Category Archives: Africa

COVID-19: SAA suspends all international and regional flights until 31 May

The South African Airways (SAA) has announced the suspension of all its international and regional flights until 31 May, 2020.

In a statement on Friday, SAA said the decision follows a travel ban instituted by the government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decision means SAA will only render services domestically between Johannesburg and Cape Town,” SAA said.

High-risk destinations

The government has issued a notice, effective from Friday, prohibiting the embarkation and disembarkation of crew and passengers from SAA’s three international destinations designated as high-risk – New York, Washington DC, Frankfurt and London – except under certain circumstances.

SAA Acting CEO Zuks Ramasia said the decision was taken in support of the government’s efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and in the best interests of SAA’s crew, passengers and the public.

“It is a responsibility of all of us, and not just government, to curb further transmission of the virus especially because we operate in the high-risk regions,” Ramasia added.

Regional destinations affected include Accra, Lusaka, Harare, Victoria Falls, Mauritius, Windhoek, Lagos and Entebbe.

Flights to Perth and Sao Paolo also suspended

SAA has also suspended flights to Perth and Sao Paolo because of “the significant reduction in demand for air travel as a result of various travel bans instituted worldwide.

SAA advised its customers to visit its website at http://www.flysaa.com or to contact their travel agents for further information.

The troubled airline is under business rescue and the suspensions are likely to add further uncertainty about its future.

In February, its business rescue practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, announced that it was ceasing operations on all domestic routes except Johannesburg-Cape Town.

However, this decision was resisted by the government. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said some domestic routes could be reinstated.

“We want absolute clarity on the routes, even some of the domestic routes that have currently been cancelled will be reinstated, perhaps in a different form,” he said.

Earlier in March, SAA also started a consultation process with labour unions in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act regarding possible job cuts.

The business rescue practitioners have until the end of March to publish a business rescue plan.

COVID-19: Govt invokes emergency procurement to repair border fences with Zimbabwe

The government has invoked emergency procurement procedures to install and repair border fences east and west of South Africa’s Beitbridge border post with Zimbabwe.

Patricia de Lille, the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, made the announcement at a press briefing on Thursday in Pretoria.

She said the decision is part of government’s efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus, adding, “This is to ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice-versa.”

40km in one month

De Lille said a multi-departmental team made site inspections on Tuesday this week and decided that 1.8m-high fences have to be erected or repaired for 40km on either side of the border post.

She added that the project, which will cost approximately R37.2 million, will commence today (Thursday) and will be completed within one month.

As of Wednesday, South Africa had a total of 116 confirmed cases. The government has implemented a raft of measures to contain the spread of the virus, including travel bans as well as closures of 37 land and sea ports of entry.

The Beitbridge border post, the only one with Zimbabwe and one of the busiest in the country, is however not affected by the closures.

State-owned properties as quarantine sites

De Lille also announced that the government has identified 37 state-owned properties in all 44 districts and eight metros that could be used as quarantine sites.

“Some of these sites will be available to people living in informal settlements where there are no such facilities available,” she added.

The Minister said the Trompsburg and Ladybrand hospitals in the Free State could be used as quarantine sites.

In KwaZulu-Natal, properties in Durban North, Pietermaritzburg, Richards Bay and Port Shepstone have also been identified.

The Limpopo and North West provincial governments have identified four and 130+ sites respectively, according to de Lille.

She added, “We have engaged the construction, property and built environment industries on the interventions they are implementing to boost hygiene measures, keep the industry safe and keep business going as far as possible.”

Patrice Motsepe apologises for ‘Africa loves you’ comment to Donald Trump

Billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe has apologised for some of his remarks to United States (US) President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, last week.

Motsepe caused a social media furore when he told Trump, “All we wanted to say is that Africa loves America; Africa loves you. We want Americans to do well. We want you to do well. The success of America is the success of the world.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals said he was “aware of the lively, diverse and at times emotional debate” on his comments.

‘I do not have the right’

Motsepe added, “The debate also exposed me to the views of Africans who disagreed with my remarks.

