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SAA rescue plan ready for implementation: BRPs
28 July 2020, 6:54 PM

The South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Practitioners say they will not be having a meeting this week with creditors as government has met all its requirements for the restructuring of the airline.

In a statement, the BRPs say the revised Rescue Plan is now scheduled to go ahead.

The practitioners were awaiting a confirmation letter from government that it would find financial backing for the national carrier that has suffered years of corruption and maladministration.

The administrators took over SAA in December after almost a decade of financial losses and published their restructuring plan for the airline last month, after repeated delays and fierce wrangling over the airline’s future.

Their plan envisages scaling back the airline’s fleet and shedding jobs, but it needs at least R10 billion ($604.81 million) of new funds to work and the government has not yet said where it will find the money. “We are currently attending to and finalising the remaining outstanding administrative issues before filing a notice of substantial implementation,” the administrators say.

In the video below, SAA creditors vote in favour of deadline extension:

Comair seeks extension

Meanwhile, Comair Business Rescue Practitioners have asked creditors to extend the date for the publication of their business rescue plan until the 28th of next month to negotiate short-term bridging funding.

Creditors have until noon on Wednesday to grant the extension. – Additional reporting by Reuters

Mlangeni’s body arrives at his home ahead of Wednesday burial
28 July 2020, 4:36 PM

The body of the late struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni has arrived at his Dube home in Soweto, Gauteng.

The 95-year-old veteran, who was the last surviving Rivonia Trialist, died at the 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria last week, after complaining about having abdominal pain.

ANC Treasurer General Paul Mashatile officiated the draping of the coffin with ANC colours together with representatives of MKMVA in honour of Mlangeni as one of the founding members of UMkhonto Wesizwe.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a Special Official Funeral Category One for the struggle veteran who died last week Tuesday at the age of 95, following an abdominal complaint.

His funeral service will be held tomorrow, at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus starting from nine in the morning. This will be followed by a burial ceremony at Roodepoort Cemetery.

His body will lie in state overnight at his home.

In the video below, the struggle stalwart’s body arrives at his home:

‘Root out corruption’

Speaking outside Mlangeni’s home, ANC National Executive Committee member Fikile Mbalula said the governing party needs to live up to its promises and step up efforts to root out corruption.

A number of supporters and ANC officials were gathering at Mlangeni’s home as the stalwart’s body arrived.

Mbalula says the ANC needs to kill the perception that the party has turned a blind eye to corruption.

“We can’t live with perception that the ANC is ambiguous and oblivious to corruption. People are dying now with COVID. The people have given us their trust. We have to respond and obviously when we respond we’ve got to be responsible let’s deal with issues as in a way the present themselves, deal with them with integrity, decisiveness. People can have faith in our institutions in our government,” he said.

In the video below, ANC briefs the media as Mlangeni’s body arrives at his home:

Mlangeni was one of the ANC’s first MK members to be trained in communist China and to meet “Chairman Mao” in 1962.  Back home, Mlangeni disguised himself as a priest to recruit others into the armed struggle and became known as “Robot”.

In mid-1964, Mlangeni and seven other Rivonia trialists – including Denis Goldberg, Ahmed “Kathy” Kathrada, Nelson Mandela, Raymond Mhlaba and Elias Motsoaledi – were convicted of conspiring to overthrow the apartheid government.

For that, Mlangeni was jailed for over 26 years.  He only tasted freedom again at the age of 64 in late 1989.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said Mlangeni’s passing “signifies the end of a generational history and places our future squarely in our hands.”

OPINION: Biological weapons are still a danger to world peace
28 July 2020, 3:26 PM

At the height of apartheid in South Africa there was one Dr Wouter Basson who headed the State’s biological weapons programme aimed particularly at the majority and oppressed African people. So horrendous were stories around this programme that claims were made that it sought to sterilise African women so their child-birth capability would cease. This is the closest, I believe, South Africa has come to multiple threats posed by biological weapons.

This part of our heinous past was brought back to mind recently when I encountered the story of one Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, a courageous Bulgarian investigative journalist, who penned many articles on the smuggling of weapons to ISIS in Syria. In one of the investigative articles she published in her newspaper, Trud Daily, she alleged that the US army ran a programme where it produces deadly toxins at bio-laboratories in at least 25 countries across the world. Most of these countries were in the former Soviet Union and they include Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, among others.

If indeed it is true that there are Pentagon bio laboratories around the world and this in contravention of the UN Convention on the prohibition of Biological Weapons, it would be a major failure of the international body to intervene and stop the ensuing danger.

Gaytandzhieva was unceremoniously sacked from her job after Bulgarian National Security Agency had put pressure on her employers to get rid of her.

