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S.Africa ex-leader Zuma to face corruption trial: court

Former South African president Jacob Zuma is seen on the third day of testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture that is probing wide-ranging allegations of corruption in government and state-owned companies in Johannesburg, on July 17, 2019. - Former South African president Jacob Zuma on July 16 rebuffed all accusations of wrongdoing on his second day of testimony at an inquiry into corruption under his rule. (Photo by Kim LUDBROOK / POOL / AFP)

South Africa’s scandal-plagued former president Jacob Zuma will face a corruption trial, a court ruled on Friday, dismissing his application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

Zuma, who is accused of taking bribes from French defence company Thales in the 1990s, sought to have the case permanently dropped in March, saying it was politically motivated and that the years of delay would result in an unfair trial.

But the trial is now expected to begin on Tuesday after High Court Judge Bhekisisa Mnguni ruled that Zuma’s “application for the permanent stay is dismissed with costs”.

The judge agreed with the prosecution that parts of Zuma’s arguments to have the case thrown out were “scandalous and or vexatious”. – AFP

Celebrating Mzansi’s creative spirit, Zulu Wedding opens at cinemas  today

The much-anticipated romantic-comedy, Zulu Wedding, from acclaimed South Africa producer and director Lineo Sekeleoane opens in cinemas nationwide today, October 11.

The movie depicts the life of Lu “Lungile” (played by Nondumiso Tembe) as she leaves South Africa and her Zulu-Sotho heritage behind to become a dancer in America. When she falls in love with TEX (played by American choreographer and actor Darrin Dewitt Henson), she knows he’s the man to marry. But when she brings him home to meet her family, she discovers she’s been promised since birth to a Zulu king (Pallance Dladla), who is hard to resist given their shared cultural traits. Caught between two men, two families and two countries, Lu has to come to terms with who she is, so she can fight for what she wants.

Celebrating the creatives spirit of Mzansi and the rest of the African continent, the movie has been shot and produced in three different locations – South Africa, New York and Botswana. It features a star-studded cast from South Africa, Nigeria and the United States. These include the likes of Kgomotso Christopher, Makgano Mamabolo, Bubu Mazibuko, Sthandiwe Kgoroge, Jerry Phele, Kelly Khumalo, Lorcia Cooper and Treasure Tshabalala. The film’s star-studded soundtrack was curated by DJ Maphorisa and features Afrotainment’s Tira and Prince Bulo, Kelly Khumalo, Goapele and Shekhinah.

Enchanting themes

A royal promise that cannot be dishonored. A transatlantic love triangle. An enchanting young woman who’s torn between duty and her heart. Two charismatic potential grooms who represent wildly divergent life paths… These are the themes brought dramatically to life in this delightful rom-com, which is sure to claim its place as a firm favorite on the local movie circuit.

 A labour of love executive producer Lineo Sekeleoane, who’s been working on since 2008, this is how she describes the film:  “It is about love and identity, it explores opposites and engages people from different worlds bringing them together in a unique and exciting way.”


Artificial meat is now made in space, coming to a supermarket near you

Creating meat from cells is no longer the realm of science fiction: a Russian cosmonaut did it aboard the International Space Station, and it is just a matter of time before these products arrive in supermarkets.

Tests carried out in space in September led to the production of beef, rabbit and fish tissue using a 3D printer.

This new technology “could make long-term travel possible and renew space exploration,” to Mars for example, said Didier Toubia, the head of the Israeli startup Aleph Farms, which provided cells for the tests.

“But our goal is to sell meat on Earth,” he told AFP. The idea “is not to replace traditional agriculture,” he said. “It’s about being a better alternative to factory farming.”

What’s in a name?

The first burger designed with cow stem cells was made by Mark Post, a Dutch scientist from Maastricht University, and presented in 2013. Several startups have since taken to the niche market.

The cost of production is still very high, and none of the products are available for sale.

The name for the meat products is still up for debate: laboratory, artificial, cell-based, cultivated.

But tastings have already taken place, and industry players are banking on small-scale commercialization taking place fairly quickly.

“It is likely to be this year,” Josh Tetrick, the head of California’s JUST company, which is growing meat from cells, said at a conference in San Francisco.

“Not on the market in four thousand Walmarts or in all McDonald’s, but in a handful of restaurants,” Tetrick said.

