Hi there and welcome to The Wrap simple news updates for busy people, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team 💁🏽♀
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 1. OUR TAKE: YOU MAY HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT COVID, BUT IT HASN’T FORGOTTEN ABOUT YOU 😷
We’ve reported previously that SA is unlikely to see a major second surge of the sort that’s hitting swathes of the global north. (The US is on its THIRD peak! 😲)
So, with the sun out and our Covid spike long behind us, it’s been super tempting to get out there. We’re at the lowest level of our lockdown, and quite frankly our country just hasn’t seen the doomsday health scenarios documented elsewhere. But it’s too easy to let our guard down. Yes, you can go to a restaurant – and it’s great to see how busy they are and how many may not have to close shop after all. But then you take your mask off to eat, drink a glass of wine, relish the experience of a face-to-face chat, and before long, you’ve forgotten all about the virus. As the saying goes, though … it hasn’t forgotten about you. 🤷🏽♀️
A rise in Covid-19 cases around the country in the last week, and a possible resurgence of Covid-19 in the Western Cape, means we need to still be cautious. After all, our health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and his wife May both tested positive for Covid-19 this week.
As Mkhize has said, the country has made significant strides in the fight against Covid-19. “Let us not dare regress.” Keep your guard up – and your mask on. 😷
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 2. THE BIG STORY: GLOBAL SUPPORT AS NIGERIAN PROTESTORS REFUSE TO BACK DOWN 🇳🇬
The scenes of police brutality in Nigeria have been frightening this week, as security forces continue to clamp down on youth-led protests. The country’s capital, Lagos, was like a warzone; you’d be forgiven for flinching at the images on your social feeds as a government declared war on some of its citizens. But the protests have also heralded an important moment: young people are saying that they’ve had enough of being trampled on, and they’re doing it loudly.
Some background: For two weeks, Nigerians have been protesting against the police’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), which has been accused of torture, extra-judicial killings and sexual assault, spanning decades. The hashtag #EndSARS trended across the world, including here in SA, in sympathy with Nigerians. Celebrities such as Beyonce, Kanye West, Diddy and Rihanna and Manchester United footballer Odion Ighalo have voiced their support for the protesters online.
In a remarkable triumph for citizen-led change, Nigerian authorities then responded to the pressure and disbanded the unit. But… they created another in its place, which protestors viewed as a renaming exercise. They’ve continued their protests, emboldened and calling for more wide-sweeping change in Nigeria – a country with high rates of extreme poverty and youth unemployment (sadly a familiar picture for us here in SA)😔.
In response, Lagos’s governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu reportedly imposed a 24-hour curfew. If you thought staying at home after 10pm under level 2 was awful, try ALL DAY.
Protests against the curfew were met with the very force Nigerians are decrying. Security forces opened fire and at least seven people were killed, according to The Guardian; countless others were injured. In what may be the euphemism of the year, Amnesty International called out the country’s authorities for their heavy-handedness. As of Monday, Amnesty said at least 15 people have died since demonstrations started, including two police officers.
And it’s not just in Lagos. Five Nigerian states have reportedly banned the protests and also imposed curfews. But the protestors in Nigeria are not backing down, not even a little bit.
The protestors, mostly young people across the country are looking at their leaders and refusing to be bullied by them any longer. Closer to home, our leaders should be watching closely as young people draw inspiration from their comrades up in West Africa. They should realise that young people are gatvol of corrupt and violent governments. And they should know that you can’t stop a movement whose time has come.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 3. BRIEFS ✍🏽
▪️ TV Licences for Netflix?
You may have to pay a TV licence for Netflix if the SABC has its way. The public broadcaster told Parliament this week that new regulations are needed to ensure that Multichoice (which owns DSTV) and online streaming channels like Netflix collect TV licenses on behalf of the SABC. But before you all throw your DSTV dishes in the Jukskei river à la Steve Hofmeyr, remember that the SABC is trying to reform itself financially. The public broadcaster, battered by years of poor management and political interference, needs to be financially sustainable: it plays a critical role in our democracy, providing sometimes the only source of news and entertainment to millions of South Africans. Paying a few extra Rands towards the greater good would be annoying, but could go a long way towards ensuring that the SABC is sustainable. Plus, the SABC’s online services have become increasingly sophisticated, allowing us to live stream the president’s addresses and other important moments on their Youtube channel for free. R265 a year doesn’t seem too onerous for that service.
