Hi there 🙋🏽♀️ in this week’s edition of The Wrap, we tell you the latest you need to know about the new variant, explain the rape allegations levelled at local musician Jub Jub, and unpack the political theatre surrounding the land expropriation vote in parliament earlier this week. We round off with SA’s big wins for 2021.
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: COVID, TAKE 4
Let’s start with the good news: the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has approved a booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine. 💪🏽
People who are 18 years and older can go for their third shot at least six months after receiving their second dose, while people aged 12 and older who are immunocompromised can go for their booster shot about a month after receiving their second shot. If you’re eligible, get in line: experts have confirmed that this third shot could provide more protection against the Omicron variant. 🧐
We need all the protection we can get; the fourth wave is coming at us quickly. In the past week, new cases averaged around 13 000 a day, similar to what it was before the peak of the second and third waves. Some potentially positive news is that hospital officials say so far the health impact isn’t as bad as during the first three waves and that most patients, especially those who have been vaccinated, have only mild symptoms. 🤞🏽 Netcare’s CEO told News24 that 75% of the 800 Covid-19 patients admitted to its hospitals since 15 November were unvaccinated. If you haven’t taken the jab yet, this is your cue.
🔶What does this mean for travel?
As countries are learning more about the variant and have discovered cases of it in their own backyards, there are calls to drop travel bans against SA and others. Yes, England, we’re talking about you. The UK is allowing British and Irish nationals living in SA to return home, but the ban has not been lifted for everyone. The same goes for Japan, Malaysia, France, Australia and others. Switzerland has, however, relaxed mandatory quarantine for South African travellers.
African nations are lobbying for bans to be lifted. Here’s hoping this new form of apartheid gets dismantled.
If nothing else, at least we don’t have it as bad as an unfortunately named Belgian death metal band, Omicron. 👀 As the band put it: “Having the same name as the new coronavirus variant feels like an extra responsibility we have to carry.” The makers of Corona beer can only nod their heads sadly…
THE BIG STORY: JUB JUB ACCUSED OF RAPE, ATTEMPTED MURDER
When he was released from prison in 2017 after serving four years for culpable homicide, SA hip-hop artist Jub Jub (real name Molemo Maarohanye) vowed to turn his life around. But this week the singer and TV host was back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons: what started as a chummy chat on a podcast has led to a criminal complaint of rape and attempted murder. It began after Jub Jub was interviewed by DJ and podcaster Macgyver Mukwevho, widely known as MacG, and used the opportunity to trash talk two of his ex-girlfriends, actress Amanda du Pont and singer Kelly Khumalo. It was the worst kind of macho bravado. Last Thursday, Du Pont responded with an 18-minute Instagram video in which she said: “I was raped, physically and emotionally abused for two years by Jub Jub. The only thing I did wrong was keeping quiet. But that ends here. I will not be publicly ridiculed by this criminal.”
Two more women – sports, arts and culture minister Nathi Mthethwa’s spokesperson, Masechaba Khumalo, and singer Bonokuhle Mtsweni – stepped forward after Du Pont’s statement and claimed they, too, were raped by Jub Jub. Du Pont says she plans to initiate civil and legal proceedings. Jub Jub has also been suspended by TV channel Moja Love, where he hosts the show Uyajola 9/9. He has denied all the allegations; he has, however, apologised to Du Pont for the comments he made about her on MacG’s podcast. It seems to be too little; too late; with the backlash against him growing and the threat of legal action he’s likely to be worried.
We’re worried, too. Tomorrow marks the end of the annual 16 Days of Activism campaign designed to draw attention to epidemic levels of violence against women and children. These high-profile allegations, involving well-known South Africans, are just the tip of the iceberg. Convictions are rare. Women who report sexual violence are often publicly shamed and blamed. And yet, men like MacG still offer comfortable spaces for others to sexualise and belittle women. 🙄 At least we know some men aren’t prepared to accept the status quo: cricket superstar Lungi Ngidi has partnered with the United Nations and the Uyinene Mrwetyana Foundation to highlight the realities of gender-based violence and to start agitating for change. We salute him, and everyone else who is trying to tackle this crisis head-on. 💫
3. Joburg outranks Cape Town in global city list
Cape Town, we’re sorry to tell you this, but Joburg rules – and that’s science. The City of Gold has finished a whopping 26 places above the Mother City in a global ranking of how top cities have responded to the pandemic.
