The United States of America declared independence from the British Crown barely 244 years ago. And with memories of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s ride and Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River still fresh in many American minds, it’s admirable that the leader of the young democracy was able to show considerable restraint in the face of an irksome British Royal Family pronouncement last week on the necessity of voting.
“Every four years we are told the same thing, that this is the most important election of our lifetime. But this one is. When we vote, our values are put into action and our voices are heard. Your voice is a reminder that you matter, because you do and you deserve to be heard,” said Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
What did President Donald Trump make of this outrageous meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state by a member of a hereditary monarchy that until only a few hundred years ago stood as an implacable foe of the young republic?
The question (or something rather like it) was put to Trump at a White House press briefing.
“I am not a fan of hers,” he replied.
Trump, a television star in his own right (and on the TIME 100 list too, as it happens) did not elaborate on which of dutchess’ numerous screen roles (she pursued a career as an actress before joining the house of Windsor by marriage) failed to find his favour.
But ever the student of human affairs and keenly aware of protocol and other niceties, the president chose his words carefully and restricted himself to some timely marital advice to the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry. One worldly man to another…
“I wish a lot of luck to Harry… because he’s going to need it…,” said Trump, who looked like he was about to elaborate, but was unfortunately interrupted by a question on emergency authorisation for a Covid vaccine, or something like that.
Wings clipped in damage control exercise
It was just plane wrong of Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Noluthando Mapisa-Nqakula to take an ANC delegation with her to Zimbabwe on an Air Force jet, President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided.
Mapisa-Nqakula has been docked three months’ pay, with the money going to the war on Covid-19. And the president has told his party it must pick up the bill for its flight.
According to the DA, as reported by News24, that’s an estimated R260 000.
An admirable effort by the president to impose some much-needed distance between the interests of party and state, or the usual damage control and expediency?
Well, the matter had already been referred to the Public Protector so there was little escaping it. Far better to lance the boil and take some credit now than to let matters drag on ahead of next year’s municipal elections.
At any rate, it left reporters with less to report about.
The Sunday Times was anxious to know exactly how much and how it would be settled, but was reduced to telling its readers that “there is a veil of secrecy”, with neither the ANC nor the department of defence answering questions. Thin gruel and old chestnuts from the Slimes, really.
The wages of sin
R260 000 is pretty small beer in the big scheme of things, although it’s the principle rather than the amount that matters. But if we are really going to talk about wages that want docking it would be remiss not to consider the overly generous rewards that business executives receive even when they’ve made a horrible hash of things.
Richard Poplak, writing in the Daily Maverick, reminds us of Ian Moir, the former Woolworths chief executive who helped the retailer lose billions of rands with a foray into Australia, where they disastrously acquired the David Jones department store chain. Yet Moir left early this year with a golden goodbye.
“For this gargantuan screw-up, Moir has been punished with a R70-million windfall: he received R13.9-million for his eight-month stint at Woolworths and R7-million for his five months as acting CEO of David Jones. He is currently also due R22.8-million in notice pay and a further R34.8-million in restraint-of-trade payouts,” says Poplak with (by his vitriolic standards) some restraint.
Of course this is not taxpayer money here and Poplak is no friend of the capitalist class, but he makes a fair point. CEO pay in corporate South Africa is as scandalously high-flying as any ANC junket.
Spring(s) is in the air (again)
As per editorial directive… more Spring(s) news. Which shows that even serious news can include elements of ridiculousness.
TimesLive reported on Friday that Zane Killian, of Springs, has appeared in court on charges of murdering policeman Charl Kinnear.
Lieutenant-Colonel Kinnear had been investigating a gun racket at the police head office in Pretoria which according to IOL involved high-ranking officers, before he was assassinated outside his Cape Town home on 18 September.
Killian is not suspected of being the gunman, but TimesLive was able to reveal that he was a former professional rugby player, having turned out for the Valke in the 2000s. The news site reported that journalists at the Bishop Lavis Magistrate’s Court were also told they would not be permitted to photograph the accused because his life was in danger.
But this directive did not deter TimesLive, who helpfully included a couple of Facebook pics of the former hooker sporting the kind of five o’clock shadow you wouldn’t want to rub up against in the tight five and a tattooed torso that makes you wince in pain just looking at it.
Marianne Thamm in the Daily Maverick reckons “this is a national story which has, at its apex, powerful players in almost every realm of society”. Thamm has called for “lifestyle audits of every single member” of the Western Cape police’s top brass, “then follow the dots”.
Flannelled Fool: Quote of the week
“You know you’re in shit when Sascoc has to help you.” – A Cricket SA insider to reporter Craig Ray, who was writing for Daily Maverick on the state of affairs at the cricket governing body.