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Ethiopia to form new government in October
1 September 2021, 2:23 PM

Ethiopia says it will form a new government in October. The speaker of the House of Peoples’ Representatives says plans have been finalised to ensure a new administration begins functioning on 4 October.

The new session will end the transitional period of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, which began in April 2018. Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party won in the July parliamentary elections conducted in a majority of constituencies in the country.

The national electoral board says areas that could not vote because of insecurity or logistical challenges will do so on 30 September, just a few days before the new administration is formed.

Stability in Tigray

Peace and security are bound to be one of the challenges of the new government. One whole region in the North, Tigray, did not participate in the polls and does not have a new date scheduled to vote because of the protracted conflict there.

As the government battles with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for control of the Tigray region, the UN continues to raise concerns about a deteriorating humanitarian crisis involving over 5 million people. Development agency USAID has accused the TPLF of looting humanitarian aid, especially in the Amhara region that borders Tigray.

Efforts to have Ethiopian-led peace talks as suggested by the United Nations remain stalled because the Ethiopian government says it cannot negotiate with terrorists.

The TPLF has rejected a decision by the African Union to appoint former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo as a special envoy for the Horn of Africa. It has accused the AU of partiality towards the Ethiopian government and says the mission will not work.

This conflict and others in some parts of the country are challenges that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will carry over from his transition period to the new government in a month’s time.

Tourism businesses in North West plead for government intervention to recover from lockdowns
1 September 2021, 2:05 PM

Stakeholders in the tourism sector have pleaded with the government to help them access the market and have more understanding in terms of marketing and advertising their businesses.  This was a sentiment at the provincial tourism month launch at Schweizer Reneke in the North West.

Small business owners say as part of recovering from the losses incurred due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and continuous nationwide lockdown regulations, they need more government intervention.

The tourism sector is government-led and private sector run. The government has a critical role to play in making the ground fertile for the players in the sector.

Marketing and advertising of businesses 

With losses suffered by the sector, product owners have pleaded with the government to empower them in terms of marketing and advertising.

Johstinah Leroux owns a guesthouse at Schweizer Reneke. She had to close down one of her businesses, due to lack of income, brought about by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She pleads for government assistance.

“I would like the government to help us, especially the SMMEs in the guesthouses because we can stay three to four months without anything. And we depend on that business. Imagine, I have employees that I have to pay at the end of the month. Now if I don’t have money to pay these people, it’s stress, because like now, I don’t have money to pay them,” says Leroux.

Marketing their businesses during the pandemic is also critical.

“We really need opportunities to market our businesses, so that we increase sales, and we make sure that the people actually experience the attractions that we have in the province,” says one of the business owners. 

Another business owner says, “ We need support from the government by funding us, or we can get marketing so that we can get customers.”

Vaccination programme

The deputy chairperson of Women in Tourism Khosi Tyobeka has called on her counterparts to also encourage industry players to get vaccinated so that attracting people to their businesses becomes a possibility.

“Let’s encourage our women, men, product owners, tour guides, everybody in the North West, to vaccinate, because the more population that we have that is vaccinated, the more confidence our industry or travellers will have in our industry. The more we’ll have confidence that our country will not close down,” says Tyobeka.

Recovery 

MEC Keneetswe Mosenogi says for what these industry players are pleading for to happen, everyone must play their part.

“The recovery process is not just a burden on the government. It’s a burden on all of us, because, it’s not the government that must recover. It’s the entire economy that must recover. Inclusive growth means all of us, must benefit in terms of the tourism value chain. It creates opportunities that can be shared equally amongst us, and there can be job opportunities that are created,” says Mosenogi.

Mosenogi has also encouraged tourism business owners to apply for the Tourism Equity Fund, announced by the national government.

The national Department of Tourism has a plan in place to rebuild the brand South Africa as a destination of choice:

Biden to address nation after US military evacuates from Afghanistan
31 August 2021, 9:36 PM

United States (US) President Joe Biden will address the nation later on Tuesday after the military completed its evacuation and withdrawal mission from Afghanistan late yesterday, just ahead of an agreed deadline for that drawdown by today.

While the operation over the last two weeks saw more than 122 000  people evacuated, including over 5 000 Americans, tens of thousands of Afghans who worked alongside the US military and diplomatic personnel remain at risk in the country despite a blanket amnesty mooted by the Taliban, a group that has quickly filled the void left by departing US troops.

Celebratory gunfire resounded across Kabul as the Taliban took control of the city’s international airport before dawn, marking the end of a 20-year-war – the longest in American history – but that left the Taliban it sought to dismantle, firmly in charge.

“Tonight’s withdrawal signifies both the end of the military component of the evacuation, but also the end of the nearly 20-year mission that began in Afghanistan shortly after September 11th, 2001. It’s a mission that brought Osama bin Laden to a just end, along with many of his al-Qaeda co-conspirators. And it was not a cheap mission. The cost was 2 461 US service members and civilians killed and more than 20 000 who were injured. Sadly, that includes 13 US service members who were killed last week by an ISIS-K suicide bomber. We honor their sacrifice today, as we remember their heroic accomplishments,” says US Central Command General Frank McKenzie.

