Minister okays legal fight for Caster

And other essential news of the day

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Photo of Caster Semenya
SA Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa has come out in support of Caster Semenya, instructing Athletics South Africa to appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that would force the athlete to undergo hormone treatment. Photo: Wikipedia user Yann Caradec (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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


The poll: it’s a wrap

Here are the main headlines to take out of the election result:

  • The ANC’s 57.5% of the vote was down from the 62% in the corresponding election in 2014, but up from the total 53.9% it amassed in the 2016 municipal elections;
  • It was a victory for President Cyril Ramaphosa, whose personal appeal played a significant role in hauling the ANC over the line. More than 640,000 voters chose the ANC at national government level but other parties in the provinces;
  • The DA dropped from 22.2% in 2014 to 20.7%. Some critics believe this is a consequence of poor policy and strategy by the party, but others argue that the DA has now rid itself of the conservative fringe which had been lured into its fold by Tony Leon’s ‘fight back’ campaign in 1999. The latter also believe that the party’s losses were partly offset by black gains – a good sign for the future;
  • The EFF grew from 6.3% to 10.8%. This is substantial growth but its overall result is far below what it was expecting. It also suggests that the party is some distance from being the ‘government-in-waiting’ that it likes to call itself;
  • The Freedom Front Plus grew from 0.9% to 2.38%, almost certainly picking up a chunk of disaffected DA voters;
  • Two interesting newcomers to Parliament, with two MPs each, will be Patricia de Lille’s GOOD party and Gupta pal Mzwanele ‘Jimmy’ Manyi’s ATM. The ATM got 0.44% of the electorate (76,830) to back it and GOOD scooped up 0.4% (70,408), presumably also disaffected DA supporters;
  • The ANC just squeaked over the line and avoided having to go into a coalition in Gauteng with 50.19% of the vote. It will control provincial governments in all but the Western Cape;
  • Talking of which, the DA defied expectations with a 55.45% majority in the Western Cape. That was down from the 59.4% in 2014 and it might be telling that GOOD – led by a vengeful former DA member and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille – snapped up 3%;
  • In spite of a massive pro-ANC campaign in the Western Cape by the Cape Times and Cape Argus newspapers the party dropped back even further this year – to 28.6% (from 32.9% in 2014);
  • The IFP made a stirring comeback in KZN, where it is once again the official opposition after getting 16.3% of the vote, up from 2014s 10.8% (but it is worth bearing in mind that it once took more than 40% of the votes in the province);
  • The EFF deposed the DA as the second biggest party in Mpumalanga. The red berets are now the official opposition in three provinces – Limpopo and North West being the other two;
  • The DA is now the official opposition in just four provinces, down from six before the election.

If you want more details, including a breakdown of exactly how many MPs each party will have – the ANC will have 230, the DA 84 and the EFF 44 (who will make more noise than all the rest combined) – then go to the IEC’s excellent website.

Assange rape case reopened

Sweden has announced that investigations into rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange are being reopened, which will allow the country to apply for his extradition from the UK so he can be interviewed. Assange spent seven years in Ecuador’s London embassy where he was hoping to prevent his extradition on the rape charges, but the country withdrew his asylum last month, leading to his prompt arrest. Assange is now serving a 50-week jail sentence for breaching his bail conditions in the case.

Minister gives go-ahead to fight Caster ruling

SA Sports Minister Tokozile Xasa has come out in support of Caster Semenya, instructing Athletics South Africa to appeal against the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruling that would force the athlete to undergo hormone treatment. The CAS decision meant that the IAAF could require so-called DSD (differences of sex development) athletes with XY chromosomes to lower their testosterone. This would only apply to athletes in some events – including all the events that Semenya competes in. Among other things, the appeal will argue that scientific and legal questions were not properly addressed.