Joburg is also ranked best among 13 other African cities, according to the 2021 Global Cities report compiled by Kearny, a global management consultancy firm. Out of 156 cities across the globe, Joburg came in at 55 and Cape Town at 81 – dropping a couple of places from its 77 placement last year. We know what our Capetonian readers are thinking right now. What about the mountain?! The cities are not ranked for their natural beauty (CT would have definitely won if this was the case) but rather on their ability to retain global capital, people and ideas, and to sustain this performance in the long term. New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo remained as the top four cities, but the report points out rankings will likely change as the true effects of the pandemic become more apparent in 2022. Until then, the explain offices in Joburg are going to bask in this momentary one-up on Cape Town. 😝
4. More political games over land expropriation
The dispossession of land was South Africa’s original sin – and our politicians are making a hash of doing anything about it. Instead of real land reform, the debate has become tied up in a meaningless but emotive obsession with amending Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. 😪 A two-thirds majority is needed to vote the amendment through in parliament. The ANC attempted to do so on Tuesday but didn’t make it as neither the DA nor EFF voted with them – for very different reasons, of course.
The ANC just wanted to one-up the EFF on the land issue, the red party’s core campaign. There was no meaningful change proposed and, as many experts have pointed out, we don’t need to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation where it’s really needed. ☝🏽
As Professor Andries du Toit, director of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape, put it on Twitter:
“The EFF will double down on its empty rhetoric. The DA will preen and brag about having saved the middle class’s property rights – which were never really threatened… What was always needed was an actual plan that would benefit the poor, and a state that could implement it.”
Remember, the Expropriation Bill, a piece of legislation separate from the constitutional amendment, is still before Parliament. Expect similar drama around that.
5. Watch what you post: Twitter amends rules
Twitter: the social media platform where manners go to die, and self-proclaimed experts weigh in on nearly everything. 🙂 However, last week the social media platform, founded by Silicon Valley’s “shaman” Jack Dorsey, amended some of its rules for posting content. The new policy is thin on details but here’s the gist of it: you need consent before posting a picture or video of a person unless it’s in the public interest. For example, you can’t share an individual’s private information, but you can post a picture of a perpetrator or an abuser because Twitter deems it newsworthy. Content will be reviewed but if the rules are violated, the content will either be taken down or the account could be suspended. Some users fear the policy is discriminatory but consent is important – especially on social media.
The announcement also comes on the back of its founder and CEO’s resignation. On 29 November, Dorsey posted his resignation email on Twitter. He said he’s giving other people a chance to lead the company. Compared to guys like Facebook (ahem, Meta’s) CEO Mark Zuckerberg who has a net worth of $118.3bn, Dorsey, whose net worth is much less at $10.9bn, is doing actual philanthropic work and seems to care more about privacy. In 2016, he gave a third of his Twitter shares to his employees and this year he pledged he’d give $1bn to Covid-19 and other relief causes, Daily Maverick reported. He also loves Africa. 😌 In 2019 he spent a month visiting our continent and later tweeted that he would spend another six months here in 2020; Covid-19 meant that didn’t happen. He has said, “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one).”
His successor, Parag Agrawal, now the youngest CEO of a tech firm, takes over while Dorsey takes a silent retreat on a mountain somewhere. 🧘🏽♂️
6. Spotlight on the NPA
When we started in 2019, one of the first things we explained was why no one was in jail yet for state capture. As we put it back then, getting a watertight case in front of a judge takes time. But two years later, that’s no excuse. 🤷🏽♀️ The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is responsible for prosecuting criminals on behalf of the state. The institution has long been compromised because of politics. President Cyril Ramaphosa made big moves to bolster its independence, and we were among the first to hope for big things; we celebrated the appointment of the respected Shamila Batohi as director two years ago. But the NPA is just not doing well. 😓 It missed its annual target for corruption convictions of government officials by 61% in the past financial year! We’ve made a big deal every time money has been recovered too, but the NPA attached just R661 million in crime proceeds in the past financial year – a quarter of its objective, the M&G recently reported.
There have been some noteworthy cases, however, and the pandemic has slowed everyone down. But the larger issue is that Batohi still battles incompetence and internal stonewalling rooted in the past. That’s a problem: the list of people to prosecute is only going to get longer once acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo releases the state capture inquiry’s final report. 😶
Batohi had to answer to Parliament over the slow prosecution of high-profile cases this week. There’s also concern over the resignation of the head of the NPA’s Investigation Directorate, Hermoine Cronjé, just two years into her five-year-long post. Cronjé was probably tired. 😓 She had to travel to the NPA’s offices in Tshwane every week from Cape Town and worked 20-hour days, Daily Maverick reported. But according to City Press rumour has it her resignation is also a result of conflict with Batohi, corrupt officials in high positions and very little freedom to make appointments within her unit, which is tasked with carrying out investigations. Cronjé will vacate her post in May 2022.
Batohi, during her answer session, insisted that the NPA is not failing in its duties and that these things take time. But, like all South Africans, we’re itching to see justice.
