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22 April’21 Wrap: Cyril Ramaphosa comes out on top

Hi there 🙋🏽‍♀️ in this week’s edition of The Wrap, we’re looking at the latest ANC and DA drama, what really happened in the devastating fires in Cape Town and Joburg, and how it’s not just you: Zoom fatigue is worse for women than men. 

So, let’s dive into your weekly simple news update, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team 😄.

Format

🔊 For the audio version of The Wrap, go here:

🗞 For text, keep scrolling or check out our PDF below.

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▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 1. OUR TAKE: ACTION NOW FOR OUR NEGLECTED FIRE SERVICES

Devastating fires ripped through Cape Town and Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital in Johannesburg this week. 

Last Friday, a fire reportedly broke out in a storage room at the hospital and quickly spread, leading to 800 patients being evacuated. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize estimated that about R40 million worth of PPE and other essentials was lost in the fire. 😲

Two days later the University of Cape Town’s main library caught alight. The fire’s origin point was said to be at the Rhodes Memorial. It spread to the university where at least six buildings were destroyed. The most tragic was the Jagger Reading Room that houses a special collection of African books and archives. Estimates suggest that about 3 500 historic collections were lost, the BBC reported. But thanks to fireproofing measures installed in the library’s basement, some collections may have been saved. 

No one was hurt in Joburg, while in CT nine people suffered from smoke inhalation and six firefighters were injured. 

There was talk of what REALLY could have caused these terrible fires. One man, living in a makeshift structure close to the Rhodes Memorial, was charged with arson. 

The fact is, there IS a rather nefarious reason for how these fires raged out of control, but it’s not just one lone arsonist. Besides the climate issue aggravating fires across the globe, SA’s under-resourced fire fighting service is in the spotlight.  Fires in both cities could have been extinguished sooner but fire services could not cope. Our favourite take on this is trade unionist Stephen Faulkner writing about the near criminal neglect of our fire stations and workers, for The Daily Maverick. Faulkner points out that SA did not learn from the infamous fire that broke out at the Bank of Lisbon in Johannesburg three years ago. Johannesburg is supposed to have more than 100 fire appliances ready to cover outbreaks, but at the time, there were only five in the entire city. Fast-forward and little has changed. While many lauded the amazing collaboration between public and private organisations at the hospital, there are concerns: A private firefighting company said the fire hydrants were not working. Faulkner says it doesn’t matter which political party is in charge: firefighters are exploited, underpaid and ill-equipped. Township dwellers have to routinely deal with fires with little help because of a lack of equipment. 

How do we get this right? Our authorities need to take a lesson from Gift of the Givers, who wasted no time getting to the scene in Cape Town. They supplied water, food and toiletries and will provide three meals for the next seven days. Fellow South Africans also contributed in whichever way they could. That’s the spirit our authorities need. Urgently. 

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 2. THE BIG STORY: CYRIL COMES OUT ON TOP IN ONGOING ANC DRAMA

There’s still ongoing drama in the ruling ANC over “leaked audio” from meetings of its top leaders. Looks like some people are taking advantage of those virtual Zoom sessions. Previously, NEC members had to leave their phones at the door to prevent these kinds of leaks. It must suck when you can’t trust your top leaders to keep a meeting confidential. 

But what it has told us is that, apparently, the gap between ANC factions is finally narrowing: more support is leaning towards Cupcake AKA President Cyril Ramaphosa and away from the Jacob Zuma-Ace Magashule camp. 

Five of the six ANC top officials are (in a word) gatvol with the factional politics playing out within the ruling party. Beleaguered secretary-general Magashule has lost the support of his deputy, Jessie Duarte. She finally distanced herself from him after she was implicated in some of the leaked recordings, and national chairperson Gwede Mantashe called out Magashule for trying to take the party down. We still don’t know if Magashule will step down from his position come the end of the month deadline (unlikely), but his lack of action will likely further isolate him within the ANC.