“I have a duty to listen to these differing views and would like to apologise. I do not have the right to speak on behalf of anybody except myself.”

Nevertheless, South Africa’s third richest man said his remarks to Trump were partly aimed at “encouraging discussions between the Trump Administration and African political and business leaders.”

He cited the high unemployment rates in South Africa and Africa, adding that in order to address the challenge, the continent will have to establish partnerships with the rest of the world, including the US.

‘US, Africa share common values’

Motsepe said the US and Africa share common values and principles and that mutual interest outweighs their differences.

He added, “It is in the interest of South Africa and the rest of the African continent to build mutually beneficial socio-political, trade, investment and cultural ties between the economies and people of Africa and America and Africa and the world.”

“I am committed to continue making a humble contribution in this regard,” Motsepe concluded.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni was among those who came to Motsepe’s defence in the wake of the controversy.

Addressing a post-WEF media briefing in Davos last week, Mboweni said, Motsepe was within his rights to express his views to Trump, adding, “As South Africans, we are a democratic society. We don’t determine for people to say whatever they want to say.

“He was very clear he was not speaking on behalf of the South African government. He doesn’t have that kind of arrogance to speak on behalf of the South African government.”

Patrice Motsepe sparks debate with ‘Africa loves you’ comment to Donald Trump

South African billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe has sparked social media debate after telling US President Donald Trump that “Africa loves you.”

Motsepe, the founder and chairman of African Rainbow Minerals, made the comment during a dinner with Trump and top CEOs at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

He said, “All we wanted to say is that Africa loves America; Africa loves you. We want Americans to do well. We want you to do well. The success of America is the success of the world.”

‘Which Africa is he talking about?’

Twitter user Ndisha Makhari shared a video of Motsepe making his comments and ignited debate among South Africans on Twitter.

Some questioned why Motsepe was speaking on behalf of all Africans, with Twitter user Dallas Maloka asking, “Which Africa is he talking about?”

“For sure when Patrice Motsepe said Africa loves Donald Trump he was referring to Africa Rainbow Minerals (ARM), not my mother continent,” argued @SAYoungLion.

Patrick Sindane added, “It was wrong for Patrice Motsepe to sing for his supper and commit the entire African continent. It was wrong to express love for Donald Trump on behalf of the continent. He could have simply said, “Trump I love you,” and not say, “Africa loves you.”

‘You love America and Americans’

However, some South Africans came to Motsepe’s defence, arguing that many Africans love American celebrities and other public figures.

Others argued that the businessman, who one of the richest in South Africa, was simply looking out for his interests as an entrepreneur.

Ndzavi Derrick tweeted, “Listening to Motsepe introduce himself and tell Trump he is one of Forbes 100 greatest business minds and is doing business in 50 countries, what came to mind is that as [an] entrepreneur there is no end to introducing yourself and pitching to those with influence no matter how rich.”

“Patrice Motsepe is very intelligent and knows why he said what he said as a businessman, so liberals and commi bandits must just sit down,” added @CiroDavid.

According to Forbes’ latest ranking of billionaires in January 2020, Motsepe is the third richest South African with a net worth of $2.6 billion (about R37 billion).

He became a billionaire in 2008 and besides mining, he has interests in financial services, technology, and sports (owns Mamelodi Sundowns football club and a substantial stake in the Blue Bulls rugby team).

Fact check: Zimbabwe’s deputy defence minister did NOT threaten US over Iran

On Wednesday, a Twitter account purporting to be Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s (ZBC) tweeted a claim that raised many eyebrows.

The tweet said, “Breaking News. Deputy Minister of Defence Cde Victor Matemadanda has warned the US that if they do not retreat from Iran, Zimbabwe may be forced to intervene.”

The account, @zbcnewsonline_, accompanied the tweet with a picture of Matemadanda. The tweet had racked up more than 1,300 likes, 600 retweets, and close to 1,000 replies by Thursday evening.

Fake and/or parody account

A number of influential figures on Twitter, including journalist Clement Manyathela and popular personality Christo Thurston, retweeted the tweet.

