Monthly Archives: July 2016

Government to report on election readiness

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) will on Monday brief media in Vuwani, Limpopo, on the state of readiness by the South African security agencies to secure the 2016 Local Government Elections.

The chairperson of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS), Dr Sam Gulube and the Acting National Police Commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane, will conduct an assessment of the preparations ahead of the elections.

Among the sites to be visited is a high-tech National Joint Operations Centre in the Vuwani area. Government, through the JCPS Cluster, continues to ensure that all measures are in place to ensure a safe and secure election.

About 100 000 officers will be on election duty. Over 50 000 police officers will be on duty at voting stations across the country, while the rest will be mobile so that they can respond to situations if the need arises. Police will also be deployed to known hotspots.

The police have made several arrests in relation to alleged political killings and other political violence in various parts of the country leading up to the 3 August municipal elections.

Government has also warned that it will not tolerate actions aimed at disrupting the elections or disenfranchising voters.

The Electoral Commission (IEC) has officially opened the National Results Operations Centre in Pretoria and is ready for business.

The IEC has 26 333 3535 million voters on the voters’ roll. This is approximately 77 percent of the eligible voting population.

The IEC also received a record number of special vote applications of over 740 000, which is three times that of 2011.

Source: Government Communication and information System

Free State Arts and Culture hosts Basotho New Year celebrations, 6 Aug

Delivering her 2016/17 Budget Vote for the Free State department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, MEC N.S. Leeto said, “Every year we have been celebrating the Basotho New Year at the Basotho Cultural Village. In 2016 we will partner with Traditional Leaders and the Lesotho people to celebrate the Basotho New Year in the villages of Qwaqwa. This also makes a valuable contribution in strengthening our international relations with our neighboring state.”

Statistically, Sesotho is the most common language spoken by 64% of the people of the Free State therefore, its preservation and promotion is very critical in the pursuit of nation building and social cohesion. Languages in general play a critical role in any society and ours is no different. It is for this reason that the department continues to promote and preserve all languages spoken across the province through the department’s Language Services Unit.

This year’s celebration of the Basotho New Year will be staged in collaboration with local Traditional Leaders and will also feature arts and crafts exhibitions, horse demonstrations, cultural performances as well as presentations on traditional harvesting methods.

It is scheduled as follows:

Date: 6 August 2016

Venue: Charles Mopeli Stadium, Qwaqwa

Time: 9h00

The Outreach Programme as an awareness campaign will resume from the 27th to the 31st of July 2016 focusing on various schools around Paul Roux, Bethlehem, Kestell, Harrismith and Qwaqwa who will later form part of the Basotho New Year main Celebration.

Historically, Basotho did not follow the Gregorian calendar, but rather relied on the position of the moon, the natural indicator of seasonal rotation. As most of us have observed, the full moon occurred from the 3rd to the 4th of July, a period characterised in Sesotho as “Ha kgwedi e toloka”. To mark the African New Year, fields are ploughed, and the very first harvest is brought as an offering to Tlatlamatjholo/God.

Basotho New Year is celebrated annually after the last days of Mariha/winter to give way to new life after the dry season. Basotho New Year Celebration starts in August/Phato, known for the blowing winds, clearing Mother Earth and refreshing the ground with showers of Spring.

Speaking about the significance of celebrating this event, MEC N.S. Leeto said, “The event’s highlight will be the parade composed of cultural practitioners, men on horseback, as well as drum majorettes. The Free State Province is rich in its unique and diverse cultures which will be witnessed in this year’s Basotho New Year Celebration. The celebration speaks to our quest to promote social cohesion by embracing all cultures.

It also deepens our drive towards cultural self-awareness in our communities. Only when communities are aware of their history and cultural identities can we be able to build a better society.”

Source: Government of South Africa

South Africa/Kenya: Amajimbos Cruise Into the Final of Cosafa Cup

South Africa u17 men’s National team walloped Kenya 4-0 to storm into the final of the ongoing COSAFA Cup u17 tournament currently taking place in Mauritius.

Kenya received entry back into the competition after Group B winners Zambia were disqualified for fielding two over-age players.

