The Covid-19 pandemic has had its fair share of scandals. The Gauteng Department of Education, not wanting to be left behind, splashed a whopping R431 000 000.00 in just 90 days from June to August 2020. The money was spent on decontamination, disinfection and sanitising of classrooms and administration buildings in the Province to combat the spread of covid-19. The MEC for Education in Gauteng, Mr Panyaza Lesufi, said that he was dismayed to hear about this extravaganza happening in his backyard and has called for a probe into how the money was spent. He said that he was engaging with the Auditor-General to see if there was any value received for the amount spent.
Teacher unions are also up in arms about this shocking expenditure and have demanded accountability for those responsible. They estimate that with Gauteng having about 2800 schools, it means that just over R153 000.00 was allocated to each school. But News24 reported that a total of 2 207 schools and 38 administration buildings were disinfected. The average amount spent per school was the sum of R250 000.00.
The DA has called on Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, to initiate the investigation and to ascertain how many schools were sanitised as Bidvest had also been involved in sanitising some Gauteng schools for free. This donation by Bidvest to provide sanitisers to about 577 schools was criticised by small businesses at the time as they said that it undermined their efforts to empower small and medium enterprises. The party has said that Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, should be held accountable for this expenditure.
These revelations come at a time when the country is involved in a difficult struggle to acquire covid-19 vaccines and needs every little cent to acquire these life saving medications. The cost for each of the two doses is estimated at between $3 and $37 with Moderna being the highest and AstraZeneca being the cheapest and Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Sputnik and Novavax in between. China has said that it will offer its vaccine to the World at a fair and reasonable price.
Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, has already sworn to fight corruption in the province and it remains to be seen whether he will put action to his words in this instance.
Having confirmed their victory over the Republicans in the 2020 Presidential Elections, Democrats are now trying to revenge against Trump for the difficult political work that he created for them during and after the elections. With less than 10 days to go before Trump officially hands over the presidency to his rival. Joseph Biden, it makes no sense that the Democrats would attempt to embark on a lengthy process of impeachment and to expect the Republicans to support them. A previous attempt to impeach Trump by the Democrats was a colossal failure and yet they deem it prudent to make a final attempt 10 days before Mr Trump steps down as president of the United States of America. Trump has already committed himself to a smooth hand over of power to Mr Biden in contrast to his earlier challenge to the election results.
He followed legal channels to challenge the results and brought no less than 50 court cases to try and overturn the results but eventually conceded defeated when Electoral College confirmed Biden’s victory by 306 against 232 for Mr Trump.
Of the 156 000 000 Americans who voted almost 45% of them voted for Mr Trump. It is understandable that Mr Trump felt that he should have won the elections 74 000 000 Americans voted for him against 81 000 000 for Mr Biden. Given a margin of 7 000 000 votes, it is possible that somewhere somehow some votes that were not properly counted could close the margin. Trump was fully within his rights, on behalf of the more than 74 000 000 Americans,to insist that the election process be scrutinized to ensure that the elections were free and fair and that they were free from any irregularities. Once it became clear that the Electoral College has voted in favor of Biden, Trump conceded:
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement.
“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again,” Trump said.
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The Democrats will not accept any smooth hand over. They first tried to invoke Section 4 of the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution and tried to pursuade Vice President Mike Pence to seize power from President Trump on the grounds that President Trump is unable to act as President of the United States. Section 4 reads as follows:
Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.
This strategy appear to have faltered right from the start as Vice President Mike Pence does not appear to be convinced that President Trump is unable to act as President and Mike Pence is in any event, not interested in being President for just a few days. Vice Prsident Mike Pence and President Donald Trump met on 12 January 2021 and resolved the issue.
This did not impress the anti-Trump camp. They are now attempting a long shot, being that they want to impeach President Trump just a few days before his term comes to an end on 20 January 2021 on the grounds that he instigated his supporters to storm the Capitol when he addressed them on 06 January 2021 shortly before the Electoral College voted for the next US President. Trump’s exact words were: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.”,
After the address, Trump’s supporters marched over to the Capitol and clashed with security as they tried to force their way into the Capitol building. Trump himself did not march to the Capitol together with his supporters.At least 5 people died during the subsequent chaos. Several people were later arrested and charged in connection with the riots.
