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Netanyahu in last-minute bid to scupper possible deal to unseat him
30 May 2021, 2:53 PM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu manoeuvered on Sunday to try to dissuade opponents from forming a “government of change”, with media reports saying a deal to unseat Israel’s longest-serving leader could be imminent.

Opposition chief Yair Lapid, who has until Wednesday to put together a coalition after the fourth inconclusive election in two years, was closing in on an alliance of right-wing, centrist and leftist parties, Israeli media reported.

The new coalition’s parties would have little in common apart from a plan to end the 12-year-run of Netanyahu, aright-wing leader on trial over corruption charges he denies. Lapid’s chances of success rest with far-right politician Naftali Bennett, whose Yamina party’s six seats in the 120-member parliament are enough to give him the status of kingmaker.

Bennett, 49, was widely expected to announce, possibly as early as Sunday, whether he would team up with Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid party placed second to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud in the latest election two months ago.

Bennett convened Yamina’s legislators on Sunday to discuss his next steps. Most Israeli media predicted Bennett would agree to a deal under which he would replace Netanyahu as prime minister and later give way to Lapid in a rotation agreement. Such a deal had already been reported as close when violence broke out between Israel and Gaza militants on May 10, which prompted Bennett to suspend discussions. The fighting ended with a ceasefire after 11 days.

Israeli politician calls for understanding over the complex Israel-Palestine questions:

Bennett has maintained public silence in recent days. To form a government with Lapid, Bennett would first have to rally his own party’s legislators, despite a closer political affinity to Netanyahu’s Likud.

Meeting the lawmakers on Sunday, Bennett “received their unanimous support for his efforts to form a government and prevent a fifth election”, a Yamina statement said, after reports he could face party opposition to a deal with Lapid. The statement did not disclose whether any agreement had been reached, but the YNet website said Bennett told the legislators he was “marching towards a government of change”.

Yamina said a further announcement might be made later in the day.

An anti-Netanyahu coalition would be fragile, and require outside backing by Arab members of parliament who oppose much of Bennett’s agenda. It would be expected to focus on the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, while setting aside issues on which members disagree, such as the role of religion in society and Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

Counter-offer 

Netanyahu, 71, made a three-way counter-offer on Sunday to stand aside in favour of another right-wing politician, Gideon Saar. Under Netanyahu’s blueprint, Saar would serve as prime minister for 15 months, Netanyahu would return for two years, and Bennett would then take over for the rest of the government’s term.

“We are at a fateful moment for Israel’s security, character and future, when you put aside any personal considerations and take far-reaching and even unprecedented steps,” Netanyahu said in a video statement about the proposal.

However, Saar, a former Likud cabinet minister, swiftly rejected the offer, writing on Twitter: “Our position and commitment are unchanged – to end Netanyahu’s rule.”

There was no immediate comment from Bennett, who has reversed course before over whether to push out Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s rivals have cited his corruption case as a main reason why Israel needs a new leader, arguing that he might use a new term to legislate immunity to shield himself.

If Lapid, 57, fails to announce a government by Wednesday, a new election, the fifth since April 2019, is likely. Bennett has said he aims to avoid it.

Samwu accuses the City of Cape Town of racism, bias
29 May 2021, 9:13 PM

Municipal workers’ Union Samwu is accusing the City of Cape Town of racism, biased application of its disciplinary processes and attacks on its shop stewards.

A group of union members handed over a memorandum at the Civic Centre, calling for among others, the intervention of the mayor and city manager in a case involving a traffic services supervisor, who is currently facing three disciplinary processes.

The union says members and shop stewards are being victimised.

“On top of being victimised as shop stewards, who else is going to want to become a shop steward when we are getting dismissed left, right and centre. And the other issue is around racism in the City of Cape Town, all we are saying to the mayor is that he needs to have an appetite to come and talk to us as labour so that we can deal with these issues and iron out all these issues that we are having with the City of Cape Town as shop stewards,” says Samwu Regional Deputy Secretary, Bridget Nkomana.

The union also highlighted a case, where it alleges that the city discouraged a senior traffic services supervisor, from bringing charges against his junior, based on race. The junior officer allegedly verbally abused the supervisor when he tried to break up a quarrel between the junior and a colleague.

“Immediately I phoned my supervisor that is also a White woman then that supervisor told me to write statements, we all wrote statements. I and my team member we gave it to her. Apparently they looked at it the following day my supervisor and the chief inspector traffic they called me into their office and in a way they were discouraging me and begging me not to take this complaint forward because this White traffic officer just bought a house, he just got a vehicle; his wife just gave birth, so they told me that if this goes forward he is going to be dismissed and what is going to happen,” says the supervisor, who requested that SABC News withholds his identity.

The City of Cape Town is denying the claims against it, saying its disciplinary processes are fair and free of any discrimination.

“We confirm that an incident of insubordination occurred during April 2020 whereby the employee’s senior failed to take proper disciplinary action against the staff member. The mentioned senior staff member is the same individual who lodged a complaint with Samwu, the individual is currently the subject of a disciplinary hearing for being insubordinate against line management on various occasions. The complainant’s disciplinary hearing in currently in progress,” says the City of Cape Town’s Luthando Tyhalibongo.

Samwu has also alleged that a senior law enforcement officer in Mitchells Plain was running a tuck-shop from council premises, with products taken from the warehouse where confiscated goods of informal traders were kept.

The city says the member has been found guilty of two charges and appropriately penalised, but that there has been no allegations, nor evidence that goods were taken from the Informal Trading Unit stores.

Samwu has given the city seven days to respond to its memorandum:

ANC KZN calls for Cogta’s intervention after party councillors were ejected from Nquthu council chambers
29 May 2021, 8:19 PM

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has called on the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to intervene after private security personnel entered the Nquthu Municipality’s Council Chambers and removed ANC councillors from the sitting.

