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Zonk News is giving away tickets to the #FillUpRoyalBafokeng 2019 Experience.

Stand a chance to win one of 100 tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime experience at Royal Bafokeng Stadium, in Rustenburg on Sunday, December 15.


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Cassper’s #Fillup exposes unique (South) African places to explore


Inspired by the celebrated rapper, Cassper Nyovest’s famed #FillUp concert series, South Africans revealed Thursday top destinations they would like to visit and explore in their lifetime.

The hashtag #ShotLeft2FillUp was all the rage throughout the day as it topped Twitter’s hottest top trending topics, alongside Cassper Nyovest’s upcoming Samsung-sponsored  #FillUpRoyalBafokeng stadium concert.

The festival brings a vast range of artists within South Africa and other African countries – yet to be revealed.

An initiative of the South African Tourism (@ShotLEft) which called on South Africans to post pictures of the places they’d like to visit in order to win a trip to the Fill Up Royal Bafokeng concert on Sunday, December 15 in Rustenburg, North West, the #ShotLeft2FillUp had users showing interest towards the continent at large.

 While many seem to have taken fancy to the likes of the Sun City Resort in Rustenburg, North West, and the Mpumalanga’s God’s Window, along with Kruger National Park  – which lies across Limpopo and Mpumalanga – other top world destinations such as the Gesbok National Park, a vast wildlife preserve situated in the Kalahari Dessert region of Botswana and South Africa, featured among their top travel destination wish-list.

So did the land of the gods, Bali, in Indonesia.

Top travel destinations S.Africans wish to explore

Precious Ramabulana’s alleged murderer appears in court

Precious Ramabulana’s alleged murderer, Aubrey Manaka, made his first court appearance at the Morebeng Magistrate Court on Monday, where it emerged that he was on parole after serving six years for a “rape type of charge”.

Manaka, 28, appeared at the Morebeng Magistrate Court in Limpopo, for the alleged rape and murder of the Capricon TVET College student. 

The 21-year-old died after being stabbed 52 times in her rented room in Mokomene, Botlokwa on Sunday, November 24.

Manaka, who was arrested last week after being found in possession of Ramabulana’s phone and a murder weapon, has been charged with rape, murder, and housebreaking with aggravating circumstances.

Following widespread reports that the alleged murderer had a previous conviction for child rape, police spokesman Briagadier Vish Naidoo said they are yet to confirm if these reports are true.

The revelations were made by President Ciryl Ramaphosa during his visit to the family of the slain student on Sunday. 

“What saddens me even more is that the perpetrator had had his brushes with the law on a rape type of charge. I don’t have the full details and he was still out patrolling the streets of our country,” Ramaphosa said.

He added that perpatrators of sexual violence and murderers should not be in jail and enjoy life there. “They should be subjected to hard labour – the harshest of labour.”

Meanwhile, Manaka has abandoned bail and will appear in court again on January 30, 2020.


Tunisia records highest level of Public debt

Tunisia’s Finance Minister Ali Kooli. [File Image: Courtesy]
TUNIS— Tunisia is facing the highest level of public debt, amounting to $5.7 billion, Ali Ali Kooli, the Minister of Finance and Investment said.

The minister attributed the country’s budget deficits to paying back old loans, which prompted the government to borrow more funds to bridge the debts.

Mr. Kooli, however, noted that “negotiations are underway with Tunisian banks and foreign countries to mobilize the necessary financial resources.”

Government Debt to Gross domestic product (GDP) in Tunisia averaged 58.63 percent from 1991 until 2018, reaching an all-time high of 76.70 percent in 2018, according to CEIC data reports.

Earlier this year, Kooli said Tunisia had a deficit estimated at 11.5 percent of GDP last year and public debt at 90 percent of GDP.

Tunisia’s 2021 budget forecasts borrowing needs at $7.2 billion (19.5 billion Tunisian dinars), including about $5 billion in foreign loans. It puts debt repayments due this year at 16 billion dinars, up from 11 billion dinars in 2020.

The government plans to enact reforms to cut high public wage, subsidize, and restructure poorly performing state-owned companies, so as to comfortably meet repayments due in the first half of 2021.

“The current period will witness the conclusion of several discussions and talks,” Kooli added, confirming that many successes will be achieved in the coming days and weeks.

Targeted Subsidies will be involved in the coming months, as the government plans to announce restructuring plans after Ramadhan.


Somalia MPs extend President Mohamed Farmaajo’s term by 2 years

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. [Image: Courtesy]
MOGADISHU— Somalia’s lower house of parliament voted on Monday to extend the term of president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo for another two years as the country prepares for a direct election, the speaker of the chamber said.

