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Rugby
Highlanders, Hurricanes advance to Super Rugby Trans-Tasman finals
11 June 2021, 4:46 PM

The Highlanders and Hurricanes have played themselves into finals contention in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman tournament with comprehensive bonus-point victories.

The Highlanders trounced the Brumbies 33-12, while the Hurricanes swept aside the Reds 43-14.

The Highlanders surged to the top of the standings, with the Hurricanes second. However, the Blues and Crusaders are still to play this weekend.

The outcome of their matches on Saturday will determine next weekend’s two finalists.

N Cape elderly feel neglected in COVID-19 vaccination drive
11 June 2021, 4:05 PM

Elderly people who live in rural areas, outside Kuruman in the Northern Cape, might have to wait longer before they get their COVID-19 vaccine. Unlike their urban counterparts, the provincial Department of Health says villages are harder to access due to bad roads.

The elderly from villages including Galothlare, Gadibowe and Tjowe are wondering how and when they will receive the COVID-19 jab.

Most of them with comorbidities say they only hear about the vaccine rollout on the radio. They say they are yet to see health workers coming to register them to be inoculated.

One of the elderly people says, “We have not heard anything. Are we forgotten or what? All of us here have not received help.”

“We haven’t received the vaccine, how are we going to survive? They only know us when they need votes,” adds another one.

Provincial Health MEC Maruping Lekwene says they have plans to include far-flung rural areas as part of their rollout.

“It is vast and unfortunately with bad roads so we are hoping to try and bring some of these elderly to a central point where we can really assist them. The best intervention will be through outreach teams where we will get those bakkies. With the Johnson and Johnson, it will help us cover our far-flung areas,” says Lekwene.

The elderly say rural areas are always an after-thought when it comes to receiving services and a case in point is the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

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Cope
Local government elections must go ahead: COPE
11 June 2021, 3:19 PM

Congress of the People (COPE) leader Mosioua Lekota says he has been to the Electoral Commission (IEC), participating in the inquiry led by former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke on whether or not the country is ready to conduct local government elections (LGE) under the coronavirus period.

Lekota says, according to the Constitution of the country, every five years there must be local government elections and that can’t be ignored.

He adds that lack of service delivery at the municipality level leaves South Africans with no choice but to head to the polls for the much-needed change.

The COPE leader spoke to the media outside of the Constitutional Court, as the country marks a year since an order to Parliament that the country’s electoral system must be changed to allow independent candidates to participate in National and Provincial elections.

“Five years of this current government has passed. We must now go and give the people an opportunity to elect who they want, who is going to be capable of correcting the conditions under which they live in. I was personally part of the meeting of the IEC and I did say that we must go and vote.”

Election date

Meanwhile, answering questions in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa appealed to South Africans to give the Electoral Commission and the Moseneke Inquiry time to determine whether the conditions are conducive for free and fair elections this year.

He said no other date has been determined for holding the elections other than October 27 which he announced earlier this year.

President Ramaphosa suggested that at this stage, there is no reason to believe that the date for local government elections would be shifted. -Additional reporting Zalene Merrington

In the video below the IEC launches the 2021 Municipal Elections:

US calls on Nigeria to end Twitter suspension
10 June 2021, 9:23 PM

The United States on Thursday condemned the Nigerian government for suspending Twitter and targeting individuals who use the social media site, including Nigerian broadcasters, and called for the African nation to reverse its decision.

“Unduly restricting the ability of Nigerians to report, gather, and disseminate opinions and information has no place in a democracy.

Freedom of expression and access to information both online and offline are foundational to prosperous and secure democratic societies,” US State Department spokesman, Ned Price, said in a statement.

Price noted that the Nigerian National Broadcasting Commission had ordered all television and radio broadcasters to stop using Twitter, also calling it a concern.

Nigerian indefinitely suspended Twitter last week after the social media giant removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists – an announcement the government posted on Twitter.

Telecommunications firms there then blocked access to the platform, and on Wednesday the Nigerian government said social media firms must obtain a license to operate in the country.

Twitter Inc has said it will work to restore access. The company, along with human rights groups such as Amnesty International, also called the suspension deeply concerning.

Nigeria’s Twitter suspension takes a toll on the country’s e-commerce sector:

Toshiba
Toshiba and Japan colluded against foreign investors, probe finds
10 June 2021, 9:16 PM

Toshiba Corp and Japan’s government colluded to lean on foreign investors to back company management in a key vote, according to an investigation which alleged one executive said they would ask the trade ministry to “beat up” a hedge fund.

