19 November 2018
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Gordhan: I was fired on TV
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s much anticipated evidence to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture began this morning and at the time of writing he was recounting then president Jacob Zuma’s unusually intense interest in the R1-trillion Russian nuclear deal. It has been widely speculated that it was Gordhan’s resistance to this deal that cost him his job as finance minister in March last year. Gordhan told the commission Zuma had not given him the courtesy of telling him in person he had been fired and he found out on national television along with the rest of South Africa. He said the first signs of state capture were becoming evident early in Zuma’s presidency: ‘Closer to 2014 and to the current period, a new phenomenon began to arise … many of these strange things were at their peak in 2015 in many institutions all at the same time,’ he said. You can see News24’s live feed here.
Patricia’s party: what’s the point?
Patricia de Lille announced at the weekend that she would be forming a new party but didn’t add much detail – not even a name. Given the modest support she is likely to get – her Independent Democrats secured between 5% and 10% of the vote in Western Cape polls and very little elsewhere – it seems her primary objective is to draw away support from the DA. Perhaps she hopes to get it below 50% in the Western Cape, at which point she would be wonderfully placed to facilitate a coalition provincial government. Maybe she’ll call her new venture the Revenge Party.
Batohi heads NDPP shortlist
Advocate Shamila Batohi is being widely tipped to be President Cyril Ramaphosa’s choice for the key National Director of Public Prosecutions job. She became familiar to the South African public in 2000 as a prosecutor for the King Commission, where she grilled disgraced South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje. For the past decade she has worked as a legal adviser at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The other candidates shortlisted after last week’s interviews in parliament are Siyabulela Mapoma, Simphiwe Mlotshwa, Rodney de Kock and Andrea Johnson. Ramaphosa has until December 19 to make the decision.
California fire: 1,000 missing
The death toll in the California fires has reached 79 with 1,000 people unaccounted for. President Donald Trump visited the scene and suggested the US should take a leaf out of the Finnish book and rake its forest floors. This bewildered the Finns, who said they don’t. Trump also took time out from his schedule to call Democratic congressman Adam Schiff ‘little Adam Schitt’ in a tweet responding to criticism of the president’s appointment of acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.
THE DAILY MENACE
Nathan Ganas died in a hail of bullets during a hijacking in the driveway of his Durban home last year. He had taken out life insurance with Momentum, but when it came time to pay out to Ganas’ widow the insurer declined. It rejected a R2.4-million life insurance payout because it had found out that the 42-year-old victim hadn’t disclosed a health condition – raised blood sugar levels. Of course, Ganas’ death had nothing to do with diabetes. Despite an outpouring of public anger Momentum is adamant it won’t change its mind. ‘Once we have evidence that a client has not acted in good faith, we rectify the matter in an objective manner, and in the interest of fairness to all our clients … this would ultimately increase the premiums for all our clients.’ Perhaps Momentum has won its case in the fine print, but this menace has lost where it counts – the court of public opinion; its reputation is in shreds.
WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?
Bank on it
White Twitter worked itself up into a frenzy at the weekend over Discovery’s new bank and its announcement that black depositors would receive a 10% share in the company. AfriForum turned its attention from taking the EFF to court for long enough to accuse Discovery of racial discrimination against minorities. Discovery responded to a wave of Twitter criticism by pointing out that it was legally obliged to redress past racial discrimination.
Parts of the country were hit by power cuts from soon after midday to 10pm yesterday as Eskom’s generators battled to keep up with demand. But the power utility said today there was no immediate plan to introduce load shedding, despite 11 power stations having been taken offline. Spokesperson Dikatso Mothae said some of Eskom’s aging coal-fired power stations were ‘not operating optimally’.
IN THE SPORTS CORNER
Siya warned for using his head
Springbok skipper Siya Kolisi received a warning from Citing Commissioner David Pelton ‘for striking with the head’ after he head-butted Scotland’s Peter Horne in the rugby Test on Saturday. The incident took place in the 31st minute of South Africa’s 26-20 win over Scotland at Murrayfield. Having reviewed the video, Pelton last night ruled there were mitigating factors which meant that the action did not meet the red card threshold, ‘including the player being illegally prevented from re-joining the play’. The warning means Kolisi is free to play against Wales this weekend, but the decision will go down on his disciplinary record.
