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Xenophobia, crime stats and parliament rebuilds

Hi there! ??‍♀️

Here’s our latest edition of news you need to know on Verationality – Simple news summaries for busy people ✨

EMOJI NEWS INDICATOR:

The biggest news items this past week:

  • Crime Stats ?
  • Xenophobic Attacks Summarised ?
  • Fancy Buying Zuma’s Old Home? ?
  • Zimbabweans Too Busy To Attend Mugabe Memorial ?
  • Hlaudi Takes The Stand ?

Let’s dive into those items, what to expect for the week ahead AND your inspiration for the week.

For a written version of this update, keep scrolling.

For an audio version, listen to the podcast here. 

CRIME STATS ?

It’s been a difficult few weeks for South Africa. A few weeks ago I told you a global group of former heads of state called The Elders were in the country to talk about issues of global importance: things like universal health care and climate change.

However, South Africa has been too bogged down in unsettling local developments to fully engage on these matters.

The attacks on foreigners from across the rest of Africa, plus the spike in high profile femicide cases has affected many South Africans on a visceral level.

So it was a bad time for the country’s crime statistics to be released this past week.

The numbers covered the year up to March this year, so it doesn’t include the recent spate in violence. But it confirmed what we’ve seen anecdotally: violent crime has risen slightly.

Police recorded 21,022 murders in the country, up 3.4% from the year before.

The increase is small – less than a thousand in total – but over 21000 murders a year in any country is terrible.

An interesting aside however was that 60% of all murders in the country took place on a weekend between 9pm and 3am. Including Monday, this jumps up to 70% of all murders. The police said that this is likely tied to alcohol and drug abuse, which ramps up over the weekend at these times.

If nothing else puts a damper on your social life, that stat will.

The light at the end of the tunnel is that we have the first stable police leadership in years, after a series of acting police commissioners under former president Jacob Zuma. The current commissioner Bheki Cele is definitely not perfect, but he’s popular with both the cops under him and the public, and is a visible figure in the fight against crime.

XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS SUMMARISED ?

Speaking of crime, if you haven’t been following the xenophobia news, at least 12 people, both foreign nationals and South Africans, have been killed in the surge of mob violence targeting foreign-owned businesses and homes. It started in Johannesburg at the start of the month but spread to other spots in the country.

It’s been a devastating time for SA. We’ve had xenophobic attacks before, most notably in 2008 and 2015. But this time, our fellow African countries have drawn a line, with Nigeria, among others, flying back hundreds of their countrymen and women to safety. Nigerian citizens aren’t taking it sitting down either, with South African shops being targeted in the West African country, and high profile Nigerian musicians cancelling their touring engagements to South Africa. Part of it is perhaps due to the longstanding rivalry between the two economic powerhouses on the continent, South Africa and Nigeria. But a bigger, more concerning element is that our neighbours have had enough and it’s a huge knock to our image on the continent.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has addressed the nation to implore a stop to the violence and has sent high-ranking emissaries on a mission to reassure African countries, the presidency said on Sunday.

The mission, led by former minister Jeff Radebe, left SA on Saturday and will visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, DR Congo and Zambia.

The most damning news to emerge over the weekend on this matter however, was the City Press’s report that police were tipped off about potential planned attacks on foreigners from hostel dwellers, where much of the violence later originated, and didn’t respond.

FANCY BUYING ZUMA’S OLD HOME? ?

In another fascinating story, remember how worked up we all became about Jacob Zuma’s homestead in Nkandla a few years ago? It was the centre of our political conversation when it emerged it was partly funded by taxpayer money, spawning the infamous #PayBackTheMoney campaign that would eventually lead in part to Zuma’s downfall. Well, there’s a marketing dilemma facing an estate agent if Zuma loses the 8.6ha property to VBS Mutual Bank’s liquidators for defaulting on his R7.8m loan. That bank is currently in liquidation, after fleecing pensioners and municipalities, and the liquidators may have to look for a new owner for the most famous rondavels in the land. However a property insider told the Sunday Times they doubt anyone would want the property as the locals wouldn’t exactly be welcoming, among other reasons.

ZIMBABWEANS TOO BUSY TO ATTEND MUGABE MEMORIAL ??

