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Protest outside court ahead of murder case in Mpumalanga
12 April 2021, 12:31 PM

A group of people wearing t-shirts from different political parties are chanting slogans outside the Piet Retief Magistrate’s Court in Mpumalanga, ahead of the appearance of four people accused of murder.

The suspects are accused of shooting to death two people who were part of a group that went to seek employment at the farm. The main road and a few other streets have been closed as different groups are expected to protest outside court.

Security has been beefed up at the court in Mpumalanga.

Mpumalanga Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane is expected to visit the family of the two men who were shot. Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe will accompany the Premier.

Four men in court for farm workers’ deaths:

Hideki Matsuyama wins Masters, a first for Japanese golf
12 April 2021, 10:28 AM

Japan sucked in its breath as Hideki Matsuyama almost blew his chance to win the Masters but the golfer’s one-shot victory at Augusta National sparked a joyous reaction back home as the country celebrated another sporting triumph in testing times.

Matsuyama, 29, became the first man from Japan to win one of golf’s major titles, a feat that drew praise from government and Olympics officials with the Tokyo Games just three months away.

Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s top government spokesman, expressed “congratulations and respect from the heart” for Matsuyama’s “historic” win, which came as another ray of hope during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is another bright piece of news of a Japanese athlete’s outstanding performance on the global stage under tough circumstances like training,” Kato told a regular news conference.

Kato pointed to tennis player Naomi Osaka’s win at the Australian Open and Shohei Ohtani’s outstanding performance both as a hitter and a batter this week in Major League Baseball as further evidence of Japan’s sporting success.

Source of pride

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called Matsuyama’s win “wonderful” and a source of pride and courage for the Japanese people during the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

Matsuyama has started Sunday’s final round with a four-shot lead and looking a strong bet to join Hinako Shibuno and Chako Higuchi as Japanese major champions. Shibuno won the Women’s British Open in 2019 and Higuchi won the 1977 Women’s PGA Championship.

But Matsuyama’s march to win the coveted Green Jacket hit a speed bump on the par five 15th, where his approach shot went in the water behind the green.

He could only make bogey while playing partner Xander Schauffele birdied the hole, turning Matsuyama’s comfortable four-shot cushion into a slender two-shot lead.

Schauffele’s triple-bogey at the next hole gave Matsuyama some breathing space and while he dropped two more strokes over the closing three holes it was enough for a one-shot win over Masters debutant Will Zalatoris.

Honour of lighting the Olympic Games

Matsuyama’s win has prompted calls for him to be given the honour of lighting the Olympic Games cauldron at the opening ceremony in July.

“It would be quite an honour,” he said in a PGA Tour statement. “But I’m not sure about my schedule. If the schedules worked out and I am in Japan when that happens and they ask me, what an honour that would be.”

Hidemasa Nakamura, the Games delivery officer for the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, told Reuters he stayed up late at night to watch Matsuyama.

“It was a nice encouragement because we would like to prepare for this summer in Tokyo so that such hard-working players can play an active role,” he said.

Matsuyama also drew praise from the US Embassy in Tokyo.

“Congratulations to Hideki Matsuyama for winning #TheMasters! We knew years ago that he was destined for greatness,” the embassy said in a tweet.

Many businesses still uncertain despite rise in confidence index: SACCI
12 April 2021, 9:00 AM

The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) says despite a rise in the business confidence index, many businesses are feeling uncertain about the country’s economic climate. South Africa’s Business Confidence grew 31.3% last month, compared with an increase of 26.6% year-on-year in the previous month.

The sudden onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the stringent lockdown regulations saw consumer confidence collapse to a 35-year low in the second quarter of last year.

The chamber’s economist Richard Downing explains what’s making businesses jittery.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty among businesses about not only economic policy as such but the land redistribution which is still on the cards. And then of course the world economy that is also battling at the moment, although there’s some light at the end of the tunnel, which is some positive view about where the economy might be going from the low base.”

The SACCI Business Confidence Index was at 94 index points in March – marginally down from 94.3 in February:

Local musicians struggling to make ends meet: Association
9 April 2021, 12:25 PM

Chairperson of the Music Publishing Association of South Africa David Alexander says local musicians are struggling to make ends meet and are desperate for an intervention. The association works to safeguard music publishers and engages with government to ensure artists receive adequate compensation.

Artists across the country have been battling to stay afloat with the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Alexander says many artists could be forced to turn their backs on the industry.

“I think it’s facing a crisis; I think there are a lot of professionals in the industry that are considering alternative careers. Many are already working doing other jobs, whether they are driving or waiting tables or doing handyman work. I think the longer the COVID-19 crisis continues, the more people will leave the creative industry because there isn’t the support from government for the industry.”

Earlier, it was reported that the COVID-19 pandemic caught many industries off guard, and forced those in the creative sector to do things differently. For months live events and social gatherings were halted, which meant no income for artists who rely on live performances as their main stream of income. Most of them slowly moved their craft to digital platforms.

Small and developing companies depending on events, social gatherings and concerts were hit hard. Gatherings of large groups of people were prohibited for entertainment purposes.  However, CEO of Tencent Africa Brett Loubser says the move to digital has been growing steadily.

Impact of COVID-19 on artists:

Djibouti president widely expected to win fifth term in office
9 April 2021, 10:41 AM

Voters head to the polls on Friday in the tiny but strategically important Horn of Africa nation Djibouti, with President Ismail Omar Guelleh widely expected to win a fifth term and extend his 21-year-long rule.

Djibouti lies on one of the world’s busiest shipping routes, the Gulf of Aden, and hosts US, Chinese, and French military bases, letting it punch above its weight.

Guelleh, 73, is one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders. He was picked to succeed his uncle, Hassan Gouled Aptidon, who led the country to independence from France in 1977.

During Guelleh’s presidency, the desert nation of less than one million people has invested heavily in its port infrastructure, becoming the primary gateway to landlocked Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation.

An international court ruled in 2018 that Djibouti had expropriated $1 billion of infrastructure in its port belonging to Emirati logistics giant DP World. Djibouti has ignored the ruling.

Guelleh faces only one challenger, relative newcomer Zakaria Ismail Farah, while the rest of the weak and divided opposition was boycotting the polls, analysts said.

“The president will easily secure a fifth term, but that does not suggest the election is free and fair in the eyes of many Djiboutians,” said Abel Abate Demissie, an associate fellow of the Africa Programme at Chatham House.

Constitution tweaked

The constitution was tweaked in 2010 to scrap presidential term limits, though an age limit of 75 was set, meaning Guelleh’s expected fifth term should be his last.

His security forces quashed rare street protests last year following the arrest of a former air force pilot who had denounced corruption and clan-based discrimination.

Human Rights Watch says that since Guelleh came to office in 1999, the government has repeatedly restricted the media and civil liberties.

“This is a dictatorship,” said lawyer Maitre Zakaria Abdillahi, who has represented a number of detained activists. “The people are afraid of the regime, the population is terrorised.”

Djibouti has weathered the fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic relatively well and the economy expanded by 0.5% last year, the World Bank said in a report last week, though extreme poverty increased to nearly 15% in 2020, it said.

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