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SA public schools closed for four weeks as coronavirus cases surge
23 July 2020, 8:54 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa says after consultations with different stakeholders, the government has decided to close public schools for four weeks.

President Ramaphosa says while it was difficult to find consensus on which approach is best, they agreed that the health of learners and teachers must remain a priority.

The President says the move is also in line with the WHO guidelines, which warned countries not to reopen schools while local transmissions of the coronavirus are on the rise.

“Cabinet has decided today that all public schools should take a break for the next four weeks, now this has also been an experience in a number of other countries where schools have opened and also had to close, due to the circumstances that each country has had to confront. This means that schools will be closed from the 27th of July and will reopen on the 24th of August.”

However, Ramaphosa says grade 12 learners and teachers will only take a week break. While grade 7s will be on recess for two weeks.

He says the current academic year will be extended to the end of the year and the Basic Education Minister will give a way forward on this.

The National School Feeding Scheme will continue during the recess.

The President says learners or their parents can collect meals from the schools.

Cases continue to surge

Addressing the nation virtually, the President also noted the increasing number of coronavirus infections in the country. ” As of this evening, the total number of coronavirus cases now stands at 408 052.”

South Africa now has the fifth-highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the whole world. “And currently accounts for half of all the cases on our beloved continent Africa.”

He however pointed out that the country continues to have one of the lowest fatality rates in the world.

“South Africa is experiencing far fewer COVID-19 deaths than many countries with similar or even lower numbers of infections. Since the outbreak of the disease in South Africa more than 6 000 people have succumbed to the virus and we continue to mourn their departure from our country through death.”

Below is the President’s address in text and video:

 

Reserve Bank could have cut repo rate more aggressively : Analysts
23 July 2020, 8:25 PM

A consumer economist at Liberty, Tendani Mantshimuli, says the Reserve Bank could have cut today’s repo rate more aggressively than the 25 basis points announced to counter the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The repo rate is now at a four-decade record low of 3.5% and the prime commercial lending rate is at 7%. The latest cut means that the repo rate has been slashed by 300 basis points or 3 percentage points this year.

Mantshimuli says this was a widely expected decision.

“We should not look at the bank as the sole stimulus to the economy. There needs to be some structural changes to the economy. But the rate cut is not a surprise, it is good news for those indebted consumers but in terms of re-extinguishing the economy going forward,  it’s not going to do that much. If they were to be aggressive, they could have gone for another 50 basis points. We have room for another 25 to 50 basis points.”

Making the announcement in an online media briefing, Governor Lesetja Kganyago said the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee noted the severity of the economic contraction and the slow recovery that will keep inflation well below the midpoint of the 3 to 6% target range this year.

Old Mutual Investment Group, Economist Johan Els, says there is room to cut by another one hundred basis points this year to try and counter the effects of the economic contraction due to COVID-19.

“ I think there’s room in this economy where we sit now if there’s forecast because there are unprecedented circumstances we’d rather focus on current inflation rather than future inflation. They could have lowered by another 100 basis points. I think there’s room for another 150 in total because these are stressful times and unprecedented circumstances regarding the weakness of growth but also the downside risk in terms of inflation.”

The repo rate is expected to boost households as SA continues to battle coronavirus: 

 

Floods in India claim nearly 100 lives
23 July 2020, 7:10 PM

Severe floods triggered by monsoon rains have killed nearly 100 people in India’s Assam state, struggling already with the coronavirus pandemic. A famous national park was also underwater, threatening the world’s largest population of one-horned rhinoceros and other rare wildlife.

At least 2.6 million others were displaced by the floods which have submerged at least 2 300 villages and 25 million acres of farmland.

Environmentalist scientist C.K. Varshney called it a man-made disaster. Several overflowing rivers threatened cities in the state of 30 million people and urban planner K.T. Ravinder said they could soon destroy hospitals, power supply and communication.

Director of Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi, Sunita Narain said the government will have to think out of the box to avoid this annual misery.

