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Bee farming booming in SA
13 July 2020, 2:35 PM

The coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on people and businesses. But, there are some entrepreneurs whose businesses are beginning to flourish as a result of the pandemic.

One of these sectors is bee keeping, which has recently seen a rapid increase in demand for honey. People use honey to fortify their immune system.

South Africa imports more than 80% of its honey, despite an existence of local bee farmers. And, there is still very few women participants in the industry. Tumi Mobu is one of them. She quit her job in the food industry to join apiculture. Although her bee harvesting business was not doing so well, the outbreak of the coronavirus changed all that. As people become more health conscious – the demand for honey has increased and Mobu’s business started to grow.

“I have established the exponential growth in the sales of honey during this pandemic. People starting to understand the symptoms of COVID, which are flu like symptoms. Trying by all means to stay organic; trying to stay with the natural produce to combat the pandemic. So, I have been growing from leaps and bounds,” Mobu says.

Although her subsistence bee farming business is relatively small, she aims to grow and become fully commercial as a bee farmer and supplier.

“I see myself having my own factory. Being called a commercial bee keeper at that moment. Having my own produce or production plan that is where I see myself. Employing a lot of people and having contributed to a healthy South Africa.”

Despite her business’ relatively small size, her list of customers is growing steadily. She is now getting orders from across the country. In her own little way, she says, she is also playing a positive role in the fight against COVID-19 while also making a profit.

‘Britain’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia a major foreign policy blunder’
10 July 2020, 2:44 PM

Other than its terrible history of colonialism, the UK has not done too badly in terms of domestic protection of equality before the law for all of its citizens regardless of race, colour, creed or gender.

In the international arena Great Britain has particularly in the 21st century made a concerted effort to align itself with the protection of human rights and the global democratisation particularly in Africa, where many former colonies of the British protectorate are located.

The recent announcement in London by the British International Trade secretary Liz Truss that Westminster has resolved to resume arms sales to the discredited regime in Saudi Arabia left humanitarian groups perplexed.

Saudi-led forces have bombed the neighbouring Yemen beyond recognition and probably beyond repair since the start of the war with the Houthi rebels in 2015.

Global appeals for restraint have fallen on arrogant and deaf Saudi ears. To date, the conflict has cost more than 100 000 lives, majority of those innocent men, women and children of Yemen nationality.

In fact to date, more than 80% of Yemenis have been left in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. The UN International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has described the Saudi-led annihilation of powerless Yemen as a crisis of “cataclysmic proportions”.

Hence the widespread bewilderment at the UK government’s decision to resume supplying Saudi Arabia with arms. The decision has left activists across Britain aghast more so in the light of a landmark court ruling in June 2019 declaring arms sales to Riyadh unlawful.

At the time of the ruling No:10 immediately suspended lucrative arms sales to the oil-rich Gulf state, saying the government would keep the suspension in place while it conducted a review.

Lo and behold, the outcome of the review now reveals that although the UK government found “credible incidents of concern” in the behaviour of the Saudi’s continuous bombing and shelling of Yemeni, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government saw the excesses as “isolated incidents”. This decision London took despite expressing a view that the Saudis actions were a “possible breaches of international humanitarian law”.

To put it bluntly, it is war crimes that Saudi Arabia stand accused of. And buy all accounts, on the strength of evidence gathered by human watch groups, Riyadh as guilty as charged.

Britain’s backing of the Saudis further makes a mockery of Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s recent introduction of the so-called “global sanctions regime”. This is supposed to be aimed at “people that have committed the gravest human rights violations” around the world.

Just days before the shocking announcement of the resumption of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, secretary Raab revealed that the UK government has unleashed sanctions on 20 Saudi nationals held responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi which attracted global condemnation.

The 20 faces asset freeze and visa bans, a sanction that now seems like a joke in the light of the light of the subsequent announcement of strengthening of ties between Westminster and Riyadh.

In the aftermath of a mercy Brexit, the UK would do itself a great favour by aligning its foreign policy with human rights proponents instead of entering into dodgy deals with discredited regimes who possess tons of blood money.

Britain has one of the world’s most active civil societies and I believe that Boris Johnson’s government will continue to face growing opposition to its collaboration with murderous regimes.

The Saudis need to be isolated, not insulated from scrutiny. The Yemenis and many other victims of the Western-backed belligerent Saudi-led massacre of innocent people in Yemen will come back to haunt the British in a way imperialism has blighted their history.

As we speak the Saudis have remorselessly bombed Yemen schools, hospitals, weddings, funerals, food infrastructure – the list is endless. Britain shouldn’t be arming a blood-thirsty regime such as this. The UK courts have said stay away from them. Uphold the rule of the law, for Yemenis’ sake!


