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Arab League urges UNSC to discuss Ethiopia dam
16 June 2021, 9:56 PM

Arab states have called on the UN Security Council to discuss a dispute over Ethiopia’s plan to fill a giant dam it is building on the Blue Nile.

Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit was speaking on Tuesday after a foreign ministers’ meeting and amid concerns from Egypt and Sudan over the impact of the dam on their own access to Nile waters.

“What is the role of the Security Council? The decision does not only refer the issue to the Security Council.

The Egyptian and Sudanese message was clear that the Security Council must fulfil its responsibility, but the decision also calls for urgently holding a session to discuss the dispute.”

Ethiopia is pinning its hopes of economic development on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Egypt relies on the Nile for as much as 90% of its fresh water supply and sees the dam as an existential threat, and Sudan is worried about the operation of its own dams and water stations.

Gheit described the issues as an integral part of Arab national security.

In a statement, the Arab League called on Ethiopia to refrain from unilateral steps – such as completing a second phase of filling the dam’s reservoir without an agreement.

Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said the Arab states had agreed to on “steps to be taken gradually” to support Egypt and Sudan.

“We always call for a diplomatic resolution based on international law. And we hope that the other party can come around, on the basis of international law, to reach a solution that would satisfy everyone.”

Ethiopia rejected the Arab League’s resolution in its entirety, the foreign ministry said.

Coletta Wanjohi reports on tensions between Sudan and Ethiopia over the Nile dam:

Putin
US and Russian ambassadors to return to their posts after summit
16 June 2021, 9:51 PM

US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at a “pragmatic” first summit on Wednesday  to return ambassadors to each other’s capitals after they were withdrawn earlier this year.

Putin, 68, who was first to brief reporters, said the meeting had been constructive, without hostility, and had showed the leaders’ desire to understand each other.

He also said Russia and the United States shared a responsibility for nuclear stability, and would hold talks on possible changes to their recently extended New START arms limitation treaty.

The discussions at the lakeside Villa La Grange in Geneva lasted less than four hours – far less than Biden’s advisers had said they expected.

Sherwin Bryce-Pease unpacks the story:

KwaMakhutha residents decry police’s response to crime
16 June 2021, 9:47 PM

People from KwaMakhutha, south of Durban, and members of the LGBTQI community have marched to the local police station to complain about crime in the area.

This comes after the brutal murder of 28-year-old Anele Bhengu, whose family believes that she was killed because she was openly lesbian.

In a memorandum handed over to the police, residents said they have not seen any significant improvement in policing since they complained last year.

KwaZulu Natal SANCO Youth Congress Convener, Ronny Madlala, has called on police to speed up the investigation of Bhengu’s murder.

“We have urged with the police that they must  on this case do their job better and find all those people because they can continue to do it in the society. The society is at a risk now because those people are still alive, are not arrested and upon our arrival we were told by the police that the investigation is still on. The community  don’t even have confidence in this police station,” says Madlala.

LGBTQI+ community member brutally killed in KwaMakhutha:

Bhengu’s death has sparked fear among members of the tightly-knit gay and lesbian community in KwaMakhutha.

One of them – Sphesihle Mchunu – says Bhengu was killed after she went to visit a friend.

“We are puzzled why Anele killed in a brutal manner; we have tried to ask the friend Anele was visiting is giving different stories about the incident. As people who are openly lesbians we are now living in fear one does not know when you can be attacked. We suspect some people just hate that we are living our lives the way we want. We are also human and have right to life we are a very peaceful community it puzzles me why are we always a target,” says Mchunu.

Bhengu’s murder comes as the LGBTQI community celebrates International Pride Month.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance South Africa believes government is not doing enough to ensure that hate crimes are curbed.

“Once again we witness a hate crime that has happened in KwaMakhutha. We have engaged government in terms of communicating writing letters to them and we have not even received an acknowledgement for such communication wherein we called for certain things  as mitigating efforts to spread the hates crimes directed at members of the LGBTQIA in essence nothing has been done we have heard one or two leaders or Ministers making utterances as a box ticking exercise put tangible nothing has been done until they meet with organisations such as ours who are the champions for such rights only then we will start perhaps say oh they are meeting us halfway of engaging us on issues on issues so far they are just reading one sentence from a speeches about you need to protect the rights of LGBTQI but they are doing nothing,” says GLASA’s Secretary, Frank Gazu.

