Election results are almost ready! We tell you what we know so far and assess the meaning of the once indomitable ANC’s losses. We unpack Facebook’s new metaverse and explain why SA’s recent climate deal is huge for the country. Oh, and if you love The Wrap, listen to this podcast that takes you behind the scenes with the team: https://iono.fm/e/1122129. We were featured on Volume.
So, let’s dive into your weekly update of empowering and easy-to-understand news, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team. 😄
🔊 For the audio version of The Wrap, go here:
🗞 For text, keep scrolling or check out our PDF below.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ Our take: Stunning finance deal kickstarts SA’s green future
South Africa stole the show on Tuesday at the global climate talks (aka COP26) on the go in Glasgow.
In a historic deal, our government announced that France, Germany, the UK, US and EU have pledged R131 billion over the next three to five years to help us transition to a green economy in a socially responsible way.
The money will take the form of grants, loans and investments. But why us, and why now?
Wealthy countries like the US and Australia grew largely by burning fossil fuels to power their economies over the past 100 years. This left the planet with its current carbon crisis. Developing countries like ours can’t afford to limit our economic growth by abruptly shifting to green energy; this would devastate communities that rely on coal mining.
The imbalance continues today: the 20 richest countries contribute up to 80% of global emissions, but developing countries are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change (drought, flooding) even though they emit the least greenhouse gasses.
That’s why, back at 2009’s COP, rich countries committed to contributing $100bn a year to poorer countries, like low-lying island nations that will disappear if we don’t stop the seas from rising. But a recent report shows they fell short of this goal; this year’s meeting is all about getting them to commit for real.
It’s no wonder this deal is a big… well, deal. 😝 Wealthy nations are making good on their promises, starting with SA.
As to “why us”, emission statistics show that South Africa is the world’s 12th biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. (Thanks Eskom). At the same time, investors in rich countries are looking to bankroll green projects that deliver the necessary carbon offsets. And so the match is made. We’re starting from such a low base that our climate transition promises to be a success story.
Plus, we have great potential for solar, wind and the oil of the future, “green hydrogen”. These natural assets, twinned with our industrialised economy and skills, make us super attractive to investors.
Now for us to watch that all this money gets spent responsibly!
The big story: An electoral shake-up
Who would have thought the once indomitable ANC would be scrambling for coalition partners to stay in power in cities and municipalities across the country?
As the results stream in from the local government elections one thing is clear: South Africa’s voting patterns have finally, fundamentally, shifted.
Early indications are that the ruling party will fall below 50% NATIONALLY! That’s huge. (Remember, it doesn’t mean anything for national rule as this is a local election, but it bodes badly for the next national election, set for 2024).
As former ANC and Cope politician Mbhazima Shilowa put it, the ANC seems to have become a rural party.
After the shock of losing its majority in three metros in the last local government election, the party has lost control of even more areas – including Durban, aka eThekwini!
The final results will be released later today or tomorrow, and we’ll be picking over what it means for days to come, but here’s what you need to know for now.
🔹Coalitions: As predicted, top parties like the ANC, DA and EFF are losing steam, while smaller parties are coming out on top.
🔹Hell hasn’t frozen over, we don’t think, but the DA and ANC may be looking to partner in certain areas. Who would have thought it? DA federal chair Helen Zille, apparently. If previous leaked recordings are to be believed, it seems the opposition DA has long mused dropping the fight to become a majority governing party and instead keeping the ANC accountable in a coalition. It’s startling, considering the enmity between the two parties, but it DOES make the most sense ideologically: they’re both largely central parties, and both would struggle to find common ground with the third biggest party – the radical left-leaning EFF.
🔹 Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA is the break-out star of this election. Mashaba wants to reclaim his title as Johannesburg mayor and, with 16% of the vote in the key city at the time of writing, he’ll be a kingmaker at least. He led the metro when he was with the DA but resigned in 2019 when Zille came on board. (Let’s not forget concerns around his xenophobia and some allegations of corruption during his previous mayorship.) Early counts show that ActionSA also garnered significant support in Soweto (the ANC’s baby) and Zandspruit, near Muldersdrift, where it picked up 35% of votes – and counting.
🔹Voter turnout was super low voter this year. It was the first time in the history of South Africa’s democracy that only 26.32% of the population decided to come out to vote, compared to 57% in the 2016 local government elections. The IEC also came under fire for some mishaps but this looks to have been another free and fair election.
