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Rwandan Hollywood film hero found guilty of terrorism
20 September 2021, 5:00 PM

A Rwandan court on Monday found a former hotel manager, who became a hero in a Hollywood film about the 1994 genocide, Paul Rusesabagina guilty of terrorism.

Rusesabagina and 20 of his co-accused face life sentences on the nine charges, which include terrorism, arson, taking hostages, and forming an armed rebel group, which he directed from abroad. Sentencing is expected later on Monday.

Rusesabagina has acknowledged membership in the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD), a group opposed to Paul Kagame’s rule but denied responsibility for violence carried out by its armed wing, the National Liberation Front.

Others facing trial alongside him include Callixte Nsabimana, popularly known as Sankara, who was a spokesperson for the National Liberation Front. Rusesabagina, who has refused to take part in the trial was not in court, just like in the previous months.

The 2004 film depicted him risking his life to shelter hundreds of people as manager of a hotel in Kigali during the genocide.  In a video posted on YouTube in 2018, Rusesabagina called for armed resistance, saying the change could not be achieved by democratic means.

ANCYL in KZN want youth to be represented in party’s IEC candidate list
20 September 2021, 4:57 PM

Members from the ANC Youth League’s provincial congress preparatory committee in KwaZulu-Natal are appealing to the party to ensure adequate youth representation in the party’s candidate list to the IEC.

Several members picketed outside the provincial offices demanding 25% youth representation across all municipalities in the province.

“This emanates from the lists processes and PR list and young people have been compromised in all eleven regions in KZN. In fact, there are some local municipalities that don’t have a reflection of young people at all. We are here to pass a clear message that the role of young people is not to fetch water for the elders or put posters for the ANC. We also have young people who are capable and skilled to be deployed in various structures of governance,” says KwaZulu-Natal ANC Youth League spokesperson Sbonelo Nomvalo.

Receiving the memorandum, ANC PEC member Kwazi Mshengu says they will consider the concerns.

“It has been an elaborate process from the beginning; the Youth League has been actually trying to ensure that they meet these demands from the level of BGM. Obviously, the ANC does not shut out its doors on anyone or on any matter. Even this matter that the ANCYL  is raising will continue to be engaged by the leaders of the ANC as we have received the memorandum on behalf of the ANC officials. There is nothing that is too late in the ANC and we take decisions informed by material conditions and what is in the best interests of the ANC at that particular point in time.”

Protests across the country 

There has been dissatisfaction over the party’s candidate lists across the country.

Two weeks ago a group of around 100 ANC members from Tshwane protested outside the ruling party’s headquarters in Johannesburg calling on members of the NEC to investigate the candidate list of councillors that had been put forward for the upcoming local government elections.

Members in Klipfontein also took to the streets last week to voice their dissatisfaction: 

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe explains the party’s candidate listing process: 

Phase two of Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine trial shows positive effects on children
20 September 2021, 4:02 PM

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and BioNTech announced today, that phase two of its three-phased vaccine trial, has shown that its COVID-19 vaccine was safe for children aged 5 to 11. They say, the vaccine was well-tolerated and generated a robust antibody response in this age group.

The companies are now planning to submit this data to the US Food and Drug Administration as well as the European Medicines Agency and other regulators around the world.

The two-dose Pfizer regimen is a smaller dose, compared to the dosage used in children 12 years and older.

The trial included more than 2 200 participants aged 5 to 11, vaccinated 21 days apart, Pfizer Chairperson Albert Bourla said.

Over the past nine months, hundreds of millions of people ages 12 and older from around the world have received their COVID-19 vaccine.

Pediatricians support the move to vaccinate children.

He said the company is now eager to extend the protection afforded by the vaccine to this younger population.

Two day virtual tax indaba kicks off
20 September 2021, 3:41 PM

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) says it has seen an increase in tax non-compliance with some taxpayers having dishonest, illegal, and suspicious behaviour.

SARS Commissioner Edward Kieswetter says they have done a lot of work on non -compliance and believe the majority of taxpayers are honest when filling their returns.

Kieswetter was speaking at the opening of the two-day South African Institute of Taxation annual Indaba currently taking place virtually.

The commissioner also gave an update on the work SARS has done over the last year. SARS says they have administered R38.3 billion of relief measures and introduced more than 40 additional technology enhancements in their digital e- filling platform.

Efforts to mitigate non-compliance 

SARS says they put measures in place to mitigate against the increase in non-compliance.

“It is our aim to select honest taxpayers through our seamless service and to detect the dishonest or negligent taxpayers for further investigation. And of course using data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to emit human effort is central. Sadly corruption in society continues to be a menace in all our organisations and it is important we are all co-creators of an ecosystem that is free of corruption,” says Kieswetter.