Amajimbos reached the final with a 100 percent record having accounted for Seychelles and Namibia in the past two games before walloping Kenya in the final third game.

Starting line-ups:

South Africa XI:

Glen Baadjies, Luke Fleurs, Sechaba Mokoena, Lethabo Mazibuko, Nkanyiso Shinga, Mjabulise Mkhize, Bonga Dladla, Lina Mchilizeli, Luke Le Roux, Thabiso Monyane, Siphamandla Ntuli.

Subs:

Tshepo Mohui, Malesela Langa, Tyreese Pillay, Sabelo Radebe, Ndamolelo Radzilane, S’miso Bophela.

Kenya XI:

George Ouma, Thomas Muya, Daniel Wambua, Clinton Machaka, John Njuguna, Zidane Karume, Jeremy Muriithi, Muthoka Mulei, Prince Boit, Eric Muriithi, Brian Omutanyi.

Subs:

Ahmed Omar, Brian Otieno, Ibrahim Onnangwe, Lewis Wanjala, Biron Lukale, Telvin Njeri, Boniface Odhiambo, Kenneth Karungari, Isaac Omoke.

Source: South African Football Association.

South Africa: Crucial Local Vote for Ruling ANC

South Africans vote in municipal elections next week and the ruling ANC could suffer substantial losses. It is unclear how Jacob Zuma’s record as a scandal-prone president will affect the outcome.

South African President Jacob Zuma is under severe pressure as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) contests municipal elections next week. Zuma, who is president of the ANC as well of the country, is touring South Africa ahead of the polls on 3 August, lashing out at the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), which he promised to “crush.”

Zuma sings struggle songs, dances and lambasts the DA as the party of apartheid and oppression. But many South Africans see this as an attempt to deflect attention away from the failings of his own party.

His insistence that the ANC is the only party with a struggle history has a hollow ring for many people at the grassroots level, because inequality and poverty has not declined but grown in post-apartheid South Africa. Nelson Mandela’s former party of liberation suffers from infighting and loss of credibility.

Scandals

“This is a critical election for the ANC. The party has been racked by a variety of scandals, many associated with the leadership of Jacob Zuma himself,” political commentator Daniel Silke told DW. “Zuma is now a controversial figure in South African politics and even within his own party, he seems to be facing a degree of opposition.”

Political scandals, cronyism and corruption have damaged the ANC’s prospects. It is fighting these elections with a president who fired two finance ministers in the space of a week at the end of last year, and who was embroiled in a scandal over the misuse public funds for the modernization of his home in Nkandla in rural Kwazulu-Natal. Just this week the Constitutional Court ruled that the president has to pay back about $500,000 (450,000 euros) in taxpayers’ money within 45 days. The move came after lengthy legal proceeddings initiated by opposition parties. Zuma defeated an oppostion bid to impeach him and apologized to the nation.

Inequality breeds frustration

Africa’s most industrialized country suffers from slow economic growth and the official unemployment rate is now as high as 27 percent. Inequality is a source of deep frustration among South Africans. “We have underperformed economically since 1994. We have succeeded in some aspects of social redress but we were unable to grow the economy and absorb new job seekers,” Silke said.

Economic stagnation paired with mismanagement is scaring away foreign investors. South Africans showed their dissatisfaction with their government by joining daily social delivery protests that grew more and more violent and destructive. Schoola and libraries have been burned down and people have been injured in many townships.

Violence is also challenging the integrity of the elections. Several candidates, most of them from the ANC, have been murdered over the past few months. At least 12 were killed in KwaZulu-Natal. Fourteen people have been arrested following a parliamentary probe into what are believed to be politically motivated killings.

Ruling party vulnerable

South Africa may be voting in local elections next week, but, according to Silke, they also amount to an unofficial referendum on the quality of political leadership and the broader economic direction in which South Africa is heading. “The ANC is probably at its most vulnerable since 1994 and its support has been slipping marginally. As a result we are seeing a much more competitive election then ever before,” he said.

