And… we’re back! 🙋🏽♀️
Welcome to your year-end edition of your newly returned Weekly Wrap. 😄
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.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ OUR TAKE: A word from Verashni
Hello again! We paused /The Wrap/ earlier this year to shore up our resources and can now relaunch with a strengthened editorial team at the helm.
Would you like to help us keep you informed and entertained with these summaries? Yes? We’re setting up a donor programme, so slide into our DMs and tell us how much you’d be willing to spend. Don’t feel pressured, please – we literally wrote about the increased cost of living, it’s rough out there.
But how crazy has the news been? 😵
Just this past week alone Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter called it quits, our president finally gave disgraced judge president John Hlophe the axe, and let’s not forget Cyril Ramaphosa’s own ongoing Phala Phala drama. More on all of this in today’s edition.
As the ANC implodes, we’re more interested in what comes next. Our opposition parties are largely uninspiring at present, but there are other grassroots political movements that hold a lot of promise.
We’ll be unpacking these next year as part of a new Solutions Journalism (the cool kids call it SoJo) series, where we investigate programmes and initiatives trying to solve different societal problems.
Do you know of any interesting project we should cover? Drop us a reply and let us know.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ THE BIG STORY: Exit stage De Ruyter
🎄🎶 On the fourteenth day of Dezemba, de Ruyter gave to us…🎶
…a resignation letter before the newly formed Eskom board could follow through with a rumoured dismissal. 😕
The embattled CEO volunteered to take a pay cut from his job at Nampak to guide SA out of the dark ages of the “nine wasted years” under State Capturer-in-Chief, Jacob Zuma. He received the backing of the similarly-minded “Thuma Mina” president Cyril Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
But with the country staring down another load shedding disrupted Christmas, the man with the magnificent mane chose his peace.
At about three years, the would-be Eskom Righter outlasted 11 of his predecessors in a role that has become synonymous with “poisoned chalice”.
His tenure was… intense. He tried to crack down on systemic corruption – down to the procurement of milk 😳. He rightly obsessed over overdue maintenance on stations that were neglected to breaking point to keep the lights on.
At the same time, he faced several politically motivated attacks including charges of racism, (whichhe was cleared on) plus ongoing sabotage at power stations.
However, he hasn’t covered himself in glory as loadshedding deepened to the rarely seen Stage six schedule of eighthour power cuts, with no end in sight. Various reports and sources are claiming the final straw was Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe’s recent accusation that Eskom was “agitating for the overthrow of the state”. There was no defence from Ramaphosa or Gordhan. For a man who took the job out of a sense of national duty, that must have hurt.
De Ruyter will stay on till March next year, well beyond his 30-day notice period, to assist newly named Board Chairman Mpho Makwana in his search for a new CEO – the same chairman who refused to sign the document to approve additional electricity from existing suppliers. The Eskom Board assured the country that “a comprehensive executive search will be conducted to find a suitably qualified candidate”. Good luck with that. 👀
But Christmas may not be ruined yet. Mantashe could be shuffled out of the ANC power structures before the weekend is out to give Cyril a clear path to an accelerated Just Energy Transition.
We’ll be covering that JET plan closely in 2023, so be sure to look out for it. 💡
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ Briefs
The Buffalo staggered to Nasrec
You probably heard the shocking news earlier this month that Ramaphosa was on the brink of resigning following a damning report about the theft of at least $580,000 from his private Phala Phala game farm.
The trouble was the report, while headed up by widely-respected former chief justice Sandile Ngcobo, was legally pretty shoddy.
Ramaphosa still has questions to answer about the saga but we’ll have to wait for more muscular investigations by The Hawks and Reserve Bank.
The president was talked off the ledge by Mantashe and other allies and has emerged even stronger – for now. The party’s two highest bodies, the NWC and NEC backed him, and his party’s MPs largely united behind him at a parliamentary vote this week on whether he should face impeachment proceedings.
Some voted yes to the process, like Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and former presidential hopeful (losing by the narrowest margin to CR17) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She declared that she was doing so “as a principled member of the ANC”.
But she was one of just five out of 230 ANC MPs who did so.
Equally vocal Ramaphosa critics, Zweli Mkhize and Lindiwe Sisulu didn’t even bother to show up for the vote, indicating a lack of strategy among this faction.
In the end, the section 89 motion (as it was called) was defeated 214 to 148, with two MPs abstaining. The ANC has said it plans to discipline members who added some slack to the “party line”.
This means Ramaphosa’s faction is going into the ANC’s elective conference on Friday emboldened. Cupcake is expected to have an easy route to a second term as ANC president given the numbers. He received 2037 nominations from ANC branches to Mkize’s 916.
But we’re not that hopeful for a New Dawn 2.0.
The ANC these days doesn’t have much to offer by way of talent for party or state leadership. But Ramaphosa is holding things together.