The floods also killed scores of animals in Kaziranga National Park, including nine of the 2 400 rare one-horned rhinos in their protected habitat. Author- Rana Sen

President Ramaphosa declares Special Official Funeral Category 1 for Mlangeni
23 July 2020, 6:34 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a Special Official Funeral Category 1 for Rivonia Trialist and Isithwalandwe/ Seaparankwe Andrew Mokete Mlangeni.

Mlangeni passed away on Wednesday at the age of 95, following an abdominal complaint.

President Ramaphosa participated in Mlangeni’s birthday celebration last month in the company of, among other notable guests, President Thabo Mbeki, President Kgalema Motlanthe and Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Mlangeni was awarded Isithwalandwe/Seaparankwe, the highest honour by the African National Congress for those who have made an outstanding contribution to the liberation struggle in 1992 and received the Presidential Order for Meritorious Service: Class 1: Gold from then-President Nelson Mandela in 1999.

“ In terms of the Presidential declaration, the National Flag will fly at half-mast from the morning of Friday, 24 July 2020 until the evening of Wednesday, 29 July 2020, the day on which Bab’ Mlangeni will be laid to rest,” a statement from the Presidency outlines.

President Ramaphosa has offered his condolences to the Mlangeni family as well as the friends, comrades and associates.

Tributes to Mlangeni

 Minister of Human Settlement Lindiwe Sisulu paid tribute to Mlangeni when she addressed a National Assembly Mini Plenary. She said removing corruption from every corner of government is one of the ideals that should be followed to honour the struggle icon.

“ In the last days of his life he was asked what he would wish for and he asked for nothing more than that he should be remembered as one of those that brought our democracy. This humility should make us responsible for ensuring that we carry through all that he fought for. We have a responsibility to live up to the ideals that he fought for. Ideals of  integrity, ideals of intolerance, corruption, we must ensure that we live up to what he sacrificed for and remove corruption from every corner of this government.”

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald says Mlangeni had respect for different views. Groenewald is one of the MPs who had served with Mlangeni in different portfolio committees of the National Assembly.

He has extended condolences to the Mlangeni family.

Groenewald shares some of his experiences with Mlangeni as a committee member, “Andrew and I served together for almost a decade on the Portfolio Committee of Defence in the National Assembly. I remember Andrew as a person who treated everyone with respect. He always greeted people in a friendly manner and he also had respect for different views on a specific subject. I can remember that in the portfolio committee when I made certain proposals, some of the ANC members in the committee did not approve of it, but then he would intervene and will explain but there is merit in my proposal and then the ANC members would accept my proposal.”

The life and times of Andrew Mlangeni: 

 

Eastern Cape government partners with Ntini to develop young cricketers
23 July 2020, 6:25 PM

The Eastern Cape Sports Department has partnered with former South African cricketer Makhaya Ntini to develop young cricketers in the province. MEC Fezeka Nkomonye made the announcement following a series of engagements with Ntini.

She says this will be done through the revival of Makhaya Ntini’s cricket academy. The academy was established 12 years ago, but struggled to get off the ground due to lack of support.

Nkomonye says engagements with other stakeholders are at an advanced stage.

“We will knock in all the doors ensuring that come next year at least around this time there is something happening towards the direction of the start of the academy. I have already started an engagement with national minister so that in terms of prioritising our funds, we then look for allocation towards this. We are also going to engage Cricket South Africa particularly the region, we are going to work as stakeholders.”

Ntini says he is delighted and looking forward to the new possibilities.

“When you hear good news, some of us start sweating because the brain starts working extra hard and thinking ahead.  When you have things you plan for your life, things that could have been done a long time ago…when all those things come back, it really gives hope that your dreams can come true. It does not matter how long you have to wait.”

Racism in cricket 

Last week, the cricketer opened up about his loneliness while he was playing for the Proteas. In an interview that followed a debate about racism in the sport, Ntini said when he left Cricket South Africa did not host an official retirement celebration for him.

He said there should be more players of colour in the SA cricket team.

Below is the full interview: 

Weather

 

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