South Africa Bids Farewell To ‘Hero’ George Bizos, Mandela’s Lawyer

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 14, 2018, former apartheid struggle stalwart and human rights lawyer George Bizos looks on at the inaugural George Bizos Human Rights Award in Johannesburg. (Photo by GULSHAN KHAN / AFP)

 

South Africa on Thursday bade farewell to George Bizos, the “hero” anti-apartheid lawyer who represented Nelson Mandela at his trial for treason, at a state funeral filled with emotional tributes.

Bizos, a revered, soft-spoken figure, died at his Johannesburg home last week of natural causes at the age of 92.

His flag-draped coffin was wheeled into a Greek community hall by military pall-bearers on Thursday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa in attendance, before it was driven to a cemetery on a ceremonial military gun carriage.

Speakers before a small gathering of family and other dignitaries — due to coronavirus restrictions — paid heartfelt tributes to the man who became Mandela’s personal friend and defended human rights to the end of his life.

Ramaphosa described Bizos as a “hero”, a “lover of freedom” and likened him to a “baobab tree”.

“We are here to celebrate and also to bid farewell to a titan of the legal profession whose defence of the cause of justice was as tenacious and it was lifelong,” said Ramaphosa.

At the height of the apartheid era, Bizos secured a life sentence for Mandela and others fighting white-minority rule at the landmark Rivonia Trial in 1964.

Against all expectations, the defendants were spared the death penalty and instead given long jail terms — a verdict that turned them into the living embodiment of the anti-apartheid struggle.

– Mandela ‘waiting to welcome you’ –

Bizos arrived in South Africa as a 13-year-old war refugee from Greece and trained as a lawyer.

In a long career, he represented a string of activists against the white-minority regime and later helped draw up the constitution of post-apartheid South Africa.

For 30 years, he struggled to acquire South African citizenship — thanks to his activism against the white minority regime.

“The apartheid government punished him quite severely by denying him citizenship for over three decades and there he was living stateless in a country that he had adopted,” Ramaphosa said.

The regime told him “he was not fit and proper to become a South African citizen,” said the president.

Yet Bizos was a “patriot” and “the embodiment of a fit and proper South African citizen,” Ramaphosa said.

He continued working until he was past 90 years old, with one of his last major cases securing government payouts in 2014 for the families of 34 miners gunned down two years earlier.

His passing further reduces the number of surviving leaders of the apartheid struggle, whose status wields huge moral and political influence in modern-day South Africa.

Although a junior member of the defence team when he represented Mandela, Bizos was credited with the tactic of proposing that Mandela deliver a statement from the dock to present the group’s cause, rather than submit him to cross-examination.

The speech was electrifying, notably Mandela’s often-cited lines on his hope for democracy: “It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Bizos would say later that he advised Mandela to avoid challenging the court over the possibility of a death sentence by adding the words “if needs be”.

In his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom” (1994), Mandela describes Bizos as a lifelong friend and “a man who combined a sympathetic nature with an incisive mind”.

Bizos continued to represent Mandela throughout his 27-year-jail term and also acted on behalf of his wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, on more than 20 occasions.

Ramaphosa concluded his eulogy saying: “Madiba your friend of 65 years is waiting to welcome you”.

AFP

South African Economy Could Shrink More Than Forecast – Minister

A queue of cars are seen at the Maseru Bridge border post between Lesotho and South Africa on March 24, 2020. Molise Molise / AFP.

 

South Africa’s Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned Sunday the economy could shrink by more than the 7 percent forecast by policymakers and the central bank for 2020, adding that public finances are “overstretched”.

The economy of Africa’s most industrialised nation contracted by more than half in the second quarter of this year, an unprecedented decline caused by anti-coronavirus restrictions.

Looking ahead, there is a “risk that the actual GDP outcome for 2020 could be lower than previously thought,” Mboweni wrote in the local Sunday Times newspaper.

The Treasury and central bank expect the economy to contract by 7.2 and 7.3 percent respectively this year, after the country went into a strict lockdown in March already in recession.

Mboweni noted that public finances, already in an “unsustainable position” before the pandemic, were now “overstretched”.

