Gordhan challenges Public Protector report

And other essential news of the day

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Photo of Pravin Gordhan
Pravin Gordhan is challenging the Public Protector’s report that made findings against him. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

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‘Stolen VBS money went to EFF’

The Daily Maverick’s Pauli van Wyk got an excellent scoop today, revealing that some of the money stolen in the VBS Mutual Bank scandal was used to fund the EFF’s fourth birthday party, paid for EFF T-shirts and rented an office for the party. You can read the details here, but in essence Van Wyk has uncovered a trail of cash being channeled through companies ultimately controlled by EFF leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu. Just last month Malema told a radio interviewer that ‘no VBS money has flowed into our coffers’, but Van Wyk’s investigation suggests ‘the EFF benefited from at least R4.13-million through myriad channels’.

Gordhan challenges PP report

Lawyers for Pravin Gordhan today delivered on his threat to have public protector (PP) Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s finding that he flouted the Constitution taken on review. Papers describing the finding as ‘unconstitutional, unlawful, irrational and invalid’ were filed in the North Gauteng High Court this morning. According to News24, Gordhan also asked the court for a declaratory order that Mkhwebane did not act in accordance with either the Constitution or the Public Protector Act. The PP found that Gordhan’s decision when he was the commissioner of the SA Revenue Service (Sars) to allow deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay to take early retirement on full benefits was unconstitutional. Her finding was issued on Friday – on the eve of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration and ahead of his announcement of a new cabinet – and gave rise to suspicions that she was acting on behalf of political interests opposed to Gordhan’s anti-corruption agenda.

Mabuza to be sworn in

ANC deputy president David Mabuza will be sworn in as an MP this afternoon – presumably a sign that he will continue to be the country’s deputy president. Mabuza had delayed his swearing in after the ANC’s integrity commission listed him among MPs accused of questionable activities and who should not have been on the party’s election lists. Mabuza, who has been accused of murder and corruption, reportedly saw the integrity commission on Friday and appears to have convinced them that there is no substance to the allegations – or at least that there is no proof. The swearing in was scheduled for late this afternoon in Pretoria.

‘Racial profiling’ victim gets the job

Amid all the doom and gloom, here’s a ray of light: the woman who was arrested in Sea Point while taking selfies and waiting for an interview has landed the job. Esethu Mcinjana was arrested more than a week ago while sitting on a Sea Point bench and thrown into a police cell for a night on suspicion of being a car thief. Her case was highlighted by GroundUp and gathered national attention, with many suggesting that the police in the Cape Town suburb had been guilty of racial profiling. Thanks to the arrest, she missed the interview but the hotel called her back and now she has been offered a paid learnership.


Menaces in red

The lavish lifestyle of EFF leaders Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu is blowing up in their faces as the investigative journalism unit Scorpio digs up more and more dirt about their misdeeds. As reported above, Pauli van Wyk has been joining the dots and penned a compelling piece today titled, ‘Cruising nicely on VBS: EFF’s Parties, Lies and Looted Money’. When Van Wyk asked Malema for a response he told her he was not answerable to a white madam and she can go to the nearest hell. He did respond to this morning’s ‘Cruising nicely’ exposé, tweeting: ‘We are still cruising nicely, bana ba baloi [children of witches] are not happy. Go for kill fighters, hit hard…’. Who knows what Shivambu was on about when he tweeted: ‘We really have no time fighting lizards when the crocodiles are the real enemy forces. We confront the crocodiles head on and we will defeat them. We know who handles the lizards and we take the war straight to them, and they will be defeated.’ Of course, the EFF’s bad lads are not only waging war on Van Wyk, they also have a bee in their beret for Pravin Gordhan. The EFF once were prepared to kill for Zuma, then they hated him. They once loved Gordhan, now loathe him (we wonder what dirt he has on them). They once hated the Public Protector but now think she’s the best thing since Johnnie Walker Blue Label. Economic Freedom Fighters? More like Erratic Flip Floppers!


JSE probes Ayo claims

Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) executive Andries Visser has told the Mpati inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) that it has ordered Ayo Technologies to provide a ‘factual findings report’ on statements that were made before the commission. Visser, who is general manager for issuer regulation, said this followed testimony by current and former Ayo executives to the inquiry that suggested the company’s valuation had been ‘stretched’ to get the shares to R43 per share. He also revealed that the JSE is looking at a number of ‘related-party transactions’, including millions of rands being moved to investment management company 3 Laws Capital a day after Ayo listed. Visser told the inquiry the JSE had enough time to scrutinise pre-listing documentation ahead of Ayo’s listing but the scrutiny was not always fail-proof.

No documents for R4bn investment

Business Day reports that the PIC has no documentation explaining its decision to invest R4bn in an oil company linked to the ANC and former president Jacob Zuma. Camac Energy, which was subsequently renamed Erin Energy, was listed on the JSE in 2014 by an ANC donor, Nigerian businessman Kase Lawal. He reportedly accompanied Zuma when Zuma was given an honorary doctorate at Lawal’s former college, Texas Southern University. The PIC inquiry was told yesterday that requests for documents to explain the investment by commission investigators had been unsuccessful. Camac entered into bankruptcy proceedings last year.


