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Joburg steals the headlines this week for another loose tiger and a little distraction from the city council with a brand new mayor from a minority party. It isn’t the news we wanted to share with you, but here we are.
Meanwhile It’s 1-0 to Jacob Zuma in his latest round of Stalingrad related to the arms deal, while his comrade Lindiwe Sisulu is making news for all the wrong reasons, as usual. The tourism minister is masterminding a billion-rand destination marketing deal with Tottenham Hotspur that could finally see Cyril boot her out of his cabinet. Spending that kind of taxpayer money while the citizens are struggling to make ends meet is a worse look than Gwede’s power ship obsession.
So, sit back and infuse your mind with empowering and easy-to-understand news brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team. 😄
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ OUR TAKE: Don’t split the vote
Cry the beloved city. As Johannesburg’s roads, water infrastructure, and other services fall apart, the petty infighting between coalition partners has resulted in another mess and the eighth mayor since Herman Mashaba resigned four years ago.
His name is Thapelo Amad of the Al Jama-ah party – the first Muslim political party to be represented in Parliament- where it holds just one seat alongside 11 councillor seats throughout the country’s municipalities (three of which are in Joburg). No wonder he’s being called the 1% mayor. 🙄
Don’t bother getting to know too much about him, though. He’ll probably just keep the seat warm as the ANC and EFF work out their coalition agreements in Gauteng’s three major metros.
🔹Background:The EFF and Action SA basically forced the DA into power across those same metros in 2021, when no party won an outright majority.
After being burned by coalitions in Gauteng previously, the DA had said it wouldn’t govern unless it had an outright majority. The EFF and ActionSA voted for the blue party’s candidates anyway, and effectively forced them into power under tenuous circumstances.
But these agreements were based more on how much power could be had, as opposed to putting together an effective government. Hence, the DA-led coalition fell apart and the DA’s Mpho Phalatse – by all accounts a decent leader – got the boot.
Phalatse was first ousted late last year over a bun fight for leadership positions between parties in the city, but she won her way back through court action. It was only a matter of time before she was given the boot again, given the numbers, and the only thing preventing it was the EFF and ANC making a pact across the rest of the province’s metros.
They were not represented in the DA-led coalition but hold 44% of the council seats between them. They just needed to win over a few smaller parties to wrestle control from the DA. That has come to fruition.
The DA did itself no favours by not adequately including the minority parties in its coalition government.
The ANC’s Dada Morero is waiting to pounce on the mayoral seat once he can confirm support from the EFF and win an outright majority.
Meanwhile, the EFF has taken aim at Tshwane mayor Randall Williams (DA) after a damning audit report showing R10b in irregular spending. The fight for Gauteng is far from over.
Our advice? Don’t split the vote going forward. Avoid voting for smaller parties who are now wielding ridiculous amounts of influence that don’t reflect the voters’ will.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ THE BIG STORY: Sisulu’s R1bn shocker
When she’s not losing badly at ANC leadership races, Lindiwe Sisulu also doubles up as our Tourism Minister. More’s the pity. She scored an F on the Mail & Guardian’s scorecard last year and just 3/10 on News24’s similar rating system – among the lowest for both.
Now, a Daily Maverick investigation has linked her to a ridiculous proposal to spend nearly R1b on, bizarrely, sponsoring elite English Premiership football club, Tottenham Hotspur.
Why exactly football fans are the best target of our country’s marketing efforts is anyone’s guess. SA Tourism (SAT) is behind the three-year proposed deal worth £42.5m, or just under R1b.
To put that in context, the Treasury’s budget allocation for Sisulu’s tourism department was R2.4b for the 2022-23 financial year.
SAT sits under Sisulu’s department and describes itself as “the tourism marketing arm of the South African government”.
While destination sponsors are a trend in European clubs, we don’t buy the leaked claims that SA Tourism will receive media exposure to the value of six times the deal.
A tourism expert consulted by Daily Maverick called these claims about the marketing value of the deal “absolute, unmitigated bullshit”. 😆 That’s probably our favourite quote on this saga – which has dominated news headlines since breaking on Wednesday.
Sisulu has released a statement slamming the article as inaccurately capturing her involvement. “Like any other board, the SAT board is independent, and Minister Sisulu does not interfere with its decisions.” But she didn’t deny the proposal’s existence.
The deal still has to be vetted by the Treasury, and there were apparently hopes President Cyril Ramaphosa would announce it with a flourish at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 10 February.
Considering Ramaphosa is widely expected to axe Sisulu in his upcoming reshuffle following her defying the ANC over the Phala Phala matter, we highly doubt it. And now this backlash will probably hasten his hand. Good riddance.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ BRIEFS
Another tiger in the urban jungle
Just another normal day in South Africa. Friendly faces, sunshine, load shedding and… another tiger on the loose, this time spotted in Edenvale. Luckily the “voetsek” energy was still reverberating through Gauteng following the last tiger sighting, and this cub didn’t maul anyone.
It is a worrying trend now, though. How is having a tiger as a pet a thing? Mzansi’s streets are crazy enough already. (Pitbulls, anyone?)
