It’s Ramaphosa vs Zuma as anti-corruption drive heats up

Hi there and welcome to The Wrap simple news updates for busy people, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team 💁🏽‍♀

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So, let’s dive in:



The Sunday Independent, a newspaper owned by controversial businessman Iqbal Survé, is playing a dangerous, xenophobic game. They continued an anti-immigrant tirade this Sunday with an interview with the leader of a party that is pushing anti-foreigner sentiment. The party is called South Africa First, and its leader is Mario Khumalo.

This followed an extraordinary front-page story last weekend with the headline “SA under foreign control”, in which the writers suggested that the number of migrants in SA was behind the country’s unemployment crisis.

(For some real insight into what’s behind SA’s unemployment rate, we’d suggest reading our two-part unemployment series which you can find on explain.co.za)

Like all good xenophobes, Khumalo and his ilk pretend that their campaign seeks a return to lawfulness and an end to unemployment. But even a cursory inspection of the sources they quote – usually random people from social media with no facts to back up their claims of losing jobs to migrants – as well as of the language used and the dangerous social media campaigns they run, shows that SAF and their supporters are spreading hatred and bigotry.

For example, SAF is behind the #PutSouthAfricaFirst hashtag, which has become a rallying call for SA Twitter’s xenophobes. With some careful orchestration in June and July, the hashtag morphed into a revolting display of bigotry, as users got behind the sister-hashtags #NigeriansMustGo and #ZimbabweansMustFall.

This campaign is designed to whip up anti-immigrant support, using fictional Twitter accounts and fear-mongering. An investigation by digital forensic investigators, DFRLabs, uncovered the orchestrated nature of the campaign in July, proving it was no organic uprising of ordinary South Africans, as it made itself out to be.

Their campaign would be laughable were it not so dangerous: 12 people were killed in the September 2019 xenophobic attacks alone.

Newspapers and their owners wield enormous power. Abusing the principle of free speech to promote hatred and put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk is an abuse of that power.


Last weekend marked what many have said was a game-changing meeting of the ANC’s most senior council of leaders, the National Executive Committee. This was because it was essentially a clash between those aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who want to see an end to corruption, and those aligned to former president Jacob Zuma, who apparently want to go on looting. 🤨

Just over a week ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa wrote an impassioned but otherwise perfectly uncontroversial plea to ANC members, imploring them to end corruption.

Enter one Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma, who found Ramaphosa’s letter so offensive that he wrote a 3,000-word letter in return, accusing Ramaphosa of trying to “divert accusations” from himself. This relates to Ramaphosa’s 2017 ANC presidential campaign, which was controversially (but to the best of our knowledge, legally) funded by private interests.

Zuma was careful to make sure his letter was clearly marked “private”, so as not to have his battle with Ramaphosa take place in public. Naturally, the letter was all over the internet before it had even left the Nkandla post office. 🙃

Another NEC member and Zuma-ally, Tony Yengeni, called for Ramaphosa to resign on Friday. (Yengeni, of course, is an expert on corruption having been convicted of it himself.)
Clearly, Zuma and his allies were hoping the anti-Ramaphosa sentiment would rub off on the rest of the NEC over the weekend.

But Ramaphosa got the upper hand when he volunteered to appear before the ANC’s integrity committee to answer questions about his election campaign funding. (Ramaphosa’s fellow 2017 presidential contender, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also had loads of private funding that she has not disclosed. But a list of her funders has never been leaked, as Ramaphosa’s was.)

You’d think being on a mission to clean up corruption (or at least to be seen to be doing so) would be a good thing, right? But in the warped parallel universe of ANC politics, cleaning up corruption is highly controversial. And for those who try, they’d better make sure there are no smallnyana skeletons in their closet.

But thanks to the political smarts of Ramaphosa and his strategists, Zuma’s letter ended up looking more like desperation on the part of the state-capture crowd. For now, they are on the backfoot, and there’s hope for Ramaphosa’s clean-up yet.