Aubrey Matshiqi, political analyst with the Helen Suzman Foundation, has his doubts about some of the forecasts being made about the outcome of these elections.

“We only know the ANC will lose some level of support, but I am not sure if it is as deep as analysts are assuming,” she said.

The image crisis surrounding Jacob Zuma will not determine the outcome of these elections on its own. There are many reasons why South Africans might vote, or not vote, for the ruling party. “If people vote for the ANC, it does not mean they are expressing their approval for Zuma, the party leader,” Matshiqi added.

Support for the ANC is declining. In 2009 the party received 66 percent of the vote nationwide; in 2014 it won 62 percent, but in some major urban areas the ruling party barely garnered 50 percent. Silke said the ANC still has a secure grip on power nationwide. The political battleground next week will be the metropolitan areas, especially the capital Pretoria and the Nelson Mandela Bay area around Port Elizabeth, where the ANC could face heavy losses. If the ANC polls less than 50 percent, it might be forced to enter a coalition with one of its opponents in several metropolitan municipalities, including areas in Johannesburg, for the first time.

Matshiqi insists, though, that the prospect of coalitions be kept in its proper perspective. There are more than 200 municipalities. “In the majority of cases, there will be no need for a coalition,” she said.

Opposition parties set to gain

Silke said many South Africans are disillusioned and more prepared then ever to vote for other parties. What do opposition parties have to offer them? “The DA has shown in the Western Cape and the city of Cape Town that they can govern successfully, that is their trump card,” said Silke. “They show greater efficiency and ability to roll out services to the people and have a cleaner administration than the ANC.” They were long seen as a party of big business dominated by white people, but the election of Mmusi Maimane as its first black leader after the 2014 elections could draw votes especially from middle-class blacks.

The far left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with its radical leader Julius Malema is a relatively new group in the political arena and claims to represent the poor. Since its formation in 2013, the EFF has grown to become the third largest party in parliament. It has no track record in government, but could play the kingmaker in local councils that need a coalition to govern, Silke said.

Zuma’s leadership

Sileke believes the long term challenge for the ANC is how to resolve factionalism. “There is a substantial body of senior members of the party who like to reboot and reform the economic policies to become more investor friendly and others who want to protect their vested interests that have become part and parcel of ANC politics in the last 20 years,” he said.

Silke also said the ANC will “see some electoral shocks” which could mean “reviewing policy lines” and “perhaps the end to Jacob Zuma’s leadership.”

Matshiqi disagrees and is “not persuaded that this election will deliver political realignment and a dramatic shift in support for the ANC.”

Source: Deutsche Welle.

South African Win At Google Science Fair

Using orange and avocado peels, a 16-year-old South African could hold the solution to the country’s water woes.

Kiara Nirghin, who is from Johannesburg, has won the Google Science Fair Community Impact Award in the Africa/Middle East region with her entry, “No More Thirsty Crops”. She is also one of the 16 global finalists for the annual awards, to be held at the Google headquarters in the US in September.

Kiara, a St Martin’s High School pupil, admitted she had a natural curiosity and questioning nature which had led her down the path of science.

“I have always had a great love for chemistry since I was young,” she told the Google Science Fair. “I vividly remember at the age of seven experimenting with vinegar and baking soda solutions in plastic cups.”

Food and chemistry were linked in the intertwined science web, she added. “I love molecular gastronomy and the application of scientific principles in food creation.”

It seemed natural then that she could have found a possible solution to South Africa’s drought in, what else, but food.

Kiara created an absorbent polymer from orange and avocado peels that was able to act as a water retainer in soil.

According to the Google Science Fair website, it should be able to “to retain large amounts of water and combat the effects of drought on crops by retaining soil moisture, whilst still recycling waste products of the juice manufacturing industry”.

She hopes because it is low cost, it will be able to help farmers save both money and crops.

If she won the competition, Kiara said she would be wonderfully elated. “With the prize I will hope to continue my studies in science, but also further the scientific development and application of my idea, and in addition extend scientific progress in elevating the problems that South Africa faces in food security and sustainable agricultural development,” she said.

Source: SouthAfrica.info.