“The reduction in economic activity in the second quarter has flowed through to lower tax revenue,” the minister wrote, adding that emergency tax relief to keep households and businesses afloat would compound the loss.

Government is expected to fall short of more than 300 billion rand ($18 billion) in tax revenue — over six percent of GDP — Mboweni said, forcing the heavily indebted country to “borrow even more”.

But he also promised reforms to climb out of the hole, writing “we must be bold in confronting what has impeded economic growth and the progress of our nation.”

He wrote that one of government’s priorities would be to ensure “adequate and reliable electricity”, backed by a commitment to unlock private investment in the public sector.

Unreliable electricity supply from state operator Eskom’s fleet of rickety coal-fired power stations is often blamed as a source of economic instability in South Africa.

The country accounts for around half of the continent’s coronavirus cases, with over 648,000 infections and 15,427 deaths recorded to date, although daily increases have been dropping since July.

AFP

African Leagues: Tanzania First To Start New Season Amid Virus

A file photo of the Tanzanian national flag.
A file photo of the Tanzanian national flag.

 

 

Tanzania again became the first African League to kick off during the coronavirus crisis when they opened the 2020/2021 league season on Sunday.

The championship was also the first to resume last season after a Covid-19 shutdown, playing from June with spectators permitted.

While Tanzanian clubs have started their new season, South Africa only completed their 2019/2020 season two days ago. Tunisia will finish theirs this Sunday and clubs in Egypt have between nine and 12 fixtures still to fulfil.

A resurgence of the virus in Morocco led to many postponements, but leaders Raja Casablanca and potential title rivals Wydad Casablanca are scheduled to play Wednesday.

Here is the AFP round-up of all the football action in Africa across the weekend.

Tanzania
Defending champions Simba SC won 2-1 at promoted Ihefu 2-1 after naming Barbara Gonzalez as the first female chief executive of a top-flight Tanzanian club.

Zambian Clatous Chama starred for the winners, who completed a league and cup double last season, and set up captain John Bocco for the opening goal of the match.

Likely chief rivals Young Africans were held 1-1 at home by Prisons in their first league match under Serb coach Zlatko Krmpotic, who has worked in five other African countries.

Egypt
Zamalek defeated third-place Pyramids 2-0 and mid-table El Gaish 1-0 to build a six-point lead in the race for second spot behind runaway leaders Al Ahly.

Mostafa Mohamed and Democratic Republic of Congo-born Kabongo Kasongo scored against Pyramids and Youssef Obama netted to sink Gaish.

Finishing second is significant because it secures a place in the CAF Champions League, which carries a $2.5 million (2.1 million euros) first prize.

Tunisia
Etoile Sahel, the only club to win all five current and past CAF club competitions, slipped to a 1-0 defeat away at relegation-threatened CS Hammam-Lif and remain fifth in a disappointing campaign.

Fares Meskini snatched the winning goal three minutes from time to lift Hammam-Lif above JS Kairouan and out of the danger zone, but only on goal difference, with two rounds to go.

Esperance, who were crowned champions last weekend, play at US Monastir Monday while second-place CS Sfaxien drew 0-0 at Stade Tunisien.

Morocco
Raja suffered a shock 1-0 home loss against second-last Ittihad Tangier, ending an unbeaten seven-match run since the league restarted in August after a five-month shutdown.

Youssef Anouar scored for Tangier on 74 minutes to boost the title hopes of third-place Wydad, the defending champions who trail Raja by five points but have two matches in hand.

Twelve of the 16 top-flight clubs have reported at least one positive case for Covid-19, leading to all teams having to stay in a hotel or sport centre.

South Africa
Mamelodi Sundowns won a third straight title at the weekend and now the focus switches to three-club play-offs for one lucrative 2020/2021 elite league place.

Black Leopards, who came second last in the Premiership, second division runners-up Ajax Cape Town and third-place Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila will contest a double-round mini-league.

The table-toppers qualify for the richest African league with clubs guaranteed a 2.5 million rand ($150,000, 125,000 euros) monthly allowance and millions more in prize money.

AFP

South Africa’s Annual Inflation Climbs To 3.2%

A queue of cars are seen at the Maseru Bridge border post between Lesotho and South Africa on March 24, 2020. Molise Molise / AFP.