‘Noise’ annoys a menace

Some 50 years ago District Six was declared whites-only and bulldozers moved in, destroying homes and forcibly removing more than 60,000 coloured and black residents. Mosques – and other places of worship – were spared. Residents are stilling waiting to return but the land restitution process keeps stalling. Meanwhile, a District Six mosque has been sounding a call to prayer every day since its doors opened more than a 100 years ago. However, one member of the public thinks it’s too loud and has lodged a complaint with the police, saying it violates the city of Cape Town’s noise pollution by-laws. Congregants of the mosque described the complaint as ridiculous and attributed it to the gentrification of the inner city, which residents of nearby Bo Kaap have been resisting. Development and gentrification is bringing in rich owners and squeezing out locals. The mosque has been there for years so why people who move in should be surprised at something that adds to the colour, character and atmosphere of a community is a mystery – unless they are just entitled menaces used to getting their own way.


Rolling blackouts hit Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe began power load-shedding of up to eight hours at a time today as low water levels at the drought-affected Kariba Dam power plant forced cuts in power generation, hurting mines and industry. The dam is only 34% full. The country is also facing production problems at Hwange Power Station, and is getting limited imports from Eskom in South Africa and from Mozambique.

Liquidators struggle to find Zuma nephew

Lawyers acting for the liquidators of the Pamodzi mining group are struggling to find Jacob Zuma’s nephew Khulubuse Zuma, who owes more than R1.4bn to creditors – personally. In January a provisional liquidation order was granted against him in the Durban high court. In March, when it should have been finalised, lawyers asked the judge to postpone matters, but by last week said they had still not managed to find Zuma to get his response. The lawyers must now show what efforts they have made to find Zuma before returning to court in June.


Lions win with Seconds, Sharks third

The Lions were the only team to claim a Super Rugby win over the weekend and the Australians are crying foul after the Johannesburg side scraped to a narrow 29-28 win over the Waratahs at Ellis Park. After a 11-2 penalty count against the Waratahs, referee Egon Seconds (who you may recall was castigated by Lions supporters after the Lions loss to the Stormers earlier this season) was probably offered a few free drinks in Johannesburg last night. For the third week in a row the Sharks were competitive against their antipodean rivals, but this time they could not hold on and the Chiefs claimed the 29-23 win with back-to-back tries in the 68th and 70th minute. The bonus-point loss was enough to take the Durban franchise back to the top of the SA conference and third overall. The Bulls felt the full force of the Crusaders revenge when the Pretoria side was made to look very ordinary as the New Zealand defending champions cruised to 45-13 win in their Super Rugby clash in Pretoria on Friday.

City wrap it up

Manchester City gave their fans a fright yesterday before racing to a convincing 4-1 win over Brighton to secure the English Premier League title. City’s 32nd win of the season took them to 98 points – enough to edge Liverpool by just a single point. City manager Pep Guardiola described this as the toughest title of his career which has included eight domestic titles in 10 seasons with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City. Incredibly, Liverpool (who beat Wolves 2-0 yesterday) lost just one match in the 2018/19 season and collected a stunning 97 league points, but were still not able to claim the title. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp summed things up when he graciously accepted defeat and issued a warning to his own side, as well as the rest of the Premier League: “As long as Manchester City are around with their financial power, no team will pass them easily,” he said. “We need to be very close to perfection to win the Premier League as long as this is the case.” (Final league standings and full season stats).

USA too strong for Banyana

Banyana Banyana were given another indication of just how tough things are going to be at the World Cup next month when the USA dominated a friendly last night and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. Samantha Mewis scored in each half and then Carli Lloyd added a third goal in injury time. South Africa has another warm-up match on June 2 against Norway, in France, before their opening match of the World Cup on June 8 against Spain. China and Germany are in the same World Cup group as Banyana and Spain.


Eve beats Bodyguard

Killing Eve took the lion’s share of the honours at the 2019 British Academy Television Awards, winning best drama series, best leading actress for Jodie Comer, and best supporting actress for Fiona Shaw, beating out competition from The Bodyguard and Patrick Melrose. The Bodyguard had been nominated for a raft of awards but took only one – for best ‘must-see moment’ – an award voted by the public. Dominic Cumberbatch won best leading actor for his role in Patrick Melrose. The Guardian has a good wrap of the gongs for British-produced TV.


