WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
SONA yet so far?
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s third State of the Nation Address (SONA) was predictably hailed as the best thing ever by the ANC and its allies and dismissed as unworkmanlike rubbish by opposition parties. When has SONA ever not been so? The critics fell somewhere in-between, with News24 editor Adriaan Basson saying it ‘was high on dreams but low on detail’ and Daily Maverick columnist Judith February suggesting Ramaphosa ‘has a vision of a country he wants, but the ultimate question still remains: How will his vision be realised?’ The two issues that attracted headlines were Ramaphosa’s announcement of a R230-billion bailout for Eskom over the next decade and his firm insistence that the Reserve Bank’s mandate would not be changed. Some of his assertions were a tad odd: such as the personal dreams he outlined of a smart city bursting up out of nowhere with skyscrapers prodding high into the air and a bullet train that would sweep across the country from Cape Town to Limpopo’s northernmost town, Musina. There was, of course, lots more to it and here Eyewitness News summarises the seven-point plan that Ramaphosa outlined. For a longer and more nuanced summary you can read the Daily Maverick’s Marianne Merten. But when all is said and done, the proof of the pudding is in the eating: in other words, the merits or otherwise of this address will only be measurable in the years to come.
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naldi Pandor has given our ambassador to Denmark Zindzi Mandela a dressing down over her controversial racially-charged tweets. Pandor and senior officials are now studying the contents of her Twitter meltdown to decide on whether further action is required. Last Friday Mandela launched a series of barbed comments about white people, several of which included obscenities. Pandor told journalists she had reminded Mandela that she is ‘a representative of South Africa in a foreign country … and there is a particular standard of conduct and communication’ that she was expected to uphold. Mandela reportedly said she had responded to months of demeaning comments about her parents, Nelson and Winnie Mandela.
Trump ‘cancels strike on Iran’
The New York Times is reporting today that US President Donald Trump ordered a military strike against Iran yesterday evening and then abruptly changed his mind and called it off. The strike was apparently planned in retaliation for the shooting down of a US military drone by Iran. The newspaper said the retaliatory strike was underway with ships in place and planes in the air when Trump gave the order to stand down. The strike had been planned for just before dawn this morning. Trump has become increasingly belligerent towards Iran in recent weeks, with tensions escalating over attacks on several oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Iran confirmed it shot down the drone over the Strait of Hormuz earlier yesterday, saying it was in the country’s airspace. Trump said the drone was above international waters.
Five hours of power a day in Zim
Spare a thought for the poor people of Zimbabwe, where they are experiencing 19 hours of load shedding a day and risk being plunged into total darkness. The country’s own state-owned power utility has debts of over R580-million to Eskom and more to Mozambique for electricity it has borrowed in recent months. Now it is struggling to pay its bills and has launched aggressive load-shedding. Many industries have closed as a result.
WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?
Naspers cleans up
Naspers has announced it is investing R30-million in online cleaning service SweepSouth, a South African service that connects clients with domestic cleaners. The investment will come from the Naspers Foundry – a R1.4-billion start-up fund launched last year. SweepSouth claims to have provided jobs for more than 10,000 people so far.
Group Five in tatters
Business Day reports that Group Five shareholders are unlikely to get anything out once the business rescue process under way is completed. A statement from the group posted on its website Thursday said it had sustained losses of R1.8bn in the eight months to the end of February. On that date its liabilities exceeded its assets by R1.3bn. The group was previously one of South Africa’s biggest construction companies.
IN THE SPORTS CORNER
Sharks, Bulls must rise Down Under
The Bulls and Sharks will be looking for major upsets when they take on the Hurricanes and Brumbies respectively in their Super Rugby quarter-finals tomorrow. The Bulls and Sharks both earned their quarter-finals spots thanks in part to points picked up on their respective Australasian tours, so they have some recent history on their side. Coincidentally both teams earned a win, a loss and a draw (or two draws in the case of the Bulls) on their respective tours, which means they both broke even Down Under. That said, it is still hard to see either side causing an upset and earning semi-finals spots after their erratic seasons. The two South African franchises both welcome back influential players for their quarter finals. Centre Jesse Kriel comes back into the Bulls line up after an injury layoff and that is sure to boost their chances, especially with Handre Pollard back running the team from flyhalf. The Sharks have dynamic playmaker Curwin Bosch fit again, although coach Robert du Preez is stubbornly refusing to move his son and namesake from flyhalf. Bosch will start at fullback while the Sharks faithful will be desperately hoping Robert du Preez junior finds the form which has largely deserted him this season. The Crusaders were the first team to reach the semi-final when they beat the Highlanders 38-14 in New Zealand this morning.
