52-year-old widow and grandmother of four has a cruel dilemma: she is caught between two mining companies that either won’t – or can’t – accept responsibility for the damage. By MNN Centre for Investigative Journalism Reporters.
On Wednesday hundreds of taxi drivers gathered outside Tshwane House to deliver a memorandum of their demand to the MMC for Roads and Transport, Sheila Senkubuge. The strike, which started in the wee hours of the morning, found commuters stranded and traffic backed up around the capital city. By ORATENG LEPODISE.
Police crime intelligence is in a mess, with scores of senior officers unvetted and without the required security clearance amid a bruising tit-for-tat turf battle between crime intelligence and counterintelligence. The State Security Agency (SSA) has been asked to step in to conduct security vetting of senior police officers, who have cocked a snook at the juniors staffing the police’s vetting unit. What emerged before Parliament’s police committee on Wednesday was an SAPS crime intelligence at war with itself, instead of helping to direct the war against crime. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Zimbabwean First Lady Grace Mugabe was due to appear in court on Tuesday facing assault charges. She would have followed the appearance of South Africa’s deputy minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, in the same court, for similar charges. Instead, Mugabe vanished, making a farce of South Africa’s law enforcement. By BHEKI C. SIMELANE.
There has been persistent unease about whether the public protector, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, was the fit and proper person to fill Thuli Madonsela’s shoes. After yesterday’s damning court ruling in the SA Reserve Bank case and amid the Zumafication of the country, can we afford to continue to give her the benefit of the doubt? By JANET HEARD.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal is the boss, but of late it’s had the need to feel out some possible allies very publicly. Its message has been unity instead of battle ahead of the party’s elective conference in December, but this week’s court case on who should be in charge of the province could yet throw all this in disarray. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
President Jacob Zuma has regularly told church leaders that they “must mind their own business” and rather “pray for their leaders to do better”. BJ Vorster and PW Botha did the same. Zuma’s latest comments were made after, among others, the South African Council of Churches urged ANC MPs to remove Zuma by voting him out in last week’s no-confidence vote. Zuma claimed that such sentiments were “un-Christian” and that “believers should pray for their leaders to do better”. He said this again last weekend when addressing St John’s Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Evaton, south of Johannesburg. Just like church leaders ignored Vorster and Botha, they will, no doubt, ignore Zuma. By RUSSELL POLLITT.
Asking politicians to decide whether political party funding should be regulated might seem a bit like inviting turkeys to vote for Christmas. But this is the task currently before Parliament, where MPs this week will hear submissions on the funding of political parties. On Tuesday, strong arguments were presented on the need for greater transparency about where political parties get their money. In the past, resistance to this idea has been strong – and united across the political board. By REBECCA DAVIS.
While Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini skipped a Sassa presentation to Scopa on Tuesday to attend, instead, the launch at Constitutional Hill of a mobile app, new acting interim CEO, Pearl Bhengu, braved a barrage of tough questions from sceptical and crabby committee members. While Bhengu held her ground admirably, chair Themba Godi said Scopa was concerned that offcials were not serious about using SAPO to pay grants and were deliberately dragging out the process so that CPS would have to once again come to the rescue. By MARIANNE THAMM.
The claws came out across the parliamentary precinct on Tuesday. SAPS and Hawks generals received a snotklap from the police committee, which sent the SAPS packing for not submitting anti-gang strategy documents in good time and then stopped the acting, acting Hawks head’s presentation after he said: “We are not winning the war (against crime).” And the ANC proved it was at war with itself when five of its MPs boycotted the public services and administration committee, demanding action against its outspoken chairperson, Makhosi Khoza, for conduct unbecoming, as the minister, Faith Muthambi, snubbed MPs. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
In the aftermath of the no confidence vote of last week the ANC is shaken. President Jacob Zuma and some of his allies are calling for disciplinary action for ANC members who voted for the motion, describing this as “counter-revolutionary” and contrary to their duties under the Constitution. The organisation is less united than ever. But is the opposition ready to take advantage of this disarray? The DA call for new elections took its own caucus and all other opposition parties by surprise. There is some way to go before the opposition can ready itself to win broad confidence for itself as a united force, should the ANC fall below 50% in the 2019 elections. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
The Southern Cape wildfires have died down, but for someone, the burn is just beginning. Following the release of a forensic report into what may have caused the inferno, officials say the search is on for the culprits, who will face the full might of the law. Meanwhile, Knysna needs to find R4-billion to R5-billion to fix the damage. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Illegal miners, organised under the banner of Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), took to the streets of Pretoria on Tuesday and marched on the Department of Minerals Resources to deliver a memorandum demanding the scrapping of the Mineral And Petroleum Resources Development Act and to decriminalise zama zamas. By ORATENG LEPODISE.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday set aside Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report that sought to change the constitutional mandate of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). And the Public Protector has been ordered to pay costs in a scathing judgment that raised questions over why the scope of the initial investigation was extended without explanation, whose comments were actually included in the final report, and what appeared to be the Public Protector’s “somewhat unrepentant alignment with one side of the public debate”. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Gauteng Transport MEC, Ismail Vadi has lifted his imposed shut-down of five taxi ranks in Soweto following an agreement between two rival taxi associations in the area. It now remains to be seen whether this agreement will provide a lasting end to the violence that has claimed no fewer than 13 lives over the past year. By PUSELETSO NTHATE.