Some Americans are struggling to deal with the withdrawal decision:

An image from the Pentagon taken with night vision optics showed the last US soldier stepping aboard the final evacuation flight out of Kabul, shutting the door on a military operation that started in October 2001, claiming over 150 000 lives, mostly Afghans.

An unidentified Kabul resident had this to say.

“Today is the day of the departure of the Americans. After the departure of the foreigners, Afghans should start building their homeland again. They should resolve all political differences through dialogue, and take concrete steps for the construction, stability, and peace of the country, and take such measures for security that in the future the security of Afghanistan is never jeopardized.”

With tens of thousands of Afghan allies left behind and thousands more evacuated to third countries, the United States says its mission has now become a purely diplomatic one, as articulated by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We will continue our relentless efforts to help Americans, foreign nationals, and Afghans leave Afghanistan if they choose. We’ve gotten many out, but many are still there. We will keep working to help them. Our commitment to them has no deadline. We will hold the Taliban to its pledge to let people freely depart Afghanistan. The Taliban has committed to letting anyone with proper documents leave the country in a safe and orderly manner.”

Taliban pressed to uphold human rights 

The UN Security Council passed a resolution on Monday pressing the Taliban to uphold human rights, to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorist groups while allowing Afghans seeking to leave, safe passage out of the country – over the abstentions of Russia and China.

“The recent chaos in Afghanistan is directly related to the hasty and disorderly withdrawal of foreign troops. We hope that relevant countries will realize the fact that withdrawal is not the end of responsibility, but the beginning of reflection and correction. Relevant countries should learn the lessons, truly respect the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, and genuinely respect the right of the Afghan people to determine their future. Relevant countries should effectively change their wrong practice of imposing their own wills on others and change hegemonic practice of exerting pressure, imposing sanctions, and even resorting to the use of force,” says Chinese Ambassador Geng Shuang.

Biden thanks the military 

A statement from President Biden thanked his military commanders and the women and men serving under them for the execution of the withdrawal. But he still finds himself in a tough spot given the chaos that ensued in Afghanistan over the last two weeks, with his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, labeling the withdrawal incompetent while calling for US weaponry left behind in Afghanistan to be either retrieved or bombed. As the military mission ends, many loose ends remain, and an administration that must still fully account for why things went so horribly wrong.

Mahotella Queens’ Nobesuthu Mbadu passes on
31 August 2021, 8:51 PM

One of the original members of Mbaqanga group, the Mahotella Queens, Nobesuthu Mbadu has passed on.

Mbadu died at the Thelle Mogoerane hospital in Vosloorus, Ekhuruleni due to kidney failure.

She joined the Mbaqanga group in 1964, at the age of 19, and retired in 2017 due to ill health.

Family Spokesperson Vanessa Tloubatla, says in a statement, her family and colleagues are devastated and have asked for space to mourn.

The Mbaqanga group was formed by Rupert Bopape in 1964, and Nobesuthu Mbadu with Hilda Tloubatla and Mildred Mangxola who retired and was replaced by Amanda Nkosi, were known as the Mahotella Queens. Together with lead male vocalist Simon Nkabinde, better known as “Mahlathini” they went on to create many hits throughout the years. These included, “Mbude”, “Uyavutha Umlilo”, “Melodi ya Lla” amongst many more.

Despite age, the group continued performing on stage.

Mbadu retired in 2017 due to ill health, and has taken the final bow on the life stage.

One of the founding members of The Mahotella Queens, Nobesuthu Mbadu has passed away:

ANC files application to Electoral Court for IEC to reopen candidate registration system
31 August 2021, 7:47 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) has filed its application to the Electoral Court to request that the candidate registration system be reopened so that the party can submit its lists.

In court papers, Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte has indicated that the party was not able to register candidates in 94 municipalities by the deadline of 23 August.

She says technical difficulties with the Independent Electoral Commission’s system when submitting their candidates are to blame.

The party says it has no other option but to approach the Electoral Court, as the IEC had rejected its request to extend the election timetable.

The United Democratic Movement has supported the ANC’s application as it experienced the same difficulties, whilst political parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Democratic Alliance (DA)  have threatened to oppose this application.

Discussion on possible reopening of candidate list process:

Earlier, the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal revealed some of the wards that did not make the Independent Electoral Commission’s deadline to register candidates for the upcoming local government elections.

At least seen municipalities in KZN affected 

Most of the affected municipalities are in the Zululand District.

Addressing the media in Durban, Provincial Secretary Mdumiseni Ntuli said they were backing calls from the party’s national office, for the IEC to reopen the candidates’ registration process, even for a day.

“In general, Gizenga, Aqhina Mpanza region, we also do not have ward candidates registered in KwaDukuza Wards 2, 10, 20, 22, and 24. In iNdwedwe Local Municipality within the same region, we were not able to have ward candidates registered in the following wards, 11, 10, 13, and 15.”

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