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No to legalisation of marijuana

first_imgDear Editor,We learnt that President David Granger has said that the “removal of custodial sentences for possession of small amounts of cannabis is on the cards for Guyana” in sections of the media.Editor, with the growing movement to legalise marijuana for medical purposes, the drug has become increasingly accessible, and its use has become more widely accepted. Its use is particularly common among young adults, with a high percentage endorsing its use.Many members of our local and international medical community have acknowledged the therapeutic value of the drug as well, but its social, health, and occupational risks remain as real as ever.Marijuana comes from the cannabis plant, also known as hemp. Marijuana is often smoked for the fastest delivery of its primary active ingredient.The buds and leaves can also be consumed in foods or liquids. While marijuana does come from a natural plant source, this does not necessarily mean that it is safe — many illicit drugs are derived from botanical sources, but can still have harmful effects.The American Medical Association (AMA) recognises that medical marijuana can play a role in treating nerve pain, preventing muscle spasms, and restoring appetite in people with chronic illness. But the AMA adds that the organisation wants to ensure that as a psychoactive drug, marijuana should be subject to the same safety precautions as any other drug in its class.In popular culture, smoking a joint is often considered no more harmful than having a beer, and many people who smoke pot enjoy the relaxing effects of the drug. In our stressful, accelerated world, marijuana can slow things down and make stress seem to melt away.In reality, though, marijuana can interfere with motor coordination, short-term memory, and concentration. And regular marijuana smoking can damage the respiratory tract.Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the ingredient in marijuana that fosters dependence and leads to cravings with chronic marijuana use. Cravings can be triggered through neurological changes that disrupt the brain’s reward-seeking circuitry or by psychological issues like stress.Some susceptible users may even develop patterns of use that qualify as an addiction to marijuana, as categorised by the American Psychiatric Association. According to clinical guidelines, some of these signs may signal an addiction to marijuana.Withdrawal symptoms often resemble quite the opposite effects as those sought by using the drug in the first place, which means that if you smoke weed on a daily basis and you suddenly lose access to pot, you may start to feel angry and tense. Frequent or heavy smokers who stop using the drug may experience the mild withdrawal symptoms.You may know many people who smoke a joint now and then without developing any of the signs of addiction or dependence. You may even be one of these casual users yourself. But if you think there’s no danger of becoming dependent on marijuana, take a look at these statistics.Marijuana is a sedating drug that acts on the central nervous system to create a sense of relaxation, reduce sensations of pain, and impact several of your body’s involuntary processes.The primary components of marijuana – THC and cannabidiol – act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain in the following ways.Like alcohol, marijuana can impede motor coordination and slow reaction times, making it dangerous to drive while you’re under its influence.In addition to altering the way you think, learn, and react to hazards, marijuana can affect the way you feel too.Marijuana is the most commonly-used illicit substance, and smoking is the most popular way to use marijuana – inhalation quickly delivers THC to the brain via the lungs.Marijuana smokers tend to inhale more deeply than tobacco smokers and release the smoke from their lungs more slowly. Regardless, marijuana smoke has been found to be significantly less carcinogenic and harmful than tobacco smoke, though this does not mean that it is safe. Some research continues to explore the relationship between marijuana use and lung cancer.Marijuana has been popular among teens for years, but a recent spike in marijuana use among young people has addiction experts worried. Statistics from Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study of youth in the United States, show that marijuana use among junior high and high school students has risen over the past few years.Marijuana is the second most widely-used substance among adolescents. During the adolescent years, the brain and body are still developing, so disruption of this development may cause lasting effects.Recovery requires a combination of approaches to address the physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of substance abuse. Individual counselling can help you explore the reasons why you’ve come to depend on marijuana, while group therapy and drug education can provide you with valuable coping strategies for staying clean and sober.The focus is on behavioural therapy, the type of which will depend on the doctor and the user — most treatment programmes will adapt their therapy to the patient’s needs.It is also a common therapeutic technique that helps users address their reasons for abusing marijuana as well as teaches them how to resist future use and temptations by identifying faulty or unhelpful thoughts and beliefs around their use.I think that the President should not allow the legalisation of marijuana as it would not be of benefit to our society.Yours faithfully,Rooplall Dudhnathlast_img read more

