Another PP report challenged in court | Durban mayor put on ‘special leave’ | Huawei signs deal with AU | It’s raining on the Protea parade


Another court challenge for PP 

The Public Protector is facing a court challenge from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA – formerly the Financial Services Board), which has filed papers to review and set aside a report in which she found the body guilty of impropriety and maladministration. The FSCA contends that Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report, relating to the appointment of curators for pension funds, was conducted in bad faith. It also charged that the findings could be the result of ‘gross incompetence and negligence’. The complaint was brought by EFF leader Julius Malema. 

Attack on SABC man was ‘hit’ 

According to City Press, the attempted shooting of an SABC audit executive last week was a hit – possibly organised by somebody about to be implicated in the years-long financial shenanigans at the corporation. Thami Zikode managed to escape the attempted assassination outside his Johannesburg South home by firing at the assailant first. The alleged hitman told Zikode that ‘we are not after your car’. He was subsequently arrested and reportedly told police he had been ‘sent by one lady’.

Durban mayor placed on ‘special leave’

Some heartening news in the fight against corruption. The ANC in Durban has placed Durban mayor Zandile Gumede on special leave after she was charged with corruption in connection with a tender to remove waste in the city. Gumede is a powerful figure in the party in the province, which has itself become the most corrupt in the country. Gumede, apparently reading from the Jacob Zuma playbook, said nothing had been proven against her and she would be back.

‘Cyril misled parliament’

The Sunday Independent reported at the weekend that it had been leaked a copy of public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report into whether President Cyril Ramaphosa misled parliament over a R500,000 donation from Bosasa to his ANC election campaign. According to the newspaper – which has itself not been averse to meddling in ANC factional politics against Ramaphosa – the report found that he had ‘inadvertently’ misled parliament and may even have been involved in money laundering. Mkhwebane today issued a statement hitting out at the leaking of the report, but did not confirm or deny its contents.


Hlaudi, is that you?

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has turned to social media to announce the status of her probes, claim she has been poisoned and complain about journalists who have been nasty about her. Last week she posted two YouTube videos to defend her increasingly dubious record. However, her critics are in deep, deep trouble. As it turns out Mkhwebane has an extremely powerful protector – and we don’t mean the EFF. This weekend she issued a long thread of tweets where she revealed that she had been appointed to the position of PP by none other than … God, and could only be removed by God. This came as a massive surprise to those of us who have been labouring under the impression that we live in a constitutional democracy. As one wit remarked on Twitter, it seemed like Hlaudi Motsoeneng had hijacked her account.  


AU teams up with Huawei

The African Union is bucking the US-driven trend of being wary about Huawei and has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese tech giant. It is designed to strengthen the AU/Huawei alliance in a range of technologies, from broadband and ‘cloud’ computing to 5G and artificial intelligence. Huawei has faced global fallout from accusations that its 5G networks pose a threat to international security. The MoU comes after the AU and Huawei denied media reports last year that cited allegations that the company had facilitated a massive five-year spying programme at the AU headquarters on behalf of the Chinese government. AU insiders had spilled the beans to the well-respected publications the Financial Times and Le Monde, but the claims have not been substantiated.


Proteas hopes take a dive

The Proteas got off to a terrible start in their crucial must-win Cricket World Cup match against the West Indies at the Rose Bowl in Southampton today – and then the rain made things worse. After losing two quick wickets, the rain stopped play and it is doubtful whether the two teams will get back onto the field long enough to complete the 20 overs each team needs to bat to constitute a match. If they do get back on the field, the Windies’ advantage increases the longer the teams are off the field. The Proteas’ chances of reaching the semi-finals are already remote and a fourth loss will probably wipe them out completely. Even a draw and the shared points will further dent their already battered hopes. 

    ** Meanwhile another Australian ball tampering row is brewing. Spinner Adam Zampa is under fire after he was caught putting his hands in his pockets before rubbing the ball in the match against India yesterday. Australian captain Aaron Finch said Zampa was just fighting off the cold with hand warmers. Zampa’s teammates David Warner and Steve Smith have just returned to the national team after a year-long ban for ball tampering in South Africa in 2018.

Quarter-final conundrums

The venues for the four quarter-finals of the Super Rugby were confirmed at the weekend, but the four visiting quarter-finalists could be any teams from the Bulls in fifth down to the Waratahs in 12th. In a strange coincidence of the fixtures, the Crusaders have a bye and the other three confirmed quarter-finalists are all playing the teams that are out of contention for the quarter-finals. That means the four remaining matches next weekend are between the eight teams fighting for the four away quarter-final places – effectively four playoffs for the quarter-final places. The Stormers hauled themselves back into contention over the weekend with a 31-18 win over the Sunwolves on Saturday. With the Sharks going down 34-7 to the Jaguares, the Sharks and Stormers will be playing off for one of those quarter-final spots when they meet at Newlands on Saturday. The Lions 37-17 loss to the Hurricanes and the Bulls dramatic 24-24 draw against the Highlanders means the Bulls are virtually guaranteed a quarter-final spot, while the Lions need a win against the Bulls to be 100% sure. The Rebels will take on the Chiefs and one of them is going to miss out, while the Waratahs and Highlanders also clash and a bonus point winner there might just squeeze into the top eight (latest standings, weekend results and next weekend’s fixtures).

