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Botswana electoral commission refutes allegations of irregularities in votes delivery
20 October 2019, 2:15 PM

Botswana‘s Independent Electoral Commission has refuted allegations of irregularities in the delivery of external votes cast by expatriates in foreign countries.

Opposition parties lambasted the Electoral commission, following allegations that some ballot boxes were kept in the homes of its officials after arriving back in the country.

They also allege that they were only delivered to the Electoral commission’s offices at a later stage.

Electoral commission spokesperson, Osupile Maroba, has attributed the allegations to a lack of understanding of the electoral processes.

“It’s very unfortunate that sometimes people tend to cast aspersions on a process when they don’t exactly understand what should happen, when in actual fact the law is very specific on how elections are conducted. If anybody can come up to challenge the contravention of sections of the electoral laws and how they should be implemented, I would listen… but if people talk from the position of rumour that they hear it’s very unfortunate,” says Maroba.

 

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SMMEs in Nelson Mandela Bay concerned about deepening power struggles
20 October 2019, 12:24 PM

The small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) in the Nelson Mandela Bay say they are concerned about the deepening power struggles in the metro.

In the latest development, Speaker Buyelwa Mafaya cancelled a meeting to debate a motion of no-confidence in Mayor Mongameli Bobani at the 11th hour, citing security reasons.

The SMME’S are still waiting for the R486 million that Bobani promised them over three years.

Entrepreneur Mkhululi Magada says a lack of progress in the council is affecting their businesses.

“The agreement that was signed by the mayor was a follow up of a meeting that we had two months ago. Even before the turmoil that is happening in the metro, and the SMMEs still cling on that, making a follow up on what the coalition government had agreed. Remember I’m choosing my words correctly, I’m saying the coalition government but not the mayor, because the meeting that we had, all the political parties were there and that is where they confirmed their support to the SMMEs,” says Magada.

There have also been concerns about the letter from Treasury giving the metro two weeks to return R3 billion that was allocated for the Integrated Public Transport System, due to non-compliance.

Opposition parties say this could bankrupt the municipality.

Meanwhile, Political Analyst Joleen Steyn-Kotze says due to its instability, the council has become what he calls a political theatre.

“Now what we see of course is that the ANC has no outright majority, neither the DA has. So the political dynamic is very reliant on smaller parties co-operating with the larger political parties… if that co-operation is not there… And if you see these political battles played out, decisions can’t be taken and budgets can’t be passed… and citizens will ultimately suffer,” says Steyn-Kotze.

 

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We are facing new threats to our freedom: Mahlase
20 October 2019, 10:37 AM

Saturday, 19 October 2019 marked 42 years since Black Wednesday, which saw the banning of several prominent South African newspapers, the arrest and subsequent torture of numerous editors and journalists, and the banning of 19 black consciousness organisations.

On Friday, the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) hosted its annual fundraising dinner to commemorate the anniversary of Black Wednesday.

SANEF Chairperson, Mahlatse Mahlase, says journalists are facing new threats to their freedom.

 

Mahlase addressed the audience and gave the following speech:

“A critical, independent and investigative press is the lifeblood of any democracy. The press must be free from state interference. It must have the economic strength to stand up to the blandishments of government officials. It must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour. It must enjoy the protection of the constitution, so that it can protect our rights as citizens.”

Good evening…. ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the South African National Editor’s Forum’ fourth fundraising dinner, marking the bravery of the journalists before us who forced the world to pay attention.

I just quoted the words of our revered late stateman Nelson Mandela – reminding us of the importance of a critical and independent press as the cornerstone of our democracy,

However as I read his words 26 years later – I couldn’t help it ….. my heart sank ….

The reality is that the lifeblood of our democracy is under threat, it is fighting for it’s economic survival and pushing back on what appears to be an orchestrated campaign to silence investigative reporting exposing the greed and ills of our politicians.

Yes, today we gather to remember the heroes of our liberation struggle – those who used the might of the pen to risk their lives so that today we can be free to speak truth to power – protected by our celebrated constitution.

We honour the men and women who despite the real danger of the evil regime, said we will force into the open the atrocities of the apartheid government.

Men AND WOMEN like Percy Qoboza, Joe Thloele, Mathatha Tsedu, Aagrey Klaaste, Juby Mayet (worked for Drum), Thenjiwe Mtintso (was at Daily Dispatch and detained with Biko), Ruth First.

It is the 42nd  anniversary of Black Wednesday – when the Nationalist party government attempted to silence the media by banning newspapers and organizations that were part of the black consciousness movement. They also arrested the prominent journalists who dedicated their lives to dying by the pen.

