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Government continues to receive flak over IMF loan
29 July 2020, 11:51 AM

Criticism over government’s IMF R70 billion loan continues. The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) says instead of borrowing from international lenders, government must revise the tax system and implement greater measures to root out corruption.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved $4.3 billion in emergency financing for South Africa, which is part of $7 billion in planned borrowing from international financial institutions.

The BRICS Bank has also approved a $1 billion-loan and the African Development Bank says it will lend the government R5 billion. The money will assist South Africa mitigate the social and economic impact of the of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Talks with the World Bank are under way.

SAFTU General-Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, says by continuously borrowingc v  government is risking the country’s sovereignty.

“We should be looking at things like halting the illicit cash outflows that’s been estimated between R10 and R25 billion annually. We’ve asked that the government must stop the bleeding within its procurement policies. The top official in the treasury once told the country that we losing between 35 and 40% of our procurement budget to corruption. We asked the government to review the whole taxation system. The corporates were paying up to 55% in corporate taxes by 1994 and that corporate tax has now been reduced to about 28%. We think that that is ridiculous,” he says.

SAFTU’s sentiments are also shared by the Economic Freedom Fighters and the governing party’s alliance partner, the South African Communist Party.

The Congress of the People raised concern over possible theft of the funds while the Democratic Alliance (DA) called for transparent about the use of COVID-19 Relief Funds and this loan.

For its part, the National Treasury has assured South Africans that the money will be channelled to where it is meant to go.

“The first priority should be to ensure that we address the most vulnerable, which we are doing secondly we are ensuring that the impact of COVID-19 is contained and finally we use the remains of what is left to ensure that we create jobs and opportunities for the most vulnerable in our society, so I’d say those are the critical areas to ensure that we use the money appropriately at this point in time,” Director General at National Treasury Dondo Mogajane has said.

In the video below, Political party leaders react to IMF’s R70 billion loan to SA:

VIDEO: State Capture Commission of Inquiry continues
29 July 2020, 10:45 AM

The Commission of Inquiry into allegations of State Capture is under way in Johannesburg.

The commission is still hearing evidence related to law enforcement agencies.

Former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko is back in the hot seat. Yesterday, he denied that he interfered with the work of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) in the matter of the rendition of Zimbabwean citizens in 2010.

Below is the live stream of the proceedings:

Zimbabwe minister Shiri, who helped plot Mugabe ouster, dies at 65
29 July 2020, 9:22 AM

Zimbabwe’s agriculture minister Perrance Shiri, a retired general who helped plot the ouster of Robert Mugabe in a 2017 coup, has died, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday.

Shiri, who commanded the air force for 25 years until he joined the government in 2017, was admitted to hospital on Tuesday, two government sources said. He died in the early hours of Wednesday.

“Shiri was a true patriot, who devoted his life to the liberation, independence and service of his country,” Mnangagwa said in a statement. He did not say how Shiri died.

But domestic media said Shiri, 65, succumbed to complications from the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, which has infected 2 817 and killed 40 in Zimbabwe.

A liberation war veteran, Shiri had a chequered past. He commanded the army’s Fifth Brigade unit that carried out the 1980s massacres of thousands of civilians in western Zimbabwe as the government sought to quell an insurgency.

The army massacres, known as ‘Gukurahundi’, a Shona term meaning the ‘early rain that washes away the chaff’, remain a sore point for the people of the Matabeleland region, many of whom demand justice and reparations.

The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) accused Shiri of being among the security chiefs who organised violence against its members after Mugabe lost the first round of the presidential vote in 2008.

In the video below, Motlanthe blames MDC for post election violence in Zim:

 

Gauteng ANC PEC to meet to discuss PPE scandal surrounding the Dikos
29 July 2020, 7:49 AM

The ANC in Gauteng has confirmed that its Provincial Executive Committee will meet today to discuss the tender scandal involving Presidential Spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

Diko has taken leave of absence amid a probe into the awarding of two contracts for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to Royal Bhaca Projects, a company in which her husband is a director.

The contracts have since been cancelled. Tyrone Seale has been appointed to act in Diko’s position.

The ANC says a media briefing will be held on Thursday to clarify the party’s position on the matter.