The incident, which was captured on video and circulated widely on social media, took place earlier this week.

The video shows security guards manhandling an unidentified councillor. Councillors can be heard shouting and asking what Zikode has done.

The security officers, clad in heavy body armour, are seen grabbing two councillors and attempting to drag them from the chambers.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has accused the IFP of orchestrating the attack on their councillors.

“The IFP could not engage on the rational points they were raising. They decided to bring in those thugs whom they hired to take out our councillors. These are not security employed by the municipality these are private thugs,” says ANC KZN Spokesperson, Nhlakanipho Ntombela.

But the IFP has dismissed the allegations. The party says it was the ANC councillors who were unruly.

“The ANC councillors did not want to see the council meeting continuing. They really wanted to halt the council. They did not want to see anything that had to be discussed of service delivery. Whenever there members who are disrupting the council you have to find ways and means to do that. Even the one who was recording you can see that it was well planned, well-orchestrated,” says IFP Provincial Chairperson, Thami Ntuli.

The ANC believes that the election of the IFP’s current mayor – Lindokuhle Shabalala – was unlawful. The party is citing the fact that the council meeting in which Shabalala was elected was held while the country was in level 5 lockdown as reason for its assertions.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs says it is aware of the dispute and will investigate further. – Report by Bongani Gema

Roadside bomb kills three university teachers in Afghanistan: Police
29 May 2021, 7:02 PM

A roadside bomb hit a bus carrying university staff in northern Afghanistan on Saturday, killing three teachers and wounding 15 others, police said on Saturday.

The incident took place in Charikar, the provincial capital of Parwan. The bus was carrying teachers from Al-Biruni university, said a spokesman for the provincial police, Salim Noori.

Some of the wounded teachers were in critical condition,said Hamed Obaidi, a spokesman for the ministry of higher education.

No group claimed responsibility for the incident. Roadside bombs, small magnetic bombs attached under vehicles and other attacks have targeted members of security forces,judges, government officials, civil society activists and journalists in recent months in Afghanistan.

The government usually blames the Taliban for such attacks, but the insurgent group denies involvement. Violence has sharply increased since Washington announced plans last month to pull out all US troops out of Afghanistan by September 11.

Three weeks ago, a bomb attack outside a school in the capital Kabul killed 68 people, most of them students, and wounded 165 others. Nearly 1 800 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first three months of 2021 during fighting between government forces and Taliban insurgents despite efforts to find peace, the United Nations said last month.

Bednarek wins 200m, Kenyans shine at Doha Diamond League
29 May 2021, 6:45 PM

American Kenneth Bednarek edged Canadian André De Grasse in a scintillating 200 metres race at the Doha Diamond League meeting on Friday as Kenyans dominated the middle-distance competitions.

Bednarek won in 19.88, one hundredth of a second ahead of De Grasse whose compatriot Aaron Brown was third (20.25) on a hot and humid night in the Qatari capital.

Bednarek was delighted with the win even though he said he was “a bit nervous. But I am excited that I got in the first place. I’ll try to be even better again the next time.”

Justin Gatlin, the 39-year-old 2004 100m Olympic gold medallist, finished fifth in a season’s best 20.49. Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the double Olympic champion, won the 100m, putting behind her a disappointing fourth-place finish in Gateshead last Sunday.

Fraser-Pryce, 34, ran 10.84 seconds ahead of Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare (10.90) with America’s Javianne Oliver finishing third (11.03). Fraser-Pryce is hoping to become the first female athlete to win three Olympic 100m titles after taking gold in 2008 and 2012 in Beijing and London respectively after a silver at Rio 2016.

“I am happy that I won, because its far away from the fourth place that I did the last time,” she said.

“It’s going to be be the final Olympic appearance (for me) so I hope it will be good. The last three Olympics I went to I was able to stand on the podium and I’m hoping to be able to make it there again God willing.”

Kenyans dominate

Kenyans dominated the middle-distance races on a night when athletes competed without a crowd due to COVID-19 restrictions, although music from the loudspeakers provided some atmosphere.

Men’s 1 500m world and three-time Diamond League champion Timothy Cheruiyot ran a patient race to win in a world leading time of 3:30.48 to kick-start his season.

In the women’s 800m, Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon nudged through on the inside to secure an impressive win in a time of 1:58.26 for the 1 500m Olympic champion and world silver medallist.

“I did my personal best here in Doha, so it’s really, really great to be here,” Kipyegon said.

“I am training so hard and hoping to do my best, so I am putting all my mind on it. The pandemic wasn’t easy but we always try to be great.”

Another Kenyan, 21-year-old Beatrice Chebet, won the 3 000m with a world leading time of 8:27.49 sprinting ahead of Hellen Obiri, the twice world 5 000m champion, who faded towards the end of the race and finished a disappointing fourth.

“It’s my first time winning in the Diamond League and here in Doha,” Chebet said. “I didn’t expect to win. I did well today and now I am preparing for the Olympics.”

Chebet said she hoped to run the 5 000m in Tokyo.

In the men’s 400m, Michael Norman ran a world leading 44.27 to continue his winning 2021, while in the women’s pole vault American Katie Nageotte won on the count back by clearing 4.84m.

She defeated compatriot and Olympic silver medallist Sandi Morris, who finished second and Greek Olympic champion Katerina Stefanidi (4.74) who was fourth.

Another standout performance came from Venezuela’s Olympic triple jump silver medallist Yulimar Rojas who won with 15.15m.

“I am happy to leave a footprint here in Doha,” she said. “I enjoy this path, when it will be Tokyo’s turn I’ll be prepared and I’ll try to win the gold medal.”

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