Bruce’s List: A daily guide to informed reads.
For most of the rest of the day, there’ll be an uneasy calm around the Gupta-Zuma-Gordhan scrap as we wait to see whether or not finance minister Pravin Gordhan accepts an invitation from Shaun Abrahams, the head of the National Prosecuting Authority, to personally ask him, Abrahams, to review his decision to charge Gordhan with fraud relating to an early pension payout to an official he worked with at Sars. My guess (and my hope) is that Gordhan will do nothing and will dare Abrahams to go ahead with the prosecution he sanctioned and, in his Gilbert and Sullivan-esque manner, boldly proclaimed just a week ago. In other words, Abrahams and whatever poor prosecutor he assigns to the case, are going to have to go to court and lose.
Well, almost. It is possible that the NPA, having set the charge and secured the court date on November 2, will play for time and seek a delay, giving President Jacob Zuma more time to decide how to handle Gordhan now that the war between the two men is out in the open. In a way, Gordhan’s deposition in the same Pretoria high court last Friday, detailing suspicious transactions by the Guptas and one of Zuma’s sons lanced the Zupta boil and has taken the sting out of the story, despite many details still to come. But the longer a charge of fraud hangs over Gordhan, the greater the chance that Zuma will be tempted to use it to fire him. Two of Gordhan’s co-accused have accepted Abrahams’ offer to seek a review but his problem is that having invited the requests Abrahams cannot easily let the two off without dropping the charge against Gordhan too. It would not make any sense to proceed. We will probably have to leave it to the court to throw the case out and return everyone to the status quo ante — a Mexican stand-off between Zuma and Gordhan. Stephen Grootes handles the dilemma nicely in Daily Maverick this morning: Analysis: Dizzy days at State Capture central
Calling for the resignation of a president, let alone a public official, is always a big step for a newspaper to take. The problem with saying people should step down is that they normally don’t and you’re then left to deal with the fact that they’re still there. So it was a brave thing for Business Day editor Tim Cohen to write this editorial in his newspaper on Monday. It reasonably asks what reasons there might be for Zuma to stay in office and, quite frankly, there aren’t any people other than his cronies and sycophants who want him to stay and to keep them fed and employed. I think it was the right thing to do, and, anyway, there’s no point being the second newspaper to call for Zuma to go: EDITORIAL: Time to go, president Zuma
And as our politics swirl and the dust clouds everyone’s vision, no-one really knows what’s going to happen next. But imagine what life must be like for people that sort of have to know, or at least act in anticipation of what they think might happen. People who trade the rand just have to be making big guesses at the moment, as evidenced by the wide range of opinion to be found in this really timely News24 piece today on where our currency is. Bobbing in a stormy, sea, we know, but how do you trade it? Wheels spinning off rand’s rally as traders learn expensive lesson
And I thought this was an absolutely fascinating take on the rand. You get a really good idea of how our fortunes are in the hands of others. By far, most trading in the rand takes place a long way from SA. Our currency is a convenient valve for the rest of world to open and close to suit their own agendas. This really is interesting: All the rand trading – where does it happen?
If you think we’re in trouble in SA, think again. The Philippines recently elected a total maverick as president and he has almost immediately set about a murderous extra-judicial campaign of killing drug dealers and users in his huge country and, at the same time, has turned viciously on Manila’s long-time ally, the US. Today Rodrigo Duterte begins an official visit to China, which many observers fear will be the start of a fundamental shift in Southeast Asian diplomacy. Manila and Beijing are at odds over Chinese claims to Filipino islands in the South China Sea but Duterte seems determined to wean his country away from the US and turn towards China. Typically, the Chinese are content to turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses Duterte is raining down on his people right now. This AP news story sets the scene: China says visit by Philippine president restores trust. And this more thoughtful analysis by a US think-tank offers Washington not much solace: Duterte Bets Beijing Visit Will Reset the Philippines’ Difficult China Relations
Finally, if like me you’re appalled by the UK decision to leave the European Union, you’ll enjoy the news today that UK inflation has shot up sharply as a result of sterling’s post-Brexit collapse. Brexit supporters in the UK sneer at warnings of economic trouble as a result of the June referendum so I hope they won’t mind life becoming a little more expensive as a result: Carney Steels for Inflation Test as Prices Jump Most Since 2014