WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
PP report pooh-poohed
It never happens that a politician comes out to bat for a rival – especially if the rival is Helen Zille. But Basic Education Minister Education Minister Angie Motshekga has come out swinging for the Western Cape premier after Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found Zille had violated the executive members’ ethics code. The PP was investigating a complaint that the premier had interfered to help her son, Paul Maree, get access to tablets purchased by the provincial department of education. Maree had volunteered to tutor matrics at schools in poor areas for free and returned the tablets afterwards. Motshekga said she had supported the project and was surprised and disappointed by the finding. Zille plans to take the report on review, along with the PP’s previous report about her colonialism tweets that Mkhwebane found were likely to cause racial tension, divisions and violence in South Africa.
Mr Fearfokkol may have something
to fear after all
The PP also found that former sports minister Fikile Mbalula violated the constitution by asking Sedgars, a supplier to SA’s Olympics body, to bankroll part of his family’s R500,000 holiday to Dubai in 2016. Mbalula and Sedgars have both denied any wrongdoing, but Mkhwebane – who said she won’t take remedial action against Mbalula because he’s no longer a member of the executive or parliament – has asked the NPA to investigate if any money-laundering had taken place. Mbalula, who refers to himself as Mr Fearfokkol, is now in charge of the ANC’s election office.
St Francis burns
The coastal resort of St Francis Bay is reeling after a runaway fire destroyed 13 homes this week and damaged another two. The cause of the fire, which has been contained, is still being determined – police say a group of smokers may have ‘inadvertently’ started the fire, while mayor Horatio Hendricks has blamed residents of a nearby informal settlement. He said they had set a fire to clear land for occupation when the wind came up and they lost control of it. Residents and holidaymakers who were evacuated have been allowed to return. There were no injuries.
EFF off to editors
The SA National Editors’ Forum this week turned to the Equality Court in its attempts to stop the EFF from threatening and harassing journalists. This follows attempts by the organisation to get the red berets around a table to discuss what Sanef said is ‘blatant hate speech’. It said women journalists ‘who have reported critically on the EFF have been called “whores”, “witches”, “bitches” and “c***s”, and calls have been made for them to be raped and attacked’. The EFF said it would fight the attempted interdict and then resorted to naming journalists who it said were part of the ‘Ramaphosa Defence Force’ and the ‘Pravin Gordhan media gang’.
Wanted: Grace Mugabe
South African police have issued an arrest warrant for Grace Mugabe over her alleged assault on model Gabriella Engels in Johannesburg in 2017. The former Zimbabwean first lady reportedly struck Engels with an electric cable when she found her in a hotel room with the Mugabe sons. The wife of then Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was given diplomatic immunity by South Africa but Engels challenged the decision in court and it was overturned. The Zimbabwean government has said it would not extradite her to South Africa as this would amount to harassment.
Trump troop withdrawal ‘too soon’
US President Donald Trump has pulled the remaining 2,000 US troops out of Syria in spite of of reservations from just about everybody in his administration and is now reportedly about to halve the number in Afghanistan – from 14,000 to 7,000. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis – held to be the one remaining stabilising influence in the White House – quit after the Syria decision. Trump said he took the step because ISIS had been defeated in Syria, but his own intelligence services dispute this. The move took Trump’s fellow Republicans by surprise and several have warned that it will have dire consequences.
THE DAILY MENACE
Wheels of misfortune
Almost 800 dead on SA roads in just 18 days, Holiday death toll mounts after bloody week, Grim start to festive season … these headlines paint a bleak picture of people making their way – or trying to make their way – to their Christmas destinations. There has been a 16% increase in the number of fatalities compared to the same period last year. Drivers getting into unroadworthy vehicles and drunk, impatient, fatigued and speeding motorists are causing the carnage. The police have arrested 1,109 menaces for drunken driving and five menaces were arrested for driving between 189km/h and well over 200km/h. The worst speedster was caught in the Free State travelling at 228km/h on the N3 near Warden.
WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?