Magashule’s attempts to drag others down with him on the step-aside rule has also backfired. He tried to expand the definition of those charged with corruption to ALL those accused. People weren’t having it, and treasurer-general Paul Mashatile accused him of distorting NEC decisions. Plus Ramaphosa got a glowing reception from supporters in Ward 6 in eThekwini, traditionally a Zuma stronghold, according to “sources”. 

On the other hand, Zuma and Magashule met up in Nkandla – maybe for tea, maybe for a cry over their failing attempts to stay out of jail, or maybe both. 

Honestly, a lot of political reporting is just an extended gossip session so we’re mostly just spilling the tea for you to enjoy. But the state capture faction being on the back foot is good news. This ongoing internal bickering may seem exhausting but it takes a long time to turn the ANC and government car around after it was hurtling towards the cliff edge for so long under the former state capture crew. 

What we do know as fact is that the local government elections date this year has been announced! It was delayed thanks to that little thing called Covid. It’s now set for 27 October 2021.

▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 3. BRIEFS

Zuma’s lawyers say bye-bye

Last week we told you that the courts have confirmed us taxpayers no longer have to foot former president Zuma’s ridiculous legal bills. In fact, the man from Nkandla now has to pay back the money for all those expensive legal time wasters he mounted for years on our dime. R25 million to be exact. So it was hilarious to watch his current legal team following the news.   

Four weeks before his arms deal trial was FINALLY meant to start, Mabuza Attorneys have said they’ll no longer be representing him. 

A reminder: Zuma is due to go on trial from May 17 to June 30 on charges related to the decades-long saga. There are more than 200 witnesses on the state’s list. But without a legal team we’re not sure what will happen. Will Zuma use this as another delaying tactic? It doesn’t matter. He still has that R25m bill to worry about – and the ConCourt’s looming decision about whether he’ll face jail time for ghosting the Zondo Commission. Enjoy the tea parties while you can, uBaba. 

Vaccinations back on track

The Johnson & Johnson vaccination programme is back on track after the government decided to temporarily suspend it last week. A number of experts said there was no need to halt vaccinations as clotting is very rare and no cases were reported in South Africa. 

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said vaccinations can go ahead subject to conditions: participants who are at high-risk of a blood-clotting disorder are constantly monitored and, in the event a participant does develop a venous issue, measures must be in place to safely attend to them. 

Sooo we’re on track to start vaccinating the elderly and vulnerable groups in mid-May as planned. Whoop! In case you missed it, government has opened up its vaccine registration system to those aged 60 and older, for the next phase of the roll-out. Go to: vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za to register. 

How not to become a politician

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone deactivated her Twitter account on Wednesday after coming under fire over questions about her qualifications. This, after one of the party’s MECs in the Western Cape, Bonginkosi Madikizela, was suspended for lying about having a B.Com degree. 

On her Wikipedia page, Mazzone was listed as an advocate, but didn’t have the LLB degree required to be one. She has a Matric and never finished her law degree. Following Madikizela’s scandal, ‘Advocate’ was quietly removed from Mazzone’s Wikipedia page. It is easily editable and she denies having anything to do with it. Mazzone said that it was a well-known fact that she only finished matric.

John Steenhuisen, the party’s leader, also has matric as his highest qualification. His black predecessor in the position, Mmusi Maimane, had a Masters degree, and the last black person in Mazzone’s role as chief whip, Lindiwe Mazibuko, had an honours degree at the time and went on to get a Masters degree from Harvard. No action has been taken against Mazzone, but Madikizela was suspended. It’s not a good look given the party’s race issues. Political experts say not having a degree is not a big issue in politics – many politicians don’t have one. But lying about having one is a problem.

SA man shot dead in Hawaii

The outrage over some US police actions against black citizens has hit home: South African Lindani Myeni, who was living in the US state of Hawaii, was killed in an altercation with police on his way home to his American wife and their two young children. The details of the incident are as hazy as the selective bodycam footage the police have released. A woman reportedly called the police about a burglary in progress, shouting that a man was stealing the car. Three police officers were quick to approach the unarmed Myeni before announcing they were police. Myeni seemed to defend himself and was at first tasered and then shot multiple times. Myeni, a former professional rugby player and committed Christian, was by all accounts a gentle giant.