We should know the final results later today. 😬
ADULTING: Why you can’t buy nice things
It’s not just South Africa: there’s a cost-of-living crisis sweeping across the globe and talks of a global recession next year. So, when we cut out all the economic jargon, what’s the real reason we can’t buy nice things? 🤔
Central banks everywhere are raising interest rates and using other monetary policy initiatives to fight rampant inflation. We’ve unpacked this previously in our explainer here.
Take buying a home, for example. If the demand for homes is too high and outweighs the supply, it’s easier to reduce demand by making it more expensive to buy a home (higher rates) than to build more homes (increase the supply) to match the demand.
An increase in the interest rate from eight to nine percent on a 20-year bond for a home costing R1.5m would add about R950 to your monthly repayments. That means you may have to finally cut that DStv subscription, plus look for other savings.
The higher the cost, the fewer people there are willing to buy and, without increasing the supply, the market will reach equilibrium. This phenomenon will echo throughout the economy, and other purchases, over time.
And this is why nice things are getting so expensive, and fewer of us can afford them.
If someone around the Christmas braai blames this on SA’s crappy leadership, tell them this isn’t just an SA problem. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) in the US caused quite a stir recently when it hiked rates. Because the USD $ is the global reserve currency – cash stocks banks keep to cover debts – it shapes the globe’s financial reality. When the $ coughs, the world markets catch a severe cold.
Our advice? Don’t take on ANY new debt. Definitely consider saving the deposit and delay buying a new house until the rates come down, and don’t buy things on credit that you can’t afford to pay off without interest (within 30 days).
Say THIS/Not THAT this festive
We’re excited for a deserved rest this December, but the politically incorrect and nosy relatives? Not so much. Thus, our guide to getting through the festive season… peace of mind intact. Let’s face the truth, the most wonderful time of the year is not always so wonderful.
If you’re worried about how to handle those unpleasant small talks charged with difficult questions and unsolicited advice, don’t despair – we’ve got you.
🔹 Your life, your choices.
You’re an adult and don’t need to justify your existence or life choices.
“When are you getting married?” “When are you giving us grandkids?” It’s easy to get defensive off the back off these sort of remarks, or revert to childhood roles, and think: where did THAT come from, afterwards.
But it’s absolutely okay to make it clear that you’d rather talk about something else. You should not compromise your privacy to keep every would-be family journalist happy. 😆
🔹 Defer to the Constitution
When there’s the inevitable hot potato calls for your opinion on abortion rights, gender equality, and LGBTQ+ freedoms, politely refer to the Bill of Rights and remark about our incredible Constitution that emphasises freedom. It’s one way to indicate where you stand without risking things getting heated on your limited time off.
🔹 O ska ba fa chance – make the conversation about them
The best way to handle a nosy family member is to flip the conversation and make it entirely about them – without giving them a chance to interrogate you. Or drag you into a political debate you have no interest in having.
🔹 Always have an exit plan
An exit strategy is mandatory in life and in business. Most fights and heated arguments usually break out at the after party when everyone is too familiar. You might want to leave a little earlier to avoid the circus.
Raise a glass to the women who were in 2022
At /explain/, we’re all about celebrating women doing amazing things. So as we close off 2022, we bid farewell to these phenomenal women who passed on this year, after shaping the world.
At the age of 73, our Sandy bid a final farewell to Summer at her ranch in Southern California. The ‘Grease’ star spent more than 30 years battling breast cancer. The Australian singer broke through in the music industry with top singles ‘Physical’ and donated the proceeds of her work to Cancer research – plus established a foundation dedicated to plant-based medicine.
Your mom’s favourite TV sleuth had a diverse, award-winning career on the stage and in movies. Mrs Potts was 96 when she died and kept working far into her nineties as a lifelong ally to the LGBTQ+ community and an AIDS activist.
🔹Queen Elizabeth II
The highest profile death this year, Queen Elizabeth II passed away at her favourite Castle Balmoral at the age of 96. She was the longest-reigning British monarch – only beaten for longevity outside the UK by King Louis XIV, who took the French throne when he was four. She famously had tea with Paddington at her Platinum Jubilee on 5 June 2022 – marking 70 years on the throne. Lizzy was a widely beloved figure, even as she oversaw massive personal and political upheavals – in her family and country. She is succeeded by her son, now called King Charles III, who isn’t quite as popular as his mum.
The star of Mzansi’s breakout Netflix hit How to Ruin Christmas unexpectedly left us at the age of 36. Lurayi won the SAFTA Golden Horn Award for Best Supporting Actress in a TV Comedy in 2006 and repeated for her work on City Ses’la in 2011. HTRC season three – The Baby Shower – is streaming now.
Accountability monitor: Who “paid back the money” in 2022
We’re finally seeing repercussions for state capture gaining momentum. In September, International management consulting firm Bain and Company was slapped with a ban in August that bars it from doing business with the South African government for the next 10 years.
This happened shortly after a similar sanction of a three-year ban by the UK government. Treasury cited Bain’s “corrupt and fraudulent practices at the South African Revenue Service (SARS)” during the term of former commissioner Tom Moyane.
