First Thing with Simon Williamson: Court sacks Angola election chief

By Simon Williamson 18 May 2012

18 May 2012 We're celebrating the launch of the new-look Daily Maverick website at Seattle Coffee Co, Hyde Park, JHB on Monday 21 May, at 10:00. And because we can, we're buying the first 100 readers who come and join us a cup of coffee. For those who can't make it, we'll be live-tweeting Q&A with the entire team about the new site and anything that blows your hair back. #DMnewclothes

While you were sleeping

Angola’s Supreme Court struck down the appointment of the head of the electoral commission on Thursday, in spite of the governing party, the MPLA, backing her. Susan Ingles, who had served in the post since January, had her selection criticised by opposition parties – not a huge surprise as she served as one of the leading members of OMA, the MPLA’s women’s organisation. The MPLA has accused the opposition’s rejection of Ingles as causing instability, and in fact protests at her selection were going to take place this weekend. A full general election is due in late August or early September.

Social network Twitter announced on Thursday that it would accept requests from users to not track their online conduct, in stark contrast to other Internet heavyweights. Some browsers include a “Do Not Track” option, but it is up to individual websites to decide whether or not they are going to actually honour what looks like a simple agreement – much like telephone companies, come to think of it. Twitter does record behaviour of users who choose not to opt out, but limit these results to provide “tailored suggestions” only.
CNN, The New York Times

A confidential United Nations report seen by Reuters on Thursday claimed the UN had set up a committee which was investigating possible illegal weapons shipments from North Korea to Syria and Myanmar. The report said, “The DPRK (North Korea) continues actively to defy the measures in the (UN sanctions) resolutions”, and added the transactions were not related to nuclear weapons, but “other violations including illicit sales of arms and related materiel and luxury goods”.

A committee sitting within the US House of Representatives on Thursday voted to suspend aid to any nation that hosts Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on genocide charges. This new tablet of laws is not yet official as it still needs to move through Congress, but is part of a plan to slash foreign assistance spending by the state department by 9%. In the last 18 months, according to Democratic Representative Nita Lowey, Bashir has visited a range of countries including China, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Qatar – some of which are US allies. If the laws come into effect, well… awkward.
Benin Daily Times, Reuters

Syria whinged to the United Nations general assembly on Thursday that its tourism industry had taken a thwacking from the 14 months of violence which have raged between the government and rebels. Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja’afari laid blame at the doors of travel websites warning tourists to avoid Syria and airlines ceasing flights, as well as “certain armed terrorist groups”. He added that hotel occupancy rates had dropped from 90% to 15% – technically, continuing to fire mortar shells on cities, knocking a few hotels down in the process, could help fix this stat.
Toronto Star

Coming up today

Public hearings on the Traditional Courts Bill take place in the North West at Tlhabane Community Hall in Rustenburg and at Batlhaping baga Phuduhuutswana in Taung from 10h00.

The annual G8 summit will be held from Friday, and members – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, and US – are set to discuss problems such as Syria, Iran and how Europe’s diabolical finances are dragging the rest of the world down with it.

One of the world’s largest IPOs will begin trading on Friday when Facebook shares, at $38 a pop, are “liked” by investors. If you want to follow the company’s timeline, its shares will start being purchased from 11:00 local time (add your location: 17:00 SAST), 90 minutes after the Nasdaq opens.

Wits Journalism will hold a debate about press freedom from 14:00 at the Chalsty Centre, School of Law, West Campus. Speakers include Mondli Makhanya, Joe Latakgomo and Anton Harber.

The odd monarch will attend a lunch at the Queen of England’s Windsor Castle to celebrate her 60th year on the throne. Among those attending are reportedly King Mswati III of Swaziland and Emperor Akihito of Japan. Lucky these countries’ national bank accounts have so much extra cash to send them there. The most high-profile rejection of the Queen’s cucumber sandwiches are King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain who are still annoyed with the British for taking over Gibraltar in the early 1700s.


Bloemfontein: 1°-18°, clear
Cape Town: 10°-16°, 50% chance of rain
Durban: 16°-24°, clear
East London: 14°-20°, partly cloudy, 21% chance of rain
Johannesburg: 8°-17°, clear
Nelspruit: 11°-24°, clear
Pietermaritzburg: 7°-22°, clear
Polokwane: 9°-23°, clear
Port Elizabeth: 12°-16°, 37% chance of rain
Pretoria: 7°-20°, clear

Source: Weather24

In case you missed it

Weak Rand, Strong Rand – Why are we still debating?

