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28 July ’22 Wrap: The ANC’s end is nigh

First up: The Wrap is going on a little break! We’ll be resting and considering how to make things even better for you when we return. Please drop us a reply with anything you’d like to see!


In this week’s edition, all eyes are on the head of our family, Uncle Cyril, who has finally managed to get off his fence and make some announcements. Although he’s still wasting a lot of time dribbling past his opponents in his own ANC team he seems to have been inspired by Banyana Banyana, finally scoring a goal against loadshedding by revealing his plan for power (as in lights, not ANC power – that’s still very much a work in progress). Speaking of Banyana Banyana, we’re hauling out the bubbly to toast their big win along with Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya’s and some excellent work in the entertainment industry. We’ll need it after tackling the heavier issues of Trump, monkeypox, and the economic conundrum of a basic income grant.

So, let’s dive into your weekly update of empowering and easy-to-understand news, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team. 😄

Format

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1. Our take: All the ANC news you actually need to know

You probably keep hearing about the ANC provincial elections. They’ve been happening across various provinces in the run-up to the ruling party’s big conference in December, where President Cyril Ramaphosa will go head to head with whomever will try to dethrone him for national leadership.

It’s tedious stuff a lot of the time, with countless postponements, and infighting that makes little sense to those outside the 100+year old organisation. But it matters because the eventual victors will ascend to actual government and dictate governance for all South Africans – not just the 1 million or so ANC members. 

So we have to keep an eye on the ANC’s messy road to its big conference. Here’s what you need to know:

🔹The results of the party’s provincial conferences are seen as a litmus test for the battle between the Radical Economic Transformation faction (loosely aligned to former president Jacob Zuma) and the ] Ramaphosa faction. One faction wants no accountability for state capture and the other doesn’t effectively deliver on its promises. 👀 

🔹The KwaZulu-Natal conference last weekend delivered a blow to Ramaphosa’s reform ambitions. Siboniso Duma won the provincial chairperson position, replacing KZN premier Sihle Zikalala. Duma and his group are a pro-Zuma faction fighting for the step-aside rule to be… uhm… set aside. More than 2,000 delegates attended, and sang Pro-Zuma songs which included Wenzeni uZuma? (which asks “what has Zuma done?”) as Ramaphosa entered. He was booed and jeered (not the first time, poor thing) and Duma had to call the delegates to order to let Ramaphosa finish his speech, closing the conference. 

🔹KZN is in the minority, though, thanks to being Zuma’s stronghold. Preliminary provincial results are largely in Ramaphosa’s favour. Limpopo, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Gauteng have all endorsed Ramaphosa to be elected for a second term, though there’s no guarantee that their provincial structures will follow suit.

The Free State is unlikely to have a conference this year but Ramaphosa ally, Mxolisi Dukwana, is the interim leader. The North West’s elective conference has been beset with postponements and is unlikely to be held this year. The province is controlled by RET-aligned Supra Mahumapelo. 

🔹For the first time the party’s top leaders will have to disclose their financial records. This is a direct response to the controversial CR17 campaign (which funded Ramaphosa election as president of the ANC in 2017) and has set the scene for many proxy battles for power. 

🔹Competition is open for the party’s so-called top six: Former health minister, the “vibey” Zweli Mkhize has thrown his hat in the ring for the position of ANC president, a direct if unlikely challenge to Ramaphosa. Gwede Mantashe, current chair of the ANC, has also declared his intentions to run again. Should he succeed, this would see him having been a top-six member for 20 years. 🦖

Ultimately however, the ANC’s longheld grip on voting power in SA is slipping since it swept to victory at the end of apartheid in 1994. Beset with corruption and factionalism, best typified under Zuma, the party’s attempts at redemption under Ramaphosa have been too slow and not particularly compelling. The party may lose its majority as soon as 2024. Now SA must ready itself for a complicated future where coalition politics will increasingly become the norm – along with all the endless bickering that this entails between governing partners. Yay. 🙄

2. The big story: Feel it, Cyril’s energy plan is here!

Ramaphosa announced his long-awaited plan to address SA’s energy crisis at a Monday family meeting and it’s a goodie. 

The plan does the obvious: listen to the experts. 

This includes cutting regulatory red tape for embedded power generation; bringing in original equipment manufacturers to restore equipment; recruiting former Eskom staff; allocating additional resources for maintenance, buying excess energy from independent power producers; and freeing up Eskom to buy energy from industrial and commercial producers, according to Fin24

The real tragedy is that it’s taken this long. Various experts have been punting these interventions for years, but government has ignored them for ideological and other reasons. 

When Eskom CEO André de Ruyter came into the poisoned chalice of a role in 2020 he put these ideas forward. It shouldn’t have taken this long to get them approved, but here we are. It took a crisis and record load-shedding to force Ramaphosa’s hand and De Ruyter got everything he asked for and more. For example, while the Eskom plan recommended raising the licence exemption threshold for “embedded” – private generation projects – from 100MW to 1 000MW, Ramaphosa removed the cap entirely, Fin24 notes. 

