Just when we thought a tiger prowling the streets in the South of Joburg was the wildest thing that would happen this week, the ANC brought some jokes about joining the National Shutdown to protest the destructive forces of load-shedding.

That’s right. The party in power is protesting itself.

But this week we’re also celebrating the life of struggle and women’s rights icon Dr Frene Ginwala. Her legacy is an inspiring tribute to turning things around, even in the face of great adversity (and ridiculous ruling parties). 

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


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▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ OUR TAKE: Frene was the voice of the Rainbow Nation

women’s rights?

People like Frene Ginwala. That’s how. 

The struggle stalwart died at her Cape Town home last Thursday. She was 90. 

The tributes pouring in will remember her as the first speaker of our democratic parliament. But Ginwala was much more than that.

As the granddaughter of Indian immigrants who settled in Johannesburg in the 1800s, Ginwala was instrumental in setting up the ANC’s presence abroad following the movement being forced underground in the sixties. 
Notable feminist and academic Shireen Hassim recounts, “She loved to point out the ANC had more missions abroad than the apartheid government had embassies.”

Her achievements are dizzying. She: 

🔹 Qualified as a barrister in London.

🔹Obtained a doctorate from Oxford University. 

🔹Founded newspapers, and put out hard-hitting writing on SA’s political situation. 

🔹Worked with the UN to advise on peace-building globally.

🔹In later life, was one of the key figures behind the Pan-African Parliament, which successfully lobbied to scrap the insane debt incurred by the world’s poorest countries.

When she returned to lead SA’s newly-formed parliament after 31 years of exile, one commentator remembers being “struck by Frene Ginwala’s bright white hair and colourful saris; she stood out in the sea of dark and dull power suits on the television.” It “visually and symbolically challenged the normativity that power and leadership are white and masculine”. 

The ANC today is a declining and increasingly sexist organisation, which is reflected in the country it haplessly leads. It’s easy to believe SA is the same. 

But do yourself a favour and read up on Ginwala’s life as she is commemorated over the next week. It’ll remind you that we can yet build on the foundations she and her ilk of incredible anti-apartheid heroes have set. ✊🏾

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ BIG STORY: Legal action over Eskom inaction

Eskom may have an uprising on its hands.

A groundswell of anger against Eskom has recently emerged across societal lines: from court action by opposition parties to planned protests by civil society.

And you, dear reader,either reading this in darkness or preparing to be plunged into the dark later,know precisely why. South Africa’s energy supply is in crisis, with ever-worsening load-shedding.

Prominent advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC confirmed last week he had received the backing of UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, Build One SA leader Mmusi Maimane, and policy analyst Lukhona Mnguni for the court application.

The crisis has only deepened with every successive ANC administration. As the Financial Mail notes in this excellent history:

🔹In 1998 the government decided not to build more coal power stations, assuming incorrectly that the private sector would. 

🔹Attempts to fix this in 2004 were too little too late. By 2007 we had our first bout of load-shedding. 

🔹The world-class independent power producer (IPP) was sidelined in 2011, thanks to state capture actors like then Eskom’s CEO Brian Molefe, who insisted on relying on coal. 

🔹During the next few years, the lights were kept on at all costs (thanks to the World Cup and then good old-fashioned state capture), meaning crucial maintenance wasn’t done. 🔹Recently the battles between the two ministers overseeing Eskom (Mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe and Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan) have resulted in policy stagnation and indecision. Both have made terrible decisions or done too little. 

Much of the recent action was sparked by a final straw: the 18.65 percent electricity tariff hike granted by regulator Nersa last week. 

But the tariff isn’t the real issue. There are still costs to pay, and even if it’s reduced, we taxpayers will still foot the bill some way down the line, energy analyst Chris Yelland points out.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has cancelled his trip to the World Economic Forum, given the turn of events. Hilariously, his ruling party is joining the opposition’s calls to protest against its own government. 

Is Ramaphosa going to write a letter to himself and be shocked by its contents? 🙄 

The president’s previous interventions have yielded little fruit. Now, as South Africans unite around this pressing issue, his government will have to take real action for once – or face certain annihilation at next year’s polls.

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ *BRIEFS*

Joburg South tiger’s epic hide and seek game

What in the Tiger King is happening in the South of Joburg? 

An 8-year-old tigress, named Sheba, escaped from her enclosure on a farm in Walkerville and evaded capture for two days.🐅
Sheba was so good at the game that she even went home before running away again!

