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No praise singer at next week’s SONA
13 June 2019, 9:27 PM

For the first time in the history of a democratic South Africa, the President will not have a praise singer to usher him into the chamber during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) ceremony.

The services of the praise singer, known as an Imbongi in Isixhosa, has been withdrawn as a cost cutting measure. President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to deliver his SONA in Parliament on Thursday next week.

It has always been a tradition to have an Imbongi welcoming the President ahead of his address as he enters the chamber during SONA. President Ramaphosa had an Imbongi during his February SONA this year when he was still a so-called caretaker President in the last year of the 5th Parliament.

However, he will not have an Imbongi in the 6th Parliament as a recently inaugurated President, following the outcome of the May general elections. Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli said the decision to withdraw the praise singer was taken in concurrence with the President.

Meanwhile, about 1200 guests will attend the SONA on Thursday next week. Some of the guests include the two surviving Rivonia Trialists Andrew Mlangeni and Dennis Goldberg.

“Amongst the 1200 guests of various categories include former Presidents, Deputy Presidents, Presiding Officers, Chief Justices, veterans of our liberation struggle and the two surviving Rivonia Trialists, Mr Andrew Mlangeni and Dennis Goldberg, both of them having (been) given honorary doctorates by several universities, and giants of the 1956 Women’s March, Sophie De Bruyn and Gertrude Shope,” says Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli.

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Council calls for comprehensive TB, HIV screening at mining companies
13 June 2019, 8:42 PM

The Mine Health and Safety Council says more pressure should be placed on mining companies to ensure comprehensive Tuberculosis  (TB) and HIV screening as well as treatment at work places.

The council says it believes this will help reduce the high number of infections within the mining industry. Currently, TB is the leading killer of people with HIV worldwide, with South Africa reflecting this pattern.

Speaking at the 9th SA AIDS Conference in Durban, the council’s Chairperson of TB and HIV Advisory Committee, Dr Lindiwe Ndelu says mining companies must be constantly evaluated.

“TB and HIV are high within the industry, with the stats we have received there is improvement but we felt we should come up with the strategy on  HIV and TB which is to help all mining companies to adhere to. Our work is to promote health and safety in mine workers. We do acknowledge that companies have their own strategies and some might not have the capacity to come up with a strategy.” Click below for more on the story: 

SANDF troops ready for DRC UN peacekeeping mission
13 June 2019, 7:18 PM

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) troops who will be serving in the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) say they are ready for the mission.

They have undergone training for a year. The troops will be deployed for a year in the DRC while another battalion rotates back home.

The SANDF members say they are confident. “It feels very good to go and command the soldiers in the battle field and represent my country and the region as well,” says one of the soldiers.

The Major General Office Commanding of joint SANDF operational headquarters Thabiso Mokhosi says South African soldiers receive intensive training before they are deployed to foreign countries.

SANDF troops have in the past been accused of sexual exploitation of the civilian population in the DRC.

“There’s enough training that is given to soldiers not only given by the South Africans, we also invite United Nations’ conduct team to come and make presentations. We also have a special directorate which is the directory transformation management which specifically deals with these issues. I would like to say that the conduct and behaviour of the South African National Defence Force has improved over the past two to three years,” says Major General Mokhosi.


Defence argues that IPID failed to discharge its duties after Marikana tragedy
13 June 2019, 6:44 PM

The defence team in the trial of Former North West Deputy Police Commissioner, William Mpembe, and three senior officials have told the High Court in the province that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) failed to discharge its constitutional duties after the Marikana tragedy.

The lawyers say IPID failed to visit 259 arrested Marikana mine workers. Mpembe, and his three accused, are on trial for allegedly concealing the death of one of the 34 miners who died in a hail of police automatic gunfire in 2012.

They are also facing charges of failing to disclose this at the Farlam Commission that probed the tragedy.  The evidence by the state witness, who is the IPID principal investigator, was shredded by the defence, during a lengthy cross examination with the defence asserting that, the deceased worker did not die in custody, as the state alleges.

The state witness earlier, confirmed photos of the deceased miner, taken from police custody, as opposed to the information of police dockets that, he died along with 34 mine workers at the scene of the shooting.

The court remained full with families of the accused and residents from Marikana in attendance. More witnesses from IPID are expected to be called to the stand. Click below for more on the story: 


Massive budget cut for Eastern Cape SOPA
13 June 2019, 5:34 PM

Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Speaker, Helen Sauls- August, says the budget allocation for the State of the Province Address (SOPA) has been reduced from R5 million to R700 000. Sauls-August has been addressing the media on their preparations for the SOPA that is expected to be held on 28 June.

The SOPA will now be held inside the legislature chambers and a marquee will not be hired. She says it will also not be necessary to hire ablution facilities, a catering company and mobile fridges.

“The implications of this decision are that the number of the guests attending the official opening is reduced from 1200 to 650.  Although there will still be catering for guests it will be reduced from a three course meal into finger lunch for everyone. The printing of invitations which was previously outsourced will now be done internally.”

Meanwhile,  Eastern Cape Deputy Speaker, Mlibo Qoboshiyane,  says they will ensure there are effective oversight programmes.

“It is not going to be a question of annual report presentation but it is going to further touch, see and feel what has been done over the period of a year. Remember that we visit schools twice a year but we can’t go to school just to see the opening. I think doing more with less and the usage of public resources and this legislature is also mindful of the fact that we need to cut costs on things we can do without.” Click below for more on the story: 



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