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Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy’s party wins landslide victory in election
10 July 2021, 9:57 PM

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s Prosperity Party won the most seats in Ethiopia’s parliamentary election, the election board said on Saturday, a victory that assures him another term in office.

Abiy hailed the June 21 vote as the country’s first free and fair election after decades of repressive rule. However, an opposition boycott, war in the northern region of Tigray, ethnic violence and logistical challenges in some areas overshadowed the election.

Voting did not take place in three of Ethiopia’s 10 regions.

Abiy’s party won 410 of 436 parliamentary seats, election board deputy chairperson Woubshet Ayele announced in the capital Addis Ababa.

Chairperson Birtukan Mideksa said the board had delivered a credible election.

Opposition leader Berhanu Nega said his Ethiopian Citizens for Social Justice party (Ezema) had filed 207 complaints after local officials and militiamen blocked observers in the Amhara region and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ region.

The election was the first test of voter support for Abiy, who promised political and economic reforms when he was appointed prime minister by the governing coalition in 2018.

Within months of taking office, Abiy lifted a ban on opposition parties, released tens of thousands of political prisoners and took steps to open up one of Africa’s last untapped markets.

He now faces international pressure over the war in Tigray and accusations from rights groups that his government is rolling back some new freedoms, which it denies.

Abiy’s newly formed Prosperity Party faced a fragmented opposition of dozens of mostly ethnically-based parties.

The opposition parties Ezema and the National Movement of Amhara (NAMA) each won less than 10 seats.

Voting in the Harar and Somali regions was delayed until September over security concerns and problems with ballot papers.

No date has been set for voting in Tigray, where the military has been battling forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the region’s former ruling party, since November.

The fighting has displaced 2 million people, and the United Nations has warned of famine conditions in parts of the region.

At the end of June, the TPLF seized control of most of Tigray and the regional capital Mekelle, eight months after the conflict erupted.

The government announced a unilateral ceasefire after days of TPLF advances. The TPLF has presented a list of seven demands that it says are a precondition for a ceasefire, including the withdrawal of the military and its allies from parts of Tigray currently administered by the neighbouring region of Amhara, which also claims the land.

Late Jhb mayor Geoff Makhubo to be laid to rest on Wednesday
10 July 2021, 9:42 PM

The funeral service of the late mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Geoff Makhubo, will take place on Wednesday.

The ANC in the Greater Johannesburg region says a time for the virtual service will be announced later.

Makhubo died on Friday morning following COVID-19  complications.

The funeral service will be preceded by a virtual prayer session on Sunday and ANC virtual memorial services on Monday and Tuesday.

Makhubo lauded  as an experienced public servant:

Makhubo’s death a loss to the City of Johannesburg and Gauteng: Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the passing of Makhubo, as a loss to the city and the province at large.

Ramaphosa extended his condolences to the family, friends, colleagues and comrades of the late mayor.

“The passing of Mayor Makhubo is a stark reminder of the threat posed by this deadly pandemic against which we are all extremely vulnerable,” says Ramaphosa.

The president lauded Makhubo for his contribution to the national effort to fight the pandemic.

“Since he received his own diagnosis in June this year, Mayor Makhubo regularly posted public health messages urging people to take responsibility for their own safety and that of others,” Ramaphosa added.

Ramaphosa says Makhubo was an experienced public servant in the City of Johannesburg, including as a Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance (MMC), as leader of the opposition in council, and then as mayor.

“Losing Makhubo at such a difficult time for the City of Johannesburg and the country is a blow; our thoughts and prayers are with the family and with his colleagues at this difficult time.”

Gauteng police out in full force to check if COVID-19 regulations are adhered to
10 July 2021, 9:25 PM

Gauteng police say they are out in full force in the province enforcing COVID-19 regulations. The province has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gauteng Acting Provincial Commissioner, Major General Tommy Mthombeni, has urged people not to travel in and out of the province unnecessarily.

“In terms of regulation 21, there have to be no gatherings but over and above it is a fact that in Gauteng we are having 10 roadblocks inbound which is supplemented by the other province. The other roads which are provincial routes we have from time to time, we deal with those vehicle checkpoints in those specific areas.”

COVID-19 in South Africa:

Meanwhile,  South Africa recorded 21 610 new COVID-19 infections in the past 24 hours, taking the total cases to 2 179 297.

The national death toll from COVID-19-related illnesses now stands at 64 138, with a further 265 people passing away since the last report.

Gauteng recorded around 50% (10 770) of the new infections, with the Western Cape, which is preparing for the peak of the Delta-driven COVID-19 third wave, recording 2 477 new cases.

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Virus variants threaten global recovery, G20 warns
10 July 2021, 9:20 PM

An upsurge in new coronavirus variants and poor access to vaccines in developing countries threaten the global economic recovery, finance ministers of the world’s 20 largest economies warned on Saturday.

The G20 gathering in the Italian city of Venice was the ministers’ first face-to-face meeting since the start of the pandemic. Decisions include the endorsement of new rules aimed at stopping multinationals shifting profits to low-tax havens.

That paves the way for G20 leaders to finalise a new global minimum corporate tax rate of 15% at a Rome summit in October, a move that could recoup hundreds of billions of dollars for public treasuries straining under the COVID-19 crisis.

A final communique said the global economic outlook had improved since G20 talks in April thanks to the rollout of vaccines and economic support packages, but acknowledged its fragility in the face of variants like the fast-spreading Delta.