“Most of the things will be ventilated in the PEC meeting and it is only during the press conference on Thursday that the people of Gauteng will know what’s the view of the ANC. The purpose of this is not only to look at what has been raised in the media regarding Khusela, but to look at the procurement processes of the entire department as it relates to COVID-19 specifically,” says the party’s Provincial Spokesperson, Bones Modise.

He adds, “There was an SIU that came into the department to do a forensic investigation. If the report is ready it will be presented in tomorrow’s meeting so the ANC Gauteng, when it takes a decision, it will be informed by fact.”

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso have also been implicated in the scandal. Masuku is suspected of having influenced the department’s procurement processes in favour of the Dikos due to their friendship.

Masuku has denied any wrongdoing. Diko has also rejected insinuations that her political influence in Gauteng might have helped her husband secure the contracts. Her husband has also assured the nation that the deals were above board and he had cancelled them following advise from his wife who had concerns of a possible perception of a conflict of interest.

Diko is also a member of the Gauteng ANC PEC.

In the video below, Modise elaborates on the matter:

Google extends its remote work policy to July 2021
28 July 2020, 10:48 PM

As United States President Donald Trump continues to push states to reopen their economies despite surging coronavirus cases in the country, one of the largest tech companies has extended its remote work policy to July 2021.

Google’s decision to allow employees to work from home for the next year comes as the start to the much delayed Major League Baseball season was overshadowed by several players from one team testing positive for COVID-19.

Total cases in the country will exceed 4.5 million in a matter of days.

States that continue to lead the case surge – are Florida, California and Texas but several other states across the country are seeing cases rise substantially and with that additional pressure on those at the frontlines saving lives.

In the video below, Update on US COVID-19 cases as Trump continues to open economies: Sherwin Bryce-Pease

Dr Mark Supino is an Emergency Physician at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida says: “It’s extremely busy. So we are full. Our waiting rooms are full, our areas are full. We see a lot of patients that are there for COVID-related symptoms or complications. We also have a lot of patients who come in for completely other reasons and are very sick from other pathologies and so we’re dealing with those patients as well. We have had our numbers significantly increase.”

“So we have our standard population who comes in for all the sort of medical and trauma issues that we’ve always had, in addition to now, all our COVID patients. So it’s definitely a lot of work. It’s a completely different setting than we’ve had in the past. Every day is a new day,” he adds.

A new day too for Major League Baseball with more than a dozen Miami Marlins players and staff testing positive for COVID-19 with Major League Baseball barely getting its much-delayed season under way – now forcing the league’s Commissioner Rob Manfred to defend their COVID-19 protocols.

“I don’t put this in the nightmare category, I mean obviously we don’t want any player to get exposed, it’s not a positive thing but I don’t see it as a nightmare. We built the protocols to allow us to continue to play, that’s why we have the expanded rosters, that’s why we have the pool of additional players, and we think we can keep people safe and continue to play.”

And amid a push from the White House for faster reopenings, including for schools in the weeks ahead, Google’s parent company Alphabet has given its 200 000 employees and contract staff the option to work from home for the next year – despite the optimistic tone from the White House and President Trump about a V-shaped economic recovery.

“If therapeutically we come up with some answers very quickly which I think we will, then you’re going to have a tremendous recovery, likewise with the vaccine, if you do that by the end of the year, that’s ahead of schedule, substantially ahead of schedule and its ahead of anything that’s ever taken place in terms of vaccines before. So I think if those things happen, if just one of those events happen, you’ll go right back to that V, I think you’re in the V anyway. I really do believe that the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening and we’ll see what happens with them but a lot will have to do with the fact that therapeutically you’re going to have some great answers, vaccine wise, likewise,” says Trump.

And as expectations grow for a safe and effective vaccine, the first Phase 3 clinical trial began on Monday in the US, in a collaboration between Moderna and the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Moderna’s President Dr Stephen Hoge says: “We’re optimistic, cautiously optimistic is the word others have used, that the vaccine will be successful. The data we published in the New England Journal of Medicine is the basis for that as well as other data we’ve seen in challenge models. So we’re quite encouraged by the progress. The phase 3 trial– I’m sorry– the phase 3 trial is a little bit beyond our control in terms of timing, because it’s a case-driven study but presuming we are able to accrue cases relatively quickly in that study, we would hope in the fall or towards the end of the year we would have data that we could submit to the FDA.”

The company is one of several others in the race to find the immunisation formula that could be a bridge to eradicating the often deadly coronavirus.

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