Uganda cracks down on media ahead of elections in 2021, watchdog say
10 July 2020, 2:22 PM

Uganda’s security forces are cracking down on authors and journalists who challenge the 34-year-old rule of President Yoweri Museveni ahead of elections next year, a watchdog told Reuters.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said it documented the cases of 10 journalists and writers assaulted by security personnel, detained, or charged with offences to do with their work this year, compared to four such cases last year. “Police and the military have turned political reporting into a dangerous assignment,” said Muthoki Mumo, the committee’s representative for sub-Saharan Africa.

Calls seeking comment to police spokesman Fred Enanga, Information Minister Judith Nabakooba and presidential spokesman Don Wanyama were not answered. Presidential elections are scheduled for early next year.

Opposition leaders say the clampdown makes campaigning even harder after the government forbade mass rallies, citing the spread of the new coronavirus. “It will be near to impossible to campaign,” said opposition legislator Asuman Basalirwa, pointing out that most television and radios stations are pro-government.

Satirical Ugandan author Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 32,  said he was arrested in April and interrogated for five days in the Ministry of Defence Headquarters in Mbuya about whether his novel “The Greedy Barbarian” is a satire of Museveni. He was beaten with a baton, punched in the face, and chained up, he said, showing Reuters scars and a scan of a damaged kidney he said came from the torture.

“I was like, tomorrow I will tell them anything because I am going to die… my body became numb, the blood stopped flowing,”he told Reuters, his voice trembling. “I prayed to God to bless my family, my wife and children.”

He was eventually charged over Facebook posts that prosecutors said encouraged people to disobey anti-coronavirus measures.

Uganda military spokesman Brigadier Richard Karemire said he was unable to comment because he had not spoken to the people who handled Rukirabashaija’s case. Political opponents of Museveni, 75, have frequently been arrested and beaten.

University professor Stella Nyanzi’s profanity-ladeninvectives against Museveni earned her a large online following but also landed her in jail. She was released in February after serving more than a year on cyber harassment charges stemming from anti-Museveni Facebook posts.

A popular blogger, Joseph Kabuleta, was arrested last year after calling Museveni a thief. He told local TV he had been stripped and drenched during interrogation.



SA’s consumer confidence slumps to all time low
7 July 2020, 1:13 PM

South Africa’s consumer confidence has slumped to minus-33 points in the second quarter compared to minus-nine points in the first quarter.

This dismal reading is only three points away from the all-time lowest consumer confidence level of minus-36 recorded in 1985. The low consumer confidence is mainly the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown that has affected trade in the country.

However, South Africa’s economy was already in recession before the coronavirus outbreak hit the country in March, with its recession deepening in the first quarter of 2020, dragged down by declining mining and manufacturing activities.

The consumer confidence index is compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research.

The survey was conducted in the first two weeks of June, when most retail outlets were open as the country had shifted from Alert Level 4 to Level 3.

Ahead of the data release, some economists predicted it would take into account the impact of the nationwide lockdown aimed at stemming the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the video below, investment analyst Izak Odendaal explains why South Africa’s economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of this year.: 

Johnny Depp takes on UK tabloid in court battle over ‘wife beater’ claims
7 July 2020, 11:22 AM

Johnny Depp begins legal action against a British tabloid on Tuesday in a case that is likely to delve into the private lives of the Hollywood star, his ex-wife actress Amber Heard and a number of other well-known figures.

Depp, the 57-year-old star of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films, is suing the Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, for libel over an article Wootton wrote in 2018 calling him a “wife beater”.

The case, which will be heard at London’s High Court, is set to last for three weeks, and both actors are expected to give evidence.

The couple met on the set of the 2011 film “The Rum Diary” and married in February 2015. But she filed for divorce after just 15 months and days later obtained a restraining order against him. She has accused him of physical abuse during the relationship, allegations he denies.

Their divorce was finalised in 2017 when the restraining order was dismissed and Depp agreed to pay her a previously announced sum of $7 million.

Last week, the Sun failed in a bid to have the libel case thrown out despite the judge concluding that Depp had not fully complied with a court order by not supplying details of mobile phone texts to his assistant, which the paper’s legal team said referred to obtaining drugs for the actor.

The judge, Andrew Nicol, has also ruled that Heard, who is expected to attend the trial, can be in court to hear her ex-husband testify.

In his judgments, Nicol has said the Sun would rely on witness statements from Heard and others, arguing that its stories were true.

“In those articles, it is said, the Defendants accused the Claimant of multiple acts of physical violence against Ms Heard, some of which, it is alleged the articles said, put Ms Heard in fear of her life,” Nicol said.



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