And then, there was my favourite headline of the week on News24: “Mugabe Memorial: Family say they weren’t expecting stadium to be ‘this empty’, citizens say work kept them away”. Zimbabwe’s former president and famous dictator was celebrated on Saturday but scenes of a near-empty 60 000 capacity national sports stadium shocked many across the continent.

However numerous heads of state attended the government memorial service including our own Ramaphosa, Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma. In fact, Mbeki is said to be the keynote speaker at an event commemorating Mugabe in Kwa-Zulu Natal this week. Talk about weird priorities.

Interestingly enough, Mugabe’s own lavish private property, the famous “Blue Roof” mansion in an upmarket Zimbabwean suburb, may fall into disrepair without the exorbitant maintenance budget allocated to its upkeep when he was president. It’s a bit similar to the Nkandla situation. Our suggestion to dictators and wannabe dictators: stick to the official residence. It’s easier all round.

HLAUDI TAKES THE STAND ??‍⚖️

And, in your final piece of important news from this week: former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng took the stand at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture and it was predictably hilarious, in that “I’m laughing so I don’t cry” kinda way. You’ll recall this is the man who drove our public broadcaster into the ground and seemed untouchable thanks to his association with Zuma. Speaking at the commission, he not only admitted to serious misdemeanors but boasted about them too. ??‍♀️ This includes: imposing censorship at the public broadcaster, hoodwinking people about having a matric certificate and trying to capture people – like the Guptas. Get it?! Hlaudi is SO AMAZING he can capture the capturers. Please. He also claimed he was a valued lecturer at Wits Business School, something the school immediately refuted in a statement. Fam, it must be a vibe living inside Hlaudi’s head.

INSPIRATION ?

And now for your inspiration: read the story of Adelaine Hain. This feisty white lady tore around apartheid South Africa trying to help as many black people she could – including the likes of Nelson Mandela and former deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke. She’s the kind of largely unsung hero that it warms the heart to read about. She passed away at the ripe old age of 92. My favourite anecdote from her life is about the time Adelaine and her husband Walter were caught red-handed putting up posters in support of an ANC stay-at-home strike. In order to evade the apartheid cops, Adelaine chewed through the draft of an incriminating discussion paper and spat out the shreds. They were released after 12 days for lack of evidence. What a baller move. Also it proves that as bad as things seem in SA right now, they’ve been much much worse. Also, you haven’t suffered till you’ve chewed through your own incriminating evidence to evade arrest at the hands of a fascist state ?

WEEK AHEAD ? (Credit to Business Day for parts of this summary)

It’s easy to forget the gains we’re making in slowly assessing and fixing the damage of the Zuma years. Parliament has a packed programme ahead of the end of its second term, and the programme reveals the detailed work being done in unraveling bits of our messy, recent history. This includes recent scandals that have blown up but that we’ve almost forgotten about thanks to the craziness of the news cycle. Remember our errant Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane? On Friday the subcommittee of the rules committee will meet to deliberate on parliamentary rules for the removal of the heads of chapter nine institutions, including Mkwebhane. This after a series of damaging court defeats that point to her ignorance of the law and seeming loyalty to a fightback faction against Ramaphosa. Then there’s the matter of political funding – though you may already have forgotten about the heady drama of the #CR17 campaign leaks.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the justice and correctional services committee will hold public hearings on the Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill, which deals with information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates.

Plus there’s work being done on rebuilding Sars, after a massive failure of governance at the institution when another Zuma lackey, former commissioner Tom Moyane was at the helm.

Femicide is still on the agenda too: On Wednesday Ramaphosa will address an extraordinary joint session of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces on the government’s new approach to address the violence against women.

And finally, remember finance minister Tito Mboweni’s bold economic plan he Beyoncé-ed on us? Treasury is going ahead with its process on that, despite predictable pushback from the dodgy factions in the governing party. The department will begin working on the public submissions to the paper. The deadline for comment was Sunday.

And we may get another interest rate cut this week, if we’re lucky! But experts say it’s probably not likely when the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) will announce the repo rate on Thursday.

So while it may seem all doom and gloom lately in the news, there’s a lot of quiet, and sometimes boring work, being done to keep our democracy moving and hopefully improving.

That’s it for this week! Go to www.verationality.co.za to subscribe to the WhatsApp channel, for a more interactive version of this content.