And we don’t have to wait too long. Ramaphosa announced that, in the next three months, Eskom would take extra measures to add more generation capacity to the grid.

Here are some of the plans:

  • Importing surplus power from neighbouring countries such as Botswana and Zambia. 
  • Doubling the electricity we get from renewable energy, gas and battery storage to 5,200 MW. We’ll also see Eskom constructing its first solar and battery storage projects at Komati, Majuba, Lethabo and several other power stations, adding over 500 MW to the system.
  • Setting up a special law enforcement team to fight the spate of sabotage at Eskom in recent months.
  • Incentivising the use of rooftop solar power – so you can sell surplus electricity to Eskom. 

Let’s hope it’s not too little too late, and that we have the expertise to get it done. We’re tired of the Sound of Silence references. Darkness isn’t a friend.

Briefs

3. Who runs the world? Girls!

Join us in saying halala to Banyana Banyana and Deputy Chief Justice Mandisa Maya who made history and reached career milestones this week. 😁

🔹South Africa won its first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations after Banyana Banyana defeated hosts Morocco 2-1 on Saturday.

The team received a heroines’ welcome at OR Tambo International Airport on Tuesday. Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa presented them with a R5.8 million bonus for winning, adding to the R8.3 million tournament prize money. 

As we told you last week, Banyana Banyana are long overdue a salary increase. In 2019, Mthethwa said the women’s team made 10 times less than their male counterparts, yet they win more games! Change has been promised for two years, and on Tuesday Mthethwa promised the government would pass a law ensuring equal pay. Is Mthethwa’s latest promise lip service, or will we see some change this time?

🔹In other womandla news, Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) President Mandisa Maya was officially named the Deputy Chief Justice by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday. She was the first woman president of the SCA, the second-highest court in the land, and now the first woman Deputy Chief Justice. This effectively lines her up to become Chief Justice when Raymond Zondo retires from the ConCourt in 2024.

 But, as we reported before, Maya is currently the country’s one of three female heads of a superior court. “This is an issue I feel passionate about,” she said. “No country will thrive if a majority of its citizens are downtrodden. That is a scientific fact.”

We love a queen who breaks glass ceilings and takes other women along with her.

4. Monkeypox declared a global emergency

Monkeypox is back in the headlines: On Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a “global emergency.” 

This is the strongest call to action the agency can make. It is the seventh time such a declaration has been made since 2009, the most recent being for Covid-19 in 2020. 

The world is currently experiencing at least 16,016 monkeypox cases. It is now in 75 countries and territories and there have been five deaths.

Europe has the highest number of total cases – 11,865 – and saw the highest increase in the past week. 

South Africa has, thankfully, only two cases so far. 

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic infection, meaning that it can spread from animals to humans. It can also spread from person to person.

As we’ve noted before, don’t fear a return to another pandemic 2.0. Monkeypox is far less contagious than Covid-19, scientists know much more about it, and there are approved vaccines in circulation. In fact, the European Commission gave Bavarian Nordic, a biotech company from Denmark, permission to expand the label of its smallpox vaccine to include monkeypox last week. The vaccine is already approved for use against monkeypox in the US and Canada.

The most common symptoms of monkeypox include fever, headache, muscle aches, back pain, low energy, and swollen lymph nodes. This is followed or accompanied by the development of a rash or lesions that evolve through four stages before scabbing over and resolving. 

If you have symptoms, try to go into isolation as soon as you can (the incubation period is one to two weeks). You should also abstain from sex because you are infectious and could pass the virus to others. Avoid large gatherings where close contact could happen. 

Symptoms typically last two to four weeks and usually go away on their own or with supportive care, such as medication for pain or fever. Stay safe out there!

5. Black excellence is raking in the fans

For decades Hollywood was dominated by lily-white casts that weren’t particularly honest representations of the US’s diverse cities. The #OscarsSoWhite controversy in 2015 and 2016 – where no people of colour were nominated for the 20 acting nominations – marked a turning point

It makes business sense too, if the findings of the 2022 Hollywood Diversity Report are anything to go by. Films with more diverse casts perform better at the box office. In eight of the top 10 theatre-released films in 2021 at least 30% of cast members were from minorities, while films with less than 11% minority actors were the lowest box-office performers. 

And diverse audiences are also keeping the industry alive, as the authors of the report noted: “Every time there was a big movie that exceeded expectations or broke a record, 53% to 60% of opening weekend audiences were people of colour… Studios should consider them to be investors, and as an investor, they should get their return, in the form of representation.”

So in that spirit, here’s a line-up of black excellence in entertainment we’re looking forward to!

🔹The much anticipated trailer for the second Black Panther was released over the weekend at the San Diego Comic Convention and it is glorious! The original film was the first Marvel Studios film with a black director and a predominantly black cast and was a resounding success. The sequel, titled Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, set to be released in November 2022, has faced numerous hurdles including star Chadwick Boseman’s untimely death

🔹Beyoncé’s recent projects have spotlighted the black experience in the US and globally in powerful ways, from Lemonade to Black Is King – her ode to Africa. Fans of the iconic entertainer have been desperate for new music and she sent the internet into a tailspin of delight last month with the release of the lead single to her upcoming album Renaissance. Titled Break My Soul, it’s been dubbed an anthem for The Great Resignation, with lyrics reflecting the post-pandemic exhaustion with how corporations have long treated workers. 