However, a closer look at the account’s handle reveals that it is a fake and/or parody account and not the ZBC News Online‘s official Twitter handle, which is @ZBCNewsonline.

A screenshot of the tweet from the fake/parody Twitter account purporting to be ZBC News Online’s.

The fake account was started in December 2019. Furthermore, it only has 543 followers and 72 tweets so far.

The official ZBC News Online account has been in existence since 2012 and has more than 275,000 followers. By Thursday evening, it had not tweeted anything about Matemadanda.

Matemadanda denies issuing ultimatum

According to Zimbabwean publication bulawayo24.com, Matemadanda denied on Thursday ever issuing an ultimatum to the United States (US).

In a statement, he said, “Cde Victor Matemadanda dismissed this as fake news. [He] asks the social media handlers to refrain from disseminating manipulative false information about the activities in the Middle East.

“Zimbabwe has not issued any official statement. In any case, such information is issued by the ministry of information or by the President himself.”

Earlier this week, another tweet circulated on social media purporting to emanate from US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

It claimed, “Just spoke to Cyril. South Africans will be conscripted if we need them. Let’s stop Iran!”

Head of Digital Communications in Ramaphosa’s office, Athi Geleba, tweeted that it was “fake news.”

OPINION | US-Iran crisis: SA must show leadership

By Rebone Tau | The South African government, through Department of International Relations and Cooperation, needs to understand that issuing a statement on the escalating tensions between Iran and the United States (US) is not enough.

South Africa is currently a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the government has a responsibility to do things differently this time around and show leadership during difficult times on matters of peace and security.

We can’t just have a government that just issues a statement when they have a seat at the dinner table, which in this case is the UNSC. While we all know that the US is a permanent member of the UNSC and has powers to veto resolutions it opposes, a clear message must be sent that it continues to bring instability in the world as if people’s lives don’t matter.

It is in South Africa’s best interests to strongly pursue this matter at the UNSC. As the incoming Chair of the African Union (AU), South Africa has a responsibility to make sure that there is peace and stability on the African continent.

The recent attack on the Kenyan Simba Naval Military Base in Lamu County that houses US and local troops sends a clear signal that what is happening in the Middle East will affect us in the continent.

The South African government, under the leadership of President  Cyril Ramaphosa, needs to find a way to link its AU Chairmanship term to its UNSC term as its own legacy.

The government talks about “Building A Better Africa and A Better World,” but without peace and security being top on the agenda, this ideal world that the government talks about will just be a mere dream and nothing more.

Without peace and security, it is difficult to grow the economy of any country. Investors would not want to put their monies where they are not sure if it will bear profits for them.

The government needs to show the world that indeed this is a new dawn in which things are done differently and there are serious efforts to bring about peace and stability.

Civilians are always casualties of wars at the end of the day, and children and women suffer the most. Peace, stability and human rights have long formed the basis of South Africa’s foreign policy and now is the time to show the world what South Africans stand for.

We saw what happened during our last term at the UNSC when we voted for Resolution 1973 which led to a multi-state NATO-led military intervention in Libya.

To date, Libya is still not politically stable, so it is in the best interest of South Africa to really make sure that peace and security is high on the agenda of the AU and to influence the UNSC to stand up to aggressors, such as the US, who continue to undermine global stability.

Rebone Tau is a political commentator.

The views expressed in this opinion article are the contributor’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Current Affairs ZA.

Uganda’s President Museveni: ‘Fake Africans in SA carried out xenophobic attacks’

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has referred to perpetrators of xenophobia in South Africa as “fake Africans.”

Museveni made the comment in a Twitter thread on Tuesday after meeting legendary musician Kanda Bongo Man, who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

He said Bongo Man, 64, fled the DRC because of political instability when he was just 17 years old and first went to France.

‘Bongo Man had to flee SA because of xenophobia’

However, Museveni said when Bongo Man came to South Africa more recently, he had to flee to the United Kingdom after a spate of xenophobic attacks.