It has been widely reported that at school level, children with disabilities face serious barriers to accessing education. But at tertiary level the picture isn’t much better, with 80% of potential students with disabilities not attending a tertiary institution. It may be time to get a lot more creative in promoting inclusivity. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Head of the Western Cape Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit Brigadier Sonja Harri, who has over 30 years’ experience and has been instrumental in helping to solve a myriad high-profile cases including the brutal murder and rape of Anene Booysen, has been languishing at home for eight months while she faces questionable charges of misconduct. Meanwhile, the region’s deputy provincial commissioner of detectives, Major-General Patrick Mbotho, who exercises command and oversight of this crucial unit, allegedly posted pornographic messages onto an official police WhatsApp group in July. He’s still at work. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Amid the ongoing analysis of the relative power of the different personalities in the ANC, one of the big questions is whether those ANC MPs who voted to remove President Jacob Zuma last week will be disciplined. If they are, that will show that Zuma and his supporters still have much political power. If they are not, it will demonstrate that people can disobey Zuma and get away with it, which could inspire others to follow suit. Zuma has now said that those who disobeyed the party whip should be disciplined. But he may find it much harder to follow through in action. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Premier Helen Zille’s Day Zero of March next year is highly credible, and without drastic action we could run out of water. The city and the province could find solutions by pulling in the experts who can play a role in helping us through the next summer. We need to plan for the worst, and hope for the best. Now. By ROGER PARSONS.
Corrupt practices are legitimised, slowly but surely drawing ordinary government officials into the web of illegitimate criminal practices and procedures, thereby structurally consolidating it at all social levels, and deeply entrenching the power of this new predatory capitalist class within the governing ANC and the society at large. By MIKE MORRIS.
In the factional politicking towards the ANC December national elective conference, some circles are now pushing for the ANC MPs who broke the party line and voted for, or abstained in, last week’s no confidence motion in President Jacob Zuma to be disciplined. The vote was secret, and the ballot papers neither carried serial numbers nor MPs’ names. So unless someone confesses, how votes were cast remains speculation. But that’s not really the point. It is the silencing of those critical of the current state of ANC affairs. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
For South Africans who have become so cynical over the last few years that they have lost faith in the criminal justice system, or justice whatsoever, the last week has served as mere confirmation of their view. The case around Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana, who has admitted to assaulting a woman at a nightclub, appears to prove that a class of people have been created who are able to act as if they are above the law because they are in fact de facto above the law. He is not the only person who behaves this way, but the first to get caught on camera in such a way that journalists can drop the word “allegedly” from their reports. The reaction to his non-arrest, and then the gestures of support for him, reveal exactly how our political system has created a legally connected upper class, the people who assume they really are above the rest of us. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Mistakes have been made, KPMG acknowledged on Friday – 42 days after Scorpio and amaBhungane revealed how the audit firm saw no evil in client Gupta Inc. In reaction to extreme public pressure, KPMG has announced action against three partners pending a review into the firm’s work for the Guptas. But as yet, the firm has not taken public accountability for any concrete wrongdoing other than its partners’ attendance of the 2013 Gupta wedding, and a failure to cut ties with the Guptas earlier than it did. By SCORPIO
Caster Semenya became the 800m World Champion in London on Sunday night. She cruised home with a personal best, adding to her bronze medal in the 1500m, and her Olympic gold. At a time where the sport is desperate for an entertainer, it needs to look no further than South Africa’s golden girl. By ANTOINETTE MULLER
The Yalu River – the boundary between North Korea and China – was where American and Chinese troops met and engaged in combat in the midst of the Korean conflict back in 1950-51. The Chinese had taken the defeat of their North Korean allies by UN forces rather badly and so they massively intervened. But, even more than North Korea’s defeat, the Chinese were much more discomfited by the possibility that the US would have its ground forces perched right on the Chinese border. J. BROOKS SPECTOR looks at the newest Korean crisis in light of that history and the psychology of crisis management, and is not particularly amused or comforted so far by reassurances from US officials.
From the time of the notorious 2013 Sun City wedding, the Guptas’ activities in South Africa have attracted a great deal of negative international media attention. Indeed, the reputational damage caused by the Guptas’ state capture to the global image of South Africa is probably incalculable. But one man might be able to help calculate it: Ajay Gupta, who for a full decade – until 2016 – sat on the board of Brand South Africa. That’s the body responsible for crafting a positive image of South Africa overseas. By SCORPIO, AMABHUNGANE and NEWS24.
Communities in South Africa, traumatised by relentless gang violence, rape, murder and general criminality, know that the so-called underworld exists in full view of the upperworld, as academic, researcher and author Mark Shaw has revealed in his new book Hitmen for Hire – Exposing South Africa’s Underworld. Shaw’s book attempts to unpack the dark nexus between organised crime, politics and law enforcement, a coalition of sociopaths that poses the biggest threat to South Africa’s democracy. If he could take time out from tweeting, our Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, would benefit from a deep plunge into Shaw’s cesspit. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday said the SAPS “neglected” many cases of violence against women by failing to accept cases of gender violence, not investigating reported cases, or losing dockets. Speaking around the same time as Deputy Higher Education Minister Mduduzi Manana appeared in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court – he was released on R5,000 bail on two charges of grievous assault – Mbalula said the police needed to do the right thing, and that no woman should be turned away from a police station. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
One of the reasons that this political era is generally named after President Jacob Zuma is that it appears everything is tied up with him in some way or another. The rise of corruption, goes the belief, is about Zuma because he came into power already corrupt, and then that contagion spread through government. In many ways he is seen as the root cause of our situation and our problems. But, there is strong evidence to suggest that he has succeeded not just because of his political strength, but also because the very structure of our society has allowed him to. Events that occurred a full decade ago are a good illustration of this. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Parliament’s Motion of No Confidence to remove President Jacob Zuma may have failed, but that doesn’t mean the opposition doesn’t have a few tricks up its collective sleeve yet. Before the ANC even gets to its electoral congress in December, President Zuma will have to face at least two substantial legal matters coming up in September – as well as a few more parliamentary stunts, no doubt. By REBECCA DAVIS.