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Phophi Ramathuba
Limpopo Health MEC commends Mokopane hospital’s maternity
1 January 2020, 5:02 PM

Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba has commended authorities at the Mokopane Regional Hospital for improving the state of the maternity ward in line with what the department calls centres of maternity excellence.

Ramathuba visited the hospital to celebrate with mothers who welcomed New Year’s Day babies.

Three babies of the 80 babies born so far were delivered in Mokopane.

Ramathuba says the maternity ward, which previously lacked resources and was falling apart, underwent a major facelift to match facilities in some of the private health care institutions.

“You can’t be transferring every single thing to Polokwane or Mankweng hospital. For instance here in Waterberg, you have got Bela Bela hospital, you have got Ellisras, Witpoort, you have got George Masebe, Voortrekker and FH Ondendaal. All these hospitals must be able to have the confidence to refer to Mokopane and be treated. Managers are employed to make sure that they operationalise what we pronounce. The leadership in this particular hospital took that matter very seriously. They benchmark in private hospitals, they benchmark in other hospitals. What type of maternity would you be able to say this is a real one,” says Ramathuba.

Martha Nkuna gave birth to the first baby at the Mokopane Regional Hospital. The girl has been named “Happiness.” Nkuna is looking forward to spending time with her child.

“I’m very excited about my baby. I went into labour shortly after ushering in the new year. I think it was because of all the dancing. I thank God for safe delivery. I will look after my baby, ensuring that she is always clean and exclusively breastfed for six months. This will prevent her from falling sick,” says Nkuna.

The number of New Year babies born at public health facilities in the Western has more than doubled since this morning. Earlier, the provincial health department said 22 babies were born, but now the figure has been revised to 58.

The first baby was born to Zahraah Abrahams in Mowbray in Cape Town at exactly midnight.

The newborn babies comprise 32 boys and 26 girls.

Mexico prison
Sixteen inmates killed in fight in Mexican prison
1 January 2020, 3:08 PM

Sixteen inmates were killed and five more were wounded in a fight that broke out in a prison in the northern Mexican state of Zacatecas, the state government said in a statement Tuesday evening.

Security will be boosted at prisons in the state after the incident in the Varonil prison, which broke out around 2:30pm on Tuesday afternoon, the government said.

An inmate was arrested with a firearm, and three more guns were found in the prison, as well as various knives.

Government has launched an investigation to determine those responsible for the fight and how the weapons entered the prison, according to the statement.

The incident marks the latest blow to the security track record of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who has struggled to combat rising violence in the country.

Melville Shooting
Melville drive-by shooting leaves residents in fear
1 January 2020, 2:12 PM

An eyewitness has described his version of events that lead to the shooting of eight people in Melville, Johannesburg, in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Two people were killed and six others were wounded when unknown suspects opened fire on a popular restaurant on 7th Street.

Two of the injured are in a critical condition in hospital.

Gauteng police are calling for anyone with further information on the drive-by shooting to come forward.

An eyewitness says a fight ensued before people were shot at randomly.

“It was not the first time that there was shooting randomly with a car that is unknown, unregistered, unmarked. It was just a fight, three coloured guys and one black guy. They fought and dispersed, went to Liquid Blue and the other clubs. The fight happened here. These guys came back here and shot randomly. They shot anyone and anybody that didn’t know a thing,” describes the eyewitness.

‘Negative impact on business’

A business owner in Melville, Johannesburg has expressed shock over the shooting incident. Walter Niemand owns a Bed and Breakfast with his wife, not far from where the shooting took place.

He says he fears that the incident will have a negative impact on their business and it may also affect international tourism.

“We are all affected and it’s not just us as business people but it’s also for Melville, Johannesburg and the country. At the moment, we have guests from Holland, obviously, it won’t make a good impression and they will tell their family and friends in Holland what they had experienced here,” explains Niemand.

‘Residents terrified’ 

Residents of Melville say crime in their area has gotten out of hand and they are terrified. Some residents describe how they are feeling following the shooting.