 

South Africa’s annual consumer inflation rate climbed to 3.2 percent in July from 2.2 percent the previous month, driven mainly by transport, food and housing prices, official statistics showed Wednesday.

Prices are starting to pick up as the economy gradually re-opens after months of tight restrictions imposed to limit the spread to coronavirus.

Under the hard lockdown, consumer inflation rate in May declined to a 15-year low of 2.1 percent.

The continent’s most industrialised economy which was was already in recession when it was hit by the virus in March, is projected to shrink by at least 7.2 percent in 2020, the deepest slump in 90 years.

With more than 613,000 diagnosed cases, South Africa now has the most number of coronavirus infections on the continent.

AFP

South Africa Coronavirus Deaths Top 10,000

File photo: Relatives observe undertakers unloading a casket containing the remains of a COVID-19 patient during a funeral at the Avalon Cemetery in Soweto, on July 24, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

 

 

More than 10,000 people have died from coronavirus in South Africa since the pandemic arrived in the country in March, the health ministry said Saturday.

The continent’s most industrialised economy has registered 553,188 infections, more than half of the continental caseload, and the fifth biggest number of COVID-19 cases in the world.

Minister Zweli Mkhize said in his daily update statement that 301 new virus-related deaths had been recorded.

“This means we have breached the 10,000 mark, with 10,210 cumulative deaths now recorded,” he said.

More than half of the deaths registered on Saturday were in the southeastern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province

The National Assembly announced Saturday that the KZN-based veteran opposition politician and lawmaker 91-year-old Mangosuthu Buthelezi, had tested positive for coronavirus, but was asymptomatic.

Buthelezi, led the once-feared Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) that presided over South Africa’s deadliest violence ahead of the country’s first all-race elections in 1994, until he stepped down last year.

File photo: Undertakers close the lid of a coffin during the funeral proceedings for a COVID-19 coronavirus victim at a Mosque in Cape Town, on June 16, 2020. MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

 

“The peak is here, the peak is where we are,” health minister Mkhize said during an inspection of hospitals in the KZN province on Saturday.

While South Africa is the continent’s hardest-hit nation in terms of infections, its mortality rate at around 1,8 percent, is one of the lowest among countries with high numbers of cases.

AFP

South African Telecoms Giant MTN To Pull Out Of Mideast

Bayelsa NSCDC Uncovers Plot To Attack MTN

 

Africa’s largest mobile operator, South African telecoms giant MTN, announced Thursday it would pull out of the Middle East to concentrate on Africa and scrap its interim dividend under a blueprint to navigate the coronavirus pandemic.

“MTN has resolved to simplify its portfolio and focus on its pan-African strategy and will, therefore, be exiting its Middle Eastern assets in an orderly manner over the medium-term,” the group’s president and CEO, Rob Shuter, said in a first-half results statement

“As a first step, we are in advanced discussions to sell our 75% stake in MTN Syria.”

The company which was founded in 1994, lists operations in Syria, Sudan, Yemen, and Iran in its Middle East file, which also includes Afghanistan.

READ ALSO: Uber Sees $1.8bn Loss As Pandemic Stalls Revenue

The statement said that in the January to June period, MTN’s subscriber base rose by 10.6 million to 251.5 million compared to end-2019.

Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (ebitda) rose 10.9 percent to 41.8 billion rand ($2.38 billion, 2.01 billion euros).

“MTN delivered strong results for the period against the backdrop of difficult trading conditions, exacerbated by the unprecedented socio and macroeconomic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Shuter said.

He singled out strong performances in Ghana and Nigeria as well as a “pleasing turnaround” in South Africa.

However, “no interim dividend (was) declared due to uncertainties resulting from COVID-19 impacts,” it said.

AFP

South African Police Clash With Protesters At Zimbabwe Embassy


South African police fire rubber bullets to disperse protestors during their picket against the government of Zimbabwe’s alleged state corruption, media freedom and the deteriorating economy outside the Zimbabwean Embassy in Pretoria on August 7, 2020. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

 

South African police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse dozens of protesters outside the Zimbabwean embassy in Pretoria on Friday, an AFP photographer said.

