Today's Big Stories

Build up to #SONA15: what to expect of the President?

Countdown to #SONA15

There were a series of comments made by President Jacob Zuma at a media conference on Sunday about what he would do if his State of The Nation Address (Sona) is disrupted: Nkandla, the energy situation, crime and race in South Africa. Zuma gave a lunch for media editors at the Presidential guest house. Political Analyst, Professor Sipho Seepe on Zuma's comments around a potential Malema/EFF disruption:

I think part of the strategy (ahead of the Sona) is having a media conference, to try to indicate to the SA population on some of the issues he wants to touch on, in case he gets disrupted at the Address.

Seepe on Zuma's comments around Nkandla expenditure:

He is frustrated, but he's got a point in that there's a distinction between the houses that were built and the security upgrades and often the coverage has been on the upgrades.

Seepe on Zuma's comments on foreigners doing business in South Africa:

Government does not have an easy answer on these matters, but where President Zuma is correct is that we have a culture of lawlessness, especially with protests. We need to address that and it's not because we have foreigners, but it's a culture that we have that exists. The problem is systemic.

Seepe on Zuma's comments around race:

I think he is correct in pointing out what is provided by law. But where he is not resolute is the comparison to him and President Mbeki, where he would make a big song and dance on racial attacks. We need to go beyond that and I believe we need to hold a dialogue so we can be united within our diversity.

Medupi deadline moved...again

A claim from the group EE Publishers this morning is that the deadline for the first unit of the Medupi power station is now being moved back by six weeks. Energy expert and Managing Director at EE Publishers, Chris Yelland:

We had contact Eskom yesterday to see if Unit 6 at Medupi is in sync to go online on Feb 15th, as this has been delayed time and again. Eskom came back to me - in writing - to indicate that this first synchronisation was move to the end of the 1st quarter of 2015, which takes it to the end of March.

Are S.Africans suffering with high medical costs?

A claim in the Times newspaper this morning is that red tape is costing people billions and making it harder for them to access private healthcare. The claim comes from a series of submissions made to the competition commission probe into medical costs. CEO of Discovery Health, Dr Jonathan Broomberg:

I don't think 'red tape' is the right word to characterise high health care costs; one of the causes is the regulatory environment in the sector. There are certain aspects of the law that are keeping costs up. Most modern medical aids use a risk-based capital reserves system, which is linked to the individual level of risk. It's a multi-sectoral matter, but there are solutions. It is high in South Africa and consumers are suffering.

Literary giant Brink celebrated

News over the weekend is that writer and novelist Andre P. Brink has died. Professor Brink was the author of A Dry White Season. Head of Fiction at NB Publishers, Ettienne Bloemhof:

It's a huge loss, not only to Afrikaans literature, but to South Africa as a whole. He's a person who had courage in his convictions and was very political. His 1973 book Kennis van die aand was the first Afrikaans book to be banned. He and his peers used Afrikaans as a language to fight apartheid and his work advanced Afrikaans to the level of being an international fighting language, more than it had ever been

Mining Indaba underway

In Cape Town, Mayor Patricia de Lille has formally opened the Mining Indaba. EWN's Govan Whittles is there:

There are a number of high-profile speakers that are set for this event, including former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. In focus during talks will als be the the viability of the minerals, particularly in South Africa. There have also been talks around how the minerals here need to be regulated. The key theme this year is around the future of our minerals here in South Africa and around what it would take for the minerals to be beneficiated to the community; there are over 50 African countries represented here, so that conversation is relevant, along with legislation used by these countries with regards to this sector.

SA's diplomatic calendar over 2015

International Relations and Co-operations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has briefed the media on diplomatic activities for the rest of 2015. EWN Africa Correspondent, Jean-Jacques Cornish:

We will be hosting the summit this year, because Chad can't do it for security reasons. We don't know which city will be hosting, but the Minister has said she would be making an announcement by the end of this weeek. We will also be participating in the G77 and China Summit - the largest grouping of developing economies - so we have our work cut out diplomatically.

What the EFF?

A press conference today held by a group calling themselves the Defenders of the EFF’s Constitution. The leader of this organisation is Lufuno Gogora:

The aim of our organisation is the nationalisation of mines and the expropriation of land without compensation. We are members of the EFF but we aren't happy with the party. We are planning to remove Julius (Malema): we cannot leave an organisation that we built with everything we have. We cannot allow a 'Frankenstein monster' like Julius destroy this and we'll be going to court. If he doesn't agree, we will remove him physically from the building and then locking it up. It's a simple task. He is a coward, he won't do anything (at the Sona): that Address will go on and continues, he won't do anything.

Another Mzantsi win at the Grammys!

News breaking overnight that is that South African flautist Wouter Kellerman won a Grammy Award for his role in the album Winds of Samsara. EWN's New York Correspondent, Nadia Neophytou:

Had a chat with him just before on Friday and thereafter: he's so excited, he'd recorded this over 3 years and had recorded this work in India and South Africa. He played here at Carnegie Hall, so to see him bring his music there is one of those incredible moments for a South African.

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