We’re taking a break. the.news.letter will be going offline for about a month from Monday 19 August because two of our mighty team of three will be travelling overseas. We also want to take the time to think about how we can make the.news.letter a sustainable operation (we’ve been putting together this daily digest for over a year, largely as a labour of love). If you have any ideas, please drop us a line. We’ll let you know what our plans are once we have all returned from various corners of the planet.
Chris, Jonathan and Martine
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Zim protest chaos
Scores of demonstrators poured onto the streets of Harare, Zimbabwe, this morning to protest the country’s worsening economic situation, in spite of a court ban that was issued on Friday. They were met by riot police who fired teargas and reportedly beat demonstrators. The protest had been planned by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) as food prices soared and the electricity supply was cut to about five hours a day. MDC supporters were dispersed by teargas as they sang protest songs on Harare’s streets. And Reuters reports ‘police also cornered a group of protesters and beat them with batons, with one women carried into a Red Cross ambulance.’
Controversial debt-relief bill becomes law
President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed into law the National Credit Amendment Bill, effectively wiping off some R13.2-billion to R20-billion of debt by poor people.The banking sector and opposition politicians have strongly opposed the legislation, saying the costs of the move have not been properly considered or quantified. The debt-relief legislation allows for various approaches to relief for certain heavily indebted consumers who earn less than R7,500 a month. Debt can either be suspended for a period of up to two years, or can be entirely extinguished. The bill only applies to unsecured debt of up to R50,000. The banks argue it is unconstitutional as it deprives lenders of their property. It is also feared that credit will become more expensive for low-income earners.
Trump ‘wants to buy Greenland’
US President Donald Trump wants to buy Greenland from Denmark, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper said the idea had been laughed off by White House aides but others said Trump was being serious. Greenland is the world’s biggest island – it’s land surface is 2,166-million square kilometres – and is an autonomous Danish territory. It is home to only 50,000 people. Greenland leaders laughed off the possibility of it being sold to the US. ‘We are open for business, but we’re not for sale,’ said foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger. Former prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen tweeted: ‘It has to be an April Fool’s joke.’ And the foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People’s Party, Soren Espersen, said: ‘If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof that he has gone mad.’ the.news.letter thinks it might be a ruse by Trump: once he gets his hands on the country he will change the name of Nuuk, the capital, and say he has begun living up to his promise to make the world nuke-free.
WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?
Moyo vs Old Mutual: Round 2
Former Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo was back in court today to try to force the company to let him return to work while it appeals a court ruling that found his dismissal did not follow proper processes. Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing Moyo, told the court Old Mutual had been acting in contempt of the ruling by refusing Moyo access to his office and by telling journalists that the company was proceeding with looking for a new CEO. News24 is carrying details of the arguments in live updates from the Gauteng High Court.
Auntie Pat gets tough
Patricia de Lille is challenging the hiring of 12 senior managers in the Public Works Department and is asking the High Court to set aside their appointments. She says their hiring was irregular as due diligence was not carried out on their qualifications. The 12 are among 668 senior and middle managers who joined the department between April 2017 and March 2018 whose appointments were investigated by the Public Service Commission. More than a hundred people could lose their jobs. The investigation was initiated by De Lille’s predecessor, Thulas Nxesi.
IN THE SPORTS CORNER
Boks on the box
After the high of winning The Rugby Championship trophy for the first time since 2009, Rassie Erasmus and his enlarged Springbok squad take on Argentina this weekend with a new-look side loaded with World Cup possibles. The penultimate Springbok match before the World Cup, and the last before the squad for that tournament is announced, will be broadcast from 4.55pm on SS1.
- New Zealand and Australia meet in their Bledisloe Cup match tomorrow morning (SS1, 9.25am) with the All Blacks looking for redemption and the Wallabies desperate to show last week’s shock victory was not a freak result.
- Football fans have a choice between Gameweek 2 of the English Premier League or the start of Spain’s LaLiga, making for an action-packed extended weekend of matches. The fun stats tonight with Barcelona visiting Athletic Bilbao (8.50pm, SS7) but the highlight is surely the “Big Six” clash between Man City and Spurs (Sat, 6.15pm on SS3). Arsenal open the Premier League weekend against Burnley (1.15pm, SS3) and Manchester United end it on Monday night against Wolves (9pm, SS3).
- Cricket fans can settle down to watch the second Ashes Test with Australia enjoying honours after the first day of play. Despite losing the entire Day 1 to rain, the Aussies are in a good position to push for the win after England were bowled out for 258, although England will be pleased to have removed David Warner for just three runs late yesterday so there may be a fightback from the Poms. Australia resumed on 30 for one this morning (daily from 11.50am on SS2).
- There is loads more rugby over the weekend, ranging from a bunch of northern hemisphere internationals tomorrow to Currie Cup matches (Griquas v WP at 6.55 tonight; Pumas v Cheetahs at 1.45pm tomorrow; and Lions v Sharks at 1.45pm on Sunday – yes, it is rugby on Sunday. All matches on SS1). Schoolboy rugby fans are in for a treat with the SA Schools and SA Schools A teams up against England and Argentina respectively (tomorrow 2.10pm and 11am on SS7) and two prime inter-schools matches, the Cape Town derby between Rondebosch and Bishops (12.10pm on SS10) and Paul Roos v Grey College (1.55pm on SS10).
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
Doing it for dads
Serena Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian has come out of Williams’ shadow to argue the case for men to have decent, paid time at home with their new children. Ohanian is not really someone who lives in the shadows, it should be said – he is the co-founder of Reddit – but Williams is arguably more of a household name. In an emotional piece for the New York Times’s beta site, Parenting, he notes that the paternity leave he took did nothing to quell his professional ambition, and talks about the life-threatening difficulties Williams faced after the birth of their daughter. He posted this photo of himself and little Olympia on Instagram this week: I took my full 16 weeks of #PaternityLeave and I’m still ambitious AF and (clearly) care about my career. Talk to your bosses and tell them I sent you. You can read his piece here.