▪️ Journalist with 11 lives lands plum government job
If Ranjeni Munusamy was a cat (no really, hear us out), she’d certainly be the toast of the feline community for being the first cat in history to have more than nine lives, and counting 😼. The journalist-come-spindoctor-come-journalist-again-turned-government official has been employed at the National Treasury. Ordinarily, a journalist entering the world of politics wouldn’t be newsworthy, although it is frowned upon (by everyone besides Munusamy, apparently, who was also Jacob Zuma’s spin doctor at one point). But this time it’s serious, as Munusamy has been implicated at the state capture commission. She’s alleged to have received benefits from a crime intelligence slush fund. Munusamy has denied the allegations and hasn’t been proven guilty. But her appointment has raised concerns about the government and the ANC’s tendency to hire people accused of corruption. The party has been talking a big game about putting a stop to that practise; News24 reported this week that the ANC is seeking legal advice on whether it can kick corruption accused to the curb. If so, it could be goodbye Ranjeni… again, until the next time.
▪️ SA gets its first woman auditor-general
South Africa is about to get its very first woman auditor-general (AG), 103 years after that office was created. Tsakani Maluleke, who is currently the deputy AG, was unanimously nominated in Parliament this week to take over the role from current AG Kimi Makwetu. It’s a boon for an organisation with an already proud history. It audits government departments and entities and has a completely unblemished reputation 😁. The AG’s office has stayed above the political fray and has established itself as a truly independent institution. It’s one SA public institution we can be proud of. All it was missing was a healthy dose of gender equality, and now the AG’s office has got that too. 😊
▪️ False prophet rakes in false profits?
The self-proclaimed “prophet” Shepherd Bushiri has allegedly been raking in the cash as part of a R103m money laundering scheme. The pastor was arrested along with his wife Mary this week, and appeared in court alongside another couple facing the same charges. At this stage, it’s unclear what the scheme entails, and Bushiri said he doesn’t know what he is alleged to have done (hang on, we thought he was a prophet?). But it was the throngs of supporters wailing, praying and protesting outside court this week that pointed to the real travesty of justice. Bushiri has thousands of followers who believe firmly in his message – that he is a prophet of God who can improve their lives. If Bushiri turns out to be a snake oil salesman as the state alleges, it will be his supporters who stand to lose the most 🙁.
▪️ Woolies chicken: from punchline to bargain
If, like us, you’ve started cutting down on those Woolies spoils with an eye on the budget, take heart. The retailer that’s so posh it’s become a punchline (rotisserie chicken, anyone?) has taken the hint and says it will be committing R1bn over the next two to three years so it can bring down the prices of its premium products 🎉 . Most of that spend is directed at food. And yes, the ENTIRE fresh chicken range is getting first priority because it’s apparently their most popular product. (South Africa has the tenth highest per capita consumption of poultry IN THE WORLD. And yes, all this chicken talk now has us craving Chicken Licken 😝).
▪️ Art takes over empty billboards
Have you noticed some rather whimsical billboards along the highways in Cape Town and Joburg? With reduced road traffic and ad spend, one small billboard company in CT offered its spot near Paarden Eiland on the N1 to Mother City artist MJ Lourens, City Press reports. In Joburg, meanwhile, renowned artist William Kentridge has launched the Highway Notice project – a paid project to put art in front of audiences, since so many galleries are closed. For the next six months, billboards along the M1 and M2 highways in Joburg will feature works by poets, writers and visual artists. So far, two billboards created by Kentridge have gone up. They display the words ‘breathe’ and ‘weigh all tears’. ‘Breathe’ is particularly poetic, with a three-fold meaning referencing Covid’s attack on the lungs; the “I can’t breathe” movement sparked by George Floyd’s suffocation death at the hands of US police and, finally, the global climate crisis.
