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Miner’s working conditions haven’t improved since Marikana massacre: Amcu
16 August 2021, 5:29 PM

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) says working conditions of mineworkers have not transformed since the Marikana massacre in 2012 where mineworkers were shot and killed.

The workers embarked on a violent strike to demand a R12 500 wage per month, when police shot and killed 34 of their colleagues at the Wonderkop Koppie outside Rustenburg in North West.

Amcu hosted its ninth commemorative event today to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on that fateful day.

“Mining communities remain very poor and yet they have precious commodities around them. We continue to demand that prior to DMR issuing mining license they must make it a requirement that these companies built schools, hospitals, universities in the community before issuing license. So, it must be part of their license,” says Amcu President, Joseph Mathunjwa.

The legal representative of Marikana families, Dali Mpofu, says the injured mineworkers who received their payments, want to set aside about R1 million to challenge government and Lonmin mine for compensation.

Mpofu says government has been arrogant on this issue.

“Government accepted liability of their wrongdoing in 2016. already. It’s now five years later … it still has to compensat the people. People are dying. So, even when that compensation comes, it might be meaningless to some of the people. Even at this late hour, we are calling on government, particular Mr Ramaphosa, to say it will be better, it’s never too late to do the right thing. It would be better if you apologise and do whatever you promised to do now rather than do it because a court has forced you to apologise.”

Remembering the Marikana massacre with Amcu President, Joseph Mathunjwa:

Gordhan gives update on builders Durban container terminal port
16 August 2021, 5:09 PM

Public Enterprise Minister, Pravin Gordhan, says by October Transnet will have issued Requests For Information (RFI) to test market appetite for the building of the Durban container terminal port which is expected to cost R100 billion.

Gordhan says two other RFIs will be issued in the next 24 to 48hours for the building of point terminals in Durban and Ngqura in the Eastern Cape.

Gordhan says the investment plan is part of the overall Transnet reforms which saw the National Ports Authority falling under Transnet as an independent subsidiary as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in June.

Gordhan was addressing a virtual media briefing today.

“And that will be a huge infrastructure investment in respect of the Durban port. The second key reform area is exploring the potential for investment in the port terminal in Durban and in Ngqura port in the Eastern Cape. And today, two RFIs or requests for information will be issued by Transnet in respect of the second aspect of the reforms.”

Gunmen abduct 19 people from college in northwest Nigeria
16 August 2021, 5:01 PM

Gunmen abducted 15 students and four staff members from an agricultural college in the northwestern Nigerian state of Zamfara, police said on Monday, the latest in a spate of mass kidnappings across Africa’s most populous country.

During the attack late on Sunday night, the gunmen exchanged fire with a security team protecting the college, resulting in the deaths of one police officer and two guards, according to Mohammed Shehu, a spokesperson for Zamfara State police.

He said officers were combing the area surrounding the town of Bakura, where the college is located, in search of the victims, and three members of staff had been found and rescued.

Abductions for ransom, particularly at schools and colleges, have increased in northwestern Nigeria over the past eight months, partly driven by a sharp rise in poverty levels linked to the economic shock caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Over 1,000 children and students have been taken from their places of education since December. Some have been released following ransom payments but many are still missing.

The abductions are one aspect of a broader trend of rising insecurity across Nigeria, with armed robberies and conflict between communities also contributing to a heavy death toll.

Experts warn South Africa is far off in reaching herd immunity against coronavirus
16 August 2021, 4:23 PM
The emergence of the deadly Delta variant in South Africa has meant that the country is much further away from reaching herd immunity. That’s according to the head of the Centre for Vaccines and Immunology at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), Dr Melinda Suchard.

South Africa initially intended to vaccinate 66% of the population in order to achieve population immunity against COVID-19. However, with the slow pace of government’s vaccination programme coupled with the deadly Delta variant, the percent is now much higher.

As of last week, 7.25 million people received vaccinations, of which only four million are fully vaccinated.

The herd immunity threshold is a description of the number of people who, in the population, need to be immune in order for the virus to stop replicating fast and does not cause increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.

Many scientists are currently questioning if South Africa will ever reach population herd immunity, especially with the deadly Delta variant.

The country’s immunisation drive has faced a number of hurdles, including news that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is mostly ineffective against the Beta. The vaccinations programme was also halted twice, when SAHPRA investigated blood clots linked to the J&J shot and during violent riots in KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Suchard says South Africa now needs a high level of vaccine coverage to contain the spread of the virus.

