WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Interest rate cut
The SA Reserve Bank had some good news for consumers today, deciding to cut the repo rate by 25 basis points to 6.5%. The repo rate is the rate at which the bank lends money to commercial banks. While the move will provide some relief to consumers (and add ever so slightly to the burden of pensioners), Business Day says it is not expected to have a significant effect on long-term sentiment as the country grapples with structural economic problems. In the year since the last interest rate cut consumers have faced challenges such as increased fuel prices and tax hikes. However, Fin24 said today that economists forecast basis point cuts could total as much as 75 over the next six months. ‘That would support a fragile recovery in sales and consumer confidence by loosening the cost of debt,’ it said.
Zuma testimony suspended
Jacob Zuma appeared to be on the point of tripping himself up when he forced an end to proceedings at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture yesterday. He complained that he was being cross-examined about issues that he could not possibly be expected to remember. The truth, however, might be closer to the fact that he was getting cornered about questions of interference in appointments at state-owned enterprises and his non-answers were suggesting he was either guilty or massively incompetent. The commission is today pondering the complaints raised by Zuma and his lawyers and will reconvene tomorrow if a compromise is reached. You can read about aspects of the saga in The Menace, the Big Read and What We Say.
‘Death squad’ charges dropped
Murder, robbery and racketeering charges against the so-called ‘Cato Manor death squad’ were dropped in the Durban High Court yesterday. The 27 policemen from the Cato Manor and Port Shepstone organised crime units have argued that the charges were politically motivated and designed to protect corrupt politicians. ‘During the seven years since the arrests, the members were subjected to suspensions, humiliation and disciplinary proceedings,’ the officers said in a joint statement today. They added that the prosecutions were authorised first by acting NPA boss Nomgcobo Jiba in 2012 and then by NPA head Shaun Abrahams in 2016 because police and prosecutors aimed ‘to protect their political puppet masters from prosecutions themselves’. The charges related to 45 alleged exra-judicial killings in KwaZulu-Natal.
THE DAILY MENACE
There’s two of them
When it comes to menace ‘honours’ not much separates Jacob Zuma and Donald Trump. Last night the US president continued his attack on the four Democratic congresswomen – specifically aiming his blows at Ilhan Omar, an American citizen who has been in the United States for almost 30 years. Trump told his MAGA supporters she was an anti-Semite and that she looked down at hardworking Americans, to which the MAGA brigade started chanting ‘Send her back! Send her back! Send her back!’ The fascist-like rally has been described as one of the most chilling and horrifying things ever seen in US politics. In the meantime, Zuma is trying to do to the Zondo Commission what he did to the country when he was president – destroy it. He has so far denied everything, or can’t recall anything and accused people of being apartheid spies. Now he is claiming he was brought there under false pretences and wants to head off into the sunset to avoid tough questions about how he used his position as number-one to make a quick buck. Since the Zondo Commission started Zuma has been the elephant in the room. With each witness who takes the stand, we discover that Zuma’s presidency was a white elephant: useless, troublesome, expensive to maintain and difficult to dispose of.
WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?
Independent Media sales overstated
Circulation figures for newspaper sales in Sekunjalo’s Independent Media stable have been recalculated after an external audit found that most of its titles had overstated their numbers in the course of a year. The Star has revised its figures by between 12.58% (Q4-2017) and 14.37% (Q1-2017). The Pretoria News revision is between 18.11% and 20.24% for the same periods. The Audit Bureau of Circulations of South Africa (ABC) allows titles to claim a sale for any paper sold at over 50% of its cover price. Media companies commonly include copies that are distributed to schools at no cost to the school as part of education initiatives – but they are paid for by a sponsor. In some cases Independent titles were found to have no sponsors and in others the sponsor was a sister company. Linked company sponsorships don’t count under ABC rules. Circulation numbers affect the amount that can be charged for adverts.
Ford workforce grows
It’s a drop in the ocean, relatively speaking, but good news nonetheless is that Ford South Africa has announced it will be employing 1,200 more people from August to meet international demand for its locally produced models, the New Ranger, Ranger Raptor and Everest. The knock-on impact in supplier industries is estimated at 10,000 new jobs. The manufacturer expects to increase annual output from 124,000 vehicles per year to 168,000.
IN THE SPORTS CORNER
Big payday for Netball Proteas?
