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UK records 29 612 new COVID cases, 56 deaths
20 September 2021, 3:07 AM

Britain recorded 29 612 daily COVID-19 cases on Sunday and 56 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, official data showed.

The new data meant deaths in the last seven days were up 3.3% on the week before, while cases continued to fall, down 17.7% on the week before.

Meanwhile the National Institute for Communicable Diseases in South Africa reported  2 281 new  coronavirus  (COVID-19) infections in the country in the last 24-hours, bringing the total number of cases to 2 882 630.

As per the National Department of Health statement, a further 58 more people have succumbed to COVID-19 related complications. This puts the total death toll at 86 174.

A vaccine summit being hosted by US President Joe Biden must come up with a plan this week to transfer 100 million stockpiled COVID-19 vaccines to poorer countries before they reach their expiry date, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said. 
 
Biden is due to convene a virtual COVID-19 summit on Wednesday on the margins of the UN General Assembly, aimed at boosting vaccinations worldwide with the goal of ending the pandemic by the end of 2022.

Russia’s ruling pro-Putin party wins election but loses some ground
20 September 2021, 1:00 AM

Russia’s ruling United Russia party was on course to secure a comfortable victory in a three-day parliamentary election despite losing some ground to its opponents, early results and an exit poll showed on Sunday.

With nearly 13% of ballots counted, the Central Election Commission said United Russia had won just over 40% of the vote.

Separately, an exit poll conducted by INSOMAR and published by Russia’s RIA news agency predicted United Russia would win a little over 45% of the vote.

Though that would amount to an emphatic win, it would be a weaker result than the last time a parliamentary election was held in 2016, when the party won just over 54% of the vote.

United Russia has faced a slump in its popularity due to malaise over years of faltering living standards and allegations of corruption from jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny which it denies. It was also contending with a tactical voting campaign organised by Navalny’s allies.

Initial results showed the Communist Party finishing in second place with around 24% of the vote, followed by the nationalist LDPR party with around 9%. Both parties usually back the Kremlin on key issues.

Kremlin critics say the vote is a sham, given a pre-election crackdown which outlawed Navalny’s movement, barred his allies from running, and targeted critical media and non-governmental organisations which the authorities regarded as hostile.

However, United Russia’s expected win is likely to be used by the Kremlin as proof of widespread support for Putin, who has been in power as either president or prime minister since 1999 and remains a popular figure with many Russians who credit him with standing up to the West and restoring national pride.

Swedish golfer Kristoffer Broberg wins Dutch Open
20 September 2021, 1:00 AM

Swedish golfer, Kristoffer Broberg, held off a ferocious onslaught from German, Matthias Schmid and Alejandro Canizares of Spain to win the Dutch Open in Cromvoirt by three shots.

Overnight leader, Broberg completed his final round on 72 – even par – but had already done enough to finish the tournament on 23 under.
Schmid was second on 20 under, while Canizares, finished in third – five shots off the pace.

Broberg went into the final round on 23 under par. Eight shots clear of his nearest competitor, Marcus Helligkilde.

A birdie on the first hole gave him an impressive nine-shot lead. But the next few holes were quite uneventful after that.
He bogeyed the par four third and managed another birdie at the tenth.

Meanwhile, Schmid and Canizares started to make their way up the leader board.
Schmid managed five birdies over the front nine. And another on the 11th to add to the pressure Broberg was no doubt feeling already.

Canizares’ first nine featured six birdies, and one bogey and kept him in the hunt for the title.

On the 12th, Broberg carded his second bogey of the day but a fantastic approach shot prevented matters from getting worse for the Swede.

Undeterred, Schmid kept carding birdies as he went along with six holes to go, he had closed the gap between himself and the leader from nine, to just two shots.

But on the par- three 13th, he made his first mistake of the day and it would cost him dearly.

A double bogey saw him drop back to 19 under par, together with Canizares and four shots behind the Swede.

Broberg, however, was in trouble at the very next hole, the tension was palpable. And a bogey on the par-four, 14th saw him drop back to 22 under for a three-shot lead.

Canizarez was the first to pounce again. On the 16th, he carded a birdie to move into second place and trail by just two.

Moments later, Schmid joined the Spaniard on 20 under par. Courtesy of a brilliant birdie on the same hole.

With the pressure on, Broberg somehow managed a birdie on the 17th. He gave himself some breathing space again with a three-shot lead and with just one hole in the tournament remaining.

French minister in Mali to pressure junta over Russian mercenaries
19 September 2021, 11:50 PM

France’s Armed Forces Minister arrived in Mali on Sunday to pressure the military junta to end talks to bring Russian mercenaries into the country and push it to keep a promise to return the country to constitutional order in February.

Diplomatic and security sources have told Reuters that Mali’s year-old military junta is close to recruiting the Russian Wagner Group, and France has launched a diplomatic drive to thwart it, saying such an arrangement is “incompatible” with a continued French presence.

West Africa’s main political bloc, ECOWAS, as well as other allies combating militants in the Sahel region, have also expressed concerns over the potential deal.

But Mali’s junta which seized power in August 2020, has dug in, noting that France has begun scaling down its decade-old operation against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State across the region to include more European countries.

On Sunday, Mali’s foreign ministry called objections from neighbour Niger to the prospect of a deal with Wagner “unacceptable, unfriendly and condescending”.

The visit by Florence Parly to Mali is the highest-level trip by French officials since the talks with Wagner emerged.

An official from the French Armed Forces Ministry told reporters ahead of the visit that Parly would stress “the heavy consequences if this decision were to be taken by the Malian authorities.”

She would also underscore the importance of keeping to the calendar for the transition to democracy leading to elections in February 2022, the official said.

French officials describe the relationship with the junta as “complicated”, although it still relies on Paris for counter-terrorism operations.

Paris said on Thursday it had killed the leader of Islamic State in Western Sahara in northern Mali.

DA calls on Limpopo Premier to investigate corruption allegations against MEC Thandi Moraka
14 September 2021, 10:12 AM

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo says it has written to Premier Stan Mathabatha to investigate allegations of corruption against Sports, Arts and Culture MEC Thandi Moraka.

Moraka allegedly received kickbacks amounting to R600 000 from former Eskom senior official France Hlakudi.

Moraka allegedly received the money from Eskom’s slush fund, Babinatlou Business Services, between 2016 and 2017.

Hlakudi is also facing various charges including fraud, corruption and money laundering in relation to the building of the multi-billion rand Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga.

DA MPL Risham Maharaj says, “The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo is deeply concerned and has written to Premier Stan Mathabatha to investigate allegations of MEC Thandi Moraka in terms of receiving kickbacks. We call on Premier Mathabatha to investigate these claims as well as to have MEC Moraka explain her circumstances and her transactions and the relationship between her company and Babina Tlou business services.

The DA will continue to call for investigations into possible cases of corruption or untoward conduct and to ensure that those who benefit illegally at the expense of citizens must be held to account.”

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