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IEF President Mangosuthu Buthelezi.
IFP loses two wards in by-elections
8 March 2019, 11:41 AM

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has lost two wards in the province to the ANC in by-elections this week before its election manifesto launch in Chatsworth, south of Durban this weekend.

The Independent Electoral Commission held by-elections in six wards across five municipalities this week.

The ANC now has control of uMhlabuyalingana, after receiving 66% of the votes and Dundee, which it won by 63%.

IEC spokesperson in the province, Ntombifuti Masinga says,“In ward 88, the ANC retained the ward, same thing happened in 91. In ward 88, it won by 78% of the vote. In Ward 91,  the ANC retained the ward and got 69% of the vote. In Dundee, we had by elections in ward 3. The ANC took over the ward from the IFP, they got a vote of 63%. In Newcastle, in ward 22, the ANC retained the ward, they won by 65%. In Umhlabuyalingana in Mangozi, ward 7, the ANC took the ward from the IFP and they won it by 66%. Kwanongoma, we also had a by election in ward 3. The IFP retained the ward in Kwanongoma, they won by 66%,” says Masinga

International Women's Day, Spain.
Women’s Day exposes Spain’s social divisions
8 March 2019, 10:29 AM

Global campaigners are showcasing events to mark Women’s Day on Friday with the slogan ‘a balanced world is a better world’, but in Spain the gender equality debate is sowing divisions that appear deeper than ever.

Last year, hundreds of thousands joined the country’s first women’s strike in protest at inequality between the sexes. One year on, the mood is different.

In a society where the emergence since then of Vox, a new far-right party, is tapping into pockets of nostalgia for a staunchly traditionalist past, women’s rights have become a pivotal topic in campaigning for national elections due on April 28.

Vox opposes a landmark law on gender violence that Spain passed in 2004.

In a video it posted on social media, some of its female supporters compared feminism to an “ideological burqa” and brandished “Don’t speak in my name” placards in protest at the strikes, rallies and other events planned for Friday.

A smaller, ultra-conservative group this week drove buses around Spain flanked with the slogan #StopFeminazis.

Both groups say the 2004 law, which protects women from violence from partners or ex-partners, discriminates against men. They want it scrapped and replaced with legislation covering all forms of domestic violence.

“We won’t take part in the March 8th feminist strike because it denigrates women by treating them as weak and helpless people,” Vox tweeted.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s outgoing Socialist government, meanwhile, wants the law reinforced, while opinions in the mainstream conservative People’s Party (PP) opposition are divided.

‘REACTING AGAINST FEMINISM’

Opinion polls expect Vox, which also opposes abortion, to become the first far-right party to win seats in the lower parliamentary house – possibly up to one in seven – in four decades.

Part of its success is down to the way it has tapped into resentment in some quarters against years of focus on women’s rights and violence against women. Some 70% of its backers are men, a GAD3 poll published in January showed.

“Vox is a community of voters that is reacting against feminism,” said Belen Barreiro, director of the 40DB research institute.

Killings of women at the hands of current or ex-partners systematically get prominent coverage in Spanish media, and hundreds of thousands took part last year in protests over a court’s ruling on a gang rape that many judged too lenient.

A Metroscopia survey in February showed 77% of Vox voters consider that Spain’s gender violence laws have left men vulnerable. That compares with a still eye-catching 44% of voters of all political stripes.

CONFRONTATION

On the other side, the Socialists have made the fight for gender equality a top priority in their campaign. Days after calling the election – in which no single party is forecast to win a workable majority – Sanchez’s government adopted measures to boost gender equality, including increasing paternity leave.

The PP’s position is less clear, and the question of gender equality could potentially be an issue if PP, Vox and the centre-right Ciudadanos were to try and form a coalition government after the election.

PP leader Pablo Casado said the party would not take part in Women’s Day protests because it considers far-left parties are seeking to use them to stir confrontation between the sexes.

“I don’t want a country that opposes my daughter to my son,” Casado told supporters on Thursday.

Some PP officials have publicly criticised previous comments by Casado calling for curbs on abortion – a move he said would make it easier to plug Spain’s pension deficit.

PP official Marta González told Reuters there were many different views on this issue in the party, saying the conservatives stood for equality between men and women.

Opinion polls show Sanchez’s Socialists leading voting intentions for April 28th, with the PP and Ciudadanos next and Vox and far-left Podemos vying for fourth spot.

The GAD3 poll showed Sanchez’s Socialists and Casado’s PP as attracting the biggest proportion of women’s votes, at 53.2% and 53.3% respectively.

A CIS poll showed there were more undecided voters among women than men.

Women protesting in Kenya.
Women in Kenya to protest against gender based violence
8 March 2019, 9:27 AM

Women in Kenya are to hold peaceful protests in major cities across the country to demand an end to Gender Based Violence.

According to Counting Dead, a local non-Governmental organisation, at least 25 women have been killed by their intimate partners between January and last month.

The march will be held, in the capital Nairobi, the Port City of Mombasa and the Lakeside city of Kisumu.

These, are some of the major towns where women have met their deaths in the hands of their husbands, boyfriends or lovers.