Let’s take a closer look at all the strides made this year to hold dodgy actors accountable:
🔹 27 March 2022 – The Gauteng High Court allowed the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit to stand up against the corruption committed by those involved in the purchase of the Gupta owned Optimum Coal Mine, by granting a R3.4b preservation order.
🔹24 May 2022 – The NPA and the Hawks arrested 15 people in a single week, Fin24 reported. This culminated in the biggest state capture arrests at that point: former Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama and former Trillian Capital Partners CEO Eric Wood, grand masters at the state capture game. 👏👏👏
🔹 10 June 2022 – We’ve also written about how the judiciary stop corruption in its own ranks. This year, the Office of The Chief Justice established an internal investigation of all their supply chain processes after allegations of impropriety surfaced in a deal with Thomson Reuters and ZA Square.
🔹 29 August 2022 – Ex-Transnet executives Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh and two other co-accused were arrested and appeared in court for their role in a R93m dubious tender at the parastatal.
🔹28 September 2022 – Disgraced former Minister of mineral resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, was released on R10,000 bail at the end of September, having appeared before the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court. Alongside him was former Sahara Computers employee Ugeshni Govender and Ronica Ragavan – a close associate of the Gupta family. The three are charged with fraud, theft, corruption and money laundering in relation to the R280m-million Vrede Dairy Farm project in the Free State, which the Zondo commission heard evidence on.
🔹 27 October 2022: Former acting Eskom chief executive officer Matshela Koko, the tweeting engineer himself, was finally arrested. He was joined by wife Mosima, stepdaughter Koketso Choma and long-time friend Thabo Owen Mokoena. While Koko has made a sport of publicly condemning current Eskom leadership and hyping his own term in office, the truth was he and friends ran a grand scam. They allegedly benefitted from a 2015 contract awarded to multinational engineering firm ASEA Brown Boveri (ABB) to install control and instrumentation systems at the Kusile power station near Emalahleni in Mpumalanga.
🔹29 November 2022: ABB has since agreed to pay over R2.5b in reparations for their role in the dodgy going-ons at Eskom.
Hurrah. Now, if we could just see more orange overalls added to the mix.
The 10 Downing Street revolving door
This year has been tumultuous for the UK, where God is now saving the King and the nation is on its third Prime Minister for the year.
In July, Boris Johnson (finally) resigned from his position as Prime Minister after three controversial years – from infighting within his cabinet to the Downing Street refurbishment funding and Partygate scandal. A wave of 31 resignations in two days was the last straw for the Eaton alum.
By September, conservative MP Liz Truss won the party leadership contest by pledging to make tax cuts on her first day in office.
But the markets Truss was hoping to win over were shocked by her personal brand of economics (Trussonomics), which can be described as: wholesale tax cuts and scaling back on contributions to social programs like the popular NHS.
Just 45 days into her term, Truss also announced her resignation, saying that she wasn’t capable of fulfilling her mandate. As some pointed out, she was outlasted by a head of lettuce. 🥬️
Following Truss’ resignation, Rishi Sunak was elected as leader of the Conservative Party and became the first PM appointed by the newly-coronated King Charles.
Sunak, a son of East African parents of Indian descent, is also the first person of colour to take residence at No. 10.
Don’t be fooled though as Sunak, another elite Oxford grad like Johnson and Truss, is cut from the same conservative cloth as his predecessors. The former Goldman Sachs hedge-fund manager was a leading voice behind the Brexit movement. He may be less of a firebrand than Johnson and more charismatic than Truss, but don’t expect a big shake-up in policy.
Now, these conservative politicians who rallied for Britain to leave the European Union must take responsibility for the long-term economic consequences of Brexit. At the moment, 57 percent of Britons believe Brexit was wrong. But you can be confident that member states of the EU are probably very happy that what’s happening in the UK is not their problem anymore. 😆
AI… Ja, well, no, fine.
Generative AI is the latest and greatest in artificial intelligence technology, using fancy algorithms to generate all sorts of wacky and wild content. Imagine being able to create your own personal memes, or design the outfit of your dreams without ever having to leave your couch!
This technology is set to be a game-changer for lazy people everywhere. So why not give it a try and let generative AI do all the hard work for you?
A robot wrote that copy 👆🏽😒. It’s related to the robot that made all the images, and a distant cousin of the one that is making all your friends look hot on instagram.
As you can tell by the extreme drop in quality, we’re not sweating about AI taking our jobs. But the developer community is sweating, because language models like ChatGPT are really good at guessing the logical next word or phrase. And that, at a really basic level, is like 70 percent of what coding is.
These engines are built to scrape and learn from massive amounts of data on the internet and are learning faster than kids picking up naughty words watching a Kevin Hart show. The more we use it, the better it gets. It is a net good for society, though, and not just because it makes you look hot on your socials.
The lessons we’re learning now will help us automate all kinds of processes in the future. Our lives, as ChatGPT said, will become more efficient and we will be able to unlock better solutions for our current problems. Long live the machines.
That’s it from us at /The Wrap/, an award-winning product of /explain.co.za/ – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾♀
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_Till next time, goodbye from the team_ ✌🏽