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Palestine takes over as Chair of G77 plus China
15 January 2019, 9:13 PM

The State of Palestine has taken over the mantel as Chair of the Group of 77 and China at an official handing-over ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Palestine, which enjoys only observer status at the UN, will now lead the largest bloc of developing countries which aims to promote collective economic and political interests at the world body.

President Abbas was there in person to receive the Chairman’s gavel from outgoing Chair Egypt. And while yet to be accorded full membership status at the UN, Palestine will now lead the largest group of developing nations at the world body.

“The right to development is a right we shall strive to strengthen and realize together with all other human rights enshrined in international law and in the G77’s founding and central documents. In this regard, we must ensure and preserve this right, also for people living under colonial and foreign occupation. In line with the decisions of the group, including the Johannesburg plan of action and in accordance with the relevant provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law, Palestine cannot be an exception.”

Abbas also used the platform to address the broader situation in the Middle East, in particular between his country and the State of Israel.

“Israel’s continued colonization an occupation of the State of Palestine undermines our development and capacity for cooperation and coordination and obstructs cohesive future development for all people of the region. Here, I reaffirm the State of Palestine’s commitment to international law and legitimacy and to a peaceful solution that brings an end to the occupation and the realization of the independence of the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders.”

The G77 plus China comprises 134 member states and has recognized Palestine since 1976. The UN Chief Antonio Guterres also welcomed Palestine’s Chairmanship as a significant move.

“I look forward to continuing to work closely with the G77 and China in 2019 under the historic leadership of the State of Palestine. Palestine and its citizens have first-hand experience of some of the most challenging and dramatic global issues we face. You are well-placed to take up the chairmanship of this important group of countries.”

Palestinians see their elevation to the Chairmanship as an important achievement that asserts their identity on the international stage. In an earlier meeting with the UN Chief, President Abbas also reportedly asked for the provision of an international protection force for Palestinians.

Gauteng fights against teenage pregnancy
15 January 2019, 9:10 PM

Teenage pregnancy in schools is a major challenge and authorities must treat it as statutory rape. Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said this during her visit to Makgwareng Primary School in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria.

The visit is part of the school’s health programme and Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Awareness Campaign.

Teenage and pre-teen pregnancy is a fear of many parents, but it’s rife and affects young girls between the ages of 10 to 14.

“It robs the nation of young women who can be part and parcel of the productivity of our economy, but it also deepens the gender disparities that are there in our society and that is why we, as a society, we must be intolerant of teenage pregnancy, particularly childhood pregnancy. Childhood pregnancy is statutory rape and we must treat it as such,” says Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

Ramokgopa says those responsible should be made  to account.

“We also need to make sure that our school health programmes works with social workers and the justice system to track down those that are responsible for impregnating our young girls, but also our schools are there to say ‘even if any of our girls fell pregnant, we are still going to support them and we don’t chase them away.'”

According to Statistics, South African teenagers between the age of 10 and 19 contributed a combined
13% to registered child birth in 2016 alone.


Mangaung Metro Municipality loses billion in water wastage
15 January 2019, 9:01 PM

Mangaung Metro Municipality has lost more than R1 billion in revenue on water wastage. The municipality says measures are in place to overcome the situation. It is also waiting for a drought relief grant from national government.

Water leakages have become a nightmare for Mangaung residents. Old infrastructure also results in sewer spillage on the streets.

Residents say their complaints of water leakages or burst pipes are disregarded. They say they end up fixing broken taps themselves because the municipality never responds.

“We are suffering. When we have problems with water, then we report to the municipality and the municipality takes a long time to come and resolve the matter,” says one concerned resident.

“We have a problem of leaking pipes, but now we fix it on our own. But the thing is the expenses are from our pockets not from municipality,” says another concerned resident.

Mangaung Municipality says it has put systems in place to curb the waste of water. It also says there are businesses and contractors who are bypassing the system to steal water from the municipality.

“The other problem is in informal settlement where we find that people are occupying the space, but they do not have water, we find that there are people who take water from the system of the municipality; also the old song is that of an infrastructure where you find that you have an old pipe line. But what we have done as the city is to make sure that we replace the old system with the system that is more durable,” says Mangaung Metro Municipality Spokesperson, Qondile Khedama.

Mangaung Metro Municipality appeals to residents to use water sparingly.

Rohan du Plooy wins Stage 5 of Mpumalanga Cycle Tour
15 January 2019, 8:39 PM

Rohan du Plooy of the Pro-Touch Continental team has won Stage 5 of the Mpumalanga Cycle Tour.

The stage covered a distance of more than 129 kilometres from White River to Matsulu, Mara and back to White River.

The Department of Sport in the Province wants to see more cyclists from formerly marginalised communities taking part in the event.

The Mpumalanga Cycle Tour is known for producing good young talent. The pride of the province, Willie Smit, is the latest cyclist who graduated from the annual tour to the global stage.

Cycling, however, is an expensive sport. The necessities, such as the bicycles and riding kit, do not come cheap and that is the stumbling block for riders from formerly marginalised communities.

“We want to change the colour because it looks like it’s an all-white sport. We want to see more young people joining in, but the issue of resources is hindering them. We want to take other departments on board, also engage them to put in something because us, as the Department of Sport, we are the least funded department. We won’t be able on our own,” says Mpumalanga MEC for  Sports and Recreation, Thandi Shongwe.

Since the start of this edition last Friday, the cyclists have already covered a distance of over 500 kilometres.

In Stage 5, two cyclists broke away from the peleton just before reaching the first King of the Mountains and water point on top of Boulders on the east of Mbombela.

However, the peleton caught up with them at Crocodile Valley. That was when Rohan du Plooy broke away and  from there onwards, the 24-year-old did not look back and held on to his lead up to the finish line.

“My best ability was to go all out. I can’t thank my team enough. They placed me in a very good situation on the road. And pro-touch continental and supporters for giving me an opportunity this year to just race my bike and enjoy it,” says Pro-Touch Continental, Rohan Du Plooy.

Stage 6 will be a 97-kilometre trek from the Mbombela Stadium, passing through the Barberton Nature Reserve, on the way to Manzana – formerly known as Badplaas.


Mining prouduction remains stagnant
15 January 2019, 7:30 PM

The mining sector is still in doldrums even worse than economists had thought. Stats SA data shows mining production decreased by 5.6% year on year in November from an increase of 0.2 % in October.

Analysts had expected mining production to remain stagnant at 0.1% year on year in November.

The sector continues to struggle following the policy uncertainty debacle it suffered in the recent past. The largest negative contributors were iron ore, gold, diamonds and other non-metallic minerals.

The largest positive contributors were Platinum Group Metals and manganese ore.

Economists say the performance of the mining sector has been affected by lower commodity prices, slowing global trade momentum and trade tensions amongst the major economies.

While production in the sector is expected to remain bleak in the short to medium term, it’s expected the resolution of the issues surrounding the Mining Charter could support output growth in the longer term.

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