Cyril Ramaphosa’s leaked emails and other news you need to know

Welcome to this week’s edition of Verationality, news made simple. ??‍♀️

OK look, I’m not going to sugar coat it. 

This last week saw a barrage of bad news headlines. But – and I’m always that person – in context… it’s no cause for panic. Fixing things up after Jacob Zuma’s “nine wasted years” was always going to be tough and the fight back was always going to be real. :

Options to get your update:

  1. To watch a video of me explaining this week’s update, click below.  
  2. To listen to voice notes of me explaining the update, go here for the podcast
  3. To read the full text, just keep scrolling!

Right, let’s dive in. 

1. #CR17 campaign leaked emails ?

Leaked emails from Cyril Ramaphosa’s campaign to be ANC president have been doing the rounds and now News24 says they’ve verified them. The mails show that:

  • The president sent an email authorising a personal loan to his campaign, which he has already noted.
  • Pravin Gordhan helped raise funds, which the minister responded to saying this was no big secret.
  • Campaign managers informed Ramaphosa of a few people they were pursuing for donations, two of whom have been accused – but not charged – of dubious dealings in the past. 

Critics – especially the EFF – are saying this shows up his claim that he was not involved in fundraising to avoid undue influence. They’re demanding he resign for lying.

What does this mean? ??‍♀️

The background is that our Public Protector, Busi Mkhwebane, has gone after Ramaphosa over this issue, which he is taking to court. The irony is that Mkhwebane herself has received stinging rebukes in various judgements for having lied under oath. The key thing to remember here is that a. Nothing he did was illegal and b. Secret campaign financing is an issue facing ALL parties and politicians. It is certainly problematic, but must be addressed as a whole and not as part of a political vendetta as is currently the case. The good news is that laws surrounding party political funding (but not individuals, alas) are one step closer to reality with public hearings on the go around proposed legislation. 

2. Eskom results ?

As predicted last week, Eskom finally released its financial results showing a net loss of R20.7bn. They’ve also appointed a chief restructuring officer and acting CEO, while the last CEO, Phakamani Hadebe, wrapped up with a super depressing goodbye speech. This is the guy who was making some headway but resigned citing the “unimaginable demands” of the job. He is one of a few good guys who heard the call to “Thuma Mina” and stepped up to run our state owned companies but have now called it quits. Sadly Mark Barnes, who did a great job of turning around the post office the last three years, joined that list last week. The experts are saying even when government has good intentions it needs to get out the way and let the CEO run things, which of course is easier said than done with pressure from unions, voters and an unforgiving global economy. 

3.Latest unemployment stats ?

Ok now for the WORST news this week. Between April and July this year, our unemployment rate grew to 29% – which is the highest in a decade. This rate excludes people who have given up looking for work. Look, our unemployment has always been kinda crappy, fluctuating between the 20 and 30% band for the past 11 years. If you want to know how you can help, consider helping someone’s education – through tutoring or sponsorship. South Africans who don’t have matric have an unemployment rate of 34.5%, while those with matric drop down to 29.4%, and graduate unemployment is at just 9%. 

4. Drama at Old Mutual ?

You may have heard about the rather unbecoming spat that has erupted over at Old Mutual with its former CEO Peter Moyo. In a nutshell, he was forced out over a conflict of interest over his own investment company, which they knew about when they hired him. Old Mutual says he subsequently favoured the company over them. It has become an ugly battle between Moyo and Old Mutual board director and former chair, former finance minister Trevor Manuel – whom Moyo says has his own conflict of interest issues. Based on the technicalities of his dismissal, a court ruled last week that Moyo could return to work – which he did much to Old Mutual’s horror. The company is appealing the decision. Ugh. And you thought politics was bad. 

5. Today’s inspiring story: how mines and miners came together to find a solution ? 

This is a story I really like because it captures the complexity of poverty, wealth and redress in SA – plus the possibility of finding solutions: We’ve heard for years about the health concerns facing gold miners, with regards to silicosis and tuberculosis. Previously they could not sue the mines thanks to technical labour legislation, but this changed in 2016. We could have seen thousands of miners suing individual companies, resulting in a mindboggling number of cases. BUT a lengthy legal process saw the approval of class action suits in SA. The mines could have fought this, and tried to, but instead they came together to settle on a much better solution: Six of the largest mining companies decided to work together with lawyers for the miners and settled on a landmark R5bn settlement agreement out of court. It’s a fascinating example of South Africans’ proven ability to work across divides towards a solution. You can read more about it in this great explainer by Fin24: https://www.fin24.com/Companies/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-r5bn-silicosis-settlement-as-mining-companies-prepare-to-pay-out-20190803

Week ahead

The week ahead is going to be mostly chilled with Women’s Day gifting us a long weekend. Adam Catzavelos is back in court over using the K-word on an otherwise beautiful Greek beach. This time he’s being dragged there by the Human Rights Commission who say they don’t buy his argument that he has no money given his lack of proof. He’s also facing action from the EFF and Greece itself over the mindbogglingly racist video he posted in August 2018. 

The South African National Editors Forum is also in court to protect journalists against a rise in harassment – particularly intimidating Twitter posts levelled at journalists who reported critically on Julius Malema and the EFF. 

The inquest continues into Reshall Jimmy’s death. He died in a Ford Kuga that caught alight in 2015 and Ford’s arguments are looking increasingly flimsy.

 And while watching his back for the next knife, Ramaphosa will deliver Thursday’s Women’s Day address at the Vryburg showgrounds in the North West. Remember, this day pays tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956 in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. Government is commemorating it this year with the rather edgy hashtag: #WhatWomenWant. They want you to let them know via social media, using that tag so… go wild. 

*That’s it for this week!* 

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