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There’s no credible African institution to deal with Tigray’s humanitarian crisis: Prof Olonisakin
25 May 2021, 7:45 PM

There is no credible or legitimate African institution that can deal with humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, according to Leadership Professor Funmi Olonisakin.

Professor Olanisakin made the remarks while delivering the keynote address at the annual Thabo Mbeki Africa Day Lecture on Tuesday.

She called out the African Union and regional bloc IGAD for being indifferent to the humanitarian crisis happening in the region that borders Eritrea.

More than 2 000 people have been killed in violence in Tigray since last November after the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) launched attacks on Ethiopian forces.

The King’s College London professor says the AU’s leadership has moved from non-intervention to indifference.

“This is an internationalised conflict and not an internal conflict as it’s been portrayed. Even if it was an internal conflict non-interference is not an excuse. While this is not about actively deploying a mission it is clear that African ownership and leadership is glaringly missing on Tigray. And there was an early warning as well but there is no indication of official trigger at any point in time,” she says.

More of the Professor’s views in the video below:

SA NCOP commemorations

Africa Day was commemorated in the South African National Council of Provinces under the theme “Pioneering Africa’s Inclusive Economic Recovery and Free Trade”. Discussions focused on building a continent for all who live in it.

The African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, which commenced in January this year, was also key to the discussions. It’s seen as a driver to deepen economic intergration and prosperity.

Speakers say the agreement will not reach its full potential unless infrastructure challenges and certain policies are improved. Conflict and instability on the continent are also viewed as threats to the agreement.

As Gaza truce holds, Palestinians treat wounded animals
25 May 2021, 3:55 PM

Palestinian animal welfare groups are tending to street dogs and cats wounded during the 11-day conflict between Hamas militants and Israel, which saw Gaza hit by hundreds of Israeli airstrikes. At least 253 people were killed in Gaza and more than 1 900 wounded, Palestinian health authorities said.

The Israeli military put the death toll in Israel at 13, with hundreds treated for injuries after rocket salvoes by Hamas caused panic and sent people as far away as Tel Aviv rushing into shelters.

Saeed El-Aer, owner of Sulala Society for Training and Caring for Animals, has been trawling Gaza’s streets looking for abandoned dogs and cats and providing them with medication, food and shelter.

“We are still getting calls about cats and dogs wounded in the war, and we are still trying to reach them to help them,” he said. As soon as a ceasefire was reached last Friday after the worst hostilities in years between Hamas and Israel, Aer rushed to his animal shelter, built on a piece of land given to him by the municipality in eastern Gaza City’s suburb of Zeitoun.

“I found all the dogs outside it. The dogs were sad, afraid and terrified,” he told Reuters. He said Israeli bombardments had shattered part of the exterior fence.

“I was surprised to see a donkey dead and another horse wounded, who then died. I found dogs wounded with shrapnel, and I am still treating them.” Gaza, home to two million people, now faces the task of rebuilding shattered infrastructure after the fourth conflict with Israel since Hamas took control of the enclave in 2007, setting up a rival power centre to the Palestinian Authority in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

In the northern Gaza Strip, shrapnel from an Israeli airstrike which destroyed a nearby house also hit Omar Shahin’s stable, injuring three of his four horses. Shahin was unable to rescue one of his animals, Amira, a two-year old horse who died nine days after being hit by a missile fragment which caused a skull fracture and internal bleeding.

Unpacking the Israel and Hamas ceasefire with Sherwin Bryce-Pease:

SoftBank’s Son raises fresh doubt over Tokyo 2020
22 May 2021, 8:45 AM

SoftBank Group Corp founder and CEO Masayoshi Son on Saturday expressed fresh doubt about Tokyo’s delayed Summer Olympics going ahead during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Currently more than 80% of people want the Olympics to be postponed or cancelled. Who and on what authority is it being forced through?” Son wrote in a Twitter post. The billionaire last week said he was “afraid” of holding the Olympics during the pandemic.

Polls consistently show most Japanese people oppose holding the Games as planned. The Reuters Corporate Survey on Friday showed that some 70% of big Japanese companies also want the Games delayed or cancelled, after the authorities postponed the event in 2020 for a year due to the pandemic.