Mohamed Mursal Sheikh, the speaker of parliament said 149 lawmakers voted for the proposal, one rejected it and three abstained. The house usually has 275 MPs.

“His Excellency, President Mohamed Farmaajo urges the citizens to seize the historic chance to choose their destiny as the House of the People voted to return the elections mandate to the people.” said a statement from Villa Somalia, Farmaajo’s official residence in Mogadishu.

“This followed after the failure of FMS members to support the implementation of the initial Sep 17, 2020 Agreement.”

Earlier today, Mogadishu police chief was fired moments after announcing he had suspended the parliament session.

In his defense, Saadaq Omar Hassan, who was in charge of police operations in Somalia’s capital, said he was acting unilaterally to prevent MPs from extending the term of President.

“We have stopped the parliament session today. We have a responsibility bigger than a personal one,” Hassan told local television station Universal in a live speech.

“We have to solve anything that can bring violence and war in Mogadishu.
“The four-year term has ended.”

Moments later, Somalia’s police commissioner Hassan Mohamed Hijar announced on Facebook that Hassan had been fired and replaced.

According to reports, the president has been under pressure to make a deal on holding delayed elections after his four terms came to an end on February 8, 2021.

Minister for Information Osman Dubbe said the government is ready for the polls once concerned stakeholders can resolve their difference.

The opposition party has since dismissed an election summit convened by President Farmajo, saying he has no constitutional mandate to summon such a forum.

Activists and political analysts have also raised concerns over the country’s insecurity situation, predicting that the Al-Shabaab militia might be used to intimidate the opposition in the upcoming elections.


Kenya: CS Najib Balala mourns Kuldip Sondhi

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala

NAIROBI, Kenya— Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala is mourning the death of Mr. Kuldip Sondhi, a former councilor representative of Kenya’s tourism industry.

The CS describes the late Sondhi as a “passionate, experienced hotelier,” who owned the  “Reef Hotels with the North Coast Branch being one of the oldest hotels in Mombasa.”

On behalf of the Ministry, Balala sent a message of condolence to his family and friends during such tough times.

“I’ve learnt with deep shock and disbelief of the passing on of Mzee Kuldip Sondhi. Mzee Kuldip was my mentor in the tourism industry. He was a passionate hotelier and very outspoken about sustainable growth of beach tourism in the Kenyan coast.” CS Balala wrote on Twitter.

“An engineer by profession, Mr. Kudlip was a tourism investor, an award-winning playwright covered by BBC, a poet and a trustee at the Little Theatre Club, where he showcased his love for Mombasa. His Death is a big loss to not only me, but the entire industry as well.” He added.

Najib Balala and Mr. Kuldip Sondhi. [Image: @tunajibu/Twitter]
Mr. Kuldip Sondhi, [Image: @tunajibu/Twitter]

American Actor Nick Cannon expecting twin boys with Abby De La Rosa

Nick Cannon, Abby De La Rosa. [Image: Courtesy]
United States—Actor and TV presenter Nick Cannon and his girlfriend Abby De La Rosa are ready to welcome twins.

Cannon already has twins with his former wife and music icon Mariah Carey. He welcomed another child in December 2020 and is not yet over with baby fever.

Abby announced the big news on Sunday, along with portraits from her latest maternity photoshoot.

“Our dearest sons – my miracle babies, thank you for choosing me to be your Mommy. I know the Lord has destined me and prepared me for the gift of not one but two little angels. I pray that God give you both the strength to walk brave and boldly in your individual truth just like your Daddy” she captioned a photo on Instagram.

“That God bless you and your brother and guide you into living out your full purpose. Your Dad & I will always be here for you both; in complete unison and support. No matter what this world may throw your way, know that forgiveness is key and what is for you – is for YOU! You both are already so loved and we can’t wait to meet you both”

Last month, the mom-to-be hinted at the father’s identity when she spun a set for Club Tummy, a virtual party for pregnant women, in front of the logo for Cannon’s company N’Credible Entertainment.

 “It’s @clubtummy #clubtummy Tuesday and tonight is daddy’s pick!” she wrote in the caption.

De La Rose previously dropped another hint, writing, “Our suns, you already light up my life Ncredibly!”

How many Kids Does Nick Cannon Have?

Nick welcomed first twins Monre and Moroccan Scott in 2011 with ex-wife Mariah Carey, on their marriage anniversary.

He announced on Twitter: “My wife just gave me the most incredible anniversary gift ever in life. I won’t ever be able to top this!”

In 2017, Nick welcomed his third son, Golden Sagon, the star wrote on Instagram, “Weeping may endure for a night, but Joy cometh in the morning! No matter how hard the world may hit you, God always reminds us of our purpose! #TrueHappiness. Welcome to Earth Son!”

