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FF Plus livid over repealing of state disaster for drought
18 July 2020, 5:16 PM

The FF Plus says it views the government’s revocation of the state of drought disaster as a slap in the face of commercial farmers who work tirelessly to ensure food security in South Africa.

The state of drought disaster was declared on the 4th of March 2020 and has since lapsed unnoticed because the government failed to extend it by 4 July.

The head of the National Disaster Management Centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, said he had consulted with provincial disaster management centres and decided to revoke the state of drought disaster ‘after reconsidering the extent and seriousness of the drought conditions’.

In a written reply to the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, the government admitted that it only offers support to the farming community if it relates to ‘market access and certification’.

“A second wave of destruction is about to hit South Africa seeing as farmers cannot produce enough food due to the drought that has persisted for years and they can also not rely on a government that is indifferent to such a serious drought and the possibility of a food crisis,” says the party in a statement.

“The ANC government is taking the agricultural community for granted and does not seem to realise that food security is in serious jeopardy if farmers do not get the support and drought relief that they need from the government.”

The FF Plus says it will make an official inquiry into the matter and “will demand that all the information used to make this decision must be submitted to the Committee.”

‘Failure to wear a mask in public is tantamount to intentional suicide’
17 July 2020, 12:20 PM

The Circuit Minister in the Presbyterian Church of Africa in the Western Cape, Reverend Mkhuseli Dukwana, says failure to wear a mask in public is tantamount to committing intentional suicide.

Dukwana had contracted the disease and has now recovered.

In an exclusive interview with SABC News in Parliament, Dukwana said it was a difficult road to recovery. He is pleading with those who disobey wearing a mask, not to do so.

“I was tested positive with COVID-19. By the grace of God I have fully recovered. The journey was not an easy one at all. It was a tough, hard and strenuous one. I would like to urge everybody in our country to take the issue of wearing masks in public seriously. If you do not wear your mask, you are not too far from a person who is intentionally committing suicide. If you do not want or wish to contract the virus, let us try to be subservient and adhere to the regulations that have been set forth by our government,” he says.

Dukwana’s call comes amid government’s continued calls for South Africans to take the virus seriously and protect themselves and others by observing safety protocols put in place to control it.

Constant washing of hands or sanitising; the wearing of masks and social distancing are measures encouraged to prevent the spread of the virus. South Africans are also urged to avoid social visits.

So far, more than 324 000 South Africans have contracted the virus and over 4 000 others have succumbed to it.

On Thursday night, 216 new COVID-19 related fatalities were reported in a 24-hour cycle.

Below are the COVID-19 statistics in SA:

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SA’s consumer inflation falls to its lowest level in nearly 16 years
15 July 2020, 1:11 PM

Statistics South Africa has announced that the country’s Consumer Inflation has fallen to 2.1% in May, its lowest in nearly 16 years. Annual consumer price inflation fell to its lowest reading since September 2004, dragged lower mainly by falling fuel prices.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the prices of consumer goods and services. The most significant price move in May was the fall in fuel prices. The fuel index slumped by 12.2% from April.

The transport category, which includes fuel, running costs, vehicle purchases and public transport, was the only contributor to the -0.6% monthly change in the CPI.

Meat and dairy prices are up, but beverages are cheaper.

Food prices

The Competition Commission says its latest report on food price monitoring has identified the rand depreciation and panic buying as the partial drivers of price increases at food markets at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Commission has also found that some food suppliers and retailers increase prices before the higher cost stock reaches their shelves. It says it will continue to monitor food prices throughout the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that vulnerable low-income households are protected.

“Food constitutes 30% of low income household expenditure and is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system so containing price inflation is a priority during this pandemic. Out of 1 600 complaints received under the excessive price and consumer protection regulations by the end of June, 19% related to basic food products in retail stores,” says the Commission’s Head of Communications, Siyabulela Makunga.

 

Struggle veteran Tom Manthata’s memorial service to be streamed live on FB
15 July 2020, 1:00 PM

A memorial service for struggle veteran Tom Manthata will be held on Wednesday afternoon. It will be streamed live on FaceBook at 2:30pm.

Monthata succumbed to COVID-19 related complications on Friday night at the age of 81.

The African National Congress (ANC) has described him as one of those who belonged to that generation of freedom fighters who were prepared to pay the supreme price in pursuit of the liberation of South Africans.

The Congress of the People (COPE) has also sent its condolences to his friends and family describing the former Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and Human Human Rights Commissioner as a true and honest freedom fighter.

South African Council of Churches (SACC) General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana has described struggle stalwart as the epitome of integrity and dedication.

Obituary

Manthata is most prominently remembered as one of the United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders that were convicted in the long-running 1985 Delmas Treason Trial together with Mosiuoa Lekota, Reverend Frank Chikane and Popo Molefe.

He served as a leader of the South African Student’s Association, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the South African Human Rights Commission.

He was born on November 29 in 1939 in Soekmekaar in the Northern Transvaal.

In 1967, he began teaching at Sekano Ntoane High School in Soweto, where he became known as a rigorous, critical teacher who encouraged political debates among his students, who included President Cyril Ramaphosa and National Council of Provinces Chairperson, Amos Masondo.

In 1970 and 1973, he facilitated contact between Soweto students and older Black Consciousness activists who came in the schools as tutors, teachers and speakers.

Manthata spent six years in prison during the apartheid regime.

Congo gives mines month to end COVID restrictions
15 July 2020, 11:59 AM

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has given copper and cobalt mining companies a month to stop confining workers on site away from their families as part of COVID-19 restrictions and return to normal operations, the labour minister said in an open letter.

Workers have been told by managers to either stay and work or lose their jobs, civil society organisations said last month, citing miners and union representatives and demanding an end to the approach.

“All mining companies that have confined workers to the operating site are granted a one-month moratorium to return to normal operation,” Labour Minister Nene Ilunga Nkula said in the letter, dated July 13, which she shared on Twitter on Tuesday. Mining companies must provide healthcare for workers and their families, as well as decent housing and a healthy diet for confined workers, Nkula said.

Congo is Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s main source of cobalt, accounting for two-thirds of global supplies of the metal used in smartphones and electric car batteries.

Mines Minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni has said full mine shutdowns would trigger a catastrophic economic and social crisis in the country, with the industry contributing 32% of its GDP and 95% of export revenue in 2018. Companies mining in Congo’s southern copper belt include Glencore subsidiary Katanga Mining, China Molybdenum’s Tenke Fungurume, MMG, and Chemaf, while Ivanhoe Mines is developing two copper mines there.

Six workers at Glencore’s Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) mine in Lualaba province have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, KCC said a week ago. Glencore said KCC does not confine workers on site. Ivanhoe locked down its Kamoa-Kakula project, moving workers into mine-site accommodation, on April 3.

On June 1, the company allowed the project’s Congolese employees to resume commuting to site from neighbouring communities. Companies in Lualaba have a month from July 2 to prepare sanitation measures and release all workers confined for more than a month. In Haut-Katanga the period runs from July 6, the letter said.

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