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At least one million people remain without power in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida
1 September 2021, 7:50 PM

At least one million people remain without power in the US State of Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida that has also impacted petrol and water supplies in the region.

Ida made landfall on Sunday as a Category 4 storm, bringing sweeping rains and packing winds of over 200km per hour – toppling electrical transmission lines, overwhelming water treatment plants while causing petrol stations to be inundated as people searched for fuel.

And with searing temperatures in the region, the situation on the ground is dire.

Flattened and flooded is what an aerial view provides over the Greater New Orleans region. Evidence of the sheer ferocity of Ida that while not as devastating as Hurricane Katrina 16 years ago, has left an indelible mark on the region.

The home of 70-year Theophilus Charles is a shell of itself, walls sheared and the roof blown off.

“I was born here, we went through all the major hurricanes here. So, I figure I’ll stay here and ride this one out but I couldn’t. Things just started falling apart, blowing away. I ain’t got a dry spot in the house. My roof fell, I lost all my clothes, my furniture, my appliances, everything. Right now I’ve got nothing. ”

Hurricane Ida comes as the region is dealing with the third-highest rate of new coronavirus infections:

Night curfew

New Orleans, the largest city in the state,  imposed a night-time curfew to prevent crime and looting after catastrophic transmission damage left much of the city without power – as some 25 000 utility workers laboured to bring the city back online.

President Joe Biden earlier declared the state a major disaster area.

“We’ve been working with the electric sector throughout the night and all day today to assess and understand the full extent of the damage. To accelerate the process, I’ve asked the Federal Aviation Administration to work today with Louisiana and Mississippi electric companies to authorize the use of surveillance drones to assess items damage to energy infrastructure while ensuring those flights do not disrupt aerial search and rescue operations.”

 High temperature 

Searing temperatures in the region above 30 degrees Celsius coupled with high humidity has made the absence of electricity felt more acutely with long queues wrapped around blocks in some places as people waited for fuel to power generators, while neighbours shared swimming pool water to flush toilets and even bathe. As authorities scrambled to open cooling centres, providing water and ready-to-go meals while urging those who evacuated, not to return to their homes quite yet.

“It looks like a bomb dropped. It’s going to take a very long time for us to get back to the way things were if we even can,” says resident Jill Galliano.

Another resident Matt Koontz says; “Ida made Katrina look like a warm summer breeze. I was not anticipating, this is craziness what happened.”

Climate change 

As the United Nations again warns that disasters brought on by natural events like Ida have increased fivefold over the past 40 years – driven by climate change.

“The number of affected people in economic loss is getting higher and higher because of the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and climate change and we have seen this year alone, during this summer, in the month of July, which was the hottest since record began, there were heat waves and there were floods, so, we are not, unfortunately in a safe place and the report tells us that the 50-year trend is quite alarming,” says Secretary General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction Mami Mizutori.

The National Hurricane Centre is already monitoring Tropical Storm Larry off Africa’s West Coast expected to become a major hurricane before the weekend.


‘Constitution was not violated during shortlisting for magistrates in Free State’
1 September 2021, 6:15 PM

The Magistrates Commission and the Minister of Justice have submitted in the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) in Bloemfontein that there was no violation of the constitution during the 2019 shortlisting for magistrate vacancies in the Free State.

The commission and the Justice Minister are challenging the 2019 High Court order which set aside the shortlisting processes of the Magistrates Commission.

The order also set aside the appointments of magistrates which were made by the Justice Minister.

Legal representative for the Magistrates Commission and the Justice Minister, John Groenewald, has argued before the SCA that the process was not flawed.

Groenewald added that there was no unfairness in the shortlisting process adopted by the committee and that there was no blanket ban imposed on individuals from specific race groups.

The appeal was brought by an acting magistrate in Bloemfontein and head of the office of the Petrusburg Magistrate’s Court, Richard Lawrence, who argued that his application was overlooked by the Magistrates Commission.

Lawrence has argued that there was no reason for his application not to be considered by the Magistrates Commission.

His legal representative Max du Plessis says the reason to overlook Lawrence was unfair and that the race card was used to disqualify him. Judgment has been reserved.

ANC pinning its hopes on IEC’s ConCourt application to have LGE postoned
1 September 2021, 6:02 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) is now pinning its hopes on the outcome of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) application at the Constitutional Court to have the local elections postponed. This follows its decision to withdraw its earlier application to the Electoral Court to force the IEC to reopen the candidates’ registration process for a day to allow it to field its would-be councillors in the over 90 municipalities.

But if the apex does not rule in favour of the commission, the governing party will only contest elections in 185 out of the 278 municipalities.

ANC briefing on the candidate selection process:

If the apex ruling goes in favour of the IEC and elections are postponed, this would mean again the IEC will have to draw another election timetable and this would include the new voter registration as well as the new date for the submission of candidate lists which will be relief for the ANC.

The party’s Dakota Legoete says going ahead with its application in the Electoral Court to have the registration of candidates list reopened would be a duplication of efforts by the IEC before the Constitutional Court.

