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French Open organizers working with authorities to avoid US Open clash
24 May 2020, 1:18 AM

French Open director Guy Forget said he was working hand in hand with tennis authorities to make sure the dates of the claycourt Grand Slam tournament and those of the US Open do not clash, adding that Flushing Meadows would make an announcement in June.

The French Open had originally been due to start on Sunday, but the new coronavirus crisis forced organizers to postpone the start to September 20, one week after the scheduled final of the US Open, leading to criticism within the tennis world.

Earlier in May, the French tennis federation said it was in talks with the ATP, WTA and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) over a revised calendar for the season.

“The official announcement has not been made yet. It (the French Open) will probably be between the end of September and the beginning of October. We’ve been working closely with the ATP, the WTA and the ITF to make a global announcement on what the circuit will be like until the end of the year,” Forget told French radio Europe 1 on Saturday.

“There are so many question marks. The city of New York is more affected by the coronavirus than France. They also have a lot of organization problems; they will make an announcement mid-June to say how it’s going to be like for the US Open.”

Meanwhile, Forget is confident the French Open will be played in good conditions.

South America a new COVID-19 epicentre, Africa reaches 100 000 cases
24 May 2020, 12:30 AM

South America has become a new epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic with Brazil hardest-hit, while cases are rising in some African countries that so far have a relatively low death toll, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

“The COVID-19 pandemic today reached a milestone in Africa, with more than 100 000 confirmed cases. The virus has now spread to every country in the continent since the first case was confirmed in the region 14 weeks ago,” the WHO said in a statement, noting there were 3100 confirmed deaths on the vast continent.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, who is from Botswana, said: “For now COVID-19 has made a soft landfall in Africa, and the continent has been spared the high numbers of deaths which have devastated other regions of the world.”

Even so, she said, “We must not be lulled into complacency as our health systems are fragile and are less able to cope with a sudden increase in cases.”

About half of African countries are experiencing community transmission of the virus, the WHO said.

The situation in South America appeared graver.

Dr. Mike Ryan, WHO’s top emergencies expert, speaking earlier to a news conference, said: “In a sense South America has become a new epicentre for the disease.”

Brazil is the “most affected,” and authorities there have approved broad use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19, he said. He reiterated that clinical evidence does not support the drug’s widespread use against the disease, given its risks.

Nine African countries had 50% rises in cases in the past week, while others have seen a decline or have stable rates, Ryan said.

Below is the dashboard tracking global COVID-19 cases, death toll, recoveries and more:

Burundi police detains more than 200 opposition election observers
23 May 2020, 11:00 PM

Burundian police detained more than 200 opposition electoral observers during this week’s election, the spokesperson for the main opposition National Freedom Council (CNL) told Reuters on Friday, alleging voting irregularities.

Wednesday’s election, the first competitive presidential election since civil war erupted in 1993, is meant to usher in the first democratic transfer of power in 58 years of independence.

There was widespread international criticism of the last election in 2015, which the opposition boycotted, when President Pierre Nkurunziza won a third term.

In this video below shows election preparations in Burundi:

There were few international election monitors on Wednesday after the government said they would have to spend 14 days in quarantine to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The ruling CNDD-FDD party’s candidate, retired general Evariste Ndayishimiye, ran against opposition leader Agathon Rwasa and five others.

Nkurunziza, whose government has repeatedly been accused of rights abuses, will step down after 15 years in power.

Police were not immediately available to comment. An official at the justice ministry, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to talk to the media, said the detainees were currently on trial.

“The voting was marred with several irregularities: arrests of over 200 CNL (observers), intimidation, people who voted several times or under the names of dead ones, refugees or prisoners,” said Terence Manirambona, the spokesman for the CNL.

The electoral commission said the allegations of fraud had to be addressed by the courts and not by them. The government did not respond to requests for comment about the accusations.

Full results are expected within a week. If no one wins 50% in the first round, then a run-off will be held within two weeks.

In First Person–Part 5: Municipal worker recalls his life-changing experience when he lost his arm and leg
19 May 2020, 11:53 PM

In this episode we follow the journey of Njongo Ngalonkulu, a municipal worker who recalls the events leading up to a traumatic, life-changing experience when he lost his arm and leg.

What happens when one goes through a traumatic experience that changes their lives forever? In the fifth episode of our podcast series ‘In First Person’, we focus on the journey of Njongo Ngalonkulu a municipal worker.

Ngalonkulu opens up to SABC News producer Bomkazi Malobola about his trauma.

Ngalonkulu speaks about  his experience as a worker in the municipality in Eastern Cape:

SAA
SAA financial results reveal loss of more than R10 billion in past two years
15 May 2020, 9:27 PM

South African Airways (SAA) has presented its draft financial results revealing that it has lost a total of more than R10 billion over the past two years.

The airline’s business rescue practitioners and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan briefed the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on Friday afternoon.

Video of Gordhan’s briefing below:

Ahead of the meeting, SAA gave members of Parliament the annual financial statements for the year ending March 2018, as well as the draft annual financial statement for the year ending March 2019.

This marks the first time the airline has presented its financials since 2017, and the first time the public has gained any insight into its financial situation since the group entered into business rescue in December 2019.

The airline has not turned a profit since 2011, and has received R57 billion in bailouts since 1994.

Gordhan outlines what the multi-billion rand bailouts by government were used for over the past three years.

“On how much was used was actually spent on the amount that was provided in cash what was it spent for and what the output was so that information is in the table provided by the department.”

“So for the following three years in 2017, 18, and 19 inputs of R10 billion respectively to settle debt was guaranteed and all of that R5.4 billion was used for recapitalisation of R2 billion was for working capital and R3.5 billion was used for settling finance requirements and R2 billion was utilised for working capital.”

Last week, Gordhan said in discussions with trade unions, they agreed to take salary cuts of up to 40% to ensure SAA’s survival.

SAA’s administrators, appointed in December to try to rescue the airline, have said previously that a wind-down or liquidation of the loss-making airline were likely outcomes.

 

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