As the rand heads south – again – CHRIS GIBBONS argues that any debate over strong vs weak should have been settled long ago.

Poverty – How the other half live

Loan sharks and micro-finance offices have mushroomed in South Africa’s inner-city centres. The lure is attractive – borrow R10,000 and create your dream life by growing your business. But in a country where half the population lives in poverty and much more live in debt, a greater understanding of how they use money could lead to more appropriate financial services. By MANDY DE WAAL.

Charles Taylor: the war criminal pleads for mercy

It was another bravado performance in The Hague from Charles Taylor, who looked gentle and unassuming as he asked for leniency. Almost tempted to believe him, SIMON ALLISON recalls that no amount of smooth talking can erase the horrors the man inflicted on Sierra Leone.

DA vs Cosatu, the day after

True to its word, the Democratic Alliance has laid criminal charges against Cosatu leaders following the violence that marred Tuesday’s march. According to the DA, this is a fight over the rules of engagement. Cosatu says this is more nebulous politicking. The ANC says nothing. What’s going on? By SIPHO HLONGWANE.

Capital punishment and the US’s mounting shame

In its spring edition, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review dedicates its 436 pages to one of the most thorough investigations of a criminal case in United States history. The issue at hand is the execution by lethal injection of an innocent man. The hope of the team is that its investigation will force the abolition of the death penalty. But can it be enough? By KEVIN BLOOM.

The timeless appeal of time travel

What is the one thing you would do if you could go back in time? In Stephen King’s latest blockbuster, 11.22.63, his protagonist tries to prevent the assassination of John F Kennedy. The book flags a little – unlike the perpetual attraction of time travel. By REBECCA DAVIS.

Pirates and Swallows – Fortune favours the brave

This Saturday, hearts will be aflutter as Orlando Pirates and Moroka Swallows battle for the Absa Premiership crown in KwaZulu-Natal. Pirates are playing away to Golden Arrows while Swallows fight it out against Maritzburg United. So far, it’s advantage, Pirates. But that means nothing when it comes to finals. KHADIJA PATEL and GREG NICHOLSON visited the Rosebank taxi rank to talk idiski.

Jay Naidoo: Araku – the truth, the inspiration

The adage, from your lips to God’s ears gains new meaning as I find lessons in remote northern Indian villages. The lessons which South Africa has forgotten and needs to re-learn.

Osiame Molefe: As one struggle continues, the other should not be forgotten

Revolutionary greetings, my dear comrades. Might I have a word? Actually, might I have all your words so you may be forced to find new ones? Contrary to what you might believe, I’m not a brainwashed agent of imperialism. If anything, I’m trying to be an agent for clear communication.


Subscribe to our First Thing morning email here.

Photo: A Facebook application logo is pictured on a mobile phone in this photo illustration. Facebook Inc increased the size of its initial public offering by almost 25 percent, and could raise as much as $16 billion as strong investor demand for a share of the No.1 social network trumps debate about its long-term potential to make money. Facebook, founded eight years ago by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room, said on Wednesday it will add about 84 million shares to its IPO, floating about 421 million shares in an offering expected to be priced on Thursday REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud.


In other news...

The South African economy is choking harder than the Proteas. Although to be choking you have to actually be eating and the Proteas seem to be on some sort of juice cleanse-like fast…*

Back to the economy: In the first quarter the GDP dive-bombed by a whopping 3.2%. The sense of futility can paralyse us into inaction and moaning. But it’s times like these that call for effort and action, no matter how small. Yes, South Africa is hurting. Yes the ravaged economy is evident everywhere you look. But you can make a difference, in your own personal way and by supporting independent media like Daily Maverick. We’ve pledged to continue the fight through producing incisive and impactful investigations and analysis, the same way we have done every day for the last decade.

By becoming a Maverick Insider you can help us keep doing what we do, so that you and others who can’t afford it, can keep reading the truth. For whatever amount you choose, you can support DM and it only takes a minute.

Support Daily Maverick→Payment options

*Proteas, you know we love you. We’d just love you more if you won occasionally...

Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.


A proxy battle for ages through Father, Son, Spirit and the holy ATM

By Richard Poplak