SOCU protocols threaten Guyana’s FATF standing

first_img… AG’s boastful prediction, an exhibition of misplaced optimism – NandlallThe protocols of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) could very well threaten Guyana’s conformity with the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) and Attorney General Basil Williams’ bold and boastful prediction that Guyana will soon exit the review process may be an exhibition of misplaced optimism.Attorney General Basil WilliamsThis is the view held by Williams’ predecessor, Anil Nandlall who has since observed since the release of the SOCU protocols that “currently, we do not have a Special Crime Unit which exclusively investigates Anti Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) offences as is required by the FATF recommendations.The SOCU protocols, according to the former Legal Affairs Minister came in the form of an expansion to Guyana Police Force Standing Orders and “confirm that SOCU will remain in the Force under the superintendence of the Commissioner of Police.”According to Nandlall, a natural consequence is that its officers will be subject to the same regime of scrutiny oversight and functional autonomy that apply to the Force.He said too that these protocols expand the mandate and the scope of SOCU outside and beyond its original mandate, which was, “the investigation of offences created by the AML/CFT legislation.”SOCU, according to its protocols, now has the mandate to investigate murder, piracy, environmental offences and a whole host of offences which are not “organized” crimes.According to Nandlall, “I have no doubt that these protocols would have been deliberated at and approved Cabinet, which would have included Attorney General Basil Williams.”As such, Nandlall recalls that over the last year, “I had cause to explain in the press, ad nauseam, that the creation of a Specialized Crime Unit to investigate solely and exclusively AML/CFT offences was a specific recommendation of FATF.”According to Nandlall “I warned that using SOCU to investigate any other offences may violate the relevant FATF recommendations. I was ignored. The Government has done worse.”He said what government has instead done is to institutionally expand the scope of SOCU to investigate offences far and beyond AML/CFT offences: “So, currently, we do not have a Special Crime Unit which exclusively investigates AML/CFT offences as is required by the FATF recommendations.”He said too that in preparation for the FATF site visit to Guyana, the Attorney General must have now discovered, after 15 months, the FATF recommendations which require the establishment of this Unit to investigate only AML/CFT offences.According to Nandlall: “With no Special Organised Unit in place to treat only with AML/CFT offences and in the absence of the unwarranted, bureaucratic and top-heavy 20-person AML/CFT authority which this Government unnecessarily and on its own volition imposed on Guyana’s AML/CFT apparatus, the Attorney General’s bold and boastful prediction that Guyana will soon exit the review process may be an exhibition of misplaced optimism.”This past week Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo blasted the decision to expand the SOCU mandate: “This is a Special Organised Crime Unit, it can’t do 21 things, it has to go back to its core functions, which was [fighting] money laundering and terrorism. There are other places in the Police Force where they deal with piracy, smuggling, fraud, murder… you have the CID or environmental crimes and counterfeiting of products, that’s not for SOCU,” the Opposition Leader declared.last_img read more

Liverpool v Stoke: Gerrard dropped by Rodgers for Anfield clash

first_img1 Steven Gerrard Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been dropped to the bench for the game against Stoke on Saturday.The former England star has come in for criticism for his performances in recent weeks as the Reds have struggled for form.Now Brendan Rodgers has opted to give him a breather, with the 34-year-old making way for Philippe Coutinho.Gerrard made his Liverpool debut 16 years ago today, and his Anfield career is marked extensively in the club programme, but Rodgers has not let sentiment influence his team selection.Jordan Henderson skippers the side, while left-back Jose Enrique takes the place of Javier Manquillo in the only other change from the XI which drew against Ludogorets on Wednesday.There is no place in the squad for Mario Balotelli, who continues to be troubled by a groin injury.Stoke have made three changes from last weekend’s defeat at Burnley, with Erik Pieters, Marko Arnautovic and Marc Wilson coming in to Mark Hughes’ starting line-up.last_img read more

World Cup diary: Buying an England shirt and getting lost on Russia’s Metro