On her adventures she attacked a man, two dogs, a fallow deer, and a pig. 

🔹The dogs had to be put down because of the severity of their injuries. 

🔹The mauled man, William Mokoena, is expected to recover fully. 

🔹The man’s neighbour, Flora Maseko [Ed: and our new patron saint of the fortitude of SA Women], recounted her experience to TimesLive: “We heard the dog barking, then it began yelping. We rushed outside and saw the tiger attacking the dog. We had torches, and I started shouting ‘voetsek, voetsek!’ I was petrified, just looking at the size of the animal. I was gripped by fear, but I thought if we die, we should all die together because it cannot kill us all.”

It is suspected that Sheba’s enclosure had been tampered with and another tiger on the property was moved to a big cat sanctuary. The owner of the cats, one Rassie Erasmus (not our rugby hero Rassie, he is more of a Bulldog man), refused to be interviewed and threatened a journalist. Sounds very…. Joe Exotic.

The search sadly concluded in the wee hours of Wednesday morning when Sheba was located and euthanised after attacking another domestic animal and moving to a densely populated area. 

SA plays it pretty loose with regulations around exotic animals, only requiring permit applications that detail compliance with animal keeping best practice. There are a handful of species that are prohibited, but provinces decide on these. We think it’s probably time to tighten up on the laws.

There’s still noise on Russia’s western front

We’re one year on from the shock of watching President Vladimir Putin actually follow through with Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine. Look, we know you’ve taken that Ukrainian flag down from your Facebook profile and cancelled the Google alert so we’re here to catch you up.

The main debate in 2021 was around Western military aid and the sanctions on Russian exports, like those umbilical gas lines that provide energy to Europe.

Russia’s blockade of the Black Sea stalled grain exports, putting pressure on global food production and made the cost of global staples like sunflower oil jump to historic highs – Ukraine’s flag is literally a field of sunflowers on a blue sky.🌻

But back to the Western involvement to keep Ukraine’s surprisingly resilient war efforts on track: Putin has slammed them for the role they have played in the war – although, he has finally admitted that this is a war of conquest and, thankfully, ruled out the option of nuclear war.

So what can you expect to see in 2023?

  1. There’s the outside chance of the two countries reaching a peace agreement – but this is unlikely at the moment.
  2. Russia could launch a spring offensive and make significant gains. Historically, mobilising military forces during the winter months has killed more ambitious campaigns (see Napoleon and Hitler).
  3. Ukrainian President Zelensky could receive the military aid he’s requesting and Ukraine can reclaim all of its lost territories.
  4. The war continues as we know it and goes the same way as the lengthy US wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan.😕

Let’s not forget about the ongoing civil war on our own continent. The situation in Tigray, Ethiopia, claimed as many as 600,000 lives in a two-year conflict from November 2020 to November 2022, while Putin’s Ukraine meander has led to less than 7,000 casualties. 

The latest news on Ethiopia is that truce agreements have been signed, with South Africa playing a key role. It’s a sliver of good news on the global peace front.

Miss South Africa needs to fix its optics

Was it a bird, or an angel, or maybe elephant ears? We’re still not sure what to make of the national costume Miss South Africa Ndavi Nokeri wore at the 71st Miss Universe pageant. 

Designer Sello Medupe of Scalo Designs says the brief was “celebrate me and my heritage and the diversity of the people of Africa” and that it was interpreted as “angel wings, and purity, cheering Ndavi to fly to the world.”👼

The admittedly impressive Tsonga beadwork took five artisans two weeks to hand-bead, while the ornamental headpiece was designed by Henderson Worx.

Our concern is that the final presentation doesn’t truly showcase the sentiment and gives us veldskoen and animal print shirt vibes from Team SA’s parade lap at the Tokyo Olympics. 😬

It’s more shocking that these designs come from the same country that dominates at the Chelsea Flower Show  – 35 gold medals in 41 years is pretty impressive.

Maybe Cyril should use his committee building skills and assemble a crack team of SA designers to check the heels of our Brand SA ambassadors when we need to put our best foot forward.

Accountability Monitor: Celebrities caught in lotteries fraud

Some celebrities have been syphoning money from the National Lottery for years – talk about taking some chances. 🤭

But let’s rewind the cassette [Ed: this will make sense in a minute].

In 2020, Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, ordered a probe into the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) after years of corruption and mismanagement. 

