Tag Archives: South Africa

Omicron: EU lifts SA travel restrictions

Brussels 10.01.2022 European Union member states have agreed to lift the travel ban on flights to southern African countries, which will allow more voyages to resume.

The decision lifts the so-called emergency brake introduced in November, France, which holds the rotating EU presidency, informed in Tweet micro blog. Travellers from the region will still be subject to health measures applicable to travellers from third countries.

European nations had suspended most air travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as the WHO and scientists were in process to assess the severity of the omicron variant. The bloc maintained the limits even after cases continued to surge around the world, despite an outcry from the region.

EU: South Africa in view

Brussels 13.12.2021 Today the Foreign affairs ministers will hold a comprehensive discussion on EU-Africa relations, touching on the overall situation on the continent and the challenges it faces in fields such as: security, development, demographic growth, health, democratic evolution, and engagement at a multilateral level.

South Africa’s president has condemned travel bans enacted against his country and its neighbours over the new coronavirus variant Omicron.

Cyril Ramaphosa said he was “deeply disappointed” by the action, which he described as unjustified, and called for the bans to be urgently lifted.

The UK, EU and US are among those who have imposed travel bans.

As nearly two years of restrictions have impacted South Africa’s travel and hospitality sector, the industry and travellers need clarity on what to expect over the key festive season, says Euan McNeil, managing director of the Flight Centre Travel Group.

In an open letter addressed to president Cyril Ramaphosa, McNeil said that a lack of certainty around the level of restrictions – and when they could be introduced – meant many prospective travellers were not making holiday plans.

“We have been here before. December 2020 brought with it beach bans, stricter curfews and alcohol bans. Six months later, during our third wave largely driven by the Delta variant, leisure travel to and from Gauteng was prohibited.

“Over the past 20 months of navigating the catastrophic impacts of Covid-19, the tourism and travel industry has suffered the collateral damage of these regulations aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19.”

On Thursday (10 December), South Africa reported 22,391 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,093,452.

Deaths have reached 90,060 (+22), while recoveries have climbed to 2,870,329, leaving the country with a balance of 133,063 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 26,917,603 (+135,961).

EU proposes ban on South Africa flights

Brussels 26.11.2021 Concerns over a new COVID-19 variant detected in South Africa have caused new wave of travel restrictions in Italy and Germany on Friday, November 26, as Brussels demands the EU-wide flight restrictions. (Image: illustration).

The European Commission will propose to suspend air travel from southern Africa amid concerns over this particular variant, EC President Ursula Von der Leyen announced on Friday.

The proposal could be enacted in urgent procedures on Friday night, November 26.

Germany, Italy and France have already announced measures to restrict air travel from the region.

Rome has banned entry on its territory to anyone who has stayed in southern Africa during fortnight, said health minister Roberto Speranza, invoking “maximum precaution” in the face of the new variant.

The countries targeted by this measure are South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and Eswatini, the Minister has underlined.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Friday, November 26, airlines coming from South Africa will only be able to transport German citizens, meaning only repatriations will be possible.

South Africa, like much of the region, has suffered through three significant pandemic waves since the beginning. While the number of new infections across the country is now still relatively low and positivity levels are under 5%, public health officials have already predicted a fourth wave because of the mutations of the virus alike the one they have discovered now.

During a news briefing, South African genomic scientists said the variant has an unusually high number of mutations, with more than 30 in the key spike protein, which is the structure the virus uses to get into the cells they attack.

SA RHINO: poachers perverse crimes

Brussels 02.11.2021 A rhino with tears in his eyes: heartbreaking images show a Southern White rhino ‘weeping in pain’ after poachers hacked off his horn and crushed part of the bone in his skull in South African game reserve.

Southern White Rhino can be seen with tears running down from his eyes while lays his head on the ground.
The male rhino was saved by the charity Saving the Survivors and he is kept on a reserve in South Africa.
Images show the rhino’s skull is exposed behind the huge bloodied hole where the horn was hacked by poachers.

South Africa holds the majority of the world’s rhinos numbering over 2,000 and has been the country hit hardest by poaching criminals, with more than 1,000 rhinos killed each year between 2013 and 2017.

There were 394 recorded poaching incidents in South Africa in 2020, poaching numbers have declined significantly in recent years, but are still too high. On average in the country, a rhino is killed for it horn each day.

