Blackouts: Is it sabotage? | Deadly cyclone wake-up | €1.5bn fine for Google | Epic punctures blow race open

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Blackouts: Is it sabotage?

News24 makes the sensational claim today that the police crime intelligence unit ‘is investigating whether the rolling electricity blackouts are the result of sabotage by Eskom employees’. According to ‘highly placed government sources’, they are probing whether the network is being sabotaged in a bid to resist restructuring at the power utility. The fear is that the saboteurs are using the forthcoming elections to leverage their position. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said that sabotage was suspected in some instances in 2018 but no evidence had emerged to date this year. Meanwhile energy expert Ted Blom has called Eskom ‘absolute liars’ for saying it is still on Stage 4 load-shedding. He said it was on Stage 5 already: ‘That’s why everybody is complaining…they have lost control of the system…they are lying,’ said Blom.  

Deadly cyclone wake-up

There has been surprisingly little local coverage of the 165km/h tropical cyclone which, according to the UN, may be the worst ever disaster to strike the southern hemisphere. Cyclone Idai has swept through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe destroying almost everything in its path, causing floods, killing and injuring thousands of people and ruining crops. According to the Guardian, more than 2-million people could be affected across the three countries, and the port city of Beira, which is home to 500,000 people, is now an ‘island in the ocean’. The official death tolls only scratch the surface; the real toll may not be known for many months as the countries deal with the unfolding disaster. Scientists have said the climate crisis that is driving sea level rises and more extreme rainfall is making deadly storms even more severe, and said Cyclone Idai should be a wake-up call to governments everywhere to deliver urgently on their climate goals. The Guardian has a series of photos of the devastation. 

Jackson Mthembu’s daughter dies

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu sent out this heartbreaking tweet last night: My eldest daughter, Khwezi Mthembu , last night committed suicide at our Pelican parliamentary village home in #Capetown. We are  in deep pain. We don’t know what led her to take her own life at such a tender age of 25 years.‘Our thoughts and sympathies are with the Mthembu family and as we extend our heartfelt condolences to them, we ask that they are given space to mourn their loss,’ said the ANC in a statement.

Pothole protest

By most accounts, Pietermaritzburg is a bit of a mess. The city centre is all crime and grime and infrastructure is crumbling. Here GroundUp reports on a protest over the state of its roads.

Ex-Denel chief met Gigaba through Guptas

Former Denel CEO Riaz Saloojee has told the Zondo commission on state capture that soon after his appointment to the position in 2012 he received a call from Gupta middleman Salim Essa who invited him to meet people who could help Denel with its business. The need for the meeting had come from ‘the top’, Essa allegedly told him, which Saloojee said he understood meant that it had been requested by Jacob Zuma. At a meeting at Saxonwold, he was introduced to Atul and Rajesh Gupta who in turn introduced him to then public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba. Gigaba, he said, told him the Guptas were his friends.  


THE DAILY MENACE

Shock absorber 

If there were ever a moment that captured the South African mood it was the look on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s face when he was stranded on a train. Ramaphosa was on an elections campaign drive in Tshwane where he took a 50km train journey from Mabopane to Pretoria. The trip took three hours because of delays and because the train got stuck. The country’s economy has been derailed, thanks to the gravy train. We’re stuck. Unfortunately, Eskom can’t keep the power on long enough for there to be light at the end of the tunnel. Ramaphosa was ‘shocked’ at the train crisis, which  shows how out of touch the country’s leaders are with the South African reality. As Stage 5 and Stage 6 load-shedding fears are taking hold, Ramaphosa also called on South Africa to take ‘collective responsibility’ for the Eskom mistake and said the prospect of more load shedding was ‘quite a shock’. President, the time for being shocked is over.
 


WHAT’S THE BUSINESS?

Eskom woes in Moody’s sights

Moody’s, the only international ratings agency that does not have South Africa at junk status, is set to issue a new rating for the country in just over a week’s time, and economists are worried that the power crisis will weigh heavily in the decision. At the moment Moody’s has SA at at ‘investment grade’ – one notch above junk – with a stable outlook. S&P and Fitch both downgraded SA to junk status last year. Economists expect the economic impact of the current load-shedding programme to affect the review. Economist Dawie Roodt told Business Tech that by his calculations, the South African economy would be 10% bigger than it is, if Eskom could work correctly.

