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ANC, Magashule to go head-to-head in court
24 June 2021, 5:00 AM

The African National Congress (ANC) will go head to head with its suspended Secretary General, Ace Magashule in the High Court in Johannesburg. Magashule wants the court to nullify his suspension and the party’s step-aside resolution.

The embattled Secretary-General also wants the court to declare the step aside resolution of the party as unconstitutional.

“The National Executive has been conflicted on this matter; they have been the judge, prosecutor, the judiciary, the evidence leader and presenters. You can’t factionalise the resolutions of the national conference and want to take away the power of the branches in Nasrec,” Magashule said.

Ace Magashule’s temporary suspension from the ANC:

The case has the party’s unity project crumbling.

In conversation with suspended ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule:

ANC faced with resistance

Magashule believes that the party’s Nasrec resolution for leaders implicated to step-aside is designed to remove him from the party.

“Of course, it is designed to remove me because if you say, ‘Ace Magashule must step aside,’ do you know how many names we have collected from all the provinces and its only Ace Magashule and Bongo who must step aside? There are many comrades and who are charged, but you target Ace Magashule and Bongo. I have appealed whatever illegal processes,” he has said in a SABC News interview.

Ace Magashule not worried about facing more charges from ANC:

‘Unprecedented move’

Ramaphosa has described Magashule’s move as unprecedented.

“For a Secretary-General to decide to take his organisation to court and to question the constitutionality of the very constitution that he has been implementing and adhering to, is a big surprise. So, this is unprecedented but we will go throw all of that and let it run its full course,” Ramaphosa said.

But Magashule is also pointing the finger at the governing party’s President. In his court papers, he also wants the court to affirm a suspension letter that he issued to Ramaphosa over the 2017 resolution based on allegations that he bought his way to power in the governing party.

Ace Magashule was ordered to step down by the party’s National Executive Committee at the end of March after the Integrity Commission’s recommendation in December. But he was only suspended after failing to do so within the 30-day deadline.

His court challenge will be heard in court on Thursday, June 24.

Zimbabwe tobacco industry on the mend
23 June 2021, 9:40 PM

Zimbabwe is set to breach half a billion US dollar revenue from tobacco sales in less than three months. To date, the country has earned more than US$436 million from 159 million kilograms sold since the beginning of the current selling season which kicked off in April.

Authorities estimate that the country will produce more than 200 million kilograms of the golden leaf in 2021.

The country has seen a 40% increase in the volume of tobacco sold compared to the same period in 2020. The crop continues to boost foreign currency earnings for the Southern African nation’s economy.

“The tobacco marketing season has also recorded good results, with a total of over 152.8 million kilograms having been sold to realise more than US$415.8 million, compared to the 124.5 million kilograms sold for US$296.9 million in 2020. The country’s average prices at us$2.72 per kg remain firmer than those prevailing in the region,” says Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa.

Zim tobacco industry on recovery path:

Small-scale farmers not enjoying rewards

However, for the majority of the more than 150 000 small-scale farmers who grow the crop, the rewards are not being enjoyed. Many complain they are in serious debt and are failing to service their loans from banks.

The current system is benefiting the middleman, but leaves most of the farmers in dire straits.

Under this contract tobacco farming model, the buyers provide the farmers with the inputs for tobacco farming, since the farmers cannot raise on their own the capital required to run a tobacco farming business.

Tobacco Association Zimbabwe President, George Seremwe, says 95% of farmers are under contract.

“Most of our farmers are under contract, that is 95% of our farmers are under contract. On their own, they cannot do it; they depend on the contract growing where they get all the inputs. The inputs, some of them could be overpriced and the support which is coming from the contractors could also be compromising. So, I would lobby that we look for alternative source of funding for the farmers to become viable and profitable, for now they are only working basically they are just as good as workers for the contracting companies,” says Seremwe.

Reduction in black growers

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board TIMB, which supervises the entire tobacco industry in the country, says it’s beginning to record reductions in registrations of new Black growers.

“The number of registered growers decline for the 2021 season; this year we had 154 597 registered growers as compared to 160 224 growers who had registered for the 2020 season. So, we have seen a decline of 4% in growers,” says the Board Spokesperson, Chelesani Moyo.

Zimbabwe’s cabinet says it’s finalising a tobacco value chain transformation strategy that seeks to localise funding.

For 2021, China and South Africa remain the major buyers of the golden leaf from Zimbabwe.

SA records 17 493 new COVID-19 cases, Gauteng accounts for 10 806 of them
23 June 2021, 8:27 PM

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has released the latest coronavirus numbers, which show that Gauteng has recorded a new record high of infections.

South Africa clocked a massive 17 493 new daily COVID-19 cases, taking the country’s total number of reported infections to 1 861 065.

Of these, Gauteng has recorded 10 806 cases.

CSIR Senior Researcher, Dr Ridhwaan Suliman, says 5 842 people are currently in hospital in the province and this already surpasses the peak seen in the second wave.

The national test positivity rate now stands at 24.9%, which is five times higher than the 5% where the virus is said to be under control.

Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response, Dr Michelle Groome, warns that the increase in cases exceeds those seen during the first two waves.

“The sharp rise in the reported daily COVID-19 cases is cause for concern, especially in the Gauteng Province where daily case numbers are exceeding those seen during the previous two waves. Ultimately, it is up to each one of us to play our role to reduce the spread of the virus by limiting our interaction with others, as much as possible, during this time.”