Baby Boks set up pool decider against NZ

The Baby Boks have done just about all they can in their opening two matches of the U20 Rugby World Championships in Argentina – now they must just beat New Zealand. On Saturday the South Africans followed up their opening win over Scotland with a second bonus-point victory. The Baby Boks beat Georgia 48-20 by matching the physicality of their big Eastern Europeans opponents and adding some sublime moments of individual brilliance. The South Africans have moved top of the standings in their group, just ahead of New Zealand on points difference. On Wednesday South Africa face New Zealand in a crucial pool decider. If they lose to the All Black U20 side the Boks need to make sure they get at least one bonus point, but preferably two, to try to claim the final quarter-final place as the best third-placed team from the three pools. New Zealand beat Scotland 52-33 on Saturday while Australia ensured they qualified for the semi-final with a 45-17 win over Ireland.

Rafa best ever

Rafael Nadal confirmed he is the greatest clay court tennis player of all time as he swept to a historic 12th Roland Garros title yesterday. The 33-year-old Spaniard collected his 18th Grand Slam crown with a 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory over Austria’s Dominic Thiem. The French Open win means Nadal is the first player, man or woman, to win the same Grand Slam tournament 12 times. Nadal is now just two Major titles behind Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 and three ahead of Novak Djokovic. The world number two took his Roland Garros record to 93 wins with just two losses. On Saturday Australian Ashleigh Barty claimed the women’s title when she beat Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova 6-1 6-3.


Tonys honour for Ali Stroker 

If you’re a fan of Broadway musicals, you have probably been waiting for the Tony Awards which celebrate the best of the live shows in the US annually. There will be no broadcast of the show for SA audiences but you can see some of it on YouTube. This year the show’s host was The Late Late Show’s James Cordon, whose opening song-and-dance tribute to Broadway included dozens of cast members from Ain’t Too Proud, Tootsie, Oklahoma!, Beetlejuice, The Prom, Hadestown, and Kiss Me, Kate. Broadway fans were tweeting it up a storm. Cordon has posted a link to the opener that you can watch here (be warned that it is quite long – 10 minutes). Actress Ali Stroker became the first wheelchair user to win an award, taking home the prize for best leading actress a musical in Oklahoma! The Guardian has a good wrap of the awards.


High exposure

It’s being billed as the world’s first 360-degree infinity pool – a clear box floating 200 metres above the city. But it has potential swimmers worried. The 600,000-litre pool is a concept design by Compass Pools for the roof of a 55-storey London hotel and everyone is asking how you would get into it. And out again? The answer is a fancy submarine portal to let you get into an airspace with a staircase. And a fancy system would drop the water level in high winds so pedestrians down below wouldn’t get water blown onto them. 


Gym’s no blow rule

A red-faced Stellenbosch gym member was caught red handed last month but South Africa is not the only country where gym etiquette is being violated. An Icelandic gym has asked its patrons to please stop using the public blow dryer to dry their privates. Staff at the Reykjavik club put up posters instructing swimmers that the communal hairdryers aren’t to be used on their scrotum. The posters show a man blow drying his dangly bits with a large red X over his naked torso. In case the poster wasn’t explicit enough the club also circulated its rule: ‘Don‘t dry your ball sack or your butt with the communal hairdryer in the swimming pool or the gym. Bald, older gentlemen with hairy torsos must either bring their own blow dryers or just buy a more absorbent towel.’


Monday’s marvellous tweeter is Katharine Child (@katjanechild) for her reflections on some local news:

South Africa is a lot.
–A leopard kills a toddler in Kruger.
–14 lions on the loose in Phalaborwa near mine.
–An elephant at same mine tramples a security guard to death.
–A lion in transit near Wolmaranstad escapes yesterday and is later recaptured.
Don’t tell the Americans.



Today’s cryptic clue, compiled by Charles Machanik, is: She came first, wasted. Dat’s energy!  (5, 5)

The solution to Friday’s clue, Trump, say a villain hugging Republican legend (6,7), is: DONALD BRADMAN (Trump = DONALD), + bad man (a villain) with an ‘r’ inside (‘hugging Republican’ – r) gives  the name of a cricketing legend. 


Writing in The Atlantic, George Packer reflects on the lasting greatness of George Orwell’s 1984, which he describes as a profound political essay and a shocking, heartbreaking work of art. Orwell’s novel has become a key to understanding the post-truth era and Packer looks at what 1984 means in 2019. 


A week barely passes without new and damning evidence that ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule is a thug and should not wield the power he has been given by the ANC. There is already a whole book called ‘Gangster State’ on it. Last week his expedient resort to populist economics trashed the rand and yesterday City Press reported that charges have been laid against him in connection with a R150m housing project in the Free State. Much has been made of the state capture project which previous president Jacob Zuma oversaw – reportedly with Magashule’s help – and the need to now move beyond that. Magashule’s presence in a key ANC job stands in the way of that and as such he represents a major challenge to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ‘new dawn’. Can the country afford to carry on with him calling the shots in the ruling party?

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