Italy's govt informs on Berlusconi's health and Nigerians?

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

A message on Facebook by Kayode Ogundamisi: “Italian government just announced to the Italian people that the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi suffer from a broken nose and two broken teeth!

Now what is stopping the Nigerian Federal executive council from informing Nigerians of the current status of President Umoru Musa Yar’Adua?”

NOW IT BEGINS

10.December.2009 · Posted in sports

by Matshelane Mamabolo and Lebogang Seale

The soccer gods dealt South Africa a very bad hand at the World Cup draw in Cape Town last night. Seeded top, the host nation had expected a favourable draw for next year’s 32-nation soccer spectacle that takes place from 11 June to 10 July. But fate ensured that Bafana Bafana’s path to the second round will be a difficult one. Mexico, Uruguay and France will provide tough opposition for Carlos Alberto Parreira’s lowly ranked Bafana, and history suggests the Brazilian and his boys will need a miracle to get through the group.

The sigh of disappointment that engulfed the packed Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) when Mexico and France were drawn in Group A was confirmation that all realised the enormity of the task that awaits Bafana. But Springbok captain John Smit and Bafana defender Matthew Booth, both of whom assisted with the draw, broke the gloom with their positive outlook.

“I’m pretty happy that we will have good practice before we reach the semifinals and final,” said Smit, clearly choosing to look beyond the group stage. Booth was equally optimistic: “We did not expect it to be easy. But I don’t envy the Mexicans, who will be subjected to 90 000 vuvuzelas.” Mexico will provide stiff opposition for Bafana in the opening match at Soccer City on June 10 while France will be their last group opponent in Mangaung.

Sandwiched between the two will be a clash with Uruguay in Pretoria. In eight combined matches with the three countries, Bafana have only one win to boast of – a victory against Mexico in 2005. That poor record is going to have to change dramatically if we are not to become the first host nation in World Cup history to be knocked out in the first round. Bafana’s deadly draw notwithstanding, the 40-minute, made-for-television event itself was a huge success, going off without any glitches.

Opening to a resounding African beat and kaleidoscope of colour, it provided a foretaste of the grand spectacle that awaits fans next year. The CTICC erupted in rapturous applause when Johnny Clegg gave a rendition of his hit song Scatterlings of Africa against the background of glowing images of South Africa’s colours.

The glamorous ceremony graced by an array of dignitaries and celebrities from the sporting (Portuguese legend Eusebio), political former presidents FW de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki and movie (Charlize Theron) worlds, marked another milestone in South Africa’s road to 2010. Not even an earlier bomb scare at the CTICC, when a foreign journalist allegedly claimed he had a bomb in his bag, could damp the spirits among the dignitaries.

Nelson Mandela was not there, but his message of goodwill was relayed from a giant screen. “In Africa, soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in our hearts. We must strive for excellence while ensuring the event leaves a lasting legacy for the benefits of our people. “The Fifa World Cup proves that the long wait for Africa has ended. Ke nako (It’s time)!” the frail Mandela said, to loud applause. Fifa president Sepp Blatter reiterated Madiba’s statements, comparing the continent’s hosting of the World Cup to “a love story” because “Africa has waited for too long”.

President Jacob Zuma reminded everyone about the hospitality that awaits visiting fans and teams next year through a “display of warmth and humility”. Then Benin singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo mesmerised the audience with her popular song Agolo. But this was only a prelude to the resounding welcome that Theron received when she was invited onto the stage.

The Benoni-born Hollywood star expressed her excitement and pride at South Africa’s status as World Cup hosts, which she described as an “an incredible and historic” moment.

“I can’t describe how great it is to be home… So much has changed but the passion for the game and the competition remains the same,” she said. Theron led a star-studded line-up of celebrities – including England star David Beckham, cricket fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, Booth, and Smit, who helped Fifa general secretary Jér244me Valcke conduct the draw proceedings.