Biological weapons and warfare feature diabolically through history as the singular most barbaric acts of extreme cowardice by man. On the 6th August 1945 and 9th August 1945 the US detonated two nuclear weapons over two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively.

The devastating attack by an American B-29 bomber was the recorded as the world’s first deployed atomic bomb on perceived enemy territory. Records show that the dropping by the US army of “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”, as the bombs became to be known, were so merciless in effect that they immediately killed an estimated 80 000 (eighty thousand) people and tens of thousands more died later from radiation exposure. The second bomb on Nagasaki alone killed at least 40 000 people.

The two atomic bombs were three days apart and in two separate densely-populated cities drove Japan’s Emperor Hirohito to immediate unconditional surrender at the tail-end of World War 2 in 1945.

In a radio address to the Japanese nation, he cited mercilessness of “a new and most cruel bomb”. This is why, in my opinion, the UN convention on the prohibition of Biological Weapons ought to put its foot down and use the existing international cooperation as a basis to reign in wayward regimes that flirts with biological weapons.

Fort Detrick in Maryland, outside Washington DC, has throughout the Cold War era been the epicentre of the US army’s bioweapons research and was ordered to stop operations in recent times following concern of safety in relation to the handling of deadly viruses and pathogens. It is well and fair that sovereign states do everything in their power to ensure safety of their citizens. But when a powerful regime’s foreign policy is offensive and antagonistic possession of biological weapons become a major threat to world peace.

US President Donald Trump is one of the world’s most unpredictable leaders at this moment. He has often made threats against weaker adversaries and the world is constantly on the edge monitoring his twitter account.

Countries such as Georgia need to be persuaded to guard against their territory being used as a launching pad under the cover of their bilateral agreement with Washington, which allows for a Pentagon programme in that country.

I know too well the dynamics of economic spin-offs from such a bilateral cooperation with the world’s superpower. However, a foreign policy that undermines human rights and safety of the universe is not worthy of being a source of food provision for poorer nations.

Nehawu to go on protest next month as tensions over PPEs continue to simmer
28 July 2020, 2:42 PM

Union, Nehawu, says it has requested its members to apply for a day’s leave as a form of protest on August 21.

The union was briefing the media in Johannesburg – on the outcomes of a fact finding mission on government’s state of readiness to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

It has accused government of not ensuring adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) supplies are delivered to healthcare facilities amid the pandemic.

Nehawu General-Secretary, Zola Saphetha, has threatened that their members will down tools completely – should their demands, not be met by September 10.

“On the 21st August we will implement a day’s leave, all members on this day will flock to the offices of their employer and apply for a day leave. So on the 3rd September, it will be a national day of action when their memorandum will be handed over to the President’s office, Parliament, and all premiers offices in nine provinces. And we are going to give government five days to respond. Failure to do so on the 10th September, our members will have to withdraw completely from their labour,” he says.

In the video below, Nehawu announces mass protest for August 21:

Nehawu has also questioned the accuracy of COVID-19 stats that are released by the Health Department, particularly on health workers.

The country’s confirmed cases has topped 450 000 with the death toll exceeding 7 000. But the union is sceptical of some of the data.

Nehawu’s Zola Sephatha gave an example of the KZN stats relating to Health workers.

He says: “The Premier had announced two days ago and he said 16 had succumbed to this virus. But KZN days zero here in the DPSA information. DPSA represents all government departments. So why must we believe this. So the statistics recorded and announced on daily basis are not accurate.”

Below are South Africa’s latest health statistics:

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IMF grants SA more than R70 billion loan to mitigate COVID-19 impact
27 July 2020, 9:01 PM

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved South Africa’s request for emergency financial support to mitigate the social and economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The low interest loan is worth around R70.6 billion ($4.3 billion).

This comes after the African Development Bank last week approved a R4.7 billion loan to South Africa as part of its COVID-19 response facility, while the New Development Bank approved about R16.4 billion  loan as part of its COVID-19 Emergency Programme.

According to the IMF, under its rapid financing instrument due to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa was able to access the financing at very low interest rates relative to the higher borrowing costs the country would generally face.

This is the first time Pretoria has sought a loan from the IMF since the dawn of democracy in 1994. According to Bloomberg, under the special drawing rights with the IMF, the loan would be payable over three to five years at an interest rate of just over 1%.

More than 70 countries have received financial assistance from the IMF to help in efforts to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, South Africa has secured financial assistance of more than R90 billion from international financial institutions.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni says South Africa’s Reserve Bank has also played an important role in reducing interest rates by a total of 300 basis points as consumers and businesses feel the severe economic effects of the coronavirus lockdown.

The Finance Minister says government’s COVID 19 support package totalling R500 billion has been directed straight at the problems exposed by the coronavirus.

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