Hi there 🙋🏽♀️ in this week’s edition of The Wrap, we’re looking at the big surprise that rocked coalition governments this week and what to make of it all. We also explain the war raging around Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, plus our guide to surviving – and capitalising – on Black Friday. And what’s The Wrap without a little celebrity update, so we’ve got that for you too.
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. 😄
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Our take: Black Friday: Save or squander?
Today is Thanksgiving in the US and, as is tradition, tomorrow Americans will rush to stores to get cheap deals on nearly everything. It’s called Black Friday, and it marks the beginning of shopping for the festive season. It became a thing in South Africa around 2014 and has grown steadily here in the past few years.
But should you celebrate this particular informal holiday, or lock yourself indoors and buy nothing? The problem is that many retailers appear to escalate prices and then drop them just ahead of Black Friday to create the illusion of a discount. That means you’re effectively paying the same, initial price. Sneaky, right? 👀
To test the theory, TimesLive did an investigation using a tool called servaltracker, which compares online retailer Takealot’s prices over time. It found that although prices drop around late October, they were marked up previously and, in most cases, were much lower earlier in the year.
That doesn’t mean you should stay away from Black Friday completely. Most of us are cash-strapped and could use a discount on necessities or luxury items. Before you get caught up in the frenzy, though, try the following to ensure you spend responsibly.
- Make a list of things that you need and want, then scour through adverts to compare prices so that when the day comes, you know exactly where to go and what to buy. Don’t get carried away: stick to the items you have on your list. ☝🏽
- Some retailers start running specials at the start of the month, so keep an eye open for specials today to avoid the rush tomorrow. Some retailers will keep their specials running on Cyber Monday too.
- We know the festive season puts you in the mood to give, but don’t overspend: you don’t want to amass unnecessary debt. One tip is to use cash instead of a credit or store card, so you can ACTUALLY see how much you’re spending. Either way, draw up a budget beforehand and stick to it.
This is not just a good opportunity to buy – it’s an opportunity to save. Make the most of it! 🤓
The big story: Welcome to SA’s coalition era
Is your head spinning from the week’s fast-moving coalition news? Not to worry, we’ve got the summary you need.
To recap: The 1 November local government elections left nearly 70 of the country’s municipalities “hung”, with no outright winners. Tuesday was the deadline for parties to finalise coalitions and, as you might expect, things went down to the wire in several cities.
The DA had a good day at the office, securing three metros – the City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and the City of Tshwane. It retained outright control of Cape Town, which it has run since 2009. The party bagged Joburg thanks to votes from ActionSA and the EFF. But this isn’t the start of a beautiful coalition friendship: both ActionSA and the EFF made it clear they only backed the DA to snatch power away from the ANC. The country’s economic hub now has its first woman mayor, Dr Mpho Phalatse, a doctor who specialises in public health. She joined the DA in 2016 as a councillor and served as MMC under ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba while he was still a DA member; her previous roles mean Phalatse has reputable experience in public administration.
In Ekurhuleni, the DA’s Tania Campbell secured 116 votes against the incumbent, Mzwandile Masina of the ANC. Masina got 105 votes and had to surrender the mayoral chain. The ANC has governed Ekurhuleni since 1994, so this was bound to sting a little. There was more hurt to come: ActionSA’s Mashaba warned that the ANC was in for more pain in the Tshwane metro, and that’s exactly what happened. The DA’s Randall Williams, who became mayor in 2020, was re-elected in a clean sweep after the ANC declined to nominate a mayoral candidate of its own. Awkward.
Things went more smoothly for the ANC in the Eastern Cape; it retained the Buffalo City metro, and Eugene Johnson became mayor in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, pipping the DA to the mayoral chain by one vote. Johnson is only the metro’s second woman mayor and has more than 20 years’ experience in governance. The ANC also held onto the Mangaung metro in the Free State. It came dangerously close to losing eThekwini (Durban and surrounds) but managed to clinch the metro with the help of smaller parties. The DA was supported by the EFF and the IFP in its unsuccessful bid for power.
So, who emerged victorious in this latest edition of “Survivor: Democracy”? The EFF blindsided almost everyone by supporting the DA, but given that the two parties are polar opposites, who knows how long the relationship (a flirtation rather than a formal coalition, remember) might last. Publicly, senior ANC figures are acting like a high school rugby jock who’s scared to show his feelings: transport minister and party elections head Fikile Mbalula spent some quality time on Twitter complaining about coalitions. Behind the scenes, though, it’s likely that many party bigwigs are genuinely worried about what this week’s changes may mean for their chances in the 2024 national elections. Perhaps it’s too much to hope that we, the voters, might be the real winners – but let’s see if strange bedfellows in various municipalities surprise us pleasantly by improving service delivery and quality of life for the residents they’re elected to serve.