(www.thestar.co.za; / www.pretorianews.co.za; 20091205)

Zuma will put Africa's case in Copenhagen

10.December.2009 · Posted in news

by Sheree Béga 

Environmental groups have welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s decision to attend the UN Copenhagen climate talks after his office initially insisted that he did not need to be at the crucial summit. On Thursday, the cabinet announced that President Zuma would lead South Africa’s delegation to the Danish capital, together with Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica and other senior government officials.

Last month, the Saturday Star reported how President Zuma’s spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, claimed there was no need for the president to attend as the Summit – which gets under way on Monday – “did not depend on personalities”.

The Mail & Guardian reported yesterday that the about-turn came after French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked Zuma to attend, joining forces with France and Brazil in pledging a reduction by 2050 of carbon emissions to half the 1990 levels.

US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are also due to attend the talks. These nations are the biggest polluters. Conservation group WWF-SA said they were very happy that President Zuma would attend.

Tasneem Essop, WWF-SA’s international climate change advocate, said: “South Africa has long been a progressive voice in the negotiations and also has the interests of the African continent and the global South (developing nations) at heart. The country has been vocal in putting pressure on wealthy nations for ambitious cuts in greenhouse emissions and in highlighting the need for these countries to support adaptation efforts in the world’s poorest nations.

“As a water-stressed country in a region where warming is already happening at around double the average global rate, and where the population is especially vulnerable to climate change and variability, we have a very real interest in a successful global deal that is fair, ambitious and binding.

“It’s especially important that we get heads of state from developing countries to attend, particularly from Africa, the continent with the most to lose. Their attendance will help break deadlocks, so that we come out with something much stronger than just a political agreement,” she said.

WWF-SA expects South Africa to put a package of actions on the table as part of a low-carbon development plan for the country. Makoma Lekalakala, the programme officer for Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, said the most important contribution from the government was a willingness to achieve a globally binding agreement to reduce global emissions, with a minimum of 40 percent greenhouse gas reductions from 1990 in 2020 by developed nations.

“Countries like South Africa also need to reduce their emissions at home. Is President Zuma willing to reduce emissions at home?” Lekalakala asked. “Is he ready to stop both Eskom and Sasol from increasing their carbon emissions?  “If he is, just his presence at Copenhagen will help to bring about the kind of agreement necessary for a real, lasting and just change. “Climate change is not about individual countries, but the fate of humanity as a whole. Every leader needs to commit to real action in the name of our common good.”

Fiona Musana, communications manager of Greenpeace Africa, said: “All the world’s leaders, including Zuma, should be there (in Copenhagen) to make sure that whatever legal agreements are made, each leader is able to say ‘Yes, I own a part of this. I’m going back to my country to make the commitment at a domestic level to reduce coal use and embrace the energy revolution’. “Zuma’s being there is critical. It’s about personal commitment to demanding action from the developed world. Only when leaders sign on the dotted line will they make Copenhagen meaningful.”

(www.thestar.co.za / www.pretorianews.co.za; 20091205)

SAA CLOSES DEAL WITH MATCH

10.December.2009 · Posted in sports

South African Airways (SAA), has closed a deal with Match, the official provider of tickets, accommodation and logistics for next year’s 2010 Soccer World Cup.

“According to this agreement reached between [SAA] and Match, SAA will be providing 89,000 sectors on its own fleet of aircraft to be used by Match customers,” SAA said in a statement on Friday.   

“The sectors will be operated by SAA aircraft on the Golden triangle, which include flights between Johannesburg to Cape Town, and to Durban as well as between Durban and Cape Town.” SAA is also working on other transport solutions with Match to find ways of transporting Match customers to smaller venues such as Nelspruit, Bloemfontein and Polokwane where matches will take place.

SAA is the first airline on the African continent to be concluding a deal with Match, Fifa’s preferred partner for the forthcoming major football event… We eagerly await next year’s event and the opportunity to welcome fans from across the globe to our beautiful country,” said Chris Smyth, SAA acting CEO.

(www.sapa.org.za; 20091204)

ODI FINAL WASHED OUT IN DURBAN

10.December.2009 · Posted in sports

Today’s fifth and final One-Day International between the Proteas and England in Durban has been washed out — handing the visitors a 2-1 series victory. 