Close to 100 mainly Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa gathered to protest economic hardship and a recent crackdown on dissent and political opposition back home.

Earlier this week Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa vowed to “flush out” critics who he described as “dark forces” and “terrorists” after the authorities thwarted anti-government protests.

 

Protestors stand in front of a moving South African police vehicle stand near the entrance to the Zimbabwean Embassy during a picket against the government of Zimbabwe’s alleged state corruption, media freedom and the deteriorating in Pretoria on August 7, 2020. Phill Magakoe / AFP

 

On Friday police were seen pushing and shoving the protesters from the front of the Zimbabwean embassy building, situated in a leafy Pretoria suburb not far from the Union Buildings, the seat of South Africa’s government.

Drapped in their county’s national flag, protesters waved placards, some reading “Mnangagwa: You are going to The Hague! Murderer! Thief!”

 

Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.
File photo: Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a speech during his inauguration as South African President, at Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria, on May 25, 2019.

 

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said he had appointed two special envoys to go to Harare “following recent reports of difficulties that the Republic of Zimbabwe is experiencing”.

Mnangagwa took over from longtime ruler Robert Mugabe after a coup in November 2017 and many Zimbabweans complain that the country’s situation has only gotten worse since.

 

 

The Zimbabwean government has dismissed allegations of rights abuses and a crisis in the country as “false”.

“There is no crisis or implosion in Zimbabwe. Neither has there been any abductions or ‘war’ on citizens,” government spokesman Nick Mangwana said in a statement.

AFP

British American Tobacco Faces South African Govt Over Cigarette Ban

BATSA’s challenge of cigarette ban to be heard in Western Cape High Court on Wednesday and Thursday.

 

 

British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) went to court on Wednesday for the first day of hearings in a case against a government-imposed ban on tobacco sales to limit the spread of coronavirus.

South Africans have been unable to legally purchase cigarettes since the country went into a strict nationwide lockdown on March 27.

While confinement measures are being gradually lifted, tobacco products have remained banned for the time being due to “health risks” associated to smoking.

BATSA, which covers 78 percent of the legal cigarette market in South Africa, decided to sue the state in May after talks with the government fell through.

Speaking before the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday, BATSA advocate Alfred Cockrell argued the ban was “unconstitutional” and “unscientific”.

Cockrell said the measure had “devastated” the tobacco industry in an already ailing economy and was costing the state around 38 million rand ($2.2 million) per day in excise taxes.

Government representative Andrew Breitenbach argued the case was about “lives and livelihoods” but said the minister behind the ban had “taken steps” to allow trade between tobacco producers and cigarette manufacturers.

“The ban deals with prohibiting sales,” Breitenbach added. “So infringements on rights are just incidental.”

BATSA estimates that South Africa has around 8 million smokers.

The company reported paying 13 billion rands ($750 million) in taxes last year, supplying cigarettes through 50,000 outlets including grocery stores, liquor shops, informal traders and fuel stations.

Its legal action has been backed by Japan Tobacco International and by groups and organisations representing consumers, retailers and tobacco farmers, who agree that the ban is fuelling an illicit cigarette market.

The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) legally challenged the “irrational” ban last month, claiming it has diverted revenue away from a multi-million dollar business and into the black market.

The court has since ruled in favour of the government but granted FITA leave to appeal.

BATSA’s case is scheduled to resume on Thursday.

South Africa was already in recession before the coronavirus struck in March and the economy is now forecast to contract by more than six percent this year as a result of the pandemic.

The country is the hardest-hit in Africa with at least 521,318 infections diagnosed so far, accounting for more than half the continent’s cases.

Its mortality rate has remained low however, with just over 8,800 deaths reported to date.

 

 

 

 

-AFP

Shoprite Initiates Process To Exit Nigeria

Police protect a shoprite store in Abuja amid protests against Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV
Police protect a ShopRite store in Abuja amid protests against Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa on September 4, 2019. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels TV

 

One of Africa’s largest supermarket chains, Shoprite, has begun a formal process to exit Nigeria.

In a trading update published on Monday, the South African-based company said the decision was made after “approaches from various potential investors, and in line with our re-evaluation of the Group’s operating model in Nigeria.”