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) then spilled the tea to parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition, revealing 50 investigations into alleged irregular allocation of funds by the NLC to unqualified beneficiaries.

Among those were celebrities caught chowing NLC cookies.

Tsotsi actors Terry Pheto and Presley Chweneyagae were investigated (separately) after it emerged that they might have profited from the corruption at the NLC. In November, City Press reported that Pheto was among eight people, including two lawyers, an accountant, a hotel group CEO and a former commissioner of the NLC, to be investigated by the SIU in a multi million-rand fraud scheme.

Chweneyagae, meanwhile, was implicated in a R15m stage musical that was meant to tour three provinces. There is very little evidence that it did.

And now, the self-proclaimed King of Kwaito – basically the Amapiano of the 90s cassette era [Ed: see?] – Arthur Mafokate had properties linked to him seized by the SIU in relation to NLC fraud. 

Ground Up journalist Raymond Joseph has written extensively about the NLC shenanigans and the consequences, earning him a 2022 Vodacom Journalist of The Year award. 

It is refreshing to see years of corruption at the NLC unravel right before our eyes. The NLC should, by right and law, be helping organisations that alleviate poverty and aid to the betterment of society. We can’t wait till heads really start to roll.

Measles goes back to school

Thought we were done with measles? Not so fast.

The Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the North West have already declared outbreaks, and now we wait for the coastal regions to follow now that the kids are back at school.😷

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said that of the 2,349 serum samples tested between October 2022 and the first week of 2023, 371 (15.7 percent) were confirmed measles cases. Along with a further 357 laboratory-confirmed cases were reported from the five affected provinces – Limpopo (140 cases), Mpumalanga (75 cases), North West (114 cases), Gauteng (16 cases), and Free State (12 cases). 

Worryingly, the Mzansi measles footprint shows cases continue to increase daily as blood and throat swabs are submitted for serology and PCR testing.

“The number of measles cases in the country continues to rise, however the number of specimens submitted in the last three weeks and the number of positive cases appear to be decreasing in comparison with previous weeks,” explains the NICD. 

“However, with schools opening in the second week of January, we need vigilance to identify and respond rapidly to cases in school or crèche environments. Important to note, the planned vaccination campaigns should continue with the same urgency, despite the decrease in cases in recent weeks.”

How does measles get around?

The same way Covid travelled: through the saliva or mucus droplets of an infected person. This is transmissible when they either cough or sneeze.  

How do you know you have measles? 

Moderate to high fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing, and a sore throat – basically flu symptoms.

What’s driving the outbreak?

Before you phone your anti-vaxxer cousin, know that about 61m measles vaccines were postponed or missed globally during the Covid pandemic.  

How do we stop it?

Childhood vaccination is the most effective way to combat a measles outbreak.

Adulting: Repay your sleep debt

What if we told you that you can catch up on sleep and fix your sleep hygiene? The existing research is all over the map, but at least we have allies in the fight to catch up on sleep like Dr. Alex Dimitriu. The only problem with his method is that your sleep debt (the number of hours you’ve lost) can’t exceed the number of hours you sleep per night. 😴

“If the sleep debt is greater, the time to recover becomes markedly longer, and complete recovery may not be possible,” he explains. “So, it’s important to not let sleep debt go too far.”

Head of Healthcare Leadership at Stellenbosch Business School, Professor Renata Schoeman, has a more local understanding of the missing Zzs in Mzansi, and tells us that sleep is extremely important, not only from a physical health perspective, but also a mental health one. 

“It [sleep deprivation] makes us unable to manage the day well and can put you at risk for mental health disorder if it’s chronic. It can also put you at elevated risk for both depression and relapse in an existing bipolar disorder. What we see in private practice is that 80 percent of people who come in saying they have ADHD, it’s actually chronic sleep deprivation.”

Schoeman says seven to nine hours is the magic nighttime number.  

Slaying your sleep debt could eliminate health risks like obesity and cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, not getting enough sleep could put you at a 33 percent increased risk for dementia, according to John Hopkins sleep researcher Patrick Finan. Now go and take a nap. 

So how do you catch up on sleep? 

A study has suggested that for every one hour of sleep debt, a person would need four consistent nights of seven to nine hours of sleep to recover. 

If you’re generationally sleep bankrupt like us, it’s time to reach for the melatonin before it’s too late.

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 the /explain/ 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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Until next time, goodbye from the team ✌🏽