EFF must apologise to Manuel

And other essential news of the day

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Photo of Trevor Manuel
Former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel won a court victory against the EFF on Thursday. Photo: IMF, via Wikipedia (public domain)

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


EFF must apologise to Manuel

Trevor Manuel won a significant victory against the EFF today courtesy of the Gauteng High Court’s finding that the party defamed him. The red berets had alleged that new SA Revenue Service commissioner Edward Kieswetter had been appointed by a panel headed by Manuel because they were related and shared business interests. They don’t, and the EFF was this morning ordered to retract the allegations and apologise within 24 hours. Don’t hold your breath though, the EFF’s deputy leader Floyd Shivambu tweeted afterwards: ‘We are not going to apologize to Trevor Manuel and will not pay him anything. We have instructed EFF Lawyers to promptly appeal the judgment that primarily will curtail freedom of expression.’ All of which suggests Shivambu is about to get a lesson on what ‘freedom of expression’ actually means.

Cyril’s cabinet cheered and jeered

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s new cabinet has been trashed by opposition parties, hailed by the ANC and its allies and generally well-received by political commentators. DA leader Mmusi Maimane said Ramaphosa had ‘placed the internal factional interests of the ANC ahead of the interests of the people of South Africa’, pointing to the appointments of David Mabuza, Fikile Mbalula and Gwede Mantashe as being examples. EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said Pravin Gordhan’s appointment was a ‘declaration of war’. With the sort of inconsistency that has become a hallmark of the party he said ‘whoever ignores the findings of the Public Protector is an enemy of the EFF and a constitutional delinquent’. Not long ago the party was calling for the Public Protector’s head, but it has embraced her since she found against Gordhan last week. Unlike his predecessor, Ramaphosa consulted all parties to the ANC-alliance before the announcement and they in turn welcomed his appointments.
* See The Big Read below for some of the commentators’ views and What We Say for, well, what we say.

DA offers ANC Cape role

And while Ramaphosa surprised just about everyone with his appointment of Good party leader Patricia de Lille to his cabinet, the DA in the Western Cape has made a cross-party gesture of its own by offering the chair of the provincial Standing Committee on Public Accounts to the ANC. The committee plays a key oversight role to ensure that public funds are used as intended. The ANC is reportedly considering the offer.

‘McCain’ ship moved to spare Trump

So what do you do when you have a boss who is exceptionally thin-skinned and is about to get a reminder of an arch-enemy (albeit a dead one). Well, in the White House’s case you tell the US Navy to sail the USS John McCain away from where President Donald Trump is about to visit. Trump was visiting US Navy ships near Japan on his recent trip when somebody realised the warship was in the area. ‘USS John McCain needs to be out of sight,’ read a White House e-mail that the Wall Street Journal got its hands on. Trump – who clashed regularly with McCain before the US senator died – said he had nothing to do with the request and had not been informed about it.


Court out

A convicted triple murderer waltzed out of the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court earlier this month after a court bungle. Phelo Mtala managed to fool the court into thinking he was due for release. Mtala, who had been convicted of three counts of murder in the first degree, appeared in court on 17 May on a seperate charge of attempted murder, and somehow managed to put his fingerprints on the form of a man who was being freed … and walked out of the court building. According to News24, when Mtala was supposed to appear on another date at the High Court to be sentenced on the three counts of murder, Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo wanted an explanation for his absence – and that’s when it was revealed how easily he had fooled the court officials. The police are now offering a reward for Mtala’s recapture. For letting a triple murderer slip through the cracks, the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court gets today’s menace shame.


Ports strike on hold

South African ports will continue to operate – for now. A planned strike by the SA Trade and Allied Workers Union was interdicted yesterday by the Transnet National Ports Authority. The union is arguing that there is racism at play in salary differences between white and black staff. Permission for the strike was granted by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration last month but Transnet approached the Labour Court to halt the action. Judgement was reserved and the parties are expected to try to resolve the dispute.

Ayo threatens PIC with legal action

In a tit-for-tat court move, Ayo Technology Solutions is threatening to sue the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) and ‘others’ for ‘billions’ after the PIC initiated legal steps against Ayo. For those who have not been following, the PIC invested R4.3bn in Ayo in a transaction that has come up at the Mpati commission where a number of questionable PIC investments are being probed. The PIC has said it is hoping to recover its money from Ayo. Ayo chair Wallace Mgoqi says the dirt that has been dished by some PIC executives and some former Ayo employees has damaged the business. Among the ‘others’ in Ayo’s sights is former PIC chairman and previous deputy Finance Minister Mondli Gungubele whom Ayo owner Iqbal Survé has accused of working to deliberately ‘crush’ his business.


SA spin surprises England

The Proteas did well to restrict the potent English batting lineup to just 311 for eight in the opening match of the Cricket World Cup today. The South Africans sprung a surprise by opening the bowling with spinner Imran Tahir and it paid immediate dividends when Jonny Bairstow was caught off the second ball of the tournament. Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes all got half centuries but none of them managed to dominate the Proteas bowling. Stokes was best and his 89 came off 79 balls, but with wickets falling at crucial times England were able to get the total over 300 but nowhere near the huge score they would have been hoping for. The Proteas had not started their innings at the time of writing.