3. Covid cases are on the rise again
We’ve compared Covid to everyone’s least favourite drunk uncle before, and we unfortunately have to do it again. After a relatively quiet few months, it’s barged in noisily and reminded us of its unrelenting presence…just in time for the festive season. 😓 Cases are on the rise again in South Africa – they passed the 1000 mark this week – and, just when we were tired of surprises, here’s another: a new “super variant” that has a high number of mutations. The variant, B.1.1.529, was detected in South Africa in mid-November and is prevalent in Gauteng, the health department said during a briefing today. The variant has also been identified in Botswana and Hong Kong. There’s still a lot for scientists to learn, but it does pose a major concern in the fourth wave that’s expected to hit around December. We’re not the exception when it comes to rising cases: Germany, Austria and the Netherlands are reintroducing lockdown measures while the Americas – particularly the US and Canada – are preparing for a new wave of infections. We should take lessons and ramp up our protective measures before things get intense. And, if you haven’t already, go get vaccinated! You don’t want to be the person everyone avoids at the family braai. 😬
Speaking of vaccines, South Africa still hasn’t reached a conclusion on making vaccines mandatory, but public health and legal experts have weighed in. They say the government is legally obliged to do what it can to protect our health, meaning that making vaccines mandatory would not undermine the Constitution. Some legal experts have said that as employees return to work, the employer’s discretion is not enough to determine if the workplace is safe, so more legislation needs to be in place. Obviously, you won’t be pinned down to take it, but the overall consensus is that mandatory vaccines are in the interests of public safety. ☝🏽 If we go this route, we’ll be following the lead of countries like Italy, France and Greece.
Look, we’re all tired of Covid-19 ruling our lives. It’s been nearly two years of pandemic pandemonium. But take heart: scientists predict that by the end of 2022 (if all goes well with vaccinations and we’re able to pre-empt the spread of new variants), Covid-19 will become endemic, meaning it will be just another one of those viruses, like the common cold or flu. It’s still a pandemic now because it’s prevalent, but as The Economist reported, pandemics don’t go away, they simply fade. Boy, we’re really looking forward to that day. 😌
4. Grammy nomination nod for SA’s Black Coffee
Accomplished South African house artist and DJ Nkosinathi Maphumulo – you know him as Black Coffee – has made a big name for himself around the world. This week he capped off an astonishing few years with a Grammy nomination. He has been nominated in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category for his album Subconsciously, which marked something of a departure from SA house sounds and was released earlier this year to international acclaim.
Music website Pitchfork has written of Maphumulo: “In the past decade, as international pop stars have pivoted to African beats and rhythms in search of inspiration with a global reach, Black Coffee has found a heightened level of visibility.” He’s a hugely successful export, with several international awards already under his belt. He’s also performed at international festivals like Coachella, and collaborations with international stars like Drake, Usher, David Guetta and Diplo.🤩 He’s not universally beloved, mind you: he was criticised for performing in Israel in 2018 (same WhatsApp group as Miss SA, cough cough) and his ex-wife Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa has accused him of domestic violence – allegations he staunchly denies.
If Black Coffee bags the Grammy on 31 January 2022, he’ll join such luminaries as Miriam Makeba and the Soweto Gospel Choir on the SA winners list.🥇
5. Heineken gears up to sell more than just beer in SA
Not a fan of beer, but keen to quaff other kinds of booze? If a deal between Dutch brewing company Heineken and SA company Distell goes through, you’ll see more wine, whiskey and brandy choices on the shelves. 🥂
Distell makes Savanna, JC Le Roux and other beverages. Heineken announced its decision to buy the local company earlier this month after recognising that South Africa has a rather vibrant alcohol market (you know it’s true) and will use the opportunity to expand its brand beyond beer and cider. The deal, which could also see Heineken buying Namibian Breweries, which makes Windhoek beer, will not only create growth opportunities within African markets, Reuters reported, but will also offer consumers more variety. If you’re wondering whether this acquisition may stifle competition in the market, analysts say it’s not a huge concern. Cheers to that! 🍻
Speaking of alcohol, remember when SARS introduced measures to prevent foreign diplomats from buying copious amounts of duty-free alcohol and tobacco from local retailers? Well, a recent court ruling snubbed the measures, returning these so-called privileges to foreign diplomats to continue buying as much duty-free alcohol and other products in SA. In June, SA expelled several diplomats from Malawi and Lesotho, accusing them of selling these items for a profit. The practice was costing our economy close to R100 million a month.