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For the articles of impeachment to succeed in the House of Representatives, at least 17 Republicans would have to support the motion. It appears that some Republicans may support the motion but it does not appear as if the number will reach 17. Article II Section 4 provides for circumstances under which an impeachment shall take place. It states as follows: The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors. High crimes and misdemeanors”, in the legal and common parlance of England in the 17th and 18th centuries, is corrupt activity by those who have special duties that are not shared with common persons. Towards the end of the 1700s, “High crimes and misdemeanors” acquired a more technical meaning. As Blackstone says in his Commentaries The first and principal high misdemeanor…was mal-administration of such high offices as are in public trust and employment.
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It does not appear as if the articles of Impeachment by the Democrats has any chance of success. On the contrary, their conduct may well amount to an abuse of their majority. Impeachment proceedings against a President should not be easily invoked. Just in case he may be accused of inability to act, President Trump has signed emergency measures in Washington DC to ensure safety and security during the Presidential Inauguration.
Six Republicans have indicated their intention to vote in favor of the motion. We have seen that the Democrats will need at least 17 Republicans to vote with them for the motion to succeed. Even if it succeeded, the Senate still needs to conduct a trial. Many Republicans are asking in what manner did Trump incite the mob to attack the Capitol. Can the crowd’s actions be attributed to any of Trump’s words? Exactly what did he say to give the crowd an indication that they should attack the Capitol? The Democrats are conveniently avoiding to answer these questions.
Trump has said that he will come back in four years to contest the presidential elections. By impeaching him, the Democrats want to make sure that he does not come back as they fear the overwhelming support that he commands among Americans.
The quaint little town of Phalaborwa is situated at the gates of the Kruger National Park, an international heritage asset in South Africa. It is just a few kilometres away from the mighty Olifants river from where it draws its water. This Christmas, the town was plunged into a water crisis like no other before. Taps ran dry and for four days residents had to manage with bottled water that they obtained from supermarkets and filling stations in the area. This crisis was compounding another crisis involving an electricity black-out affecting large parts of the town. Authorities issued statements indicating that they were aware of the situation and that they were resolving it. At first there were conflicting statements as they said that the water purification plant on the banks of the Olifants river was unable to cope as the river was delivering gallons of muddy water into the purification system and they could not keep up with purifying the water. Later on a video emerged indicating that there was a burst mainline pipe and that they needed to fix it first to enable them to resume supply of water to the town.
The municipality released some water tankers to strategic areas where residents could collect water to ease the crisis. Temperatures were going into the mid 30s. It was very hot. By this time all the supermarkets and filling stations had run out of bottled and purified water. There was not a drop of water in the whole town except for those with swimming pools who could use the swimming pool water for other domestic purposes. In a communication on 26 December 2020, the municipality indicated that they will resume the supply of water by 12:30 on Sunday, 27 December 2020 as they first had to fill up the reservoirs before releasing the water to the households and business. At least large parts of the town had by now, been able to regain electricity supply. Most residents reported this as the worse Christmas they have had in years.
Residents said that the situation reminded them of the crisis that faced the city of Cape Town between January to July 2018 when the city was faced with a water crisis of major proportions. Hopefully the Phalaborwa crisis will not last that long for the sake of the residents. However, each passing day is a day too long for those who are sitting at home without water in temperatures of up to 38 degrees Celsius. With proper planning and utilisation of resources, authorities can avoid such major calamities in the future.
We recently reported on the power outage at a certain section of the town of Phalaborwa, South Africa.The residents forced to spend Christmas under very difficult circumstances. Many lost so much in the process.While they were hopeful that the situation will be resolved quite early on Saturday morning, that was not to be and they had to spend the whole day on Saturday without power once again. It was only by late afternoon at around 15h30 that the electrical engineer was satisfied with the work done and he authorised that the electricity may be switched on which was done.
The residents were very pleased to see their appliances working for the first time since Wednesday, 23 December 2020. Social media platforms went abuzz with messages of gratitude towards the teams that worked tirelessly to resolve the problems. However, the excitement was short-lived as the electricity went down without warning some 30 minutes later. The teams were recalled and they quickly established the fault, but it would take them another six hours to fix the problem. They blamed the problem on overloading the system caused by the residents having left their appliances on as the electricity was switched back on, causing the system to trip.