19 October 1977, became known as Black Wednesday- triggering years of resistance and what is now our fight for media freedom.

A blogger celebrating the life of Percy Qoboza who was the editor of the World newspaper that was shut down on that day quotes him saying: ‘we were an angry newspaper. For this reason, we have made some formidable enemies, and my own personal life is not worth a cent. But I see my role and the role of those people who share my views as articulating, without fear or favour, the aspirations of our people. It is a very hard thing to do.’

Yes, under democratic South Africa – we don’t fear being jailed, we don’t fear being tortured but our jobs are still hard.

We are facing new threats to our freedom –

Some of the threats are the very  communities we serve that quickly turn against us… they attack us because often their legitimate causes are hijacked by criminal elements who steal our equipment to avoid being splashed on television looting bottle stores.

It has become all too familiar that a journalist will expose a politician’s wrongdoing – and the response won’t be to the report it to the relevant bodies and authorities available – but instead these journalists will be attacked and insulted. They are labeled “loyal racist members of Stratcom” – Stratcom – after the apartheid agency that was tasked to carry out disinformation campaigns – at the height of apartheid.

Allow the weight of that label, in democratic South Africa to sink in!

Reporters are now called “dogs of war” … the enemy whose head must be cut off …

Journalists are now victims of online violence- targeted especially at women reporters – the lynch mob on social media frequently uses sexualised language such as “slut”, “whore” “bitch and are regularly threatened with rape.

It’s an all too orchestrated campaign to threaten journalists into silence- create that chilling effect where journalists begin to self-censor by ignoring stories implicating politicians in wrongdoing.

We should all be concerned as all of it is to weaken the life blood of our democracy.

The threats are not only on Twitter – they land on our phones…. In our hands.

In April this year I received this troubling WhatsApp message from a prominent politician:

Part of it read: “We fought for our freedom and we lost many lives. Dialogue came when our enemy had no other choice. Freedom Of speech will happen when you patriarchal capitalists will no longer run the streets. Our fight is a just one we will win this. You are respectfully entitled to be right wingers I have chosen not to be one of you.”

I have been called a number of things … a white monopoly stooge, described as a helpless woman with no thinking capacity but I have to say right wing, putting me in the same grouping as Eugene Terreblanche was just taking it a step too far….

We are facing a difficult time, but we dare not falter – we have to draw on the strength of the journalists of yester year – who risked all to be the voice of the aspirations of a nation.

Our armour should continue to be our ethical, factual and balanced reporting.

The reality is that apologies on major political stories, allegations of journalists being bribed, stories being planted have not helped our cause.

But we are hoping that the Satchwell inquiry into media ethics will hold us all accountable and more importantly contribute to strengthening ethical, Quality journalism as we rebuild the trust relationship with our communities.

Media veteran Bra Joe told the daily Maverick this week that we must rise above the noise ….” There is a huge place for good journalism. Credibility of publications has become much more crucial. The good will survive.”

Ensuring a critical, independent and investigative press that Nelson Mandela called for – is not only the responsibility of journalists, academics and media freedom activists or just SANEF – but corporate South Africa also has to contribute.

 

We thank you for continuing to support our cause and your presence here shows your commitment.

We however believe you should be doing more … especially when choosing where you spend your money.

Newsrooms are shrinking because advertising revenue has declined drastically due to tough trading conditions, technological disruptions and a weak economy.  Companies are spending their advertising budgets with Google and Facebook – and the sad truth is that that much needed revenue is not filtering into our newsrooms.

The scary figures revealed by the state of the newsroom room report by Wits university say that the number of journalism jobs have halved in ten years …so a decade ago we had ten thousand employed journalists but today we only have 5000.

What does that mean to diversity of views – choices for the consumer -telling the whole South African story?

The reality is without ads all of the mentioned sections will suffer, threatening our democracy.

We estimate that 80 percent of all online advertising goes to these foreign companies who don’t even pay tax in this country.

The other danger is cooperates unknowingly funding fake news.

This week I saw a fake news post that was widely circulated … it had a headline that screamed: “I slept with 1,400 girls, impregnated 600 in 6 African countries, French tourist recounts.

I counted at least six adverts by local companies in this fake story – a mobile company selling their fibre connection, an exclusive resort in Kwa-Zulu Natal, a consulting firm that promises to resolve your troubles with your municipal bill etc.

This story is sensational, but we know the role of fake news in American elections and cooperate South Africa must take a stand.