Farewell gift

Eden Hazard led Chelsea to a 4-1 thrashing of Arsenal in the Europa League final in Baku last night. Hazard, who is in all likelihood heading to Europe and probably to Real Madrid next season, wrapped up the victory with two goals that were a perfect parting gift for the Chelsea fans who made the long journey to Azerbaijan. The first half was evenly matched but lacked the fizz of many London derbies. However, the clash burst into life in the second half as Chelsea dominated the goal-fest. In the space of 15 minutes Oliver Giroud, Pedro and Hazard made it 3-0. Pacy substitute Alex Iwobi come on and gave Arsenal hope as he pulled one back, but Hazard added the bow to his parting gift when he made it 4-1 three minutes later. The result means Arsenal will miss out on Champions League football next season. Chelsea face an uncertain future with coach Maurizio Sarri still in discussions about his role at the club, and they will be unable to replace Hazard due to the FIFA-imposed ban on Chelsea signing players in the next two transfer windows.

Caster appeals CAS ruling

It was no surprise, but Caster Semenya yesterday filed an appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision to uphold the IAAF’s controversial testosterone ruling. Semenya’s legal team filed the appeal asking the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland to set aside the CAS ruling. The CAS decision upheld the IAAF’s plan to introduce testosterone limits for athletes only with the 46 XY DSD condition. Under the new IAAF rule, Semenya and other women with the condition would be forced to reduce their testosterone if they were above a certain level, and if they wished to compete in events from 100m to a mile. The CAS ruling admitted the new rules were discriminatory but said they were necessary to maintain the integrity of male and female sport.

Young and old in round three

The 32-year-old Rafael Nadal was almost always in control as he eased his way into the third round of the French Open yesterday. Nadal was simply too good from the start as he beat German qualifier Yannick Maden 6-1 6-2 6-4. Joining the Spaniard in round three is his potential semi-final opponent, 37-year-old Roger Federer. The third seed went through with a 6-4 6-3 6-4 win over German lucky loser Oscar Otte. Among the other seeds to progress was young Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas, who had to work hard before powering past Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien 4-6 6-0 6-3 7-5. In the women’s draw, second seed Karolina Pliskova was never in danger, ousting Kristina Kucova 6-2 6-2. Fourth seed Kiki Bertens was forced to retire ill in her second round match, allowing Viktoria Kuzmova an easy passage into the third round.


Face value

Who owns your image? The courts seem to think that when it comes to paparazzi photographers who snap photos of celebs, the celebs have no rights to the images. Singer Ariana Grande is the latest star to be sued after she posted two photos taken by New York photographer Robert Barbera to her Instagram feed. ‘[Grande] is not, and has never been, licensed or otherwise authorized to reproduce, publicly display, distribute and/or use the photographs,’ Barbera is arguing. Other celebs who have been sued for posting photos they came across on fan pages include Gigi Hadid, Kim Kardashian West, Jennifer Lopez, 50 Cent, and Jessica Simpson. Paparazzi are struggling in the age of social media, apparently – everyone posts their own pics so there is not the same demand for the stalking talents of the celeb trackers that there once was.


Stinky answer to burning question

The question had been bothering 9-year-old Avalon from New South Wales for a while, and thanks to a series called Curious Kids he could eventually find someone to answer his burning query: Do snails fart? The quest sent Professor Bill Bateman, a behavioural ecologist, down a smelly rabbit hole of animal flatulence – and resulted in an article featured on the academic website, The Conversation. For Avalon, the answer is a disappointing, ‘Er, I don’t know.’ Bateman concluded, as academics do, that more research is needed for a definitive answer. Scientists have studied animal farts. Bateman wrote that scientists kept snails in a glass container overnight to see if they produced methane – they did not. He also found a database built by scientists that show which animals do and don’t fart. Snails aren’t on the list but mussels and clams (which, like snails, are molluscs) don’t fart. Perhaps Avalon’s answer can be found in the fact that a snail’s bottom is right over its head … no one would fart right next to their own face, would they?


We turn to old favourite Moose Allain for today’s tweet:

‘Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock.’
‘Who’s there?’
‘An octopus’


Today’s cryptic clue by Cracking Xwords is: Person that’s injured two boys (6)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, It’s dishonest and wrong, change it (8) is CHEATING (an anagram of ‘change it’ (‘wrong’ is the anagram indicator).


The big cabinet reveal has sparked a lot of debate as political commentators try to interpret what it all means. News24’s Pieter du Toit says Ramaphosa had to navigate through a ‘matrix of contradictions’ when choosing his cabinet and wonders whether he has chosen the right people for the job. The Daily Maverick’s Marianne Merten argues that the outcome of the new executive is a result of behind-the-scenes haggling and Stephen Grootes, also writing in the Daily Maverick, suggests that in retaining people who reject the ‘New Dawn’ agenda and people with smallanyana skeletons, Ramaphosa is weaker than previously thought.


Let’s get the bad out of the way first: the cabinet is still way too large and hopefully President Cyril Ramaphosa will properly downsize it in time; it’s disappointing to have David Mabuza back as deputy president and it remains to be seen whether Ramaphosa can face down the bad apples in his party; and quite a few of the deputy ministers appear to have been included for party political reasons rather than practical ones. The good? Welcome back to Tito Mboweni and Pravin Gordhan: these and other appointments in key ministries suggest Ramaphosa is serious about the economy and fighting corruption. The number of women in the cabinet – several in key portfolios – is good news, as was the inclusion of some younger ministers (it’s going to be fascinating to see how the highly-regarded 37-year-old Ronald Lamola shapes up in justice). And we can all be very grateful to see the last of Nomvula Mokonyane and Bathabile Dlamini. In summary, the positives outweigh the negatives and Ramaphosa has put together a team that should be able to clean up the mess he has inherited. Oh, and then there’s Patricia de Lille. Her inclusion might have been done with an eye on the Western Cape electorate, but Ramaphosa will come to regret bringing her on board in the same way as the DA has done.

We welcome your insights, observations and compliments (especially your compliments) so please send them to thenewsletter.daily@gmail.com.

the.news.letter is produced by Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Click here for all the gory details about us.

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