first_img This should probably be the actual England shirt 6 Goughie was not happy 6 6 Darren Gough: One of the more acceptable Englishmen down under It looks like a person, as our button muppet, Olly said to me. Clear lines, bright colours; wonderful. It’s a thing of beauty. And I was a little bit sneaky as you may have heard on Drive.I turned right instead of left and it meant that instead of travelling only two stops on the tube, we travelled four stops on three different lines.Goughie, as you can see, was fuming. Emma the producer thought it was funny, Star Wars Dave (the one with his head down just behind Goughie) was probably watching Return of the Jedi on his phone. 6 I bought an England training top at the Zenit shop, which I’m pretty certain the majority of England fans would love to be the actual England shirt. Still no trouble, apart from an argument between a Morocco fan and a member of hotel staff this lunchtime. And St Petersburg is still beautiful.center_img It was a metrosexual experience for me – brilliant.We encountered the Russia Day parade through St Petersburg, went to the Zenit St Petersburg club shop and interviewed an Aussie who was a mad cricket fan and delighted to meet and be interviewed by Darren Gough. It’s a true story that the Aussies don’t like the English, but Darren is absolutely an exception. They love him down under. And while I was in the club shop, I also bought a t-shirt featuring a fans’ favourite, Aleksandr Kokorin. A knee injury has ruled him out of Russia’s World Cup squad, which is a massive blow to Russia who are already terrible.Having spoken to several Russians here, not one of them is confident, and they’re all relying on the possibility of some favourable refereeing decisions. But this T-shirt – can anyone explain what it’s all about please…? If there was an award for Metro maps (thankfully we know of none) this would win it The talkSPORT team are in Russia to bring you unrivalled coverage of the 2018 World Cup.Adrian Durham, presenter of talkSPORT’s brilliant Drivetime show, will be revealing all from behind the scenes throughout the tournament in his World Cup diary.Here’s his third entry…Okay let’s start with the sunglasses on the St Petersburg road sign – anyone get it? It is there to warn drivers to watch out for blind people. Pretty obvious when you think about it.I didn’t mention the Metro in the last part of the diary, so it’s time to be a #MetroBore again. How good is this map? What is going on here? 6 6 Is Russian vodka all that? Adrian and Goughie put it to the test… ⬇️Join @talkSPORTDrive at 4pm for big sporting debate and #TheDailyVodka!📻 https://t.co/nOCybhqfpb | #TsWorldCup pic.twitter.com/HC00r4SbOc— talkSPORT (@talkSPORT) June 12, 2018Listen to Drivetime with Adrian and Goughie every weekday at 4pm on talkSPORTlast_img read more

Cross Country Records Three Top-5 Finishes At the Oz Memorial

first_img2017 Oz MemorialFalcon Heights, Minn. – Les Bolstad Golf Course Senior Bailee Cofer (Overland Park, Kan.) was the women’s team’s top finisher of the day with a third-place finish in 22:48.1, just 13 seconds off the winning pace. Women’s Results FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. – The Drake University men’s and women’s cross country teams recorded a total of three top-five finishes Friday, Sept. 8, evening at the annual Oz Memorial, hosted by the University of Minnesota at the Les Bolstad Golf Course. The Bulldogs raced against competitors from Minnesota, South Dakota State, North Dakota State, Creighton and Minnesota State with the men racing a four-mile (6.44k) course and women competing on a 6k course. Men’s Results In the team standings, the Drake men finished second out of six teams with 51 points while South Dakota State took top honors with 35 points. The women’s squad finished fourth out of five teams with 95 points. Host Minnesota won the women’s meet with 25 points. The Bulldogs will have a week off from competition before they return to the same course, Sept. 23, for the Roy Griak Invitational. Story Links Men’s Team Results1. South Dakota State, 352. Drake, 513. Minnesota State, 794. North Dakota State, 835. Creighton, 1116. Hamline, 157 Drake Individual Women’s Results – 6k – 63 runners3. Bailee Cofer, 22:48.126. Morgan Garcia, 23:56.232. Olivia Rogers, 24:17.434. Mykaela Cole, 24:19.340. Elizabeth Aho, 24:27.844. Millie Bretl, 24:41.153. Kenzie Mente, 25:14.454. Rachel Selva, 25:16.557. Kayla Giuliano, 25:32.459. Paige Nicholson, 25:42.160. Meghan Kearney, 25:42.1 The men’s race featured Drake sophomore Kyle Brandt (Maple Grove, Minn.) and junior Josh Yeager (Center Point, Iowa) finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Brandt crossed the finish line in 20:25.8, followed by Yeager in 20:38.5. South Dakota’s Kyle Burdick won the race in 19:55.7. Drake Individual Men’s Results – 4 miles – 66 runners4. Kyle Brandt, 20:25.85. Josh Yeager, 20:38.514. Kyle Cass, 21:03.918. Maxmilian Fridrich, 21:15.629. Kurt TeBeest, 21:35.342. Joe Romain, 21:50.544. Xavier Lechleitner, 21:57.247. Matt Cozine, 22:01.152. Justin Phillips, 22:18.756. Cole Friedman, 22:37.162. Alec Bognar, 23:55.5 Women’s Team Results1. Minnesota, 252. North Dakota State, 543. South Dakota State, 624. Drake, 955. Hamline, 151  Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more

National parks, wilderness areas in California could expand under sweeping new bill

first_imgIn the largest land conservation bill passed by Congress in 10 years, vast areas of California’s desert are headed for new protections that would prohibit mining, roads and off-highway vehicles, and enlarge two national parks, Death Valley and Joshua Tree.The bill would designate 1.3 million acres of federal land across the American West as wilderness, the highest level of protection, establish four new national monuments, and set aside more than 600 miles of rivers from dams and other …last_img

State of the Nation address by President Cyril Ramaphosa

