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King Zwelithini Memorial
KZN traditional leaders meet to address brutal attacks on izinduna
8 September 2021, 8:04 AM

Traditional leaders in KwaZulu-Natal have met to address the brutal attacks on izinduna in the province.

A body representing izinduna, uBumbano LweziNduna, says since 2019, 32 izinduna have been killed but no one has been arrested for any of their deaths.

The urgent imbizo follows the brutal killing of Induna Mfanuvele Mdletshe at his homestead in KwaNongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal earlier this week.

The provincial general-secretary of Ubumbano Lwezinduna, Falendoda Malinga says, “We have been trying to engage with government at all levels, to try and resolve some of the issues. No one is willing to talk to Izinduna to address these issues. The time has come that izinduna must brainstorm the way forward as to how they should defend themselves as Izinduna from the brutal killings, from these anonymous faces that are killing izinduna across the province.”

Cricket Stadium
Australia optimistic on crowds, schedule for Ashes series
8 September 2021, 7:12 AM

Cricket Australia is still planning for the five Ashes Tests to be played in front of crowds at the scheduled venues around the end of the year despite the challenges presented by a third wave of COVID-19 infections in the country.

Chief executive Nick Hockley told local media on Wednesday that rising vaccination rates in Australia gave him “a degree of optimism” that the lucrative series against England would go ahead as planned, starting in Brisbane on December 8.

Melbourne and Sydney, venues for the third and fourth Tests in late December and early January, are currently in lockdown as health officials battle to suppress the Delta variant of the virus while the vaccine rollout continues.

Hockley said that he had learned from the last 18 months that agility was the watchword when planning cricket tours during the global health crisis but that shifting matches to other venues would be a last resort.

“At the moment, based on vaccination rates, we’re very hopeful we’ll be able to have crowds in Melbourne and Sydney, Hockley said.

“The Ashes is so big, every test has its own unique character, in the first instance we’ll be doing everything we possibly can to play the schedule as planned and very hopeful and optimistic that we will have crowds.

“We’ve got a range of protocols that fit any given circumstance and we’ll react accordingly. I think it’s too early to tell.”

British media reports have suggested that some England players would pull out of the tour if they were unable to bring their families with them because of Australian border controls.

Hockley said he had a great deal of empathy for international cricketers, many of whom have spent much of the last 18 months in biosecure bubbles, and was talking to the government about finding a solution.

“We’re working sensitively and constructively with governments to try and put in the best possible plans for players and support staff for both the England squad and our own squad,” he added.

“Both us and the (England and Wales Cricket Board) want to absolutely field our best possible teams with optimal conditions for them to compete at their absolute best in what is ultimately the biggest stage in world cricket.”

Australia’s one-off test against Afghanistan in Hobart in late November is also in some doubt following the Taliban’s return to power in the central Asian country.

Tasmania State Premier Peter Gutwein expressed concerns this week about the match going ahead given the doubts about the future of women’s cricket in Afghanistan.

“We don’t have all the answers right now and there’ll be a number of discussions over coming weeks with the ICC but also with the Australian government to understand what’s most appropriate in relation to the test match,” Hockley said.

Land
Ad Hoc Committee to consider and adopt its draft report on the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill
8 September 2021, 6:49 AM

The Ad Hoc Committee to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution to Expropriate Land Without Compensation is on Wednesday morning expected to consider and adopt its draft report on the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill.

The committee’s lifespan was extended by another two weeks to conclude its work and report back to the National Assembly. More than 148 000 submissions were received during the consultation process on the Bill.

The final draft Constitution 18th Amendment Bill was already adopted on Friday last week with  objections from the DA, FF-Plus and ACDP. On Wednesday, members will consider the committee report which will either be accepted or rejected and voted on for final adoption.

The report is a reflection of all the processes which include public hearings, submissions and deliberations on the Bill. Once adopted, both the report and the Bill will be  submitted to the National Assembly on or before the deadline which is a few days away.

However, the debate and final approval of the report and the final draft Bill are only expected to take place when the National Assembly resumes after the Local Government Elections. The Assembly will rise on Friday this week.

Rain
Disaster management on high alert in Durban following heavy rainfall
8 September 2021, 5:39 AM

Disaster management teams are on high alert in and around Durban after heavy rain led to a landslide at La Mercy where parts of a road collapsed and a section of a house was washed away.

In KwaDukuza, Ward 16, a house collapsed as a result of the heavy rains.

KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance Department Spokesperson Senzelwe Mzila says MEC Sipho Hlomuka has urged residents to exercise caution and to stay calm.

“The MEC for COGTA Sipho Hlomuka has urged residents to exercise extreme caution as inclement weather conditions continue across large parts of the province.”

He says, “Hlomuka has assigned disaster management teams to provide the necessary support to the affected families and to investigate the circumstances surrounding these incidents. The teams are continuing to monitor areas that are prone to weather-related incidents. Residents who experience weather-related incidents are urged to contact their local disaster management centre.”

