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Iran set to stay on hardline course after Raisi win, Saudi commentators say
21 June 2021, 11:39 AM

The election of a hardline Iranian president has so far been met with silence from Saudi Arabia, but commentators in state-controlled Saudi newspapers forecast little change in Iran’s foreign policy as security hawks tighten their grip on power.

Most Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates which is also at odds with Iran, offered congratulations after judge Ebrahim Raisi, an ally of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who wields ultimate power, emerged the winner in Friday’s presidential election.

After Ebrahim Raisi’s win we do not expect any important changes in foreign policy since it falls under the supreme leader, and the (nuclear) deal being negotiated by (incumbent President Hassan) Rouhani’s team in Vienna will go through, “wrote Abdulrahman Rashed in Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat daily.

Riyadh and its allies are eyeing the talks between global powers and Iran to revive a 2015 nuclear pact that Washington quit in 2018 and which Gulf states opposed for not addressing Tehran’s missile programme and support for regional proxies.

World Powers seek to bring the US back into Iran nuclear deal:

Analysts said progress in Vienna would determine momentum indirect talks between Riyadh and Tehran launched in April to contain tensions that have festered over the Yemen war and which grew following a 2019 attack on Saudi oil plants.

“Reconciliation with Iran is possible but within a pragmatic political framework…,” said Ali al-Kheshaiban in an op-ed in Al Riyadh newspaper. “The language of moderation and equivalence is the only political language capable of curbing Iran.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in April said Riyadh wanted good ties with Tehran, adopting a more conciliatory tone as he tries to balance long-held animosity with economic considerations and bridge differences with Washington over how to tackle Tehran’s regional behaviour.

President Joe Biden, who has demanded Iran rein in its missile programme and end support for proxies, withdrew support for a military campaign led by Riyadh in Yemen against the Iran-aligned Houthis, who continue cross-border attacks on the kingdom.

Saudi commentator Khaled Suleiman, writing in Okaz daily, said Washington was “turning its cheek” to Iran and should avoid making “free concessions” that embolden Tehran

Ramaphosa calls for discipline as fight against COVID-19 continues
21 June 2021, 11:00 AM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has rallied South Africans to be persistent and practice discipline to win the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his weekly message to the nation, Ramaphosa has highlighted the seriousness of the third wave which is sweeping the country, hitting Gauteng particularly hard.

He says the task of controlling the virus is not just one for the vulnerable or healthcare workers but requires every South African to do their part.

President Ramaphosa says with the steep and rapid climb in new cases, a 15 fold increase from early April, citizens need to invest time and effort to control the pandemic and see a payoff, in terms of falling cases, reduced deaths and economic recovery.

South Africa has reported 13 155 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of infections to 1 823 319.

There have been 112 new COVID-19-related deaths, pushing the national death toll to 58 702.

Latest SA stats:

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The President has reiterated the need to avoid social gatherings, work from home if possible and wear masks and practice social distancing.

Ramaphosa says South Africans must accept that the country cannot go back to pre-pandemic days and must play their part to build a new normal that is safe for all even as the rollout of vaccines continues.

Letter from the President

108 claimants to return to District Six after 55 years
21 June 2021, 10:00 AM

After years of waiting, 108 claimants will return to District Six in the Cape Town City Bowl this week. One of the beneficiaries for the Phase Three development, 100-year-old Shariefa Khan celebrated her birthday in April.

She is one of the 60 000 people who were forcibly removed by the apartheid government as the suburb was declared a Whites’ only area, 55 years ago.

Khan is overcome with raw emotion just at the very mention of her planned return this coming week.

Khan lives with her daughter, Sumaya Mukuddem, in Connaught Estate in Elsies River, but the candle burning for District Six could never be extinguished.

108 claimants prepare to return to District Six:

It’s been an uphill battle for those who want to return to the area, once known for its inclusivity and vibrancy. Founder and Chairperson of the District Six Working Committee, Zahra Nordien, says years of bureaucratic processes, lost paperwork and construction challenges have caused delays.

“People can’t wait to return to District Six, the claimants from 1995 to 1998 that will be moving in now, and in the next two phases that’s going to be built, they’ve been waiting for more than 30 years, then of course there is another group, I hate to use the word, late claimants. They also need to come back to District Six.  Is there going to be enough land for those claimants to come back?”

Recently there has also been concerns about the illegal occupation of land earmarked for the further development of District Six.

District Six Working Committee Spokesperson, Karen Breytenbach, says for many, District Six might just be a fading dream.