It was at around 10 o’ clock in the evening that the electricity was once again restored to the residents and they could now breath a sigh of relief. Simulteneously, water was also restored . Social media was once again in flames with positive messages. It appears that the problems can be attributed to aging infrastructure. On behalf of the Phalaborwa residents, we want to thank all the electrical standby teams involved in resolving the problem, the counselors and community leaders who so professionally co-ordinated the efforts and kept the residents well informed, Sybrandt, Jaco, Danie, Susan, Marietjie and the entire team. A word of gratitude is also due to the people of South Africa as a whole and the people of the following countries for having shown an interest in the plight of the people of Phalaborwa over this festive season, namely, the UK, the USA, Australia, Ireland, Spain, France, the Netherlands, the EU, Germany, the UAE, New Zealand, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Pakistan. Saudi Arabia, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, Switzerland, Norway, Swaziland, Mauritius, Chile, Namibia, Mongolia, and others. Thank you for your support guys. It is much appreciated.
Large parts of the tourist and mining town of Phalaborwa have been plunged into darkness over this Christmas. For the past three days, residents of Ward 12 in the municipality have been sending messages to their counselors to complain about the electricity outage. That when the residents were busy preparing to celebrate Christmas with their families and friends. The power outage came suddenly on Wednesday night, the 23rd of December 2020. At first the residents thought that it was a minor issue and that soon it would be resolved. But the electricity was off the whole night in severe heat. The mosquitoes were also making sure that the situation was not any better for the residents and the complaining grew louder.
Teams from the municipality’s electricity department were activated and they worked for a large part of the night to try and restore the electricity. They used TLB’s to dig up the damaged underground cable, and replaced it, only to discover more faults as they tried to switch on the electricity. Their efforts were hampered by heavy rain and lightening and they were forced to abandon the plan until the next day when the rain subsided. On Thursday, 24 December 2020, the workers were back in the trenches very early in the morning. This time, they received back-up from Palabora Mining Company (PMC), who sent their technicians to boost the municipality’s efforts. They again worked the whole day and the whole night but could not switch on the lights as the problems appeared to be huge.
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Counselor Sybrand de Beer of the Democratic Alliance, Jaco Gerricke of the Community Policing Forum, as well as other residents kept the residents informed of progress on the repairs to the cables through social media. The municipality’s communications department issued a statement stating that the municipality was aware of the problem and that it was receiving the necessary attention. As if that electricity problem was not enough, water also ran out very early on Christmas day. The residents had enough. By late afternoon on Christmas day, emotions were running high as the residents considered the seriousness of the situation they were in, with some thinking of all the perishable foods that they had purchased for Christmas and others feeling for their elderly parents who suffered from chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease and other diseases and who rely on artificial ventilation to support their health. All these amid a new surge in the corona virus that had devastated their livelihoods.
Most residents on social media said that this was the most unpleasant Christmas they have had in years. Guests, who had traveled from far, were checking out of guest houses in the area due to the lack of water and electricity which dealt those businesses a further heavy blow pursuant to the covid-19 onslaught. By 15h30 on Christmas day, Counselor de Beer announced that the team that was working on the problem had been continuously on duty for 38 hours and that they could not take it anymore. As it became obvious that they were going to spend another night without electricity, residents began appealing to Eskom and Foskor Mine’s electricians to come to their rescue. We can only take our hats off for those anonymous workers, who continually worked for 38 hours without a break, to try and restore the electricity. At this time, electricity has not been restored to the residents of northern Phalaborwa and we ask you to put them in your thoughts as we celebrate Christmas in 2020.
CNN reported on Sunday that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr Robert Redfield has accepted an advisory committee’s recommendation that the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine may be given to people aged 16 years and older, paving the way for shots of the vaccine to be given to the public in the USA.The decision comes as the first batch of vaccines was loaded onto trucks at a Pfizer plant in Portage, Michigan, and shipped out across the country. Freight trucks carrying about 184,275 vials of vaccine left the plant, and the combined 189 boxes of vaccine vials are expected to arrive in all 50 states on Monday. Another 3,900 vials are expected to ship later Sunday to United States territories, and 400 boxes packed with about 390,000 vials will be shipped on Monday to be delivered on Tuesday, 15 December 2020. According to Pfizer, there are five doses of vaccine per vial.