“The question is what do you want to put out at what cost,” said Niya Gupta, founder and CEO of Fork & Goode, which is growing meat from cells in New York.

“As an industry, we are finally making progress on the science. The next step is really making progress on the engineering challenges.”

The arrival of laboratory-grown meat on supermarket shelves at reasonable prices could happen in five to 20 years, according to estimates.

But it would need more investment, according to several observers. The sector attracted a total of only $73 million in 2018, according to The Good Food Institute, an organization promoting alternatives to meat and fish.

Another obstacle is regulation, which remains imprecise.

In the United States, for example, the government outlined a regulatory framework that shared oversight of cell-based foods between the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, but it is not yet finalized.


For supporters, cell-based meat and fish products can transform the production system sustainably by avoiding the raising and killing of animals.

However, questions remain about the real environmental impact, particularly in terms of energy consumption, as well as about safety.

But “the market opportunity is enormous, especially for seafood,” said Lou Cooperhouse, the CEO of startup BlueNalu.

“Global demand in the world is at an all-time high,” he said of seafood, but “we have a supply problem” with overfishing, climate change and a very variable supply, coupled with “an issue with the supply itself” with, for example, the presence of mercury in some fish. “What if we could add a third leg on the supply chain, wild caught, farm raised, cell-based?”

Created in 2018, BlueNalu is developing a technological platform that can be used to design various seafood products, mainly fish filets without bones or skin.

Scientific literature on stem cells, biological engineering or organic tissue printing already existed, said BlueNalu’s chief technology officer Chris Dammann. “We need to put the technology back together and optimize it,” Dammann said.

The rise of cell-based proteins is not a major source of concern for traditional agriculture.

“It is something we need to monitor,” said Scott Bennett, the director of congressional relations for the Farm Bureau organization, which represents farmers and ranchers.

Bennett said he feels “our energy would be much better spent in focusing (on) increasing the overall market shares for proteins, especially in developing countries.”

“Some people for social reasons will want to buy this product. But there will always remain a market for conventional meat,” he said.

“We feel as it should not be called meat, because we don’t want to confuse the consumer as to what this really is. We want to make sure the labelling is very clear,” Bennett added. – RELAXNEWS

Relaxnews - My editorializer

Botswana rhinos risk wipeout as poaching rises

Nine Botswana rhinos have been poached since April, the government said Wednesday, an unprecedented rate of one per month that could see rhinos wiped out in the southern African country by 2021.

Nine Botswana rhinos have been poached since April, the government said Wednesday, an unprecedented rate of one per month that could see rhinos wiped out in the southern African country by 2021.

The thousands of rhinos that once roamed Africa and Asia have been culled by poaching and habitat loss. Very few are found outside national parks and reserves, where they remain threatened.

Botswana is home to just under 400 rhinos, according to Rhino Conservation Botswana, most of which roam the grassy plains of the northern Okavango Delta.

A ministry of environment statement said two rhinos were poached within five days in the Okavango late last month, raising the total number to nine since April.

“We have been losing about a rhino a month to poaching,” said Mmadi Reuben, rhino coordinator for Botswana’s wildlife department in the statement.

“If the poaching continues at this rate there will be no rhinos in Botswana in a year or two, especially the black rhino.”

While southern white rhinos have been rescued from extinction, black rhinos are still considered critically endangered, with only around 4,200 living in the wild.

Less than 20 are found in Botswana, which is also home to the continent’s largest elephant population.

Botswana has a zero-tolerance approach to poaching and previously operated a “shoot-to-kill” policy against perpetrators.

“The anti-poaching forces have now placed the protection of rhinos and location of these poaching gangs as their highest priority,” said the statement, adding that two perpetrators were killed in recent operations.

But poaching is escalating in the region, driven by demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, and authorities are overwhelmed.

“The Okavango is a very large area with difficult wetland terrain, which these poachers are using to their advantage,” said the ministry.

Sold for up to 55,000 euros ($60,300) per kilo on the black market, rhino horn is used in traditional medicine or as a symbol of wealth and success.

Botswana’s neighbour South Africa lost more than 7,100 rhinos over the past decade, including 769 in 2018.

