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Parliament denies claims it intends retrenching workers
6 March 2021, 3:59 PM

Parliament has dismissed claims by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that it intends to retrench workers.

Parliament says it is merely affording employees who are close to retirement age, an opportunity to take voluntary early retirement.

Parliament says the retrenchment claims by the EFF are erroneous and misleading as the institution is currently negotiating with National Treasury to introduce voluntary retirement, which is similar to the one in the public service.

The institution says the early retirement agreement was entered into with the National Education Allied Health Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

Parliament says while it has suffered drastic reductions in its budget, there is no crisis that warrants retrenchments.

It says there will be measures put in place to avoid retrenchments.

Release of kidnapped girls ‘overwhelming news’, says Buhari
2 March 2021, 11:50 AM

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has described as overwhelming news that kidnappers have released unharmed hundreds of schoolgirls in northwest Zamfara state.

Earlier today, state officials said gunmen had freed all 279 girls kidnapped from the Government Girls Science Secondary School in the town of Jangebe.

In a tweet Buhari says he’s pleased that their ordeal has a happy ending.

Zamfara state governor on Tuesday told a news conference that “repentant bandits” helped to secure the release the girls.

“Those repentant ones are working for us, and they are working for the government and they are working for security,” governor Bello Matawalle said.

Mourners arrive for AmaBhaca chief’s funeral service
2 March 2021, 11:00 AM

Mourners have arrived at Elundzini Great Place, in the Eastern Cape, to pay their last respects to AmaBhaca chief Thandisizwe Diko.

Traditional leaders, politicians and government officials are among those attending the funeral service.

Chief Diko passed away at an East London hospital following a short illness, last month.

The 43-year old Diko is a well-known businessman and husband to the Presidency spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

He has been described as a community developer.

SABC News reporter Nkululeko Nyembe is tracking the story.

In the video below, he speaks to one of those attending the chief’s funeral:

 

Severity of third wave dependent on public’s behaviour, warns Prof Karim
2 March 2021, 9:55 AM

Co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says the delivery of coronavirus vaccine doses is ahead of schedule.

It’s expected the next batch could arrive before the expected two-week period. The second batch of vaccines arrived in the country at the weekend.

Analysing the COVID-19 inoculation rollout in SA and globally:

South Africa has moved to alert-level one of the lockdown as the rate of infections eases out of the second wave.

However, a third wave is expected in June or July. Karim says government is better prepared for the next wave of infections.

“So the originally arrangements were that we would receive about 300 000 doses in the first group and then 200 000 adding up to about 500 000 they were supposed to be delivered on a fortnightly basis but I think they are ahead of schedule and so they might be coming more frequently than that. As it stands we now been expanding the number of sites that have been vaccinating so it’s quite likely that the next batches will come before the fortnight is out,” he says.

Professor Karim has warned that the severity of the expected next wave depends on the public’s behaviour.

“We are at a lower level of transmission we want to keep it there. And we definitely don’t want it spiking up again. we can expect that our third wave will occur somewhere in June or July if there is a new variant then it’s completely unpredictable and we can then expect a much more severe third wave if there is no new variant then our wave might be a smaller one,” he explains.

Resurgence could come earlier than expected

Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University, Shabir Madhi, has meanwhile predicted a resurgence of coronavirus infections at the end of May and early June.

Mahdi says that the easing of restrictions, the Easter period and expected cooler temperatures in the coming months is likely to see an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Professor Madhi told a panel discussion that the relaxation of the curfew, lifting of restrictions on alcohol sales, among others, could lead to a spike in infections even earlier than May.

“The challenge that we face is that based on the lifting of some of the restrictions and in particular mass gatherings as well as what we’re likely to experience during the Easter period, in all likelihood we will experience a resurgence as we head into the cooler months of the year because of the increase in terms of allowing mass gatherings which lends itself to super spreader events as well as in the context that as we head into cooler months of the year people are more likely to gather indoors in poorly ventilated areas. My estimate would be that we’re likely to experience a resurgence in South Africa towards the end of May, June but it might occur earlier,” he said.

While announcing the move to level 1 on Sunday night, the President urged South Africans to not let their guard down.

South Africa currently has 1 513 959 coronavirus cases and the country’s death toll is at 50 077.

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Abducted Nigerian schoolgirls released by kidnappers: Zamfara state governor
2 March 2021, 9:11 AM

Gunmen have released girls kidnapped from a boarding school in northwest Nigeria, the governor of Zamfara state said in a message posted on Twitter on Tuesday in which he shared pictures girls wearing Muslim veils.

An armed gang abducted 317 girls from the Government Girls Science Secondary (GGSS) School in the town of Jangebe at around1 a.m. on Friday. The governor’s tweets did not state how many girls had been released, but carried images of girls.

“Alhamdulillah! It gladdens my heart to announce the release of the abducted students of GGSS Jangebe from captivity”, Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle said on Twitter. “This follows the scaling of several hurdles laid against our efforts. I enjoin all well-meaning Nigerians to rejoice with us as our daughters are now safe,” he said.

Schools have become targets for mass kidnappings for ransom in northern Nigeria by armed groups, in a trend started by the jihadist group Boko Haram, and later its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province. Criminal gangs have carried out kidnappings since.

The government has repeatedly denied paying ransoms. But President Muhammadu Buhari issued a statement on Friday in which he urged state governments “to review their policy of rewarding bandits with money and vehicles, warning that the policy might boomerang disastrously”.

Yesterday, The Globe spoke to Human Rights activist and journalist Omoyele Sowore on kidnappings in Nigeria:

The raid in Zamfara state was the second such kidnapping in little over a week in the northwest, a region increasingly targeted by criminal gangs.

On Saturday, gunmen released 27 teenage boys who were kidnapped from their school on February 17 in the north-central state of Niger.

Nigeria’s most high profile school kidnapping was that of more than 270 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014. Around 100 of them remain missing.

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