Zuckerberg loses billions, has many left
Mark Zuckerberg lost around $19 billion personally this year as the value of Facebook crashed. But no-one needs to feel sorry for him just yet: he still has $56 billion left over. By the end of next week, analysts suggest he will have lost more money this year than any of the world’s 500 richest people. Heretech journalist Brian Phillips from The Ringer looks at some of the rot behind Facebook’s fall.
IN THE SPORTS CORNER
The Special Gone
The Special One has gone. Manchester United fans were celebrating the end of Jose Mourinho’s two-and-a-half year reign at Manchester United this week. It seems a 3-1 loss to Liverpool was a stumble too far – and reports that players were threatening to leave the club if Mourinho did not go. The baby-faced Ole Gunnar Solskjær, a former player who has moved into management, has taken over as caretaker manager for the remainder of the season. His first match in charge of Manchester United will be against Cardiff on Saturday amid a full weekend of English soccer.
Uncapped bowler added to Proteas
Dane Paterson has been added to the Proteas squad for the opening Test against Pakistan on Boxing Day. The uncapped bowler has played in ODI and T20 matches for the Proteas but if the selectors opt for a four-pronged seam attack then he could earn his first Test cap. Paterson was added after Vernon Philander was forced to join Lungi Ngidi on the sidelines due to injury.
Check out Trevor Noah’s entertaining remix of Donald Trump’s Best Words of 2018. As the US President once said, ‘I know words … I have the best words’. And so it seems he does.
Keith Richards gives up drinking alcohol on his 75th birthday. We’ll say that again: Keith.Richards.Gives.Up.Drinking. And again: KEITH RICHARDS GIVES UP DRINKING. Yes, KEITH RICHARDS GIVES UP DRINKING. And once more with emphasis: KEITH RICHARDS GIVES UP DRINKING. Why, you might ask, bother stopping when you are 75 and every bit of evidence suggests you have an iron liver? He got bored with it, the Rolling Stones guitarist explained.
TWEET OF THE DAY
We were looking for a Christmas-themed tweet but thought this one from devillefilm (@devillefilm) was better than the lot of them:
Just google mapped a place I’m working at tomorrow, and it’s possibly one of the finest google map photos I’ve ever seen. The utter hopelessness is just delicious.
And here, as a bonus, is Business Insider’s selection of the best South African tweets of 2018.
CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY
Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan and designed to get you into the Christmas spirit, is: Carol – shame-faced tory with less TV work? (3,6,4,2,9)
The solution to last week’s exceptional clue, As Dorothy once said, alcohol kept her enemies drunk! (6,2,5,4,4) is, THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOMEan anagram of ‘alcohol kept her enemies’ (‘drunk’ is the anagram indicator).
THE BIG READ
Every year Gerald Goldstein, a former Baltimore detective, sends a Christmas card to the prime suspect in a murder case he investigated. The murder of Margaret “Muffie” Yeatman took place 32 years ago. Washington Post journalist Mary Jordan wrote about the murder in 1986. With so much evidence against the prime suspect the investigation just seemed to stop. Three decades later Jordan revisits a case that has gone ice cold and writes about an affair, the Mob. a murder.
WHAT WE SAY
If ever there was a pithy illustration of South Africa’s divide it was the reactions to the Public Protector’s reports in the past week. Her finding against Helen Zille sparked social media outrage from some of the white community and glee among black people while the one against Fikile Mbalula gave rise to much the opposite. Credit then to Basic Education Minister Education Minister Angie Motshekga for going above it all and defending Zille – an extraordinary step in South African politics. The stated facts suggest it might be more difficult to make a similarly coherent argument in support of Mbalula, but the real issue here is the competence, or otherwise, of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Her record in the position is poor and some of her rulings are so bizarre that she has little credibility: in the circumstances, why believe one ruling and not another? The real villain of the piece is Mkhwebane herself and she should be removed from the job as soon as possible.
As we announced last week, we are producing the.news.letter on a weekly basis for four weeks (it’ll be back in its full five-days-a-week glory from January 14).
We hope you are all having a great holiday,
Chris, Jonathan and Martine