Hi there and welcome to The Wrap simple news updates for busy people, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the team at explain.co.za 💁🏽♀
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▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 1. OUR TAKE: THE ANC MUST STEP UP OR STEP ASIDE 🗣️
As emergency budgets were put aside to buy important medical supplies, corruption mushroomed across various provinces. During his address to the nation last Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to crack down on the looting but the fact that it is happening at all paints a depressing picture of where the ANC government is at — and that’s before you even factor in how it’s being bossed around by teacher unions, pastors and taxi bosses, adopting regulations in those sectors that don’t make any sense. So now we have 100% capacity allowed on taxis; churches given the green light to have mass gatherings; and yet somehow public schools must stay closed altogether — all to please the party’s allies and voting base, no matter how they contradict each other. Ramaphosa is only halfway through his first term as president, and he’s dealing with a once-in-a-generation crisis, with a highly compromised party. We do still have faith in him as a leader, but we also hope and pray for firmer leadership of his party. However, crisis creates breathing room for opportunities, so now more than ever is the time to get a grip — or someone or something else will. The New Frame, a left-leaning publication, notes this is a global moment that exposes the failings of the current economic and political system, writing: “As we face all the horrors of reality, we need an equal awareness of the seeds of a different future that are sprouting in the present.” Let’s hold on to a vision of a more just, equitable and gentler society.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 2. SCHOOLS OUT BUT IT’S NOT THAT SIMPLE 🙅🏽
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on school closures last week has triggered a wave of criticism from some experts, the opposition party and some members of the public.
The DA says the move wasn’t based on scientific evidence, and is planning on taking the government to court to reverse the decision. It’s worth noting that the minister of basic education minister herself, Angie Motshekga, fought to keep schools open. But it seems her arguments were sidelined by pressure from the teacher unions, who are primarily concerned with their members’ safety.
To be fair, the president did say he had consulted more than 60 school, teacher, principal and civil society organisations. And as the nation draws closer to the peak, closing schools does seem like a good idea from certain perspectives. But the dynamics, and the consequences, are complicated.
For example, it means as many as one million children under the age of six are potentially being left at home unsupervised because their single moms have to head back to work, according to Stellenbosch University economist Nic Spaull, speaking to Financial Mail.
Then there’s the long-term effect. Get this: these closures may weaken matric results until 2031 if catch-up plans are left too late or don’t work properly! That’s according to Martin Gustafsson, an associate professor at Stellenbosch University’s economics department.
Meanwhile, the president did not order private schools to close. So their pupils will carry on as normal, and the gap between them and public school learners will get even wider. This is blatantly unfair and further entrenches inequality. Meanwhile, a number of Model C schools, technically public, have defied Ramaphosa’s orders outright, and are keeping their doors and classrooms open.
OUR TAKE: We’re glad we’re not the ones calling the shots in this extremely delicate situation, but if the government chooses to keep public schools closed despite the backlash, then it needs a brilliant plan to ensure this generation is able to catch up in the years to come, or else it truly will be left behind while children from wealthy families advance without worry. We just can’t afford to widen that gap.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 3. NEWS BRIEFS 🗞️
‘Comrade Integrity’ passes on
Last week John Lewis passed away — a giant of the civil rights movement in the United States. This week, South Africa lost an icon of its own, Andrew Mlangeni. Along with Nelson Mandela, he was one of the famous Rivonia Trialists who spent decades on Robben Island together. At 95, Mlangeni was, like Lewis, a voice for integrity. As head of the ANC’s integrity committee, he was one of the few voices who stood up to former president Jacob Zuma, demanding he resign as allegations of corruption and misgovernment mounted. Spoiler alert: Zuma did no such thing, and said calls for him to step down were part of a Western conspiracy against him 🙄. How bizarre then, that the very same Jacob Zuma led a tribute for the Mlangeni at a virtual memorial on Friday, despite objections from the family. Thankfully, we have Mlangeni on record, saying: “Zuma has messed up the country. He has stolen everything.” He also once said: “I did not go to prison for 26 years for people to steal from the poor.” Our favourite anecdote from all the obituaries on him this week comes from retired British high court judge Nick Stadlen, who made a film about Mlangeni and the other lesser-known Rivonia trialists, Denis Goldberg and Ahmed Kathrada: “These survivors of Rivonia never tried to trade on it, cash in on their celebrity or their access to people at the top of the ANC. They all lived in extremely modest circumstances.” Role models, indeed.
Covid fatigue – you’re not alone
Millions of South Africans are in a similar boat: Bored, dying for a hug, or plain old OVER this pandemic. City Press is reporting that experts are actually quite worried about Covid fatigue, and about people letting their guard down. “Initially, you may have been energised and positively focused on following pandemic safety behaviour. But, as the virus has continued, you may start to focus on the negative and feel physically or mentally depleted.” You can say that again. But you MUST carry on washing your hands, everyone, even if they’re starting to look like reptile skin; and keep wearing that mask — even if it feels like you’re suffocating 😷. Jacqueline Gollan is a professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences. She says: “The things we miss, like playing and exercising, can still be rewarding, but need to be redefined to meet pandemic safety guidelines.”