As we’ve said before, the legislation needs to change. According to the National Council of SPCAs, only some provinces require permits for the possession and keeping of exotic animals, such as tigers. Gauteng, Northwest, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo like to walk on the wild side, with no permit required for the Chinchillas, Iguanas, and tigers casually chilling in your backyard. 😳
News24 reported that the cub was captured, sedated, and taken to a sanctuary for safekeeping. The SPCA has since obtained a search warrant from the police to get confirmation of the tiger’s exact location and verify its ownership.
Alien species roaming Joburg roads seems like something out of a Neil Blomkamp film, and the second related incident in the space of a week points to some less-than-legal trading activity among the Highveld locals.
Indeed, a recent report found that South Africa is a hub for breeding live tigers for their parts, in contravention of the Convention on International Trade and Endangered Species (CITES). Between 2011 and 2020, the country exported a total of 359 live tigers and 93 tiger parts, according to official data. Given there are only about 4 500 wild tigers left in the world, and they’re not native to Africa, that’s wild.
Meanwhile, Midvaal Local Municipality mayor, Peter Teixeira, said his government is looking at ways to toughen up by-laws surrounding the of keeping wild animals as pets. We think others should follow suit.
Some light breaks the load shedding darkness
We’re going to need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission after load shedding is suspended; that’s how traumatised citizens seem to be. Here are some recent developments aimed at ending the crisis:
- The ANC is pushing for President Ramaphosa to call a National State of Disaster that will allow for relief funds and plans to be expedited. The only problem that we can see is that Gwede Mantashe will head up the disaster management centre and have a clear path to his Karpowership dream.
- Cyril’s National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) – that he spoke into existence during his energy crisis family meeting in July last year – made its plan to recover and add over 8,000MW of capacity in 2023 public. That’s enough electricity to put us in a surplus because we’re short 6,000MW on Stage 6 load shedding. It does hinge on a near-miracle fix for Kusile’s chimney collapse, though, as well as an exemption for the sulphur emissions. The plan also includes upping our electricity imports from neighbouring countries, completing the first 200MW of battery storage, and going on an energy efficiency drive to help consumers lower demand.
- The Treasury will help Eskom raise the R5m it needs to secure the diesel supply until the end of the budget year.
Look, any progress on this crisis is a good thing and will be welcomed by all South Africans.
Why so few? The dilemma of low voter turnout
Tunisia recorded a dismal 11 percent voter turnout in the recent parliamentary runoff held in January. Still, it was much better than December’s first round, which had a participation rate of just 8.8 percent. 😱
The electoral commission said that about 887,000 voters cast ballots from a total electorate of 7.8 million. Sies.
Critics of President Kais Saied [Ed: Picture Joe Biden but mix in the Joshua Doore balding] reckon Tunisians chose not to vote in these elections to reject his administration’s ineffectiveness in addressing the cronyism that plagues the country’s economy.
Sunday was a rough day for Saied. And it’s just the latest setback for him. Since his abrupt power grab in 2021, Saied pulled some classics from the Dictator Playbook and transferred much of the legislature’s authority to himself.
He even went as far as dissolving parliament and passing a new constitution that gave him limitless power.
But a low voter turnout isn’t unique to Tunisia. Globally, voter turnout has been on the decline since the 1960s. This is especially true for democratic nations (remember, we weren’t one until 1994).
South Africa’s voter turnout made headlines back then with those infamous pics of snaking queues. But it has declined due to the trust in the ANC dipping. Analysts have previously noted disillusioned ANC supporters would rather stay at home than vote for a declining party or its opposition. Only 48 percent of the 26 204 579 registered voters turned up for the 2021 Local Government Elections.
And the youth demographic is the most disillusioned when it comes to voting.
As one 28-year-old put it in this article, his decision not to register to vote was based on “the fact that I have wasted my time voting in previous years”.
We’re not in the business of influencing anyone (although we have a good-looking enough team 😎) but voting matters. Our votes will determine which direction South Africa will go in the future. If you’re fed up with the swimming pool-sized potholes and rolling blackouts which could send us back to the office 😒, register to vote and show up.
With small parties that make up tiny percentages of the vote increasingly having an out-size influence on fragile coalitions, your vote matters more than ever.
JZ outlasts another arms deal judge in a game of Survivor
The Jacob Zuma arms-deal-corruption-trial-roulette keeps spinning. The latest news is that Judge Piet Koen – who has valiantly been trying to get the damn trial to actually start for the past two years in the face of Zuma’s delaying tactics – is walking away. The respected judge announced he would recuse himself on Monday. He will be replaced by Judge Nkosinathi Chili.
The reason? A man named Billy Downer.
That’s the guy in charge of proving Zuma did something wrong before Judge Koen. He represents the South African state and will be arguing the case prepared by the National Prosecuting Authority – which has been said to be pretty solid.
As we told you back in 2021 (!), Downer has been on the case for YEARS, waiting for his moment to argue it as Zuma’s team delayed it from being heard. Now he finally gets to do so… and Zuma’s team is saying he’s got a vendetta BECAUSE he’s been on it for years. Make it make sense?