He confirmed having a fourth child, a daughter, in December 2020, and on April 11, his Girlfriend, Abby confirmed they were expecting twins.

Yes! In total, Nick has four children. 

Nick Cannon and his partner Abby De La Rosa [Image: hiabbydelarosa/Instagram]

Chad counts votes, with veteran ruler Debby seeking sixth term

Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno (C) casts his ballot at a polling station in N’djamena, on April 11, 2021. [Image: Marco Longari, AFP
N’DJAMENA, Chad— Votes are being counted in Chad just hours after holding a tense presidential election, which saw an alleged low voter turnout.

Closely monitored by a group of observers, election officials begun the counting process at a polling station in the country’s capital N’Djamena.

Chadians voted in presidential elections Sunday, April 11, with the incumbent Idriss Debby, 68, expected to emerge victorious following the seven-candidate race that had him face no major rivals.

Deby came to power in 1990, after leading a coup that overthrew military ruler Hissene Habre.

He is one of Africa’s longest serving leaders and has relied on powerful state institutions and the region’s powerful military to defend his position, thus holding on to the seat for 30 years, with a possible extension having changed the constitution in 2018 thus allowing him to stay in power until 2033.

In a speech during his final campaign on Friday, Deby said, “Many of you, my daughters and sons, were not yet born when I took power in 1990……. You have asked me to be a candidate for a sixth term.”

Of the six rivals facing Deby, is former Prime Minister Albert Pahimi Padacke, however, quite a number of opponents boycotted the race including Saleh Kebzabo who was runner up in the 2016 elections. Kebzabo has vowed to make Chad “ungovernable” if Deby wins.

With a population of 15 million people, only 7.3 million were eligible voters. The voter turnout has yet to be announced by the electoral body.

Sudan to Receive $400 Million from Saudi Arabia, UAE for Agriculture

Corn is among the crops intended to improve food security In Sudan, alongside wheat, sunflower and peanuts

KHARTOUM, Sudan— Saudi Arabia and the Arab United Emirates (UAE) have pledged $400 million to boost agriculture projects in Sudan.

The funding will aid farm production, seed development, fertilizers, pesticides and packaging materials.

Speaking at a press conference in Khartoum on Sunday, Abdel-Latif Osman, Sudan’s head of the Social Security Investment Authority said the two donors will monitor the management of the investment fund, which could be issued in kind, or as a short-term financing.

Saudi Ambassador Ali bin Hassan Jaafar said his country was committed to supporting investment in Sudan as part of the kingdom’s vision to diversify the economy away from oil by 2030.

Gulf countries have been prioritizing food security in recent years, following droughts and oil price fluctuations, along with regional political stability.

The deal in Sudan is remarkable to the current movement of food investments by Gulf countries after many years of significant venture in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia and Morocco.

Corn is among the crops intended to improve food security in Sudan, alongside wheat, sunflower and peanuts

Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged $3 billion in aid to Sudan after the collapse of the former regime in April 2019. Sudanese officials previously indicated that only $750 million of that aid has been delivered, including a $500 million deposit in the central bank.

Earlier in March, Sudan stated it had secured a recommitment from Saudi Arabia to a $1.5 billion grant it had first announced in April 2019.


Uganda, Tanzania Sign Agreement to Start Construction Of $3.5 billion Oil Pipeline

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan and President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala on Sunday, April 12, 2021.

KAMPALA, Uganda— President Yoweri Museveni and Tanzania’s new leader Samia Suluhu Hassan, on Sunday, attended the signing of three accords to kick off the construction of a $3.5 billion East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) Tripartite Project.

The agreements included: a host government agreement for the pipeline, a tariff and transportation agreement, and a shareholding agreement.

Speaking at State House Entebbe, President Museveni said the oil pipeline deal will make a modest contribution to the development of the two countries.

“This pipeline could turn out to be a very important project that could serve the entire region in the long term. We could build a return pipeline to carry gas from Tanzania to Uganda and the entire region,” Museveni said.

He added, “moreover this project might be core of bigger developments if brothers in Congo and South Sudan choose to use it for their oil, at the maximum it can carry 230,000 barrels per day.”

On her part, Tanzanian President Hassan noted that the EACOP will address unemployment crisis, thereby not only benefiting Uganda and Tanzania alone but the entire region.

“The project will bring revenues to the regional countries and more than 10,000 jobs will be created,” she said.

Hassan added that EACOP will unleash the region’s potentials, and in return attract investors. 

“Our region is well-endowed with abundant resources. In order to fully and effectively exploit these resources, we need infrastructure” she added.

