Today's Big Stories

National Assembly Speaker Mbete: 'Parliament is not broken'

Mbete confident Parliament will overcome challenges: Wednesday night saw highly personal insults directed between the different parties represented in the National Assembly. At issue was a DA motion to censure President Jacob Zuma over his failure to answer questions four times in this Parliamentary year. One of the people at the centre of all of Parliament's recent events and incidents is the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, responding to a perception that Parliament has somehow been broken:

Parliament can't be broken because it is a manifestation of the expression of the will of the people. We have very, very strong people as a South African society and our prescence is just a microcosm of that. As we move towards the winding down of the first 6 months of the 5th Parliament, we know what our challenges are and that certain tones and attitudes are not good. The business of government in Parliament might be in tatters, but it will let us ascend. But we will not let ourselves slide completely into an abyss, because we've been there.

Justice Dept gives De Kock olive branch: a settlement has been reached in the High Court in Pretoria after former Vlakplaas hit squad commander Eugene de Kock brought an application to overturn a decision by the Justice and Correctional Services Minister to deny him parole. EWN Senior Correspondent, Barry Bateman:

If we go back to the August announcement made by Justice Minister Michael Masutha, the parole was denied on the grounds that the victim-offender dialogues hadn't happeneed. Since then, the victim-offender dialogues have taken place and it is on this basis that this decision is under review, with a decision to be communicated by the 31st of January next year.

Smugglers snubbed: a claim that South Africa is one of the world’s biggest markets for illicit cigarrettes - those that are sold without being taxed. Executive Director National Council Against Smoking, Dr Yussuf Saloojee:

The level of smuggling in South Africa is greatly exaggerated by the tobacco industry, so as to put pressure on the Treasury to keep taxes low. Industry experts say that the smuggling situation is at a rate of only half what the tobacco industry claims. There's also a long history of the tobacco industry controlling the smuggling circles.

SA interest rate anticipation: the Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is due to make its decision in about two and a half hours time on whether to raise interest rates. Most people are expecting the MPC to keep rates on hold. Senior Economist at Renaisance Capital, Dr Thabi Leoka weighs in:

No, I don't think so. I'm one of the few economists that expects a 25 basis points hike to take interet rates to 6% this year. If they hike rates now, the full impact will be felt later. Hiking will lift the real rates into positive territory and contribute to rising inequality in the country. 25 basis points would be a hike with minor impacts on the economy.

Materity leave for gay parents?: in Durban, a gay man is challenging a decision by his employer to deny him four months maternity leave after he and his husband had a baby through a surrogacy agreement. Labour lawyer, Advocate Jill Loveday:

This depends on what the company's policy is on maternity leave. Our Basic Condidtions of Employment Act is very specific around the protection of the pregnant woman and there is nothing in our law that would protect parents who even adopt a child. There are currently three days within a year that the parents could take, which are used for the birth of the child. Some employers are more progressive and give adoptive parents as much as 2 weeks paid leave, so it depends on teh company policy right now.

Doing away with the plane theory in the SCOAN crash case: in Nigeria, Founder and Leader of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Pastor TB Joshua is due to testify at the inquest into the building collapse of his guest house on site at the church's estate. EWN Nigeria Correspondent, Samson Omale:

In court yesterday the officer in charge of the Homicide Department in Lagos alluded that an aircraft that allegedly hovered over the building, in fact belonged to the Nigerian Airforce. We expect that TB Joshua will be in court later today.

Bafana's winnning streak!: while some people were watching Parliament last night most were probably watching what you could describe as Bafana’s epic draw to Nigeria in Lagos. EWN Sport Correspondent, Marc Lewis:

It was very exciting and Nigeria were very lucky to hold onto that late draw. We would have liked to have beaten Nigeria, but they're out of Afcon and we're top of the log now for Afcon.

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