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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Caliphate’s implosion has left the Islamic State without the luxury of a “state” from where they could project a sense of uncontested power. How the Islamic State adjusts to challenges without a Caliphate will determine its immediate future as an international terror organisation. JASMINE OPPERMAN argues that it’s a categorical mistake to think that its complete demise is imminent.
Grace Mugabe was conferred with a Doctor of Philosophy Degree in September 2014, two months after enrolling at University of Zimbabwe. Her thesis was only published last month, four years after she graduated. Now UZ’s Vice Chancellor and her academic supervisor have been questioned by the anti-corruption unit. By SALLY NYAKANYANGA.
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.
In the wake of China’s apoplexy regarding the recent visit to South Africa of a vocal Tibetan leader, our new president faces a question of major moral and economic import: will Beijing make good on its threat to disinvest if we don’t toe the line? Put another way, does South Africa need China more than China needs South Africa? And to add to that, what about the recent embarrassing, insulting and illegal behaviour of Pretoria’s new best friend? KEVIN BLOOM wonders whether these are quandaries that even Ramaphosa can’t “negotiate”.
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.
“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.
Inequality is the key challenge all South Africans should be talking about. Levels of inequality in South Africa are among the highest in the world – the statistics are quite telling: the top 10% of the population earn about 60% of all income and own 95% of all assets. This pattern of earnings and wealth is not the basis for a sustainable society. Addressing this unacceptably high level of inequality should be the focus of President Ramaphosa’s economic policies. By IMRAAN VALODIA.
President Jacob Zuma’s resignation was, on Thursday, joined by that of another regional leader: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. In a televised address Desalegn said, “I see my resignation as vital in the bid to carry out reforms that would lead to sustainable peace and democracy.” By GREG MILLS.
Cape Town gets more rain than it can use – but at the moment it doesn’t have capacity to clean or store all this water. Late in 2017, a UCT researcher said using treated stormwater to recharge the Cape Flats Aquifer – “if we can get it right” – could potentially relieve the city of the need to supply 33-million kilolitres of potable water per year. But can they get it right? MARELISE VAN DER MERWE spoke to John Okedi, a civil engineer applying his mind to the stormwater problem.
The election and swearing in of Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa as South Africa’s fifth president on Thursday marked the end of a bruising 11 days in the politics of the governing ANC that reverberated around the country. It has also ended the dominance of ANC exiles in the highest office of government, shifting the political culture firmly to those anti-apartheid activists who learnt their skills inside South Africa, organising at grassroots level within – and with – communities. By MARIANNE MERTEN.
Jacob Zuma’s last-minute resignation from the country’s presidency left ANC parliamentarians with a palpable sense of relief after the caucus convinced him they would vote with the Economic Freedom Fighters, led by his nemesis, Julius Malema, to oust him if he didn’t leave. Now some are saying that they called his bluff – and that Zuma blinked first. By CARIEN DU PLESSIS.
Patricia de Lille survived a motion of no confidence by one vote on Thursday in Cape Town, but her worries are far from over. Barely had the vote gone through when the DA leadership sent out a terse reminder that the charges against her stood. Meanwhile, the same opposition parties that saved her today may turn against her yet. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
When the first eight suspects in the Hawks’ Vrede Dairy Farm investigation appeared in the Bloemfontein magistrates court on Thursday morning, the Gupta brothers were not among them. It is believed that Atul, Ajay and Tony Gupta are still being sought by the Hawks, as police indicated that a further five warrants are out. But the suspects in court included some big fish regardless: local media veteran Nazeem Howa was among them, as was a top mineral resources official closely allied to Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Give of your personal wealth to those who lost their loved ones. Open and reveal to all the inner workings that led to the Marikana atrocity, the twisted mindset of the Lonmin management and board, the evil cruelty and impunity of the security forces. By SAHRA RYKLIEF, General Secretary of the International Federation of Workers' Education Associations.