€1.5bn fine for Google

EU regulators have fined Google €1.49-billion for blocking advertising rivals through its AdSense program, which triggers text-only adverts based on searches on the websites in which it is embedded. The fine is for anti-competitive practices over 10 years, from 2006 to 2016. Clients who signed up were contractually forbidden to place other ad systems on the same page. Google has been fined twice previously by EU competition regulators, €2.4bn in 2017 for skewing search results to favour its own services, and €4.6bn in 2018 for preventing Android phone-makers from using non-Google apps.


IN THE SPORTS CORNER

Epic punctures blow race open

Just when spectators were contemplating a clean-sweep of wins for both the men’s and women’s leaders at the Absa Cape Epic, both events were blown apart on Stage 3 this morning. Overnight leaders Nino Schurter and Lars Forster (Scott-SRAM MTB-Racing) started the stage with a four-minute lead from three stage wins, but a puncture on Groenlandberg for Forster meant they lost over nine minutes before starting their chase back. Second-placed Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing) immediately upped the pace and rode almost 70km by themselves, to win the stage ahead of Urs Huber and Simon Stiebjahn (Bulls Heroes) with Damiano Ferraro and Samuele Porro (Trek Selle San Marco) third. Cannondale have taken over the leaders jerseys with a two-minute 42-second advantage over Scott-SRAM while Bulls have moved up to third, five minutes further back and just 11 seconds ahead of the Trell Selle San Marco pair. In the women’s race there was also drama, although Annika Langvad and Anna van der Breggen (Investec-songo-Specialized) cruised to their fourth win from four stages and now lead by a massive 23 minutes. Behind them second-placed Ariane Lüthi punctured and with partner Maja Wloszczowska (Kross-Spur Racing) lost a chunk of time to slip down to third on the overall standings, behind South African Candice Lill and Adelheid Morath (Summit Fin) who finished second on the stage.

Proteas scrape home

A belligerent 41 off 23 balls from David Miller was not quite enough as South Africa and Sri Lanka tied the opening T20 in Cape Town last night. In the end Miller and Rassie van der Dussen scored 14 in the Super Over and Imran Tahir restricted the Sri Lankans to just five to claim the victory. Earlier Andile Phehlukwayo was the destroyer-in-chief with the ball as his three for 25 helped stifle the Sri Lankan innings and restrict them to 134 for seven. The Proteas lost wickets until Van der Dussen and Miller steadied things and took the hosts to within sight of victory. Then a second collapse of five wickets in four overs when South Africa needed just 17 to win meant the match ended all square. Hence the Super Over. 

Sky’s the limit for Team Ineos

The controversial Team Sky cycling outfit has been sold to one of Britain’s richest men, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, and will begin racing as Team Ineos next year. The British outfit had been looking for funding after Sky broadcasting announced in December it would end its ownership and sponsorship at the end of 2019. Team Sky have won six Tour de France titles in the past seven years but have also been the focus of controversy for using special exemptions to administer drugs that critics allege enhance their riders’ performances.

New tackle laws in France

Amateur rugby clubs in France will be testing new laws aimed at making tackles safer. The new laws due to come into effect next season include lowering the height of a tackle and banning tackles by two players. The laws will initially be enforced at amateur competitions for youngsters and adults. Four young rugby players have died since last May in France.
 


WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

True to AfriForum

We reported earlier on sponsors fleeing the ‘Afrikaans is Groot’ music festival because Steve Hofmeyr was scheduled to perform. Title sponsor MTN was one of them, but now AfriForum is hitting back in defence of the outspoken right-winger (and, many would contend, racist). The organisation says it will launch a court action against MTN and a protest campaign. ‘MTN withdrew its sponsorship of an Afrikaans music festival because it is worried that it may be perceived as racist. At the same time, MTN does not think twice about sponsoring the ANC and EFF’s political gatherings,’ said Afriforum. ‘The ANC aims to expropriate people’s properties without compensation, while the EFF incites crimes against people based on their skin colour. Both parties are guilty of hate speech against minorities.’
 


