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SA’s unemployment rate jumps to 32.5%
23 February 2021, 12:24 PM

Statistics South Africa says the country’s unemployment rate is now at 32.5% – the highest since the start of the quarterly labour force survey in 2008.

This as the country’s economy continues to take a beating from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest unemployment rate is a new record high as the third quarter 30.8% rate was also described as the highest since 2008.

The results of the latest survey, show that the number of unemployed South Africans increased by 701 000 to 7.2 million compared to the third quarter of 2020. This resulted in an increase of 1.0 million (up by 4.9%) in the number of people in the labour force.

The number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 235 000 (8.7%), and the number of people who were not economically active for reasons other than discouragement decreased by 1.1 million (7.4%) between the two quarters, resulting in a net decrease of 890 000 in the not economically active population.

Fifteen million South Africans now have jobs, after 333 000 others were employed during the fourth quarter.

Below is a SABC News report on rising numbers of unemployed South Africans:

Jacob Zuma
Zuma corruption trial set down for May 17
23 February 2021, 11:33 AM

The High Court in Pietermaritzburg, in KwaZulu-Natal, has ruled that the case against former President Jacob Zuma and French arms company, Thales, will begin on May 17.

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Nkosinathi Chili says the trial is expected to run until mid- June.

“The court orders as follows one the matter is certified as trial ready in accordance to the judge president’s pre-trial criminal court appearance directive dated 7th November 2018. Two the matter is postponed in absentia in respect of Mr Zuma and the Thales representative to 17 May 2021 to 20 June 2021 until the end of term date for trial and will again resume on the first day of the third term in KwaZulu-Natal and any further dates that the honorable judge presiding and the honorable judge president may determine subject to further clarity and resumption of international travel,” ruled judge Chili.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation has raised concerns over the case delays.

Today while addressing the court, State advocate Billy Downer reiterated the reasons for the numerous delays so far. He also told the court that over 200 witnesses are expected to be called during the trial.

“This court handed out judgement on the 22nd of January 2021 so that issue has been resolved my learned friends that work for Thales indicated formally that they will not take the matter further so that matter as far as pre-trial is concerned is not in my lord as far as the other matter is concerned which was an issue holding up trial that is the issue of COVID and the consequences of COVID the lockdowns and travel restrictions both to and from South Africa which affects both the representatives of accused number 2 Thales and also various witnesses who are overseas my lord it remains a consideration we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future,” Downer explained.

More on the developments in the case in the video below:

Neither Zuma nor the Thale representative, Christine Guerrier, were present in court, a move which was an agreement between the State and the defense.

Zuma is facing 16 charges that includes 783 payments, allegedly made to him by Thales.

The matter is relates to the procurement of the country’s multi-billion-rand arms in 1999.

 

Excitement as Kuruman River flows after more than 4 decades
21 February 2021, 9:36 PM

There’s huge excitement in the normally bone-dry Kalahari, in the Northern Cape, after the Kuruman River started flowing through the area for the first time in more than 40 years.

The last significant flow in the area was in 1976.

Families are enjoying trips to the river:

Locals are making the most of it, bringing their children to witness the rare sight. Some are even lucky enough to catch fish.

“I think it’s something we will remember for a long time. This river does not flow every day, so for the kids and me – it’s quite an experience to see it for the first time,” says resident, Vinkie van der Westhuizen.

The abundance of water in the Kalahari is also a boost to its tourism industry, with visitors streaming to the area.

Recent flooding in the John Taolo Gaetsewe area of the province is responsible for the flow.

India’s Maharashtra state announces week-long lockdown
21 February 2021, 9:29 PM

India’s Maharashtra state announced a week-long lockdown in one of its districts from today and advised 18 million residents of local capital Mumbai to obey COVID rules or face the consequences.

The move comes as four other states posted an upsurge in cases after a dip in numbers in the recent past.

Randeep Guleria, who heads India’s largest hospital in Delhi, blamed the COVID surge on bad behaviour as health authorities issued an advisory for the five struggling states.

And staring at the upsurge, medical expert Shiv Kumar Sarin felt the time had come to add more firepower to India’s vast vaccination campaign. But virologist Shaheed Jamil prescribed patience even though experts feared new strains of the virus in India could be more dangerous than reported.

India administered its first COVID-19 vaccine shots in the middle of January as the country rolled out one of the largest vaccination drives. 10 million front-line workers will be vaccinated in the first phase with an eventual aim to immunise 300 million Indians by August.

India is using the Oxford shot, being produced by the Serum Institute locally as well as an indigenously developed vaccine called Covaxin.

India begins world’s biggest COVID-19 vaccination programme:

India roped in private players to scale up testing during the nationwide lockdown, which began last March.

Spokeswoman of the Maharashtra government, Priyanka Chaturvedi, has urged federal authorities to invite the private sector to help out in the national task.

kestell water
Kestell water woes continue, residents say they’ve had enough
21 February 2021, 9:05 PM

Residents of Kestell, in the eastern Free State, say the water crisis in the area is worsening. Some parts of the small farming town have been without water for more than 10 years now.

Kestell forms part of the troubled Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality. The town’s water woes date back to 2010. Nkamoheng Lengoabala has seen it all and says she’s tired of empty promises.

“Sometimes we go to the ward councillor to ask her to assist then she would call the water trucks to find out where they are. She will be told that the trucks are in QwaQwa, which is a large area. They have promised to install a pipe for us from the reservoir to supply us with water but so far, it has been an empty promise. I have been living here for 10 years and water has always been a problem,” says Lengoabala.

The water shortage is compounded by a lack of infrastructure maintenance. Even if a pipeline was to be installed, the multi-million rand reservoir first has to be repaired. When water trucks fail to arrive, the community relies on the nearby farms for water.

“We are suffering, when we go home we don’t have water to wash and to cook. Children are also suffering when they have to go to school,” says one resident.

“We hurt because of this issue of water in Kestell. The water we get from trucks is not enough. I arrived in 2007 to date there’s still no water,” adds another.

“For us to get water, we go to streams and dams to collect water there. That water is not clean and we are falling sick because of it,” elaborates another community member.

Maluti-A-Phofung was supposed to pump water from the Sterkfontein Dam to the Escol Reservoir. The water flow would eventually be divided evenly to reach Kestell and the nearby areas.

Government blames an unreliable power supply for acute water shortages in the area.

“We have had power outages in January and February and these numerous power outages have cost us not to be able to provide water in an uninterrupted way and every time we have a power outage it becomes difficult for us to pump water for communities. So, we are devising means to get a generator so that at least when we have a power failure, the generator is able to kick in and pump water. We wish to apologise for this inconvenience,” says Free State Cooperative Governance MEC, Thembeni Nxangisa.

A meeting between officials of Maluti-A-Phofung and the Department of Cooperative Governance is scheduled for Tuesday to discuss water challenges in the area.

Government says it will cost more than R2 billion to resolve the water crisis in Maluti-A-Phofung.

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