Choose the trusted news platforms when you spend your money – it is these brands that exposed state capture, that shine a light on corruption and called to account those who were responsible for the death of Life Esidimeni victims and the thievery of Steinhoff or the VBS bank heist.

With newsrooms becoming younger and younger – this much needed revenue from advertising – could also contribute to training of journalists.

We need journalists who can read annual financial reports, understand what it means when we say Eskom threatens our survival as a nation.

As you dig deep, remember Mandela’s words that the critical media which is the lifeblood of our democracy must have sufficient independence from vested interests to be bold and inquiring without fear or favour.

To my comrades, let’s remember the rich and selfless legacy left by those before us.

 

Journalism is facing a legitimacy crisis. It is in survival mode and its demise will have devastating consequence for our democracy. Our new struggle is to remind this generation and the next that the struggles and pains of the generation before cannot be in vain.

Our own late Raymond Louw – whom we lost this year said … “ there is a new breed of journalists that stands up to authority! Let’s continue the struggle.”

Boeing board to meet in Texas as scrutiny intensifies: sources
20 October 2019, 9:36 AM

Boeing Co’s board of directors and top executives from its airplanes division and supply chain were due to meet on Sunday in San Antonio, Texas, two days after the United States (US) planemaker was plunged into a fresh crisis over its banned 737 MAX jet.

The meeting comes as pressure mounts on the world’s largest planemaker not only from investigations into the 737 MAX following two deadly crashes, but also from the financial burden caused by the jet’s safety ban and continued high production.

Several industry sources said there was speculation inside the company of significant job cuts as Boeing, unable to deliver 737 MAX planes to customers, continues to drain cash.

Although Boeing has so far told suppliers it expects to maintain a production rate of 42 single-aisles monthly with plans to increase to a record level next near, rates may have to come down if regulators further delay the MAX’s return to service, the people said.

The schedule for the board’s face-to-face meetings was set for Sunday and Monday in San Antonio, one of the people said, two days before Boeing reports earnings on October 23.

The week after, Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg – who was stripped of his job as board chairman eight days ago – is due to testify before US Congress about the plane’s development.

In conjunction with the board meeting, top executives including Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Kevin McAllister and Jenette Ramos, senior vice president of Manufacturing, Supply Chain & Operations, were due to fly on Sunday to Boeing’s Kelly Field facility in San Antonio, where numerous 737 MAX jets are parked in storage, two of the people said.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment on the board’s agenda and the company’s production or staffing levels.

Apart from those issues, the board is likely to discuss a series of 2016 internal messages, first reported by Reuters on Friday, in which a senior Boeing pilot said he might have unintentionally misled regulators.

The pilot also said the stall-prevention system known as MCAS, which investigators have linked to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people, was “running rampant” during a simulator session.

The messages sent Boeing shares tumbling, prompted a demand by US regulators for an immediate explanation and a new call in Congress for Boeing to shake up its management.

Federal prosecutors aided by the FBI, the Transportation Department Inspector General and several blue-ribbon panels are also investigating the plane’s approval.

Maladministration allegations don’t make sense: Mgidlana
20 October 2019, 9:14 AM

Dismissed Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, says some of the allegations of maladministration he is accused of do not make sense.

The seven serious misconduct charges against Mgidlana include paying himself an ex gratia payment and chairing an adjudication bid committee.

Both the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the National Assembly resolved to dismiss him on Thursday following an independent disciplinary panel’s recommendation that he be fired.

“For instance if you take the ex gratia, you go to the financial statements in Parliament that have been audited, that were approved by Parliament, which show that the ex gratia in 2014/15 financial year and at the end of 2015/2016, those were audited statements. They went through the process. You can’t say I didn’t know that, I only know after 2017. It obviously doesn’t make sense. Both as the executive authority and Parliament as a deliberation body, you contradict your own self and say there is maladministration. It doesn’t make sense,” says Mgidlana.

Meanwhile the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) in Parliament says Mgidlana cannot take ownership of the clean audit that Parliament achieved in 2015.

Earlier, Mgidlana said the disciplinary panel did not consider evidence, including the achievement of a clean audit under his leadership.

This is one of the issues he is expected to reflect on in court when he challenges Parliament’s decision to dismiss him.

“On the issue of the clean audit, he must not forget that he was not the first secretary to Parliament to preside over Parliament, wherein he will get a clean audit. The whole work has been done under the late Secretary Michael Coetzee. So, he cannot take ownership and celebrate the clean audit,” says Sthembiso Tembe, NEHAWU chairperson in Parliament.

 

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