A report by the World Health Organisation has revealed South Africa’s strengths and weaknesses when it comes to epidemic preparedness. The next step is to prepare a national plan, financed by Treasury, to fix the weaknesses and upscale preparedness and run mock emergency exercises.
Last week, representatives from Hortgro, the Department of Agriculture, Vinpro and the African Farmers Association of South Africa reported back to Parliament on the state of agriculture in the Western Cape. The meeting followed an in-depth analysis of the impacts of the drought on all major long-term crops, major vegetables, jobs, exports and other factors, as well as the impact on emerging farmers. The news wasn’t good: water shortages were exacerbated by other factors, and recovery is unlikely to be quick.
In Cape Town, one of the most divided cities in the world, rival gangs are waging war on the city’s streets. While many of us are asleep, freelance photographer Leon Knipe, 56, is one of those documenting the nightly toll this city takes on its citizens.
Last week, the North West capital, Mahikeng, saw violent protests and the burning down of significant buildings in the city. In order to to calm the situation in the province, President Cyril Ramaphosa had to cut short his participation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The core demand of the protesters is that Premier Supra Mahumapelo leave office. Over the weekend, the Sunday Times produced evidence that Mahumapelo sent cows to Nkandla that were purchased as part of a government empowerment scheme. For the moment, at least, it appears Ramaphosa has been unable to shift Mahumapelo out of his powerful position. It appears there is still much internal ANC politics at play, regardless of the situation on the ground.
ANALYSIS: Constitutional oversight in South Africa – critically endangered through underfunding and delays
What unfolded in the courts and Parliament over the past 10 days has raised a red flag on the toxic mix of throttling independent oversight entities of funding amid politicking and bureaucratic box-ticking at best, and obstructionism at worst. While it would be easy to shrug oversight off as fuzzy-wuzzy talk indulged in by the chattering classes, it actually is a fundamental decision facing South Africa’s constitutional democracy and the quality of life of all 55-million citizens.
President Jacob Zuma has increased the size of a ministerial task team assigned to deal with the higher education funding crisis and the Democratic Alliance intends tabling a new motion of no confidence in the president. Yes, we do seem to be stuck in an awful, mind-numbing loop in South African politics with a severe dearth of new ideas to deal with problems. Unlike Einstein’s definition of insanity, nobody even expects different results when they do the same things over and over again. The political disconnect is best evident in Zuma’s view of the violent student protests over free education, now reaching tipping point: “That is democracy”. The rebellion is coming, and it might turn out to be very undemocratic. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
The aggressive disruption of Wednesday’s meeting of the #WitsPeaceAccord at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Braamfontein was not just another failed meeting. It was not just another lost opportunity to take a step towards some sort of way forward for the crisis Wits University finds itself in. It was not just another affirmation of how volatile and fractured the Wits community is. It was a moment in time in which the very DNA of the church was violated. It was a moment when an age-old tradition was rejected. It was an iconic moment in which everyone lost. If it cannot be a peaceful space where sanctuary and dialogue are respected, it cannot be a space for meetings either. By RUSSELL POLLITT.
The call to “scratch off” science is ridiculous. Ditto that it is somehow “Western”, that witchcraft should be preserved, and that Isaac Newton’s concept of gravity is unassailable (ask Einstein about that). But underneath these extraordinary sentiments expressed at a Shackville TRC at the University of Cape Town last week, there is a thread of truth that all the noise is drowning out: science is not relevant to the majority of Africa’s citizens and African scientists are often excluded. By SARAH WILD and LINDA NORDLING.
Outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre, a Fedusa-organised protest raged on the street. Inside, Steinhoff’s Annual General Meeting was live-streamed to 26 direct shareholders in a small conference room. Outside, anger transformed into song, chants, dance, and demands. Inside, frustration manifested itself in challenging questions, ironic laughter, and sighs of disapproval. But at the end of the day the Steinhoff board walked away with everything they wanted to achieve, the restructuring and revival of the organisation entirely in their hands.
It has finally happened. ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu has started the pushback within the ANC that has been missing while the uproar in society grows about President Jacob Zuma’s leadership and the onslaught against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Mthembu’s outspoken comments this weekend marked the end of the ANC’s attempts to keep a lid on the turmoil in the organisation. While the ANC deals with this fallout, it also has questions to answer about a meeting at its headquarters that included the president and the head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). All this while the state capture issue has exploded, spraying nuclear waste on Zuma. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Many ANC members of parliament are either baffled by the student uprising or don’t care about the universities, according to Professor Belinda Bozzoli MP, the DA’s shadow Minister of Higher Education. “They can’t understand that it’s no good to say we did these things after 1994.” It’s not acceptable. By JOHN MATISONN.
On 19 October 2016 the South African government submitted its Instrument of Withdrawal to the United Nations Secretary General, stating that it had “the honor to notify that the government of the Republic of South Africa has decided to withdraw from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court”. This is the latest legally questionable and deplorable instalment in what seems to be a string of legally questionable actions taken by the state since the unfortunate arrival of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in June 2015. Procedurally and substantively, serious concerns have been raised about the government’s conduct in this ongoing and bitter South Africa-ICC saga. By ANGELA MUDUKUTI.
Huge food price increases mean that many South Africans are eating less, skipping meals and buying filling food that lack necessary nutrients. At a World Food Day event last week, activists said food should be seen as a basic human right instead of a commodity. HEALTH-E’s KERRY CULLINAN reports.
It’s hard to have a debate these days that doesn’t descend into name-calling or us-versus-them dichotomies. It’s hard to find any middle ground. Nowhere is this more evident than in the increasingly polarised #FeesMustFall protests.