Trevor takes aim at Malema

Trevor Noah has been trending on Twitter all weekend after the Daily Show host aired a segment on Friday in which he compared Julius Malema to Donald Trump for his attitude to the press, and took a swipe at the EFF leader for his comments in 2016 on killing white people (he wasn’t calling for this, Malema told an interviewer – at least, he added, ‘not for now’). The clip has been removed from the Daily Show’s website but it is still being shared on Twitter. Some South Africans think it’s very funny, some think it is dangerous for suggesting that white genocide is actually a thing in the country. You can decide for yourself.


Putin it in the net

Russian president Vladimir Putin scored eight (or maybe 9, possibly even 10) goals in an ice hockey game with former National Hockey League players. State-owned media reported that the 66-year-old leader scored 10 goals, the Kremlin’s own account says nine, while the Associated Press says eight in his team’s 14-7 victory. According to the Guardian, Putin, whose approval ratings have slipped as Russia battles economic woes, periodically plays hockey with government officials, businessmen and former NHL stars in matches that are broadcast with pomp on Russian TV. Playing on Friday at centre forward, Putin was provided with plenty of scoring opportunities by his teammates and – unsurprisingly – was met with little resistance by the opposing team’s defence. He then took a face-first spill during his victory lap – and all those who witnessed his humiliation have been ordered to report to Siberia.


Tweet of the day on this fine Monday morning goes to old friend David Moseley (@david_moseley) for this observation on the decline of a once fine institution:

I axe erdentally red a Cape Times this morning, and now I’m 96 pissant more stupiderer.


Today’s clue, compiled by Charles Machanik, is: Archie is a part of these dynasties! (10)

The solution to Friday’s clue, Recipe mania for a song and a film (8,3), is AMERICAN PIE – an anagram of ‘recipe mania’ (cunningly, ‘mania’ is also the anagram indicator) and gives an answer that’s a terrible film and a song that remains cloaked in mystery.


Evidence on the ground suggests that up to three-quarters of the Uyghur Muslims in China’s vast concentration camps are men. So what happened to the women? This powerful and beautifully presented multimedia story from Coda Story is a chilling account of China’s surveillance of and clampdown on its Uyghur population.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has emerged from last week’s elections in a much stronger position than he was before. Two sets of numbers suggest his personal appeal was fundamental to the ANC’s success.

The first are those that show a scarcely believable 643,194 people voted for the ANC at national level, but chose to vote for other parties in the provinces – a phenomenon that has been dubbed the ‘Cyril effect’. He will also be bolstered by the fact that the ANC’s final tally of 57.5% of the vote, although down from the 62% of 2014’s national election, is an increase over the 53.9% the party amassed during the 2016 municipal elections – when Jacob Zuma was still leading the party.

These results suggest Ramaphosa has a golden opportunity to act decisively. He can do so immediately by substantially trimming the bloated cabinet created by Zuma and getting rid of its underperforming or venal members. This should be done in such a way as to address the governance failures of Zuma’s ‘lost years’ and to begin putting the economy back on a sound footing.

Then he can set about ridding the state of the corrupt individuals who have cost it billions in the last decade. Many have been identified by investigative journalists or the various commissions of inquiry on the go: the sooner they are wearing orange overalls the better.

And he can do himself a political favour by moving against his Zuma-aligned enemies in the ANC who have been intent on undermining him (most also happen to be corrupt, so it will be a ‘killing two birds with one stone’ thing). It is absolutely critical that Ramaphosa does not ignore this opportunity, which will probably last for about one year: if he fails the price will be paid by more than just him as an individual or his party – the country at large will almost certainly continue its downwards trajectory.


And here’s Business Day’s editorial today on Ramaphosa’s role in the ANC win and his challenges.

We welcome your insights, observations and compliments (especially your compliments) so please send them to is produced by Chris Whitfield, Jonathan Ancer and Martine Barker. Click here for all the gory details about us.

GroundUp’s Disclaimer: Although we like and are promoting it in May, we don’t produce it. If you want to express how much you love or hate it, please email Chris, Jonathan and Martine.


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