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C1.2 COVID-19 variant found in three districts in the Free State
6 September 2021, 9:51 PM

The Free State Department of Health says they have detected the C1.2 COVID-19 variant in three of the five districts of the province.

The department’s Dr Sammy Mokoena says the new variant has been detected in Mangaung, Lejweleputswa and Fezile Dabi Districts.

He says the Delta variant remains prevalent however they are concerned about the new variant.

The Free State has surpassed the 152 000 infections mark.

Dr Mokoena explains has urged residents to continue taking care of themselves.

“Almost 5% in total in the province of the cases that have been seen have been attributed to C1.2 and that means our people should continue to take care of themselves, wear their musks, wash their hand, social distance and make sure that they vaccinate,” says Mokoena.

COVID-19 Pandemic | Discussion on new C.1.2 variant:

 

Latest SA stats:South Africa has recorded 4 118 new COVID-19 cases taking total cases to 2 824 063.

A further 198 COVID-19-related deaths have also been reported, taking the country’s total fatalities since the pandemic outbreak to 83 617.

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Citrus industry expected to break the export record
6 September 2021, 9:45 PM

The South African agricultural sector is anticipating a record year for exports. The citrus industry is expected to break the export record it achieved last year, in spite of logistical challenges.

South Africa is the world’s second-largest exporter of citrus after Spain.

Last year, the citrus industry exported a record 146 million cartons of citrus. This year, they expected to export 163 million cartons.

But due to the small size of citrus harvested this year, the figure has been revised down.

Citrus Growers’ Association CEO, Justin Chadwick says this is still expected to break last year’s export figures.

“As we started harvesting our grapefruit and valencia we realised the size was a little bit smaller and if you drop the size obviously you drop the number of cartons. So we have re-assessed that and we came at about 158 million cartons, so slightly down to our earlier anticipation. We also had these widely known riots, the impact of that. Following that, we had a cyber-attack at Transnet. Both of those will impact the tail end of our season,” says Chadwick.

Hundreds of health centres at risk of closure in Afghanistan – WHO
6 September 2021, 8:51 PM

Hundreds of medical facilities in Afghanistan are at risk of imminent closure because the Western donors who finance them are barred from dealing with the new Taliban government, a World Health Organization official said on Monday.

Around 90% of 2,300 health facilities across the country might have to close as soon as this week, the UN health agency’s regional emergency director, Rick Brennan, told Reuters in an interview.

He said many Western donors had regulations which prevented them from dealing with the Taliban, without going into further detail.

“We are going to have a pause in operations in a large proportion of those (health facilities). By some estimates, up to 90% will cease functioning probably later in the week and that will be associated with increased illness and death,” Brennan said.

The WHO was trying to fill the gap by providing supplies, equipment and financing to 500 of the health centres, he said.

The agency was also liaising with Qatar for medical deliveries to come by plane, he added.

“We are hoping to have up to two or three plane-loads of supplies airlifted from the government of Qatar probably into Kabul in the next week or so,” he said.

The next deliveries would include COVID tests and supplies to treat chronic diseases.

Along with other aid agencies, the WHO has struggled to bring in medical supplies including trauma kits partly because of chaos at Kabul airport.

Medical supplies continue to be flown in via the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and the WHO is also exploring overland options via trucks from Pakistan, Brennan said.

IEC reopens Local Government Elections candidate nomination process
6 September 2021, 7:29 PM

Political parties and independent candidates will be allowed another chance to submit nominations for their candidates to run for the Local Government Elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)  made the announcement on Monday.

The IEC has determined this following the Constitutional Court’s decision that the local government elections should not be deferred, but should proceed on a date no late than the 1st of November this year.

Video: The Independent Electoral Commission announces the LGE 2021 electoral programme

The candidate nomination process closed on the 23rd of August, but a number of parties including the African National Congress (ANC) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) wanted it reopened, citing inadequate time to hold their candidate selection processes due to COVID-19 restrictions as well as technical problems encountered with the IEC system.

IEC Chairperson, Glen Mashinini says that the Electoral Commission is determined to comply with the decisions of the Constitutional Court delivered last week. The apex court in dismissing the body’s bid for a deferment of elections to February next year, said the IEC must, if possible, allow voters a dedicated weekend to register or change their details.

“A registration weekend is a necessity ahead of these general elections, therefore a registration weekend is now scheduled for the weekend of the 18th and 19th of September 2021,” says Mashinini.

Video: ConCourt’s decision to reject IEC’s application rocks SA’s political sphere

Mashinini says that the Constitutional Court allows the Commission to make amendments to its election timetable.