“The recovery is characterised by great divergences across and within countries and remains exposed to downside risks, in particular the spread of new variants of the COVID-19 virus and different paces of vaccination,” it read.

While G20 nations promised to use all policy tools to combatCOVID-19, the Italian hosts of the meeting said there was also agreement to avoid imposing new restrictions on people.

“We all agree we should avoid introducing again any restriction on the movement of citizens and the way of life of people,” said Italian Economy Minister Daniele Franco, whose country holds the rotating G20 presidency through to December.

The communique, while stressing support for “equitable global sharing” of vaccines, did not propose concrete measures, merely acknowledging a recommendation for $50 billion in new vaccine financing by the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization.

Differences in vaccination levels between the world’s rich and poor remain vast. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called the divergence a “moral outrage” that also undermines wider efforts to tame the spread of the virus.

While some of the wealthiest countries have now given over two-thirds of their citizens at least one shot of vaccine, that figure falls to well below 5% for many African nations.

Brandon Locke, of the public health non-profit group ONE Campaign, decried what he described as the G20’s inaction, calling it “a lose-lose situation for everyone.”

“Not only will it cost lives in poorer countries, it increases the risk of new variants that will wreak havoc in richer ones,” he said.

Italy said it the G20 would return to the issue of vaccine funding for poor countries ahead of a Rome summit in October and that new variants were an area that needed to be looked at. It did not give further details.

“We must agree on a process for everyone on the planet to be able to access vaccines. If we don’t, the IMF predicts that the global economy will lose $9 trillion,” religious development organization Jubilee USA Network said.

It was referring to an IMF forecast that international cooperation on COVID-19 vaccines could speed world economic recovery and add $9 trillion to global income by 2025.

TAX HOLDOUTS

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the world was facing “a worsening two-track recovery” partly driven by the differences in vaccine availability.

The biggest policy initiative at the talks was a well-flagged agreement on the global corporate tax rate, capping eight years of wrangling on the issue.

Setting a floor of 15% is intended to stop multinationals shopping around for the lowest tax rate. It would also change the way that companies like Amazon and Google are taxed, basing it partly on where they sell products and services, rather than on the location of their headquarters.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said any countries opposed to it would be encouraged to sign up by October.
“We’ll be trying to do that, but I should emphasise it’s not essential that every country be on board,” she said, adding the deal included mechanisms against the use of tax havens anywhere.

G20 members account for more than 80% of world gross domestic product, 75% of global trade and 60% of the population of the planet, including big-hitters the United States, Japan, Britain, France, Germany and India.
In addition to European Union holdouts Ireland, Estonia and Hungary, other countries that have not signed on include Kenya, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Barbados and St. Vincent and Grenadines.

EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni told reporters there were still discussions about what level of a company’s profits should be taxed at national level, and whether other sectors beyond financial services and mining should be exempt.

Among other sticking points, a fight in the U.S. Congress over President Joe Biden’s planned tax increases on corporations and wealthy Americans could cause problems, as could a separate EU plan for a digital levy on tech companies.

The G20 officials called on the International Monetary Fund” to quickly present actionable options” for rich countries to channel part of a $650 billion issuance of IMF currency reserves to poorer countries.

They stopped short of endorsing the IMF’s $100 billion target for transferring Special Drawing Rights to countries in need, but called for contributions from all able countries to reach “an ambitious target.”

Mapisa-Nqakula says army won’t be deployed in KZN
10 July 2021, 9:06 PM

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the army will not be deployed in KwaZulu-Natal because there is no war in the province.

She says her department will only intervene when other law enforcement agencies are not coping with the situation.

There are protests on several major highways in the province following the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.

Mapisa-Nqakula says what is happening now is not the responsibility of the Defence Force.

“South Africa National Defence Force has not been deployed to KZN. That is not the responsibility of the SANDF. I don’t think we have reached a point where SANDF should be dragged into what is happening in KwaZulu-Natal.

Pictures from the KwaZulu-Natal protests:

Meanwhile,  Cabinet’s Security Cluster on Saturday condemned the violent protests. It says differences should be resolved with dialogue and not with acts of vandalism.

Scores of trucks have been set alight, roads closed and shops looted in Mooi River.

“All of us South Africans should condemn that violence. And right now you are seeing the food, goods which are being delivered to other parts of the country being burnt. Very soon we are going to have a food crisis in the country. We are going to have problems with fuel in the country because the root that has been closed is basically an economic route. That’s a route where you have your trucks which are ferrying delivery from the ports to the inland area of our country,” said Mapisa-Nqakula earlier on Saturday.

 Institute for Security Studies gives insight on the protests:

Gauteng police on high alert

Gauteng police say they are on high alert following threats that protests happening in KwaZulu-Natal are going to spill over to Gauteng. They say more police officers will be deployed at Maimai hostel in Johannesburg and they are also ready for Monday’s Constitutional Court hearing of former President Jacob Zuma. Gauteng Acting Provincial Commissioner Major General Tommy Mthombeni says their intelligence is on the ground gathering information on a daily basis.

“What is happening in KwaZulu-Natal must just indicate that from the South African Police Service, national head office on a daily basis we having the joint operational committee meeting where all the role players are involved but of course in Gauteng linking up with our intelligence. There is information, we deal with that information. We have also directed all the law enforcement agencies in Gauteng and we have put up the plan in ensuring that we deal with the threats.”

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