“Unfortunately, I think it will take many years, and I don’t think many of the claimants will survive until that happens.  We’ve already seen in the COVID period that more and more people have passed on, especially now because many of the claimants are elderly and they have already had underlying health conditions, every week almost we hear about people dying.”

 

Virologist calls for extra deployment of health workers in Gauteng
21 June 2021, 9:00 AM

Virologist, Professor Shabir Madhi, has urged the Gauteng Health Department to deploy more human resources to help fight the COVID-19 third wave in the province.

The number of cases in Gauteng continues to soar with it now accounting for two-thirds of all the active cases in the country.

More than 5 000 people are currently being treated in the province’s hospitals, which is putting high pressure on available resources.

Overnight, South Africa reported 13 155 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of infections to 1 823 319. There have been 112 new COVID-19-related deaths, pushing the national death toll to 58 702.

Gauteng accounts for 66% of the more than new cases recorded in the last 24-hour reporting cycle.

Madhi says staff capacity at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital’s COVID-19 section should be added. He says the facility in Soweto has state of the art beds, but with few doctors and nurses.

“Those are fantastic facilities. I have and opportunity of visiting two of them. They really got state of the art equipment but they don’t have personnel. You can not plan to build a facility without having a plan in place to actually have personnel so the patients can be cleared out of the facility, otherwise it becomes a white elephant,” he warns.

Madhi warns that in the next two weeks, more patients in Gauteng are going to need hospital treatment due the coronavirus numbers that keep on rising.

“Unfortunately in the next two weeks we are going to see even further pressure on our facilities which I may be essential that those COVID facilities, ABT facilities be operationalised today. Even if other facilities will be running at ninety per cent capacity, you need to be ready when the third wave really strike,” he says.

‘GP deaths up by 80% week on week’

Madhi’s remarks come amid revelations that the number of people dying from COVID-19 in Gauteng has increased 80% week on week.

Unpacking increasing COVID-19 cases in Gauteng with Prof. Bruce Mellado:

Senior Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, says the province was to some extent spared during the first and second waves and this may have led to lower immunity in the province ahead of the third wave.

Dr Suliman says new admissions in Gauteng hospitals last week were up by 36% compared to the previous week.

He also warns that the province could face even greater pressure as the third wave intensifies.

“I think of concern what we are currently seeing is a significant rise in the number of reported deaths in Gauteng. It is accounting for more than half of the total number of reported deaths reported nationally. So in Gauteng, we’ve reported 62 new deaths per day on average over the last week and that figure has increased 80 percent week on week,” adds Suliman.

The Gauteng government has acknowledged that some of the province’s health facilities are not properly utilised to cope with the surge in COVID-19 hospitalisations.

“We do indeed face pressure but at the same time we do have capacity that was created since the start of the response to COVID-19 pandemic and most of that capacity is in the existing hospitals. These are not actually temporary structures and most of them are not optimally used. We got to make sure that we bring them to full use,” says Gauteng Government Spokesperson, Thabo Masebe.

Concerns over lack of hospital beds in Gauteng amid increasing COVID-19 cases:

 

Gigaba to continue testifying at State Capture Commission
21 June 2021, 7:30 AM

Former Public Enterprises Minister, Malusi Gigaba will be returning to the State Capture Commission in Johannesburg on Monday, where he’s expected to continue to give his version about matters.

These include claims that he had seen former president Jacob Zuma’s convoy heading to the Gupta compound in Saxonwold.

His estranged wife, Norma Gigaba, had earlier testified that the Guptas would harass her husband, demanding that he made changes at state-owned entities like Eskom and Transnet.

The commission will also hear Eskom-related evidence from the former Project Manager at Kusile power station, Abram Masango, and former Eskom Executive, Prishotham Govender, later in the afternoon.

Bitterness, malice claims

Last week, Gigaba told the commission that his now estranged wife, Nomachule, had testified against him at the State Capture Commission out of bitterness and malice.

“That anger and bitterness about not being able to extract more settlement prove that this is the person who came here to say when he was the minister he used to give me money. Now that he is no longer a minister and probably no longer has the ability to help me afford that type of lifestyle, I should therefore demand this lifestyle or a payment.”

Gigaba says he never abused his power:

Nomachule Mngoma, in her recent testimony, said that the Gupta family had gifted Gigaba with jewelry, a vehicle and bags of cash, among others.

“She does have money, lots of it. But this is a person who loves money and wants more of it and is angry that I cannot afford to spend all my future savings today [at the present moment] ,” adds Gigaba.

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