first_img7 FEBRUARY 2019PARLIAMENT Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete,Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Ms Thandi Modise,Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP,Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and esteemed members of the judiciary,Former President, Mr Thabo Mbeki,Former President, Mr Kgalema MotlantheFormer Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Frene Ginwala,Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Max Sisulu,Ministers and Deputy Ministers,Premiers and Speakers of Provincial Legislatures,Chairperson of SALGA and Executive Mayors,Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Mr Lesetja Kganyago,Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions,Isithwalandwe, Ms Sophie De Bruyn,Isithwalandwe, Mr Andrew Mlangeni,Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, Ikosi Sipho Mahlangu,Western Cape Khoi San Leader, Prince Jacobus Titus,Kgosi John Molefe Pilane,Chief Aaron Martin Messelaar,2018 CAF Women’s National Team Coach of the Year, Ms Desiree Ellis,Leaders of faith based organisations,Leaders of academic and research institutions,Veterans of the struggle for liberation,Members of the Diplomatic Corps,Invited Guests,Honourable Members of the National Assembly,Honourable Members of the National Council of Provinces,Fellow South Africans, It is a great honour to stand before you today to deliver the 25th annual State of the Nation Address in a free and democratic South Africa. This year, as a diverse people and as a united nation, we will celebrate one of the greatest of human achievements. We will celebrate the triumph of freedom over subjugation, the triumph of democracy over racial tyranny, the triumph of hope over despair. We will celebrate the irresistible determination of an oppressed people to be free and equal and fulfilled. We will use this time to recall the hardship and the suffering which generations of our people endured – their struggles, their sacrifices and their undying commitment to build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it. We will remember the relief and exhilaration of the day of our freedom, the moment at which we became a nation, a country at peace with itself and the world. During the course of this year, we must and will reflect on the journey of the last 25 years. As South Africans, we will have to ask ourselves whether we have realised the promise of our nation’s birth. We must spend this year, the 25th anniversary of our freedom, asking ourselves whether we have built a society in which all South Africans equally and without exception enjoy their inalienable rights to life, dignity and liberty. Have we built a society where the injustices of the past no longer define the lives of the present? We must use this time to reflect on the progress we have made, the challenges we have encountered, the setbacks we have suffered, and the mistakes we have committed. A year ago, we set out on a path of growth and renewal. Emerging from a period of uncertainty and a loss of confidence and trust, we resolved to break with all that divides us, to embrace all that unites us. We resolved to cure our country of the corrosive effects of corruption and to restore the integrity of our institutions. We resolved to advance the values of our Constitution and to once again place at the centre of our national agenda the needs of the poor, unemployed, marginalised and dispossessed. We agreed that, in honour of the centenary of Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela and Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu, we would devote our every action, our every effort, our every utterance to the realisation of their vision of a democratic, just and equitable society. In our magnificent diversity, and despite our many differences, the people of this country answered the call of Thuma Mina. In their multitudes, South Africans asked not what can be done for them, but what they could do for their country. In ways both large and small, both public and private, South Africans set about building a better nation. Many reached out to other South Africans to lend a hand where others were going through difficulties. Others expressed a willingness to support government in its efforts to turn the country around. Today, as we reflect on the year that has passed, we can attest to meaningful progress. Our people have embraced the renewal that our country is going through and are much more hopeful about a better tomorrow. Our people’s hope is not baseless; it is grounded on the progress that is being made. Over the last year, we have begun to rebuild a durable social compact for fundamental social and economic transformation with key stakeholders as we promised. As social partners, we are restoring the bonds of trust, dialogue and cooperation. We are reaching out to those parts of our society that have become disaffected, disinterested or marginalised through various forms of dialogue and engagement. Our efforts may have been uneven, and we still have much work to do, but we have demonstrated over the last year our shared determination to work together to confront our common challenges. We have focused our efforts on reigniting growth and creating jobs. We have worked together – as government, labour, business, civil society and communities – to remove the constraints to inclusive growth and to pursue far greater levels of investment. We held a successful Presidential Jobs Summit that agreed on far-reaching measures that – when fully implemented – will nearly double