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AFP
Trump rolls out new immigration plan
17 May 2019, 1:38 PM

United States President Donald Trump has rolled out a new immigration plan in yet the latest move by a sitting President to overhaul the country’s legal yet troublesome immigration system.

The focus of the new plan developed by his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner would ramp up border security. It will also re-calibrate the country’s green card system to favour highly skilled workers over those seeking asylum or based on their family ties.

The proposal was introduced in Washington on Thursday. It does not address how to deal with the millions of undocumented people already living in the United States, including the dreamers.  It remains a political document, for now, that Trump hopes will be embraced by both major political parties.

“Our plan includes a sweeping modernisation of our dysfunctional legal immigration process. It is totally dysfunctional. The system will finally be fair, transparent and promote equality and opportunity for all. Every year we admit 1.1 million immigrants as permanent legal residents, these green card holders get lifetime authorisation to live and work here and a five-year path to American citizenship. This is the most prized citizenship anywhere in the world by far.”

Among the elements of the plan is fortifying the controversial border wall with Mexico; introducing a merit based system favour skills over family ties; protecting US wages by stemming the flow of low-wage labour and limiting extended family members who can join a green card holder while importing specific workers for critical industries.

“As a result of our broken rules the annual green card flow is mostly low wage and low skilled. Newcomers compete for jobs against the most vulnerable Americans and put pressure on our social safety net and generous welfare programmes. Only 12% of legal immigrants are selected based on skill or based on merit. In countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand and others, that number is closer to 60 and 70 and 75% in some cases. The biggest change we make is to increase the proportion of highly skilled immigration from 12% to 57% and we’d like to even see if we can go higher,” says Trump.

Visa applicants to be rated on education, job offers

The administration is currently battling an influx of asylum seekers at its southern border amidst President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over funding for his wall project. However under this new proposal, factors such as English proficiency, employment offers or the ability to create employment would be favourable to applicants.

“We will replace the existing green card categories with a new visa – the Build America Visa which is what we all want to hear. Like Canada and so many other modern countries, we create an easy to navigate points based selection system. You will get more points for being a younger worker, meaning you will contribute more to our social safety net. You will get more points for having a valuable skill, an offer up employment and advanced education or a plan to create jobs,” explains Trump.

Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, are unlikely to back the project legislatively. Critically for them, the plan does not address the question of the dreamers – a category of undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children, but raised for most of their lives in the United States.

The White House earlier indicated that previous plans to address the dreamers have failed and that their latest roll out is focused on fixing a different part of the immigration system – a matter likely to be re-litigated on the campaign trail ahead of the 2020 Presidential election. It is, nonetheless, unlikely to see the light of day before then.

Herman Mashaba
Mashaba demands action on graft claims
17 May 2019, 12:20 PM

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba says he’s prepared to have all corruption cases in the city prosecuted privately, if the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) declines to take action.

Mashaba says he has provided the Hawks and the NPA with “overwhelming” evidence of rampant corruption in the city, yet no one is being prosecuted.

On Thursday, he tweeted that the latest report by the City of Joburg’s Group Forensic and Investigation Services (GFIS) revealed that graft cases amounting to R33 billion were still under investigation.

The Mayor has now written to Hawks and NPA heads, General Godfrey Lebeya and advocate Shamila Bathoi, respectively, asking why no action is being taken despite damning findings from multiple investigations.

“The letter I wrote to advocate Bathoi is to say please if they feel they don’t have a case against these people, please then nullify these cases. Because one thing for sure as the City of Johannesburg we would like to go for private prosecution. But we are prevented from going for private prosecution because the Constitution of the country says for you to be allowed to go for private prosecution is when the NPA says they don’t have a case. So I am asking them for the last two years, if you feel that you don’t have a case against those people, why don’t you nullify those cases.”

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Mokoeng Mokgoeng
SA prepares to swear in new MPs
15 May 2019, 11:36 AM

 

Preparations for the swearing in of the country’s new Members of Parliament (MPs) are in full swing.

On Wednesday, the Independent Electoral Commission will hand over the lists of those chosen to represent their parties in the National and Provincial Legislatures to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

National Assembly Secretary, Masibulele Xaso, says the provisional dates for the taking of oath by the MPs are May 22 and 23. However, Xaso says Chief Justice Mogoeng still needs to confirm the dates.

“After the lists have been handed to the Chief Justice, they will in turn be handed to Parliament and the provincial legislators. This is a list of designated members – the names of members who will occupy the seats that have been won by their parties. It’s basically to enable the Chief Justice to convene the first sittings of the NA (National Assembly), provincial legislators as well the NCOP (National Council of Provinces). That date for the first sittings will be confirmed today and has been provisionally indicated as the 22-05.”

On Monday, it emerged that the ANC’s candidate list is still being reviewed by the party’s integrity committee. The governing parties list of preferred members to represent it in Parliament sparked a public outcry due to some controversial figures who also formed part of the team that will be refining the country’s policies. Former and current ministers like, Mosebenzi ZwaneBathabile DlaminiMalusi Gigaba, and Nomvula Mokonyane are some of those many South African feel they should not be part of the country’s sixth democratic Parliament.

ANC National Spokesperson, Pule Mabe, says the party’s integrity committee is still looking into the matter and will inform the party’s leadership of its decision once its wrapped up its work. Mabe says the process shouldn’t derail any of the IEC’s processes.

