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Inquiry into free, fairness local polls kicks off on Monday
28 June 2021, 5:00 AM

Former Deputy Chief Justice, Dikgang Moseneke’s inquiry on Free and Fair Local Government Elections during the COVID-19 pandemic will kick off its public hearings on Monday.

The inquiry will hear oral submissions from the Electoral Commission, as well as representatives from the Health Department and health NGOs.

So far, 3 000  inputs have been submitted to the inquiry.

Public opinion regarding whether the October polls should go ahead is deeply divided. This will likely also be the case regarding the written and voice note submissions made to Justice Moseneke.

Public and various other stakeholders had until June 18, to make submissions. It will be up to the Inquiry to determine whether the conditions in South Africa can facilitate the holding of free and fair elections.

“As such, they key considerations cannot be whether the elections meet the timing prescripts, but whether they meet the prescripts of freeness and fairness. Section 14(4) provides a possibility that the commission may pblish A report on the likelihood that it will ensure any pending elections will be free and fair,” says Moseneke.

The week-long inquiry will hear oral submissions from selected groups. Up first will be the CEO of the Electoral Commission, Sy Mamabolo, with the Department of Health’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on the COVID- 19 pandemic and the department’s Director-General to follow.

The Health Justice Initiative, People’s Health Movement and Progressive Health Forum will round off proceedings.

While it is clear that the inquiry will seek to follow an evidence-based approach, some such as EFF leader Julius Malema will take convincing.

“There will not be free and fair elections in South Africa when one of its critical components called campaigning is suspended according to covid-19 regulations. The people who are calling for elections are the ones who won’t comply with the regulations and they are prepared to compromise the lives of people because they have an uncontrollable desire for power”, says Malema.

His view is contrary to that of the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“What is now incumbent is on the IEC to make sure that there are ways that we can redesign in which our elections are done and we redesign in fact how we will make sure that every single South African is afforded this very inalienable right of being able to vote for representatives that represent them and deliver for them,” says DA National Spokesperson, Siviwe Gwarube.

Stakeholders from various sectors, including political parties, will also have an opportunity to have their say. Hearings will be open to the public and live-streamed on the IEC’s website.

The inquiry will submit its report to the Electoral Commission on July 21.

Political parties gear up for the upcoming local government elections:

Western Cape Health to ramp up vaccination drive
27 June 2021, 7:00 PM

The Western Cape Health department says it will ramp up the province’s vaccination drive this week after receiving over 190 000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

Nearly two hundred sites are expected to be in operation, with the Cape Town International Convention Centre, mass vaccination site due to open in July.

The site is expected to be one of the largest in the country. The megasite boasts sophisticated cold-chain refrigeration, waste management and the capability to administer both the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

Authorities say over 750 000 vaccinations can be administered at the centre over a six month period. The site will service those with and without medical aid.

This site will be able to do around about 4 000 vaccines per day and hopefully we could even ramp it up even more but that’s the initial scope of the operation. We will have a number of other sites we got a private sector site out at Parc du cap on the n1 and we are busy with the plans of a site at the aAthone stadium this will be both walk in and drive though so it really is good to have these megasites at the same time we will also have medium sites, both government and private sector “, says Western Cape Premiere, Alan Winde.

Vaccination in the province slowed down in recent weeks amid a shortage of vaccine supplies. But, with a large number of doses received this past week, authorities are now aiming to vaccinate 180 000 people over the next two weeks.

Winde explains: “For the whole month from the 17th of may till the 18 of June the province received 294 840 vaccines so looking at the number now it is promising and I really hope that we will now be able to catch up because of the shortage of vaccines in the last two or three weeks. 

As the third wave rages on, Winde has urged residents to practice life-saving behaviors

We also need to make sure that everybody stays safe at this time please try to stay in your bubbles make sure we avoid crowded areas if you need to go out please make sure you spend a short time as possible say at your shopping centre please try to keep whatever you do outside .”

Western Cape health department to ramp up its vaccination drive:

Active cases are nearing 17 000, with nearly 1 500  people hospitalised in the province.

Infographic: Latest COVID-19 cases in South Africa




Limpopo student starts library to encourage reading
27 June 2021, 6:21 PM

The lack of a public library and worrying levels of illiteracy have pushed a 25-year-old man to convert an abandoned two-room house into a small library at Bakoneng Village, outside Jane Furse, in Limpopo.

Tshepo Makola, a second-year law student, started the project in November 2020. He used his own books, donated ones and an old laptop.

Makola says a local primary school offered the initial premises for the library before he renovated the abandoned house.

“I realised that I have books and these books I cannot throw them away, they mean something to me. I asked my friends, family and other people to donate some books for me and I ended up having almost about 1 000 hard copies and then another 500 in terms of soft copy PDF method books, with the newspapers and magazines. Then I went to Mokgoko Primary School. They offered me a classroom to operate from and in the beginning of May we started our own thing by renovating the old premises which was used by teachers,” he says.

Learners are assisted with school work and reading.

Makola adds that he uses his old laptop to teach them computer literacy.

