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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.

‘Basic Education, unions planned meeting shelved’
15 July 2020, 11:32 AM

The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) says the meeting between teachers’ unions and Basic Education Minister Angie has been postponed to an unspecified date.

Motshekga was due to meet with the unions this morning to discuss their call for schools to be closed. Teachers’ union, Natu, and students’ organisation Cosas have joined Sadtu’s call for schools to close amid the pandemic except for the matric class of 2020. The World Health Organisation has also warned against the reopening of schools while COVID-19 infections are on the rise.

Naptosa also wants classes suspended.  The union’s executive director, Basil Manuel, says the closure of schools may not happen immediately, but their call is for the period when the pandemic reaches its peak in the country.

“We were due to meet her this morning but unfortunately that meeting has now been postponed and we don’t yet have a time for when the meeting will happen where we will put this to her. Everybody’s telling us that we are peaking or that the peak is imminent and that is why we haven’t put a date to this we said we need to close schools when the virus peaks but we also know how difficult it is to pin a date to that and when the return will be and how difficult that is. So this is about the virus unfortunately, it’s not perfect science.”

The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) says it is still engaging its provincial structures before it announces its stance on the possible closure of schools during the peak of the coronavirus in South Africa.

“Our position is that we directed all the provinces to start negating the matter because we have been guided by the principles of safety first and we have just realised that now our children and our teachers are no more safe in schools so we have said now provinces must tell us what our position will be. Probably tomorrow or Friday we shall make our position known to the country,” says the organisation’s General Secretary Matakanye Matakanye.

In the video below, is a discussion on the best way to keep safe as infections rise:

Children less infectious 

President of the South African Medical Research Council and member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID19, Professor Glenda Gray, says there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the opening of schools has resulted in an increase in coronavirus infections among educators.

Teacher union, Sadtu, says at least 67 teachers in the Eastern and Western Cape have died of COVID-19 since the reopening of schools last month. Another 300 of them have tested positive for the coronavirus across the country.

Gray says children are less infectious than adults and the teachers most likely caught the infection outside of the school.

“Our decisions have to be data-driven if you look at the global and local epidemic we know that most children are gonna be okay and because kids are less infectious they are less likely to infect the teachers. We have to find a way of protecting the vulnerable and elderly and teachers with comorbidities and who are old and find a way to keep the schools open and we have to try and balance all of these in the face of this epidemic that will continue with us until we have a vaccine. Children are less infectious they have less viral load; i’ts very hard to say that these teachers got infected by their students,” Gray adds.

Earlier, the South Africa Medical Association (SAMA) said only schools in areas with more COVID-19 cases should close during the pandemic’s peak.

In the video below, Northern Cape parents call for schools to be closed:

 

Eastern-based Libyan parliament asks Egypt to intervene in war
15 July 2020, 6:18 AM

Libya’s eastern-based parliament has called for Egypt to directly intervene in the country’s civil war to counter Turkish support for the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), based in the capital Tripoli.

In a statement late on Monday, the House of Representatives based in the eastern port of Tobruk said Egyptian backing was needed to stave off what it described as a Turkish invasion and occupation. The statement underscores the growing stakes in Libya, where battle lines solidified earlier this month near the city of Sirte after the GNA and Turkey repelled a yearlong assault on Tripoli by the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

Libya has been divided since 2014 between the GNA in Tripoli and a rival eastern administration in Benghazi, where LNA commander Khalifa Haftar has dominated. There is also a separate House of Representatives based in Tripoli. Any major new escalation could risk igniting a direct conflict in Libya among the foreign powers that have already poured in weapons and fighters in violation of an arms embargo.

In the video below, no let off in the Libyan civil war:

The LNA is backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has already warned the army might enter Libya if the GNA and its Turkish allies renew an assault on Sirte, a central coastal city seen as the gateway to Libya’s main oil export terminals.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and US President Donald Trump agreed in a phone call on Tuesday to work more closely in Libya to bring about lasting stability in the country, the Turkish presidency said. Ankara has previously said the United States needs to play a more active role in the North African country.

The White House said the two leaders underscored the “need for a negotiated settlement of regional issues.” Control over oil, the main source of state revenue, has emerged as the biggest prize in the conflict, with eastern forces having imposed a blockade on production and exports.

Weather

 

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