From Michigan, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will be delivered to about 600 venues across the United States in the next few days.”It’s a very good day for America, and for the world,” Moncef Slaoui, head of the coronavirus vaccine efforts in the United States, told Fox News on Sunday.The FDA granted emergency use authorisation to the vaccine on Friday, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on Saturday to recommend it for people aged 16 years and above.
Peter Marks, the head of the FDA’s office that oversees vaccines, said in a statement: “With science guiding our decision-making, the available safety and effectiveness data support the authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine because the vaccine’s known and potential benefits clearly outweigh its known and potential risks,”
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The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is a landmark scientific achievement, built from a breakthrough technology in a short space of time, amidst a pandemic that has affected millions of people across the Globe. It has already been approved by regulators in the UK, Canada as well as other countries.
Pfizer’s chief executive officer, Albert Bourla said in a statement: “We have worked tirelessly to make the impossible possible, steadfast in our belief that science will win,”
“As a US company, today’s news brings great pride and tremendous joy that Pfizer has risen to the challenge to develop a vaccine that has the potential to help bring an end to this devastating pandemic.”
President Donald Trump called it “one of the greatest scientific accomplishments in history” in a video on Twitter, saying the vaccine will save millions of lives and end the pandemic.
It will be sometimes before the vaccine can reach developing countries with minimal resources. In the meantime, those countries will have to rely on existing prevention measures such as masks, sanitisation and social distancing, while they await their turn to get the vaccine.
On the last day of the 2021 application cycle, the NSFAS website has been running smoothly and students have reported being able to complete their applications with minor or no hiccups at all in cntrast to the frustrations experienced over the last few days. It seems that NSFAS has resolved the problems experienced on their website as the extended deadline approached. Problems such as the one below appear to be something of the past.
NSFAShas issued a warning to students to protect their private information when using the NSFAS platforms as criminal elements have been known to target and misuse this information to commit crimes. This is what they said:
“NSFAS@myNSFAS·PROTECT YOURSELF AGAINST FRAUD Keep your personal details such as your ID number, myNSFAS account logins and income information safe by not sharing them with anyone. Don’t leave your personal information exposed and log out of your myNSFAS account when you are not using it.”
NSFAS appears to have resolved most of the technical issues swiftly and it is appropriate to congratulate them on a job well done and wish them success in sorting out all the applications that they have received .
According to the NSFAS Twitter account, the deadline for applications for the 2021 academic year has been extended, but only until 23:59 on 01 December 2020. This after students complained that they were unable to access their profiles on the NSFAS website in order to complete their applications. But as the website continues to fail, will the 24 hour extension be of any assistance to the thousands of students who fear that their applications will not reach NSFAS on time?
“NSFAS@myNSFAS·#NSFAS2021 applications will close tomorrow (1 December 2020) at 23:59. Go to http://nsfas.org.za, click myNSFAS and complete your application. No further extension will be offered. Applications close 1 December 2020.”
Here are some of the students’s frustrations with the system,
Been doing this and I have also emailed and sent you guys a dm.0:27269 views8:34 PM · Nov 30, 2020·Twitter for Android1 Quote Tweet3 Likesuh@Kith3r·Replying to @Promise_Moleta and @myNSFASizinto zama’last minute11ASMR IS LIFE!@CJ_KIRIN·It’s been doing this for weeks now. Awuyeke ukuphapha Maan!1
STAY TF HOME!@boitumeloMuleya·Replying to @myNSFASFor weeks you have not been responding to enquiries, your call centre has been closed and your website never fail to misbehave… now you tell us about one day extension as if your problems have been sorted. Ay suka
The same frustrations could also be found on NSFAS’ Facebook page. NSFAS will have to find another solution to give these students a fair chance as the failure of their website cannot be blamed on the students.
As the deadline for the 2021 applications for financial aid looms, thousands of students are left stranded as the National Students Financial Aid Scheme’s website grinds to a halt. The website has been giving various error messages and students could not proceed with their applications. Some have been sitting on their computers and smart phones for 48 hours trying to beat the deadline but all this in vain.
The deadline was initially set for Monday, 30 November 2020. Responding to a number of complaints from prospective students on their Twitter account, NSFAS decided to extend the deadline by only 24 hours until 23:59 on 01 December 2020. Some students said that the 24 hour extension is unlikely to help them as the problem is the website which has ground to a halt and refuses to open or to proceed with the applications. NSFAS does not seem to have an answer to this problem and insist that the deadline shall not be extended.
