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Minerals Department satisfied with COVID-19 protocols at mines
11 June 2020, 9:27 PM

The Department of Minerals and Energy says it is satisfied at the mining companies‘ level of compliance with its health and safety guidelines for managing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. That’s despite the number of infections on the mines increasing daily.

The number of mineworkers who have tested positive for the coronavirus now stands at 750. Two days ago, 690 mineworkers had tested positive.

This means there were 60 new cases on Wednesday alone. But government says there’s no reason to worry and the situation is under control.

“Our teams are out there to do the inspections, the report that we have received is that there is actually a deal of compliance by the mining companies. So we are quite satisfied with that kind of report because we know that there are many mines, they are all over the country and we don’t actually have stats at the moment, but the work is actually being done and the report is that the there is actually a great deal of compliance,” say the Director- General of the Department of Minerals and Energy, Advocate Thabo Mokoena.

Mining output

As the efforts to contain the spread of the virus, COVID-19’s bite continues to be felt across industries.

Earlier on Thursday, Statistics South Africa said the pandemic and lockdown regulations have had an extensive impact on mining output and overall economic activity.

According to Stats SA, mining production decreased by over 47% in April 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

In the video below, is an analysis of mining production during COVID-19 pandemic: 

The largest contributors to the decline in mining production came from platinum, iron ore, gold and manganese miners.

Nedbank Economist Busi Radebe says the significant drop in production was expected.

“Mining opened earlier than other industries. If you look at the numbers I think it was at the height of the lockdown, I think it was about 60% of the economy working but mining starts slowly opening, now it’s fully open. So you will see the production numbers go up quite a bit from this point onwards, but the big story here is probably going to be on the sale side if there’s demand for South Africa’s mineral production in the rest of the world and that going to be the big ticker this year.” – Additional reporting by Naledi Ngcobo


Ramaphosa appoints members of Presidential SOE Council
11 June 2020, 8:23 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed members of the Presidential State-Owned Enterprises Council who will assist SOEs to achieve financial sustainability and better serve the developmental needs of the country.

The Presidency says in a statement that the council will be chaired by the President and include Ministers responsible for State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) and eminent South Africans. Among these are Denel Chair, Monhla Hlala, Mapungubwe Institute Executive Director, Joel Netshitenzhe and Wits Adjunct Professor Michael Sachs.

Some of the issues the council will tackle include the development of an overarching act to govern SOEs as well as formulating interventions to assist in strengthening governance at the enterprises.

Many of the state-owned companies are in huge debt, having suffered years of maladministration and are also accused of offering mediocre services to South Africans.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has in the past stressed the need to fix the country’s SOEs, including power utility Eskom and South African Airways (SAA).

Earlier on Thursday, Cabinet approved the merger of three state-owned oil and gas firms to form a single national oil company.

This is a bid to cut debt and increase the competitiveness of state-owned firms.

Parliament approves Minister Cele’s notice to have new firearm amnesty
11 June 2020, 8:17 PM

Parliament’s Police Portfolio Committee has approved the notice by Police Minister Bheki Cele to have a new firearm amnesty period ending early next year.

Cele asked for a second amnesty period because the lockdown period prevented many people from handing-in their guns.

The previous amnesty was valid from December 2019 to the end of May.

During this time, 19 000 weapons were handed in. The new period would be effective from the first of August to the end of January in 2021. The next step is for the new period to be tabled and approved by the National Assembly.

Chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson presided over the committee approving it, with only an objection from DA MP Ockert Terblanche.

In the video below, fewer people handing in firearms during the amnesty due to lockdown:

In January, the South African Policing Union (SAPU) called on Police Minister Bheki Cele to cancel firearm amnesty.

The union deems it problematic and says it undermines accountability.

However, in April some firearm owners petitioned the Minister to consider extending the amnesty.

They said many gun owners were finding it difficult to take advantage of the amnesty, which was due to expire at the end of May, due to lockdown regulations.

KZN conservation body ready to reopen parks and game reserves
11 June 2020, 6:45 PM

KwaZulu-Natal conservation body Ezemvelo and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority say they have prepared themselves for the re-opening of several parks and game reserves to visitors and hikers. The national lockdown, which was announced over two months ago, led to the shutting down of many sectors including tourism, to curb the spread of the COVID 19.

Following an announcement by Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane that some parts of the tourism sector will be opened to boost the economy, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has been gradually opening some of its Game Reserves in line with the COVID-19 regulations. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Spokesperson Musa Mntambo says their staff members have been trained to ensure that all level 3 regulations are followed.

“We would be able to receive funds from our gates because the past two months have been very difficult for Ezemvelo because we are part of tourism. There was no activity taking place inside our parks. We’ve only opened 16-game reserves including those that belong to iSimangaliso. We have made sure that all our Reserve staff have PPEs and also we are continuously cleaning all our ablution facilities for this who will be entering our Game Reserves at any time. For now, Midmar Resort, which was supposed to have opened, will only open next week Monday,” says Mntambo.

Chairperson of the Mountain Backpackers Club Heidi Cox says they will be prioritising health and safety in hiking.

“We’re really pleased to be able to get back out into nature reserves again full-time to Spring, we can enjoy those natural areas again, obviously responsibly and we doing our best within the club to make sure that members hike responsibly. There must be compliance with all the rules when they do go hiking again. By nature hiking can be a social distance activity and obviously lots of fresh air in the process helps along with the exercise to improve health.”

Meanwhile, iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority CEO, Sbusiso Bukhosini, says the reopening of the park will also benefit the locals.

“The activities that are taking place there in the main as in line with the regulations is recreational fishing, we do not allow the charter fishing. Self-drive excursions are also allowed. Day visitors only. Beach walks and swimming are also allowed. Automatically when we reopened and there are visitors who are now coming back into the park it means that those who are also selling whether it’s fruits or vegetables, crafts, they are also going to benefit and there will definitely be spin-offs for local communities.”

However, accommodation facilities remain closed to the public.

In the video below, is a reminder of what awaits prospective travellers to the province:

Men in military gear kill at least 20 Malian villagers
8 June 2020, 12:16 PM

Armed men dressed in military gear attacked a village of Fulani herders in central Mali, killing at least 20 people, a local government official and a Fulani association has said.

The attackers on Friday targeted the village of Binedama in the Mopti region, which has seen dozens of tit-for-tat ethnic massacres over the past few years.

The Fulani, semi-nomadic herders present across West Africa, have been accused by rival farming communities of supporting local jihadist groups, making them targets of violence from ethnic vigilante militias and sometimes government forces.

Moulaye Guindo, the mayor of the commune of Bankass, which neighbours the commune to which Binedama belongs, said between 20 and 30 people were killed by men in military attire.

Fulani association Tabital Pulaaku said 29 people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl. It blamed the attack on Malian soldiers, who it said surrounded the village in pick-up trucks before killing the villagers and setting houses on fire.

“The victims are all from the peaceful civilian population who had not committed any crime except for their ethnic identity,” Tabital Pulaaku said in a statement.

Mali’s army spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

Human rights groups have accused the Malian military in the past of conducting extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture and arbitrary arrests against suspected jihadist sympathisers – charges it has promised to investigate.

In 2018, the government said some of its soldiers were implicated in “gross violations” after the discovery of mass graves in the centre of the country.

Mali has been in crisis since 2012 when al Qaeda-linked militants seized its desert north. French forces intervened the following year to drive them back, but the militants have since regrouped and extended their operations into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.



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