Cape sewage stinker

And other essential news of the day

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Photo of desalination plant
The operators of the desalination plant at the Waterfront are in a dispute with the City of Cape Town. Photo: Kristine Liao

During May, we’re publishing and promoting, a digest of essential daily news produced by veteran journalists Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Click here to subscribe to Enjoy!


Ramaphosa’s dilemmas

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce his new cabinet today were shelved yesterday as he grappled with a couple of thorny issues. One is the future of the powerful and wily David Mabuza, who has served as Ramaphosa’s deputy president but was identified by the ANC integrity commission as a problematic election candidate. Mabuza reportedly met the commission on Friday and it seems he is demanding proof of the litany of allegations against him, which include murder and corruption. Another in a similar boat – albeit not facing murder allegations – is Gwede Mantashe. Then there are Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s shenanigans. On Friday – on the eve of Ramaphosa’s inauguration – Mkhwebane released what appeared to be a hastily-compiled finding against Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption ally Pravin Gordhan for allegations dating back to his days as SA Revenue Service boss. Can Ramaphosa not appoint Mabuza and Mantashe if the allegations against them have not been proved? Can he appoint Gordhan with the PP’s ruling still standing?

Zille lashes out … at the DA

Like Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille is not about to take rejection by her own party lying down. This weekend she wrote in Rapport that the DA had tried to ‘crush’ her and force her out over her controversial colonialism tweets two years ago. She said bringing in black leadership had inadvertently led to the party becoming embroiled in race-based politics and turning against her. All of which does not seem to have given rise to any contemplation: she continued to defend her more recent tweets about ‘black privilege’ in spite of the party leadership’s request that she desist.

Sewage stinker

Hold your noses. News24 reports today that seawater feeding into a desalination plant at the V&A Waterfront has 400% more raw sewage from the Green Point outfall plant than the city has indicated. A company called Quality Filtrations Systems (QFS) was given a tender to build the desalination plant in January last year as the city wrestled with a years-long drought. QFS says it built the plant according to specifications given to it by the city, but it turns out that the pollution is vastly higher than it was told. Now it is taking the city to court, claiming that it has cost millions to modify the plant to deal with the problem.

Saray back home from Everest

South Africa’s Saray Khumalo returned to South Africa to a hero’s welcome today after becoming the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest. She told the assembled fans: ‘Black women can do anything.’ Back in Nepal the authorities are dealing with the fallout after a 10th climber has died attempting to reach the summit this year. This news comes amid astonishing pictures showing a lengthy queue of climbers lining up to summit at the weekend and controversy over the number of permits that were issued to would-be Everest conquerors this year. The man who took this photo is Nirmal Purja, who said there were 320 people in this queue.


Public disgrace

A few days after the Gauteng High Court found Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report on the Estina Dairy Farm Project to be unconstitutional, the public protector decided there was still some room on her face for a bit more egg. On Friday she found that public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, while serving as SA Revenue Service (Sars) commissioner, had illegally given a full pension to his deputy Ivan Pillay when he retired early. Freedom Under Law (FUL) accused her of rehashing discredited charges. The timing of Mkhwebane’s finding is no coincidence and indicates that it was an overtly political intervention. It caused Gordhan’s arch foe Julius Malema to jump up and down and demand that President Cyril Rampahosa not appoint anyone who is a ‘constitutional delinquent’ to his cabinet. Gordhan will take the finding under review. FUL, Cosatu, the SACP, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse and the DA have all called for the public menace to be axed. After the debacle of her embarrassing Reserve Bank report and Estina report, one would think Mkhwebane would slink quietly into the sunset.


MTN in new Nigeria probe

MTN’s troubles in Nigeria are far from over, despite reports last week that it had paid up most of the $1.5bn fine imposed on it by Nigerian authorities for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers. This comes after the telecoms giant also paid a substantial fine for repatriating funds to South Africa, allegedly illegally. MTN paid this fine – of $53m – but has not admitted guilt. On Friday officials from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided the company’s premises in connection with MTN’s listing on the Nigerian stock exchange on May 16. MTN says it received a letter confirming the probe into the listing but has not been given any reason for it.

Huawei’s options narrow

Huawei has now been blocked from the SD Association – the global body that manages sim card manufacture.This means that the cellphone manufacturer will no longer be able to sell products using officially certified SD and microSD cards. The association has made the decision in order to comply with the Trump administration ban on the company, which has also meant that the company has lost its Android licence as well as access to a range of other US technologies. The decision on the cards will have no impact on existing phones.


Lions gift Sharks a win

The Sharks defended brilliantly but they ended up being more than a little fortunate to beat the Lions 27-17 in their key Super Rugby clash on Saturday. Two intercept tries off careless Elton Jantjies passes proved to be the difference in a tight match. The clash between flyhalves Jantjies and Curwin Bosch did little to enhance their respective reputations and instead highlighted just how important Handre Pollard is going to be to the Springboks at the World Cup. The Bulls’ reliance on Pollard was clearly demonstrated in his absence through injury as the Pretoria side weakly succumbed 22-10 to the Brumbies, while the Stormers kept their hopes alive with an impressive 34-22 win over the Highlanders. The Jaguares’ 23-15 win over the Waratahs puts the Argentinians into top spot on the South African conference and they must now be overwhelming favourites to finish second on the overall log. The Sharks are up to second on the SA log, a point ahead of the Bulls with the Lions and Stormers still in contention.