Egypt look to Mo to provide spark
Liverpool’s Mo Salah headlines the opening match of the 2019 African Cup of Nations when Egypt begin the tournament today against Zimbabwe. As hosts, the Egyptians are one of the teams in with a chance of capturing the title, but to win the tournament they need their Liverpool star to fire. After a disappointing World Cup last year, where the Premier League top goalscorer struggled to overcome a shoulder injury, Salah will be keen to lead his country to a continental title in front of his home fans (full fixtures).
Only pride at stake
Somebody used the phrase Dead Men Walking on social media yesterday to describe the Proteas at the Cricket World Cup. It was not used in a threatening manner, but perfectly describes the team as they wrap up their final three matches of the tournament. A woeful opening six matches has resulted in a meagre haul of one win, four losses and one rained-out draw. With more than two weeks until the Proteas’ final match against Australia, they have a fortnight sitting around between matches to contemplate what went wrong as they wait for the final match and then their flight home. There is nothing more than pride to play for and that starts on Sunday when they take on Pakistan in a match that, depressingly, has become a fight to avoid ninth place on the table.
Baby Boks aim for third
In what has so far been a South African sporting winter of discontent, one of the few rays of sunshine has been the Junior Springboks at the U20 Rugby World Championships in Argentina. Even though that tournament has ultimately ended in disappointment with the Baby Boks losing to France in the semis, the team still deserves credit for finishing the pool stages as the top ranked side. Tomorrow they will attempt to end the tournament with a victory in the playoff for third place against the hosts Argentina. Defending champions France take on Australia in the final. There could be some honour restored for the team at the tournament’s prizegiving where scrumhalf Jaden Hendrikse has been nominated as one of four finalists in the Breakthrough Player of the Tournament award.
Beast book held back
Criticism over the book ‘Beast’, a biography on Springbok Tendai Mtawarira by journalist Andy Capostagno, has led to the publishers delaying its launch. Excerpts were released to media last week and there was immediate controversy over the Zimbabwean-born prop’s comments about former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers. In the book, Mtawarira said De Villiers ‘… was a fantastic coach of the Junior Springboks, but I think at the high level, he was probably lucky that a very good group of players was handed over to him. His methods and approach didn’t really work with the Springboks, and as players, we had to be careful what we said to the media. What you said would get back to Peter and affect your place in the team. The media did not like Peter and thought he was a bit of a clown’. De Villiers said he was sad to hear those thoughts from the player after the Springbok coach ‘fought to actually get him citizenship in South Africa’.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ?
Apocalypse Now has long been recognised as a masterpiece of 20th century cinema. Now Francis Ford Coppola has released a remastered version of the film, called Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, which will be screened in SA in August at Imax cinemas – the version, says Coppola, that he intended all along. The original was nominated for eight Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and won two, for Best Cinematography and Best Sound, two BAFTAs for Best Direction and Best Best Supporting Actor and the Palme d’Or in Cannes. It has been ranked as one of the best films of all times, and stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Albert Hall, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, G.D. Spradlin, Dennis Hopper, Sam Bottoms and Frederic Forrest.
Porn sites get with the action
Customers logging onto two prominent Hong Kong adult websites got a rude surprise – but not the rude surprise they were hoping for. They were greeted with messages, urging them to ’stop jerking off’ and go join the mass protests against the extradition bill. Millions of Hong Kong locals turned out to protest against China’s controversial extradition law, which critics feared would allow Beijing to seize anyone it likes — from a resident to the boss of a multinational in transit, and whisk them off to mainland China on trumped up charges. To make sure the wannabe porn watchers complied and joined the protest, the sites shut up shop temporarily.