We’ll do a full analysis of the finalised results. For now? Welcome to your new political reality.
3. We fear Meta won’t be any better, Facebook
You may have heard by now that Facebook’s parent company has changed its name to Meta. The social media platform’s name and core features will remain the same. In a video seemingly straight out of an episode of the dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror, socially awkward 👽 CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains that it will take social media interaction to a whole new level – or as they call it, the ✨metaverse✨. We were here for the social media reaction to the strangely unappealing fantasy world depicted in the video.
But it’s the dream they’re building towards over the next decade – and ploughing billions into. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will be some of the new integrated features on Facebook and across your devices. The plan is that you’ll be able to seamlessly, remotely interact and play games with people and in spaces in real-time. Remember the augmented reality game Pokémon Go? Something like that…. but much more sophisticated.
The rebranding comes on the back of the Facebook leaks we told you about previously: a whistleblower revealed that some of the company’s practices actively aid authoritarian governments and allow hate speech, among other explosive reveals.
In related news, you know how Facebook is insanely good at suggesting people to tag in your pics? Well, following “societal concerns”, the company has announced that it will be scrapping its facial recognition feature, wiping off more than a billion people’s “individual facial recognition templates”. But the company is on a roll with other products like the recently launched Ray-Ban smart glasses that can snap images and video and send them to your phone, like something straight out of a spy movie. We…have more privacy concerns.
Tech isn’t bad in and of itself. It’s what we do with it – and how we regulate it – that matters. Having Zuckerberg make a play to dominate the next frontier of our digital lives, given his spotty ethics record, is dangerous. As one expert said: We let Facebook rule the world of social media. We shouldn’t let it rule the metaverse.
4. The Democratic Alliance edition
Monday was undoubtedly an eventful day. But amid all the glitches, the rain and the protests, a lot happened with the Democratic Alliance that we thought deserved its own election wrap.
🔹What’s an election without some drama? Video footage shows a policeman forcefully pulling Zille out of a voting station in Bethelsdorp, Gqeberha after ANC observers accused her of canvassing voters in the queue. She claims she was asking people not to be discouraged by long waiting times, alleging that people had been waiting for hours, and blamed the IEC for the delays. Zille has opened a case of assault against the policeman.
🔹Early projections show the DA losing ground in councils across the country. Instead of taking these losses gracefully, party leader John Steenhuisen has shrugged them off and, in true Steenhuisen style, opted to blame former leader Mmusi Maimane, who resigned a whole two years ago. Maimane has moved on, but the DA is clutching onto him like it’s a spiteful ex that can’t let go. A quick recap: Maimane was effectively forced to resign after a 2019 internal report by former leaders laid the blame for the party’s drop in support during those polls squarely at his door. The big question is whether Steenhuisen will face the same consequences.
🔹The DA secured all wards in Phoenix, where it put up those super contentious posters that got tongues wagging.
5. Teens, vaccines and a solution for needlephobes
- Teens won’t let Covid-19 rule their lives anymore. Ever since the department of health announced three weeks ago that children aged 12 to 17 can get vaccinated, 169 885 teens have been vaccinated! They’ve totally put older generations to shame with their enthusiasm and (we hope) disregard for fake news. They’re helping South Africa increase vaccine uptake. So far over 22 million vaccines have been administered, bringing us ever closer to our goal of herd immunity. Women still make up the majority of those getting vaxxed. So, teens and ladies, let’s get the older men going: we want Dezemba back this year!
- Is your fear of needles stopping you from getting the Covid-19 vaccine? Keep calm and thank science, because South Africa is running trials to administer the vaccine orally. The vaccine, Oravax, was developed by US-Israeli company Oramed Pharmaceuticals. The South African Health and Regulatory Authority gave the company the go-ahead to run the first phase of the trial last week, according to reports. It is being conducted on 24 volunteers in Johannesburg, with results projected to be released by mid-2022. Why was South Africa selected to run this trial? Oramed CEO Nadav Kidron says South Africa “was undervalued by international companies yet offered great potential”. We agree with him there. There could also possibly be vaccine skin patches on the market soon. Scientists say they would be more accessible because they are self-administered and don’t need to be stored in cold temperatures. Plus, they’re likely to elicit a stronger immune response because the spikes on the patch are coated with dry vaccine substance (said to be more stable than liquid vaccine) and the drug is administered via the skin, which has tons of immune cells. This could be the next big thing for us. Would you try it?