7. Vaccine mandates in our lifetime?
Vaccine mandates are still a hot topic in South Africa. More businesses are coming out in support of making vaccination compulsory for employees, while some organisations are still contesting the constitutionality of this approach. This week MTN said it will be introducing vaccine mandates for its employees, joining a growing list of companies like Standard Bank, Dis-Chem, Discovery and even Pick n Pay – which introduced a vaccine mandate but left the final decision to franchise owners of stores. The companies say that vaccine mandates will provide a safe workplace and reduce the burden on the health system.
The mandates will be implemented in 2022. The consequences for not getting vaccinated can range from losing a job to being placed in an alternative position – but only if the reason for not getting vaccinated is clearly stated and valid. Employers cannot, however, force employees to get vaccinated. That’s according to Nedlac, a council where government, labour, business and community organisations debate economic and labour issues. This week it said it supports vaccine mandates and will approach the Constitutional Court for a legal declarator and to get clarity on the mandate – a big vote for mandates from an important body. Nedlac has recommended vaccine mandates in workplaces and said that gatherings, events and venues in the hospitality sector should only be accessible to vaccinated people. ☝🏽 The government said it supports Nedlac and President Ramaphosa said he’s still having discussions with various sectors. Meanwhile, the South African Federation of Trade Unions said though it encourages vaccination, it opposes vaccine mandates at workplaces and other sites, citing Constitutional concerns. AfriForum said the same. So, as usual, it’s up to the courts to make the final call. It’s going to be an interesting battle. 🥊
8. The economy takes a dip
Last week we told you that joblessness in South Africa reached an all-time high because of Covid-19 and the July unrest. In the third quarter, the economy took a beating for the same reasons. Our gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the size of the economy by looking at certain transactions and purchases, shrank by 1.5%. This effectively wiped out the growth recorded in the last four successive quarters. 😕 Mining and agriculture aided growth previously, but this time around, agriculture (and trade) were the worst-performing industries, 👎🏽 mainly due to the looting and destroyed farms during the unrest in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Financial services and personal services picked up, Stats SA’s report shows. What does this mean for us? It increases unemployment and widens the inequality gap, while income could even fall, but we’re not an anomaly. The pandemic turned the entire world upside down and many countries recorded relatively slow growth; India recorded a 10.20% slump in its economy over the same period. Fitch Ratings agency forecasts slow economic growth globally in 2022. It’s depressing, but with vaccinations underway, we’re hoping business will pick up, providing a much-needed economic boost. 🌱
9. Four ways South Africa won in 202
It’s December, so we’re taking a look back at the year that was. This week we’re celebrating some wins for South Africa in an otherwise relatively tough year. 🏅
🔷Let’s kick off with politics: South Africa turned a former prisoner into a president in 2009 and then a former president into a prisoner 12 years later. 😆 Jacob Zuma, we’re looking at you. We know you’re tired of hearing his name, but in the context of his imprisonment this year, we want to give a shout-out to the upholders of our constitution who stuck to their guns and sent a former head of state to jail – the first in SA history!
🔷Onto the glitzy world of entertainment: actress Thuso Mbedu made waves internationally for her role in the Amazon Prime series The Underground Railroad, while late actor Shona Ferguson bagged an international award for his Netflix original series, Kings of Joburg, in October. Internationally acclaimed fashion designer Thebe Magugu represented South Africa with clothing that even Miley Cyrus couldn’t resist wearing 🤩 and let’s not forget our fave funny guy Trevor Noah who hosted the Grammys this year and is set to repeat the gig in 2022. 😬
🔷South African author Damon Galgut was awarded the Booker Prize last month for his ninth novel, The Promise. Formerly known as the Man Booker Prize, it’s one of the world’s most prestigious literary awards. It’s a huge deal that a South African won – particularly with a book on such local themes. The Promise tells the story of a white South African family through the device of four funerals over 40 years, chronicling the decline of post-apartheid South Africa. He joins literati like SA’s JM Coetzee, who has won twice, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan. 🖊️
🔷Then there’s sport… we don’t always shine in some departments (ahem, Bafana Bafana and the male Proteas), but the Springboks always seem to make us proud. The men’s rugby team reclaimed its top position on the World Rugby rankings, while women made us proud at the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo. Star swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker bagged two medals, winning the women’s 200-meter breaststroke, and breaking a world record that stood for eight years. She also came second in the 100-meter breaststroke race. Meanwhile, Bianca Buitendag won silver in women’s surfing! 🏄
That’s it from us at The Wrap, an award-winning product of explain.co.za – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾♀
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_Till next time, goodbye from the team_ ✌🏽