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Revamped SAA could be run independently: Gordhan
20 July 2020, 2:30 AM

South Africa is considering an independent board for its ailing national airline, with a shareholder structure similar to that of part state-owned telecoms firm Telkom, a senior government minister told the local local news channel on Sunday.

Debt-ridden South African Airways (SAA) has been in a form of bankruptcy protection since December.

In this video below, government raises concerns over funerals, COVID-19 spread:

Its creditors approved a rescue plan last week that involves scaling down its fleet, shedding thousands of jobs and a commitment of over 10 billion rand ($599.6 million) from the government

“Telkom is an interesting model that we could actually look at as we go forward,” Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said, adding that the new SAA cannot be run by a “bunch of amateurs”.

He did not specify if the revamped airline will be a listed entity.

Telkom SA (TKGJ.J), among the top three telecom service providers in Africa’s most industrialised country, is run independently and not bound by government guidelines set up for most South African sate-owned enterprises.

The government directly holds a 37% stake in the listed entity and state-owned fund manager Public Investment Corp. owns around 15%. The rest is owned by institutional investors and the public.

Gordhan said the government was still trying to secure the 10 billion rand required for the business rescue plan to succeed. “Now where it comes from, what form it comes in is something is still being worked on.”

The public and finance ministries committed to finding the funds in a letter to the airline’s administrators seen by Reuters last Thursday. This is in addition to more than 16 billion rand the finance ministry set aside in its February budget to repay SAA’s guaranteed debt and debt-service costs.

He reiterated that the restructured airline will have a strategic partner, professional aviation managers and a more simplified salary structure.

Mali opposition rejects ECOWAS proposals on ending political crisis
20 July 2020, 1:20 AM

An influential opposition group in Mali rejected a proposal by regional mediators on Sunday aimed at ending a political crisis in which at least 11 people have been killed this month during protests against President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.

ECOWAS, which represents countries in West Africa, sent a delegation to Mali last week to try to help end the crisis, with the protesters calling on Keita to resign over what they say is his failure to halt violence by jihadist groups or address the disputed results of recent legislative elections.

Issuing its recommendations on Sunday, the delegation proposed that Mali’s Constitutional Court examine the contested elections and that Keita create a new government including opposition members and civil society.

The M5-RFP coalition, which has led the protests, dismissed the recommendations.

“(ECOWAS) came to support Keita and threaten the M5-RFP. All they want is their vision, Keita’s vision, but not ours,” said coalition spokesperson Nouhoum Togo.

Further protests were inevitable until Keita stepped down, Togo said.

The government did not respond to requests for comment. An ECOWAS representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

The president has offered concessions including dissolving the Constitutional Court, but the opposition has hardened since police fired on protesters and leading members were arrested in July.

Police calls on Gauteng residents to obey funeral rules
20 July 2020, 12:15 AM

Gauteng police in collaboration with the SANDF and other law enforcement agencies, are cautioning members of the public to refrain from deliberately flouting Disaster Management Act Regulations particularly in relation to attendance at funerals, where the number of mourners is limited to 50.

This comes as police on Saturday, traced and arrested a 33-year old woman in Mabopane after she appeared on a video clip clearly contravening the regulations and daring police to “stand aside and leave them to bury the deceased” during a funeral that took place on Friday in Soshanguve.

A number of other video clips related to the same funeral service are circulating on social media and also confirm that the number of mourners in attendance was by far in excess of the regulated limit of 50 people.

The woman has since been charged with contravention of the Disaster Management Act Regulations and was released on a warning to appear before the Soshanguve Magistrate Court on September 3 2020.

At the same time, police have also charged in terms of the COVID-19 Disaster Management Act, a family member of the deceased in their capacity as the organiser of the same funeral service, for failing to ensure they adherence to the regulations.

In this video below, government raises concerns over funerals, COVID-19 spread:

The family member was also released and will appear before the Soshanguve Magistrate Court on August 24 2020.

With Gauteng Province recently declared the epicentre of the virus, areas such as Garankuwa and Soshanguve have this past week been cited by the provincial Department of Health as amongst those topping the list of COVID-19 hotspots in the province.