Locals allege that a man who had knowledge about Bhengu’s murder has committed suicide.

They say he left a suicide note a list of names of Bhengu’s killers.

While police have confirmed that a 36-year-old man was found hanging inside a house in the Esingqungquma area of KwaMakhutha, they say didn’t find any suicide note at the scene.

Investigations into the matter continue. – Additional reporting by Nonkululeko Hlophe

Illegal mining
Mantashe raises concern over surge in illegal mining
16 June 2021, 7:56 PM

The Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, has raised concern about the impact of illegal mining in communities.

He says it is an attack on the country’s economy and must be dealt with decisively.

Mantashe was speaking during his visit to the China Africa Precious Metals (CAPM) mine in Orkney in the North West.

This follows the discovery of 20 bodies believed to be those of illegal miners. The badly burned and decomposed bodies were found in grain bags on the surface near the mine.

SABC News reporter Tebogo Phakedi speaks to the police on the incident:

Mantashe was accompanied by the North West MEC for Health, Madoda Sambatha.

The Minister referred to the incident as criminal activity and declared the area, where the bodies were found a crime scene.

Mantashe says his department will meet with relevant stakeholders, including the office of the Minister for Police to provide back up to private security in areas where illegal activities are prevalent.

“That is a disaster but it is a disaster of criminal mining it is not a disaster of mining. This illegal mining is a criminal activity and it must be treated as such that’s why we appeal to the police that they must have specialised units to deal with illegal mining and stealing of precious metals until we do that we are unlikely to defeat this crime. We must actually form that unit, have specialised unit because Zama- Zamas are heavily armed they require specialise unit,” he says.

CAPM Mine Manager, Isaac Tshabalala, says when they realised that an accident had occurred underground they tried to offer assistance to the trapped illegal miners.

The regional leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers (Num), says although mineworkers are there illegally it would be the right thing to assist them.

“We do not have any information regarding these issues that are happening there. We just saw the reports from social media, so as the union there is no report that we received, the majority union in this region. But we feel very strong that those people our brothers they need assistance but all the stakeholders we are here and we agreed about a way forward,” says the union’s Vuyisani Lengesi.

Mantashe says the country lost R41 billion through illegal mining in 2018 alone.

Ga-Rankuwa youth donates blankets to old age home
16 June 2021, 7:18 PM

 

The youth of Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria, has decided to spend Youth Day differently this year. They came together and raised funds and bought 78 blankets, which they donated to Norma’s Old Age Home in the area.

The home caters for 65 elderly people between the ages of 60 and 100.

Elizabeth Mabiletsa welcomed the gift, especially on Youth Day.

“I’m going to feel warm. I don’t know if I will be able to wake up tomorrow morning. They have to have patience with me wanting to wake up,” says the 83-year-old.

Young people, who participated in the initiative, say it is time to change perceptions about Youth Day commemorations.

“We’ve covered all the ladies here. So it’s really nice just to give back to the community, ” says one of the participants.

“As you know it’s Winter and it’s cold and I think a little bit of warmth will go a long way,” adds another one.

The owner of Norma’s Old Age Home, Nomalanga Mogomotsi, welcomed the gesture.

“They help us a lot. They have given us everything that we need. When we need something they do help and I can’t even say much because if you see a person helping you, you run short of words,” she says.

Meanwhile, the convener of the group of young people, Moshe Lesutu, says the youth needs to remember the sacrifices the elderly made in order for the younger generations to enjoy their freedom.

“For the past three weeks it has been extremely cold and we came with an idea as family that how about raising money from individuals and other businesses, businesses around Ga-Rankuwa and we managed to raise the money. We bought blankets. We bought about 78 blankets and the idea is to help elderly people,” says Lesutu.

Lesutu says they will be extending their philanthropy to other centres during Mandela Day celebrations next month.

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