The full album, which promises to be a homage to ’90s dance music, will be released tomorrow just in time for the weekend. So put on your dancing shoes and await the return of the Queen. 🐝

🔹Jordan Peele initiated a new genre of black horror like the astounding indie success of 2017’s Get Out and the less coherent Us (2019), both of which tease themes of race and class into compelling horror stories. Now his new movie Nope, about aliens that don’t come in peace, is performing really well at the box office. You can catch it in SA from 19 August 2022 at a cinema near you.

6. Trump’s frightening role in the Jan 6 riots

Remember when armed, pro-Donald Trump supporters stormed the US seat of government in 2020 after the then famously orange president lost the election to Joe Biden? 

Protestors hoped to intimidate Trump’s deputy Mike Pence into refusing to certify the results of the election.

The riots, which some have referred to as an insurrection, led to five deaths, 138 injured cops and more than 850 criminal charges. False claims of the election being thrown are still being circulated by Trump and his allies, despite a complete lack of evidence. 

That day has become known as the January 6 attacks and has been the subject of an ongoing inquiry by the US equivalent to our parliament. 

The ongoing testimony, especially by those inside Trump’s camp, was damning and revealed Trump’s hand in inciting the violence. 

Here are the biggest revelations so far: 

  • Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to “find 11,780 [more] votes”, in a line straight out of a dictator’s playbook. 👀

The next round of hearings are expected to begin in September. Trump could be found guilty of major crimes, including treason. But prosecutors may be hesitant to charge a former president who may run for office again.

That’s because if Trump is convicted of any charges and barred from running for office, it will set a tough legal precedent that could be used as a political weapon to stifle opposition. Alternatively, if Trump is found to have incited an insurrection and gets away with it, it would undermine democracy and create a grave injustice.

The real danger is the return of power by a Republican party enthralled with Trump and his divisive and dangerous politics. The US, more divided than ever politically, is not out of the woods on that score.

7. Be careful of finger-pointing, Mbeki

Poor Ramaphosa can’t seem to catch a break. Last Thursday, at the memorial service for the ANC’s deputy secretary-general of the ANC Jessie Duarte, former president Thabo Mbeki lambasted him for failing to deliver on a national compact to address SA’s many crises, warning of an Arab Spring style uprising. 

It’s worth noting though that Mbeki can’t wash his hands of responsibility for many of our problems, given that the arms deal and disbanding of the Scorpions happened under his watch, along with a failure to invest in Eskom in the early 2000s. 

As Adriaan Basson, News24 editor, writes: “When the final chapter of the demise of the ANC is written, Mbeki’s name and actions will loom large.”

8. Can SA fund a BIG?

South Africa’s economy has been in trouble for some time. Protecting our most vulnerable is an age-old problem that we need BIG ideas to solve. 

Pun intended. The idea of providing a Basic Income Grant (BIG) began in March 2020, when the government started rolling out Covid-19 social relief grants of R350 a month. The monthly cash payments to poor and unemployed South Africans provided them with a social safety net. It’s now proving difficult to discontinue and has seen several extensions. 

South Africa already runs a sophisticated social grants system but these are aimed at specific categories of people such as pensioners and those who are disabled. The BIG hews to the larger idea of a universal basic income grant, which has been trialled in other countries where inequality is also a problem. 

The problem of course is where to find the money to fund it. 

A recent report by research house Intellidex on behalf of Business Unity SA (Busa) and Business Leadership SA (BLSA) has settled on increasing VAT as the “the least bad option”. A 2% hike to 17% in VAT could bring in an additional R50 billion in tax revenues, according to the 64-page report released last month. 

That’s because the other options to raise the money just aren’t viable right now, as BLSA’s CEO Busisiwe Mavuso explains. We can’t cut spending on other crucial items in our budget, particularly other grants. 24.4% of SA homes are reliant on social grants as their main source of income. We cannot take on more debt and the middle class already pays some of the highest tax in the world. 

But some experts are concerned that, with inflation already so high, the increase in prices of products and services could simply create more market problems and, in relative terms, make little to no difference in people’s lives.
Ultimately SA has a problem with poverty and inequality. We score 63.0 in the Gini coefficient (an index that measures inequality), which is the highest in the world. The riots in July last year, as well as the protests in Sri Lanka are examples of what happens when you leave too many people behind. Even business agrees a BIG is necessary and there’s plenty of evidence to show how effective it can be. But it comes with risks and it’s going to take some number crunching and incredibly smart economic policy to fund the programme.

That’s it from us at The Wrap, an award-winning product of explain.co.za – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾‍♀ 

The Wrap is sponsored by explain’s agency division. We specialise in content marketing for purpose-driven organisations, often with a pan-African reach. Mail info@explain.co.za for a quote. 

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_Till next time, goodbye from the team_ ✌🏽

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