Cyril joins SARB fray – and Zuma complicates things | AU suspends Sudan | 14 lions on the loose

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cyril joins SARB fray – and Zuma complicates things

President Cyril Ramaphosa last night entered the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) fray to contradict ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule by saying the party had not changed its policy on the bank’s mandate. Magashule sent the rand tumbling when he emerged from the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on Tuesday to say it had resolved to expand the bank’s mandate – a red flag to investors. His comments were immediately denied by party heavyweights, including Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, but the row rolled on and last night Ramaphosa intervened, reiterating support for the Reserve Bank’s independence. ‘It is our desire for the South African Reserve Bank to be publicly owned. However, we recognise that this will come at a cost, which given our current economic and fiscal situation, is simply not prudent.’ About two hours after Ramaphosa’s statement Jacob Zuma climbed into the ring and tweeted, ‘Is there policy uncertainty? Here is a reminder of one of the resolutions at the last ANC elective conference in Nasrec’ – alongside a photo of a resolution taken in December 2017. The rand was trading at over R15 to the dollar this morning.

AU suspends Sudan

The African Union (AU) last night suspended troubled Sudan after an estimated 108 people were killed by soldiers supporting the ruling Military Council. The AU demanded a ‘civilian-led transitional authority’ be appointed to resolve what has a protracted conflict. In the latest bloody incident protesters were killed on Monday after staging a sit-in outside the army’s headquarters in Khartoum. Doctors claim the death toll was 108 but the Military Council said it was 48. The Military Council has called for snap elections.

Brown takes a hit too

The.news.letter reported yesterday on the South Gauteng’s High Court ruling that the EFF had contravened the Electoral Act when leader Julius Malema published journalist Karima Brown’s cellphone number on Twitter. Brown received death and rape threats and took the matter to court. Details of the judge’s findings have since been aired, and it turns out that eNCA presenter Brown – not everybody’s favourite journalist  – took a few klaps herself. Judge Fiona Dippenaar dismissed Brown’s demand that a R100,000 fine be imposed on the EFF and for a public apology from Malema. She said Brown’s ‘provocative’ and ‘strident and political’ attitude towards the EFF amounted to ‘a weighty mitigating factor in determining an appropriate sanction’.  

Lions at large

Phalaborwa residents have been urged to be ‘alert at all times’ as a pride of lions are on the loose. It is believed about 14 lions escaped from Kruger National Park yesterday. The Limpopo government has allocated field rangers to monitor the pride’s movement and recapture them. Officials are concerned about the safety of mineworkers as the Foskor mine has been identified as the immediate danger zone. According to SANParks, lions have previously been spotted outside of the Kruger National Park’s perimeters.
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Transnet treasurer was kept in the dark 

Transnet’s former group treasurer has told the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture that then Transnet CFO Anoj Singh had instructed that she not be allowed into the company’s data centre when bids for 1064 locomotives were being evaluated. The locomotive deal is being probed at the inquiry. Mathane Makgatho testified that she ignored the instruction and spent a week in the data room where she found irregularities with some contractors, including that several of them had the same BEE partner, which she considered a red flag. The role of the treasury department in subsequent negotiations was ‘diluted’ and she was excluded from some meetings. Transnet signed contracts for the supply of locomotives with the China South Rail for R25-billion. Advisory fees of over R5-billion were paid to Gupta-linked companies in relation to the contracts. 

SARS changes the rules

New SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter announced this week that the Revenue Service has changed a number of rules for the 2019 tax season. The biggest is the ceiling for submitting tax returns – if you earn under R500,000 you no longer need to do so. But there are terms and conditions that are worth reading. Business Tech has a helpful summary of other changes here. 


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Super tight table

The Bulls and Highlanders played out a 24-24 draw in their crucial Super Rugby match in Dunedin this morning. The result has almost ended the New Zealand side’s hopes of a playoff place, but just kept alive the Bulls chances. The Bulls move up to fifth on the Super Rugby standings and will have the fate of their playoff qualification in their own hands when they take on the Lions in their final pool match next weekend. With the Crusaders, Jaguares, Brumbies and Hurricanes looking virtually certain of sharing the top four places on the log, there are only four quarter-final places left up for grabs. All of which makes the rest of this weekend’s matches just a little more critical. The Stormers should get the better of the Sunwolves tomorrow which will lift them back into contention for the playoff positions. The Lions have the difficult task of trying to subdue the Hurricanes, while the Sharks have a monstrous challenge tomorrow when they try to beat the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Time for women’s football to shine

Women’s football may just come of age over the next five weeks. The 2019 Fifa Women’s World Cup has seen unprecedented interest in women’s football, but there is no doubt the women’s game is still lagging far behind the men’s juggernaut. Starting today, when France take on South Korea in the opening match in Paris, the eyes of the football world will be watching closely. Women’s sport is slowly moving into the spotlight, and some sparkling football from the 24 teams can add impetus to that movement. South Africans will watch our team with hope, but sadly it seems unlikely Banyana Banyana will have too much of an impact on the 2019 version. The team goes into the tournament without a win in 10 games and tomorrow’s opener against Spain is unlikely to end that streak.  

