Issue 459 | 21 January 2021
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On 20 January 2020, Joe Biden and Kamal Harris were sworn in as the President and Vice President of the United States of America (USA).
The inaugural ceremony took place on the West Front of the US Capitol in Washington DC.

It was a historic day as Harris became the first woman, black person and first Asian American to serve in this position.

President Biden used his inaugural address to urge Americans to come together to take on the challenges ahead.

In November 2020, following President Biden’s victory in the US elections, President Cyril Ramaphosa sad that: “South Africa looks forward to working with President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris to further strengthen the bonds of cooperation and friendship between our two countries and peoples, including enhanced collaboration within the multilateral context to address global challenges such as climate change, human rights, peace and security, terrorism, nuclear safety, poverty, underdevelopment, economic recovery and inclusive growth, and to prevent future pandemics.”

South Africa and the US enjoy historic relations. The US contributed to the liberation struggle in South Africa and continued to provide support to help consolidate democracy after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994.

Bilateral cooperation between the two countries spans a range of areas, including trade and investment, health, education, energy, environment, science and innovation, safety and security, as well as regional cooperation to support the African Union’s objectives for peace, security and development.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has rallied the Kingdom of the Bapedi to heed the vision of prosperity of their late Kgoshi Thulare Victor Thulare III.
The President made the clarion call while delivering the eulogy at the King’s funeral on Sunday, 17 January 2021, in Sekhukhune.

The monarch, who succumbed to COVID-19-related complications, was accorded a Special Official Funeral Category 1.

In his address, President Ramaphosa hailed the King as a patriot of economic growth.

Kgoshikgolo Thulare, he said, would have been part of this effort, working in partnership with government, business and unions to bring investment and infrastructure to this area.

“He would have supported the mass employment programmes that are now rolling out in many parts of the country, providing valuable services to our people. Kgoshi Thulare set out to lead his people on a path to economic prosperity. He brought experts together to chart a new economic path for Ga-Sekhukhune, with a strong focus on youth empowerment,” he said.

With minerals and other natural resources abundant in the area, the King wanted to work with the mining companies to grow the local economy and stem the tide of youth leaving for the cities.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have placed many businesses under stress – including mines in the area – resulting in job losses and hurting local businesses. The President urged communities to rise on the back of their local resources, on their ingenuity and on their hard work, and so must it be for the Bapedi people.

Through the King Thulare lll Foundation, the King sought to form strong partnerships to develop the skills among the youth, and to restore the land rights, culture, traditions and heritage of his people.

“He wanted people to have clean water and other basic services. He wanted his people to live lives free of crime, gender-based violence and corruption. His desire was to be a firm partner to government and an unwavering champion of the needs of his people,” he said.

The nation, he said, had lost a “measured voice of reason” and a “shining example of traditional leadership”.

“When he was officially recognised, Kgoshi Thulare shared his aspiration for the peace and unity of his Kingdom, so that they could collectively chart a new path of reconciliation, development and prosperity for the people.

“In fact, even before ascending to the throne, he preached unity, which he said was a fitting gift to the ancestors who bequeathed this generation of this vast land,” said the President. “Let his dreams not die with him. Let us not bury the vision that he had with him. Let the unity that he championed live well beyond his brief but promising reign. May all his economic initiatives be sustained.”

President Ramaphosa said even as the dark clouds had descended on the Kingdom, as it bear the pain of the great loss, it should not despair or lose hope.

“As the sun has always risen on the Bapedi, so shall it rise again.”

– Source:
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, has learnt with shock of the passing away of her colleague, Dr General (Rt) Sibusiso Busi Moyo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of the Republic of Zimbabwe.
Minister Pandor said: “On behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Government of the Republic of South Africa and its people, I wish to convey our heartfelt condolences to the Government and the people of the Republic of Zimbabwe.”

“The passing of Minister Moyo came at a time when our two countries had agreed on a list of priority issues to be addressed following the previous Binational Commission chaired by the respective presidents of South Africa and Zimbabwe in March 2019 in Harare.

“Dr Moyo is lauded for his dedication and commitment to strengthening the deep bilateral relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

“Since his appointment in 2017 as Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Minister Moyo has displayed true pan-Africanism in the way he led on several important issues affecting our bilateral relations and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region during the time Zimbabwe was the Chair of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security in 2020.