SEE WHAT?

Haka with heart

A small group of Christchurch teenagers started a haka at the site of last week’s mosque shooting that claimed the lives of two of their friends. Within a short time dozens of other teenagers had joined them to perform an emotional haka together.


SAY WHAT?

Book to basics 

The year was 1966: Hendrik Verwoerd was South Africa’s prime minister, Nelson Mandela was two years into a life sentence and across the world in the town of Fairlawn in the United States a 13-year-old pupil took out The Family Book Of Verse by Lewis Gannet. Now 19,345 days later, the pupil 65-year-old Harry Krame went back to school to return the book. AP reports that Krame found the book recently while cleaning out his basement and felt guilty about keeping it overdue for 53 years. The late fee is almost R30,000 but the library decided to give him amnesty. 


TWEET OF THE DAY

Today’s triumphant tweeter is Admiral Snaccbar (@IchBin_Rob):
Me: Hi, I’d like to get a tattoo on my calf.
Calf: *nervous mooing


And a bonus effort from Jon (@ArfMeasures):
[Me as a boxing commentator]
Oh no they’re hitting each other again, this is just like last time

 


CRYPTIC CLUE OF THE DAY

Today’s clue compiled by Bash Ashok is: Comprehensive description of what the farmer’s wife did to the three blind mice? (8)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Man + Man = Woman? (5) is MADAM – M (man) + ADAM (man). 


THE BIG READ

Heather Woock came back from holiday to find she had about 50 half siblings. The Atlantic pieces together the incredible story of the fertility doctor’s secret. Dr Donald Cline thought no one would ever know, but then DNA testing came along … 
 


WHAT WE SAY

It is good to see Parliament pro-actively going after the Steinhoff case with such vigour. Yesterday the Finance Portfolio committee forced executives of the company to name those implicated in a PriceWaterhouseCooper report into irregular transactions running into billions. There is, of course, a perception that fraud by whites is given less airtime than that by blacks and committee chair Yunus Carrim was determined not to allow that sort of thing to happen. But there is another perception out there – that the Hawks, the NPA and whoever are not serious about going after those implicated in state capture. Will Parliament step up to address this as well? 
 


WHAT YOU SAY

Letter #1

That trope about insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result – was all I could think of when I read today’s the.news.letter.

  1. 61% of the electorate will support the ANC.
  2. Names we ALL KNOW (and yes I am shouting) are deeply involved in corruption, theft, and the devastation of our children’s futures, are once again on the ANC lists.
  3. Eskom is about to implement stage 5 (and 6? ) loadshedding because of theft and corruption – see 2 above – which will probably push our country and nation over the economic cliff, particularly as we are looking at ratings agencies and the dreaded word, downgrade, later in this month.
  4. 61% of the electorate will support the ANC.

What, as they say, the actual f*ck is going on with South Africans. What?
   We are so bereft of real solutions, and real politicians, that we have to just hold our noses and vote for a bunch of crooks, or a bunch of racists, or a bunch of regressive wannabee revolutionaries. What the actual f*ck?
   Danny Wimpey

Letter #2

Apropos that phrase – ‘Do the right thing’ – in yesterday’s the.news.letter, I’ve been told that in France, a member of parliament who has been accused of unacceptable behaviour can expect someone to walk into his office, silently place a loaded gun on his desk, and leave. The MP is then expected to ‘do the right thing’.
In South Africa, that would mean hijack a car.
   Harry Friedland

Letter #3  

Every night sometime between 11 and 12pm, after being bombarded with information from all manner of sources all day, I click on to the.news.letter and put everything into perspective. Your judicious news sifting, tinged with an off-dry humour is a joy to peruse for 10 minutes  or so before retiring to bed. Although your delivery is state-of-the-art, there’s something Old School about your compact offering which reminds me of when I was with the Daily News way back when it was still in Field Street, Durban. Well done guys and girl. 
   Keep it up  – you are much appreciated.
   Andrew Newby


Please note: There’ll be no edition of the.news.letter on the public holiday tomorrow

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