Hospitality industry protests
The past week saw protests around the country as restaurant owners, bartenders and waiters took to the streets to call on the government to lift the curfew — and do away with the ban on smoking and booze. The ban and other Covid-19 regulations have hit the hospitality industry hard. How did authorities in Cape Town respond to the protests? Consultation and understanding, perhaps? Nope, try stun grenades and water cannons. 😳 It’s a tricky one — the regulations do make sense to keep the virus at bay, but the industry is understandably annoyed considering the leeway given to others like taxies and places of worship.
SA prison break
In an episode crying out for a Netflix limited series, all 68 inmates who broke out of the Malmesbury Prison in the Western Cape on Friday have been rearrested. The prisoners allegedly overpowered officers on duty and locked three officers in a cell and freed other prisoners before escaping through the main entrance of the facility and over the roof. Luckily they didn’t get too far. It took the police 2 days to get them all behind bars and an investigation is under way. 👀
Who’s whom in the DA Zoom?
The Democratic Alliance has voted to hold its federal congress online, on October 31 and November 1 2020. This is where that knotty problem of the party’s leader will be decided, after Mmusi Maimane resigned under a cloud. The main contenders are current interim leader John Steenhuizen, representing the conservatives in the party, outspoken KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli and John Moodey. Neither Ntuli nor Moodey were in favour of holding the leadership contest online, as it might disadvantage those with poor access to technology.
SA teen vs Facebook Inc.
Facebook can seem untouchable. But this isn’t stopping a 13-year-old South African girl from taking on the social media giant. The teenager’s family has tried several legal routes to get Facebook to reveal the details of a user who threatened her with gang rape and murder via Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. The teenager’s legal representatives have already navigated an international legal labyrinth, and now the matter is finally set to be heard in the Johannesburg high court this week. At the heart of the matter is how one holds a faceless company like Facebook to account. As the lawyers said in their heads of argument: anyone who signs up for Facebook-owned social media platforms, including Instagram, and who wants to obtain basic subscriber information of a person suspected of committing a crime, face impossible hurdles.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 4. SOLUTIONS AND INSPIRATION
The last time this many bulldozers were in District Six was during apartheid’s forced removals in the1960s. As a Groundup article shows (see the link below), that was just one of many moments when black South Africans were hounded from the area. At the turn of the previous century, black Africans were blamed for an outbreak of plague and driven out. In the 1960s, 60,000 people — mostly coloured families — were removed from the area to the Cape Flats. Now bulldozers are again rolling in — but this time they’re there to rebuild this once-thriving community in the heart of Cape Town. It’s a small step towards undoing the ugly legacy of apartheid, but a welcome sign that our society does not forget. We keep aiming north when it comes to making things right – even if it takes a long time to get there. In fact, as another article this week notes, global corporates could draw some lessons from SA’s constitution and legal framework when trying to address the inequalities highlighted in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Read both pieces here:
In some practical news you need to know:
If you’ve been forced to work from home during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak you may be able to claim back on your designated office space within your home, among other expenses, when you submit your annual tax returns. Woohoo! But on the flip side… you may have less to claim back if you suspended or reduced your retirement fund contributions; if you lost out on commission earnings, or if you didn’t travel much for business. Boo! Either way, just a heads up to pay special attention to the year’s return.
On a more pleasant note, the Road Traffic Management Corporation has announced that all licences (except vehicle licences) that expire between 26 March and 31 August, will now be valid until the end of January 2021. Phew!
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 5. INTERNATIONAL NEWS
▪️ Thanks to his administration’s catastrophic handling of the pandemic, US President Donald Trump is lagging behind in the run-up to the presidential elections, which are less than 100 days away. Trump is trying to fire up his conservative base by labeling ongoing Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality protests as radical anarchy that needs to be dealt with with a firm hand (or a Gestapo-esque federal police force). But the polls suggest not many people are buying it.
▪️ Zimbabwe police arrested Hopewell Chin’ono, a journalist known for exposing corruption, after he published a report alleging that members of the government were involved in corrupt deals for supplies to fight the coronavirus. Authorities have acknowledged the same thing is happening here in SA, but at least we aren’t arresting journalists for pointing it out. 😕
▪️ In Belarus, dictator Alexander Lukashenko has been in power for 25 years, and thinks women, “poor things” (that’s an actual quote) can’t lead. “Our constitution is not made for a woman,” he has said. “Our society hasn’t matured to the point to vote for a woman.” So it’s kinda awesome that three women are spearheading a maverick opposition campaign for next month’s presidential election in the Eastern European country. And in a deadly show of efficiency one of the women said they hammered out the decision to unite in just a quarter of an hour. The optics of the announcement also caught the public imagination. In photographs, together, one of the women leaders flashed a peace sign, a second held up a fist and and the third formed her two hands into a heart. A surge of fan art has followed. 🇧🇾
The Big Read 🤓
There’s caring about the Earth’s environment and then there’s… galactic environmental awareness? This week’s Economist notes: “Mars may be a pristine ecosystem and earthlings should be careful not to contaminate it.” Check out this fascinating read about how all the international missions to Mars lately may actually destroy any life that might exist on the red planet.
That’s it from us at The Wrap, a product of https://www.explain.co.za/ – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾♀
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Till next time, goodbye from Verashni, Aarti and the rest of the explain team ✌🏽