“His pan-Africanist views and arguments will always be missed in the multilateral governance organisations of our continent Africa.

“May his soul rest in peace.”
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on Wednesday, 20 January 2021, reflected on South Africa’s two-year non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and South Africa’s tenure as Chair of the African Union (AU) in 2020, in a virtual programme hosted by the London Chatham House.
In December 2020, South Africa concluded its third term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. In February 2021, South Africa will conclude its tenure as Chair of the AU.

Chatham House audiences are made up of policy-makers and senior decision-makers, business representatives, diplomats, civil-society representatives, media, academics and other experts in open debate and private discussions about the most significant developments in international affairs.
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on Tuesday, 19 January 2021, virtually delivered the opening address of the Sixth Annual PIDA Week.
The PIDA Week is held annually in different AU member states to assess and accelerate the implementation of the infrastructure programmes.

PIDA is the AU’s strategic framework for regional and continental infrastructure development, guiding the continental infrastructure development agenda, policies and investment priorities.

It provides a framework for engagement with Africa’s development partners on the provision of regional and continental infrastructure and facilitates the physical, economic and social integration of the continent in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

PIDA brings together continental infrastructure initiatives and regional master plans into one coherent infrastructure investment programme with an implementation strategy and portfolio of projects for prioritised implementation, the PIDA Priority Action Plan (PIDA-PAP). PIDA-PAP covers the four key infrastructure sectors of transport, energy, ICT and transboundary water resources, and the first phase comprises more than 400 projects in 51 cross-border programmes for implementation until the end of 2020.
The Government of South Africa notes and welcomes the decree issued by President Mahmoud Abbas on legislative, presidential and national council elections in Palestine.
The decree regarding the elections reflects the progress in the reconciliation talks between the different political formations in Palestine and also within the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. Hamas and Fatah have expressed their support for elections that would be held in the three phases, which are now outlined in the Presidential decree. Elections for the Palestinian National Council, scheduled for 31 August 2021, make provision for Palestinians in the Diaspora to vote for their representatives.

The reconciliation process and the unity of all Palestinians are important steps for their struggle against the occupation and their human rights.

South Africa will continue to provide support for intra-Palestinian reconciliation processes.
South Africa has technical capabilities to produce vaccines as the country battles with the COVID-19 resurgence.
According to the Higher Education and Training Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, the threat of future pandemics has propelled the country's ability to develop and manufacture vaccines locally into the spotlight.

“Why can’t we produce in South Africa because we’ve produced other vaccines, with the scientist capacity that we have and infrastructure,” Minister Nzimande asked.

Minister Nzimande told the media on Monday, 18 January 2020, that government, through the Department of Science and Innovation, owned a 47.5% stake in Biovac, a biopharmaceutical company.

“The company has over the years developed the capability to manufacture vaccines,” he said.

Last year, the Minister launched an initiative, which sees Biovac manufacturing Hexaxim in partnership with Sanofi.

Hexaxim is the world's first liquid hexavalent vaccine that protects against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B, Haemophilus influenza type B and poliomyelitis.

“So, we do have a foundation that we need to build on,” he stressed.

It is also the first World Health Organisation Expanded Programme on Immunisation vaccine to be manufactured in South Africa, which he believes is a strong indication of the technical abilities of South African scientists.

Also, two studies are currently being supported in the area of immunisations.

“The first is a study on plant-based manufacturing of antibodies for COVID-19, which aims to facilitate the rapid development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, therapeutic antibodies and diagnostic reagents utilising various expression platforms for advancing the production of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates and reagents,” he explained.

Meanwhile, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has entered into an agreement with Kentucky Biological Products for the potential manufacturing of the antigen of their vaccine and expressed interest in testing their vaccine in South Africa.

The second is a ChAdOx1-nCOV-19 vaccine trial, in partnership with the department, the South African Medical Research Council and the University of the Witwatersrand.

The study is aimed at assessing the safety, immunogenicity and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate (ChAdOx1 SARS-CoV-2) in South African adults living without HIV.

“This is part of an international study aimed at finding a vaccine that will prevent infection by the virus that causes COVID-19, but also assessing whether the vaccines will be effective in local settings.”