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 3. NEWS BRIEFS ✍🏽

▪️ Cyril’s push-me pull-you Parly parlay

Parliamentary debates are meant to be lively and full of stinging back-and-forths between political parties. So when President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared in Parliament last week to face opposition parties, the gloves came off. 🥊Remember Mmusi Maimane’s famous description of Jacob Zuma as “a broken man, leading a broken nation”? DA interim leader John Steenhuisen whipped up his own tweet-ready insult, by calling Ramaphosa a leader who goes from “Mr Talk-a-lot to Dr Do-Little” 😅. Look, it’s pretty funny, but things are still better than it was under the broken man, right?

While you’re here, WATCH explain’s evaluation of the DA’s Covid-19 response. The party got some things right, but it definitely missed the mark, too. https://youtu.be/4Nc13W1UpkM

▪️ ANC in KZN does the right thing

Last week we told you former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede was appointed to the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature, DESPITE facing criminal charges and being out on bail of R50,000. We also told you we hoped the ANC would reverse such a ridiculous decision given its latest clean-up drive – and it looks like they did! ✔️ The ANC in the province asked Gumede to step aside, pending an investigation on corruption and fraud relating to a multimillion-rand tender. The KZN ANC said it has asked all members facing accusations of corruption to step down from their positions pending the outcome of their investigations. A neat move for accountability.

▪️ #JusticeforNathanielJulius

Nathaniel Julius was a 16-year-old boy with Down syndrome from Eldorado Park in Johannesburg. He was shot dead by the police last week. His crime? He did not respond to the police who questioned him while he was out buying biscuits, his family said. His death has sparked widespread outrage and protests in Eldorado Park as well as the Western Cape. Many people are calling for #JusticeforNathanielJulius. Gauteng Premier David Makhura stepped into the fray to say that Julius got caught between a shootout between the police and local gangsters, but the community is not buying it. SA’s police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, launched an investigation into his death and confirmed on Friday that the two policemen involved in the shooting have been arrested for murder and defeating the ends of justice. They made their first appearance at the Protea magistrate’s court on Monday. We mourn this terrible injustice, but are thankful for the small mercy of swift justice. 🙏🏽 In contrast, the US police officers who shot and killed African American medical technician Breonna Taylor in her own home IN MARCH this year have still not been arrested.

▪️ Rest in Power, Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman (43), famed for his portrayal as T’Challa, the superhero king of Wakanda in Marvel’s Black Panther, but equally renowned for more serious roles, passed away on Friday after a four-year, largely private battle with colon cancer. Boseman’s death has been as profound and impactful as his career, during which he portrayed historical figures such as Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get on Up. In remembering Boseman, former US President Barack Obama said the actor was blessed: “To be young, gifted, and black; to use that power to give [black children] heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years.” ✊🏽

▪️ Herman Mashaba gets his party started

Former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba has officially launched his own political party, called Action South Africa (ActionSA) – which we shouldn’t confuse with The People’s Dialogue – that’s his NGO. The businessman and now former DA member said his party was committed to “fixing a broken political system”. He also plans to contest next year’s local government elections, with a focus on the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni metros. Mashaba has promised to bring more transparency to the electoral system by having the party’s candidates elected by the public in an online system. He also wants to clamp down on illegal immigration, which is – as explained in Our Take above – a worrying platform. But love him or hate him, the Black Like Me cosmetics founder is sure to bring more variety to our electoral landscape. 🗳️

▪️ SA’s biggest home is for sale… but not if its owner can help it

Keen to live in SA’s biggest home? Now’s your chance. The 6,000 square metre, three-storey high mansion is on the Vaal River, and comes complete with its own golf course, eight en-suite bedrooms, indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, and conference facilities, to name a few.

Absa has put the property up for auction, the Financial Mail reports, but its owner Kennedy Bungane, doesn’t want to sell it. One of the wealthiest businessmen in SA, he says he’s challenging the auction in court. Thanks to various non-disclosure agreements, no one really knows how Absa got power of attorney over the house, but the Vaal Castle, as many call it, must have been a casualty – or the spoils – of a mighty corporate battle.