The company said when it reports its results for the year, its business in Nigeria “may be classified as a discontinued operation.”

The company’s Nigerian business posted a -6.3% decline in sales for the year ending June 2020, according to its Monday update.

The company entered the Nigerian market in 2005 and its exit continues a trend of South African retail business struggling in Africa’s most populated nation.

Mr Price, another South African retailer, announced plans to close its Nigerian business in June.

In 2014, South African retailer, Woolworths, also pulled the plug on its Nigerian operation, citing high rents and duties, as well as marketing difficulties.

In 2012, Shoprite announced plans to spend up to $205 million on securing new locations in Nigeria.

The supermarket chain went on to spread its tentacles across most of Nigeria’s largest cities.

In 2016, the Nigerian economy suffered a recession, severely affecting consumer spending power and foreign exchange reserves.

In 2019, Shoprite stores were attacked in Lagos as part of reprisal actions for xenophobic-induced attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.

Shoprite’s expected closure in Nigeria comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced economies across the world into a slump and devasted entire industries.

‘Bad For Investor Confidence’

Head of Research at Afrinvest Securities, Abiodun Keripe, said Shoprite’s exit could have been precipitated by a number of factors.

“Nigeria is one of the economies that has a large consumer market and that’s why you find most of these retail brands trying to penetrate the Nigerian economy,” he said in an interview with Channels Television on Monday.

However, the country’s population doesn’t necessarily translate to increased purchasing power.

“In recent years, consumer purchasing power has fallen,” Keripe said. “It has been down significantly in tandem with weak economic growth since the last recession in 2016.

“The economy has been trying to crawl back up, but the growth has not been up to the historical average growth of about five to six percent.

“Since 2016, Nigeria has been growing at an average of about two percent every year, which is significantly low.

“And this speaks to consumer purchasing power, especially when you have a population growth rate outstripping economic growth rate. That means a larger percentage of the population is getting poorer.”

He added that Shoprite’s struggles in Nigeria could have been exacerbated by government regulation, including increased taxation and foreign exchange system.

“The last three to four months, the economy has been on a lock-down and not a lot of foot-soldiers have been going to the mall to shop,” he said. “People have been relying on online orders. That will affect their business model, which is designed around people coming in physically to the mall to shop.”

According to Keripe, Shoprite’s exit from the country will negatively affect the confidence of foreign investors.

“At this point, I don’t think there will be any major investor coming into Nigeria now, particularly when we have the foreign exchange risk hanging over us. That’s a major disincentive for now.

“We still have a large population base and growth, but how much can they consume? What is their purchasing power?

“If we compare this to some of our African peers, Nigeria still ranks significantly low.”

 

 

South Africa’s COVID-19 Cases Top 500,000

An undertaker wearing a protective suit and a face shield and relatives escort the coffin containing the remains of a COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) victim during a funeral proceeding at a funeral house in Johannesburg, on July 26, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

The UN health agency warned that the coronavirus pandemic would be lengthy and could lead to “response fatigue”, as the case count in South Africa topped half a million.

Six months after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 680,000 people and infected more than 17.5 million, according to an AFP tally.

South Africa is by far the hardest-hit country in Africa, accounting for more than half of diagnosed infections, although President Cyril Ramaphosa said the fatality rate is lower than the global average.

Health authorities had been expecting a surge in cases after the gradual loosening of a strict lockdown that was imposed at the end of March.

Nigeria on Saturday also announced it would ease a lockdown in the commercial capital Lagos, allowing churches and mosques to reopen next week.

An emergency WHO committee reviewing the pandemic “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 outbreak, noting the importance of sustained community, national, regional, and global response efforts”.

“WHO continues to assess the global risk level of COVID-19 to be very high,” it said in its latest statement.

The agency also said the effects of the pandemic “will be felt for decades to come”.

Mexico overtook Britain to become the third hardest-hit country in virus deaths — after Brazil and the United States — with more than 46,600 fatal cases.

Although many Latin American countries have begun relaxing stay-at-home measures, the virus is still spreading quickly across much of the region, which has now recorded more than four million cases and almost 200,000 deaths.

Half of them are in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro said he believes “nearly everyone” will catch the virus eventually, after himself recovering from it.