The judge ruled in favour of four retailers who were making big bucks off the sales and who said the decision to limit alcohol and tobacco sales was made “arbitrarily and irrationally”. SARS says it is studying its options – it can appeal the ruling.
6. Adulting: SARS extends tax deadline
Panicking about your tax returns? 😓Join the club. But there’s hope! You now have until 2 December (that’s a week from today) to file your tax returns. The deadline for non-provisional taxpayers was extended from 23 November to accommodate disruptions caused by loadshedding and technical issues, SARS announced on Monday. So, if you haven’t already, log in to SARS’s e-filing portal, use its Mobi-App or send an SMS to 47277 to book an appointment at a local branch. Happy filing 🙂
7. Battle lines drawn in SA’s energy wars
Is Eskom’s CEO André de Ruyter a hero trying to fix our broken utility, or a villain, responsible for plunging us into repeated load shedding? It depends on who you talk to. But one thing is clear, there’s a battle raging around him.
There are three issues.
- A blame game
De Ruyter’s critics point to a report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research showing that 2020 saw the worst load-shedding since 2007, on De Ruyter’s watch. Eskom countered that the situation was so bad because maintenance was chronically neglected. De Ruyter has also alleged that sabotage occurred at Lethabo Power Station in the Free State; he released photos last week to prove the claim and it an attack against him and his management, City Press reported. He has called on law enforcement to intervene.
- The war against renewable energy
De Ruyter and his boss, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, want to move to renewables – pronto. 🌞 Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe? Not so much. 🦕 The pushback against ditching coal is noble on one hand, since it aims to protect vulnerable workers and towns that rely on the coal industry. But on the other hand are vested interests who make loads of money – legally and in corrupt ways – from non-renewable energy sources.
For example, Mantashe accused De Ruyter of failing to sign emergency power contracts to avoid loadshedding. But he’s basically pushing the controversial Karpowership company we’ve told you about before; that matter is in court, with allegations of corruption being made against Mantashe’s department. 🤷🏽♀️
- SA’s R130 billion climate funding deal
Mantashe is not impressed by the breakthrough deal SA landed at the recent global climate conference, and even snubbed a meeting with the funders. The deal is contingent on the country phasing out its dependence on coal.
The funding isn’t without its issues. A report by Investec shows the approximately R130 billion falls short of the R180 billion needed to upgrade Eskom’s network to switch to renewable sources. And private power suppliers – our great hope after coal – won’t spend a cent until SA has the full amount in hand, to ensure the power they produce can actually be connected.
But that doesn’t make Mantashe right either. He is continuing with plans to build two new small coal-fired power stations, vowing to fight off court action by activists and saying this is a test of clean coal technology. 😶
The battle around SA’s move to a green future is in full swing. It’s complex with genuine concerns plus plenty of dodgy manoeuvrings that are not to be trusted. Expect to hear a lot more about this as we transition. We’ll be sure to keep guiding you through it all.
8. Adele changes the game
We all have that one teacher who has completely changed our lives. For Adele, it was the woman who taught her English for one year in high school, Miss McDonald (whose first name seems to be a well-guarded secret!)
During her performance at the London Palladium on Sunday night Adele burst into tears when she was surprised with a reunion with Miss McDonald. “You really did change my life,” the singer said, adding: “I’ve still got all my books, you know? All my books from when you were my teacher.” A teary Adele explained that Miss McDonald ignited her passion for writing and English Literature and inspired her career as a songwriter. 🥺
Her latest album, 30, is a massive hit and the singer has made at least one streaming giant think twice about its features. Last week she tweeted that her only wish for the music industry was for Spotify to remove its shuffle feature. She tweeted, “We don’t create albums with so much care and thought into our tracklisting for no reason.” Spotify tweeted a reply: “Anything for you” – and removed the feature, which has long been a bugbear for artists. Premium subscribers can now listen in the order the artist intended, while those on the free plan will have to put up with the platform’s shuffle feature for a little longer.
In other celeb news, you may have heard that Britney Spears is now free of the legal conservatorship we told you about previously. It saw her treated like a child for over a decade, unable to make medical decisions, sign her own contracts, and spend her own money. It took the mammoth power of millions of fans and Spears herself: she resorted to desperate measures to sneak messages out about the conditions she was living under, in a bid to regain her freedom. 💪🏽 More than a million other Americans living under conservatorships aren’t so lucky, and the spotlight has turned to potential abuses of this incredibly restrictive form of guardianship.
9. Correction corner
Last week we reported that the next global climate conference, COP27, would head to Africa “for the first time” in 2022. We were wrong: Durban hosted COP17 in 2011. We apologise for the error.
the 2011 conference, COP17.
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_Till next time, goodbye from the team_ ✌🏽