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First batch of US donated Pfizer vaccines arrives in South Africa
31 July 2021, 11:00 PM

The first batch of the United States’ donation of 5.7 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to South Africa has arrived in the country.

In total, 2.8 million doses arrived on Saturday and the next batch is expected to arrive on Tuesday.

The donation is part of President Joe Biden’s promise to give 500 million vaccines to the world by the end of 2022.

The vaccines are being brought in through COVAX, the international aid initiative that seeks to ensure global access to vaccines.

Acting health minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, and her deputy, Dr Joe Phaahla, were at the OR Tambo International Airport to welcome the donation.

The minister says the doses will contribute to the country’s expanded vaccination programme, which is fast gaining momentum to reach more people.

“The vaccines would also be distributed to other countries in the continent through the African Union Commission,” she adds.

So far, the haul will be the largest donation of COVID vaccines to a single country by the US.

Minister Kubayi says: “This is a single bilateral donation and shows the good relations between our two countries. It also demonstrates the seriousness of the US
government in sustaining the relationship.”

The SA delegation was joined by Chargé d’ Affaires at the US Mission Todd Haskell.

“I am very proud that we are able to share these vaccine doses with South Africans and have no doubt that the medicines will help save many lives in this country. Over the years, through programs such as PEPFAR, the United States and South Africa have built one of the strongest bilateral health partnerships in the world, which is why our countries have been able to successfully work hand-in-hand since the very beginning of the pandemic to protect the health and safety of our citizens,” says Haskell.

US donates 5.7 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to SA:

Call for urgent parliamentary debate on SANDF role and funding
31 July 2021, 10:25 PM

Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence has called for an urgent parliamentary debate on the role and funding of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

This follows the committee’s oversight visits to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces where members of the SANDF have been deployed to assist the police in quelling unrest and looting in those provinces.

In their report back to parliament, MPs say they’ve noted the poor state of the equipment of the SANDF due to budget cuts.

They’ve also expressed unhappiness with the lack of strategic airlift capability of the Airforce and its impact on the movement of troops and equipment in support of the police.

MPs have also raised concerns about the level of strategic intelligence provided to the soldiers and the police.

Parliament is expected to resume in the second week of August following the winter recess.

“The committee expressed its concern about the state of equipment of the SANDF and acknowledges that this has been a subject of debate for some time. However, the negative impact of budget constraints on the status of the SANDF’s equipment and the resultant impact thereof was clearly visible. During the most recent oversight visit. In line with the committee’s constitutional mandate to make recommendations on the defence budget and armaments. The committee will request a joint report from the SANDF and the national treasury on critical equipment requirements and the funding thereof,” says defence committee researcher, Wilhelm Janse van Rensburg.

Discussion on the cost of SANDF deployment:

Kruger National Park celebrates World Ranger Day
31 July 2021, 10:00 PM

Kruger National Park remembered rangers who died in the line of duty, as the international community celebrated the World Ranger Day.

SanParks lost 11 guardians in the past 12 months.

Rangers often come into contact with poachers armed with high calibre rifles who do not hesitate to take human life.

More than 80 rangers died on the continent in the last 12 months and 29 of them were allegedly killed by poachers.

The Democratic Republic of Congo was the hardest-hit.

Kruger National Park Field Ranger, Checkers Mashego, is one of 13 rangers who died in South Africa.

Kruger National Park managing executive, Gareth Coleman, says they are working to adequately equip the rangers.

“We face a particular challenge in the Kruger National Park because we have such a large number of concentration on rhinos. So with the large attention that comes, it means that rangers have to be both well prepared and well protected. It takes a toll on people and their mental health. We do have programmes in place to try and help rangers to deal with the things in their heads when they have on daily basis deal with the occasion into the Kruger National Park,” says Coleman.

More than 715 poaching activities have been recorded at the Kruger National Park in the first six months of this year.

A total of 125 people have been arrested for alleged rhino poaching or dealing in rhino horn across the country since January.

Kruger National Park head ranger, Cathy Dreyer, says rangers are faced with multiple challenges in their day’s work.

” Obviously with COVID-19, our budget has been severely affected. So we had to tighten the straps which is very difficult. And also the challenges for rangers are numerous like working on a big open system, so it is always dangerous animals and the rangers are very comfortable working in the bush. But not only the animals that they have to face now poachers or people that are coming in to kill the wildlife and also other crimes related to wildlife,” says Dreyer.

The organisation, Honorary Ranger in the Lowveld, has raised over R200 million for conservation programmes.

Chairperson Pieter de Bruyn has urged citizens to contribute towards the protection of the wild.

“Plants are being taken from the park. So it is not only rhino. I think rhino it is the most emotional poaching incident. But there are many flora and fauna that can be taken from the park and the that rangers have to be fully equipped to be able to do their tasks better. If you can contribute be it financially or assets. I plead with the public out there to donate,” says de Bruyn.

Like many sectors in the country,  tourism is also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Kruger National Park  is confident that it will recover from the slump in tourists.

