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Aucamp resigns as Msimanga’s chief of staff
17 May 2018, 7:55 PM

Marietha Aucamp, the chief of staff in the office of Tshwane Executive Mayor Solly Msimanga, has resigned.

In a press statement she says it was sad that Mayor Solly Msimanga, who has run a clean campaign, was blamed and dragged into the controversy of her appointment while not having any blame.

She admits that she doesn’t have a tertiary degree and says that she didn’t submit the form which states she has a B-Tech degree. Aucamp says she felt inferior at times because of her lack of a tertiary education but believed she made up for that short coming with her knowledge of  Msimanga’s vision.

Her last working day will be the end of the month.

Earlier, the ANC in Tshwane said it is laying charges of fraud against Aucamp, after she allegedly lied when applying for her current job, saying she had a B-Tech degree, which she allegedly doesn’t have.

She is allegedly earning a salary of R1.2 million per year. The ANC leader in the council, Mapiti Matsena, says Executive Mayor Msimanga was also part of the interviewing panel, and gave her the highest marks, while he was allegedly not allowed to participate.

The City is currently investigating the matter and Msimanga said he will resign if it is found that he flouted the rules. Tshwane ANC spokesperson, Lesego Makbubela says Msimanga broke the rules.

“The position she was given which she is not qualified for, which they had to break the law for, puts her directly in the office of the mayor so that she babysit’s the puppet. Ensure that the puppet is on the string and toes the party line and that is why we always said, Solly is not the mayor of Tshwane, Marietha is the mayor of Tshwane.”

Liverpool’s Mane included in Senegal World Cup squad
17 May 2018, 7:41 PM

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane will lead Senegal’s hopes at their second World Cup appearance in Russia next month, after coach Aliou Cisse announced his 23-man squad in Dakar on Thursday.

Mane will be expected to provide the majority of the team’s attacking threat along with Monaco striker Keita Balde, with West Ham midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate and Everton’s Idrissa Gueye also included.

The 26-year-old Mane has scored 19 goals in all competitions this season for Liverpool, helping Jurgen Klopp’s side finish fourth in the Premier League and reach next week’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Goalkeeper Khadim N’Diaye, who plays for Horoya in Guinea, is the only African-based player to make the list.

Senegal have qualified for the World Cup for the first time since reaching the quarter-finals on their debut in 2002, when they stunned reigning champions France 1-0 in the opening match of the tournament.

They begin their 2018 campaign against Poland in Moscow on June 19, before further Group H matches with Japan and Colombia.

Senegal 23-man squad:
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes/FRA), Khadim N’Diaye (Horoya/GUI), Alfred Gomis (SPAL/ITA)

Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli/ITA), Lamine Gassama (Alanyaspor/TUR), Kara Mbodji (Anderlecht/BEL), Moussa Wague (Eupen/BEL), Youssouf Sabaly (Bordeaux/FRA), Saliou Ciss (Valenciennes/FRA), Salif Sane (Hanover/GER)

Midfielders: Badou Ndiaye (Stoke/ENG), Idrissa Gueye (Everton/ENG), Cheikhou Kouyate (West Ham/ENG), Cheikh N’Doye (Birmingham/ENG), Alfred N’Diaye (Wolves/ENG)

Forwards: Sadio Mane (Liverpool/ENG), Keita Balde (Monaco/FRA), Diafra Sakho (Rennes/FRA), Moussa Konate (Amiens/FRA), Ismaila Sarr (Rennes/FRA), M’Baye Niang (Torino/ITA), Moussa Sow (Bursaspor/TUR), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke/ENG)

UN calls on Iraq to probe election complaints
17 May 2018, 7:36 PM

 

The UN on Thursday called for Iraq’s electoral commission to “immediately and fully” investigate complaints by candidates and parties over the conduct of this month’s legislative elections.

“The commission has to act expeditiously in order to seriously address all complaints,” the UN’s envoy to Iraq, Jan Kubis, said in a statement.