Here are some of the screenshots of the error messages experienced by the students.
Here are some of the comments by the students in response to NSFAS’ extension of the deadline.
“NSFAS@myNSFAS#NSFAS2021 applications will close tomorrow (1 December 2020) at 23:59. Go to http://nsfas.org.za, click myNSFAS and complete your application. No further extension will be offered. Applications close 1 December 2020.7:56 PM · Nov 30, 2020·Twitter Web App46 Retweets7 Quote Tweets137 Likes“
Phumla Willie@Ms_Willie·Replying to @myNSFASWe can’t login and finish applications.711Phumla Willie@Ms_Willie·Yesterday it wouldn’t give the option for which year you’re applying for! Is that gonna be sorted by tomorrow ?25Show repliesTebang@TEBANG·Replying to @myNSFASNew board ceo need to review this closing thing…you should fund all qualifying students at uni/college and drop the application closing period…this is not the free education we fought for…y’all don’t want us to prosper14The Trinity God@MnguniReymon·Replying to @myNSFASwe do love you alot because you transforming our beautiful society into a beautiful one, like lets make a Singapore in Africa , but unfortunatly the website doesnt seem to be working . trust me , it is doing unbelievable stuff, so many unneccesary errors. lets work on our website8Jonas Radipudi Molepo@labesh·Replying to @myNSFASwe cant complete our application
11Thato Jay@ThatoTladiTJT1·Replying to @myNSFASYou can just close the application because it your website is not working and you not doing anything about114Lindi @IWantFinFreedom·Replying to @myNSFASHi there
There is no dropdown options for academic cycle (using both a phone and a PC). How do we pass this because we can’t submit without it?
NSFAS posted the following message on thier Faceboo account:
“#NSFAS2021 Applications Update!! As expected, we are experiencing high traffic volumes to the myNSFAS portal as everyone rushes to meet the application deadline which results in the system becoming slow. This traffic is also impacted by the Fake News shared over the weekend causing unnecessary panic to all applicants who have already applied for 2021. The system is still open for those who wish to apply for 2021 funding and all applications already submitted will be processed. If you have not applied yet please go to www.nsfas.org.za, click myNSFAS and apply. Further updates will be communicated if necessary. #NSFAS2021“
Read Also: NSFAS DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 01 DECEMBER 2020.
It looks like a very bleak future awaits those students who will not be able to meet the deadline as they will not be able to register for tertiary education next year. This while there are allegations that some graduates are still receiving NSFAS money.
Also Read: NSFAS DEADLINE EXTENDED TO 01 DECEMBER 2020.
Following former President Jacob Zuma’s disappearance from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture last Thursday, the Deputy Chief Justice has instructed the secretary of the Commission to lay criminal charges with the South African Police Service and to bring an urgent application to the Constitutional Court to compel Zuma to attend the Commission and to remain in attendance until duly excused by the chairperson of the Commission.
Zuma has been refusing to give evidence at the Commission as he does not want to face tough questions relating to his tenure as President of the Republic of South Africa. The evidence at the commission so far shows his presidency was marked by widespread collapse of State Owned Enterprises (SOE’s) such as Eskom, Denel, PRASA, SAA, the SABC and many more jeopardizing job opportunities for hundreds of thousands of South Africans in the process. That the effects are still being felt now as organisations such as the SABC embark on retrenchments of hundreds of its employees. Electricity tariffs have skyrocketed as Eskom tries to recover the billions of rands that were lost when Zuma was president. The Guptas and Bosasa have been fingered as the main culprits in the drama that unfolded in the ten years between 2007 and 2017 assisted by many who held positions of power. The Guptas have since disappeared into thin air leaving Zuma to answer to all the incriminations. Bosasa boss, Gavin Watson , is said to have died in a car crash as evidence also implicated him in the capture of the Department of Correctional Services.
The Zondo Commission has been hearing witness after witness implicating the former president in undue influence in the proper functioning of these institutions which has resulted in their dramatic losses and eventual collapse. President Zuma has always denied any wrong doing from outside. Now that he is offered an olive branch to state his version of events, he wants to have nothing to do with the Commission. He has unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the authority of the Commission , which he himself has appointed and given the mandate to investigate, as well as the neutrality of the presiding officer. and when that failed, he walked out of the Commission. It remains to be seen what will happen in the coming days concerning this matter.