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UDM municipalities, councillors ‘to keep noses clean’ and look at oversight roles: Holomisa
2 October 2021, 1:00 PM

United Democratic Movement Leader Bantu Holomisa says UDM municipalities and councillors will keep  their noses clean and will look at their role of oversight.

He is on a campaign trail in Mthatha.

Holomisa says as the three-year allocation cycle does not work, district municipalities blow their budgets within the first year due to corruption and poor planning.

“Projects, particularly  those in roads and water come to a grinding halt in the second year as funds dry up. Projects remain unfinished until someone works up five years later. This is what happened with the 2019 OR Tambo Water and Sanitation project which led villages from Mqanduli, Mthatha up to Coffee Bay dry up to today.”

The UDM has launched its manifesto in Mthatha


Holomisa believes depoliticisation is the key to tackling corruption at local government level. The party, which has seen a steady decline in support since 2004, is contesting its fifth municipal election.

However, Holomisa is optimistic that the UDM will perform well in the forthcoming elections.

LGE 2021 | UDM manifesto launch

UDM members are currently on the streets ahead of the election manifesto launch:

The UDM was formed in 1997 by Bantu Holomisa, who was expelled from the ANC after accusing a top party official of corruption.

Holomisa, the former military strongman in the former homeland of the Transkei, teamed up with Roelf Meyer, a former Nationalist Party cabinet minister, to form a new party.

Meyer later left politics to pursue other interests.

The UDM sees itself as a contender for power with the ANC. Holomisa says his party is aiming to become an alternative government.

Following the 2016 municipal elections, the UDM won 59 seats.


Somali militia, former government ally, captures two towns from federal forces
2 October 2021, 12:30 PM

 A militia previously allied to the Somali government in its fight against militant group al Shabaab has captured two towns in central Somalia from federal forces, saying it was taking control where the government had failed to end the insurgency.

On Thursday, Somali federal forces attacked the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ) militia in Galmudug state, culminating in fighting that saw its troops ousted from the towns of Mataban and Guriceel, spokespeople for both ASWJ and the Somali National Army (SNA) told Reuters.

The army accused the ASWJ of planning to attack its troops, which the group denied.

“Yesterday, we attacked ASWJ … because we knew they were planning to attack us,” Captain Nur Abdullahi, an officer for the SNA told Reuters from the Galmudug capital.

Sheikh Ismail Farah, a spokesman for ASWJ, said the group had had no such plans and did not want to fight the government.

“We are ready to eliminate al Shabaab. Al Shabaab is our common enemy,” he said.

The group has not denied the army’s accusation that ASWJ fighters had been fighting al Shabaab unilaterally.

The ASWJ says the government has failed to put an end to al Shabaab’s insurgency and that the situation in Galmudug state in particular is precarious. Last month, al Shabaab captured the strategic Galmudug town of Amara from federal forces.

The group has said it wants to take control of towns and regions to better protect them from and fight al Shabaab.

Residents of the captured towns said the fighters captured troops and equipment from the national army and were greeted with celebrations by some.

Farah said the ASWJ briefly captured nine special forces commandos but later released them. Abdullahi declined to comment on whether special forces had been captured.

“We welcomed and joined the ASWJ,” local police captain Osman Mohmaud told Reuters.

Other residents said they hoped ASWJ could beat al Shabaab after the government failed.

“We do not want the so-called Somali government that does not fight al Shabaab,” said Halima Osman from Mataban. “ASWJ is back and we are so very happy.”

The political situation in Somalia is already fraught, exacerbated by delayed elections and tensions between clans. Earlier this month, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed suspended some of the prime minister’s powers and accused him of violating the constitution.

In April, rival factions of the army clashed in the capital along clan lines.

Experts warn that political instability could benefit al Shabaab.

Delta increases COVID-19 risks for pregnant women
2 October 2021, 11:28 AM

Compared to coronavirus cases earlier in the pandemic, infections with the Delta variant lead to worse outcomes for unvaccinated pregnant women, new data suggest.

Doctors studied 1 515 pregnant women with COVID-19 who received care from a large public health system in Dallas from May 2020 through September 4, 2021. Overall, 82 women – 81 of whom were unvaccinated – developed severe illness, including 10 who needed ventilators and two who died.

The proportion of severe or critical cases among pregnant women was around 5% until early 2021, and were “largely nonexistent” in February and most of March 2021, the researchers said in a statement.

In late summer, during the peak of the surge of the Delta variant, the proportion of pregnant COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization jumped to 10% to 15%, they reported in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Pregnant women face greater risks for complications with any type of severe respiratory infection, so these findings of the higher risk from the Delta variant further emphasize the need for them to get vaccinated for COVID-19, study leader Dr. Emily Adhikari of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said in a statement.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called for “urgent action” to increase COVID-19 vaccination among people who are pregnant, recently pregnant, including those who are breastfeeding, or who might become pregnant in the future, saying “the benefits of vaccination outweigh known or potential risks.”

Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine antibodies disappear in many by 7 months

Six months after receiving the second dose of the two-shot vaccine from Pfizer Inc (PFE.N) and BioNTech SE , many recipients no longer have vaccine-induced antibodies that can immediately neutralize worrisome variants of the coronavirus, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed blood samples from 46 healthy, mostly young or middle-aged adults after receipt of the two doses and again six months after the second dose. “Our study shows vaccination with the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine induces high levels of neutralizing antibodies against the original vaccine strain, but these levels drop by nearly 10-fold by seven months” after the initial dose, Bali Pulendran of Stanford University and Mehul Suthar of Emory University said by email.

In roughly half of all subjects, neutralizing antibodies that can block infection against coronavirus variants such as Delta, Beta, and Mu were undetectable at six months after the second dose, their team reported on Thursday on bioRxiv ahead of peer review.

Neutralizing antibodies are not the immune system’s only defense against the virus. Still, they “are critically important in protecting against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” said Pulendran and Suthar. “These findings suggest that administering a booster dose at around 6 to 7 months following the initial immunization will likely enhance protection against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.”

Experimental Merck pill halves hospitalizations, deaths

Merck & Co’s experimental oral antiviral drug for COVID-19, molnupiravir, reduced by around 50% the chance of hospitalization or death for patients with mild or moderate infections who had risk factors for severe disease, according to interim clinical trial results announced by the company on Friday.

A planned interim analysis of 775 patients in Merck’s study found that 7.3% of those given molnupiravir twice a day for five days were either hospitalized or had died by 29 days after treatment, compared with 14.1% of placebo patients.

There were no deaths among those given molnupiravir but eight in the placebo group. Due to the positive results, the Phase III trial is being stopped early at the recommendation of outside monitors.

“An oral antiviral that can impact hospitalization risk to such a degree would be game changing,” said Amesh Adalja, from Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, who was not involved in the study. Merck and partner Ridgeback Biotherapeutics plan to seek U.S. emergency use authorization for the pill as soon as possible, and to submit applications to regulatory agencies worldwide.

  If authorized, molnupiravir, which is designed to introduce errors into the genetic code of the virus, would be the first oral antiviral medication for COVID-19.

Ster-Kinekor’s Business Rescue Practitioner given deadline to publish rescue plan
2 October 2021, 10:43 AM

Business Rescue Practitioner of Ster Kinekor, Stefan Smyth have been given until the end of next month to publish a Business Rescue Plan for the company.

In an update to affected persons this week, the Business Rescue Practitioner said the extension was necessary due to discussions with a party that has proposed to invest in the business.

Meanwhile, the company’s outlook remains stable, assisted by the on-going vaccination roll-out and a reported reduction in daily COVID-19 cases.

Attendance numbers are continuing to improve. The company has also welcomed cabinet’s decision to move the country from adjusted alert Level 2 lockdown to adjusted Level 1.

Ster-Kinekor’s rescue plan deadline extended

In July, Smyth, said he has received enough support to extend the deadline of the publication of the Business Rescue Plan to September 30, 2021.

In an update to affected persons, Smyth noted that an extension was requested as discussions with relevant stakeholders were still outstanding.

He says prior to the move to lockdown Level 4, Ster-Kinekor had experienced strong month-on-month growth in attendance numbers, as a result of the strong schedule of new movie content.

Smyth anticipates enough liquidity over the coming months to continue to allow the team to formulate and publish the business rescue in the extended timeframes.

Buffalo City motorists and residents urged to be vigilant amid rainy conditions
30 September 2021, 1:02 PM

The Buffalo City Metro in the Eastern Cape has warned motorists and residents to be vigilant amid rainy conditions.

Technicians have been deployed to areas hit by water and power outages. Metro spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya says with consistent rainfall predicted for Thursday, residents are urged to report all emergencies to the authorities.

“Whilst we welcome the much-needed rain with the hope that it will fall in our catchment areas and relieve us of drought, it can also be detrimental if caution is not exercised. Our traffic officers are on standby together with our emergency services. With the rainy weather conditions and the production that is going to continue, we’re calling on communities to report all emergencies on our call centre number.”

The video below is the full weather report:

Heavy rainfall expected over parts of KwaZulu-Natal

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) has issued an alert ahead of expected heavy rainfall over parts of KwaZulu-Natal in the coming days.

The yellow alert warns people that the rains are to persist into the weekend. Mild to heavy rains are expected until next week Wednesday.



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