World Ranger Day at the Kruger National Park:

sabcnews fraser-moleketi
ANC will perish if it fails to renew itself, warns party stalwart Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi
31 July 2021, 9:00 PM

African National Congress (ANC) stalwart Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi says if the party fails to renew itself it will perish. She was delivering the Joe Gqabi memorial lecture, where she spoke about the decline in the quality of membership in the party.

Four years since the watershed ANC 2017 Nasrec Conference, the party is still struggling with unity and cohesion.

Fraser-Moleketi says factions are ravaging the party.

“What is clear is that if the ANC does not carry out this process of renewal, it will perish. What is also clear is that the ANC can only talk about unity is after the process of renewal free from the destruction of factions.” 

Fraser-Moleketi also says the Diagnostic Report of former ANC secretary-general, Gwede Mantashe, is spot on in the characterisation of the declining quality of membership.

The use of money to buy votes for elections in the party is at the heart of the decline of the quality of membership. Money has replaced consciousness. The ethical behaviour of leaders has been replaced by status, ethics is seen as an elitist approach in politics.” 

Fraser-Moleketi also laments the role of young people in the party since the disbandment of the ANC Youth League and the expulsion of Julius Malema.

“One of the questions we may ask today is who is reaching out to the youth? Who is providing leadership to the youth and their inter-generation role. Are you the Joe Gqabi’s of today?” 

The ANC stalwart says the apartheid special operatives are still hard at work and have infiltrated the party which has seen the destruction of SOEs and the criminal justice system.

“That damage has included the weakening of the institutions of the state, the criminal justice, the SOE’s, the alienation of the democratic state to the rest of Africa and the weakening of the alliance as a whole.”

The ANC has vigorously embarked on its renewal process by suspending leaders who are charged with serious crimes, including its secretary-general, Ace Magashule.

In the video below, Fraser-Moleketi says the ANC will perish if it fails to renew itself:

State of emergency declared in Japanese districts close to Toyko Olympics
31 July 2021, 6:00 PM

The Japanese government has declared a state of emergency in the western district of Osaka and three other districts near Tokyo.

This as a record high of COVID-19 cases has raised fears that the country’s already strained medical system could collapse amid the Tokyo Olympics.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government will add Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama and Osaka regions to areas under the state of emergency, which already covers Tokyo and Okinawa, from next Monday through to the August 31.

The COVID-19 emergency state previously declared for Tokyo and Okinawa through to the 22nd of August will now be extended until the end of the month.

The emergency period started last week, covering the ongoing Olympic Games.

It will also partly overlap with the Paralympics kicking off on August 24.

Eateries and bars offering liquor or providing karaoke services are required to shut down under the state of emergency, while the government pays out money for compliance.

Those not serving alcohol are asked to close at 8pm. But Olympics organisers have denied there is any link between the Summer Games and the recent sharp rise in cases.

On Friday, 27 new Games-related cases were reported, bringing the total Games-linked infections since the 1st of July to 220.

Crowds defy stay-away calls

Meanwhile, crowds of excited fans came out to watch the Olympic triathlon mixed relay race in Tokyo on Saturday, defying calls from the authorities for people to stay-away due to the pandemic.

Organisers have banned spectators from all of Tokyo 2020 ticketed venues due to COVID-19, but some events taking place on roads or in open areas, such as road cycling or triathlon, have attracted spectators keen to catch a glimpse of the athletes in action.

The mixed relay race was making its first appearance at an Olympics on Saturday.

The event was won by the British team, the US came second and the French team came third.

“I feel excited about it because it feels different than watching the games on tv, you know?,” said a spectator.

“Yeah, I was gonna go to the road cycling last weekend in Yamanashi. I read the please don’t come report and then, during the week I thought, I saw so many people there, I thought well, I’m just gonna have a go myself, just to say I’ve been there,” added another one.

Bid to improve conditions

Tokyo Olympics organisers on Saturday announced that they were trying to improve conditions for athletes quarantined at the Games, following mounting complaints about a lack of air, food and basic necessities while in isolation.

Athletes and staff who test positive or are contact-traced are isolated in separate accommodation from their teams to contain the spread of the virus as the Japanese capital struggles with a rise in infections.

“So, we are doing an awful lot on top of what is  required and I would also again just point you to the fact that the World Health Organisation who have helped us every step of the way, advised us every step of the way, and praised what we’ve done and said we’re doing the best thing in terms of our testing and isolation and all the other measures. We hopefully by that will give the Japanese people a lot of confidence that these games will be safe and secure and, you know, just to repeat, the positivity level in the games population is 0.02 percent which by any measure, ” says IOC spokesperson, Mark Adams.

Meanwhile, athletics continued at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday.

The United States’ mixed 4×400 meter relay team were reinstated into Saturday’s final due to an official’s error after they were disqualified on Friday for exchanging the baton outside the changeover zone.

Nigerian sprinter and 2008 Olympics long jump silver medalist Blessing Okagbare, was provisionally suspended after testing positive for human growth hormone before the Tokyo Olympics, the Athletics Integrity Unit said in a statement.

 

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