Namibia has also recorded recent incidents of rhino poaching, which leaves the animal bleeding to death after its horn is hacked off. – RELAXNEWS

Vatiswa Ndara’s scathing letter divides Mzansi

BY Tankiso Komane

AS SOUTH AFRICANS continue to weigh in on Vatiswa Ndara’s scathing letter over the mistreatment of actors, activist Zola Ndwandwe has flipped the coin, blaming local celebs for their ‘own’ lack of solidarity towards the pain of ordinary people.

Her Twitter thread which was among yesterday’s trending topics, has sparked a flurry of mixed reactions from the public and the entertainment industry alike. 
The detailed 4-part thread read in part as follows: “Dear South African Celebs, start supporting us ordinary citizens on important issues & start showing solidarity, we would have helped you with your EXPLOITATION matters long time ago, drop the celebrity status & actually have UBUNTU. Beyonce did it, Tyler Perry did it too.” 

While the social media appeared divided over what some referred to as “wrong” and “misguided utterances”, others (majority) seemed to share her sentiments, accusing SA celebs of keeping quiet during important times. 
“You teach us how to treat you,” Ndwandwe charged adding “the fact that post 25 years into democracy y’all are still being exploited has little to do with GOV. INTERVENTION. You are to blame.” – ZONK NEWS WIRES

Global Fund seeks $14 bn to fight AIDS, malaria, TB

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria on Wednesday opened a drive to raise $14 billion to fight the global epidemics but face an uphill battle in the face of donor fatigue.

Host President Emmanuel Macron is to chair the final day of the two-day meeting in the French city of Lyon on Thursday and meet African heads of state.

The fund has asked for $14 billion, an amount it says would help save 16 million lives, avert “234 million infections” and place the world back on track to meet the UN objective of ending the epidemics of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria within 10 years.

“I count on every one of you to bring together the financing necessary to give the Global Fund the means necessary to support the worst affected countries,” said French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn as the meeting opened.

“We are here to send a strong signal. A collective, universal and ambitious signal,” she added. 

The UN’s World Health Organization says 770,000 people died of HIV-related causes last year. Tuberculosis, a high risk for HIV-positive people, claimed some 1.7 million lives in 2017, and malaria more than 430,000.

Anything more a success

The meeting is the sixth to replenish the fund since it was set up in 2002, with prominent supporters including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and U2 lead singer Bono in attendance.

But officials said ahead of the meeting that collecting such a large sum could prove challenging, especially as global attention moves from AIDS towards fighting climate change.

Anything more than the $13 billion pledged at the fund’s last meeting three years ago in Montreal “will be considered a success”, said an official in the French presidency.

Macron, however, made it clear at the UN General Assembly in September that he expected no less than $14 billion, saying “no-one any longer can understand” that people are unable to access medicines for the deadly disease trio.

NGOs insist even more is needed — as much as $18 billion. 

Less not acceptable

Some countries have announced their contribution. The US is the number one donor with a $4.68 billion contribution voted by Congress.

Britain is set to pledge $1.7 billion and Germany $1.1 billion. It remains to be seen what France will contribute, although Macron has vowed it will be worthy of the country’s historical status as the Fund’s number two donor.

France also wants the private sector to play a bigger role, and the fund is seeking $1 billion of the total from the business world.

“No amount less than $14 billion will be acceptable,” the AIDES and Coalition PLUS NGOs said in a statement, urging France to ramp up its contribution by 25 percent.

“We are here to remember that behind this financial bargaining there are human lives,” said AIDES president Aurelien Beaucamp.

AIDES said that as things stand now, the meeting risks falling $200-$500 million short of its target.

Macron will meet leaders including Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou and Cameroon President Paul Biya, while Rwandan President Paul Kagame is also set to be in attendance.

The Global Fund groups states, NGOs and private firms to support public health programmes around the world, investing about $4 billion every year.

It says it has helped save 32 million lives and provided prevention, treatment and care services to hundreds of millions of people, while the number of deaths caused by AIDS, TB and malaria each year has been reduced by 40 percent since 2002 in countries where the Fund invests. – RELAXNEWS

Village Girls’ #WeAreTakingAction march heads to Mafikeng, North West on Thursday


Property magnate Fikile Chimphondah and her siblings from Village Girls, an unscripted reality show on MOJA LOVE 157 channel, will join society formations at the North West University Mahikeng campus on Thursday for a march against gender-based violence in the area.