the number of jobs being created in our economy each year. Last year, a number of stakeholders raised their concerns about policy uncertainty and inconsistency. We have addressed these concerns. In response to the dire situation at several of our state-owned enterprise – where mismanagement and corruption had severely undermined their effectiveness – we have taken decisive measures to improve governance, strengthen leadership and restore stability in strategic entities. We have also had to deal with the effects of state capture on vital public institutions, including our law enforcement agencies, whose integrity and ability to fulfil their mandate had been eroded in recent years. We have therefore acted to stabilise and restore the credibility of institutions like the National Prosecuting Authority, the South African Revenue Service, the State Security Agency and the South African Police Service. We have appointed a new National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Shamila Batohi, to lead the revival of the NPA and to strengthen our fight against crime and corruption. We are implementing the recommendations of the report of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry into SARS and are in the process of appointing a new Commissioner to head this essential institution. On the basis of the report and recommendations of the High Level Review Panel on the State Security Agency, which was chaired by former Minister Sydney Mufamadi, I will soon be announcing a number of urgent steps to enable the reconstitution of a professional national intelligence capability for South Africa. Among the steps we will take to reconstitute a professional national intelligence capability will be the re-establishment of the National Security Council chaired by the President in order to ensure better coordination of the intelligence and security related functions of the State as well as the re-establishment of two arms of our intelligence service one focusing on domestic and the other on foreign intelligence. Work on the reconfiguration of the state is at an advanced stage. We are pleased to note that in the spirit of active citizenry many South Africans continue to show a great interest in the future reconfigured state. During the course of the past year as the Presidency, we have paid particular attention to the violence and abuse perpetrated against women and children in our society. We responded to national concerns and calls by many South Africans by convening a Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide that has provided a firm basis for a coordinated national response to this crisis. We also convened the first Presidential Health Summit in October last year, which brought together key stakeholders from a wide range of constituencies in the health sector. At this Health Summit, the participants dissected the crisis in the health system and proposed immediate, short term and medium term solutions to improve the effectiveness of the health system. We begin this new year encouraged by the progress we have made, working together, in reviving our economy and restoring our country’s democratic institutions. We are determined to stay the course. We are undaunted by the considerable difficulties we have yet to overcome. All of us, as South Africans, should face up to the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead. The task of building a better South Africa is our collective responsibility as a nation, as the people of South Africa. It is at the centre of the work of every department of government, of every agency, of every public entity. It informs every policy, every programme and every initiative. While there is a broad range of critical work being done across government, this evening I want to address the five most urgent tasks at this moment in our history. These are tasks that will underpin everything that we do this year. Working together, we must undertake the following tasks: Firstly, we must accelerate inclusive economic growth and create jobs. Secondly, our history demands that we should improve the education system and develop the skills that we need now and into the future. Thirdly, we are duty bound to improve the conditions of life for all South Africans, especially the poor Fourthly, we have no choice but to step up the fight against corruption and state capture. Fifthly, we need to strengthen the capacity of the state to address the needs of the people. Over the past year, we have focused our efforts on accelerating inclusive growth, significantly increasing levels of investment and putting in place measures to create more jobs. Last year, our economy was confronted by the reality of a technical recession. Government responded with an economic stimulus and recovery plan that re-directed public funding to areas with the greatest potential for growth and job creation. Our approach was not to spend our way out of our economic troubles, but to set the economy on a path of recovery. We introduced a range of measures to ignite economic activity, restore investor confidence, support employment and address the urgent challenges that affect the lives of vulnerable members of our society. We are pleased to report that significant progress has been made in restoring policy certainty on mining regulation and the visa regime, crafting the path towards mobile spectrum allocation, and reviewing port, rail and electricity prices. We also began the process of stabilising and supporting 57 municipalities, where