Partners in the pipeline agreement Total and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) also witnessed the signing of the agreements.

Total’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanné said the project would require investments of more than $10 billion to get the oil flowing.

“This is a major milestone for East Africa and the world. This project will deliver a lot of value to Uganda and Tanzania. It’s a very large project, one of the largest we should develop on this continent,” Pouyanné said.

Uganda Government geologists estimated total reserves at 6 billion barrels from a discovered crude reserve in the Albertine rift basin in the west of the country near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.

The crude oil is highly viscous, which necessitates heating to kept in a liquid state for easy flow.

The planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline, will be the longest electrically heated pipeline in the world. With a length of 1,445 kilometers (898 miles), it will run from the oilfields to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean seaport of Tanga.

The project has, however, faced objection from more than 250 local and international organizations who say it would pose immense threats to local communities, water supplies and biodiversity in Uganda, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya. 

The critics also sent letters to chief executives of 25 banks urging them not to extend loans to fund the pipeline.


International Unions Call for Urgent Solution to Election Stalemate in Somalia

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. [Image: Courtesy]

MOGADISHU, Somalia- Inter-governmental authority on development (IGAD), the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) have expressed their concern regarding the political crisis in Somalia due to over delayed elections and recent collapsed talks aimed at reaching a truce between the Federal Government and some Federal Member State.

According to the unions; who have vowed to continue monitoring the situation, the stalemate is impacting negatively on peace, security, stability and prosperity in Somalia and beyond thus urging the country’s leaders to refrain from any actions that may escalate tensions.

Part of the joint communiqué reads, “following these deliberations, the AU, the EU, IGAD and the UN , we reiterate the respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia; and call upon Somalia leaders to prioritize the national interest of Somalia and immediately return to dialogue to seek compromise on the outstanding issues, and to ensure that no actions are taken that would undermine the stability of Somalia, which is critical to the maintenance of international peace and security.”

They further reiterated that the 17 September agreement remains the most viable path towards the holding of elections in the shortest delay possible.

The country is experiencing political and election stalemate after President Mohammed Abdullahi alias Farmajo’s term expired on February 8 2021.


Benin votes for president after week of violent protests

[Image: APF]
PORTO-NOVO, Benin— Voting is underway in Benin’s tense presidential elections this Sunday, April 11, after campaigns marred by violence.

Some opposition parties boycotted the polls following deadly protests against the incumbent Patrice Talon, whose re-election has been pre-determined.

Violent protests broke out in the North part of the country as residents blocked roads. Some people were killed in gunfire when the security forces fired warning shots, the Mayor of the Central town of Bante said.

The president is facing only two unpopular competitors; Alassane Soumanou and Corentin Kohoué. The opponents have accused the head of state of undermining democracy in the narrow, north-south strip of land in West Africa.

Benin will also be electing a vice-president for the first time. Talon is the only one to have chosen a woman, Mariam Talata, 57, for the position.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the country has managed to maintain positive growth in 2020.

Talon, a multi-millionaire cotton magnate who touts strong economic growth under his leadership, has reduced corruption and improved infrastructure in the nation.

However, 38 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and youth unemployment is skyrocketing. During campaigns, Talon promised to continue lifting Benin’s growth in his theme, “development is there”.

Nearly five million voters are expected in over 15,000 polling stations. The Voting will close at 4:00 pm local time and results are expected on Monday or Tuesday.




Alibaba fined $2.8bn amid Beijing’s regulatory crackdown

Jack Ma Yun, the co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group. [Image: Courtesy]

Global online retailer Alibaba has been sued by China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) for violating anti-monopoly laws.

Becoming the highest anti-trust fine to be imposed in the Chinese state, the company has been ordered to pay a fine dancing to the tunes of 2.8 billion dollars which amounts to 4% of its revenue in 2019. This record beats the 2015 Qualcomm 975 million dollar fine.

According to SAMR, who launched an anti-trust investigation on the company in December, Alibaba abused its market supremacy by preventing merchants from using other platforms thus restricting competition. It further states that, practicing, monopoly hinders free circulation of goods and infringes merchants’ business interests thus violation of anti-monopoly regulations.

In a statement through an open letter, the company said it has accepted the penalty and will comply with the rules.

“Alibaba would not have achieved our growth without sound government regulation and service, and the critical oversight, tolerance and support from our constituencies have been crucial to our development. For this, we are full of gratitude and respect.”

The move comes just a few months after business mogul and co-founder Jack Ma was under fire for criticizing the Chinese financial system for operating with a “pawn-shop mentality.”

In his opinion, Hong Hao who is the head of research at BOCOM, points out that for now, the penalty will be viewed as a closure to the anti-monopoly case by the market.