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Crusader Farage
I’ll miss playing the villain: Brexit crusader Farage
28 January 2020, 9:01 PM

As Nigel Farage packed a few belongings into a box at his office in the European Union’s parliament in Brussels on Tuesday, he reflected that he will miss the very institution on which – as its bluntest critic – he built his political career.

“I’ll miss some of the fun, some of the theatre,” the Brexit Party leader said in an interview. “I’ll miss being the pantomime villain, which I’ve been many times. This has been a massive chapter of my life.”

What Farage doesn’t regret, though, is spearheading a campaign that led to Britain’s exit from the EU, which will happen quietly at midnight in Brussels on Friday but with great fanfare in London’s Parliament Square at a party he promised would bring together more than 30 000 people.

Farage and 72 other Britons will attend their last plenary session of the 751-seat European Parliament this week. On Friday morning, a group of Brexit Party lawmakers will march out of the modernist assembly building with a Union Jack to mark the end of Britain’s 47 years as a member of the EU.

Britain’s vote to leave the EU in 2016 was a triumph for Farage, a former commodities trader who become an abrasive anti-immigration politician, tapping into a deep well of popular anger in Britain that rivals failed to understand.

A colourful character who is often pictured holding a pint of beer, 55-year-old Farage’s acerbic euroscepticism was the bane of committed Europeans in Brussels. He recalled with a laugh on Tuesday how once he told then-European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to his face that he had “the charisma of a damp rag” and the “appearance of a low-grade bank clerk”.

He said that, although he has sought to disrupt the EU from within over the past two decades, the European Parliament would be a duller place without him and lawmakers from the 27 other EU countries may miss the publicity he brought for their assembly.

Farage also boasted that his Brexit Party had helped Boris Johnson become Britain’s prime minister last year, and since then the Conservative Party leader had adopted policies and rhetoric that he had used for 25 years.

After Friday, Britain will enter an 11-month transition period during which it faces tough negotiations with the EU on everything from trade regulations to fishing rights to establish a future relationship. “In this negotiation, we’ve got a much stronger hand than they have,” he said. “We’ve got Germany petrified of us becoming a competitor on their doorstep.”

Farage said that however the haggling between London and Brussels turns out, there will be no going back on Brexit, a course of action that for Britain’s place in the world marked the biggest change since Henry VIII left the Church of Rome 500 years ago. “And I say that not even tongue in cheek,” he added.

Lebogang Maile
Maile defends decision to rescind suspension of DA councillors
28 January 2020, 7:42 PM

Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile has emphasised that the decision to rescind the suspension of two DA councillors is not retreating or an admission of wrongdoing, but an opportunity to strengthen his department’s case.

On Monday, Maile raised eyebrows when he lifted the suspension ofย  former City of Johannesburg speaker Vasco da Gama and that of Tshwane’s Katlego Mathebe.

He had accused the duo of breaching the code of conduct for councillors.

“If it was wrong to charge them we would’ve told you we apologise, it’s wrong, we withdraw. We would not have hesitated, but we are confident that we are correct.”

The Gauteng COGTA MEC says the councillors’ cases will now be investigated in the Tshwane and Johannesburg councils.

He’s given councillors a week to revert to him on the outcomes of both probes.

Speaking during a media briefing in Sandton, Maile refuted DA’s claims that had violated the Constitution. He also confirmed that the party has withdrawn its legal action against him.

“There is nowhere that it says the MEC can’t take a decision without the council being referred to. The letter that was written to us by the DA was quoting two case laws. We did not see those case laws, we never had sight of them. That is why we sought legal counsel. The law is clear what the MEC can do. These two people, through their actions in the last two months, have clearly demonstrated disregard for the law and acted in a partisan manner.”

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Coronavirus
AU on high alert over coronavirus outbreak
28 January 2020, 6:30 PM

The African Union (AU) says the continent is on high alert as the coronavirus that has gripped China spreads.

More than 100 people have died in China with confirmed infections surging to more than 4 000.

The United States and Australia have also confirmed infections.

African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has urged countries on the continent to start applying preventive measures.

The Director for African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. John Nkengasong says the World Health Organisation (WHO) is helping the continent to take precautions.

“We are preparing as quickly as possible in a coordinated fashion with the World Health Organisation. We just conducted a meeting with all member states from the AU to check with them how prepared they are. We continue to provide them support in areas of laboratory testing, in the areas of enhanced airport screening and monitoring and also in the areas of infection, prevention and infection control especially the hospitals.”

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Patrice Motsepe
Motsepe apologises for Africa-Trump utterances
28 January 2020, 3:24 PM

South African business tycoon Patrice Motsepe has apologised for his recent remarks in which he told US President Donald Trump that Africa loves him.The comments were made at a private dinner hosted by Trump during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, last week.

Social media erupted in a debate after a video of the tycoon making the remarks went viral.ย  While most users disagreed with Motsepe, others seemed indifferent.

In a statement, Motsepe says his remarks were partly aimed at encouraging discussions between the Trump Administration and African political and business leaders. He says this was particularly in the context of the increasing feedback from US leaders that South Africa and some African countries are anti-American.

The businessman says Africa and America share the same values and it is in the interest of the continent to build mutually beneficial socio-political and trade ties between the economies and countries. Motsepe concurs with sentiments shared by some social media users that he had no right to speak on their behalf.

Cyril Ramaphosa
AfCFTA will make Africa the largest common market in the world: Ramaphosa
28 January 2020, 5:00 AM

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)ย  will make Africa the largest common market in the world. Ramaphosa was delivering the keynote address at the South African Heads of Mission Conference in Pretoria.

South Africa is to assume the year-long chairship of the African Union (AU) in 2020.

President Ramaphosa says the Continental Free Trade Area agreement will help boost inter-Africa trade.

“This Continental Free Trade Area agreement will make Africa the largest common market in the world with a population of more than a billion people and a combined GDP of over 3 trillion dollars. The Continental Free Trade Area agreement will boost inter-Africa trade, reignite industrialisationย  and where countries have no successes to industrialise – it will help to catapult them to the industrial era. It will also pave the way for the meaningful integration of Africa into global value chains and the global economy.”

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