▪️ Thinking of moving out the city? You’re not alone
Remember the days when you hated the big city smog, the terrible traffic and the high cost of living but you had to suck it up for your job? Apparently, that time is over, thanks to a pandemic-driven trend the Financial Mail is calling the “Zoom boom”. Remote working has taken off, and with it an interesting property trend: moving to coastal and rural areas. It makes sense: cheaper property – not to mention rates and utilities. (A recent Daily Maverick investigation revealed the City of Joburg has hiked electricity tariffs so much to plug its finances that it’s now the most expensive in the country. 😱) With record low bank interest rates, it’s also easier to buy. Then there’s the increased quality of life on offer outside the big cities. Those who holed up in the platteland or coast during lockdown probably want to hang on to that lifestyle. But insiders are saying people will likely move just an hour or two from big metros so they can still make important meetings.
▪️ Better late than never… Pope Francis welcomes gay civil unions
The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis made waves when he expressed support for same-sex civil unions in a documentary that premiered on Wednesday. “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” Francis also said. “They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
Gay marriage has been legal in South Africa since 2006, and our leading religious figure, Archbishop Emiritus Desmond Tutu, has been a staunch supporter of gay rights. So it may be difficult for us to grasp just how huge this is.
The Catholic Church has been vehemently opposed to gay marriage since St Peter himself pointed desperately to his tunic and cried, “It’s NOT A DRESS, Paul!”
As one activist for L.G.B.T. Catholics put it in the New York Times, the significance of the remarks is “immense”.
“They will ripple through the church and legislatures and courts and the personal and spiritual lives of Catholics who have been waiting for years and decades for an affirming word from their church leader.”
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 4. ACCOUNTABILITY MONITOR
Estina case revived
Just when your cynicism was starting to get the better of you, the Financial Mail reported the fantastic news this week that the Estina case has been revived. The case concerns the alleged looting of funds that were supposed to go towards up-and-coming farmers in the Free State, for the benefit of the Gupta family. It fell apart in court in 2018 when the state bungled its financial investigation but, as the FM reports, determined prosecutors have been beavering away behind the scenes to make sure justice is served. They’ve been working with the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, too. Keep an eye on our Accountability Monitor where we’ll keep you up to speed with all the developments.
🔹 Zooming in on Miss SA 2020
Miss SA 2020 takes place on Saturday – not, as you’d imagine, as the most painful Zoom meeting ever, but live from Cape Town. We wouldn’t have cared a few years ago, but 2019’s inspiring winner Zozibini Tunzi won adoration and sparked new interest in the pageant. Tunzi went on to become Miss Universe, and First Princess Sasha-Lee Olivier donned the Miss SA crown. It’ll be worth watching for the music alone, which will feature top acts, Mi Casa and Sho Madjozi among others.
🔹 DA conference approaches
Expect lots of political intrigue as the DA’s internal contest for new leadership approaches, with the election taking place next weekend. The big race is between the guy temporarily appointed to the job, John Steenhuisen, and KwaZulu-Natal MPL Mbali Ntuli, with both leaders representing important ideological shifts within the party. In the latest development, after a new rule prevented Ntuli from challenging her opponent to a public debate, another new ruling has prevented her from holding a town hall open to all South Africans. It’s increasingly looking like an unfair fight.
🔹 Is Zondo after Malema and is a certain former president getting divorced?
The Sunday Times is quoting sources saying the deputy chief justice and head of the state capture commission wants access to Julius Malema, his family and associates’ bank accounts. We’re not sure why and, until the reports are confirmed by official sources, we can’t confirm either. But we’re watching this one closely, along with reports that a certain former “president” is going through a nasty divorce and one of his wives (oops, did we give it away?) is taking him to the cleaners. And we don’t mean for their monthly dry-cleaning.
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, Sarah, Samina, Aarti and Tash ✌🏽