“Most of these learners they don’t have the environment that encourages them to read outside their school. Once they leave school  premises, they close the books for good then they don’t care until the next school day. So I came up with this idea saying I wanted to help these kids so one of the good days Grade 12 learners can take this opportunity and grab it with two hands, produce better results for them and the community as a whole. The level of literacy is very slow in my community. Many people are not computer literate due to the lack to access computers.”

Some of the children say they are learning a lot from the initiative.

“It helps me a lot because I did not know how to read English very well. So coming to this library helps me,” says one beneficiary of the initiative.

“I like coming to the library because it helps me reading and using computer. I want to thank him because he is helping us,” adds another beneficiary.

Makola says they are in need of computers, printers, internet access and proper furniture in order to be a fully equipped library.

N Cape restores water supply following maintenance work
27 June 2021, 6:08 PM

The Sol Plaatje Municipality in Kimberley, in the Northern Cape, says it’s finalising the last installation work on its bulk supply pipe line.

The municipality cut off water supply to residents on Thursday night.

The water cut was to allow time for the replacement of air valves and to repair 13-leaks around the city.

Sol Plaatje Municipality has faced problems of water leakages due burst pipes for years now. The municipality says that the Kimberley water infrastructure is aging, hence the city faces constant water cuts.

Spokesperson for the municipality, Sello Matsie, says water supply will be restored on Sunday, but will start at a slow pace.

The water will start streaming in but at a lower pace. And we really enquiring the community must exercise some patience. The alternative means of Jojo and water tankers is continuing though its a bit of pressure on ourselves when it come to supplying all areas all at once with this alternative of supplying water. But we are hopeful that by today we would able to have completed the entire operation,”  says Matsie.

Some residents in Galeshewe Township are happy that the announcement of water shutdown was made on time.

They say the Sol Plaatje Municipality water tankers were provided.

Just want to say to them thank you for preparing us for this water shutdown. And I just hope everything that you did will go well and that we will have no water interruption“, says Galeshewe resident, Brian Banga.

Northern Cape Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (NOCCI) CEO, Sharon Steyn, says it’s difficult not to have water, but this time they were prepared for the shutdown.

“They have been very open. We got enough notifications regarding the shutdown. They have been keeping us up to date on a regular basis almost 2, 3 messages a day. We all understand that it is very difficult not to have water, but if you are prepared and you can do what you can and everybody helps each other. Then we have to accept the fact that it had to be done, it was s necessity it had to be done. 



Journalists fight to be recognised as frontline workers
27 June 2021, 4:54 PM

The Global South is struggling to bring down COVID-19 infection rates. The Delta variant, which has a higher transmission rate of between 30 to 60%, is becoming dominant in many countries, including South Africa, Indonesia and Zambia.

As journalists continue to cover the pandemic, they fear for their own safety as some governments do not recognise them as frontline workers.

“Since the pandemic began journalists have been on the frontline and its really necessary to get in that priority list considering the risks that we have for work. For example just yesterday I was out for work because a former president died. I was exposed to many people and makes it necessary to get access to the vaccines,” says Philippines Journalist, Janvic Mateo .

Thousands of journalists have been infected across the globe and many of them have succumbed to the virus.

COVID-19 impact on journalism under spotlight:

SABC News Lesotho correspondent found himself fighting for his life after months of covering the pandemic.

“South Africa was not allowing people to cross without the COVID-19 test. And people were sleeping at the border gate and we were there ensuring it doesn’t turn into a super -spreader. Mine was worse. I was hospitalised at least for up to two weeks with severe condition. I was taken to Senorita Hospital and I’m grateful to those people,” says SABC News’ Rapelang Radebe.

The job often doesn’t offer the option of working from the safety of one’s home. Some Journalist Associations lobbied for their members to be recognised as frontline workers.

“It is important to include journalists as frontline workers because they are always there where it happens. They are there where everything happens, state functions, press conferences, hospitals, army barracks where there is news. They are the first point of call. Everybody needs updates everyday,” says President of Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, Michael Chideme.

Lesotho journalists get AstraZeneca vaccine shots:

Some governments like Malawi and Indonesia agreed and changed the vaccine grouping – bumping journalists up to a higher priority group.

“Initially journalists were not targeted in terms of the COVID-19 vaccine, but through our association – we had to convince government to have journalists included. Amongst key or high risk professions in the third week of the vaccine – journalists in the country started getting vaccine. But I should mention that in the long run it became available to everyone who wanted to get the vaccine,” says Malawian Journalist, Yvonnie Sundu.

“Indonesia journalists were prioritised to get COVID-19 vaccines earlier than other people. I already got my jab in beginning of march and the second jab at the end of march. I just thought that it really us to protect ourselves since this pandemic hits Indonesia hard”, says Indonesian Journalist, Ardhike Indah Schmidt.  

Less developed nations continue to beg for vaccines.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is frustrated that the COVAX facility aimed at equitable distribution is failing due to vaccine hoarding by rich countries and manufactures.

WHO calls on rich countries to share COVID-19 vaccines:



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