In addition, the vaccine developed at the Oxford University Jenner Institute, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, is currently being trialled in a number of countries, including South Africa.

“Preliminary results indicate that this vaccine could reduce virus transmission based on an observed reduction in asymptomatic infections.”

“The vaccine is at least 62% effective when given in two full-strength doses, compared to the 94% efficacy achieved by Pfizer and Moderna candidate vaccines”, he said.

“Of the few vaccines approved globally, the Oxford vaccine, while not as effective as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, has been touted as the most suitable for developing countries due to its cost, and because it is comparatively easy to transport, store and distribute.”

– Source:
The nation has been struck by the loss of prominent figures within an already volatile arts and culture industry that has been the hardest hit by the impact of COVID-19, said Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa.
In the last few days, the country has learned of the passing of legends such as Thoko Ndlozi, Wandi Nzimande, Knowledge Simelane, Welcome “Bhodloza” Nzimande, Kabelo “KB” Molopyane and Dr Sam Phillips.

Dr Sam Phillips was an internationally acclaimed and award-winning screen actor, writer, music composer and director and was nominated for an Oscar for his incredible lead performance in the short story film Senzeni Na? in 1990. He was a living legend of the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

Reminiscing about his numerous achievements, Minister Mthethwa fondly recalls that Dr Phillips set a benchmark of true excellence.

“He was a humble practitioner whose work ethic spoke volumes of his commitment to his craft. In his 40-year career, he played a key role in driving transformation within the acting space.

“He was an icon with many achievements and titles but to his family, who are in our thoughts today, he was a loving father, grandfather, husband and friend,” he said.

The nation has also been plunged into mourning by the loss of the talented songstress Thoko Ndlozi, who was the only surviving member of the female vocal group Joy that made history with their chart-topping hit Paradise Road.

“To South Africans, Ms Thoko Ndlozi’s music brought hope. We have indeed been left bereft by Ms Nldozi’s passing,” Minister Mthethwa said.

The nation has been saddened by the passing of Knowledge Simelane who committed four decades to a craft he was extremely passionate about, travelling long distances across KwaZulu-Natal in search for riveting stories for his readers.

The passing of a man dedicated to the preservation of indigenous languages has left a void in the newspaper-publishing world.

Simelane was an institution of knowledge – a walking library due to his in-depth knowledge of the newspaper industry. As an arts writer at Ilanga newspaper, he contributed immensely to the promotion of South Africa’s arts landscape. Even more endearing was his mentorship of young journalists.

“As a custodian of the preservation of indigenous languages, Mr Simelane’s passing comes as an immeasurable loss to our country. He was well known for his commitment to promoting the isiZulu language and ensuring that it continues to resonate with the youth of today.

“South Africa has lost an ambassador of cultural and heritage preservation,” he said.

The nation is also mourning the passing of veteran broadcaster Welcome “Bhodloza” Nzimande. His love for Maskandi music brought many South African indigenous musicians to light.

“Mr Nzimande’s investment in the preservation of the heritage of our indigenous music is the best gift that he bestowed upon our nation. He and Prof. Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo established a platform for this in 1987, taking isicathamiya music to the world stage,” Minister Mthethwa said.

“As we continue to mourn, the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture equally shares the pain of losing another talented narrator of our African identity and curator of formidable brands: Mr Mzwandile Wandi Nzimande, or DJ1D, as he became popularly known.”

Co-founder of the South African street wear label Loxion Kulca, Wandi Nzimande gave South Africa a blueprint of Mzansi street wear, while giving hope to the dreams of many young South Africans.

“Wandi’s love for the industry will continue to set him apart for generations to come. His zeal for wanting to make a difference by opening doors for young talent, bears testimony to his investment in seeing many participants contribute to the growth of our culture. Many established South African brands of today have him to thank.”

Furthermore, the nation mourns the passing of renowned broadcaster, Kabelo “KB” Molopyane, whose illustrious career dates back to 1996 and became most prominent when he joined Motsweding FM.

His meaningful contribution to the arts will continue to impact many personally and professionally.

– Source:
The Gautrain commuter fleet, which began operating in 2010, has successfully completed 40-million km in service, or the equivalent of close to one million trips around the equator.
Rail equipment company Bombardier Transportation announced that its Gautrain commuter fleet in South Africa had successfully completed 40-mllon kilometres in service since operations started in 2010.