6. Top executive embroiled in harassment drama
You may remember Sipho Pityana, the business mogul who was previously chairperson of mining giant AngloGold Ashanti, for his fierce activism through the Save SA campaign. He led the resistance campaign against state capture by former president Jacob Zuma and co. But in the past week, Pityana has made the news for all the wrong reasons.
It has emerged that his resignation as chair of AngloGold Ashanti was related to an investigation that allegedly found him guilty of inappropriate behaviour towards a senior woman executive at the company. Among many allegations, Pityana is accused of inappropriate behaviour such as inviting the executive to meetings only attended by the two of them at cosy restaurants, inviting her to a meeting in his New York hotel room and holding her hand and declaring his love for her.
Pityana resigned as chairperson in December 2020, a day before the independent investigation commissioned by the company found against him on the allegations of sexual harassment. He denies these.
More recently he has decided to take the country’s banking authority to court for what he calls a weaponisation of these allegations, saying they scuppered his bid to become chair of Absa. It’s pretty complicated, but essentially he claims the bank’s former CEO Maria Ramos – now AngloGold Ashanti chair – told the SA Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority about the investigation’s findings. The Authority regulates local banks, and Pityana claims this led to him being sidelined from the Absa gig.
It’s worth noting that Absa conducted its own investigation into the sexual harassment claims and found the AngloGold Ashanti investigation “did not take into account all the relevant evidence” and that “its author failed to obtain corroborating evidence from independent sources”.
You’ll be seeing a lot about this in business news and, yes…it’s pretty messy.
7. #Adulting: petrol and diesel price increase
If you had to fill up on fuel in the past two days you may have been startled by the extra money you forked out. That’s because the price of petrol increased by a staggering R1.21 per litre, while the price of diesel increased by R1.48. The price of illuminating paraffin also increased, by R1.45 per litre. Fuel prices are usually determined by international oil prices and the rand to dollar exchange rate (so we can’t really blame anyone for this one) but as Business Insider reported, at least 32% of the cost per litre will go towards various taxes including general fuel levy and the Road Accident Fund. Ugh! So much for that road trip you had planned. 😓
8. Ethiopia declares state of emergency
About a year ago we told you about worrying developments in Ethiopia. The country had looked pretty stable since its new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came into power in 2018 and won a Nobel Peace Prize a year later for stabilising the region. Well. So much for that. A party that governed in the country’s north, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – which has a long history of enmity with Abiy – crossed him. He promptly declared war on them. As we said then, it would be a bit like President Cyril Ramaphosa sending the army to the Western Cape to take out the DA! The conflict has dragged on for a full year and left thousands dead, displaced more than 2 million people from their homes, fueled famine and driven a wave of atrocities.
Things have taken an even worse turn: the TPLF has advanced on the capital, Addis Ababa. In response, Abiy’s government declared a six-month state of emergency on Tuesday and, frighteningly, urged citizens to take up arms to defend themselves and protect the city.
The Tigray forces say they want Ethiopia’s government to lift a harmful months-long blockade on their region of around 6 million people; this has limited access to basic services, food and medical supplies.
As CNN puts it, Abiy “is presiding over a protracted civil war that by many accounts bears the hallmarks of genocide and has the potential to destabilise the wider Horn of Africa region”. It’s a terrible turn of events in what was starting to look like an African success story.
9. Learn to make money from #FinTok
Investing and financial education is such a complicated topic. No one wants to sit through an hour-long seminar or read long-form articles about the best ways to save money. But while it may be boring, money management is also an important life skill. Trust millennials, then, to turn dry topics into something fun and interesting: #FinTok (Financial TikTok) and StockTok, powered by “finfluencers” (financial influencers). They’re creating short videos – less than three minutes long – with quick finance tips on how and where to invest and how to better manage your money. It’s great for free advice, quick consumption and instant gratification.😌 Buyer beware, though: there have been concerns about the validity of some of the information so, as usual, don’t trust everrry-thing you see on the internet. Do thorough research and seek advice if you’re serious about investing! It’s a gamble, and you deserve to hit, not miss.
That’s it from us at The Wrap, an award-winning product of explain.co.za – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾♀
The Wrap is sponsored by explain’s agency division. We specialise in content marketing for purpose-driven organisations, often with a pan-African reach. Mail email@example.com for a quote.
Remember to share the love – tell your friends to sign up for the updates at https://www.explain.co.za/subscribe/. 💫
_Till next time, goodbye from the team_ ✌🏽