The US, the hardest-hit country in the world, has now tallied more than 4.6 million cases and 154,319 deaths.

 Vaccine race 

The outlook was bleak in Asia as well, where India and the Philippines reported record increases in new daily infections.

“We are waging a losing battle against COVID-19, and we need to draw up a consolidated, definitive plan of action,” said an open letter signed by 80 Filipino medical associations.

Japan’s Okinawa declared a state of emergency after a record jump in cases on the islands — many linked to US military forces stationed there.

The pandemic has spurred a race for a vaccine with several Chinese companies at the forefront, while Russia has set a target date of September to roll out its own medicine.

However, US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said it was unlikely his country would use any vaccine developed in either nation.

“I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone,” he said.

As part of its “Operation Warp Speed”, the US government will pay pharmaceutical giants Sanofi and GSK up to $2.1 billion for the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, the companies said.

 ‘Day of freedom’ 

France, Spain, Portugal and Italy all reported huge contractions in their economies for the April-June quarter, while Europe as a whole saw gross domestic product fall by 12.1 per cent.

Daily case numbers in Switzerland have crept up again in recent weeks, while Norway recorded its first virus death in two weeks.

At least 36 crew members confined to a Norwegian cruise ship have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the operator Hurtigruten said on Saturday.

Despite the resurgence in cases, there have been demonstrations in Europe against the curbs.

Thousands protested in Berlin on Saturday urging “a day of freedom” from the restrictions, with some demonstrators dubbing the pandemic “the biggest conspiracy theory”.

In South Korea, the elderly leader of a secretive sect at the centre of the country’s early coronavirus outbreak was arrested for allegedly hindering the government’s effort to contain the epidemic.

People linked to Lee Man-hee’s Shincheonji Church of Jesus accounted for more than half of the South’s coronavirus cases in February and March, but the country has since appeared to have brought the virus under control.

The pandemic has also continued to cause mayhem in the travel and tourism sectors, with more airlines announcing mass job cuts.

Latin America’s biggest airline, the Brazilian-Chilean group LATAM, said it would lay off least 2,700 crew, and British Airways pilots overwhelmingly voted to accept a deal cutting wages by 20 percent, with 270 jobs lost.

South African Anti-Apartheid Icon Mlangeni Laid To Rest

(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 14, 2018 Former apartheid struggle stalwart and one of the last two surviving Rivonia triallists Andrew Mlangeni looks on at the inaugural George Bizos Human Rights Award in Johannesburg. – Andrew Mlangeni, a former apartheid struggle stalwart, died at the age of 95, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on July 22, 2020. (Photo by GULSHAN KHAN / AFP)

 

 

South Africa on Wednesday laid to rest anti-apartheid hero Andrew Mlangeni, who faced the death penalty alongside Nelson Mandela and others for plotting to overthrow minority white rule with guerrilla warfare.

Flags flew at half-mast as Mlangeni, who died last week aged 95, was laid to rest in a state funeral.

“We have lost not only a great patriot but a strident moral voice,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his eulogy before mourners who included ministers and elite members of the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

“While history will place Andrew Mlangeni in the pantheon of the great leaders of our nation, he will be remembered by his people as a person of humility, humanity, and dignity.”

 

The flagged-draped coffin of South African anti-apartheid figure Andrew Mlangeni leaves the funeral service in Soweto, South Africa, on July 29, 2020. – Mlangeni, 95, was the last surviving Rivonia trialist, spending more than quarter of a century imprisoned on Cape Town’s notorious Robben island before his release in 1989. (Photo by Jerome Delay / POOL / AFP)

 

The mourners wore face masks and observed social distancing rules in line with coronavirus precautions.

Like Mandela, the country’s first black president, Mlangeni spent more than a quarter of a century imprisoned on Cape Town’s notorious Robben Island before his release in 1989.

After the first democratic elections in 1994, he became an ANC lawmaker until he retired in 2014.

Mlangeni later became a fierce critic of the factionalism that gripped the ANC and rampant state corruption under President Jacob Zuma, who was in power from 2009 until he was forced to resign in February 2018.