But a top International Olympic Committee official said on Friday the Games would “absolutely” go ahead even if the capital were still under a state of emergency, given “all of the plans we have in place to protect the safety and security of the athletes and the people of Japan.”

Tokyo Olympics amid COVID-19 pandemic:

Spanish chef gives thumbs up to a robot-made paella
22 May 2021, 7:44 AM

Can a robot cook a paella as tasty as that made by a Spanish chef? Yes it can, according to a master chef who tried it. Spanish company BR5 has developed a robot that can cook one of the national cuisine’s most world-renowned dishes.

The product has already provoked the interest of some hotel chains and resorts outside Spain. “Of course a homemade rice dish on a Sunday will always taste different… We are not aiming at reaching that, our goal is to travel around the world and be able to eat the same rice that we eat in our country, in a different country,” founder of BR5, Enrique Lillo, told Reuters.

Some amusement parks and resorts in Japan already have their own paella robot, Lillo added. But it can also please the locals. “In my opinion, it’s a wonderful tool and ‘Ole!’ for the developers because I loved it,” said Maria Munoz, paella chef and director of “Cocinea” gastronomy school after trying the robot-made paella.

The robot consists of an electronically controlled stove and a mechanical arm that puts the sauteed ingredients over the paella pan adds the rice and then stirs it with a slotted spoon before pouring in the fish stock. All ingredients have to be prepared in advance and are already measured for one paella. Once all the ingredients are in the pan, the robot stirs and shakes it constantly until it is done.

Munoz said it would be very useful for restaurants because it helps to make more paellas at a time. “If you only have one paella cook you can only make 20 at most because it’s crazy, especially finding the sweet spot for the paella,” she added.

IEC is considering electronic registration for future elections
18 May 2021, 1:18 PM

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says it is considering electronic registration for future elections. It says an announcement will be made soon in this regard.

IEC Commissioners and officials appeared in a virtual briefing before Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee about its 2019/2020 annual report.

“It is correct that the commission is considering additional modalities of voter registration and we confirm that there will be an electronic registration modality introduced, supported by safeguards to ensure that the person who actually registered is the person who claims today. So there are safeguards that will be inbuilt into that programme. An announcement in that regard will be made by the commission,” IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo told Members of Parliament.

This comes as the country gears up for Wednesday’s by-elections and the local government polls to be held in October.

IEC open to election postponement:

Mamabolo says the electoral body does not know what impact COVID-19 will have on the voter turnout in the LGE. He says the performance on local government election turnout has always been better than the general election one.

The commission says it’s good for the country to have an increase in voter turnout with each election year, but it does not know how people will react to the COVID-19 realities this year.

“We are experiencing a decline in national and provincial elections. But that phenomenon is not applicable in local government elections, because of these facts: In 2011 we were able to improve voter turnout from 48% to 58% and we retained that turnout in 2016. But as I sit here now – I don’t know what the impact of COVID-19 is going to have on turnout.

If all things were equal, in other words, if there was no COVID-19, as a commission we would have pushed very hard through our programmes; voter education, communication programmes and so on to push that into the 60% arena,” he added.

By-elections

In Limpopo, the electoral commission says more than 20 000 people have registered to cast their votes in the by-elections that will take place in the Polokwane, Makhado, Fetakgomo-Tubatse and Mogalakwena municipalities.

The provincial electoral officer, Nkaro Mateta, says seven political parties will be contesting for the four wards, which had previously belonged to the ANC.

“We are talking about more than 23 000 people that have registered to participate in all the four by-elections and we are hopeful that they will come out in their numbers. We have in total 13 candidates because the political parties in most cases are the same. So really, the choice is wide. We comply with the protocol of COVID-19,” says Mateta.

Some residents at Masodi Village, outside Mokopane, say they want a councillor who will put their interests at heart.

“We are ready to vote each and everything but the councillor that we have to put in forward for us suppose to take care of us,” says one resident.

“I’m ready to vote. We are not getting services. We need the councillor who can assist us with a road, water,” adds another community member.

In total, 40 by-elections will take place in 25 municipalities across the country on Wednesday. Most of the polls will be held in Gauteng. – Additional reporting by Michael Makungo

Discussing IEC’s readiness for upcoming by-elections and local govt polls with Natasha Phiri:

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