Partial results for the May 12 poll show the Marching Towards Reform alliance of Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and communists ahead in six of Iraq’s 18 provinces and second in four others.

Preliminary tallies also put the Conquest Alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary fighters who helped battle IS next, followed by incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s bloc.

But the exact number of seats won by each bloc in parliament is still unknown.

The United Nations cited partial recounts in some locations, including Kirkuk.

“It is important these are undertaken in full transparency, witnessed by stakeholders, to strengthen… confidence in the process,” said Kubis.

Several complaints have been lodged in Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic province which the central government has recently taken over from the Kurds.

Disputes between Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen communities led to a curfew being imposed in Kirkuk city on the night of the vote, with clashes and sit-in protests.

“I also call on all political actors to uphold the peace and to remain committed to resolving any electoral disputes through the established legal channels,” Kubis added.

Former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, whose Rule of Law Alliance falls behind the top three blocs in the partial results, has called for the commission to recount votes or cancel the elections.

The vote, the first in Iraq since the government declared victory against the Islamic State group in December, is also the first to have taken place without significant political violence since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Fears mount as Ebola reported in DR Congo city
17 May 2018, 7:28 PM

An outbreak of Ebola in remote Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has spread to a city, health watchdogs said Thursday, sharpening fears that the deadly virus now posed a regional threat.

The fresh outbreak, publicly declared on May 8 with 23 deaths so far, had previously been reported in a rural part of Equateur Province in the vast country’s northwest.

But the DRC’s health ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said a case had been confirmed in Equateur’s capital Mbandaka, located about 150 kilometres (90 miles) from the Bikoro area where the outbreak originated.

Amid anecdotal evidence of alarm among local people, a doctor at the city’s General Hospital, who requested anonymity, told AFP that more than 300 people in Mbandaka had had either direct or indirect contact with Ebola.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF), quoting local officials, said 514 people were believed to have been in contact with Ebola patients and were now being monitored.

Peter Salama, in charge of emergency response at the WHO, said the spread to a city complicated the fight against Ebola, which depends on identifying and isolating suspected cases.

Mbandaka’s population has been variously estimated at between 700,000 and 1.2 million.

“In the past, in most of the Ebola outbreaks in DRC, it’s been rural and fairly self-limited, but now we know that populations of more than a million are at risk,” Salama said in Geneva.

“Another major issue here is that this centre of Mbandaka is on the banks of Congo River, and that river connects to the internal hinterland of DRC but also to surrounding countries such as Congo-Brazzaville and Central African Republic, so this outbreak now has a real risk of national and regional amplification.”

The WHO announced it was sending 30 experts to Mbandaka, while MSF said it was sending several tonnes of medical supplies there.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies called for an alert to be sent out across Equateur “and even beyond.”

“If we don’t, then the virus may spread too far and too quickly,” Ben Adinoyi, the Red Cross’s regional healthcare chief, said in a statement.

Ebola is lethal and highly contagious, which makes it difficult to contain — especially in urban environments where people are mobile and come into more contact with others.

Lacking an arsenal of drugs to treat the virus, doctors isolate patients and trace people who have been in contact with them.
Adding to the headache is the fact that the virus has broken out anew in one of the world’s most volatile countries.

A country four times the size of France, the DRC has been chronically unstable and episodically racked by violence since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Despite vast mineral wealth, the country remains mired in poverty and corruption. Basic infrastructure — hospitals, roads, electricity — is a major obstacle in remote areas.

The current outbreak involves the same strain of the virus that hit three West African countries in 2013-15 and sparked an international panic.

It went on to kill more than 11,300 people, in the deadliest ever Ebola epidemic.

In Mbandaka on Thursday, the mood among many people changed from insouciance to worry as news of Ebola’s spread was announced on the radio.

Bars, restaurants and public offices set up basins of water and soap dispensers for people to wash their hands, while at the city’s airport, health ministry workers were taking travellers’ temperatures with laser thermometers, an AFP reporter saw.