At least 166 people died of COVID-related illnesses in the past 24-hours.  The NICD says the latest deaths take the overall toll to 59 258. Gauteng accounts for most deaths provincially, having recorded a total of 12 382.

Tests and recoveries

The country has conducted a total of 12 703 421 tests, with 70 186 tests conducted in the last 24-hour cycle. The private sector accounts for 56% of total tests (7 176 061) while the public sector accounts for 44% of total tests (5 527 360).

1 671 391 people have recovered from the virus, translating to a 89.8% recovery rate.

Latest SA COVID-19 stats:

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Ethiopian elections held peacefully despite challenges: AU
23 June 2021, 7:40 PM

The African Union says the 6th national elections in Ethiopia on 21 June were held in a peaceful, orderly and credible manner. But the preliminary report of the 65-person member observer mission, led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, notes that there were operational, logistical, security and political challenges that were observed in the polls.

Due to limited personnel, the AU observer team deployed observers in only two cities during the voting day.

Ethiopia’s 6th national Parliamentary elections under way:

It observed voting in 249 polling stations. The team says while over 100 electoral constituencies had the votes delayed because of insecurity and logistical challenges and the fact that most will have to vote much later in September, this doesn’t affect the credibility of the polls.

“The circumstances that prevailed and making it not possible for the elections to take place at the same time, is understandable and I would say that in fact, insisting and going into elections at this point in time in spite of the situation is an act of courage and an act of belief in democratic process which the government and people of this country should be commended for,” says Obasanjo.

Tigray unable to vote

The AU has also noted the Northern region of Tigray may not be able to vote because of the ongoing conflict there. Recent reports show an airstrike has killed dozens of people in a part of the region.

Dr Awol Allo on Ethiopia’s 6th national parliamentary elections:

Obasanjo says the insecurity in the area of about five million people, shouldn’t be used as a reason for polls not to happen.

“Let me put it this way, there should be no people in IDPs at all, if the situation should have been what it should have been, no security problem, no conflict and all that. But what will be the percentage of people in IDPs compared with the people who have the ability to cast their votes. It will be not worthy I would want to see, but if that is the situation, it will not impact the elections, maybe a little but there are no perfect elections anywhere and this one cannot be regarded as absolutely perfect.”

Societal divisions

The AU has asked that the government of Ethiopia to urgently takes measures to heal societal divisions through national reconciliation.

The mission is advising political parties to strengthen women participation and representation within party structures in leadership positions and as candidates.

The AU is also calling for calm as other areas where polls were delayed are set to cast their vote in September.

In total, 46 political parties took registered to contest in the elections, including that of Prime minister Abiy Ahmed, while over 37 million people registered to vote.

Twice-postponed polls to mark the 1st test of voter support for Abiy Ahmed:

Family demands recourse after pregnant relative gives birth in a car
23 June 2021, 7:15 PM

The family of a woman, who gave birth inside a car at night after she was allegedly turned away from the Mapela Clinic outside Mokopane in Limpopo two weeks ago, are demanding recourse. It’s alleged that nurses refused to help 25-year-old Hellen Kekae – arguing there was power outage.

Kekae ended up giving birth in the back seat of a neighbour’s car with the help of her mother.

The baby boy is alive.

Kekae, who was feeling labour pains, was allegedly brought to the Mapela Clinic in a neighbour’s car on 11 June. She was accompanied by some relatives, including her mother.

Security officers informed them the 24-hour clinic was not operating due to load shedding.

Family spokesperson, Junior Mabusela, says nurses refused to attend to them due to the power outage and referred them to the George Masebe Hospital, several kilometres away. Mabusela alleges that an attempt to call an ambulance was also not made.

“Security officers opened for us and called the nurses. The nurses told us they don’t work when there is no electricity and there was nothing they could do to help. I asked them to at least check her or call an ambulance because according to their ante natal records, she was supposed to give birth at the clinic. We begged them for help and they said we behaved liked we were smart. They even refused to help her give birth using the car’s lights on the veranda,” says Mabusela.

Mabusela says Kekae is traumatised after giving birth at the back of the neighbour’s car and the family wants action taken against the nurses.

“We requested the driver to take us to the hospital, but it was too late and she delivered on the side of the road. We are concerned because the cold temperature affected the baby and the mother is traumatised by the ordeal. We are unhappy about the nurses’ conduct and disrespect. It was their duty to check the mother and call for an ambulance. It means they wouldn’t have cared if the baby had died,” he adds.

‘Nurses faced challenges’

Limpopo’s Health Department Spokesperson, Neil Shikwambana, says that the nurses were unable to assist Kekae or call an ambulance due to challenges caused by load shedding.

“Nurses there tried to connect with the ambulance services, unfortunately, they struggled due to network as well due to load shedding so they then advised a family that was transporting the lady to take her to the nearest hospital. This is an unfortunate incident that we think should not have happened.

However, we also want to advise pregnant women they should not progress themselves and wait until its late before they present to facilities because when you calculate, the probabilities is that if the ambulance was called and it was delayed by 30 to 40 minutes. She could have given birth there in the dark while waiting for an ambulance,” explains Shikwambana.

The family believes the incident could have been avoided if the nurses had shown the willingness to help.

In 2018, Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba publicly showered nurses at the Jane Furse Hospital, in Sekhukhune, who delivered nine healthy babies using cell phone lights. A storm had caused power outage and damaged the hospital’s generators.

Weather

 

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