Zuma’s lawyers made a formal argument before Koen, insisting that Downer be removed, saying he has made prosecuting the case a personal legacy project.
But Koen didn’t buy it, and in October 2021, he dismissed Zuma’s request to have Downer removed from the case and shut down subsequent appeal attempts.
A frustrated Zuma then initiated a private prosecution against Downer and News24 journalist Karyn Maughan after Downer shared publicly available court documents with the journalist, which contained a sick note.
Zuma then accused them of violating the National Prosecuting Authority Act. It’s a bit of a stretch considering the docs were not marked as confidential, but he was granted permission to go ahead with the private prosecution, nonetheless. It continues in August.
Using that as leverage, Zuma’s legal team insisted again that this meant Downer should step down. Judge Koen used the opportunity to ask whether this meant there were issues with his previous decision regarding Downer. “When Koen asked for submissions on whether he should recuse himself, given his previous apparent defense of Downer, Zuma’s lawyers – who up until then had not expressed any difficulty with the judge continuing in the case – argued that he should step down.” News24 notes.
And that, kids, is why Judge Koen is no longer on the case, why Downer still has to watch his back and why this $2.5bn arms deal case, dating back to 2005, STILL hasn’t begun. Sigh.
TikTok trends go vintage
“Time will explain.” Persuasion, 1818. Those priceless words penned by Jane Austen two centuries ago have proven true as a new generation of Zoomers is rediscovering the classic author.
Janeites – as Austen’s new fans are known – are out evangelising her themes of friendship and love.
Gen Z (zoomers) loosely consists of people born between 1997 and 2012 and, according to Alice Hodges, who works at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, they have seen an increasing number of this demographic visiting – even children as young as eight.
Why the Jane Austen explosion? Blame #BookTok, a sub-section of the popular app TikTok, where users discuss books, authors, and even the fashion in Austen’s titles.
Think of it as cosplay, but for us book nerds (aren’t all nerds technically “book nerds”?). Last year in July, TikTok UK picked five #BookTok laureates who guide readers through a new book every month. They started with Austen’s Persuasion.
It’s giving staying power!
It’s also not the only part of the past Gen Z is enjoying.
For some inexplicable reason, basic digital cameras – the ones that were eclipsed by the camera tech inside most smartphones today – are back in fashion. Think Sony Cybershot and Nikon Coolpix point and shoots. 👀
Kevin Gordon, the vice president of AI Technologies at NexOptic, (a tech camera company), said in an interview with LifeWire that what was a drawback then is “now iconic”, with the quirks of old-school cameras like red eye and motion-blur driving the new photographic aesthetic.
Look, we’ve been here for the Y2K fashion comeback, and can’t wait to get the functional pockets from cargo pants and baggy jeans, but don’t make us give up our Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra for some outdated photography aesthetic.
Our belts have never been tighter
When the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) ups the repurchasing rate like it did last week, it is trying to curb inflation by discouraging debt. Less demand for goods means prices don’t rise as sharply, and the economy can self-correct. That’s the plan, at least.
But what about the everyday essential items? Those prices are getting out of hand. How are people expected to live when basic goods are hard to afford? Let’s look at the factors driving these prices up:
- Chicken: The traditionally cheapest animal protein has seen a 20 percent price increase escalation in the last year. Why? Input costs like chickenfeed are rising because of the war in Ukraine. Our load shedding crisis is also manifesting in record losses of eggs and chicks due to the disruption to heating and cooling equipment.
- Mealie meal: Mzansi’s staple food has not been immune to price-inflation either, shown by an almost 34 percent increase over the last 12 months. Farmers have been fighting drought for years, and these additional costs are now also being felt by the consumer.
- Fuel: The biggest contributor to the upward pressure on our grocery bill is beginning to experience a plateau. After the pandemic tanked demand for oil and forced the workers home, the chief dinosaur juice-producing nations cut supply. Big Oil then experienced the biggest increase in profits ever and was understandably slow to put the cash cow out to pasture – luckily for us, they have.
While these three examples serve as a microcosm of the greater inflation problem, it is important to note that the farmers who produce our food are also facing the same economic pressures as consumers. Debt repayments on farming equipment and land are rising in step with the rates hikes.
And when you factor in the additional costs to guard their assets against the effects of load shedding, then it is easy to see why our food is costing more. Economists are forecasting at least one more rates increase for 2023, but the outlook does seem better for the end of the year.
Maybe the belt can tighten by one more notch?
Wise words from the world’s oldest woman
Maria Branyas Morera (115) claimed the Guinness World Record as the oldest person in the world after 118-year-old Lucille Randon died in a nursing home last month. Both women survived two world wars and two global pandemics during their time on this planet.
In her interview, marking her entry into the annals of history, Branyas stated the secret of her longevity: “Order, tranquility, good connection with family and friends, contact with nature, emotional stability, no worries, no regrets, lots of positivity and staying away from toxic people.”
The Hakuna Matata approach to life is something we can all benefit from, but emotional stability will be challenging in these anxious times of power-cuts and roaming tigers.
But, you officially have permission on one aspect within your control: Avoid all the toxic people in your life this year.
We salute you, Maria.
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 ✌🏽