The gender-based march will start at the university at 10am, and will also make a stop at North West High Court in the CBD before proceeding to the police station where a memorandum will be handed over to the station commander.

The march, dubbed #WeAreTakingAction by the Village Girls, has been motivated by the recent spate of killings directed at women and children that has left the country in shock.

Most recently, University of the Western Cape 19-year-old student Uyinene Mretwyana’s death in early September at a Post Office in Cape Town sparked the nation into action against gender-based violence.

Calls mounted from civil society and media that something drastic had to be done by government to curb this growing scourge. This led to President Cyril Ramaphosa calling a joint sitting of Parliament to address this growing epidemic in the country.

Delivering the address, President Ramaphosa announced an emergency five-point plan that would be actioned over the next six months. The five points are prevention, strengthening the criminal justice system, enhancing the legal and policy framework, ensuring adequate care, support and healing for victims of violence and strengthening the economic power of women.

Members of the community are expected to assemble at the NWU university campus from 10am.  – ZONK NEWS AGENCY

Three heart-tugging memoirs by Mzansi celebrities to make your heart sing, weep and laugh!

By Tankiso Komane

These new celebrity memoirs are among the season’s new releases you’ll definitely want to check out.


BOOK: Siren
PUBLISHER: Blackbird Books
RELEASE DATE: 01 November 2019
AUTHOR: Kuli Roberts

After two decades of keeping audiences on the edge of their seats with tongue-in-cheek entertainment news as both a newspaper columnist and broadcaster, Roberts has decided to turn the tables and gives us a peek inside her own roller-coaster life – and not rant about men for a change. Her new book Siren is simply described as a journey girls can relate to.
“It’s absolutely beautiful, it’s about a girl’s journey in the entertainment industry; the sex, the lovemaking, the cheating, the functional drunk,” she said adding “It’s something you can relate to … having a job, being jobless, being absolutely fantastic and then end up having absolutely nothing.”


BOOK: I Keep Learning
PUBLISHER: Exclusive Books
RELEASE DATE: 06 November 2019
AUTHOR Unathi Nkayi

After voicing her displeasure with several “inaccurate’ media accounts of her life, Idols SA judge Unathi Nkayi is among a handful of Mzansi’ much-loved celebrities who eventually succumbed to the literary calling.
Without giving away too much information, the singer announced on Monday the release of her book titled, I Keep Learning, which officially hits the shelves on her 41st birthday, November 6.
Co-authored by fellow singer and poet Kabomo, word has it the book is going to be as juicy as ever, with details about her very public divorce from radio personality Thomas Msengana. After all we know that Unathi can be open when she wants to – as she did during her emotional interview on Pearl Thusi’s Behind The Story late last month, which saw her break down several times, especially when it comes to the impact social media trolls has had on her, the endless criticisms of her gift as singer and her frustration at Metro FM which led to her unceremonious exit in 2017 – after having been with the commercial station for 10 years.


BOOK: Bassie – My Journey of Hope
PUBLISHER: Penguin Books

AUTHOR: Basetsana Khumalo

You only have one chance to tell your story and to tell it right. This powerful statement is what led to Bassie deciding to pen her own life story. The book chronicles her 25-year life journey, mainly her entry into the upper echelons of Mzansi’s elite society – following her 1994 Miss SA crowning, as well as her personal and professional relationships with mentors like Nelson Mandela. Hardly a week after its release, the book is already causing a stir on social media and for a good reason.
In the book she opens up about the pressures of her high-profile marriage to Romeo Kumalo and their heart-breaking struggle to have a family, resulting unbeknown to many, in eight miscarriages.

Bassie also describes the legal battles she has had to wage in order to protect her name and her brand over the years. She gives a chilling account of the stalker who has harassed her for decades, and the spurious ‘sex-tape’ allegation that rocked her family and almost destroyed her career.
On what inspired the book, she said: “I was always going to write a book but this year is very poignant for me because it’s 25 years of my walk with Christ, it’s 25 years of our democracy and 25 years of me being a public figure since I was crowned Miss SA in 1994.” Describing it as an honest and candid account of her life, she adds: “There were moments when I thought ‘that’s raw, are you willing to go down that path? And my answer was always yes.”