“Obviously we are shocked at what goes on around here. Melville is a really vibey area and it’s full of these beautiful and fun restaurants. Why do people want to come with aggression and just grab guns and shoot others? This is what happens in Melville, certain places operate as restaurants and they do not have entertainment licenses but they have loud music and DJs up to 3 in the morning. I never imagined there would be killings and injuries down the road from where I live,” residents say.

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Proteas vs England
England facing tough selection decision for 2nd Test
1 January 2020, 1:46 PM

A buoyant South Africa will seek to drive home their advantage at a favourite venue as they host an England side facing a big selection question in the second test of the four-match series starting at Newlands on Friday.

The home team ended a run of five straight defeats with a commanding 107-run victory in the first test in Pretoria as the winds of change through their camp, on and off the pitch, brought immediate success.

Coach Mark Boucher appears to have brought some steel back to the squad as they subdued an England side battling with illness and which has recently struggled to pick up wins on the road.

South African opener Aiden Markram is definitely out with a finger injury and that should mean a debut for Pieter Malan, 30, at his home ground in what is an iconic test on the fixture list which could see as many as 10,000 England fans in attendance.

South Africa must also decide whether to accommodate a fit-again Temba Bavuma in the middle-order, with his replacement Rassie van der Dussen scoring a second-innings half-century on debut in Pretoria.

England have not won at Newlands since 1957, though their last two visits in 2010 and 2016 ended in draws.

It is a traditional stronghold for South Africa, who have lost only one of their previous 18 tests at the venue, picking up 13 wins in that time.

The illness that spread through the tourist’s squad in the build-up to, and during, the first test appears to have eased, providing them with more options.

Fit-again middle-order batsman Ollie Pope is likely to replace Jonny Bairstow in what should be the only change in the top seven, but the make-up of the bowling attack is far from certain.

The wicket in Cape Town is expected to be less seamer-friendly than the first test, which could mean the introduction of a specialist spin option, with Dominic Bess or Matt Parkinson in contention.

Left-arm spinner Jack Leach still has a fitness question-mark hanging over him, which could mean Bess gets a run having not been part of the original touring party.

The question would then be who to leave out, with one of the four-prong seam attack of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer or Sam Curran to miss out.

Anderson and Broad have 1053 test wickets between them but England coach Chris Silverwood concedes that their places will be up for discussion.

“In Jimmy and Stu we have a wealth of experience and we’d be really stupid not to take that into consideration every game,” Silverwood told reporters after the first test.

“But, equally, you want your youngsters to come through and if we’re going to make room for a spinner we’ve got to have a look at which seamers are right for this pitch.

“If there’s a big decision we’re not afraid to make it.”

Donald Trump
Trump had his presidency on test during 2019
31 December 2019, 7:48 PM

2019 saw Donald Trump’s turbulent presidency put to the test once again.

After surviving the highly anticipated Russian probe he soon found himself the target of impeachment, while also trying to negotiate trade deals on multiple fronts, the biggest with America’s economic rival, China.

All this as he launched his campaign for re-election in 2020. Our US Correspondent Kevin McAleese looks back at an eventful year.

For Donald Trump it was the witch hunt of the century, democrats and his opponents believed the Mueller report would signal the beginning of the end of his Presidency.

The reality of the 448 page report was far less clear cut, the special counsel finding no collusion between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia, but unable to clear the president for Obstruction of Justice.

“The Mueller report was a crashing disaster. It was unreadable, it was written in legalize, it was over 400 pages long. It took no stand on anything despite all the damning evidence that it amassed. Instead of a mountain he produced a molehill,” says Allan Lichtman who is a Political Historian at an American University.

However, Trump’s victory lap was cut short by a Whistle blower, suddenly Trump was facing impeachment after the contents of a phone call revealed he had asked Ukraine’s President to investigate his political rival, Joe Biden

“Once the transcript of that call came out impeachment, or at least an inquiry, was inevitable. And it was all gratuitously brought down on Trump by himself,” says Lichtman.