“We are very far much off from achieving herd immunity. The R0 is how many people usually catch COVID-19 from one case. The value does depend on the strain. Initially, we though that R0 value was between two and three. So, the initial aim was to vaccinate about 66% of the population. With the Delta variant, the R0 is higher, meaning someone with the delta variant tends to give it to five or six individuals. The herd immunity threshold would then be 80%. So, we would now need a higher level of coverage in the country if we were to rely on herd immunity to say outbreaks would not spread.”

Suchard says the Coronvirus will never fully disappear. However, with increased vaccinations, death and hospitalisation will be prevented in the years to come.

She says the washing of hands, sanitising, and social distancing should become part of our daily lives.

“It’s very likely that the virus is going to become part of viruses that circulate and make people ill, but not at epidemic levels. Viruses like influenza; it’s relatively few people every year. It’s very likely that it’s going to happen to SARS COV-2. It will continue to circulate. There will always be some people catching it in any season, but those that are vaccinated will not suffer from sever illness or death. SARS COV-2 is going to be with us for a long time … years.”

While some scientists believe Herd Immunity is not within reach for South Africa in the near future, The South African Medical Research Council’s Professor, Ameena Goga says South Africa has already built small pockets of immunity in some provinces.

“I think we have been building herd immunity and we continue to do that as we move forward. Some of the data from some of the districts and provinces are testament to that. It has taken some districts and provinces much longer to reach peaks in the third wave and we think that’s in part due to pockets of herd immunity that has already developed in some of our communities. We have had some surveys that show antibody prevalence sitting at between 30 and 40% and we need to continue to generate that data.”

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) remains disappointed that South Africa may not reach Herd Immunity.

Denosa’s Bongani Mazibuko says efforts need to be ramped up to encourage higher levels of vaccination.

“The vaccination plan that we have is but a desktop exercise. The department should be robustly going out, especially on social media, refuting the message of the anti-vaxxers. When health workers were also reluctant to vaccinate, we had to get information and share that with the nurses and that is when the uptake was increased.”

Government has aimed to vaccinate between 70 and 90% of the country’s adult population by the end of the year, a target many believe is unreachable.

Latest COVID-19 statistics in South Africa:

 

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Vaccine hesitance increasing in some areas of South Africa

Matongo promises to serve the people of Johannesburg
11 August 2021, 9:20 PM

Newly appointed Johannesburg Mayor, Jolidee Matongo says he will hit the ground running, and continue where the late Geoff Makhubo left off.

Matongo takes over from Makhubo who died recently due to COVID-19 related complications. Matongo and his 10-Member Mayoral Committee have been sworn-in during a ceremony at the Joburg Theatre.

After being sworn in, he immediately committed to pick up where Makhubo left off.

Matongo says there are a lot of plans which the late mayor had put in place, now all that’s left is implementation.

“We are taking over from mayor Makhubo’s programmes and plans. We have already approved the IDP of the City which is a five year programme coupled with the service delivery implementation plan and the annual plan. And the budget has already been allocated. We need to ensure that the plans are implemented and budget is spent.”

City challenges

Matongo says he is fully aware of the challenges that face the city, including land invasions and housing allocations.

“The housing waiting list is growing by the day because Johannesburg is the city of opportunities therefore it adds to our housing problems. We do have a Johannesburg social housing company, to ensure that people can rent and we are ramping up on our mega housing projects to make sure that people have access to housing.”

The portfolios of the majority of members remain unchanged in order to ensure continuation. Only two portfolio, Finance and Economic Development  have been assigned new MMCs.

Thomas Mofokeng replaces MMC Lawrence Khoza in the Economic Development portfolio. Matshidiso Mfikoe returns as MMC Finance after having served under the former Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau pre-2016. Mfikoe says she has to ensure the city gets a clean audit.

“Part of what he has raised with me is the need to improve the collection of revenue in the city. Working on sorting out the billing problems that communities might have, curbing fruitful and wasteful expenditure. Department must spend and spend on the right things. The departments need to give us clean audits and that’s that.”

With the local government elections looming, Matongo has only a few months to prove to Johannesburg residents that he and the ruling party have what it takes to govern the City again.

Video: Joburg Mayor promises to follow the late Makhubo’s footsteps

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