Rafa, Novak, Serena cruise through

After the carnage of the opening day at the 2019 French Open, yesterday was much better for the big-name players. The women’s draw lost a slew of stars on Sunday, but Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams all cruised into the second round yesterday. Nadal blasted past German qualifier Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 6-1 6-3 before Djokovic enjoyed an easy 6-4 6-2 6-2 win over Pole Hubert Hurkacz. Williams started badly, but after losing the opening set 2-6 against Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko, the 23-time Grand Slam winner settled and raced through the next two sets 6-1 6-0 to record her 800th match victory. South Africa’s lone representative in the singles, young Lloyd Harris, had to work hard but beat Czech veteran Lukas Rosol 6-1 4-6 2-6 6-1 6-2 for his first Grand Slam match win. Today, women’s top seed Naomi Osaka and defending champion Simona Halep begin their campaigns against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova and Ajla Tomljanovic respectively.

SABC given World Cup lifeline

Some of the Cricket World Cup matches will be screened on free-to-air SABC after SuperSport and the public broadcaster announced an agreement yesterday. The SABC said it would broadcast ‘some of the fixtures on a live basis and others delayed and via highlights programmes’. The SABC is still to announce details regarding its schedule. The tournament starts on Thursday with South Africa taking on the hosts and pre-tournament favourites England at The Oval in London. All matches will be screened by SuperSport.

Villans back

Aston Villa, who ended fifth in the English Championship, survived a nervy final 17 minutes to beat Derby 2-1 in the promotion playoff yesterday and claim the last place in the Premier League for next season. They join Norwich and Sheffield United who were promoted automatically. Watched by an obviously nervous Prince William, Villa went two ahead with goals either side of halftime before Derby pulled one back in the 81st minute. The referee added on eight extra minutes of tension before finally ending the English season with Villa earning promotion.


All about a song

The story of the theft of the song that became a massive global hit thanks to Disney’s Lion King has been told in a new documentary that has been released for South African viewing. The film tracks the work of journalist Rian Malan who set out to find out why The Lion Sleeps Tonight sounded so familiar to him and who had written it – and discovered along the way that it had landed in the hands of folk singer Pete Seeger who turned it into the song Wimoweh, and who credited a fictional songwriter. How he uncovered that South African musician Solomon Linda had not been paid a cent for it was the subject of an article Malan wrote for Rolling Stone magazine. And, now it is the subject of a Netflix documentary. You can watch the trailer here.


Ark park’s rain claim

Fundamentalist Christians built a replica Noah’s Ark. It rained heavily… and now they are suing for rain damage. Ark Encounter, a US theme park in Kentucky, whose centrepiece is a giant wooden ship modelled after the biblical ark, is suing its insurance carriers over rain-related damages, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The company wants to recoup $1-million worth of damages, as well as punitive damages. Rainfall in 2017 and 2018 caused a significant landslide on the property, which undermined an access road leading to the ark. The suit claims that representatives from the park’s insurers told the owners to proceed with repairs but have since paid only ‘a very small portion’ of the cost. As a condition of employment, the museum and ark staff must sign a statement of faith rejecting evolution and declaring that they regularly attend church and view homosexuality as a sin.


Today’s award goes to Stig Abell (@StigAbell) for giving somebody else an award:

Elton John wins the award for the best diary entry ever (quoted in today’s Observer):
‘Woke up, watched Grandstand. Wrote Candle in the Wind. Went to London, bought Rolls-Royce. Ringo Starr came to dinner’.


Today’s cryptic clue from Cracking Xwords is: One telling tales in court near suspect (9)

The solution to yesterday’s clue, Saint George mishandled discrimination (11), is SEGREGATION – an anagram of ‘Saint George’ (‘mishandled’ is the anagram indicator) and the only time “segregation” is the solution!


Azeteng dreamed of being a spy. He spent his pocket money on James Bond films and when his father sent him to cut grass for the family’s livestock in a garden behind the police station, he would pretend he was on a mission, and tiptoe up to the door to listen in. The BBC publishes the incredible story of Azeteng, a young man from rural Ghana who bought a pair of secret camera glasses and got himself smuggled across the Sahara, filming crime and exploitation along the way.


It was Memorial Day in the US yesterday and on Saturday afternoon the US Army posted a Twitter video with a story on how positively military service had affected the life of one soldier. How has serving impacted your life? the Twitter feed asked. The response was an avalanche of over 10,000 tweets, a few saying it had been a good experience, but thousands and thousands that described broken relationships, broken families, life with post-traumatic stress disorder and endless accounts of suicide and attempted suicide, or ongoing suicidal thoughts. And so many stories of how little help there is for the people going through all this. There are a lot of problematic roleplayers in this equation: from those who make the weapons of war to those who deploy them, from those who shape the hierarchies that brutalise people to those who sell the myth of peace from war, and those who continue to fail the people damaged in the process. And of course it is not just the Americans. But in their case this past weekend, social media helped the victims find their voice. Hopefully warmongers everywhere are listening.

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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