Trump defended his July call as ‘perfect’ but for House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi it was a step too far and for only the fourth time in history, a US president was the subject of an impeachment investigation.

“I’m announcing the House of Representatives moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry,” says Nancy Pelosi who is the US House Speaker.

Democrats moved fast, hours of public testimony followed, during which republicans united in solid defence of Trump just as democrats called out what they saw as his gross abuse of office.

“There is nothing more dangerous than an unethical president who believes they are above the law,” says Adam Schiff who is the House Intelligence Committee Chairman.

The Democrats arguing the President used his public office for personal and political gain, by withholding nearly $400 million dollars of aid to Ukraine in return for an investigation into Joe Biden, a potential opponent for Trump in the next US election.

Acquitted or removed, ultimately congress will decide. PTC Trump’s presidential future rests with the Senate where his impeachment trial will be heard and where the republican majority is expected to acquit America’s 45th President

Impeachment aside, Democrats are determined to topple trump at the ballot box with over a dozen candidates still in race to be the party nominee for the November race.

“I promise you, we’re going to win this race. We’re going to beat Donald Trump,” says Joe Biden who is the Former US Vice President.

They’ve been campaigning and debating for more than six months. But voters are still split over whether there’s a Democrat strong enough to deny the President another four years in the White House.

“There are several that I agree with, I don’t know, with such a large field it’s difficult.”

“I think he’s lost the faith and trust of the American people.”

“I think he has a strong base and I think he has a strong following.”

“I’m going to be one of them that votes for him. I think he’s done a great job, he’s a businessman, he didn’t have anybody to pay for his election, he had his own money and Congress just don’t like that.”

“I would not like to see him get re-elected. I hope he doesn’t get re-elected. Will he? I have no idea,” what some voters had to say.

The polls suggest the next election could come down to just a few swing states.

“The biggest thing for Democrats right now is who can win? Are they going to go in a liberal direction or are they going to go with a moderate candidate, who could potentially peel back some of these voters that President Trump won in places like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania?” asks Julie Pace the Washington Bureau Chief.

The Democrats first big test comes in February in Iowa, the start of each state choosing which Democrat they want to take on Trump in November’s election.

Trump, while attacking his potential democrat opponents, has been encouraging Americans to focus on a record-setting stock market and surging job numbers but not everyone is convinced by Trump’s strong economy claims.

“What they don’t realize is the economy’s not good. The growth numbers are okay, but we’re borrowing a trillion dollars a year in order to get $400 billion a year in growth. Which is catastrophic and you can’t have zero interest rates while saying your economy is great for ever either. So we’re doing all the unsustainable stuff. We’re staying up all night on caffeine, sugar packets, some methamphetamine and a whole lot of dreams, and eventually the morning comes and that’s going to be the story of the US economy,” says Max Wolff who is the Managing Director of Multivariate.

It was also a year gripped by the uncertainty of the US-China trade war. More tariffs and counter-tariffs were unleashed as the sides struggled for meaningful breakthroughs. Trump’s message to rural America, hardest hit by the dispute, was consistent: short term pain for long-term gain.

“If I have to take a little hit to help solve this problem, I’m willing to do that. I think it’s in the best interest of our country and that will be in the best interest of my farm and my family down the road,” says Lucus Heinen who is a Kansas farmer.

The Trump Administration says it’s in no rush to put pen to paper with Beijing, but the President knows a convincing deal in an election year would be a major policy-win.

“Trump understands that he needs to keep the economy going and that is the number one thing that will keep a President’s popularity up. It doesn’t matter where the economy is September-October it’s where it is in that first part of the year and hence how people’s expectations or feelings about the economy are formed at that period of time. So the election moves him to having to get a deal,” says Steve Blitz who is the Chief US Economist at TS Lombard.

Trade wars, impeachment trial and a US election. 2020 is set to be a blockbuster year.

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