Mbete vs EFF: there's been a response from National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to the demand from the Economic Freedom Fighters that she call Parliament for a special session for President Jacob Zuma to answer when he will pay back the money spent by government on his home at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. Mbete says she will not recall Parliament and she’s called on Julius Malema and the EFF to not disrupt Zuma’s State of The Nation Address (Sona). The EFF has claimed that if Zuma does not answer the question, they will disrupt that state occasion. Acting National Spokesperson for the EFF, Fana Mokoena:
We will demand for the President to answer the question for when he will pay back the money. This is not an interruption, but we would be invoking Rule No. 116 (of the Parliamentary rules) and he needs to continue where he left off. We are going to stand up and ask him to continue where he left off to answer when he is going to pay back the money. The format for what happens after the State of the Nation Address is not conducive for him to answer as it is not binding. We want the best possible space for him to answer because this issue has been dragging for three years now - it's a long time. Nkandla is probably the least of the issues and we are highlighting the bigger issue of corruption.
Inland back-to-school update: in gGuteng and other inland provinces, it’s the first day of school for 2015 and for many children – and their parents – it’s their first time at school. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was at the Boitumeleng Primary school in Tembisa this morning. EWN Correspondent, Thando Kubheka:
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the program which was attended by a lot of senior leadership including Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga. What Ramaphosa said as he launched the paperless education program is that learners have to work hard to succeed and that they should be determined in order to be better people and entrepreneurs for the country.
EWN Correspondent Tara Meaney shares the picture in Giyani, Limpopo:
Things do seem to be going according to plan and it looks as if every child has received books. I'm sorry to report however that the sanitation issues are absolutely abysmal and the understanding is they haven't seen the contractors since last year, so there are half-finished toilets and many learners are now forced to relieve themselves in the bush.
Sustainability woes for Eskom: as Eskom says it can’t give any warning of when it may implement planned power cuts or load shedding, reports in the EWN bulletins this morning note that there is still no indication from government about whether it will bailout Eskom, which is also running out of money. Chief Economist at Econometrix, Dr Azar Jammine:
Government really doesn't have many options other than the normal ones including to allow for a bigger increase in electricity tarrifs and secondly is increasing individual tax or increasing fuel levy. Thirdly, it seems that government needs to borrow more money and government seems to be embarking on its own program of austerity, hence it seems that government is now trying to restrict its own borrowing.
Hate speech on the rise: the Human Rights Commission (HRC) says it’s noticed a larger number of complaints about racism on social media, particularly on Twitter and Facebook. CEO of the HRC, Kayum Ahmed:
We're seeing a major increase in the number of compalinsts, with 3% of around 10000 complaints in 2013/14 relating to hate speech complaints. In 2014/15, we've seen an increase of 22% relating to freedom of expresssion and hate speech, which is deeply concerning to us. Open discussion and debate is welcome, but people need to refrain from hate speech and the inciting of violence.
Food and fuel: a report in the Business Day is that food prices are now expected to come down, partly because of the lower petrol prices. Agricultural Economist at the University of the Free State, Prof Johan Willemse:
I think we are a little bit over-optimistic because most of the production work - that required more expensive fuel - has been done. Transport costs for the food are only a small portion of the costs. There's a lot of things that we are overlooking as there are a lot of farmers that now have to run their productions on generators due to load shedding. There's a lot of factors that work against a lowering of costs.
E-tolls review: a front page report in the Sowetan newspaper this morning is that the Gauteng provincial govenrment’s E-tolls Review Panel has found that poorer people in townships are bearing the brunt of the tolling of Gauteng’s highways. EWN Correspondent, Mia Lindeque:
It's difficult to keep this report secret, as it has to be discussed with the Gauteng government, and there are many people with various agendas involved. With regards to the poor - it would seem that many people in suburbs such as Bryanston and Sandton are using back roads and avoiding highways. It would seem they are kind of forced to release it because everyone wants to know what will happen with the E-tolls going forward: will we be paying and what will the impact of this be on the Local Government Elections of 2016?
Generations - The Return?: a claim overnight from the attorney for the actors on the soap opera Generations is that they are going to try and stop the new soap opera "Generations: The Legacy" from being broadcast by the SABC. Their attorney, Bulelani Mzamo of Mzamo Attorneys:
Each time when we consulted with senior counsel on this matter, there was only one agreement between us - that the SABC is the main culprit here, with promises to review salaries and so on. Following the dismissal of the actors in question, there was an intervention by the Minister of Arts and Culture and during this, the SABC went behind the backs of the attorneys and the production company, meeting with teh actors - and it was senior management of SABC - asking what it would take for them to return to work. The SABC agreed to table these things in writing.
Losing religion through translation?: a claim today is that the new Zulu edition of the bible may actually have been translated from Xhosa and not directly from the source texts in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. Socio-linguistics researcher at the Tshwane University of Technology, Dr Thabo Ditsele:
I am pursuaded by the argument that the Zulu bible could have been translated from the Xhosa bible. Because when missionaries first arrived in this country, they first interacted with the Xhosa before the Zulu. But it's not an issue for me that the Zulu bible is translated from the Xhosa.