He wrote, “Bongo Man tells me that he has personally suffered the plight of instability from his home country, forcing him to go to France when he was 17 years [old], and recently had to relocate from South Africa to the U.K. when the fake Africans in South Africa carried out xenophobic attacks.

“This is a total shame because the majority of present South Africans originated from Cameroon. In Uganda however, nobody can talk against a fellow Africans because it is not the way of our culture.”

Museveni’s comment has raised eyebrows among some South Africans on Twitter. Prominent journalist Qaanitah Hunter commented, “Haibo, we are now fake Africans?”

Kanda Bongo Man and South Africa

Kanda Bongo Man, who is best known as a pioneer of the Congolese Soukous genre and more specifically the kwassa kwassa sub-genre, was last in South Africa in 2015.

He performed at several venues, including at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park and at a concert against xenophobia held in Mamelodi, Pretoria.

In an interview with Mail&Guardian at the time, he said, “I come to South Africa to do work – perform and record – but normally I live in London. I do have a house in South Africa, in Limpopo. I travel a lot all over the world. I’m always on tour.”

In April of the same year, there were some xenophobic attacks reported in Durban and some parts of Johannesburg. It’s unclear if Museveni was referring to these attacks.

Nevertheless, Bongo Man has close ties with South Africa. In the same interview, he said a South African, Jumbo Vanrenen, boosted his international career.

Bongo Man also has an album titled Welcome to South Africa, which he recorded in 1995.

‘Hayi no, SA doesn’t play:’ AKA says after Burna Boy concert is cancelled

Rapper AKA has reacted to the cancellation of the Africans Unite concert following public objections against Nigerian musician Burna Boy’s participation.

Writing on Twitter less than an hour after the announcement on Wednesday, AKA said, “Hayi no. South Ahhh doesn’t play.”

Together with the Tshwane Entertainment Collective, he was among leading local artistes who questioned Burna Boy’s inclusion.

‘Threats of violence’

In a statement, the concert’s organisers, Phambili Media and Play Network Africa, said “threats of violence” prompted them to withdraw Burn Boy and cancel the shows.

They said, “The decision to cancel the Africans Unite Concert comes after the call from the Tshwane Entertainment Collective to boycott the Africans Unite concert in Tshwane.

“With the increasing threats of violence from other unfortunate segments of the public and without any government intervention, Phambili Media and Play Network Africa were prompted to take the threats and warnings seriously, as the safety of all artists and attendees could not be guaranteed.

“We then decided to cancel the concert. The safety of all attendees, artists and crew comes first.” Those who had bought tickets will be fully refunded, they added.

Burna Boy and Africans Unite concert controversy

The Africans Unite concert had been scheduled for 23 November in Cape Town and 24 November in Pretoria. Its aim was to spread a message of unity to help tackle xenophobia.

However, Burna Boy’s controversial tweets in September during the xenophobic unrest in parts of Gauteng sparked public objections to his inclusion. AKA led calls for an apology from him.

On 3 September, Burna Boy tweeted, “I personally have had my own xenophobic experiences at the hands of South Africans and because of that I have not set foot in SA since 2017.

“And I will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes up and really performs a miracle because I don’t know how they can even possibly fix this.”

In another tweet, he seemingly threatened AKA, who had called him out for reacting to fake news and outdated videos doing the rounds on social media at the time.

The Ye hitmaker tweeted, “And @akaworldwide I knew you was retarded but I didn’t know it had gotten this bad. Next time I see you, you better have a big security bro. On Gambos grave you gonna need it [sic].”

Despite the objections, Burna Boy refused to apologise and insisted that he would still come. He also received support from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema.

He had not publicly reacted to the cancellation at the time of publishing this article.

EFF asks members to pass proposals for African federal govt, army, 1 currency

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has asked its members to consider passing resolutions calling for an African federal government and army as well as one African currency.

These proposals are contained in the party’s discussion document for its second National People’s Assembly (NPA) set for 13-16 December in Nasrec, Johannesburg.