“I am looking for a boat to leave,” said Constantine Boketshu, who is married to a member of the armed forces.

“The authorities have let the disease come here. We run the risk of being wiped out in the (military) camp — the hygiene is bad.”
Market hawker Adolphine Dikela said: “Even at normal times, the hospitals are short of medicines. How are we going to survive if the disease spreads here?”

Fisherman Jean-Pierre Kelokelo said: “I’m going to stop coming to Mbandaka to stop selling my fish — I don’t want to be infected by this disease and go back and spread it in my village.”

The WHO was fiercely criticised over its handling of the 2013 outbreak and has pledged to improve emergency response.
There is no licensed drug to treat or prevent Ebola, although an experimental vaccine arrived in the DRC on Wednesday and has been cleared for use by the Kinshasa government.

Salama said combatting the DRC outbreak would cost “around $25 million dollars” for the first three months of operations.

“But it is a cost that is worth investing now, because we know from Ebola West Africa experience that that cost the international community between $3-4 billion” in addition to the death toll, he said.

Special envoy Mabuza is the right choice to represent SA in Russia
17 May 2018, 6:15 PM

 

The visit this week by deputy president of the country David Mabuza to the Russian Federation could not have happened at a better time. Mabuza, a strong personal ally of Russia who has a personal history of flying in and out of Moscow for, among others, medical consultation, was appointed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Special Envoy to Russia this week.

There, he was to meet with the Russian president Vladir Putin in order to convey President Ramaphosa’s personal message of congratulation following his success  in the March 2018 elections and subsequent inauguration on May 7, 2018.

In a statement from the Presidency, the following was further stated: “President Ramaphosa looks forward to further strengthening the already existing political, economic and trade ties between South Africa and Russia.”

Indeed, SA’s deep historical ties to Russia goes back to the dark days of apartheid when Russia trained members of the ANC’s military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe and provided them with arms to wage their battle to end apartheid. Russia was one of the few countries in the world which treated the ANC and SA Communist Party leaders like royalty.

When ANC leaders JB Marks and Moses Kotane took ill in the camps in Africa they were flown with the assistance of Russians to Moscow to receive medical treatment. And when the two liberation icons died on the Russian soil they were given hero’s burials and their graves declared sacred.

Fast-forward, when the ANC government requested the Russians to exhume the remains of both Kotane and Marks so that they could be -reburied on their home soil in the North West province, again the Russians obliged like true allies. Such is the strong ties that bind the two countries that after the exhumation of the two ANC leaders, the Russians vowed to keep the two empty graves as heritage sites.

Today, scores of young South Africans are studying in Russia on scholarships. They feel at home at once when they visit the grave sites of their liberators who were well looked after by the Russians.

This is the kind of history that if unknown will leave many baffled by the strong bond between Pretoria and Moscow. Russia was also an active supporter for South Africa to be accepted into a powerful group of growing economies better known BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). The group’s acronym had the letter “S” added in the end to read BRICS after South Africa joined.

Now, from the 25th -27th July 2018, President Ramaphosa will be hosting President Putin, a proven friend of South Africa, along with the Heads of State of China, India and Brazil for a scheduled BRICS Summit.

These kinds of networks with like-minded fellow travellers are quite important in power relations with the complex international world order. South Africa and indeed the rest of the BRICS members have conscious obligations to continue to build strong political and socio-economic ties so that they can leverage from each other’s prosperity and the know-how.

BRICS as a power bloc stand a good chance of tackling challenges posed by multilateralism within the framework of global relations. In BRICS the lesser economies are able to benefit from the developed ones such as Russia and China, the only two BRICS members who are permanent members of the UN Security Council and who also possess the veto powers.

This is an example of the benefits of BRICS over and above SA-Russia bilateral relations.

In this rapidly changing world order where more powerful countries flex their muscles willy-nilly against their weaker counter-parts, South Africa does very well to keep and nurture old friendships such as our relations with Moscow, a proven and dependable ally.

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