The Proteas netball team duly dispatched Uganda 67-40 in their World Cup match in Liverpool, and qualified for the tournament semi-finals – and a potentially huge payday. Sponsor Telkom has offered to give every member of the 12-player squad R1-million if they win the tournament. If they make it to the final but lose they will each get R500,000. Title sponsor Spar has also committed to giving the squad R1-million to share if they win gold. The team, which has now won five games on the trot at the tournament, plays their final pool match against England tonight before taking on either New Zealand or Australia in the semi-finals.
The Open opens
The Open Championship got under way in Northern Ireland today. If you don’t have access to a television set you can catch up with the latest scores and how the South Africans are doing courtesy of News24.
It’s going to be a curious old Rugby Championship this year with only one round of fixtures and coaches doing some last-minute experiments with an eye on the World Cup starting on 20 September in Japan. Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has dispatched 15 players to New Zealand to prepare for their match against the All Blacks next weekend and chosen a distinctly experimental line-up for Saturday’s game against Australia in Johannesburg. Lock Eben Etzebeth will captain the team in the absence of the injured Siya Kolisi while flank Rynhardt Elstadt and scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies will make their Test debuts. The pack will, however, boast a significant total of 394 caps. The team is: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Francois Louw, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Frans Steyn, 23 Dillyn Leyds
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
SA’s got talent
The South African Youth Choir as the Americans are calling it – more formally the Ndlovu Youth Choir – who did so well in their audition for America’s Got Talent last month have smashed it again, this time with a performance on Tuesday which earned them a place in the semi-finals. They now progress to the live-show rounds which are held in Hollywood. You can watch their wonderful performance of Waka Waka here (and see the judges high praise).
That may look like a kid’s drawing of an excavator. Look again – it’s an X-ray image of a machine that someone in South Africa shipped to Australia, crammed with cocaine that they welded into its hollow parts. Australian border police released the image after they removed the R1.4bn haul (reportedly Australia’s biggest border drug bust to date), stuffed it with a dummy payload, welded it back together and sent it on its way. The recipient has been arrested.
And this? Believe it or not, the man with the weird toupée thought no-one would ask. He is a Colombian who was arrested in Barcelona last month after he stepped off a plane with a 500g parcel of cocaine stuck to his pate. The wig gave it away, said Spanish police who released the image yesterday – it was of ‘disproportionate size’, they said in a statement.
Baby Shark attacks the homeless
Cape Town officials have resorted to fining homeless people to keep them off the street, but Florida officials in West Palm Beach believe a continuous loop of the irritating ear-worm songs Baby Shark and Raining Tacos will keep the homeless at bay. AP reports that authorities hope the children’s songs played throughout the night will keep homeless people from sleeping on the patio of a city-owned rental banquet facility. West Palm Beach parks and recreation director Leah Rockwell told the Palm Beach Post they’re trying to discourage people from sleeping outside the glass-walled Waterfront Lake Pavilion. One homeless person said it was wrong to chase homeless people away with music and vowed that he would still sleep there.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Today we turn to God (@TheTweetOfGod) for a wry reflection:
I have lost control of the situation.
CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY
Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: Cooks are saving time – because of this? (13)
The solution to yesterday’s clue, Go bananas I’m sad we have not seen him! (11) is Asimbonanga – an anagram of ‘go bananas I’m’ (‘sad’ is the anagram indicator), and the isiZulu for ‘we have not seen him’ . Asimbonanga is, of course, one of Johnny Clegg’s iconic hits.
THE BIG READ
Jacob Zuma made some startling claims at the Zondo Commission that some of his comrades weren’t comrades but apartheid spies. The problem with spy allegations is that they are usually impossible to prove one way or another. In a News24 column Jeremy Cronin, a member of the SA Communist Party and a former member of the ANC’s national executive committee, reflects on Zuma’s testimony and says paranoia, with its attendant conspiracy theories and witch-hunts, is the oxygen on which security apparatuses world-wide thrive.
WHAT WE SAY
It is Mandela Day today – marking what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 101st birthday – and an occasion when the country likes to reflect on his massive contribution. Instead, many of us are frustrated and angry and the man responsible for much of that – Jacob Zuma – continues to play games designed to avoid accountability. The country lost nine years during which Zuma was president – nine years in which state institutions were hollowed out and robbed blind. The consequences have been a shocking failure to deliver services to the people Zuma was elected to serve and a wobbling economy. All of which makes Zuma’s pathetic tactics at the Zondo Commision of Inquiry into state capture doubly infuriating. In essence, he has invented a massive conspiracy theory going back 30 years, made grotesquely damaging allegations against some of his enemies inside the ANC and then, when questioned, fallen back on being unable to remember anything that happened during his presidency. It has been a performance as shameful as his leadership of the country.