It is with this in mind that security forces in the province are tightening measures to enforce the regulations, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation during which the President called for greater personal responsibility.

The Acting Provincial Commissioner of police in the province, Major General Johan Ndlovu has reminded communities that the regulations are in place to protect human lives during the COVID-19 pandemic and not to punish people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, and people losing their lives to the virus, is no joke. Anyone that deliberately flouts the regulations exposes those around them to a high risk of contracting the corona virus. In fact, mourners who do not fall within the list of persons permitted to attend funerals during the lockdown, place an unnecessary extra burden on the grieving family who deserve the space to give their loved ones a dignified send-off, without the added responsibility of ensuring compliance to regulations during the funeral,” cautioned Ndlovu.

Major General Ndlovu has also commended those members of the public who continue to volunteer information to the police where they observe incidents of contravention of the Regulations in their neighbourhoods, in the best interest of curbing the spread of the corona virus.

Re-opening of schools should follow guidelines set out by WHO: ANC
19 July 2020, 11:30 PM

The grade three and ten learners are expected back in class on Monday morning, but the African National Congress (ANC) says the re-opening of schools should follow the guidelines set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Currently South Africa is amongst the top five countries with high infection rate of the COVID-19 pandemic in the world.

It is only the United States, Brazil, India and Russia that have surpassed South Africa with the rate of infections.

But all eyes are now on the governing ANC as the country sees exponential rise.

The re-opening of schools has become a hot political topic in the country.

In this video below, debate on schools’ reopening rages on:

And at the centre of it, are the lives of learners and teachers and by extension the broader society.

While government has decided to go ahead with phased re-opening of schools, the voices of those opposed to the decision have also gone louder.

But the governing party clearly does not want to contradict its government, except to call for the World Health Organisation’s guidelines to be taken into account.

The WHO has said schools should ideally open in the context of low community transmissions, and this is not the case with South Africa at the moment.

But the party’s Women’s League appears to be frustrated that its view on the school re-opening is not being taken seriously.

As more and more learners are expected in class on Monday morning, five teacher unions including the ANC aligned SADTU have called for the suspension of the school re-opening.

Student organisation Cosas on the other hand has mobilised learners to protest against the school re-opening.

As the political bickering continues on the school re-opening, all eyes will be on the meeting of the ANC Top Six Officials set to take place later on Monday morning.

But Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga has made it clear a decision on whether schools should close again, rests with cabinet.

Back better but game lacks sharpness: Woods
19 July 2020, 4:34 AM

Tiger Woods said his back was feeling better but his game remained a little out of sorts after carding a third-round one-under 71 at the Memorial Tournament in steamy Dublin, Ohio on Saturday, leaving him 11 shots off the overnight leaders.

Competing in a PGA Tour event for the first time in five months, Woods has looked both good and bad with a second-round four-over 76 on Friday sandwiched between 71s.

A five-times champion on the Jack Nicklaus designed Muirfield Village layout, Woods said his troublesome back was an issue during a plodding second round.

Yet he complained of a general lack of competitive sharpness on Saturday as his bid for a record-breaking 83rd tour title drifted out of sight.

“I was moving better today and felt like I did the first day, and consequently I could make the passes at the golf ball like I did the first day,” Woods told reporters. Unfortunately I didn’t make any putts today.

“I think that getting back into the flow and competing again and playing at this level, I hadn’t done that in a while.

“Playing home and playing out here is so very different, and making sure that I stay sharp and don’t make any silly mistakes and dump the ball in the wrong spots or give myself bad angles, that’s one of the things about playing competitive golf that’s very different from playing at home.”

With better range of motion to his surgically repaired back, Woods mixed four birdies with three bogies on Saturday avoiding the big mistakes he made on Friday, like a double-bogey on the par-four opening hole.

“Overall I felt like I played well today, controlled the ball well. I hit one really bad shot there at three, but other than that, it was a pretty good, solid day,” said the 15-times major winner. “The golf course is right where they want it.

“Now that the wind has picked up just a touch, it’s going to dry it out a little bit more.”

Americans Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau start the day at nine-under at the top of the leaderboard, one shot clear of Spaniard Jon Rahm.



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