Meanwhile, Derek Chauvin, the police officer responsible for the death of African American George Floyd last year, was found guilty on three counts of murder and faces up to 40 years in jail. But there are still many cases of police killings of black people living in the US. As we reported last week, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was killed by police in Minneapolis, allegedly because of air fresheners that hung from his rearview mirror. This week 16-year old Ma’Khia Bryant was also shot dead by police in Ohio outside her foster home. Bodycam footage shows Bryant holding a knife and clashing with two other people before the officer shoots at her four times. Bringing a gun to a knife fight is no way to de-escalate a situation. How many times do we have to say it? #BlackLivesMatter. 

Zoom fatigue

Sigh! We told you last week that Zoom has bolstered the field of plastic surgery because people were looking at their faces more often – but now we’re also just tired of seeing our screen. Think about those long dreadful meetings where you’re stuck on your seat with restless legs and a sore bottom, eyes fixed on the screen plus the awkward “Can you hear me now?” moments of online meetings. We don’t need research to tell us it gets tiring, but research does tell us that it affects women more than it does men. At least 14% of women complained of having Zoom fatigue compared to 6% of men. That’s because women work differently from men, or their meetings tend to be longer than men’s with shorter breaks – plus there are child care responsibilities in between. Youth are also feeling the pain, The Economist reported. So, ladies, next time you’re asked to sit in a long meeting, say you’re tired. Research will back you! 

Absa loses a CEO again

The market was in shock after Absa’s CEO Daniel Mminele was seemingly pushed out of the bank after just a year at the helm. The official line is that there was a disagreement over “strategy and culture transformation”. Insiders are saying that the bank’s board was blindsided by the abrupt resignation of its former CEO, the long serving Maria Ramos, in February 2019 and failed to do proper succession planning. They also seemingly expected the new CEO to simply implement Ramos’ strategy, without the freedom a CEO should have. Mminele was the first black executive to lead Absa, after leaving his position as deputy governor at the South African Reserve Bank. He was very qualified and a man of integrity, as the bank itself was at pains to point out. Absa’s share price fell on the news of his departure. Polo Leteka Radebe, the president of the Association of Black Securities and Investment Professionals, told Business Day that the group is concerned about  “clandestine exits” of executives of colour as it builds into the “black is not competent” narrative. Consider the similarly sudden departure of African Bank CEO Basani Maluleke earlier this year. Maybe Radebe is right when she added: “If I was a young black professional I wouldn’t want to work in financial services as it seems it only ends up imperiling your career. No professional can succeed if their board doesn’t support them.” 😕 If you want to read more, the best take on this is Moneyweb here

Rich man scammed

What would you do if you heard a conspiracy theory about something called the “White Spiritual Boy Trust”, hiding trillions of US dollars meant to help poor SA students? We’d hope you’d do a bit of Googling and realise that much wealth can’t really be hidden. We’d also hope you wouldn’t then go on national TV and demand that action be taken. But that’s exactly what former presidential hopeful, Tokyo Sexwale, did this week on eNCA. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Sexwale has apparently written to Treasury about this mess previously. We don’t know whether to laugh or cry. A whole former cabinet minister believed Standard Bank was hiding a deposit that exceeds – by around seven times – the total of all assets held by all South African banks collectively. 

The worst part, though, is how many people on social media took Tokyo at his word and demanded an explanation from authorities, despite an exasperated statement from Treasury saying they’ve heard it before and it’s false. 

The whole thing is a scam linked to the global QAnon conspiracy theorists – the same guys that believe Donald Trump is some kind of anti-satanic superhero. If you believe that, well, you’ll believe anything. 

That’s it from us at The Wrap, a product of explain.co.za – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾‍♀ 

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_Till next time, goodbye from the team_ ✌🏽

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