Spiderman for peace
A Frenchman known as the ‘spiderman’ has scaled a Hong Kong skyscraper and unfurled a massive ‘peace’ banner. Alain Robert, who is known for his daring unprotected ascents of iconic skyscrapers across the world – he has scaled Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers and Sydney’s Lumiere – was arrested after making his way to the top of the Cheung Kong Centre today. His banner, aimed at urging peace in the protest-ridden territory, depicts the two flags of China and Hong Kong and a handshake. You can watch this short AP video of his remarkable ascent.
Romanian engineers have created a fully functional flying saucer – and say its extreme speed, efficiency and aerial agility will change the paradigm of flight. After more than two decades of engineering work, Razvan Sabie and Iosif Taposu created the All-Directional Flying Object (ADIFO). The flying saucer is a disc-shaped aircraft whose entire surface is a wing. The inspiration doesn’t come from UFO lore but is designed to mimic the back cross-section of a dolphin’s airfoil, radiating out in all directions from the centre. ‘The aerodynamics behind this aircraft is very well reasoned in hundreds of pages and confirmed by computer simulations and wind tunnel tests,’ Sabie told Vice magazine, who say the duo don’t appear to be a pair of rogue backyard engineers. ADIFO handles take-off, landing, slow speed manoeuvres and can rapidly push itself sideways in either direction. According to Sabie, the ADIFO has manoeuvringcapabilities unmatched by anything else in the air and can even fly upside down.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Friday’s fab tweeter is Hayley Carruthers (@mileswithhayley) for this tomfoolery:
Can’t believe someone stole my trainers and high vis vest … you can run but you can’t hide.
And here’s a Friday bonus: This tweet is the start of a thread from Koshiek Karan (@iamkoshiek) who has documented his efforts to understand what information Facebook has about him. It is a chilling read:
I downloaded my Facebook data & here’s what I found: [Thread]
1. My entire contact list, their phone numbers & the number of times I contacted them.
2. Full list of advertisers who have my information on a contact list for targeted marketing
The segmenting gets better….
CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY
Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: She hates ludicrous sports trophy (3,5)
The solution to yesterday’s clue, Policemen in Japan captured an assassin (5), is NINJA, which is hidden (‘captured’) in ‘policemeN IN JApan’.
THE BIG READ
As an angry, internet-obsessed 19-year-old, Fredrick Brennan founded the notorious chat board 8chan. For years he defended the racism, misogyny, and rape porn that proliferated on the platform, saying the hatemongers had free speech rights like everyone else. However, after the recent Walmart mass shooting in El Paso, Brennan – now 25 – is calling for 8chan to be shut down. In the feature, The Weird Dark History of 8chan, Wired gives readers a glimpse of Brennan’s tortured journey through the worst of the web and his attempt at redemption.
WHAT WE SAY
What’s the magic number:
If you’re talking about defamation it’s R500,000. That’s what Derek Hanekom wants from Jacob Zuma in damages after the former president called him a ‘known enemy agent’. It’s also the amount that Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago is claiming from Andile Lungisa, the ANC councillor who is notorious for smashing a water jug over the head of a DA opponent. Lungisa said Kganyago was a ‘lackey of racist people’ and called him the k-word. Trevor Manuel set the R500,000 benchmark with his successful defamation suit against the EFF.
Who has failed the people of the country
That would be one Busisiwe Mkhwebane – and this is according to Judge Ronel Tolmay, who ordered the public protector to pay more costs over the Estina Dairy Farm case. Another week, another court bollocking for Mkhwebane.
What gave us heart palpitations?
News from the economic front: There doesn’t seem to be any respite. The rand hit its lowest level of 2019 and we can expect more misery as the petrol price is expected to go up next month.
Who caused a flap for her support of the flip-flopping EFF?
That would be Helen Zille – she’s supporting Juju’s red beret bandits in their fight against the country’s editors, who want to have the party’s leadership hauled over the coals for issuing journalists with death threats.
Who is flipping nuts?
The production company that approached former SABC boss turned failed politician Hlaudi ‘I am the Alpha and Omega’ Motsoeneng to be the star of his own reality TV show. Hasn’t Hlaudi, who terrorised SABC staff and ran the corporation into the ground, been inflicted on us enough already?
Who is flipping incredible?
American gymnast Simone Biles who did a double-double – listen carefully: that’s a double back somersault with a full twist in each somersault. It’s so hardcore that gymnastics might have to create a new difficulty level to properly recognise how difficult it is.
Who we gave the menace of the week award to?
It was a tough call given how many menaces came out this week, but the award goes to repeat offender Iqbal ‘I’ve got three degrees’ Surve. When even the Guptas sue you for a R1-billion, then you must be an extra special menace.
What made us proudly South African?
Justice Edwin Cameron retires from the Constitutional Court on Tuesday. He has worked tirelessly as a human rights lawyer and has been described as the architect of the human rights response to HIV in South Africa, and the world. He’s been outspoken, courageous and a human being of massive integrity. We celebrate his contribution to making the world a better place.
And, finally, what made the.news.letter team proud?
The appearance on bookshelves of team member Jonathan Ancer’s new bookBetrayal – the secret lives of apartheid spies. Early reviews have been overwhelmingly positive with the Daily Maverick’s Marriane Thamm describing it as ‘… gripping, vivid and unputdownable …’.
WHAT THEY SAY
As South Africa marks the seventh anniversary of Marikana, Business Day has a thoughtful editorial.