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Nhleko denies interfering with IPID’s work
28 July 2020, 6:51 PM

Former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has denied that he interfered with the work of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) in the matter of the rendition of Zimbabwean citizens in 2010. 

Nhleko continued his testimony at the State Capture Commission for a second day on Tuesday. He sought to clarify the question of the reporting lines of the Police Minister in relation to the IPID Executive Director and why he based his decision relating to the suspension of senior Hawks members Anwa Dramat and Shadrack Sibiya on an earlier rather than a later report on the matter. 

 In his testimony on Monday, Nhleko had detailed how he had set up a reference group to probe the illegal repatriation of five Zimbabwean nationals in 2010 by senior hawks officials and how it was investigated by the IPID. This follows former IPID head Robert McBride telling the commission last year that Nhleko’s actions were tantamount to interference with the directorate’s work, a claim Nhleko denies.

 “The reporting lines are direct, the Executive Director reports to the Police Minister but also the provisions in the IPID Act, I think it is Section 7 subsection 12 which entitles the minister to ask for any information pertaining to the Executive Director and so on.”

Below is Nhleko’s Monday testimony:  

First report 

 Nhleko answered to claims by McBride that he based his decision to suspend Dramat and Sibiya on a wrong report produced by IPID. 

Nhleko in 2014 chose to go with an earlier report signed on 22 January rather than the one signed on 18 March officially handed to him by McBride, which cleared the officials.

Nhleko, however, told Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that he cannot remember who gave him the earlier report which he took on board.   

“If you instruct people in the office they will go whatever ways to find out if that is the kind of thing that can be obtainable within the ministry, that’s how it came about.” 

“In other words, are you saying you can’t remember who exactly gave you that report,” asked Justice Zondo.

“Yes, I cannot,” answered Nhleko.

In the video below, the Former Minister continues his testimony:

 

Second report 

 He further explained that he was concerned that there had been alterations to the second report signed by McBride. He says he was unwilling to disregard the first report for various reasons.

“The first point of reference is to also state that we are nullifying the first one that is the first point, but in this particular instance the legislative and institutional arrangement between IPID and the NPA says if IPID is conducting a criminal investigation the NPA would assist them with prosecutors or a prosecutor if you are then producing another report you must still pull in those particular prosecutors and say there is something wrong with this report.” 

 Alterations on the second report

Nhleko then commissioned a report on the rendition matter and the two reports from law firm Werksmans Attorney. He says the law firm confirmed there were indeed alterations.

 “There are no cosmetic grammatical changes that we are dealing with materially, so surely the complete deletion of a paragraph and or statement for example on a report that you would have to decide let’s say as a prosecuting authority, for example, it would certainly influence the kind of decision that you would have to take.” 

 Nhleko’s testimony continues on Wednesday.

Political parties concerned about impact of IMF loan on SA’s sovereignty
28 July 2020, 6:00 PM

Political parties have reacted differently to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) multi-billion rand loan to South Africa.  The Executive Board of the IMF has approved the country’s request for a R70 billion loan to help bolster its response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with rampant corruption in the country, some parties are skeptical the money will reach and meet its intended purpose.  The R70 billion loan from the IMF is part of the government’s R500 billion stimulus package to support the economy.

This is the IMF’s first loan ever post-apartheid South Africa. It may be a stark reminder that not all is well in the country as the loan comes at a time when there are allegations of corruption and theft of the COVID-19 funds.

Congress of the People (Cope) spokesperson Dennis Bloem is concerned about possible embezzlement. ”There is no guarantee that the loan money from the IMF will not be stolen like the COVID-19 disaster funds. President Cyril Ramaphosa has lost control over the corruption fight. We have warned the ANC a long time ago that corruption will collapse the economy of this country, now we must go the IMF to borrow money.”

Accountability 

To ensure accountability, some parties have several proposals.

