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ANC
ANC NEC, PEC given 72 hours to intervene in party affairs in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro
6 July 2020, 9:17 PM

Members of the African National Congress (ANC) in the Nelson Mandela Bay region have given the National Executive Committee and Provincial Executive Committee 72 hours to intervene in the party’s affairs in the Metro.

Representatives of ANC branches picketed outside the party’s regional offices, demanding the disbandment of the Regional Task Team, led by former Mayor Nceba Faku.

The Regional Task Team (RTT) was appointed after the ANC Provincial Executive Committee disbanded the regional structure in 2018, citing a decline in membership.

The members have accused the RTT of not growing the party, and also of working with the DA to topple the ANC-led coalition in the metro.

Ward 33 branch Task Team Member Ayanda Cakasi says lack of structures in the metro might have consequences in the future.

“There are no branches in Port Elizabeth and we need to go to BGMS as soon as possible so that we have a stable ANC that will lead towards local government, we take the metro back to the ANC,” says Cakasi.

Day care
Pretoria High Court rules nursery schools, daycare centres can operate
6 July 2020, 8:38 PM

The Pretoria High Court ruled that all nursery schools and daycare facilities, not affiliated to public schools, can open as of Monday.

Solidarity’s School Support Centre and the Bronkieland Nursery brought the application after the Minister of Basic Education announced that pre-schools and early childhood development centres affiliated to public schools may open, yet her counterpart in the Ministry of Social Development kept mum regarding the fate of independent early childhood development centres, daycare centers and nurseries.

Solidarity’s School Support Centre says the Pretoria High Court ruling declaring that all independent nursery schools and daycare facilities can open as of today, saved the industry.

Dirk Hermann of Solidarity says the ruling by Judge Hans Fabricious is in the best interest of children and will save many jobs.

Judge Hans Fabricious ruled that the schools can open subject to prescribed safety measures.

Anton van der Merwe of SA Childcare says government has made public a protocol document a few weeks ago for pre-school groups, nurseries and daycare centres. He says they follow the same protocols.

Van der Merwe says it is to the benefit of the children that the schools can open again.

“If you just think about the children. The parents had to go back to work. There was about 11 or 12 million parents that had to go back to work, but nowhere was there an opportunity for them to get daycare for their children. They were not allowed daycare for their children. And we found out and through research, we also saw there were many children that were harmed. Little children that were on their own and they didn’t have sufficient supervision. It was not going well with them,” says Van der Merwe.

In the judgment, Judge Fabricious accepted the expert evidence of the SA Pediatrics Associations which states that children biologically are less likely to get sick if infected, are unlikely to die of the virus and are probably less infectious.

Van der Merwe says the schools will be encouraged to teach children how to be safe.

“Children learn by play. We have told all our schools that they must develop some games of social distancing and so on and even sneezing. We already taught children to sneeze in their elbow long before COVID-19,” says Van der Merwe.

Spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, Lumka Oliphant, says they will comment further once they have studied the judgment.

“The Department of Social Development has taken note of the judgment delivered by the Gauteng Division of the High Court today, 6 July 2020, granting independent ECDs to open ‘subject to the appropriate and/or prescribed safety measures being in place.’ The Department will make a further statement once it has fully studied the judgment.”

Judge Fabricious slapped the department with a cost order and said he was dismayed at the way the department conducted itself during the proceedings by not filing documents and adhering to court rules.

Suspects accused of stealing UIF COVID-19 relief fund appear in court
6 July 2020, 8:23 PM

Suspects accused of stealing R5.6 million from UIF COVID-19 Relief Fund have appeared at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday, according to a statement from the Hawks.

The five accused were charged with 30 counts of fraud and/or an alternative count of theft, as well as 28 counts of money laundering involving R5 688 377.60 of UIF COVID-19 relief fund, which was allegedly stolen from the Department of Labour.

The accused, namely Tshepang Howard Phohole (25), Taetso Zulu (22), Tsietsi Godfrey Mojela (68), Itumeleng Charlene Maseko (39) and Tebogo Andries Nchimane Maseko (40) along with with a company that has been accused, Dilsfinest Café (PTY) were traced and arrested at various residences in Soshanguve, Atteridgeville and Mamelodi on Saturday morning.

The arrest and appearance in court of the six suspects follow an intensive investigation into the case which was registered at Brooklyn SAPS relating to the Unemployment Insurance COVID 19 relief fund.

The suspects’ bail was set at R5 000 each and their case was postponed to 07 September 2020.

 

Refugees
Uganda offers safe heaven to people fleeing escalating violence in DRC
6 July 2020, 8:14 PM

Uganda has offered a safe haven to thousands of people fleeing escalating violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The group was stranded in a remote, inaccessible area since late May, unable to cross the border due to the COVID-19 lockdown that restricted movement in and out of the country.

Following the report of these displaced persons stranded between the two countries, the Ugandan parliament agreed to temporarily open two border crossing points in the Zombo region on humanitarian grounds.

Thousands of people were stranded between escalating violence in eastern Congo and a closed border in the Zombo district of Uganda since May.

With Kampala stepping up to provide life-saving assistance despite concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic as the Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees Hilary Obaloker Onek explained:

“We are not tired. We do not have much land, our country is small but we still allow them out of sympathy. I wish the international community also becomes sympathetic and helps these people. These are not our problems, these are the world’s problems – international problems,” says Obaloker Onek.