It’s their first series win in four visits to South Africa. England have become the first country to win one-day international series against the Proteas in South Africa since Australia won the 2000- 2001 series 5-1.

The tourists won both the second and fourth ODIs by seven wickets, while South Africa won the third by 112 runs.

(www.sabc.org.za ; 20091204)

TOUGH DRAW FOR BAFANA

10.December.2009 · Posted in sports

Bafana Bafana Head Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira put on a brave  face but could not hide the fact that South Africa will have their backs to the wall when they kick-off the 2010 World Cup finals against Mexico at the new Soccer City in Johannesburg on 11 June next year.

The draw made on Friday night at the International Convention Centre by Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke and South African born Hollywood movie star Charlie Theron did Bafana no favours. Also in Bafana’s Group A are two former world champions France, who won the cup in 1998 on home soil and who defeated Bafana in the opening match of that tournament 3-0 in Marseille, as well as 1934 winners Uruguay.

Mr Parreira who won the World Cup with his native Brazil in the tournament staged in the United States in 1994 said that Group A was the most balanced group.

“It is the only World Cup we cannot say which is the Group of Death. There is no easy group. It is the most well balanced World Cup in history.  We are the only group that has two former world champions in France and Uruguay.”

Mr Parreira who rejoined Bafana in November after his countryman Joel Santana quit after a disappointing 17-month reign stated: “This is the hand we have been dealt and what we will have to face.”We have to prepare ourselves in a possible way to make sure we go past the first round. I do not look at the first game. If we get a good result against Mexico and lose against Uruguay and France it will not matter. “We have to look at the group as a whole and not focus on the first game. The bottom line is that we face three difficult games and face them in a positive way.”

Bafana have played Mexico three times. They lost 0-4 in 1992 in Los Angeles in a friendly, were beaten in Houston 2-4 in the United States Cup, and then defeated the Mexicans 2-1 in the Gold Cup in 2005.

Mexican coach Javier Aguirre was quietly confident after the draw.  But he stated that it would be tough playing the host nation in the opening game of the tournament. Bafana are the lowest ranked team to host the World Cup at 86th in the Fifa rankings but that is not what concerns the Mexican coach Said Aguirre.

“Playing against South Africa will be difficult because they have home ground advantage. They know the weather, the pitches they ill be playing on and most importantly they will have their fans with their vuvuzelas.”

Another big factor in Bafana’s favour was Mr Parreira according to the Mexican coach. Aguirre said: “Parreira coached Brazil to the World Cup in 1994 and is a highly respected coach. Also playing against two former world champions is not going to be easy.  But we will be ready.”

Bafana play France in their final group match in Bloemfontein on 22 June. French coach Raymond Domenech said history meant nothing. “This is not 1998. It will be a totally different game and an open one.” The French coach refused to comment on the infamous “Hand of Frog” in which French star striker Thierry Henry scored the winner after extra time against Ireland in last month’s play-off.

France won that match 2-1 after extra time which sparked cries of cheating from the Irish fans and players. Bafana meet Uruguay at Loftus on 16 June. Uruguay Coach Oscar Tabarez said:  “We respect all three teams in the group. Mexico had bad results in the qualifiers. But they recovered very well.

No one can predict how this group will turn out.  June is the moment of truth.” Bafana Assistant Coach Pitso Mosimane said he was not scared of the teams in the group. But said that Mexico posed a big challenge in the opening game.

Mr Mosimane said: “Mexico have six players playing in top league in Europe. They have come good under their new coach after a bad start to their qualifying campaign. “France is a world class side we all know that. Their players are household names. Uruguay has some useful players such as their striker Diego Forlan who plays in Spain, and will not be an easy side to beat.”

But Mr Mosimane was quietly confident. “We know that no matter which teams we were paired against that the World Cup draw was not going to be easy. At this level there are no easy teams. We will rise to the occasion like we did in the Confederations Cup where we took on Spain and Brazil and came close to beating them. I believe the World Cup will be like the Confederations Cup and that four points could be enough to see us through to the knockout stage,” said Mr Mosimane.