”For that reason, we as the DA are proposing that the Treasury implements extra-ordinary measures to be totally open and transparent about the use of COVID-19 Relief Funds and this loan. We propose that they should table every month a comprehensive report at Parliament on the disbursement and which companies are benefiting from these funds who are the directors of these companies and what the money is being spent on. We propose that Treasury should come to Parliament once a month and answer questions and face scrutiny about these reports,” says DA Shadow Minister on Finance Geordin Hill-Lewis.

SA’s sovereignty

Others fear the loan from the international lender will undermine the country’s economic independence.

‘‘This is the biggest political blunder in the history of South Africa. Loans from the IMF always come with neo-liberal and neo-colonial conditionalities and SA will not escape from this reality whether immediately or in the long run. The IMF will impose conditions that will certainly undermine South Africa’s macro-economic and fiscal policy sovereignty. Once again the EFF will be proven to be correct in this observation. It is now evident that the white capitalist establishment is working their global allies to use their puppet President Ramaphosa to hijack the sovereignty of South Africa,” says EFF’s spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.

The ruling party’s alliance partner, the South African Communist Party (SACP) Spokesperson Alex Mashilo says they are unhappy with the loan.

“We have had several meetings at the alliance level, to start with as the SACP we were not happy with the way the announcement of South Africa going to the IMF was made.”

“We did not know anything about it and we were worried about the IMF’s track record on the African continent as well as in Latin America. We did not want South Africa to take a loan that will take away our democratic national sovereignty. “

In the video below, Mashilo elaborates on their concerns:

‘Boost to COVID-19 fight’

Welcoming the loan, the governing African National Congress’ Pule Mabe says they will ensure the money is put to good use.

“We welcome the IMF loan and we are confident in that in welcoming the loan the national treasury said it shouldn’t undermine our sovereignty of our people. We also believe this loan will go a long way in bolstering efforts to fight and defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. It is also important that how these loans are utilised greater prudence is exercised.”

Two financial institutions, the New Development Bank and the African Development Bank have also pledged to help South Africa revive its falling economy.

Mthethwa thanks Master KG, Noncebo for putting SA on the map
28 July 2020, 5:10 PM

Minister of Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa has thanked musician Master KG and vocalist Noncebo Zikode for putting South Africa on the map. The duo’s song titled Jerusalema has reached 52 million views. People from across the world have people sharing videos on social media dancing to the song.

During a virtual conversation with the artists, Mthethwa says the song brings social cohesion. “We are happy that you have put our country on the global map. You have used both song and dance to unite the whole world. We really thank you for that. We note that our continent has come to the party, Angola and many other people all over the continent. ”

Mthwethwa urged Master KG to remain true to his roots. “We note that Kgaogelo you are 24, that means that our country has a future, with people like yourselves. If you do what you are doing and emphasize on your songs including the skeleton move itself, it’s more about where you come from, you don’t’ forget your roots.”

Master KG, whose real name is Kgaogelo Moagi, says he is excited about what is going on with his music.

“It is one of those moments that I don’t get enough of, the excitement keeps on coming each and every day. There are a lot of surprises that come each day. I believed in my music that I started way back in Tzaneen, Limpopo, Calais village, trying to make beats, trying to produce. From then I just continued working on it, made sure that I perfect my beats.”

He says his first single, Skeleton Move, received awards both locally and internationally.

“I released my first single as a mainstream artist, which is Skeleton Move, and it did so well. I remember that I even went to Dallas Texas and won an award.  I also won another one in Nigeria. I also won a couple of awards here at home, a lot of wonderful things. From there I just saw that there is something.”

In the video below, in conversation with Master KG and Nomcebo on Jerusalema:

Preparations for Mlangeni’s funeral in full swing
28 July 2020, 2:35 PM

Preparations for the funeral of the struggle stalwart, Andrew Mlangeni,  are currently under way at his Dube home in Soweto, Gauteng.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a Special Official Funeral Category One for the struggle veteran who died last week Tuesday at the age of 95, following an abdominal complaint.

