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Magashule not implicated in report: Mkhwebane
21 May 2019, 9:45 AM

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane says her report on the Estina Dairy Farm Project at Vrede in the Free State doesn’t mention or implicate Ace Magashule. She states that the provisional report deals purely with the officials.

Speaking on the SABC’s Morning Live programme, Mkhwebane says she will make the provisional report public.

She says Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) cannot rely only on Gupta leaks.

Earlier, Mkhwebane said she is considering her legal options, including a possible approach to the Constitutional Court, following the Pretoria High Court’s decision to set aside her report into the Estina Dairy Farm Project.

The court ruled Mkhwebane failed to do her job with due diligence and also failed to properly investigate those implicated in the R200 million Vrede Dairy farm scandal.

Click video below:

Mkhwebane considers legal options regarding court decision
21 May 2019, 8:11 AM

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, says she is considering her legal options, including a possible approach to the Constitutional Court, following the Pretoria High Court’s decision to set aside her report into the Estina Dairy Farm Project at Vrede in the Free State.

The court ruled Mkhwebane failed to do her job with due diligence and also failed to properly investigate those implicated in the R200 million Vrede dairy farm scandal.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and others had approached the Public Protector to probe the alleged involvement of then Free State Premier Ace Magashule and others in the matter.

Judge Ronel Tolmay declared the Public Protector’s report invalid and unconstitutional.

Speaking on the SABC’s Morning Live programme, Mkhwebane says she will make public the draft report on the controversial Estina Dairy Farm project which was compiled by her predecessor, Thuli Madonsela.

She has hit back at the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC), who accuse her of altering the report to protect politicians such as ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule.

Watch the full interview with Mkhwebane and CASAC’s Lawson Naidoo below:

Nike, Under Armour urges Trump to remove footwear from tariff list
21 May 2019, 7:55 AM

United States footwear companies, including Nike Inc and Under Armour, on Monday urged US President Donald Trump to remove footwear from the proposed tariffs list on goods imported from China.

“The proposed additional tariff of 25% on footwear would be catastrophic for our consumers, our companies, and the American economy as a whole,” a group of 173 companies said in a letter.

Trump increased tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25% from 10% earlier this month, a move that is expected to raise prices on thousands of products including clothing, furniture and electronics

Trump is expected to impose 25% tariffs on another $300 billion worth of Chinese goods when he meets Chinese President Xi Jinping in June.

“As an industry that faces a $3 billion duty bill every year, we can assure you that any increase in the cost of importing shoes has a direct impact on the American footwear consumer,” the companies said.

The letter was also sent to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow.

The Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA) estimates the hike in tariff would add $7 billion in additional costs for customers every year.

The companies noted that the tariffs on footwear average 11.3% and reach rates as high as 67.5%.

Adding a 25% tax increase on top of these tariffs would mean Americans could pay a nearly 100% duty on their shoes, the companies said in the letter.

‘Game of Thrones’ scores record TV audience, leaves fans sad, mad
21 May 2019, 6:26 AM

More than 19 million United States viewers watched the series finale of television’s “Game of Thrones“, a record audience for HBO, the cable channel said on Monday.

HBO, a unit of AT&T’s Warner Media, said Sunday’s 19.3 million live television audience and viewers on its HBO GO and HBO NOW apps exceeded the previous high for the fantasy – 18.4 million, for the penultimate episode a week ago.

The finale was also the most-watched single telecast ever on HBO, surpassing the previous record set by crime drama “The Sopranos” in 2002, HBO said.

“Game of Thrones” is available in over 150 countries worldwide, but HBO said viewing data is not easily retrieved in many of those markets, making a global figure impossible to calculate.

Mixed reviews, a stray water bottle and pleas for a spinoff for feisty teen assassin Arya Stark marked the end of “Game of Thrones,” which ended with a final twist over who would rule Westeros.

The finale proved as divisive as Season 8 itself, with the hard fought Iron Throne melted down and the saga ending in what some called an anti-climax.

But British actor Isaac Hempstead Wright said on Monday he was thrilled at how the show had transformed his character, Bran Stark, from a ten year-old boy in a wheelchair to the man finally chosen as king.

Venezuela’s Maduro proposes early elections for opposition-run congress
21 May 2019, 5:57 AM

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday proposed early elections for the National Assembly, which is headed by opposition leader Juan Guaido and is the sole body recognized as democratically legitimate by most Western nations.

The opposition won a majority in the National Assembly in 2015 and the next congressional elections are currently scheduled for late 2020. Maduro did not give an exact new date, and he has previously said he would shift them earlier, without following through.

In a speech at a pro-government rally, Maduro said “we will legitimize the sole institution which has not been legitimized in the last five years”.

Most western nations have recognized Guaido as the country’s rightful head of state, after Maduro won re-election last year in a vote widely deemed fraudulent, and stacked other state bodies with loyalists.

Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, denouncing Maduro as a usurper whose failed state-led policies had plunged Venezuela into its deepest-ever economic recession.

Maduro accuses Guaido of staging a US-backed coup against his socialist administration and says he will face justice.

Maduro retains control of state functions and the support of the military’s top brass, as well as allies Russia, Cuba and China.

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