The stars are falling

Australian Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki this morning joined Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber, Venus Williams and Petra Kvitova on the sidelines of the French Open tennis tournament. Wozniacki, a former world number one, was the first upset of the day as she collapsed to a 0-6 6-3 6-3 loss to Russian Veronika Kudermetova. The women’s draw has already lost: Kerber, beaten yesterday by another Russian, 18-year-old Anastasia Potapova; Williams, who was ousted by ninth seed Ukranian Elina Svitolina; and sixth seed Petra Kvitova, who was forced out before her first-round match with a torn forearm muscle. Roger Federer yesterday marked his return to Roland Garros after a four-year absence with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego. Later today top seed Novak Djokovic and number two Rafael Nadal will be in action, as will Serena Williams and South Africa’s lone representative in the singles, Lloyd Harris.

Hash tagged for a good World Cup

The Proteas second World Cup warmup match against the West Indies in Bristol yesterday was washed out after just 76 balls. The truncated match was not a complete waste of time, however, as Hashim Amla managed to squeeze out a quick 50 off the 46 balls he faced. Besides Amla, the most relieved people in the South African camp must be the selectors who chose the talented superstar despite a poor run of form in the months leading up to his selection. In the opening warm-up match on Friday, Amla laid the foundation for a confidence-boosting South African win over Sri Lanka. His solid 65 off 61 balls, along with Faf du Plessis’ 88 off 69, and Andile Phehlukwayo’s four wickets for 36, allowed the Proteas to cruise to an 87-run win.


It’s a dog’s life for Tarantino

Quentin Tarantino had to settle for the Palme Dog award at Cannes – the Palme d’Or went to a South Korean film called Parasite that takes a darkly satirical look at class struggles. Director Bong Joon-Ho told Reuters he used comedy to make social commentary: ‘While they’re laughing I want them to be hit like a hidden blade behind their pocket when they’re not expecting it.’ Franco-Senegalese director Mati Diop’s Atlantics took the runner-up Grand Prix award for a harrowing film about those left behind when migrants try to make it elsewhere. At the awards ceremony on Saturday, Tarantino collected a silver-embossed dog collar on behalf of Brandy, who plays the part of Brad Pitt’s companion in the movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood that had been widely tipped to take the main prize. Other winners were Antonio Banderas for his lead role in the biographical film about movie director Pedro Almodovar called Pain And Glory and Emily Beecham won best actress for her role as a botanist in Little Joe.


Missing the mark

South Africans enjoyed the celebratory displays by the military at the inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday – the remarkable flypast of the two enormous SAA jets flanked by a precise close formation of the Air Force’s Silver Falcons comes to mind especially – but Twitter was not terribly forgiving after one of four paratroopers who dropped in from the sky missed his mark. Even Ramaphosa seemed to think it was funny. Here is the unfortunate moment, courtesy of eNCA.


Squash prizes create a buzz

A group of champion women squash players have slammed the Spanish tournament they won as sexist after being given vibrators as a prize. The incident took place after the winner of the Asturias Squash Championship 2019, Elisabet Sado Garriga, received her prize along with runner-up Olaya Fernandez Lence and the women who came third and fourth. The prizes included a ‘Pure Fantasy’ vibrator from Durex, a waxing set and an electronic exfoliator for their feet. The vibrator is sold as an ‘elegant personal stimulator designed to give you sensual pleasure’. According to the New York Post, the winners filed a complaint with the country’s squash federation for sexism and discrimination. Local radio show Ganamos Con Ellas (We Win With Women) posted a photo of the prizes, describing them as ‘degrading, shocking, harmful, inconceivable but sadly real’.


It’s Moose Allain (@MooseAllain) again:

Neighbours up at 3am playing loud guitars, so I banged and banged on the wall. Long story short, I’m now the drummer.

And on a slightly more serious note, here’s the ‘poet laureate of Twitter’ Brian Bilston (@brian_bilston) on UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation:


It is with great regret
that I must resign
myself today

to watching
the country
in total disarray


Today’s clue, compiled by Kieron Callaghan, is: Saint George mishandled discrimination (11)

The solution to Friday’s clue, In the road I yell, ‘Homemade!’ (3) or (2-2-8), is DIY or DO IT YOURSELF, which is hidden in the clue (the word ‘in’ indicates this) In the roaD I Yell, ‘Homemade!’


Former editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, worked with WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange on stories leaked by former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, which led to one of journalism’s greatest scoops. Rusbridger found the Australian maverick ‘mercurial, untrustworthy and dislikable’ but says the Trump administration’s use of the Espionage Act against Assange is profoundly disturbing.


Rarely since the country embraced democracy in 1994 has the announcement of the President’s cabinet been as keenly anticipated. Will Cyril Ramaphosa appoint a ‘fit for purpose’ cabinet of capable and committed individuals? Or will political considerations – mostly to do with divisions in the ANC – be accommodated? The answer is likely to be a bit of both, but we hope Ramaphosa feels emboldened by his own obvious popularity to do the right thing and move against those in the party implicated in corruption or other wrongdoing. That the latter are busy with their own plotting was evident in ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule’s attempt to give Nomvula Mokonyane a powerful post in the parliamentary administration last week. And then there was public protector and Jacob Zuma/Magashule ally Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s bizarre finding against Ramaphosa lieutenant Pravin Gordhan on the eve of the presidential inauguration. History is likely to look back on this period as the moment when South Africa chose one of two paths. Will Ramaphosa take the one that will transport it beyond its decade of despair?

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