Intrigue aside, we reckon it’s the perfect Covid-19 spot: acres of space for anyone keen to increase the social distance between them and the rest of their family. If there’s a minimum starting bid, we don’t know it yet. Better start saving your pocket money, just in case. 🤭


▪️ The Covid-19 immunity scene: Not herd?

Did you know there are currently 160 Covid vaccines in development, with 21 already in clinical trials? That’s according to this week’s Financial Mail. While the scientific jury has for months been out on whether you can, in fact, be reinfected with Covid-19, this week saw three people across the world confirmed to have been reinfected. This pushes back hopes for permanent herd immunity or a lifelong vaccine.

However, it does seem that those who have contracted Covid-19 once again experienced a much milder form of the virus the second time around.

This presents us with two scenarios: “Functional immunity”, where the immune system of a person exposed to the virus (through either illness or vaccination) kicks into gear on reinfection, making for a shorter illness and potentially lower risk of transmitting it, and therefore still helps make the pandemic manageable in the longer term. Or there’s “waning immunity” – where the immune response generated by infection or vaccination is lost over time.

We’re hoping for the first scenario! Till we know for sure, don’t take anything for granted – even if you’ve tested positive and recovered from the virus. 👆🏽

▪️ Domo Arigato, Shinzo Abe

Shinzo Abe, the respected prime minister of Japan, announced his resignation on Friday due to ill health, leaving office a year early with no obvious successor. As the New York Times puts it, whoever replaces will have to dive straight into significant challenges – but without the political muscle that Abe has built up over his record-setting run of nearly eight years. The country’s economy has taken a nosedive and the coronavirus could yet rage out of control and force a second postponement of the Olympics – all while Chinese military aggression rises in the region just as the US, Japan’s closest ally, is embroiled in a polarising presidential election.

▪️ In-flight menus come down to earth

Asian airlines are selling in-flight meals directly to the public… and nostalgic travel junkies are actually buying them! It’s the result of some smart pivoting by airline caterers, after the pandemic forced the industry to make a hard landing (credit to The Economist for that pun), and shift to serving food on the ground. One airline caterer is so pleased with “Fly with Meals”, as it calls its retail wing, that it is opening actual restaurants in three big Indonesian cities.


🔹 Dolls like us! A win for African identity

Finally! Dolls that SA children can actually identify with, thanks to two South African women entrepreneurs. They call their company the Sibahle Collection and they’re here to celebrate the beauty of diversity, especially in our country. The dolls have realistic skin tones and beautiful natural African hair and attire, and some even have albinism or vitiligo. The message: to promote self-love and challenge outdated beauty stereotypes, one diverse doll at a time. 🙇🏽‍♀️

🔹 Kulula, BA may win their wings back

For a minute there it seemed like domestic air travel in SA was dead, but two of the country’s biggest airlines have just been given a lifeline. Comair, which operates kulula.com and British Airways may return to the sky by December this year if creditors accept a business rescue plan to inject R1-billion into the airline. The airline industry was pretty much shattered by Covid-19, but the reopening of flights in SA would be a major boost to businesses and tourism and go a long way towards helping the post-Covid economic recovery. ✈️

The week ahead

🔸 Several troves of very technical but incredibly important data will be released this week, revealing how badly South Africa’s economy has been affected by Covid-19. Numbers from the manufacturing and vehicle sectors are expected. As are the anguished screams of economists who have to look at them but are frankly terrified by the story they’re likely to tell.

🔸 Meanwhile the ANC is expected to release the outcomes of its NEC meeting at the weekend, and the DA is getting ready for its policy conference, which it will hold virtually next weekend.

That’s it from us at The Wrap, a product of https://explain.co.za/ – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾‍♀


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_Till next time, goodbye from Verashni, Sarah, Aarti and Matthew ✌🏽