Today's Big Stories

Speculation continues over disruption of #SONA15

Speculation continues over disruption of #SONA15

The officers of Parliament have made a promise that they will obey the rules of Parliament during Thursday’s State of The Nation Address (Sona) by President Jacob Zuma. The Economic Freedom Fighters' Leader Julius Malema has said he will disrupt the speech by standing up and asking President Zuma when he will pay back the money spent on his home at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. Over the weekend, Zuma said he would obey the direction of the Speaker if Malema did disrupt him. EWN's Rahima Essop:

Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise says she will apply the rules of Parliament, if there is a disruption, but the concern is what will happen if a question is asked by an opposition party member, as convention would have it that questions aren't asked during the Sona? It would appear that no questions will be taken. The Presiding Officers have been tight-lipped about what they will do when a disruption should happen or for instance if public order police might be deployed. They and the Speaker refuse to speculate."

Can Pastor Ray McCauley diffuse the EFF's disruptive intentions for #SONA15?

There's been confirmation from Rhema Bible Church Head Pastor Ray McCauley this morning that he believes the ANC and the EFF are very close to signing an accord that would prevent any disruption on Thursday night:

As early as December, we started to facilitate this situation and we've agreed that (1) the President will address the nation without interruption and that (2) the President will answer all questions put to him by opposition parties. It seems that everyone is in agreement, but we haven't signed the accord yet and we're still hoping this will happen before the 12th. We've put it together with the different parties, they have looked at all the documents and we're continuing with the process even beyond the State of the Nation Address. At the moment, this all hangs in the balance because I think the EFF wants something concrete about the answering of questions, while the President says he wants to answer questions after the Sona in March.

Mining Indaba highlights legislation and regulation as means towards stability

In Cape Town, Mineral Resources Minister Advocate Ngoako Ramathlodi has told the African Mining Indaba that South Africa is a stable place to do business and he intends to provide regulatory stability for investors:

I've been emphasising the issue of the Constitutional Regime that we have in South Africa, where everything is regulated under the law, so when people talk about uncertainty, I don't know what they are talking about because the law is there. With regards to the strikes, this was an exception to the rule, we haven't had such a situation since industrialisation and that situation shouldn't be exaggerated.

Could the state force you to take your meds?

News this morning is that the Mpumalanga Health Department has gone to court to ask a judge to order a couple with Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR TB) to undergo treatment. Emeritus Professor of Medicine at UCT, Professor Solly Benatar:

In the situation of a public health issue, the ethical rules that apply between the inter-personal relationship in a doctor-patient scenario can be invoked when the condition is not a public issue. Another principle is to prevent harm to others, so that's the public health principle, but one has to be fully convinced before enforcing this rule. Another thing to satisfy fully is that there isn't any other way of treating the condition. The least restrictive means principle is about exercising everything you can before you coerce a person to take treatment, such as education, finding out why they are being resistant to taking treatment, and so forth.

Govt employee pension exodus continues

In Pretoria today is a briefing by the Government Pensions Administration Agency on reports that many government-employed teachers are resigning from their jobs to take up their pensions. Acting Chief Operating Officer of the Government Pensions Administration Agency, Jay Morar:

It's not just teachers necessary: we've had a general influx in resignations, due to a proposal which was supposed to come into effect in March, but that proposition was stopped, we've seen a decline in resignation. I would say to some degree, it was a mistake in communication and we also think in some way, financial advisers may have misinformed some government employees. At this time of reform, we as government did communicate that employee benefits and pensions wouldn't have been affected; we've said this time and again over the last year, but people haven't believed this information. It is also a factor that indebtedness is causing people to withdraw from their pension funds to address debt, but the Government Employees Pension Fund is stable and employees shouldn't do this.

Party fund disclosure

In the Constitional Court this lunchtime is a bid by the organisation My Vote Counts, to ask judges to order Parliament to enact legislation that would force political parties to say where they get their money from. My Vote Counts' Greg Solik:

It's important for several reasons, including regulating donations from foreign funders so they doesn't have any political interference in countries.

EWN's Gia Nicolaides:

It really comes down to the Access of Information Act, which has several limitations, as it doesn't cover private funding. There is also nothing in the Act that enforces parties to keep records of donations made to them. There's also an argument that parties are public and not private entities.

Talks and tricks with Putin:

In Belarus on tomorrow, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France will be meeting to try and find some sort of solution to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. This, as the US decides whether to send weapons to Ukraine. Research Associate SA Institute of International Relations and a former South African Diplomat, Tom Wheeler:

It's a tricky one to call because Putin said at the University of Cairo that this is all a Western trick and so he doesn't give a great deal of confidence in enforcing this and ending tensions in Ukraine. If there's no agreement reached tomorrow, then I'm afraid the war will continue and Obama will be forced to bring out weapons.

Smart, 'eavesdropping' TVs

A claim breaking overnight is that the new Smart TV’s being sold by Samsung could actually be able to overhear private conversations in your living room. Managing Director of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck:

In the statement, Samsung noted 'Please be aware that your spoken words will be sent to a third party' and suddenly now people have woken up to the implications. The third party in Samsung's case in 'Nuance' which takes what you say and translates them into an instruction to send to an anonymous third party server that is used for no other reasons besides the mechanical.

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