Nigeria: #BBNajia – I Felt Very Bad When Tacha Was Disqualified – Mercy

By Benjamin Njoku

The Big Brother Naija “Pepper Dem” reality TV show, Mercy Eke, has expressed how she felt when Tacha was disqualified from the show.

Mercy, who is widely referred to as Lamborghini Mercy in the house and Tacha had a brawl, which apparently led to the disqualification of the latter.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, in Lagos, the 26-year-old reality TV star, said she felt very bad when Tacha was disqualified from the show.

“Tacha is someone I admire and I’m definitely going to settle with her as regards whatever had happened between us.” I felt bad when she was disqualified from the show,” Mercy said while answering questions from journalists at the event.

The Managing Director of Multichoice Nigeria, Mr John Ogbe, however, has said that the organizers would issue an official statement in respect of the disqualification/ their future relationship with Tacha.

Mercy became the first female contestant to win the BBNaija reality TV show, beating fellow housemates , including Mike, Frodd, Omashola and Seyi to coast home to victory.

The curvy video vixen polled over 41.77 per cent of a total of 250 million votes cast by viewers to beat fellow housemate, Mike Edwards, who got about 19.94 per cent of the votes.

At the event, which had other housemates including , first runner up, Mike, Seyi, Frodd and Omashola in attendance, Mercy was presented with a cheque of N30 million and keys to her brand new Sport Utility Vehicle from Innoson Motors among other gifts. The car gift is worth N25 million. –  Story by VANGUARD

Trump and U.S. Democrats Jockey for Position in Deepening Impeachment Battle

By Richard Cowan (Reuters)

The Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was set on Wednesday to step up its impeachment investigation of President Donald Trump over his dealings with Ukraine, as the White House declared it would not cooperate with the probe.

The three congressional committees leading the inquiry were working on final arrangements to interview a U.S. intelligence officer who filed the whistleblower complaint that triggered the probe, a day after the State Department abruptly blocked the U.S. ambassador to the European Union from speaking to them.

The investigation is focused on whether Trump used almost $400 million in congressionally approved aid to Ukraine as leverage to pressure the Ukrainian president to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, one of Trump’s main Democratic rivals as he seeks re-election in 2020.

Trump has denied wrongdoing. White House Counsel Pat Cipolline wrote on Tuesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats that the administration would refuse to cooperate with what it called an “illegitimate” and “unconstitutional” impeachment inquiry. “The effort to impeach President Trump … is a naked political strategy that began the day he was inaugurated,” Cipolline’s letter added.

Pelosi said in response to the letter: “Mr. President, you are not above the law. You will be held accountable.” She did not indicate what steps, if any, House Democrats might take to compel Trump’s cooperation.
In addition to the whistleblower, lawmakers aim to hear later this week from a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, whom Trump removed from that post last May before her term was up.

Lawyers for the whistleblower were focused on how to protect the person’s identity from being made public during any testimony, according to sources close to the talks. The showdown between Trump and Pelosi heightened just as a newly released Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll showed Democratic support rising for impeachment. At the same time, 45 percent of all adult Americans said they support impeachment while 39 percent oppose it, unchanged from last week.

Relations between Democrats and Republicans in Congress were already raw when the State Department on Tuesday ordered U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a major Trump political donor, not to appear at a closed-door meeting of three U.S. House panels investigating Trump. Democrats view Sondland as a key witness who could help shed light on whether Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine as part of an effort to pressure it to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had business dealings in Ukraine.

Trump has alleged corruption by the Bidens, but has not provided any evidence to back that up.
The move prompted Democrats to accuse Trump of obstructing their investigation and Republicans to accuse Democrats of operating a secretive, biased inquiry. The hot rhetoric in the high-stakes battle between Trump and Democrats who control the House is expected to intensify next week when Congress returns from a two-week recess.

On their return, members will huddle privately to discuss strategy if Pelosi decides in coming weeks or months to go ahead with articles of impeachment against Trump. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would have no choice but to initiate a Senate trial on whether to convict Trump of any formal charges of “high crimes or misdemeanors” lodged by the House.

But he added in an interview with CNBC: “How long you’re on it, is a whole different matter,” possibly referring to the right of any senator to move to dismiss the charges, thus short-circuiting a full-blown Senate trial and a vote on convicting Trump – if the motion were to be approved. Republicans who control the Senate have shown little appetite for ousting Trump.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney). – THOMSON REUTERS