Photographer Simon Needham, 55, who works with several wildlife charities in South Africa told his story about the suffering rhino. He explained that this animal was one more victim of poacher’s barbarism, butchering rhino’s horn, and crushing his skull. The owners of the game reserve abandoned the animal, presuming he was dead, but the police noticed him and informed Saving the Survivors charity about him.
The owners of the reserve surrendered him to charity as he was worthless to them. In spite of pain and suffering from the atrocious skull injury the rhino had a strong will to survive.

South Africa epic looting

Brussels 13.07.2021 In South Africa’s most populous province of Gauteng, which includes the largest city, Johannesburg, at least six people had died, officials announced early on Tuesday, July 13. Another 10 bodies were discovered in the aftermath of the looting spree in the Johannesburg township of Soweto.

The deployment of 2,500 soldiers to support the South African police hadn’t stopped the rampant looting on Tuesday, July 13, although a number of arrests were being made at some areas in Johannesburg.

What had been sporadic pro-Zuma violence degraded into the epic mass looting of the malls and warehouses.
So far the mayhem had not spread to South Africa’s other nine provinces.

The Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, heard Zuma’s application to have his sentence rescinded on Monday. Zuma’s lawyer presented his arguments that the top court made errors when sentencing Zuma to prison. After 10 hours of testimony on Monday, the court judges said they would study the arguments and announce their decision at a later date.

Police Minister Bheki Cele told journalists on Tuesday that, if the looting continued, there was a risk areas could run out of basic food supplies.

However, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said there was not yet a need to declare a state of emergency over the violence.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said some 26 people had been killed in the province so far. In Gauteng the death toll is 19, including the 10 who died at the mall in Soweto.

Zuma in prison in KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa former President Jacob Zuma has handed himself in to police to begin serving a 15-month jail sentence for contempt of court.

The high profile convict was admitted to Estcourt Correctional Centre in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday, July 7.

Police had warned that they were prepared to arrest him if he did not hand himself in by midnight.

Zuma, 79, was handed the jail term last week after he failed to attend a corruption inquiry.

The sentencing sparked an unprecedented legal whirlwind in South Africa, which has never experienced a former president jailed before.

Zuma had initially refused to hand himself in, but in a short statement on Wednesday, the Jacob Zuma Foundation said he had “decided to comply”.

His daughter, Dudu Zuma-Sambudla, later wrote on Twitter that her father was “en route [to the jail] and he is still in high spirits”.

SA: King Zwelithini special burial

King Goodwill Zwelithini of the Zulu nation in South Africa has died on March 12 in hospital where he was being treated for diabetes-related issues. The king, 72, was the leader of South Africa’s largest ethnic group and an influential traditional ruler.
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi made the tragic announcement that the king took his last breath at the hospital on Friday morning. He later told SABC’s Ukhozi FM that the monarch, who was being treated for diabetes in the ICU, succumbed to Covid-related illnesses.
The monarch had been admitted to hospital in KwaZulu-Natal last week to monitor his ongoing diabetes condition.

The king’s prime minister thanked South Africa for its “continued prayers and support in this most difficult time”.

Scores of amabutho, or Zulu warriors, traditional leaders, hospital staff and members of the public sang, danced and ululated as the body of the late Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini left the Inkosi Albert Luthuli hospital on its way to Nongoma on Saturday morning, March 13.
King Zwelithini was a direct descendent of King Cetshwayo, who led the Zulu nation during the war with the British in 1879.

Throughout his 50 year-reign he was a strong advocate for preserving cultural identity.

The Royal Family has appealed to mourners not to travel to KwaNongoma to pay their last respects.
President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a special official funeral for the King and will be broadcast live to allow the nation to honour Him from homes.

South Africa slide to failed state

South Africa faces a precipitous economic and political collapse by 2030 unless it changes its economic model and implements growth-friendly policies, according to Eunomix Business & Economics Ltd. (Image above: courtesy UN photo).

Using a range of measures, the Johannesburg-based political and economic risk consultancy forecasts the country will rank near the bottom of a table of more than 180 countries in terms of security, similar to Nigeria and Ukraine, and have prosperity akin to Bangladesh or Cote d’Ivoire. This negative change means a significant decline from its current position, though it should fare better on governance and welfare measures.

“Bar a meaningful change of trajectory, South Africa will be a failed state by 2030,” Eunomix said in a report.