Meanwhile, the governing party is also still grappling with internal issues over some of its premier candidates. It’s yet to announce its decision on who will be the party’s North West political principal. This while some in the governing party’s structures of the Free State are divided over Sisi Ntombela’s appointment as the provincial premier candidate. Ntombela took the post after ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule resigned to assume his duties at Luthuli House. Some fear that keeping her in that post could maintain Magashule’s grip on the province’s political affairs.

 

 

 

 

ANC, DA, EFF remain SA’s firm favourites in the Metros
12 May 2019, 9:16 PM

The voting trend in the country’s Metros seems to confirm that the 2019 elections were a three-horse battle.  While, 78 parties were vying for a place in the country’s nine provincial legislatures, the African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are the parties that scored most votes in all the Metros – either ending up maintaining their provincial lead status or becoming the official opposition.

The ANC has managed to maintain its leadership status in eight of the country’s provinces, losing the Western Cape to the DA once again. The governing party’s absolute majority victory, although reduced, will allow it to govern eight provincial legislatures on its own – without coalition partners.  There were fears prior to the poll that the ANC could lose its dominance in Gauteng to opposition parties – a move that many had said would have necessitated a coalition government.

A look at the Metro vote

A reflection of the will of the South African people can be seen in the voting pattern at the country’s eight Metropolitan Municipalities.  The ANC performed best in the Eastern Cape’s Buffalo City – surpassing the 60% mark – landing at 66.53%.

It also emerged stronger in Mangaung garnering 59.85% of the votes; Ekurhuleni with 55.19%; Ethekwini with 55.55%, in Tshwane it scored 49.56% of the votes and got 52.09% in Johannesburg. The party’s dwindling support in its former stronghold, the Nelson Mandela Bay, seems to continue. The ANC failed to reach 50% mark – wrapping up the race for votes with 46.93%.  This was down from the 2014 poll in which the governing party clocked 48.5% of the votes. The party predictably lost the City of Cape Town to the Democratic Alliance (DA) yet again – landing with 30.53% of the votes only.

DA vote

The DA remains a strong party in all the Metros, trailing right behind the ANC – but closely followed by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).  It retained its stronghold of the Western Cape – making a strong showing in the City of Cape Town as expected.

The DA scored 52.97% of the votes in the city; 16.57%  in Buffallo City; 25.88% in Tshwane; 26.24% in the City of Johannesburg; 23.13% in Ekurhuleni; 23.21% Ethekwini and 20.57% in Mangaung. It performed better in Nelson Mandela Bay – breaking the 30% mark – finishing the race with 37.92% of the votes.

EFF scoring big

The EFF didn’t disappoint expectations – growing its base in its second race in the country’s general elections. It’s grown from 6% to a little over 10%, adding seats in all the country’s 10 legislatures. It also ousted the DA as the official opposition party in Mpumalanga.

In the Metros – the red berets seem to be a firm favourite for the people of Gauteng, where it fared stronger than in all the other metros. The EFF walked away with 13.63% of votes cast in the City of Johannesburg; they scored 13.84% in Tshwane Metro; Ekurhuleni 13.14%; 11.64% in Ethekwini; 11.40% in Mangaung and 7.55% in the Nelson Mandela Bay.

Freedom Front Plus

Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) was a surprise come back kid in these elections. The party, known and loathed by some for its right wing ideology, gained six seats in the National Legislature, ending up with just one seat shy away from the nine it had during the country’s first democratic elections.

Although it didn’t perform that well in most Metros – it gained two seats in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature having clinched 1.18% of votes in the City of Johannesburg; 6.86% in the Tshwane Metro; in Ekurhuleni it earned 3.59% of votes cast; 3.67% in Mangaung and 2.08% in Nelson Mandela Bay. 414 864 South Africans voted for the party in these elections, compared to the 165 715 votes it received in 2014.

What next?

The country’s President-elect has described the 2019 general elections as having been the most difficult. Now that it’s all done and dusted – focus has now shifted to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s inauguration, which will be followed by a cabinet announcement. Following the controversy that marred the governing party’s candidate list – many in the country are curious to see who will be in and who will be out.

The issue of the cabinet’s size is also one that South Africans will be watching closely.  During his State of the Nation Address in February, President Ramaphosa mooted at plans to cut down the size of the national executive.  The ANC’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, is quoted on Bloomberg saying the President-elect has the full backing of the governing party to reduce it.

Depressed youth urged to shout out for help
11 May 2019, 9:25 PM
A young woman living with depression has called on young adults experiencing the same emotions to call out for help.
Seventeen- year-old Hester de Swardt was one of more than 300 participants who took part in the Darkness into Light walk in Cape Town. The aim of the global movement  is to raise awareness and funds to bring an end to suicides and prevent self-harm.
The walk was held in 21 countries worldwide on Saturday.
De Swardt says depression among the youth is prevalent . Boys are mostly affected and De Swart says the notion that boys don’t cry could be exacerbating the situation.
She says depression can cripple one’s  life.

Theran Knighton-Fitt, a participant, says: “Depression is fast becoming the largest workplace disability concern, and one of the leading causes for absenteeism in the workplace, and no there are not enough resources. There are not enough people helping.”

Lifeline Western Cape, which provides free telephonic and face-to face counselling, is this year’s charity beneficiary.

The five-kilometre race ends at sunrise, a symbolic gesture that there is light at the end of the dark tunnel of depression.

Many people who attempt suicide give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.

Therefore, it is vital for loved ones to know the warning signs and symptoms.

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