Johannesburg fire: Inside a ‘hijacked’ South African building

At least 76 people died when a building caught fire In the South African city Johannesburg on 31 August.

The building had been “hijacked” – taken over by a gang who were illegally renting it out.

It’s a common phenomenon in the city, where dozens of buildings are in a similar situation.

The BBC got access to another hijacked building across the street from where the fire happened, to see what conditions are like in these blocks.

Source: BBC

Call to support Springboks

As the three-time world champions, the Springboks, face off against Scotland in their first game at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, South Africans have been encouraged to support the team.

“On behalf of all South Africans, I would like to wish the Bokke all the best in the World Cup. Do your best and make us proud. Bring it back Bokke!” Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa said.

South Africans can watch the clash of the Springboks against Scotland on Sunday at 17:45 on SuperSport, SABC 2 and SABC+.

The World Cup fixtures runs from Friday 8 September to Saturday 28 October.

“The Springboks represent the best of South Africa. They inspire national unity, and foster social cohesion and national identity. This was captured by President Nelson Mandela during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, where the Springboks were a key ingredient to his message of national unity.

“The current Springboks represent this country’s diversity and represent South African excellence with their performances,” the Minister said.

He made these remarks during a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday.

Earlier this week, SuperSport announced a failure to reach an agreement with the SABC on the broadcast rights to the tournament.

“This week began with much concern that most of the country would be unable to watch the 2023 Rugby World Cup on SABC channels. This followed an impasse in negotiations between SABC and MultiChoice on broadcast rights for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

“On Monday, I had a discussion with the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, and met with senior executives of the SABC, urging the public broadcaster to find a solution to this impasse with MultiChoice.

“I had made it clear that my interest in this matter was for all South Africans to have access to sport of national interest. I had also made clear the need to find a permanent solution to this matter, as this goes beyond rugby. All South Africans need to be able to watch our sports teams performing on international platforms,” the Minister said.

MultiChoice and the SABC reached an agreement on the matter on Thursday.

“Yesterday’s developments, where MultiChoice agreed to sub-license broadcast rights to the SABC for the 2023 Rugby World Cup means that millions of South Africans will be able to watch this global showpiece, and to see the Springboks go on to defend their world title.

“I reiterate my call for a permanent solution to be found, as we cannot find ourselves in this situation before major sporting events,” Kodwa said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

SA welcomes efforts to accelerate progress of SDGs

South Africa has welcomed the Indian Presidency’s efforts to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The achievement of the SDGs must remain at the centre of international financing discussions to ensure that finance is mobilised in sufficient quantities and of suitable quality to support development in low- and middle-income countries,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are an urgent call for action by all countries – developed and developing – in a global partnership.

They recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth – all while tackling climate change and working to preserve our oceans and forests.

In his statement on the Working Session II: One Family, G20 Leaders’ Summit that took palace in New Delhi, India, the President applauded the Indian Presidency’s focus on women’s empowerment as part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

“South Africa has embarked on a journey of ensuring the empowerment of women. The education of girls must be prioritised. We must act to end gender-based violence and enable women to enter the mainstream of economic activity,” President Ramaphosa said.

He emphasised the importance of committing to strengthening the global health architecture for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, and support ongoing engagement on how this proposed architecture will be funded.

“Our experience of the devastating COVID-19 pandemic sends a clear message that global health security is paramount. There is need to develop robust global one health surveillance systems that promote effective collaboration at national, regional and global level.

“We urgently need a coordination mechanism that supports the sharing of information and resources, research, outbreak investigation and response,” he said.

He noted that countries continue to face an unsteady global economic recovery.

“As policy makers, we therefore need to be flexible and respond quickly and appropriately to risk. Multilateral cooperation is critical to addressing food and energy insecurity. As African countries, we support a discussion on policy options to address the effects of volatility in food and energy markets.

“As G20 nations, we must drive the transformation of economies and societies in pursuit of mutual prosperity, inclusive growth and a shared future,” the President said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

AU joins G20 as a permanent member

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the admission of the African Union as a member of the Group of Twenty (G20).

“We are delighted that the G20 has accepted the African Union as a member of the G20,” the President said on Saturday.

G20 is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and it plays an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues.