Three contenders for Bulls job
The race for the Super Rugby head coach for the Bulls rugby franchise has been narrowed down to three candidates. According to Sport 24, the three are Deon Davids, the head coach of the Southern Kings; Pote Human, the Bulls Super Rugby forwards coach and Currie Cup head coach; and Victor Matfield, a huge favourite with the Pretoria fans and former Bulls captain and Springbok lock. The final round of interviews will be held shortly.
Four days, four-run win
Who said Test cricket is boring? New Zealand grabbed an unlikely four-run win on the fourth day of the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi this morning. Chasing 176 for victory, Pakistan lost three wickets in the space of just eight runs, but recovered until they needed just 29 with six wickets in hand. A second collapse left the final partnership of Azhar Ali and Mohammad Abbas needing 12 for the win. Ali did a remarkable job of farming the strike but was trapped leg before to give New Zealand their narrowest victory ever.
Getting to the bottom of fartgate
A strong whiff of controversy has wafted over the Grand Slam of Darts championships in Wolverhampton. Two-time world champion Gary Anderson won Thursday’s match 10-2 to progress to the quarterfinals, but Dutchman Wesley Harms cried foul and explained his poor performance by accusing Anderson of leaving a ‘fragrant smell’. ‘It’ll take me two nights to lose this smell from my nose,’ he told Dutch TV. Anderson trotted out the ‘whoever smelt it dealt it’ defence (or in this case, ‘whoever threw the dart did the fart’). ‘If the boy thinks I’ve farted he’s 1,010% wrong,’ he responded. ‘I had a bad stomach once on stage before and admitted it. So I’m not going to lie about farting on stage.’ The British press has dubbed the stink over the championship Fartgate and Mick Twister (@twitmericks) summed up the colonic controversy rather eloquently:
A Dutch player losing at darts
Declared he’d been put off by farts;
The Scot said ‘Who smelt it,
We tend to find, dealt it –
Try sniffing your own nether parts!’
TWEET OF THE DAY
If, like us, you are battling to get your head around what is happening with Brexit, this tweet from the UK’s Newton Emerson (@NewtonEmerson) might make you feel a bit better:
My wife’s just switched the news off exclaiming ‘this is too complicated’ and resumed writing her aeronautical engineering thesis on ‘Improving the Performance of Thermoplastic Composite Structural Joints’.
CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY
Today’s clue, compiled by @7upislemonade, is Disturbing Hugh in a lift is pretentious (11)
The solution to Friday’s clue, Brexit starts with Conservatives getting optimistic (6) is BRIGHT – B (‘Brexit starts’) + Right (‘Conservatives’) gives a synonym for ‘optimistic’
THE BIG READ
Kevin Alexander ate 330 burgers in his quest to find America’s best burger – and when he ate a burger from Stanich in Portland, Oregon, he fell in love with it. ‘It had every element I craved: the griddled thin patty, the caramelised onions, the oozy American cheese. And the way it was built – the thoughtfulness of red relish and mayo on one side and the mustard mixture on the other – helped turn it into something greater than the sum of its parts.’ He declared it the winner and, by doing so, he broke it. This is not only about burgers it’s a story about doing journalism in the age of lists.
WHAT WE SAY
The presence of both the EFF and the BLF outside the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture to protest against Pravin Gordhan appears to be a telling metaphor for what the red-beret brigade has become. A few months ago the EFF was rampant, bringing considerable pressure on then president Jacob Zuma for his role in state capture. At the same time the BLF – all two members and a Gupta-funded smartphone – was busily defending Zuma. And then Zuma was gone and President Cyril Ramaphosa stepped in with a pledge to fight corruption. This undermined the moral rationale which the EFF had mustered in its fight against Zuma and it has since been opportunistically searching for new ways to excite its base (whites, Indians and journalists have all become targets). Today that search led it to the doors of the building hosting the commission, as it did the BLF. The overwhelming impression that this apparently nonsensical protest creates is that Gordhan knows something about the EFF leadership that it would rather keep hidden. And that it has lost its way.
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Chris, Jonathan and Martine