The shareholder-commissioned report released on Thursday also said that Yoshihide Suga – then chief cabinet secretary and now prime minister – verbally encouraged the pressure on investors during a meeting with a senior Toshiba executive last year, an allegation Suga has denied.

Toshiba is of strategic importance to Tokyo as a maker of nuclear reactors and defence equipment. The probe’s findings mark an explosive turn in a long battle between the Japanese company’s management and foreign shareholders, which include activist investors and Harvard University’s endowment fund.

The report, written by independent investigators, says Toshiba’s management reached out to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) for support ahead of its annual general meeting last July, to counter activist investors.

The management “worked closely” with the ministry to exert” undue influence on some shareholders” including an attempt to force Effissimo Capital Management to withdraw its candidate nominations, according to the probe.

Singapore-based Effissimo, Toshiba’s top shareholder, had nominated three candidates, including its own co-founder, as directors. Ultimately none were elected.

The investigators detailed one email among top Toshiba managers about Effissimo in which an executive said: “We will ask METI to beat them up for a while.”

Contacted by Reuters, METI said it was aware of the report and was looking into its contents. Toshiba said it would “carefully review” the report and comment at a later date.

An Effissimo spokesperson said it was looking at the report, but declined to comment further.

Suga under microscope

Once a crown jewel of corporate Japan, Toshiba was battered by accounting scandals that stretch back to 2015 and massive writedowns for its U.S. nuclear business as well as the sale of its semiconductor unit, leaving it a shadow of its former self.

The report was commissioned by shareholders, who voted in March for an independent investigation into allegations investors had come under pressure from the company. That vote was seen as a watershed moment for shareholder activism in Japan.

The investigators also allege that Suga encouraged the pressure on Toshiba investors in a breakfast meeting with a senior company executive last July.

“If we are aggressive, we can get them” with foreign ownership rules, Suga allegedly told the executive, referring to rules introduced in 2020 and designed to protect industries critical to Japan’s national security.

Asked about his alleged comment, Suga told reporters: “I am absolutely not aware of that. There was nothing of that sort.”

The allegations of METI’s intervention – previously reported by Reuters – are likely to raise doubts about Japan’s commitment to improving governance and drawing more foreign investors, goals set by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The probe found Toshiba had “devised a plan to effectively prevent shareholders from exercising their shareholder proposal right and voting rights,” by putting undue influence on Effissimo, the Harvard fund and another fund, 3D Investment Partners.

The ministry was said to have contacted Singapore-based 3Dto warn it against “barbecuing next to your neighbour when there is a big fire,” in an apparent suggestion it should refrain from backing Effissimo’s proposals, the report said.
A spokesperson for the Harvard fund declined to comment, while 3D did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Some of the actions raised “suspicions of violations of laws and regulations in many places”, the report said. Investigators later told a news conference that the violations may involve confidentiality requirements for bureaucrats.

‘Raises a hornet’s nest’

“The conclusions and facts in this report are very disturbing,” said Nicholas Benes, head of the non-profit Board Director Training Institute of Japan.

“The report raises a hornet’s nest of questions. Will an EGM(extraordinary general meeting) be called to elect the board again? Will directors or others be sued? Could Toshiba even be delisted?”

Following a 2017 capital raising, a number of foreign funds invested in Toshiba, making an uneasy marriage of activist investors and a key strategic asset.

Reuters previously reported https://jp.reuters.com/article/toshiba-board-idCNL1N2J4052Harvard’s endowment fund had been told by Hiromichi Mizuno, a METI adviser at the time, that it could be subject to a regulatory probe if the fund did not follow management’s recommendations at the AGM last July.

The Harvard fund ultimately abstained from voting.
Based on that Reuters report, Toshiba’s board launched its own investigation in January of this year on whether Harvard had come under pressure, the investigators said. Toshiba said at the time it was not involved in any efforts to pressure Harvard.

Since then, Toshiba has seen former CEO Nobuaki Kurumatani resign and the ensuing turmoil lead to a $20 billion bid for the conglomerate from CVC Capital.

CVC’s offer to take the Japanese conglomerate private and retain incumbent management was perceived by some in the company as designed to shield Kurumatani from activist shareholders, Toshiba sources have said.

While Toshiba has dismissed that bid, it has announced it will conduct a strategic review.

Activist investors are estimated to account for about 25% of Toshiba’s shareholder base – an unusually large proportion after the company, on the verge of collapse, had to quickly issue some$5.5 billion worth of shares in 2017.

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