over 10,000 municipal infrastructure projects are being implemented. The focus we have placed on revamping industrial parks in townships and rural areas has brought about discernible change, as industrial parks that have been lying idle are becoming productive again. We have so far completed the revitalisation of 10 out of 16 identified industrial parks, in places such as Botshabelo, Phuthaditjhaba, Garankuwa, Isithebe, Komani and Seshego. The levels of growth that we need to make significant gains in job creation will not be possible without massive new investment. The inaugural South Africa Investment Conference in October last year provided great impetus to our drive to mobilise R1.2 trillion in investment over five years. The Investment Conference attracted around R300 billion in investment pledges from South African and international companies. There was also a significant increase in foreign direct investment last year. In 2017, we recorded an inflow of foreign direct investment amounting to R17 billion. Official data shows that just in the first three quarters of 2018, there was an inflow of R70 billion. This is a phenomenal achievement compared to the low level of investment in the previous years. Our investment envoys – Trevor Manuel, Mcebisi Jonas, Phumzile Langeni and Jacko Maree – as well as InvestSA are closely monitoring the status of the investments announced at the Investment Conference. To prove that our investment conference was not just a talk shop where empty promises were made, as we speak, projects to the value of R187 billion are being implemented, and projects worth another R26 billion are in pre-implementation phase. Drawing on the valuable lessons we’ve learnt, through a more focused effort, and through the improvements we’re making in the business environment, we aim to raise even more investment this year. We will be identifying the sectors and firms we want and need in South Africa and actively attract investors. Based on our experiences over the past year, and to build on the momentum achieved, we will host the South Africa Investment Conference again this year. It is our intention that the investment we generate should be spread out in projects throughout the country. In this regard, I have asked provincial governments to identify investable projects and ensure that we build investment books for each of our nine provinces to present to potential investors. Following our successful Investment Conference, a group of South African business leaders moved by the spirit of Thuma Mina initiated the Public-Private Growth Initiative to facilitate focused investment plans of leading companies across 19 sectors of the economy, from mining to renewable energy, from manufacturing to agriculture. These industries expect to substantially expand investment over the next five years and create a vast number of new jobs, especially if we can enhance demand for local goods, further stabilise the labour environment and improve conditions for doing business. As part of our ongoing work to remove constraints to greater investment, we have established a team from the Presidency, Invest SA, National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation that will address the policy, legal, regulatory and administrative barriers that frustrate investors. This is an important aspect of our work to improve the ease of doing business in South Africa, which is essential to attracting investment. This team will report progress to Cabinet on a monthly basis. The World Bank’s annual Doing Business Report currently ranks South Africa 82 out of 190 countries tracked. We have set ourselves the target of being among the top 50 global performers within the next 3 years. It has long been recognised that one of the constraints that inhibit the growth of our economy is the high level of economic concentration. The structure of our economy was designed to keep assets in a few hands. This has stifled growth and enterprise and has to a large extent kept many young South African entrepreneurs and small enterprises out of the economy or confine them to the margins. As part of our efforts to increase investment, and to foster greater inclusion and create more opportunities, I will soon sign into law the Competition Amendment Bill. This will give the competition authorities the ability to address this problem but more importantly it will open up new opportunities for many South Africans to enter various sectors of the economy and compete on an equal footing. To stimulate growth in the economy, to build more businesses and employ more people, we need to find new and larger markets for our goods and services. We will therefore be focusing greater attention on expanding exports. In line with Jobs Summit commitments, we will focus on the export of manufactured goods and trade in services such as business process outsourcing and the remote delivery of medical services. We will also be looking at establishing special economic zones that are dedicated to producing specific types of products, such as clothing and textiles, for example. To improve the competitiveness of our exports, we will complete the studies that have begun on reducing the costs of electricity, trade, communications, transport and other costs. We will focus on raising the sophistication of our exports. The agreement on the establishment of African Continental Free Trade Area offers great opportunities to place South Africa on a path of investment-led trade, and to work with other African