Today's Big Stories

Gauteng e-tolls review panel calls for review of system - Makhura

Makhura e-tolls announcement: Gauteng Premier David Makhura has revealed details on the E-tolls Review Panel's report at a media briefing, stating that the e-tolls system must be reviewed. EWN Correspondent Mia Lindeque with the details:

Premier Makhura has said so far that the panel has advised them that the poor people and the lower income people rather than the middle class have been carrying much of the burden of the e-toll system. While we must pay for the roads that have been built, there needs to be a better model found to do this. This also affects small business holders in townships and those that should be paying for the system aren't paying. But at this stage, this is just a recommendation, this isn't a final end to the e-tolls, because national government needs to respond and we need to see if they will agree with the recommendation from provincial government.

Chairman of Opposition to Urban Tolling Alliance (Outa), Wayne Duvenage:

Clearly, the Premier is acknowleding the problems with collection of the e-toll system and the negative impact on the poor. This is something that will have to be decided at the national level and whether they will take this recommendation up, remains to be seen. There's heavy politics being played here, with the lack of consultation as well.

Eskom update: in another media conference, Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona has made some comments to address the current power crisis at Eskom's quarterly address. EWN Correspondent, Gia Nicolaides:

Matona has really hammered on the point of the maintenance of plants, stating that Eskom has been unfaithful to this, leaving Eskom with poor equipment. He says they have to embark on a new strategy with taking some of the plants offline to do maintenance, which essentially means that South Africans will experience load shedding from January and right into April. We do know that Eskom is also in a financial crisis, but Matona hasn't touched on how that will be dealt with.

Energy expert, Chris Yelland:

I thought the address by Mr Matona was very weak, he looked very stressed and he didn't address how the R200 billion cash flow crisis to fund the diesel and other financial issues. It was a very disturbing and disappointing address. I think they are waiting expectantly for government, but government simply hasn't come up with a workable plan and he's simply not in a position to talk about this, leaving the big elephant in the room still standing. Eskom have indicated they have enough funding to fund diesel until the middle of February.

The Hawks in court: today in the High Court in Pretoria, the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) is now bringing its case against Police Minister Nathi Nhleko for suspending the head of the Hawks, Anwar Dramat. So far Nhleko has not said why he’s suspended Dramat and Dramat’s lawyer says he was suspended for political reasons because he requested the police files on President Jacob Zuma’s home at Nkandla. EWN Correspondent, Govan Whittles:

The HSF has argued that the Police Minister cannot request more time to prepare the response because the Minister had been aware of the HSF's intention to challenge the suspension since the 30th of December last year. Judge Bill Prinsloo has postponed the matter until Monday at 08:00 and that's when the matter will be heard. The Police Ministry has been instructed to file their affidavit today and the matter involved Anwa Dramat will be heard on Monday as well.

The DA on the EFF: in Parliament, the leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the National Assembly Mmusi Maimane has said that this party will not be a part of any plan to break the rules. The comment comes after the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said on this programme on Wednesday that they would disrupt President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (Sona) to demand that he pay back the money spent on his home at Nkandla. DA Parliamentary Leader, Mmusi Maimane:

We will not be a part of it because we believe that SA faces challenges ahead including a crisis in energy, the Hawks and many other. We also don't want to put focus on the President, because it means that we'd reduce the challenges to one person and the State of the Nation needs to address varied matters. (On holding the President accountable for Nkandla expenditure) we want to exercise all mechanisms of Parliament and then if those don't work, you take it further. I will communicate with the leader of the EFF and say that I don't believe that it is not in the interests of South Africans that the Sona doesn't proceed.

Cape changes?: news this morning that the City of Cape Town wants to rename part of the N1 that runs through the City after former President FW de Klerk. Tony Erinrich is the leader of the opposition in the City of Cape Town and Cosatu's Provincial Secretary in the Western Cape:

There's no doubt that FW de Klerk played some role in the realisation of democracy but it wasn't through his embracing of the principles of democracy. It seems that the DA is trying to elevate FW de Klerk to the same status as Nelson Mandela, yet he is one of the architects and implementors of the apartheid value system. Now that the 'honeymoon' is over, it's time for us to take a sober look at things. He did play a role in the realisation of democracy, but it was a very limited role because he didn't have the same value system (of the liberation movement).

The trolls of democracy: the Wednesday edition of the Midday Report heard the CEO of the Human Rights Commission Kayum Ahmed note how the Commission said it was receiving a higher number of complaints about racism on social media, in particular on Twitter and Facebook. This led to questions about the conversations we have about race and our past on Twitter. History Lecturer at Rhodes University, Dr Nomalanga Mkhize:

If we're talking about extremist right-wing Twitter users, anything that is critical of white South Africans and White Privilege elicits negative reaction from trolls. People might say things with more boldness than they generally might, as they sit behind computer screens. I think that under the 'Rainbow Nation', there's been a paradigm that that people have been operating in where they haven't able to communicate their experience of racism and online allows for that space.

HIV-fighting primates: a story in Business Day suggests that researchers in the US have found a way to give monkeys an injection that appears to protect them from HIV for a period of three months. Executive Director of WITS' Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, Prof Helen Reese:

These sorts of studies are the ones where you develop a drug. What they did with this drug was that they exposed a monkey to a placebo and another to the virus and compared results. The next step would be to see if it would used on human beings. It is a form of an antiretroviral and it is one being developed to look at prevention.

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