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Concerns over SABC News’ independence following Magopeni’s axing
28 January 2022, 8:26 PM

The Head of Media Monitoring Africa William Bird says allegations of political interference at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) need to be taken seriously and must be properly investigated. Bird was commenting on the SABC’s decision to fire Head of News Phathiswa Magopeni with immediate effect – citing a breakdown of trust.

She was found guilty late last year of misconduct for failing to ensure that a court order was complied with regarding an interdicted Special Assignment programme. Magopeni last year lodged a grievance against Chief Executive Officer Madoda Mxakwe regarding alleged political interference.

The SABC later said it had established a special committee to look into the matter. Bird says it is important that Magopeni’s point of view is also heard.

“It is a very sad that for the SABC and for South Africa. There are certain people that will obviously be rejoicing at the turn of events. I think that is really sad precisely because thanks to Phathiswa, the senior executive team and the board have been able to restore the credibility and independence of the SABC over the last several years. If you look at where it was in 2016, Phathiswa came in and she has been able to do an incredible job.”

Bird says the SABC has always been subjected to political interference: 

The Campaign for Free Expression (CFE) has also expressed concern over the SABC’s.

“I think that in context this is a very concerning development. The context is that the SABC has in the past few years stabilised itself and asserted its independence and under Magopeni re-established the credibility and trustworthiness of its news product. And this also comes shortly after she comes under personal attack from key ANC leaders and she has herself complained of editorial interference by the people who are firing her. So, in that context, it is a very concerning moment for SABC News,” Executive director of CFE, Anton Harber.

The South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) says they are shocked by the decision to dismiss Magopeni.

“It’s quite an unfortunate incident and we have just received the news of the dismissal and we will study the dismissal letter sent by the Group CEO and we will certainly take the matter from there on and I think this whole thing has been quite unfair on Phathiswa and we will take this on review,” says Sanef’s Reggie Moalusi.

Meanwhile, Labour Union Bemawu, is calling for an urgent investigation to be conducted by Parliament’s Communications Portfolio Committee into Magopeni’s dismissal.

“I am very concerned as we have seen the grievances that she has lodged and they are very serious grievances and we are acting in this point in time and not on her behalf but on behalf of the allegations she made. And we are busy writing to the portfolio committee to ask for an investigation in respect of that and we have seen that the board has appointed a committee to investigate this which is absolute nonsense. You cannot investigate yourself and that investigation must come from a different body and that body is the portfolio committee itself,” says Bemawu’s Hannes du Buisson.

Du Buisson has also expressed shock at the decision: 

3 789 new coronavirus cases reported in SA
28 January 2022, 7:46 PM

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD ) reports 3 789 new COVID-19 cases in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed infections to 3 598 288.

This increase represents a 10.6% positivity rate. The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (32%), followed by Western Cape (14%).

In a statement, the NICD says there may be a backlog of COVID-19 mortality cases reported due to the ongoing audit exercise by the National Department of Health.  133 deaths have been reported and of these, 47 occurred in the past 24 – 48 hours.

This brings the total fatalities to 94 784 to date.

22 195 053 tests have been conducted in both public and private sectors so far.

Below are the latest coronavirus statistics in South Africa:

 

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Decision to close some factories was approved by Competition Commission in 2019: Clover
28 January 2022, 7:10 PM

Clover says the decision to close some of its factories was approved by the Competition Commission in 2019. This was before the merger with Milco, a subsidiary of the Israeli Central Bottling Company, which bought a 60% stake in the company in 2019.

As the strike at Clover enters its third month, the dairy producer approached the courts for the second time.

This is in an attempt to protect non-striking workers against violence and attacks, including any damage to property. This comes after the company retrenched 850 workers, amid a restructuring process.

The move has also resulted in the closure of some of its factories.

Clover says the decision to restructure its business emanates from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As in any economy, which is unpredictable, nobody at the time predicted that we were going to have COVID-19, nobody predicted that it is going to have such detrimental impact on all businesses. Unfortunately, we did not have a choice given the poor financial results, we had to undertake a restructuring process, so we understand that the conditions and we’ve never breached those conditions,” says Clover Group Manager Steven Velthuysen.