countries to develop their own industrial capacity. The agreement will see the creation of a market of over a billion people with a combined GDP of approximately $3.3 trillion. Alongside a focus on exports, we will pursue measures to increase local demand through, among other things, increasing the proportion of local goods and services procured both by government and the private sector. Increasing local demand, and reducing the consumption of imports, is important because it increases the opportunities for producers within South Africa to serve a growing market. Through this we will intensify the “buy South Africa” programme. Given the key role that small businesses play in stimulating economic activity and employment – and in advancing broad-based empowerment – we are focusing this year on significantly expanding our small business incubation programme. The incubation programme provides budding entrepreneurs with physical space, infrastructure and shared services, access to specialised knowledge, market linkages, training in the use of new technologies and access to finance. The incubation programme currently consists of a network of 51 technology business incubators, 10 enterprise supplier development incubators and 14 rapid youth incubators. As part of the expansion of this programme, township digital hubs will be established, initially in four provinces, with more to follow. We expect these hubs to provide most needed entrepreneurial service to small and medium enterprises in the rural areas and townships but more especially to young people who want to start their businesses. Our greatest challenge is to create jobs for the unemployed of today, while preparing workers for the jobs of tomorrow. The Presidential Jobs Summit last year resulted in concrete agreements between organised labour, business, community and government. These agreements, which are now being implemented by social partners, aim to create 275,000 additional direct jobs every year. We have come up with great plans, platforms and initiatives through which we continue to draw young people in far greater numbers into productive economic activity through initiatives like the Employment Tax Incentive. This incentive will be extended for another 10 years. In addition, we have launched the Youth Employment Service, which is placing unemployed youth in paid internships in companies across the economy. We call on all companies, both big and small, to participate in this initiative and thereby contribute not only to building their business but also to building the economy and fostering social cohesion. Progress is being made in the areas of installation, repair and maintenance jobs, digital and tech jobs like coding and data analytics, as well as global business services. These enable us to absorb more youth – especially those exiting schools and colleges, and those not in any education, training or employment – into productive economic activity and further work opportunities. As government, we have decided that the requirement for work experience at entry-level in state institutions will be done away with. Our young people need to be given a real head start in the world of work. They should not face barriers and hindrances as they seek to find work. We are focusing our attention, our policies and our programmes on the key parts of the economy that are labour intensive. These include agriculture, tourism and the ocean economy. The potential of agriculture in South Africa for job creation and economic growth still remains largely underdeveloped. South Africa still has large areas of underutilised or unproductive land. There are around 250,000 small emerging farmers who are working the land and need support in fully developing their businesses. Agricultural exports are an important source of revenue for our economy, and developing our agricultural sector is key to enhancing our food security and for attracting investment. We are fortunate to have an agricultural sector that is well-developed, resilient and diversified. We intend to use it as a solid foundation to help develop agriculture in our country for the benefit of all. Through an accelerated programme of land reform, we will work to expand our agricultural output and promote economic inclusion. Our policy and legislative interventions will ensure that more land is made available for agriculture, industrial development and human settlements. I wish to commend the many South Africans who participated in the work of the Constitutional Review Committee in the dialogue that ensued through the length and the breadth of the country. I applaud the members of the Constitutional Review Committee for remaining focused throughout this period and sifting through the submissions that were made by ordinary South Africans and their organisations. We will support the work of the Constitutional Review Committee tasked with the review of Section 25 of the Constitution to unambiguously set out provisions for expropriation of land without compensation. Alongside this constitutional review process we tasked the Deputy President to lead the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform to fast-track land reform. An advisory panel of experts headed by Dr Vuyo Mahlathi, established to advise government on its land reform programme, is expected to table its report by the end of March 2019. As part of accelerating land reform, we have identified land parcels owned by the state for redistribution. Strategically located land will be