 (www.sapa.org.za; 20091204 / www.thestar.co.za; 20091205)

PUBLIC SECTOR DOCTORS IN SHORT SUPPLY – DA

10.December.2009 · Posted in news

Thousands of public sector vacancies for doctors could be filled by foreign doctors yet the Health Department is taking up to a year to issue the required documentation for them to work.

“On average every hospital in the country is short of 40 doctors, yet the Foreign Workforce Management Programme (FWMP) in the Department of Health is creating massive delays that are costing these doctors their time and money,” said Mike Waters, shadow Minister of Health for the DA.

He was commenting on a reply to a parliamentary question he asked last year. The last available statistics released by the Department of Health in 2008 stated there were 12 000 vacancies for doctors in state hospitals.

Health Department Spokesman Vukani Myandu says those figures are still relevant. “Those figures haven’t changed much. There are a number of factors that have affected the doctors’ vacancies and our department have put in place a number of programmes to ensure that hospital staff earn competitive salaries and are therefore attracted to the public sector,” said Myandu.

Waters explained: “Doctors need an endorsement letter before they can proceed with the steps required to work in South Africa. It is simply an acknowledgement that a doctor’s qualification certificate from his or her home country is valid.

“It requires a simple enquiry with the professional council in the doctor’s home country. Yet this is taking six months to a year, when it should take a week at most.” The letter is valid for only six months. Doctors need to do an oral and a written exam, which can only be done at certain times. If the endorsement letter validity period runs out between the first and the second exam, a new certificate has to be applied for and the first exam redone – at a cost of R3 000 per exam.

This delay is a problem for doctors, who need to earn their living while they wait and cannot work in their profession. It also causes further problems down the line, said Waters. Numerous attempts to contact the FWMP were unsuccessful.

Thibangu Mwenze trained as a doctor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and came to South Africa after fleeing the violence at home. Little did he know what trials lay ahead of him to be able to get the approval he needed to work as a doctor here. Mwenze came to South Africa in November 2008 and applied to the FWMP to be able to work as a doctor.

After months of waiting he received his endorsement letter and wrote his first exam in July. The second exam was scheduled to be written in October but by then his endorsement letter had expired. He still has not received another one. He will have to wait until March to write the second exam.

“I and other doctors from countries like DRC, Mali, and Tanzania are struggling with the FWMP. I phone them every day. Sometimes they answer my call, sometimes they don’t,” he said. The Rural Doctors Association of SA wants “all rural people in southern Africa to have access to quality health care” and sees the important role that foreign doctors play in acquiring this. It has launched a recruitment project to assist rural hospitals in South Africa to obtain doctors by linking local and overseas doctors and other health care professionals with hospitals in need.

Source: www.thestar.co.za / www.pretorianews.co.za;  20091205

ONE HICCUP AS MATRICS SIT FINAL DAY OF EXAM

10.December.2009 · Posted in news

The leaking of five matric papers in Mpumalanga had been the only proven hiccup marring the National Senior Certificate Examination, Education Department Chief Director Nkosinathi Sishi said on Friday.

“Leaking is considered the ultimate sin,” Mr Sishi told media in Pretoria as students across the country sat their final exams.

“I am unhappy about the fact that once you report a leak it adds stress to those students who still have to write.”

Mr Sishi said over 600,000 students had written their papers this year –slightly more than those who sat last year.

Teachers will now embark in earnest on the marking of the papers with the deadline of 18 December.

Mr Sishi said while all papers would be scrutinised, they would focus particularly on those written in Mpumalanga.

This was after two physical science and maths papers as well as one accounting paper were leaked before the start of exams.

Mr Sishi said 13 people had been arrested, two of whom were Department officials.

After the papers are marked the department will hand over a report to the national examinations irregularities committee on 21 December.

Mr Sishi said there were three types of irregularities: the first being technical, such as if an exam started late; the second administrative; and the third behaviour as in the case of the leaked exams. He also assured the public there would be no delay in releasing the results scheduled for 7 January, 2010.

(www.sapa.org.za; 20091204)