Coal mining
Bucking global shift to cleaner energy, Zimbabwe digs deeper into coal
30 August 2021, 12:53 PM

In contrast to the growing number of countries seeking to wean themselves off coal, Zimbabwe is opening new coal mines that authorities say will allow the country to meet its energy needs and, eventually, become an exporter of the polluting fuel.

The government is looking to turn the northwest district of Hwange into a coal hub, with private investors – mostly based in China investing up to $1 billion to build coking mines and thermal coal power plants.

But environmentalists say the move – part of a bigger plan to grow mining into a $12-billion industry by 2023, will increase Zimbabwe’s climate-warming carbon emissions and harm the wildlife in its largest natural reserve.

“Zimbabwe can’t be going back to coal as if we were in 1985or 1977, while the whole world is now divesting from coal,” said Khumbulani Maphosa, a climate change activist and head of the Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights.

Coking coal – also called metallurgical coal – is turned into a fuel used for smelting in steel production.

To get to the coking coal in Hwange, mining companies first have to go through deposits of thermal coal, which is burned to produce energy, explained Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube.

Any company setting up mining operations in the area must also build a power station that runs on thermal coal and feed selectricity into the grid, he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“We expect that by 2025, all those mining companies will be pumping so much electricity into the grid, Zimbabwe will have a surplus,” he said.

Ncube estimated that the new mining operations in Hwange -nine of which have started or completed construction since 2018- will add a surplus of about 5,000 megawatts (MW) to Zimbabwe’s power capacity.

Maphosa and other green activists, however, warned that the southern African nation is going down an “environmentally unfriendly” route that will harm efforts to slow global warming.

Scientists have linked climate change to the worsening droughts, floods and unusual storms Zimbabwe has been experiencing over the past few decades.

“We are going to see a rise in terms of our carbon foot print and our contribution to climate change, because it doesn’t matter whether this coal is burnt in Zimbabwe, in China, in South Africa or wherever,” Maphosa said in a phone interview.

POWER AND JOBS

In a hard-hitting report released earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change pointed the finger squarely at the burning of fossil fuels by humans as one of the main drivers of global warming, warning it is already too late to stop decades of future climate disruptions.

“The alarm bells are deafening,” U.N. Secretary-GeneralAntónio Guterres said in a statement. “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”

According to the International Energy Agency, coal-fired electricity generation accounts for about 30% of global carbone missions.
Yet, despite coal’s reputation as the dirtiest of fuels, Richard Moyo, minister of state for Matabeleland North province, where Hwange is located, said coal mining was essential for the area.

“In terms of development, we really need power,” he said.

With about 1,000 MW of power generation capacity, Zimbabwe consistently falls 700 MW short of peak demand, according to the2019 renewable energy policy, which means it has to import the shortfall from South Africa and Mozambique.

The new mining operations, which will produce coking coal for domestic use and export, are also expected to unlock about1,000 much-needed job opportunities in the province, Moyo said.

PUSH FOR SOLAR

Government data shows that Zimbabwe’s land holds about 12billion tonnes of high-grade coal.

But Fidelis Chima, coordinator for the Greater Whange Residents Trust (GWRT), a nonprofit community group, said there was no need to dig down when Zimbabwe only has to look up for cleaner sources of energy.

He urged the country to focus on exploiting its “great potential” for solar power, tapping into the average 3,000 hours of sunshine it gets per year – a greener approach that would” position Zimbabwe as innovative”, he added.

In 2019, the GWRT sued the government to force it to consider investing in clean energy instead of encouraging coalmining. The case is still in court, according to Chima.

GWRT is mainly concerned about the impact of mining on Zimbabwe’s famous wildlife sanctuaries.

Chima pointed to special mining concessions that were granted to Afrochine Energy, a subsidiary of Chinese steel giant Tsingshan, to explore for coal near Hwange National Park, home to the endangered Black Rhino and African wild dogs.

Afrochine spokesperson Oliver Mutasa confirmed the company had been given a license to explore for coal and other minerals in Hwange, but said it would stay out of the national park.

“We are aware of the ecological negative impacts that we are likely to face should mining encroach into such an area,” he noted.

In addition, environmentalists see the mining push as a step backwards in Zimbabwe’s efforts to adopt more renewable energy.

Zimbabwe has pledged to cut its energy-related emissions by about a third from projected business-as-usual levels by 2030,mainly by boosting renewable power generation – excluding hydro-electricity – to more than 25% of the mix from about 5%now.

But climate activist Maphosa said Zimbabwe’s reliance on fossil fuels to drive growth and create jobs would make it hard to give up on coal.

“It seems the government has adopted an ‘extractivist’ approach to economic development. So when (officials) say this will phase out very soon, I don’t think so,” he added.

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