The group comprises of 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Türkiye, United Kingdom, and United States) and European Union.

The G20 members represent around 85% of the global GDP, over 75% of the global trade, and about two-thirds of the world population.

In his statement on the Working Session I: One Earth G20 Leaders’ Summit, which took place in New Delhi, India, President Ramaphosa called for countries to respond collectively, decisively and with urgency to climate change.

“No country is spared the effects of climate change. It is vital that industrialised countries, which have the means and which carry the greatest responsibility for climate change, support sustainable development in developing economies.

“For us to realise the vision of People, Planet and Prosperity, we need to meet our respective commitments and responsibilities. In so doing, we will be helping to create a world that is more equitable, more resilient and more sustainable,” the President said.

He said global reconstruction in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique opportunity to accelerate the transition to low-carbon, climate resilient, sustainable societies.

“Developing economies are bearing the brunt of climate change, despite carrying the least responsibility for this crisis. As African and other developing economy countries, we face the task of meeting our climate commitments in the midst of significant developmental challenges like poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“Climate change, environmental degradation, unsustainable consumption and production and resource scarcity are challenges that can only be addressed collectively and with a great deal of solidarity. South Africa calls for an enhanced and expanded Global Partnership for Sustainable Development,” the President said.

He said these efforts must be supported by the concrete policies and actions outlined in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.

“Access to adequate and predictable financial resources from a variety of public and private sources is critical if we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Development partners need to both meet their existing commitments and upscale Official Development Assistance. Ordinary people see billions of dollars being spent on the weapons of war instead of addressing development challenges.

“In particular, development partners need to meet their commitments to capacity building and infrastructure development in low- and middle-income countries,” the President said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Condolences for earthquake victims in Morocco

Deputy President Paul Mashatile has on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as the Government and people of South Africa, joined the international community in expressing condolences to the Kingdom of Morocco following the devastating earthquake that hit the country.

According to media reports, Friday’s earthquake has claimed the lives of more than 2000 people while about 2000 sustained injuries.

In a statement on Saturday, the Deputy President said the thoughts of the people of South Africa are with the families that have lost their loved ones in this tragedy.

The Deputy President also wished all survivors a speedy recovery.

“We are deeply saddened by the shocking loss of life and extend our deepest sympathies to the people of Morocco, and wish all survivors strength and a speedy recovery,” he said.

Deputy President Mashatile has commended the efforts of the emergency response institutions in the country and has full confidence that the Kingdom of Morocco will unite in their response and emerge even stronger following the disaster.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Economic recovery measures improve economy

Deputy President Paul Mashatile has attributed the growth in gross domestic product (GDP) to the economic recovery measures that were implemented by government to support the economy.

Stats SA reported that the country’s GDP grew by 0.6% in the second quarter of 2023 while it grew by of 0.4% in the first quarter.

These measures include financial support for distressed businesses, infrastructure investment, and job creation initiatives such as the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative (PYEI), implemented as the Basic Education Employment Initiative (BEEI) across all nine provinces.

“Between April and June this year, at least 135 000 earning opportunities were secured by young people through the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative’s National Pathway Management Network.

“Some 108 061 of these were accessed through the SA Youth platform, with 27 088 opportunities scored through the Department of Employment and Labour’s Employment Services of South Africa (ESSA) website. We are adamant that if PYEI can receive more funding, it will reach more young people,” Mashatile said on Saturday in Johannesburg.

Addressing the Forty Under 40 South Africa Awards Ceremony, he called on young people to take up the opportunities available in digital sectors and others to combat the high youth unemployment rate.

“Our government believes that entrepreneurship is part of the remedy for the massive youth unemployment. In partnership with the private sector, we have launched several youth business funding opportunities to help youth start and maintain their businesses. This includes the Youth Challenge Fund (YCF), the Youth Pipeline Development Programme, and the Youth Technology Innovation Fund (YTIF).

“While these measures have helped stabilise the economy, we must remain vigilant and adaptable to emerging challenges. Moreover, we have also gained some pace by implementing the structural reforms for the reconstruction and recovery plan, Operation Vulindlela,” Mashatile said.