Bombardier said this was the equivalent of close to one million trips around the equator.

The Gautrain rapid rail link is an 80-km commuter rail system in Gauteng, which links Johannesburg, Pretoria, Ekurhuleni and OR Tambo International Airport.

Bombardier delivered the intercity rapid rail link as a complete turnkey system with a fleet of 24 four-car Electrostar trains and the Cityflo 250 train control system that provides smooth and safe travel for passengers at speeds of up to 160km/h.

Bombardier has a contract for the maintenance of the system until 2026.

“This is one of the most visionary projects in which we have been involved in Africa. Gautrain set a new global benchmark for an innovative rail system that benefits local communities and people,” said Makgola Makololo, MD SA Bombardier Transportation.

She said as the continent’s first world-class, modern rapid rail service, the Gautrain has had a positive effect on the lives of millions of Gauteng residents.

“We are proud of our highly reliable commuter fleet having completed around 900 000 trips on the Gautrain network.”

– Source: TimesLIVE
Two galaxies discovered by the MEERKAT Telescope are among the largest single objects in the universe.
South Africa’s powerful MeerKAT telescope discovered two giant and rare radio galaxies. The findings will give astronomers vital clues about how galaxies have changed and evolved throughout over time.

Dr Jacinta Delhaize, a Research Fellow at the University of Cape Town (UCT) – and the lead author of the work – explains: “Many hundreds of thousands of radio galaxies have already been discovered. However, only around 800 of these have radio jets exceeding 700 kilo-parsecs in size or around 22 times the size of the Milky Way. These truly enormous systems are called ‘giant radio galaxies’.”

Dr Delhaize adds that the team of researchers found “these giant radio galaxies in a region of sky which is only about four times the area of the full moon”. The “probability of finding two of them in this region is extremely small”.

As per a press release published by the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, the giant radio galaxies were spotted by the MeerKAT International Gigahertz Tiered Extragalactic Exploration (MIGHTEE) survey.

Thanks to this discovery, scientists will now have a “clearer understanding of the evolutionary pathways of galaxies is beginning to emerge”. The research was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society on 18 January 2021.

In addition, co-author of the work, Dr Matthew Prescott, adds that these newly-discovered galaxies “are much bigger than most other radio galaxies”.

Furthermore, Dr Ian Heywood, a co-author at the University of Oxford, explains that the team “found large-scale radio jets coming from the central galaxies, as well as fuzzy cloud-like lobes at the ends of the jets”.

It is believed that the giant radio galaxies are the oldest, and may have existed for several hundred million years, in order for their “radio jets to grow outwards to these enormous sizes”.

– Source:
The annual Senior Living by Design Awards recently took place, and South African San Sereno was the winner among four other international companies.
San Sereno, an Auria Senior Living (Auria) community in the Johannesburg suburb of Bryanston, has taken top honours alongside four of its international counterparts as one of five winners of the Argentum 2020 Senior Living by Design Awards.

Based in the United States (US), Argentum is America’s leading national association exclusively dedicated to supporting companies operating professionally managed, resident-centred senior living communities and the older adults and families they serve. Argentum member-companies operate senior living communities offering assisted living, independent living, continuing care and memory care services.

The annual Senior Living by Design Awards recognise architects, design firms and senior living providers who create quality senior living communities in innovative ways. Winners are selected by an independent panel of four judges from the fields of architecture, design and senior living. The judges are selected based on their extensive experience in various disciplines, including interior design, architecture, innovation, operations and resident care as they relate to senior housing. They evaluate each submission on aspects of design innovation and operational excellence in areas of memory care, local town/community engagement, family engagement, well building/sustainability, resident engagement, resident health and wellness, and/or resident safety.

Of the five winners of the Senior Living by Design Awards (2020), San Sereno was the only entry from outside the US.

The award is a strong validation for the pioneering work that San Sereno’s developer and operator, Auria Senior Living, is doing in the senior living space in South Africa. The company aims to change what is on offer in the South African senior living space – setting a new standard with respect to the living environments themselves as well as what it means to grow older.

“Our vision was to establish a new gold standard for senior living in South Africa, brought about by our dismay over the institutional and depressing environments created by conventional “retirement villages” in South Africa,” says Auria founder and CEO, Barry Kaganson.

