Today's Big Stories

#SONA2015: a review from all angles - the media, Parliament and civil society

Pic courtesy EWN

#SONA2015: view from Midday Report's Stephen Grootes

As I walked into the chamber at around 5h30 pm, I was met by colleagues all looking at their phones and complaining that they no longer had reception. I went to a seat I’ve sat in many times in the past; it’s always had reception on two of the main networks, but last night there was none. In the end - to get reception – I filed live reports from the window in the gents toilet. Then reporters chanted 'bring back the signal' from the media bay of the National Assembly. Eventually, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete said that the signal had been unscrambled. Then - as President Jacob Zuma started his speech – Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP's stood up to ask him questions. Eventually, Mbete ordered Julius Malema to leave the room. He and other EFF members refused. Suddenly – from four different doors around the chamber – a large group of burly men arrived; they pushed and shoved the EFF MP’s out. I watched one MP falling off a desk, I heard shouting, I saw Malema trying to hit away a hand with his hard-hat. Eventually, the EFF MP’s were all removed physically; none of them had threatened any violence of any sort. Then the DA left and Zuma gave his speech to a chamber that had only ANC MP’s and MP’s from the smaller parties.

#SONA2015: view from the Minister in The Presidency

Minister in The Presidency, Jeff Radebe responds to Stephen Grootes' question "Why did you and people from your party decide to cut off my cellphone signal last night?":

laughs That question needs to be asked of the Presiding Officer. The Speaker gave an instruction to check this and later a report was given that what was scrambled had been unscrambled. As soon as the Speaker has finalised the investigation, I will be able to have full information as to what happened. We need to accept the processes of Parliament, it is another arm of government. Decisions taken there are not executive, but let's await the outcome of processes that will take place there. I think that what happened last night was despicable, but should not be a reflection of all 400 Members of Parliament. I am very proud of being a member of the ANC, of Parliament and the Executive, but I was disgusted by the unbecoming conduct of the EFF.

#SONA2015: view from civil society

Spokesperson of The Right 2 Know Campaign, Murray Hunter:

We saw last year - twice in August and in November - the Parliamentary feed being cut when the EFF was demanding that the money be paid back. We protested that at the time, but I didn't think that we would arrive last night and find that our cellphone feed was also cut. Not only was the cellphone feed cut off, but the Parliamentary TV didn't show a lot of what was happening and people are being shut out of institutions that are supposed to be open, or we should have an independent TV service that will continue with coverage.

#SONA2015: view from the media

Business Day Editor, Songezo Zibi:

It was disturbing, but not surprising at all, because there were a series of developments leading up to this event. We know how the last term of Parliament ended, with outstanding issues around the conduct of the Speaker and the President not answering questions. We also saw how the media was dealt with, with regards to the scrambling of the signal, so this all wasn't surprising. Words will always be able to fix South Africa's problems because this is about dialogue, but perhaps it's about the choice of words used. We've seen a gradual decline in the order of Parliament, even without the disorder we've seen.

There was also another presentation by President Jacob Zuma this morning as part of a business briefing. EWN's Rahima Essop was there:

Zuma says that Parliament has a problem and that problem is the EFF. Unsurprisingly, he has commended the conduct of the Presiding Officers. Zuma also said that decisive decisions have to reached as to how such conduct should be addressed going forward. He also said that hard hats have to be banned from Parliament.

Questions around SA nuke deal

In the middle of the chaos in Parliament on Thursday evening's Sona, President Jacob Zuma also talked of the future of our electricity supply. Meanwhile this morning, the front page story in the Mail & Guardian claims that we are about to sign a nuclear deal with Russia that could protect them entirely from any damage caused during any accident, within South Africa. Energy expert and Managing Director at EE Publishers, Chris Yelland:

I've read the Inter-governmental Cooperation Agreement, but I do think - with respect - that that article is a little alarmist. But I do agree that the agreement does give the impression that it is more than just a general agreement; but it doesn't seem like it's a done deal with the Russians. The record anywhere around the world is that it is a very safe form of electricity; it also has a very good performance record, in terms of availability. For instance, France generates something like 80% of all its electricity from nuclear power. It has the lowest number of deaths per megawatts/hour produced, even safer than hydro-electric power. Coal-generated power has more deaths than nuclear power.

Hewitt trial latest

In the court in Palm Ridge, Gauteng, former tennis champion Bob Hewitt is now taking questions from prosecutors about claims he sexually abused young girls that he coached. Hewitt has been asked about a letter he wrote. EWN's Gia Nicolaides:

It was in fact 3 letters that Hewitt had written to Theresa Tolken who was 12 at the time, where he said that he loves her and he wanted to give her fatherly love because he saw that she needed it. Hewitt says all this refers to his hopes and ambitions for her tennis career. What's interesting is that in all of these letters, the word 'tennis' was only used once. He was 41 years old at the time.

50 Shades of Excitement

Being released this weekend is the film Fifty Shades of Grey, that's based on the book about a sadomasochistic relationship between two people. Wits English Department's Professor Michael Titlestad:

Each person's experience (visually) is very different as they read a book and you wonder if a film like '50 Shades of Grey' won't disappoint some people. There's something about the texture of a blockbuster, the interjected fantasy on the part of consumers; so it might be overwhelming for some followers of the books.

ICC Cricket World Cup: all systems go

Starting today in Australia and New Zealand is the ICC Cricket World Cup. Cricket analyst, Jeremy Fredericks:

I hope it's our year, I think our batsmen have been prolific especially (Hashim) Amla. We might have a chance to win the world cup. Let's hope that Dale Stein plays a great role; we need to bring the fire to win the world cup. The dark horses are Pakistan - never write them off! I don't think that India have the muscle; they can't be India outside of India. I think it's going to lie between South Africa, Pakistan, New Zealand and Australia.


This article first appeared on 702 : #SONA2015: a review from all angles - the media, Parliament and civil society


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