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Kenyan court set to rule on controversial Constitutional amendment process
20 August 2021, 7:47 AM

The Court of Appeal in Kenya is set to rule on the country’s halted controversial Constitutional amendment process also known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The Bill aims to reintroduce the position of the Prime Minister, two deputies and increase the number of parliamentary seats.

The court in Nairobi is expected to either uphold the High Court ruling declaring the process illegal and unconstitutional or invalidate that ruling, giving the electoral commission the go-ahead to prepare the country for a referendum process to amend the Constitution.

The appellants who include President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Attorney-General, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are seeking to overturn the High Court judgment, which ruled that amending the country’s Constitution through the BBI was unconstitutional, null and void.

The ruling also faulted Kenyatta for “acting in excess of his powers” for initiating the process of amending the Constitution.

The court held that the only way to change the Constitution is through parliament.

The battle to amend Kenya’s Constitution begins:

The BBI follows the March 2018 handshake between Kenyatta and Odinga after they publicly declared that they have ended their political differences.

The two argue the initiative that would alter the composition of the executive arm of government, as well as parliament, would end the cyclical electoral violence witnessed in Kenya every election year by ending the winner-take-all system of elections.

Building Bridges Initiative bill passes Kenya’s County Assemblies

In February, more than 24 County assemblies passed the Constitution Amendment Bill paving the way for the mini plebiscites.

While both Kenyatta and Odinga have touted law reforms as crucial to uniting the country, Deputy President William Ruto has seen the reforms which come as the country prepares for Kenyatta’s succession as a way of edging him out of the presidential race and a boost to Odinga’s chances.

Constitutional Court should not grant relief to postpone elections: CASAC
20 August 2021, 6:36 AM

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) says they will add their arguments about why the Constitutional Court should not grant the relief sought by the IEC to postpone the Local Government Elections to early 2022.

CASAC has been admitted as a friend of the court in the matter.

The IEC is seeking a postponement of the October elections in the Constitutional Court on Friday due to the prevailing conditions of COVID-19.

Retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke recommended following an inquiry regarding the postponement of the Local Government Elections that it be moved to February next year.

The Moseneke Inquiry recommended that free and fair elections will not be possible on October 27 and that the elections should take place in February 2022.

CASAC executive secretary Lawson Naidoo says granting the order could have profound consequences.

Naidoo says, “There is a parliamentary mechanism to amend the Constitution. They’ve known for a very long time these elections were coming, if they felt it necessary to delay they should have taken that route. It would set a dangerous precedent to grant the order because they then open the door for further applications to the court to find ways around other constitutional obligations by organs of state.”

Constitutional Court to hear IEC’s application to postpone municipal elections:

Political parties expressed mixed reactions over the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision to accept the recommendations of the Moseneke Inquiry regarding the postponement of the elections.

The IEC accepted the recommendations.

IEC Chairperson Glen Mashinini says the first step will be to postpone the national voter registration weekend scheduled for the end of this month.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) National Treasurer Thandi Nontenja welcomed the decision.

“We feel that the UDM is vindicated because this is what we’ve been calling for – to say the environment is not conducive. Even the February we still don’t think will be convenient. 99.9% of the parties today in our MPL called for a flexible situation where when the IEC apply for the extension or the postponement, it must be a flexible one up to April at least,” said Nontenja.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), which is against the postponement, says it will closely monitor the IEC’s next move to make sure it’s in line with the country’s Constitution. Party Spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube says they have noted the decision by the IEC.

“We have noted the decision by the IEC to fully adopt the Moseneke report,” says Gwarube.

Gwarube says it is important to consider how the IEC and the court plan to approach the situation.

“Because what we want to make sure is that whatever mechanism is being used, we want to make sure that it’s consistent with the constitution. We want to make sure that a dangerous precedent of postponing the elections for whatever reason is not set,” says Gwarube.

Political parties react to IEC’s adoption of the Moseneke report:

Suspects arrested for a police officer’s murder to appear in court
20 August 2021, 5:56 AM

Two suspects in the murder of a police officer are expected to appear in the Rustenburg and Pretoria Magistrate’s Courts on Friday morning.

The Hawks arrested the suspects who face charges of murder, possession of unlicensed firearms, ammunition, and explosives, in Silverton, Pretoria and the second one in Rustenburg in the North West.

Police say a suspect’s vehicle was intercepted on the N4 highway and officers recovered an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Further investigation led the police to Tlhabane in the North West where another suspect was apprehended and found in possession of unlicensed pistols, a rifle with ammunition as well as explosives.

It’s alleged that one of the pistols was positively identified and linked to a murder case that occurred in Pretoria in May when a police officer was killed.

PROFILE: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
19 August 2021, 4:53 PM

Former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been elected as the Speaker of the National Assembly on Thursday.

The position became vacant after Thandi Modise was appointed as the Minister of Defence by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The ANC caucus in parliament nominated former Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula as its candidate for the position of the Speaker of the National Assembly.

PROFILE: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula by SABC Digital News

Poor communication driving COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy: GCIS
19 August 2021, 9:00 AM

Poor communication in raising awareness about COVID-19 vaccines is driving vaccination hesitancy.

Government has set a target of administering at least a million doses every three days. However, the numbers are dropping to below 200 000, despite the governments efforts to have more people inoculated by adding more vaccination sites.

Only a small number of the over 35 age group is going for their jabs and the government is trying to raise awareness around the vaccines.

The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) together with the National Press Club (NPC) and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), hosted a webinar to educate the public on vaccine safety on Wednesday.

During the webinar GCIS Acting DG Michael Currin said, “Every single folk I have spoken with at a restaurant or petrol station says I do not want to take it, I do not know what’s inside. And it allows you the opportunity not to be informed. So we do need to be those facilitators.”

“It took a long time for South Africans to be on a different page around HIV/AIDS. We are only 18 months into this and the kind of awareness that we are doing shows that we can do more,” says Currin.

WEBINAR: COVID-19 vaccine safety in South Africa

Government hopes to have vaccinated at least 28 million people by the end of 2021, however, such a target may be impossible to reach.

So far, 4 million people have been fully vaccinated which is around 11 percent of the country’s population. And only 10 million people have received their first jabs.

Health Journalist Pontsho Pilane says there is a need for people to be given all the information that they would like to know in their home languages.

Pilane says, “When we talk about vaccine hesitancy, we need to understand that when information is not available in accessible words, for example, we are having this webinar in English. And of course, we can say that English is a universal language. However, that means that there’s segments of communities and societies that we are leaving out.”

This week, the South African Medical Association (SAMA) stressed that misinformation, anti-vaccination propaganda, and fears of side effects are slowing down the vaccination rollout.

National Immunisation Safety Expert, Hannelie Meyer, says it is true that there may be problems with people suffering from certain chronic ailments, but there’s no scientific evidence to say the vaccine causes death.

Meyer says, “it is possible it could happen after vaccination and if it does, there could also be the presence of other conditions. For example, diabetic people and amongst diabetic people the risk is very high. So if those two are present at the same time, then there would not be evidence that it is caused by the vaccine.”

Next month will see the Health Department extend vaccinations to those 18 and older.

More cases of COVID-19 vaccine-related deaths are being investigated:

Vaccine acceptance report below: 

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