Thousands of branch delegates are expected to elect EFF’s national leadership and pass resolutions on a range of issues at the Assembly.

‘Pan-Africanism and progressive internationalism’

In a chapter titled “Economic Freedom Fighters, Pan-Africanism and Progressive Internationalism,” the EFF urges its members to “take note of the need for a continental and diaspora-wide Pan-African Movement.”

It adds, “The EFF must resolve that for complete unification of the African continent, there must be one currency for all the countries of the continent.

“The conference must further resolve to have one African language at least, Kiswahili as a recommendation, to be developed fully and be integrated into school curriculums with the aim of making the language a common language of communication in Africa. 

“The EFF must agitate for a united African continent, with one federal government and army, and affirm the higher authority of the Pan-African Parliament as the ultimate legislative body for continental matters.”

‘Elimination of unnecessary borders’

The party has urged the Assembly to call for a “continental and diaspora Pan-African Congress” to discuss these and other proposals to strengthen African unity.

It says it “will also advocate for the ultimate integration of the African continent through the erosion and eventual elimination of unnecessary borders” such as those separating South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.

The EFF also vows to promote socialism internationally because “socialism will never work if still confined to nation states.”

It added, “Therefore, the EFF must unashamedly be in solidarity with all revolutionary forces, and support attempts to overthrow imperial regimes and usher in progressive governments.”

When EFF leader Julius Malema was still President of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL), he controversially said the ANCYL would establish a “Botswana command team” to unite oppositional forces in Botswana to oppose the “puppet regime” of then President Ian Khama.

Other “internationalist” proposals in the document include expansion of the United Nations Security Council and a “complete withdrawal from the International Criminal Court by all African nations.”

Burna Boy thanks Malema for his support: ‘I look forward to meeting you’

Nigerian musician Burna Boy has thanked Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema for supporting his inclusion in the upcoming Africans Unite concert.

Malema has come under fire on social media for strongly backing Burna Boy against South African music fans demanding an apology from him.

Writing on Twitter on Tuesday, Malema said he was “looking forward to receiving and being entertained by my brother @burnaboy here at his home called South Africa.”

He added, “There’s no mascot that can stop him from performing, he’s one of our own and we will protect him. We must resolutely oppose regionalism led by political illiterates.”

‘I look forward to meeting you’

On Saturday, Burna Boy tweeted his appreciation, “Thank you @Julius_S_Malema. Africa must Unite and I am willing to die for that cause just like you brother. I look forward to meeting you.”

In other tweets, the artiste said he loves South Africa but “loves Africa more.” He was seemingly unprepared to offer the apology many South Africans on social media have demanded.

“Let’s not act like xenophobia is not real in South Africa; let’s not act like Nigerians, Tanzanians, Zimbabweans and many other AFRICANS have not been victims in the last three years. Please Let us all do our part to Unite Africa,” he wrote.

Burna Boy and Africans Unite concert controversy

Burna Boy is set to be among headline acts at the Africans Unite concert scheduled for 23 November in Cape Town and 24 November in Pretoria.

The controversy surrounding his inclusion stems from his controversial tweets in September during the xenophobic unrest in parts of Gauteng.

On 3 September, he tweeted, “I personally have had my own xenophobic experiences at the hands of South Africans and because of that I have not set foot in SA since 2017.

“And I will NOT EVER go to South Africa again for any reason until the SOUTH AFRICAN government wakes up and really performs a miracle because I don’t know how they can even possibly fix this.”

In another tweet, he seemingly threatened local rapper AKA, who had called him out for reacting to fake news and outdated videos doing the rounds on social media at the time.

The Ye hitmaker tweeted, ““And @akaworldwide I knew you was retarded but I didn’t know it had gotten this bad. Next time I see you, you better have a big security bro. On Gambos grave you gonna need it [sic].”

As a result, some local artistes under the banner of Tshwane Entertainment Collective have objected to his participation in the concert.

AKA has led social media demands for an apology to South Africans from Burna Boy, but given the latter’s latest tweets, it may not be forthcoming.

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