Today's Big Stories

[DEVELOPING] The Cape's Raging Inferno

Smoke over the mountains in Hout Bay. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

The Cape's Raging Inferno

In Cape Town, civilians are being asked to leave certain areas around a massive fire that started in Muizenberg on Sunday afternoon, which has now spread to the Sun Valley area. Firefighters have been unable to stop this fire from moving as huge flames have now destroyed thousands of hectares of vegetation. Some families have now been evacuated from the area. EWN's Natalie Malgas:

At the moment, it's quite difficult to see anything. There's dark, dense smoke out over Chapman's Peak Drive, you can hear the helicopters hovering above us, but you can't see anything. Ou Kaapse Weg looks likes it's started calming down, but Chapman's Peak Drive is still up and going. It's quite scary and things could always change at anytime, so you have to be careful, with fire fighters tending to the scene. Civilians have been asked to clear the scene - even the journalists as well.

Spokesperson for Cape Town Fire Services, Theo Layne:

When the fire started yesterday afternoon, it was driven by a very strong South Westerly wind, which pushed the fire very high up the mountain, which meant access via conventional methods such as vehicles was difficult. We are not asking for any evacuations at the moment; the people who had been asked to evacuate earlier in their areas have now been asked to go back.

Cosatu's intra-federation woes

A tweet from Cosatu General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi this morning says that he would not be attending today’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting.This comes after seven Cosatu unions have said they will be boycotting the event. Last year, metal workers union Numsa was expelled from Cosatu by the CEC. Cosatu President, Sdumo Dlamini:

There's no half of the unions that is not here. There is the CEC here, we are currently dealing with credentials. We will still continue as we have not received any request for postponements. A quorum is a product of credentials, we have not dealt with credentials yet, but from where I am standing, we will reach quorum. The decision to expel Numsa was a democratically taken decision at the CEC; the platform is still quite democratic, even right now.

Food and Allied Workers Union (Fawu) General Secretary, Katishi Masemola:

Well, it would be unfornate for the CEC meeting to continue without the ANC task team concluding their work around the divisions within Cosatu, it would be unfortunate as this is against the work to unite Cosatu. It's not about using the numbers, but more about a genuine effort to address unity in Cosatu. That's why we were hoping this meeting would be shifted to give the ANC that opportunity to help to realise unity in Cosatu. If we look at numbers and decisions taken (having reached quorum), then that would mean that Sdumo Dlamini would have taken decisions on a technicality and as to whether that would contribute towards unity is another question.

SA 2022 Commonwealth Games bid still in the air

In London this lunchtime is the formal lodging of Durban’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. EWN UK's Gavin Grey:

One mustn't think this is a done deal, but it does seem like it's going to be a signed, sealed and delivered. This would also be an opportunity for job creation of course, but these things (around costs of hosting) are open to intepretation. Other people are linking this possibility with the possibility that South Africa could then later host the Olympics in future, because the Commonwealth Games would be a great thing for South Africa. 71 nations, different sporting codes and thousands of athletes - this is a very presitigious event.

Former British Olympic Association Chairman, Sir Craig Reedie:

They've never been in Africa before, South Africa would be splendid of course. Durban would be a splendid city to host, and this is an event which can be run at a reasonable cost. If it is the intention of the sports authorities is to use the Commonwealth Games as a foothold for the future Olympics, which would be at the end of July/beginning of August, then it could be possible to host both.

Tech-watching in Barcelona

In Barcelona, Spain on Sunday night was the launch of the new Samsung Galaxy phone at the Mobile World Congress. The host of Technobyte, Aki Anastasiou:

Samsung have launched S6 and the S6 Edge. They have been criticised in the past for their plastic-y phones and it's evident that they've added a few other features, with a lot more effort. I was quite impressed with it. All three of these hardware manufacturers - Samsung, Apple, HTC - have launched hi-tec goggles. All of these vendors have been taking this approach, along with smartwatches, such as one that Huawei just launched today. A lot of the wearable technology is a big deal at this conference.

Lesotho election update

Results from this election have started trickling in after elections over the weekend that were sparked by the collapse of a coalition government. There were fears of violence during the polls; there is tight security in Lesotho as a result. EWN Africa's Jean-Jacques Cornish:

The army was confined to barracks and 475 police officers were deployed to observe along with the official electoral observers. The elections have been found to be peaceful, transparent, free and fair and reflective of the will of the people of Lesotho. With about 3/4 of the votes counted thus far, it looks as if Tom Thabane is in the lead, which all rests on whether the loser will accept the final outcome.

Gauteng's focus on the Township Economy

In Joburg, the Gauteng provincial government says it’s going to spend R150 mil. on a project to revitilise the province’s township economy. Gauteng Economic Development Dept Spokesperson, Phindile Kunene:

The Township Economy - in terms of the Premier's State of the Province Address - is taking centre stage. This is an intervention for township entrepreneurs who are currently engaged in the consumption side so they can finally move towards the production side of the economy. As long as we are consumptive and provide intermediary services, we won't develop in our townships.

Would you go 'to the opera' in your jeans?

A report this morning is that a new opera company in Gauteng is trying to encourage younger people to attend and is chucking out the usual dress code of a tuxedo and gown. Stéfan Louw is a member of the Big Wig Opera Company:

That's sort of a mis-conception that people have about opera, where a number of years ago, opera suddenly became an elitist thing. When it was first conceived, opera was made for the masses and people from all walks of life. There's been a stigma that has stuck to opera that we are trying to break and build audiences and it starts with the youth.


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