More troubles for the Proteas

The beleaguered Proteas are sweating on another injury concern as they try to lift themselves for their match against the West Indies on Monday. The team’s top run scorer, Rassie van der Dussen, is reported to be nursing a groin strain after Wednesday’s loss to India. The injury might not be a crisis as it would give Aiden Markram an opportunity to show his form. There was some good news from the camp last night with Lungi Ngidi listed as having ‘an outside chance’ of taking to the field on Monday. If Ngidi is not fit it is likely Beuran Hendricks will come into the team. Hendricks was flown over as a replacement for Dale Steyn who returned home injured without playing a match.
 

Baby Boks aim for second win

The Junior Springboks will be looking for their second win of the U20 World Rugby Championships when they take on Georgia tomorrow. After a solid 43-19 win over Scotland, the Baby Boks will be confident of getting the better of the Georgians who were beaten 45-13 by the New Zealand U20s on Tuesday. 
 

Full list of weekend live TV here


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Spotify clinches Obama deal

Former US presidential power couple Barack and Michele Obama have signed a deal with Spotify to produce a series of podcasts exclusively for the streaming platform. Earlier this year the Obamas formed a production company called Higher Ground which has signed a multi-year deal with Netflix to produce original scripted, unscripted and documentary series and films. Seven projects are already in progress. The Spotify deal is with a new audio division of the company. Obama said they hoped to use the podcasts to ‘foster dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together’.
 


SEE WHAT?

Oregano in your soup

It’s a Friday, so here is a laugh to get your weekend going. ‘Dear son,’ it begins, ‘I found a little bag of oregano next to your bed.’ It’s very funny. Keep the sound on. 


SAY WHAT?

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … no, it’s a gazillion ladybugs 

A swarm of ladybugs in California was so big it showed up on a weather service radar map as an 80-mile-wide mass (about 130 kilometres). According to Newsweek, the San Diego branch of the US National Weather Service (NWS) reported that a large ‘echo’ on the SoCal radar was ‘a cloud of ladybugs’. (The collective noun is a loveliness of ladybugs.)  This phenomenon is known as a ‘bloom’. NWS meteorologist Mark Moede said a weather spotter in the San Bernardino mountains reported a higher than usual population of ladybugs. The weather service then linked the mass to this sighting. However, ecological expert James Cornett was skeptical that the ladybugs could show up so strongly on a radar map. He said the number of bugs needed to create such movement on equipment would have turned skies dark. But Meteorologist Joe Dandrea said the insects weren’t grouping but rather spread out.


TWEET OF THE DAY

The  winner of the prestigious Friday tweet of the day is our old friend David Moseley (@david_moseley), for his comment on this picture that was issued by the Reserve Bank to promote its new coins:

Ridiculous. How are we supposed to fit that in our pockets. Another balls up from SA government. Typical
 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s cryptic clue, which is a nod to The Don, is: Trump, say a villain hugging Republican legend (6,7)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Proteas need Steely Dan badly! (4,5) is Dale Steyn, an anagram of Steely Dan (‘Badly’ is the anagram indicatory) and the Proteas badly need the fast bowler. 


THE BIG READ

There have been some moving testimonies about the D-Day landings but this New York Times article, The man who told America the truth about D-Day, is one of the most poignant. It’s a profoundly moving account of what happened 75 years ago and of the effect that it had on those who were there. It tells the story of Ernie Pyle, a 43-year-old reporter’s reporter, whose dispatches from the front were full of gritty details of the troops’ daily struggles but served up with healthy doses of optimism.
 


WHAT WE SAY

The Week that Was

Who was this week’s biggest loser:
You must be choking? Well, er, um. Never mind, there’s always 2023.

In fact, the Proteas weren’t this week’s biggest losers:
Doing even more losing than them was the EFF, who have been on a (court) roll. The Fighters suffered a third court klap this week when they lost against the gruff journalist, Karima Brown, whom Juju had doxxed. Juju’s mighty warriors have now lost against Trevor Manuel and AfriForum … and we’re still waiting for the VBS fallout to begin.

Who could we expect some more winning from?
Caster Semenya. A Swiss court has suspended the IAAF testosterone regulations pending the World Champion athlete’s appeal against the ruling.

What made us sad?
The death of two media giants: courageous photographer Herbert Mabuza, who documented the transition to democracy, and Raymond ‘Oom Ray’ Louw, a fearless editor and a lifelong fighter for freedom of expression and press freedom.

What made us laugh?
The creative banners, posters, memes, blimps, effigies and statues that were made to protest US President Trump’s state visit to Britain. Our favourite was a poster just before Trump’s visit to the queen that read: Feed him to the corgis.

What made us gulp hard:
The announcement by StatsSA that our economy shrank by 3.2% in the first three months of the year.

Which brings us to the menace of the week award:
We decided the menace crown belongs to (disgr)Ace Magashule, who plunged our economy  even deeper into the dwang with his comments over the SA Reserve Bank. Magashule’s account was used to send out a tweet contradicting a statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa to calm the waters. Magashule then pulled a trump card by claiming the tweet was a fake tweet.

And what made us proudly South African?
Nkosikho Mbele, the petrol attendant who paid for a motorist’s petrol when she stopped at his station on the N2. She had forgotten her card and did not have enough petrol for the 30-minute drive into Cape Town, so he gave her R100 out of his modest salary.

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