Weekly News Brief

Weekly News Brief
photo: citizen.co.za

Hello South Africa,

IAAF Double Standards – The Caster Semenya Saga, Kind-Hearted Petrol Pump Attendant, Alexandra’s Looming Shutdown, SAA Gets Interim Acting CEO.

Something To Ponder

IAAF Double Standards – The Caster Semenya Saga

On Monday 3rd June, South Africa woke up to the exciting news that Caster Semenya the South African gold medallist and world 800M champion had won an interim ruling against the IAAF and now had permission to compete without taking any medications to change her testosterone levels. The ruling by the Swiss supreme federal court gave the Semenya the break she needed to have her appeal to the IAAF ruling heard on June 25. This means that  Semenya can compete in events before then. The court ordered the IAAF to suspend its testosterone regulations for her with immediate effect after she challenged the ruling by the IAAF that she could not compete without taking medication or surgery to reduce the levels of her testosterone. However, the sports governing body is expected to go back to court to challenge the ruling but for now, Semenya can breathe and go on doing what she loves, run.

Following this saga between Caster Semenya and the IAAF has me baffled. The sports body has been after athletes who take drugs to enhance their performance, to the extent they strip some athletes of medals won many years ago if found to have used drugs. We have heard of athletes who try to argue that they were on medication that presented in the urine sample or whatever was tested as a performance enhancing drug. Be that as it may, my beef with the body is, a drug in the body of an athlete is a drug. Whether it is used to enhance or reduce performance, it is a drug. It is therefore ironical to me that they would insist some people use a drug to make them slower while they prosecute those who use drugs to make themselves fast!

Semenya in her argument against the ruling by IAAF has said it is discriminatory and I could not agree more. Not only is it discriminatory, it is also highly hypocritical. There are a number of women athletes who have this condition called hyperandrogenism.  Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, Margaret Wambui of Kenya, and Indian sprinter Dutee Chand belong to this group. Also known as “differences of sex development” (DSD) the condition is found in women specifically born with the typical male XY chromosome pattern. The athletes also have testosterone levels higher than the typical female range, which the IAAF argues gives them an unfair athletic advantage over other women because the hormone helps build muscle and increases oxygen levels in the blood. 

Since this condition is known and it is naturally occurring in some special women, instead of IAAF trying to play God, why can’t they fix races for those with the condition to compete alone? They have races for the physically challenged, women against women and men against men. Why not have this special class of women run against each other instead of forcing them to take medication or go through surgery they do not want for themselves? Why insist they change who they are just so they can take part in athletics championships? High testosterone levels or not, these women are not winners by luck, they train hard and their hard work pays off. 

Semenya is expected to compete in a 2,000m race next week in Paris and then a 3,000m race at the Prefontaine Classic on 30 June. She may also now decide to have an immediate crack at another 800M and we wish her all the best. We continue to root for Semenya, Niyonsaba, Wambui, Dutee and a host of others whose identities we may not know at this time.  

Here’s hoping the world of athletics and humans in general treat you better, you deserve it!

Lucy Thairu
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HEADLINE NEWS THIS WEEK

The heart warming story of a South African petrol attendant Nkosikno Mbele who assisted a customer Monet van Deventer  pay for R100 petrol after she realised she didn’t have her bank card with her had many smiling and doing much more. Van Deventer in a reciprocating gesture to show her gratitude started a crowdfunding campaign  for her ‘saviour’ to raise money towards the education of his children. Many responded positively and over R360,000 had been raised by Monday morning for the kind-hearted petrol pump attendant.

The former President Jacob Zuma’s involvement in the running of ANN7 station emerged very strongly. The former station’s news editor Rajesh Sundarama painted a picture of the former President being more involved in the day to day running of the station and using his position as head of state to expedite matters on behalf of the station as well as hand over jobs to Indians who were relatives of the Guptas without  following  laid down procedures. The channel was owned by the Guptas but former President Zuma had interest and his son Duduzane Zuma was one of the directors.

South African Airways (SAA) on Friday announced the appointment of Zuks Ramasia as the new interim CEO. The news comes after OUTA’s  call on the Government to install experienced leaders to head SAA earlier in the week.  Zuks Ramasia comes in as a replacement to the outgoing CEO Vuyani Jarana. Jarana tendered his resignation last week and is set to leave the state-owned entity by the end of August this year. His resignation comes just a few days after Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe also ended his term at the parastatal.

There was good news for South Africa’s gold medalist Casper Semenya as the IAAF Gender Rule that had been passed requiring her and other women runners who had the “differences of sex development” DSD condition to take medications or surgery to reduce the level of testosterone in their blood was suspended. The  Swiss Federal Supreme Court has suspended the implementation of the IAAF’s regulations  pending Semenya’s appeal against the rules.  

Wednesday saw the price of fuel increase again by 9 cents a litre for both grades of petrol, 13 cents more for a litre of diesel and 8 cents more for a litre of paraffin. Earlier this year the National Assembly passed the long-awaited Carbon Tax Bill which came into effect and the weakened Rand also has contributed to the rise in fuel costs. South Africans will have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for transportation and other necessary services that are expected to cost more as a result.

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OTHER THINGS WE LIKED

Sibanye-Stillwater has reduced the initial estimated number of jobs to be lost in its job cut plan. In February, the company had forecasted a staggering 5,870 employees and 800 contractors to be laid off. On Wednesday, the number was reduced to 3,450 employees who would be laid off during the proposed restructuring of the company’s gold mining operations. The company has been making losses at some of its mines since 2017.

Alexandra residents are said to be planning another shutdown of the township. This comes after the Red Ants demolished 80 illegally built houses in the area on Wednesday, leaving hundreds homeless.  Johannesburg city manager Ndivhoniswa Lukhwareni said on Wednesday he took full responsibility for the demolition of homes in Alexandra last week. Lukhwareni has been giving evidence at the South African Human Rights Commission inquiry looking into problems in Alexandra. The Alexandra Total Shutdown movement’s Sandile Mavundla didn’t want to reveal exactly when they planned  to shut down the township.

The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital has treated over 270 children who were victims of child abuse, neglect or violence this year. The hospital said it has seen an increase in the numbers and severity of child abuse and neglect cases over the past 25 years. These issues have been thrust into the spotlight as the country marks National Child Protection Week.

Meanwhile, about 700 structures have been affected by flooding as heavy rains continue to batter Cape Town. Residents have been affected in areas including Khayelitsha, Strand and Gugulethu following days of downpours. The city’s Charlotte Powell said, “No evacuation or emergency sheltering has been activated. Various city departments will continue with mop-up operations.”  Seventy-two people were killed in the floods that hit parts of the province in April.

The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg dismissed Timol murder accused Joao Rodriguez’s application not to face charges for the death of Timol in 1971. The ruling comes after the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria overturned the result of the original inquest which found that Timol’s death was a suicide. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phindi Louw Mjonondwane said Monday. She said the judgment in the Ahmed Timol matter would set the tone for similar apartheid-era cases, and that the the verdict affirmed the rule of law. The ruling she said, showed that people could not avoid prosecution on the basis of age or the number of years since the crime happened.  If Rodrigues’ legal team does not appeal the judgment he will stand trial next month.

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ICYMI

The 9th Zambia International Mining and Energy Conference & Exhibition (ZIMEC 2019) will take place from 13– 14 June 2019, in Lusaka, Zambia.  The event is organised by AME Trade Ltd, United Kingdom with the support of The Zambian Ministries of Mines and Energy and Zambia Chamber of Mines.