The United Nations Refugee Agency is partnering with Ugandan authorities to provide food and shelter while bolstering screening, testing and other measures to mitigate any spread of the virus.

Philippy Creppy of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees says they are putting accommodation and screening for COVID-19.

“We are putting, of course, accommodation, screening for COVID. As you know it is a very special emergency. It is the first time that people are crossing in the COVID situation. We have to be smart to put all in place, screening for security, screening for COVID and screening for Ebola. As you know there are still cases of Ebola in DRC. The team is doing its best to be ready,” says Creppy.

After initial screening, asylum seekers will be transported by UNHCR to an Institutional Quarantine Centre 13 kilometers from the border.

Following the mandatory quarantine period of 14 days, they will be relocated to existing refugee settlements. Two refugees who fled across the border had this to say:

“I hope Uganda can help me with anything, with clothes, food and medicine. The rebels are still attacking communities in Congo,” says one of the refugees.

The other one adds, “When the war started, we did not know what was happening. One morning I woke up and I saw the houses of the neighbouring communities being burned and the rebels were attacking people with machetes and killing them. I decided to run away because our neighbours were killed. Our crops and animals were all destroyed.”

The UN Security Council was recently briefed about an upswing in violence in certain parts of the DRC Eastern regions, amidst a fragile socio-economic environment complicated further by the COVID-19 virus.

The Secretary General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission MONUSCO Leila Zerrougui condemns any form of hate of speech that ignites violence..

“I condemn in the strongest terms attacks on displaced populations and the use of hate speech which incites further violence. Efforts to “de-solidarise” communities from these militias and preventing external actors from supporting their agendas will be vital to address the escalation of tensions in the area.

“To address these issues, MONUSCO continues to pursue a comprehensive approach, which combines active troop deployments to hotspot areas; community engagement; the development of targeted protection strategies; and the provision of critical, large-scale logistical support to FARDC operations,” says Zerrougui.

The intersection between conflicts and a deadly pandemic further complicating efforts to provide life-saving aid to the most vulnerable.

SIU to investigate transactions from Relief Fund, finalising COVID-19 proclamation
6 July 2020, 7:49 PM

The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) says it’s in a process of finalising a National COVID-19 proclamation to investigate all transactions done with regards to the R500 billion Relief Fund.

This comes as the OR Tambo district municipality in the Eastern Cape launched an investigation into leaked invoices for a COVID-19 door-to-door awareness campaign totalling R4.8 million.

The Relief Funds were allocated by Government to ease the impact of the lockdown on the economy and the livelihood of citizens.

The Special Investigating Unit is in the final process of concluding the National COVID 19 proclamation. The proclamation will investigate alleged wrongdoings concerning the 500 billion rand relief fund and other misconduct.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the R500 billion COVID-19 relief fund, he assured the nation that government institutions would be held responsible for the expenditure of the fund.

“We will, therefore, act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and at profiteering from this crisis. I’ve directed that special units of the national prosecuting agency be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption. We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure that the guilty do go to jail,” says Ramaphosa.

In this video below Ramaphosa announces the relief fund:

Corrupt activities

Three months later, corrupt activities in food parcels, musk manufacturing and the latest, door-to-door awareness campaign are reported.

Special Investigation Unit confirmed that since the lockdown, they have investigated several corruption cases, relating to the Solidarity Fund.

The Unit spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyago said they have now decided to consolidate all corruption complaints relating to the fund to make a National COVID-19 proclamation.

“We have then since decided that we are going to do one proclamation what we call the National COVID-19 proclamation that will then look at each and every transaction that was done as it is forwarded to us, but what we have done as I say is to make sure that we finalise this, so the President must sign a national one so that we don’t have to do each and every municipality and government department and SOE individually,” explains Kganyago.

Last week, leaked documents surfaced on social media, showing invoices from a company called Phathilizwi Training Institution to the OR Tambo district municipality for a total amount of R4.8 million.

The company had been contracted to conduct a community outreach campaign, teaching people about COVID-19.

Allegations of corruption erupt at OR Tambo district municipality: 

Audits

However, it is reported that the people appearing on the worker’s forms say they were not visited. The municipal manager, Owen Hlazo says he was suspended for refusing to sign off on the invoices.

“I said post the COVID-19 there will be audits that will be done by the AG, by all these other agencies, I was trying to make her aware and also to involve her because there are circulars that we have that are also telling us so I did not sign that invoice and will not sign it,” explains Hlazo.

The Municipal Council speaker, Xolile Nkompela says they are investigating.

“It’s +/- R168 million that we’re busy dealing with and the matter has already been reported to the police and the Hawks. I’m told that they were in our institution doing their work and we really appreciate their quick response and the council its self is not going to sit and it’s going to accelerate this process of rooting out corruption,” says Nkompela.

‘Proper action be taken’

African National Congress (ANC) National spokesperson Pule Mabe says if the documents doing the rounds on social media have been verified, then proper action should be taken.

“It is not easy to comment or give validity to things you see on social media without necessary hearing from the institutions concerned. It is very important that you yourselves from the media verify the validity of such information with relevant institutions and if those things are valid to establish from them the kind of action that are being undertaken because we need to show the people of South Africa that we are prudent, we are acting with greater responsibility,” says Mabe.

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