SARS elaborates some of the work it has done to deal with non-compliance.

“A total of 1.7 million returns were detected in the past year for audit and verification through the SARS risk engines and this yielded additional revenue of R57.2 billion, revenue that was not going to be collected had it not been for the work and efforts at SARS. We have also detected 26 000 potential individuals with cash flows in excess of a million rands that were not on our tax register.”

 

Economic recovery 

Chief Executive Officer of the South African Institute of Taxation Keith Engel, says the country’s economic recovery will be long and slow. Engel believes the country is in a much better space than where it was in 2017 but the government is not moving fast enough to deal with major economic pressures.

This year’s tax indaba is hosted under the theme ‘Closing the Tax Gap’ in respect of the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) overarching objectives to meet its revenue collection targets. Engel says spending will remain tight.

” We’ve got no new taxes but we have had declining revenues for various reasons and here we see spending basically being frozen as much as possible and that’s been taken out of the public wage. The SOEs we see sell-off but they are mostly locked in place and there is pressure to produce something different there.”

Tax gap 

Meanwhile, tax experts at the indaba say the country’s tax gap is sitting at R200 billion or 4%  of the GDP. The tax gap is the difference between the taxes that should be payable and the tax collected.

“In today’s numbers you are looking at R40 billion-plus on VAT side and frighteningly they estimated that corporate tax gap from corporate is around 2% of the GDP. So, we talking about R100 billion in corporate tax, and from personal income tax, there was a study done by Stellenbosch to around about R46 to 50 billion. If you look at the three we are already getting to R200 billion in terms of the tax gap,” says an expert at PWC, Kyle Mandy.

Other issues to be discussed at the tax indaba will include ethics and standards of taxation, taxation of crypto assets, and corporate tax amongst others.

IEC in KZN says voter registrations went well despite some challenges
20 September 2021, 3:18 PM

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)  in KwaZulu-Natal says despite community protests that led to delays in the delivery of material at some voting stations, the voter registration weekend progressed well in the province.

Three voting stations were not able to operate on the first day in Imbali outside Pietermaritzburg due to community protests.

Fifty-six thousand first-time voters, between the ages of 18 and 21, registered to vote in this year’s local government election.

The IEC in KwaZulu-Natal is taking stock following the final voter registration weekend. Political parties also took advantage of the two days to not only encourage people to register to vote but to also campaign.

More than 340 000 people registered to vote on 1 November in the province.

“We registered over 340 000 people in our voting stations yesterday, those were split between the people registering for the first time and people that were confirming or changing their wards because they have changed their place of employment.  We have 95 000 that were at our voting stations registering for the first time in this province and then we have 58 000 currently reflecting as new voters in our voters’ roll and then the age category that we like. The 56 000 were registered in the ages 18 and 21,” says Provincial Electoral Operations Manager, Ntombifuthi Masinga.

Challenges encountered

Masinga also elaborates on some of the voter registration challenges that emerged at the weekend.

“We had 4490 voting stations all of them except three opened on Saturday morning. We had service delivery protests throughout KwaZulu-Natal and most of them had to do with the level of service that people get from the municipalities.  But the other reason is dissatisfaction with the newly demarcated ward boundaries.  We do have reports of stations that opened late and materials arrived late. In areas like KwaHlabisa municipality, Port Shepstone and Msunduzi, our area managers who manage a cluster of voting stations per ward were blocked in these community protests that were going on in the province and as a result, they ended up arriving late in the voting stations where they were supposed to deliver the material.”

Masinga says the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is yet to lodge a formal complaint after the party’s leader Julius Malema was blocked while trying to access a voting station in the KwaDambuza area outside Pietermaritzburg.

“It is within the right of the EFF to lodge a complaint because they were blocked access into one of our voting stations, unfortunately, it is something that happened outside of a voting station. Our Presiding Officer wouldn’t be directly involved in that scuffle. There is an argument by the ANC that they blocked access to the voting station because Mr Malema allegedly brought with him a group of people that do not reside in the area but we haven’t received a formal complaint from the EFF as yet. We do encourage them to open a case with the SAPS because the violation of the Electoral Act is the same as breaking any other law in the country. The Electoral Code of Conduct that governs all political parties that contest elections comes into effect today given that the Minister of CoGTA has proclaimed the election date.”

A scuffle between ANC and EFF members in KwaZulu-Natal:

Political parties and independent candidates intending to contest the 1 November election have until 5 o’ clock tomorrow afternoon to submit their nominations and prescribed election deposits. This forms part of the amended timetable following the official proclamation of the election date by the Minister of Co-operative Governance Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

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