As head of the ANC’s Integrity Committee, Mlangeni addressed Zuma during an earlier interview with a South African journalist, saying: “We are appealing to you, Comrade, to step down.”

Charging that Zuma was “under the influence” of a powerful Indian migrant business family, the Guptas, Mlangeni lamented the declining state of the economy and said: “Things have completely changed…  Please step down quietly.”

 

People take part in the funeral service of South African anti-apartheid figure Andrew Mlangeni in Soweto, South Africa, on July 29, 2020. – Mlangeni, 95, was the last surviving Rivonia trialist, spending more than quarter of a century imprisoned on Cape Town’s notorious Robben island before his release in 1989. (Photo by Jerome Delay / POOL / AFP)
Pallbearers carry the coffin of South African anti-apartheid figure Andrew Mlangeni during the funeral service in Soweto, South Africa, on July 29, 2020. – Mlangeni, 95, was the last surviving Rivonia trialist, spending more than quarter of a century imprisoned on Cape Town’s notorious Robben island before his release in 1989. (Photo by Jerome Delay / POOL / AFP)

 

– Lifelong Soweto resident –
Thabo Mbeki, Mandela’s successor, told mourners in a virtual address that Mlangeni was “concerned” about and spoke out against wrongs within the movement.

“We need to commit ourselves to the renewal of the ANC he built, the ANC he was concerned about,” Mbeki said.

Born in the central Free State province in 1925, Mlangeni joined the youth wing of the ANC in the early 1950s.

He was among the first group of liberation fighters to be sent outside of South Africa for military training in the early 1960s.

On his return home two years later, he was arrested.

The eight-month Rivonia Trial, named after the Johannesburg suburb where the ANC leaders were arrested, brought the anti-apartheid struggle to world attention.

Expecting to be sentenced to death, Mandela declared in an impassioned three-hour speech from the dock that freedom was “an ideal for which I am prepared to die”.

Instead the group was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Mlangeni served 26 years behind bars alongside fellow anti-apartheid activists including Govan Mbeki, Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada and Dennis Goldberg, who died three months ago.

Mlangeni lived his entire life in Johannesburg’s Soweto township, the crucible of the anti-apartheid struggle.

He was laid to rest at the Roodepoort Cemetery, west of Johannesburg.

 

 

 

-AFP

IMF Approves $4.3bn To Help South Africa Fight COVID-19

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP
File photo: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) nurse Bhelekazi Mdlalose (L), 51, performs a swab test for COVID-19 coronavirus on a health worker at the Vlakfontein Clinic in Lenasia, Johannesburg, on May 13, 2020. Michele Spatari / AFP

 

 

The International Monetary Fund on Monday said it had approved $4.3 billion in aid to South Africa to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“The IMF approved $4.3 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to support the authorities’ efforts in addressing the challenging health situation and severe economic impact of the COVID-19 shock,” the Washington-based crisis lender said in a statement.

South Africa is the continent’s most-industrialized economy and has the largest number COVID-19 cases, with more than 445,000 detected and 6,769 deaths as of Monday, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in June predicted the economy would shrink 7.2 percent in 2020, its deepest slump in 90 years, and compared the ballooning public debt to a “hippopotamus… eating our children’s inheritance.”

 

In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file photo an exterior view of the building of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with the IMG logo, is seen on March 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

The South African treasury said the IMF money would go towards stabilizing the debt, creating jobs, helping frontline health workers fighting COVID-19 and reforming the economy to spur growth.

“Going forward, our fiscal measures will build on our policy strengths and limit the existing economic vulnerabilities which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mboweni said in a statement.

The money from the IMF is the latest disbursement under the RFI, which allows nations to circumvent the lengthy negotiations usually needed to secure a full economic assistance program — time most countries do not have as they struggle to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

IMF deputy managing director Geoffrey Okamoto said “a deep economic recession is unfolding,” exacerbated by South Africa’s slow rates of growth, high unemployment and widening inequality.

The RFI money will help address the country’s balance of payment needs “that emerged as a result of the pandemic and thus contain the economic disruption and its regional spillovers.”

The money will specifically address “the fiscal pressures posed by the pandemic, limit regional spillovers and catalyze additional financing from other international financial institutions,” the IMF said.

AFP