The consultancy blames a structure created during the White-minority apartheid era that was designed to exclude the Black majority, creating one of the world’s most unequal societies.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, the ruling African National Congress perpetuated that situation by rejecting job-intensive growth policies and instead raising wages and subsidizing the poor through welfare, Eunomix said.

While less than a quarter of the population is in work, South Africa’s wage bill as a percentage of gross domestic product significantly exceeds that of countries such as India, Thailand and the Philippines.

Eunomix’s recommendation for South Africa’s government is to adopt a “dual-track” strategy of developing and maintaining high levels of social support and paying for it by adopting an aggressive special economic zone policy, which boosts growth and employment, albeit at lower wages.

The ANC’s strategy is “a dichotomy born of apartheid, resistance and crystallized by ideological puritanism and entrenched interests,” the consultancy said. “The country should not choose between imagined opposites. It should adopt a dual-track approach that reconciles them.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is “very clear” about the need for inclusive growth that addresses inequality, unemployment and poverty, his spokesman Tyrone Seale said.

“Government, business, labor and communities are currently working on an economic recovery plan,” he said. “As South Africa we are clear about our plan to reboot the economy and the need to involve all South Africans.”

Former President Jacob Zuma ushered in a decade of low growth when he focused on increasing the role of the state, instead of supporting a private-sector led recovery after the global economic crisis of 2008, Eunomix said. Prolonged policy uncertainty in areas ranging from mining to telecommunications compounded the slowdown.

The economic impact of recurrent power cuts, rising unemployment and the loss of the last investment-grade rating on South Africa’s debt have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.

“The pandemic is the last nail in the coffin of strategic fiasco,” Eunomix said. “The economy is unsustainably narrow and shallow. It rests on a small and declining working population burdened by very high debt and taxes.”

EU €65M aid to South Africa region

The European Commission is providing €64.7 million in humanitarian aid for countries in the southern Africa region to help support people in need dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, extreme weather conditions such as persistent drought in the region and other crises.

The EU is helping to provide life-saving assistance to impoverished households suffering from crop and livestock losses due to drought. The aid package will also strengthen the preparation and response to the coronavirus pandemic for countries in the region. In parallel, the EU is helping communities better prepare for natural hazards and reduce their impact” Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, said.

Funding from this aid package will go for humanitarian projects in Angola (€3 million), Botswana (€1.95 million), Comoros (€500,000), Eswatini (€2.4 million), Lesotho (€4.8 million), Madagascar (€7.3 million), Malawi (€7.1 million), Mauritius (€250,000), Mozambique (€14.6 million), Namibia (€2 million), Zambia (€5 million) and Zimbabwe (€14.2 million). A further €1.6 million is allocated to regional disaster preparedness actions.

The funding targets are food assistance to vulnerable households and helping farmers in the affected areas restore their means of subsistence;
– coronavirus prevention and preparedness actions to support local health systems and facilitate access to health care, protective equipment, sanitation and hygiene;
-disaster preparedness projects that also cover new needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. They include strengthening early warning systems and evacuation plans for communities at risk of natural hazards to having emergency stocks of personal protective equipment;
– support for children’s education and providing training to teaching staff.
Given the serious deterioration of the security situation in Cabo Delgado in northern Mozambique, €5 million will support vulnerable people in the area.

The humanitarian aid assistance announced today comes on top of the more than €67 million allocated to the region in 2019 following the impact of the two cyclones, drought, and the economic and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.

The southern Africa region has had just one normal rainy season in the last five years, with the last quarter of 2019 being one of the ten driest since 1981 for most areas, causing largescale livestock losses and damaging harvests. In many places, the current growing season is exceptionally hot and dry, while in several other parts of the region, erratic rains risk undermining harvests in 2020. In some countries, this burden comes on top of already-crippling economic woes.

The coronavirus pandemic is likely to compound already significant humanitarian needs in the region.

Five killed in Johannesburg hostage situation

Five people were killed and hostages were being held at a church west of Johannesburg, South African police said on July 11, Saturday.

Police announced in a statement that they were alerted to a “hostage situation and shooting” in the early hours of the morning at the International Pentecost Holiness Church in Zuurbekom.

Thirty arrests were made and more than 25 firearms seized, police wrote on Twitter microblog, adding hostage negotiators were still at the scene.

Police did not explain the reason behind hostages situation.

Television station eNCA suggested there had been a leadership dispute at the church and cited a church official as saying roughly 200 people had been taken hostage.

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