TWEET OF THE DAY
We turn to fab tweeter Moose Allain (@MooseAllain) to launch the weekend with a grin:
‘I love the aroma of fresh toffee in the morning!’
‘Sorry – I meant coffee. It was a smelling mistake.’
CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY
Today’s clue compiled by Victor Williamson is: How Bell writes about canary (13)
The solution to yesterday’s naughty clue from Britain’s satirical Private Eyemagazine: Head examination needs it (4,3) is ORAL SEX – ‘examination’ = ‘oral’ and ‘it = sex (birds do IT bees do IT …), which is the definition of head.
THE BIG READ
The Bräutigamseiche, or Bridegroom’s Oak, has its own mailing address. Every day a postman delivers dozens of lonely-hearts letters to the 500-year-old tree. Singletons from near and far visit the tree and reach into a small knothole in its trunk, hoping to find a match. The tree is believed to possess magical matchmaking powers. The Atlantic publishes this wonderful story about the oak in the German forest that has helped lonely people find love — including the postman who delivers its letters.
WHAT WE SAY
The Week That Was
It was a week of Twitter hissy fits:
Zindzi Mandela kicked it off with some bizarre commentary about Chris Barnard’s heart surgery skills and then plunged head first into the country’s thorny land issue, which got everyone and their brother-in-law’s Twitter thumbs twitchy. Steve Hofmeyr threatened to kill Zindzi (in capital letters, nogal) if she came for his land, and Tony Tornado Yengeni was the moer in because he didn’t get invited to play golf. Poor Helen Zille couldn’t get a tweet in edgewise.
Aggro wasn’t only confined to the Twitter streets:
The DA’s Phumzile van Damme channeled her inner Jean-Claude and punched a man in the head in a racial spat at the V&A Waterfront.
Meanwhile, over in the US …
In another Donald Trump interview gone weird, the US president threw a yuge fit when his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney had a coughing fit. In an outtake from the ABC interview, Mulvaney coughs and Trump – who is blabbering on about his ‘fantastic financial statements’ – stops and chastises Mulvaney. ‘He’s coughing in the middle of my answer…I don’t like that…you just can’t cough..’
Here’s money for you .. and you … and you:
FNB went all Oprah on its customers, depositing cash in random accounts. However, it turns out it was all just a misunderstanding and the bank took its cash back.
Speaking of losing cash:
The high court threw out the EFF’s bid to appeal against the R500,000 damages award (that’s a truckload of red berets) and to say sorry to Trevor Manuel. The EFF also has to pay Manuel’s legal costs. It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of sorry (not-sorry) defamers
The EFF is not the only ones who must pay back the money:
Poor Jacob Zuma now has to start selling his socks, which is how he said he’d have to fund his legal fees. The Pretoria High Court ruled he must repay more than R16-million spent by the state on his many attempts to avoid his trial on corruption charges.
At the same time another Zuma was in another court:
Zuma’s son Duduzane was in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court in his culpable homicide case. He was involved in a car crash in 2014, in which passenger Phumzile Dube was killed.
What outraged us?
Two Durban paramedics who were shot and robbed in an ambush.
Who broke our hearts?
The Proteas. Every World Cup we believe that this time the Proteas will finally flower, but alas it is not to be. We wish we could stop caring about the South African cricket team, but we can’t. Don’t worry, there’s 2023 – and then it will definitely be SA’s turn. Definitely. Well, probably. We can dream, can’t we?
Who did we give the Menace of the Week award to?
The ‘Night Crawler’, as the media has dubbed the serial killer who is targeting homeless people in Pretoria. Let’s hope he is caught soon.
What made us proudly South African:
Lesego Tlhabi’s alter ego, Coconut Kelz, the best thing to happen to South African satire since Evita Bezuidenhout. Kelz is a young white woman trapped in a black woman’s body. She pokes fun and offends and stops people from fighting with each other because they’re too busy laughing. Watch her hilarious take on Zindzi Mandela here … More Kelz, less Hofmeyr, please!