The killings have sent shock waves across the country but there is no conviction yet. The women are demanding action to end these killings and to bring to book those accused of the killings.

The women will also demand that the country’s parliament passes a law that requires that no more than two-thirds of any elected or appointed body can be of the same gender.

Previous attempts to vote on the bill have flopped, largely due to quorum hitches.

Click on video below: 

Bank of Lisbon building.
Bank of Lisbon building to be demolished
8 March 2019, 8:22 AM

The Bank of Lisbon building in the Joburg CBD that was damaged by fire resulting in the deaths of three firefighters last year, will be demolished.

The Gauteng government says a contractor has been appointed to manage the demolition project.

Three firefighters died after a fire broke out at the building which housed two Gauteng government departments.

Spokesperson for the Gauteng Provincial Government, Thabo Masebe says, “After the fire incident last year, we conducted a structural assessment to determine the extent of the damage and the assessment actually revealed that the building did sustain quite serious structural damage. We then looked at various options of dealing with the issue and came to the conclusion that it would be better to actually demolish the building.”

He adds: “So we are now moving ahead with the demolition process, we have now initiated all necessary steps in terms of the law, regulation and by-laws and once the plan is completed, we will be able to keep the public informed.”

Click on interview below: 

 

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Trump’s former campaign chief sentenced to 47-months in prison
8 March 2019, 8:08 AM

US President Donald Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort was sentenced to nearly four years in prison by a federal judge on Thursday for tax crimes and bank fraud in the highest profile case yet stemming from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Judge T.S. Lewis immediately came under fire from Democratic lawmakers for imposing what they described as a relatively light sentence on the 69-year-old Republican political consultant and lobbyist.

Prosecutors from the Special Counsel’s office had argued for a stiff prison term for Manafort, the first target of the Mueller probe to be convicted in a criminal trial.

Ellis said that while Manafort had committed “very serious crimes,” he had previously led an “otherwise blameless life” and the advisory sentencing guidelines calling for 19 to 24-years behind bars were “excessive” and disproportionate to sentences for similar offenses.

“The government cannot sweep away the history of all these previous sentences,” the judge said.

Manafort was convicted by a jury in August of five counts of filing false income tax returns, two counts of bank fraud and one count of failing to report a foreign bank account.

He is one of a half-dozen former Trump associates and senior aides charged by Mueller, who has been investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

The charges against Manafort were not connected to his role in the Trump campaign, which he headed for two months in 2016, but were related to lucrative consulting work he did for Russian-backed Ukrainian politicians from 2004 to 2014.

Prosecutors alleged that Manafort used offshore bank accounts to hide more than $55-million he earned working for the Ukrainians.

The money was used to support a lavish lifestyle which included purchases of luxury homes and cars, antique rugs, and expensive clothes, including an $18 500 python jacket.

His conviction was a stunning downfall for a man who also worked on the White House bids of Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole.

Speaking from a wheelchair and wearing a green prison jumpsuit with the words “Alexandria Inmate” on the back, Manafort told the court that his “life, professionally and personally, is in a shambles.

“I feel the pain and shame,” said Manafort, who the defence says suffers from gout.

“To say that I feel humiliated and ashamed would be a gross understatement,” he said.

Judge Ellis said he did not hear Manafort express regret or remorse but he said the sentencing guidelines were “way out of whack.”

“I think what I’ve done is punitive,” Ellis said.

He sentenced Manafort to a total of 47-months in prison for the eight counts and credited him with nine months of time served.

Manafort was ordered to pay $24-million in restitution and a $50 000 fine.

Manafort still faces sentencing in a money laundering and witness tampering case in Washington next week, where the maximum penalty is 10-years and the judge has appeared more sympathetic to prosecutors.

Defence attorney Kevin Downing, speaking after the sentencing, said Manafort “accepts responsibility for his conduct.”

“And I think most importantly, what you saw today is the same thing that we had said from day one – there is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia,” Downing said.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, described Downing’s remarks as a “deliberate appeal for a pardon” from Trump, who has denied any collusion with Russia and has denounced the Mueller probe as a “political witchhunt.”

“The statement by Paul Manafort’s lawyers after an already lenient sentence — repeating the President’s mantra of no collusion — was no accident,” Schiff said. “One injustice must not follow another.”

Trump has dangled the possibility of pardons for some of those indicted by Mueller – including Manafort, whom he has praised as a “good man” who has been treated unfairly.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, a candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, also denounced the sentence.

“His crimes took place over years and he led far from a ‘blameless life,” Klobuchar said on Twitter. “Crimes committed in an office building should be treated as seriously as crimes committed on a street corner.”

During Manafort’s trial, much of the damaging testimony against him was provided by his former deputy Rick Gates, who reached a plea deal with the Special Counsel’s office.

Besides Manafort and Gates, four other former Trump associates face charges or have pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Mueller investigation.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials and is awaiting sentencing.

Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen is to begin serving a three-year prison sentence on May 6 for fraud, tax evasion, illegal campaign contributions and lying to Congress.

George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and was sentenced to two weeks in prison.

Another Trump advisor, Roger Stone, awaits trial.

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