 His funeral service will be held tomorrow at the University of Johannesburg’s Soweto Campus starting from nine in the morning. This will be followed by a burial at the Roodepoort Cemetery.

According to a statement from the African National Congress (ANC), Mlangeni’s body is expected to arrive at his home this afternoon and will lie in state overnight.

South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Chief, General Solly Shoke, has visited Mlangeni’s home in Soweto.

“And also to come and inspect the level of readiness of the ceremonial aspect of the funeral, unfortunately, we won’t do what we normally do or what we would’ve done for him, it will be low-level ceremonial involvement due to COVID-19 rules that are applicable. So when you lose someone high in society who is respectable, who has served the nation with honour we’ve got to show some form of respect.”

In the video below, SANDF members visit Mlangeni’s home: 

Vaginal ring a step closer to becoming new HIV prevention method
27 July 2020, 9:00 PM

A vaginal ring has moved one step closer to becoming a new HIV prevention method for women in sub-Saharan Africa. This comes after Europe’s regulatory body gave the dapivirine vaginal ring the green light.

The vaginal ring has showed that it reduces chances of HIV transmission by 35% in women.

The authorisation allows the International Partnership for Microbicides, the manufacturers of the vaginal ring, to obtain approvals for the ring to be used in countries where it is needed the most – including in South Africa.

Empowerment of women 

The ring, which can be inserted and removed by the woman herself, slowly releases an antiretroviral (ARV) drug called dapivirine into the vagina – the potential site of HIV infection – for a month.

Researchers say it will empower women to make decisions to protect themselves from HIV infection, particularly where they can’t negotiate condom use and often with violent intimate partners. With hundreds of young women infected with HIV in South Africa each week, the news of the approval of the vaginal ring have come at a crucial time.

“Today’s opinion means that women who urgently need new HIV prevention options may soon be able to use a long-acting method that they can use privately and on their own terms. This has been a major gap in the HIV prevention portfolio and that is why IPM developed the ring. We have many more steps to go but we have never been closer to making this ring available to women who need it the most,” says the founding Chief Executive of the International Partnership for Microbicides, the manufacturers of the vaginal ring, Dr Zeda Rosenberg.

Landmark in HIV prevention

The principal investigator for South Africa on The Ring Study, Professor Linda Gail Bekker, from The Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, has described the developments as a landmark in HIV prevention. She says she hopes the World Health Organisation will urgently organise implementation steps.

“The trial ended some time ago and we’ve obviously been working with the European Medicines Regulatory Agency for some time. I’m very happy that finally the approval is through and it now means we can move forward with this important prevention option for women. Of course we are hoping the SA government will embrace this as well.”

Women welcome the study 

South African women are overjoyed that after over a decade of research – the vaginal ring will give African women their first long-lasting HIV prevention tool. The clinical trials involved women from four African countries, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Malawi.

“This is such great news for women in SA, women in Africa, and women globally. This has been a very long journey to have an HIV prevention method that works for women but now more than ever we have to push for our government to approve this ring that will prevent HIV infection in young women. For the women who participated in these trials you are our heroes,” says the leader of the Advocates for the Prevention of HIV in Africa Yvette Raphael.

Rolling-out of the vaginal ring 

Welcoming the news, the National Health Department says it will start with the regulatory processes in preparation for the roll-out of the dapivirine vaginal ring in South Africa.

“So what we will have to do in SA is to ensure that while we are waiting for pre-qualification from WHO as well as quality assurance processes.  We need to start our regulatory processes in the country. We need to start the communication so that everybody knows what is happening because once that is done then we are able to find a way to roll out. That shouldn’t be a problem you know trying to get regulatory approvals and so on because the clinical trials have already shown that it works,” says Director of HIV Prevention Programmes in the National Health Department, Dr Thato Chidarikire.

Current HIV prevention methods are condoms and an oral pill, pre-exposure prophylaxis, which is taken prior to exposure to HIV. However, both are not long-lasting unlike the vaginal ring.

South Africa has been commended for playing a big role in the research.

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