“The scheme of the municipal election Act is that the voter registration deadline is supposed to precede the candidate nomination deadline. For example, people can only be nominated as candidates once registered on the voters roll and provided that they are registered in the relevant segment concerned. It is, therefore, necessary to allow political parties and independent candidates another chance to submit nominations,” says Mashinini.

The IEC’s decision has angered some parties, including the Democratic Alliance (DA) and  Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which have threatened legal action saying the reopening favours the ruling party.

DA, PAC react to IEC announcement on Local Government Elections timetable

EFF reacts to IEC announcement on Local Government Elections timetable

 

However, the IEC says it would be premature for the Commission to speculate on such litigation saying that in a consultation with political parties on Monday, the majority were in favour of the opening of the nomination process and it additionally sought legal advice in arriving at its decision.

IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo says they will soon decide on a course of action.

“As soon as we are served papers, we will look at them and we will decide on a course of action including making an assessment of what the impact of that will be on the electoral process, but we all have to be mindful that we are working with very truncated timelines for this election and we need to move with deliberate speed on many aspects of the electoral process and we are asking really for everyone’s co-operation so we can give the country a credible process within a safe environment for the voters,” says Mamabolo.

The Electoral Commission has outlined a preliminary timetable towards the local government elections scheduled to take place on the 27th of October. Mamabolo has emphasised that deadlines are tight, with what needs to be done having to be congested into a shorter period than usual.

“The Commission will publish a new timetable on the date on which the Minister publishes the election date. Already we have given you some preliminary dates which we are working on. Firstly the registration weekend on the 18th and 19th, proclamation date on the 20th, the opening of applications for special votes from the 20th until 4th of October then the close of the candidate nomination process on the 21st,” Mamabolo says.

The IEC says for this election, it will be allowed for the usual two days of special voting but it is consulting with the Treasury for additional funds for a third day.

The Commission has rejected accusations by some that it has dropped the ball in preparing for this elections, saying it has done its best under very trying circumstances.

Municipal Elections 2021 | Political parties reach to IEC’s amendment of the LGE timetable

Opposition parties in the North West say they will also submit nominations for new premier
6 September 2021, 4:25 PM

Opposition parties in the North West province say they will also submit nominations for the election of the new Premier. This as members of all political parties are expected to elect the new Premier, during a full sitting of the North West Provincial Legislature in Mahikeng, on Monday.

The ANC has announced 67-year-old struggle veteran, Bushy Maape, as their premier nominee. Maape is replacing former Premier Job Mokgoro, who resigned two weeks ago.

Mokgoro resigned following the ANC Interim Provincial Committee’s (IPC) call for his removal, accusing him of not taking instructions from the party. Maape was announced as his replacement. He has since been sworn in as a member of the provincial legislature last week Thursday.

On Monday morning about 32 members of the North West Provincial Legislature, were expected to elect the new premier. Although the ANC has nominated Maape as their premier candidate, opposition parties have already indicated that they will also nominate their own candidate.
Democratic Alliance Chief Whip, Freddy Sonakile explains.

“We have taken a decision that we will field our own candidate, we are in talks with other opposition members and we will also be engaging even ANC members from MEC’s to ordinary MPL’S to hear their views and to try to sell the candidate that we will be going with because we believe that what needed at this stage is some sort of a government of unity.”

Bushy Maape announced as the premier-elect for North West province:

EFF’s Lebogang Xaba, is confident that the new premier for the province will not be from the ANC.

“We will not support anybody who is from the ANC even the one that is coming. But anybody that is in the legislature but is not an ANC we will support him. We are 100% confident that heads are going to roll come Tuesday. Maybe North West is going to change, just watch the space.”

But, the ANC is not shaken by the intentions of the opposition parties. The coordinator for the ANC IPC, Hlomane Chauke says they will use their majority to defeat the opposition.

“Well the ANC has the majority and I think that they have a right to do that. Opposition parties have the right to do that, but the ANC has its own majority. What we believe is that members of the ANC will vote with the party as directed by the party. So opposition can field up whatever, but I think they will never win against the ANC.”

The legislature has confirmed that should there be more than one nomination, voting for the new premier will be conducted through a secret ballot. Acting Secretary for the Legislature, Maphetlhe Maphetlhe, elaborates.

”In that case, the judge president like as a process will call for nominations. Political parties will field their person the judge president will divide the house. There will be ballot papers given to political parties and members will start to vote for their preferred candidate. It will be conducted through a secret ballot as it is regulated.”

It remains to be seen whether the ruling party will use its majority to vote in Maape as the new premier, or opposition parties will influence the reportedly divided ANC caucus members to defeat Maape.

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