“We took a decision to change our mind of approaching the Electoral Court because as the ANC together with the IEC, we have brought an application to the ConCourt requesting the postponement of the election and we changed our mind after realising that it would be a duplication of efforts and attempts of the ANC to get free and fair elections. We saw it fit that rather than bringing an application to the Electoral Court, rather let’s pin our hopes in the application before the ConCourt which is requesting the postponement of elections in total.”

A party in crisis 

But political analyst Levy Ndou says the ANC failure to register candidates is a testimony of a party in crisis.

” The ANC is indeed in tatters, looking at the fact that the matter that the ANC was taking to the Electoral Court is a matter that has its roots in the challenges the ANC is facing today. If the ANC was having a happy staff, being paid on time, maybe the ANC would not be in this situation. Number two, the ANC could not finalise its activities based on the fact that there are a lot of ANC members who are still not happy with the processes that were followed when the lists were compiled.”

In all three metros in Gauteng, the ANC won’t be able to field at least 32 candidates with six in Johannesburg, 14 in Ekurhuleni and 12 in Tshwane. But Legoete also insists that even if the Constitutional Court rules against the IEC application, bitter as it may be, it’s something the governing party will have to live with.

” I would not want to second-guess the administrators of law and justice but if that was to be the case it’s a reality that we have to live, we will have to accept it once there is an outcome but for now we are confident that even though it’s a gamble we don’t know, we may lose, we may win. ”

Although the IEC application was heard on 20 August its outcome is awaited with bated breath by many political parties.

Earlier the Chair of the Democratic Alliance Federal Council Helen Zille said the ANC’s withdrawal of its application to the Electoral Court was based on leaks from the Constitutional Court, something the ANC had dismissed as a contemptuous insinuation.

Government to ensure bidders for electricity supply meet necessary requirements
1 September 2021, 4:26 PM

Government says it will ensure that all preferred bidders for its Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme meet the necessary requirements. The aim of the programme is to supply electricity from a diverse range of energy sources, including green energy such as solar and wind.

Government says South Africa has an abundance of sunlight and wind resources and has the potential to be a leader in battery manufacturing to store green energy. The Energy Department had selected 11 preferred bidders for the generation of various energy projects, including wind and solar.

About 1 845 megawatts of electricity are expected to be produced under the energy programme. This, coupled with the injection of about R45 billion into the South African economy by the private sector according to the department.

Requirements for bidding 

It says an average of 50% of the local content is expected during the construction period. The department’s Bernard Magoro explains the process required from the eleven bidding companies before they can qualify.

“The qualification stage is a passed-off fail. So, we have got a list of requirements based on those four disciplines. If a bidder failed on any of them, we have just listed a few here. For example, the minimum 49 % South African entity participation. If a bidder does not demonstrate that there is 49 %  shareholdership by South Africans, that bidder is immediately disqualified.”

The participation of South African companies in these projects is set at 51%, with black ownership at 41% according to Magoro.

“So the next stage is then where we rank the bidders based on price which counts for 90% and the cheapest or the bidder who offers the cheapest price gets the maximum price. And then all the other bidders as we start going up the merit order -they then get allocated points relative to the cheapest bidder.”

Deadline for bidders

With the deadline of the bid submission expected at the end of the month, all bidders have been advised to submit their plans on time.

“The requirements are that all the 11 bidders have to meet financial close, if any of them don’t meet financial close by the set date, what happens is that the bidder fails to reach the contractual agreement. So, we are not going to sign the agreements with those bidders. So, all of them are expected to achieve the financial close and all the outstanding requirements.”

Transparency of the bidding process

Meanwhile, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has rejected claims that the bidding process was not transparent.

“All those processes were transparent and open and have access to the public to actually interrogate. As far as I am concerned the process was correct and transparent with all checks and balances. That’s my answer. I am repeating it.”

Some communities in N West say ANC candidate selection process was manipulated
1 September 2021, 2:54 PM

The African National Congress’ disputes around the candidate selection processes for local government elections seem to be far from over. Affected candidates and communities around the North West say the process was manipulated and alledged that candidates were hand-picked and imposed on them.

In the Matlosana Local Municipality at Klerksdorp, more than 20 wards have been affected.

Itumeleng Gigaba is one of the candidates who received the majority votes during a meeting in his ward but was removed from the list.

He is calling for the ANC leadership to intervene.

“We want the ANC to come and explain the reasons which led to the tampering of those community vote results. Number two, we also have to register our concern as members of the community to say that, there is no other candidate or candidates that we are going to accept, except the ones that are being elected by the people on the ground. The third issue, we want the ANC to be clear to us in terms of the time frames as to when are they going to rectify those mistakes.”

ANC briefing on candidate selection process:

The ANC Interim Provincial Committee (IPC) says the matter is being handled by the party’s electoral committee, led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe.

“We are encouraged by the decision of the electoral committee which has vowed to continue to investigate disputes on the candidates’ selection processes, even beyond the registration of candidates with the IEC. No one has a right or the authority to change the name of a duly nominated candidate. We urge our communities to exercise patience and restraint and allow the ANC to investigate these allegations,” says spokesperson for the IPC Kenny Morolong.



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