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VIDEO: Minister of Agriculture briefs media on outcomes of the Agricultural Disaster Fund application process
17 May 2020, 12:00 PM

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza briefs the media on the outcome of the Agricultural Disaster Fund application process.

Impoverished Burundi, battered by violence and coronavirus, gears up for elections
16 May 2020, 2:34 PM

Burundi will have its first competitive presidential election since the civil war erupted in 1993, but simmering political violence and fears that campaign rallies could accelerate the spread of the coronavirus have already marred the campaign.

President Pierre Nkurunziza is stepping down, although he intends to remain a prominent force in the impoverished East African nation.

He nominated Evariste Ndayishimiye, a retired army general, as his successor for the ruling CNDD-FDD party. The party is to hold its last rally on Saturday. The election will be held on Wednesday.

Six other candidates are running, including opposition leader Agathon Rwasa, deputy chairman of the national assembly and leader of the CNL party.

Rwasa has been able to open offices and hold large rallies around the country, said Nelleke van de Walle of the research organisation International Crisis Group.

“The ruling party and the government is trying to show that this is a legitimate process,” she said.

But, Burundi said most election observers would have to undergo a 14-day quarantine.

Journalists face the constant threat of arrest or attack; many have fled. Some civil society organisations have been closed.

Last year, the government shut down the United Nations human rights office after repeated criticism that the youth wing of the ruling party and the security services were torturing, gang-raping and murdering political opponents. Rights groups say those attacks have increased in the run-up to Wednesday’s presidential, legislative and municipal elections.

Both Ndayishimiye and Rwasa were senior commanders in predominantly Hutu militias during the country’s decade-long civil war that killed around 300 000 people. Nkurunziza came to power in 2005 as part of a peace deal.

The country was plunged into violence again in 2015 after Nkurunziza sought a third term in office, a move his opponents said violated the constitution and terms of the 2005 deal.

Nearly half a million people fled and the economy never recovered. The violent protests eventually subsided but low-level political violence continues.

Voters who spoke to Reuters were too fearful to give their names. A 45-year-old vegetable seller in the capital, Bujumbura, supported the ruling party because it had provided welfare.

“They give us rice and beans and can build houses for the most vulnerable among us like elders or widows,” she said.

But a jobless 32-year-old supported the opposition.

“All of us need change, many Burundians need … one to end this daily violence, these killings, this rampant corruption and economic embezzlement,” he said.

Nkurunziza will remain president until August, and a new constitution has given him sweeping powers to declare a state of emergency if the results are disputed.

This week his government expelled the country representative for the World Health Organisation despite mounting fears that Burundi’s election rallies could help spread of the new coronavirus.

The nation of 11 million has reported 27 cases so far but has only carried out about 520 tests in total.

 

Afriforum lashes out at Tourism department’s ‘gross misunderstanding’ of court decision
16 May 2020, 2:28 PM

Lobby group Afriforum has lashed out at the Tourism Department over what it says is a gross misunderstanding of Friday’s Constitutional Court judgement.

Afriforum approached the Constitutional Court, after the High Court dismissed its application against Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane.

This related to her decision to provide support to distressed firms and establishments in the tourism sector based on broad-based BEE codes. The Minister released a statement welcoming the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of the lobby group’s application saying the court had rendered the joint application insufficient and that it was not in the interest of justice for the court to consider it.

However, Afriforum CEO Kallie Kriel says it was not a joint application and that the application from Solidarity was not dismissed, but that it should go through a different process through the courts.

“Afriforum regards it as unfortunate that the Minister of Tourism blatantly lied when she said that Afriforum’s case at the Constitutional Court has been dismissed. It is not correct the Solidarity case that she refers to does not mention Afriforum in any way. The fact is this judgement in the Solidarity case only says that the court will not hear the case now it should go through a different process – and it did not take into account the merit at all.”

In the statement below, the Department of Tourism hails the courts decision as a victory.

Minister concerned about job losses

Kubayi-Ngubane has expressed concern over job losses in the sector due to fears of further spread of the coronavirus.

She says jobs are being lost in the tourism sector, as major events continue to be cancelled to help stem the spread of the virus.

“We can’t say generally there aren’t going to be job losses, there are job losses as we speak. Those who support the tourism sector, either temporarily or on a contract basis, are already starting to feel it because they are going to sit at home and there are no major events that are happening.”

“Those who are going to be part of the La Liga football summit in Durban next week, are affected because they were supposed to be working next week, and they are not working. So such things are going to happen. The issue for us is to be able to evaluate how much impact and our response to it, so we can limit the effects to ordinary South Africans,” Kubayi-Ngubane adds.

In the video below, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane speaks to Morning Live in Limpopo:

 

 

Cyclists urged to wear masks when cycling
16 May 2020, 9:09 AM

The Pedal Power Association (PPA) has called on cyclists across the country to wear a face mask when out on the roads during the daily outdoor exercise window between 6 and 9 am.

Despite the wearing of a face mask being mandatory under alert level-4 of the nationwide lockdown, a large number of cyclists are still not adhering to this regulation.

Nine more people have succumbed to COVID-19 in South Africa bringing the national death toll to 247. The Health Department says the number of positive cases has risen sharply and now stands at 13 524.

Exercise during Level 4 lockdown curfew: 

Below is a graph on latest COVID-19 statistics:

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PPA Vice Chairperson, Steve Hayward, says the coronavirus is not to be taken lightly and all South Africans, even cyclists, must adhere to the regulations or risk government reimposing a ban on outdoor exercise.

“It is compulsory that we must wear these masks I think its dangerous for the cyclists not to adhere to it because if you having someone in your slip stream there is a Belgium aero dynamics study that shows expanded droplets from cyclists still remain suspended in the air behind the cyclists and that’s the danger of that infection being passed on.  it is a bit of a hinderance but abide by the rules.”

Exercise enthusiasts react to relaxation of the run, walk and cycle regulation

Zimbabwe’s opposition calls for international intervention against human rights abuses
16 May 2020, 8:50 AM

Zimbabwe‘s opposition leader, Nelson Chamisa, is calling on the international community to intervene in human rights violations in the country.

This week, three women who had been picketing in the capital city, Harare, were allegedly abducted by police officers.

The trio – who are also MDC members – were tortured and sexually assaulted before being released on Friday. They are now recovering in hospital.

Recounting the horrific details Cecilia Chimbiri is thankful her life was spared.

She and two other MDC supporters, Joana Mamombe and Netsai Morova, were physically beaten and sexually violated.

They had been protesting against the severe food shortages in the country.

The MDC leader says this incident shows that Zimbabwe’s government hasn’t changed. It continues to victimise, abuse and violate those viewed as enemies of the ruling regime.

“These people were saying why do you want to revolt against the government. They were saying we know that you are being sponsored as MDC to cause problems, we want to fix you. We believe that Mnangagwa is aware of this pattern,” says Chamisa.

Chamisa says the international community must apply pressure on government to ensure that human rights violations are brought to an end.

In the video below, Nelson Chamisa asks for international intervention

“That’s why we need the international community to help us, this is why the United Nations must help us, this is why we need SADC and AU President Rampahosa. Please lead us, help us help ourselves. Ultimately, we need an international hand,” says Chamisa.

Government denies that police abducted the three women. But say from initial reports the trio was violating lockdown regulations by picketing.

Through a press release, the government said it would investigate the disappearance of the woman and establish who was responsible for the act.

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