“Our aim with San Sereno was to provide a new, contemporary and luxurious approach to senior living design that was practical, yet aesthetically pleasing. We wanted to have a positive impact on residents’ lives through their daily experience of using and moving through the new spaces, and to ensure that they could enjoy their best quality of life. Every single day.”

The Senior Living by Design Award winners are published annually in Senior Living Executive magazine.

– Source:
Nearly a hundred years after the first visitors arrived in the Kruger by rail, a new luxury train suspended above the Sabie River, and a railway-inspired restaurant precinct, pays homage to those early patrons.
The Shalati Train on the Bridge took more than a year to complete, with each of the 12 carriages being fitted individually with luxury amenities before being transported one at a time to the Kruger Park.

Kruger Shalati is a first-of-its-kind, five-star train hotel, which will be permanently parked on the Selati Bridge, stretching over the Sabie River.

Restaurant 3638 serves up gourmet food as well as familiar favourites, with plans to introduce unusual local fare, including crocodile, when international tourists return.

The Kruger Station, a food and entertainment hub situated in Skukuza rest camp, welcomed its first visitors during a phased opening from August to September 2020, with the main restaurant opening to an excited crowd on Heritage Day.

The precinct sits on an elevated platform deck at treetop level, offering lovely opportunities for birdwatching. The old steam locomotive number 3638, after which the main restaurant is named, is parked proudly in the station, as it has been ever since 1979.

The place is abuzz at all hours of the day. Comprising a bar, a café, a deli and an upmarket restaurant, the station caters for every kind of Kruger visitor.

The Kruger Station employs and trains people from local communities and sources everything locally.

– Source:
Cape Town has done it again, the Mother City has earned yet another Top 50 title – only this time it is for being a photogenic city.
Cape Town is the most popular destination in South Africa and is often listed on the top travel lists in the world. Recently, Big 7 Travel released their list for the most Instagrammable cities in the world and Cape Town landed on the list for the third time in a row.

Instagram is a platform that people love to use to share snippets of their lives. South Africa is one of the top travel destinations in the world. Merge the two together and you get a match made in heaven.

In 2019, Cape Town landed fifth on the list, 2020 earned a 15th place and 2021 Cape Town got 45th place.

“Dramatic scenery, fantastic hiking trails and deserted beaches that boast spectacular ocean views. What more could you ask for? Cape Town is an Instagrammer’s dream location to visit: endless natural beauty and clifftop views, pastel pink neighbourhoods and turquoise waters.”

Cape Town gets loads of love from the world because of its international status but it isn’t the only good thing in South Africa. South Africa is also home to the Big 5, the Panorama Route and the Big Hole. While the website only featured images of Cape Town, South Africa has so much beauty to offer.

Big 7 Travel has a “Best of” list for everything and South Africa often features in the top 50 of these lists. From the sexiest accent in the world to the most festive cities across the globe. Cape Town was even voted onto one of the best destinations of the decade!

Some 1.5 million people from 60 countries take surveys and vote for the best travel accolades around the world.

– Source:
The Proteas arrived in Karachi on Saturday, 16 January 2021, to play two tests and three Twenty20 internationals on their first tour of Pakistan in 14 years.
The team, led by wicketkeeper-batsman Quinton de Kock, was whisked from the airport under state-head level security accorded by the hosts, the Pakistan Cricket Board.

The 21-member squad had two COVID-19 tests before their departure from Johannesburg, which all came back negative, and they will be further tested on their arrival.

Pakistan and South Africa will play the first Test in Karachi from 26 January.

The second Test starts in Rawalpindi from 4 February while Lahore will host all three Twenty20 internationals on 11, 13 and 14 February.

South Africa’s head coach Mark Boucher has showed satisfaction with the security arrangements in Pakistan.

“We’ve had our (security) guys go there (to Pakistan) and do a recce of the situation and they have said it is safe,” Boucher told reporters ahead of the team’s departure on Friday.

“So, from my side there are no issues, we have to get back there and start playing cricket,” said Boucher, part of the Proteas’ last tour to Pakistan in 2007.

International cricket was suspended in Pakistan following a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.

Pakistan has gradually hosted teams again in the last five years before Test cricket was revived in late 2019 when Sri Lanka toured for two tests.

– Source:
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