Since Operation Vulindlela was launched in October 2020 as part of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, government has implemented 35 priority structural reforms identified for their impact on economic growth and job creation.

“We have made progress in energy, our logistics network, digital communications, and the reform of the visa regime to enable businesses to attract the skills they need to grow. Eleven reforms have been completed, while 14 are on track or progressing well.

“Regarding the energy challenge that has remained a top priority in our country, we have amended Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act to remove the licencing requirement for generation projects of any size,” the Deputy President said.

More than 100 projects are at various stages of development, representing over 10 000 megawatts of new generation capacity and over R200 billion in private sector investment.

“Additionally, three projects from the risk mitigation programme have been constructed, with five projects expected to reach financial closure this quarter.

“We approved the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill in March, which has been tabled in Parliament. This Bill will establish a competitive electricity market, enabling multiple generators to compete on a level playing field. These are essential to ramping up energy generation in the short and medium term,” the Deputy President said.

He said government’s efforts in investing in young people means redirecting efforts and resources in a number of critical areas, including the skills revolution and education, providing quality health care, investments in new technologies as part of 4IR and artificial intelligence as well as investments in infrastructure for ease of business and movement of goods allows entrepreneurs to flourish.

“Investing in youth participation is not just a trendy concept but a necessity for our collective future. It goes beyond just financial resources. It requires a mind-set shift and a collective commitment to nurturing talent and empowering individuals,” Mashatile said.

Taking advantage of opportunities on the continent

The Deputy President urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“In this regard, South Africa is a significant member of this trade revolution that will shape the continent’s future by stimulating innovation and value-chain growth and boosting industrialisation and job creation across industries. The AfCFTA has 54 signatories, making it the largest free trade area in terms of the number of member states, second only to the World Trade Organisation.

“As part of Agenda 2063, we must dismantle the barriers that hinder youth participation in the economy. We need to break free from the cycle of generational exclusion and embrace an intergenerational approach where the knowledge and experience of our elders are combined with the fresh ideas and perspectives of today’s youth,” he said.

Mashatile said unlocking the demographic dividend will spark a wave of growth and progress that will benefit the youth and the entire continent.

“We need greater collaboration among governments, civil society, the private sector, and international partners to achieve this,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Race to find survivors as Morocco earthquake death toll passes 2,000

At least 2,012 people were killed and 2,059 injured following a powerful earthquake that struck Morocco, the country’s Interior Ministry said Saturday.

Rescuers searching for survivors dug through the rubble of collapsed houses in remote mountain villages of Morocco on Saturday, as armed forces were pressed into action in the wake of the country’s deadliest earthquake in more than 60 years.

The injuries include 1,404 critical cases.

Fatalities from the magnitude-7 quake occurred in various regions, including El-Houz, Taroudant, Chichaoua, Tiznit, Marrakech, Azilal, Agadir, Casablanca and Youssoufia, the ministry said in a statement.

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in Morocco has soared to more than 2,000, with a similar number of injured.

The interior ministry says more than 1,400 have serious injuries, and the heaviest casualties are in provinces just south of Marrakesh.

King Mohammed VI declared three days of national mourning and ordered shelter, food and other help for survivors.

Many people are spending a second night out in the open.

The magnitude 6.8 quake hit Marrakesh and many towns on Friday night. In remote mountain areas, entire villages are reported to have been flattened.

Source: Somali National News Agency

Somali National Army kills over 20 Al-Shabaab terrorists in Awdhegle district

The Somali National Army on Sunday killed over 20 Al-Shabaab terrorists in Awdhegle district in the Lower Shabelle region.

Deputy Minister of Information, Abdirahman Yusuf Al-adala told the Somali National News Agency SONNA that the forces recovered weapons during the operation, saying the terrorists could not even collect their dead bodies as they were defeated.

“Our forces killed over 20 Khawarij fighters including senior commanders and forced them to flee from their dead bodies. We are committed to destroying the terrorist network in this region and throughout the country”, he said.

The operation comes days before the Government plans to launch the second phase of the total war on the group fighters in the country.

SONNA learned and obtained more horrific photos from the battlefield, showing how the terrorist militants were defeated in today’s operation near Afgoye district in the same region.

Source: Somali National News Agency