 Velthuysen says some of the company’s trucks have been burnt: 

Unions and Clover management held another round of negotiations on Thursday in Centurion. South African Federation of Trade Unions’ General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi also attended the meeting.

“It looks like we’re going to say goodbye to the days where we make demands. The company is turning the whole negotiations upside down, they’re making demands on workers, and their demand is that we must expect the 20% wage cut, their demand is to accept thousands of job losses by factory closures.”

Another union leader, General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (Giwusa) President Mametlwe Sebei says Clover management is still adamant on its restructuring plan as well as retrenchments.

“There’s clearly an impasse as you know, we’re not making as much progress as we’d hope for. The reality is that the company is not coming with proposals that address the issues of job losses, the issue of measures that workers completely reject, they are unreasonable, also the issue of factory closures.”

Clover has refuted allegations made by unions regarding workers’ 13th cheques. It says it has processed the cheques and they were paid last Friday.

SABC dismisses Head of News Magopeni
28 January 2022, 6:15 PM

The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has fired News and Current Affairs Group Executive Phathiswa Magopeni citing a breakdown of trust.

Following the SABC’s breach of the South Gauteng High Court Order dated 14 September 2021, the Corporation instituted disciplinary proceedings, in line with its Disciplinary Code, against Magopeni for her alledged role.

“An open and transparent disciplinary hearing chaired by Advocate Nazeer Cassim SC was held in public on 17, 20 and 21 December 2021.  Ms Magopeni was found guilty of misconduct for failure to take appropriate measures to ensure that the Court Order was complied with,” says the corporation in a statement.

According to the broadcaster, Advocate Cassim SC recommended that Magopeni be given a sanction of a warning.

“However, if Ms Magopeni made common cause with the remarks as set out in the heads of argument submitted on her behalf, the SABC should, in its discretion and decision-making power, adopt a sanction which is consistent with that of a breakdown in the trust relationship between employer and employee. “

The SABC says Magopeni was afforded an opportunity to submit mitigating factors and to address aggravating factors identified by the SABC.

“After several requests for extensions, instead of taking up the opportunity to submit her mitigating factors and distance herself from the remarks in, amongst other things, the heads of argument submitted on her behalf, she elected not to submit her mitigating factors. Thus, she waived her right to do so. In the absence Ms Magopeni’s mitigating factors, the SABC concluded that there is a breakdown in the trust relationship between her and the SABC.”

The SABC says Magopeni’s services have been terminated with immediate effect:

The South African National Editors Forum, (Sanef) says they are shocked by the SABC’s decision to dismiss Magopeni

“It’s quite an unfortunate incident and we have just received the news of the dismissal and we will study the dismissal letter sent by the Group CEO and we will certainly take the matter from there on and I think this whole thing has been quite unfair on Phathiswa and we will take this on review,” says Sanef’s Reggie Moalusi.

President Ramaphosa lauds China for being one of the leaders in coronavirus fight
28 January 2022, 5:24 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa says global economic recovery depends on everyone being vaccinated. He says no country should be left behind in accessing the vaccines to fight COVID-19.

He was speaking during a virtual celebration to mark Chinese New Year on Friday.

He also lauded China for being one of the leading countries in the fight against COVID-19. As the Chinese are ushering in the New Year, President  Ramaphosa has stressed that South Africa and China have strong ties.

He hopes the New Year will bring prosperity between the two countries and strengthen their relationship even further.

“As we recover and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19, it is our wish that the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and South Africa will lead to mutual economic growth, development and common prosperity for ourselves for our respective regions and for the rest of the world.”

President Ramaphosa has also praised Beijing for supporting South Africa in the COVID-19 fight.

“In the year ahead our focus will be ending the pandemic, alleviating poverty, reducing inequality and creating more jobs and South Africa appreciates China’s support during the pandemic and for ensuring that Africa has access to COVID-19 vaccines.”

He further appealed for people to get vaccinated.

“A global recovery depends on everyone being vaccinated, we are only safe when everyone is safe. No country and no community should be left behind.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese Embassy says it looks forward to working with South Africa during the course of the year.

Virtual celebration to mark China’s New Year:

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