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US urges immediate talks over Ethiopia conflict as reported abuse grows
12 September 2021, 10:19 AM

The United States is gravely concerned about fighting in parts of Ethiopia, the US State Department said on Friday, urging the Ethiopian government and rebellious forces from the Tigray region to start immediate negotiations to address the conflict.

“We urge the Ethiopian government and TPLF to enter at once into negotiations without preconditions toward a sustainable ceasefire,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, using an acronym for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Reports of continued human rights abuses and atrocities by parties to the conflict are deeply disturbing, including the reported attack on civilians in a village in the Amhara region this week, Price said.

Rebellious forces from the Tigray region killed 120 civilians over two days in a village in Ethiopia’s Amhara region, local officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

The Tigrayan forces later issued a statement rejecting what they called a “fabricated allegation” by the Amhara regional government and denying any involvement in the killing of civilians.

“We condemn all such abuses against civilians in the strongest possible terms and call on all parties to the conflict to respect human rights and comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Price said.

There was no immediate comment from the office of Ethiopia’s prime minister. The spokesperson of the Amhara regional government and Getachew Reda, a spokesman for the Tigrayan forces, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said: “Eritrea categorically rejects these intermittent accusations. Scapegoating Eritrea is neither constructive nor will it serve the interests of peace and stability in the (Horn of Africa) region.”

War broke out 10 months ago between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the TPLF, which controls the Tigray region.

Since then, thousands have been killed and more than 2 million have fled their homes. Fighting spread in July from the Tigray region into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar, also in the country’s north.

The United Nations said on Friday that it had completed its joint investigation with Ethiopia’s state-appointed human rights commission of abuses in the Tigray conflict, with a final report due November 1.

Over 5 000 Northern Cape school girls impregnated from April 2020 – June 2021
11 September 2021, 2:26 PM

More than 5 000 schoolgirls in the Northern Cape have fallen pregnant between April 2020 and June this year.

The provincial Education Department has raised concerns about the alarming number of pregnant teenagers saying some are as young as ten.

MEC Zolile Monakali says they have invested in life skill programmes to support learners.

“When the pandemic started up to the end of June this year, we recorded 5015 pregnant cases of girls between the ages of ten and nineteen and of those 154 is accounted for by girls between the ages of ten and fourteen that is a big concern for our education system.”

Monakali says they are also dealing with teachers who have been charged with sexually assaulting learners.

“Currently in the Northern Cape Department of Education, we are attending to five cases which involve educators and learners. When educators are found guilty in such cases, it is a dismissible offence, we even go so far as to contact the South African Council of Educators to scrap their names from the educators roll.”

Soul City Institute not shocked by high teen-pregnancy numbers in Gauteng

In August this year, The Soul City Institute for Social Justice said it’s not surprised by the figures that close to a thousand young girls in Gauteng gave birth between March this year and April last year.
The Institute says although the COVID-19 pandemic might have put the issue in the spotlight, this is not a new problem. The Gauteng Health Department recorded over 23 000 teenage pregnancies between April 2020 and March 2021, with 934 being girls aged between 10 and 14.

Soul City Institute CEO Phinah Kodisang says this is a reflection of how the country continues to fail children.

“For us as Soul City Institute it’s not a shock. We know this has been an ongoing problem. The numbers have been escalating probably because of COVID-19. But this problem has been a standing problem. And because we do not call it what it is, it’s statutory rape when a 10 or 14-year-old is having sex. Because the age of consent in South Africa is 16 years.”

DISCUSSION | Shocking numbers of teenage pregnancies in Gauteng:

PAC members commemorate Munsieville Four
11 September 2021, 2:01 PM

Members of the Pan-Africanist Congress have gathered in Krugersdorp west of Johannesburg to pay tribute to the Munsieville Four.

Petrus Ntshole, Thomas Molatlhegi, Richard Motsoahae and Josiah Mocumi were hanged by police in 1964 at the now Kgoshi Mampuru prison.

The party is also expected to begin its election campaign in Munsieville shortly. It is one of those that missed the August 23 deadline to submit their candidates’ lists.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa has since announced its decision to reopen the candidates’ registration process.

The PAC is gathered in Munsieville in Krugersdorp chanting songs ahead of the commemoration of the Munsieville Four and the lives of others who died during the apartheid era in the country.

The four were killed by the apartheid government in 1964. The party will proceed to the local cemetery where it will lay wreaths for the Munsieville Four after their remains were brought back to their families in 2019.

Party President, Mzwanele Nyontsho is also expected to address members on the party’s plans ahead of the local government elections. The party is among those who welcomed the IEC’s decision to extend the candidate registration process.

In the video below, the PAC is set to commemorate the establishment of its military wing, the Azanian People’s Liberation Army formerly known as Poqo:

Springboks ready to take on Wallabies on Sunday
11 September 2021, 11:35 AM

The Springboks will play their third Rugby Championship against the Wallabies on Sunday, cognisant that the result could pre-determine the outcome of this year’s competition.

Despite their consistency in form, they are going into another battle that will once more test their character. They are not only going in to break a winless record in Australia in eight years but to make sure that they remain in contention to defend the title.

Captain Siya Kolisi says, although it might be the halfway mark of the tournament and they have already secured two wins against Argentina, the World Champions are in no position to slip up.

“Our process is the most important thing for us we know how we want to play and our focus is on tomorrow. We are excited, it’s a good team that Australia has and we have not had a good record so it’s something that is motive for us as a team. We want to make sure that we correct that and it’s a stepping stone for us as well so that tomorrow we come and bring all we can because we know what Australia has done to us in the past.”

Meanwhile, Boks assistant coach Mzwandile Sticks says the biggest contest in this fixture will be in the breakdowns.

He says while the Boks outlined that they have prepared well, they are aware that every breakdown will be a competition for both sides.

“We want to make sure we create a quick ball so that we keep them on the front foot, that is what brings the best in our team so if we won’t be able to get that quick ball off the breakdown. It’s not only Hooper that will slow the game down. I think they have lots of players that can really apply pressure on the breakdowns for us. It’s very important that we get that quick ball, important that we are clinical or else if we don’t do that we are going to have a long day. Same goes with them also on the other side.”

Tunisia president rebuffs foreign pressure over political crisis
11 September 2021, 10:47 AM

Tunisian President Kais Saied on Friday said the country would not tolerate any foreign interference as he faces rising pressure from Western governments to restore constitutional order after seizing power in July.

“The sovereignty of the Tunisian state and the choices of its people were not discussed with international partners and will not be the subject of negotiations with any party,” the President said in a statement.

Saied, who was elected in 2019, on July 25 froze parliament, dismissed the Prime Minister and assumed executive authority. His Islamist opponents have labelled the sudden intervention a coup, but he has said the moves were necessary to save the country from collapse.

Visiting Tunis on Friday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he conveyed European concerns about preserving democratic gains in Tunisia to Saied.

Ambassadors from the Group of Seven major economies this week also urged Saied to appoint a new head of government as a matter of urgency and return to a constitutional order in which an elected parliament plays a significant role.

More than six weeks after Saied’s move, he has still not appointed a new government or made any broader declaration of his long-term intentions.

Western democracies have been among the most important donors helping to support Tunisian public finances over the past decade as the economy has slumped since the 2011 revolution that introduced democracy.

Saied’s intervention has thrust Tunisia into a constitutional crisis, raising concerns over the future of the democratic system.

Saied said his intervention was in line with the constitution and necessitated by a national emergency due to political paralysis, high COVID-19 rates and protests. He has vowed that rights will not be affected.

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