released to address human settlements needs in urban and peri-urban areas. As part of the stimulus package in agriculture, we have invested significantly in comprehensive farmer development support to ensure that restituted and communal land is productively utilised. We will continue to prioritise targeted skills development and capacity building programmes for smallholder and emerging black farmers. In the coming year, we will continue to focus on high value agricultural products with export potential such as our fruit, wine and vegetable industries, as well as poultry and red meat. During SONA last year, we spoke at length about the huge potential that exists for the expansion of the tourism sector. Our concerted efforts to market South Africa as a prime destination for tourists has yielded positive results, with significant annual growth in the number of foreign visitors. In the past year we had 10 million tourists who came to our country. We intend to raise this to 21 million by 2030, targeting, among others, the largest and fastest growing markets of India and China, as well as strong markets on our continent. In addition to direct jobs, this export industry could generate as many as 2 million more jobs in food and agriculture, construction, transport, retail, and the creative and cultural industries by 2030. We will deepen the partnership between government and business to realise this vision. Our highest priority this year will be on the introduction of a world class eVisa regime. This, combined with enhanced destination marketing and measures to strengthen tourism safety, will create the conditions for the growth we envisage, and the jobs and opportunities that will follow. Our beautiful country, South Africa has one of the world’s longest coastlines spanning 3,000 km around the contours of our country from the east to the west. Our mere positioning as a country means we can harness the potential of our oceans to grow the economy. Since the Operation Phakisa on the Oceans Economy in 2014, we have secured investments of nearly R30 billion and created over 7,000 direct jobs. The investments have been mainly in infrastructure development, marine manufacturing, aquaculture, and the oil and gas sector. Expected investment in the Oceans Economy over the next five years is estimated at R3.8 billion by government and R65 billion by the private sector. These investments are expected to create over 100,000 direct jobs and more than 250,000 indirect jobs. Last night I received a call from Minister Gwede Mantashe when he told me that the oil giant Total would be making a big announcement today about a new “world-class” oil and gas discovery off the coast of South Africa. We are extremely encouraged by the report this morning about the Brulpadda block in the Outeniqua Basin, which some have described as a catalytic find. This could well be a game-changer for our country and will have significant consequences for our country’s energy security and the development of this industry. We congratulate Total and its various partners and wish them well in their endeavours. Government will continue to develop legislation for the sector so that it is properly regulated for the interests of all concerned. Over the past five years, we made significant progress with the provision of infrastructure. More than R1.3 trillion has been invested to build hundreds of schools and two new universities, to build hundreds of thousands of new houses, to electrify more than a million homes, generate new electricity and to expand public transport. These infrastructure investments also helped grow our economy and create many new jobs in construction and other sectors. Infrastructure development has been flywheel of the engine of our economy and has yielded tremendous benefits for the country. We must do more. Our infrastructure development has slowed down for a whole number of reasons. We have also realised that our infrastructure provision is too fragmented between the different spheres of government. It does not fully integrate new housing development with economic opportunities and with the building of dams, water pipelines, schools and other amenities. Cabinet has adopted a new infrastructure implementation model to address these problems. It will be underpinned by the new Infrastructure Fund announced in September last year. Government has committed to contribute R100 billion into the Infrastructure Fund over a 10 year period and use this to leverage financing from the private sector and development finance institutions. As a first step, we will expand projects underway already, such as student accommodation. We plan to do things differently, starting with a deeper partnership with our communities in the planning, building and maintenance of infrastructure. Just as we did with the Vaal River, where the SANDF intervened to address a sewage crisis, we will call on all the capabilities of the state and the private sector to address infrastructure challenges. We will strengthen the technical capacity in government to ensure that projects move faster, building a pool of engineers, project managers, spatial planners and quantity surveyors – an action team that can make things happen faster on the ground. The telecommunications sector represents vast potential for boosting economic growth. The Minister of Communications will shortly be issuing policy direction to ICASA for the licensing of the high demand radio frequency spectrum. As a water scarce country, we are confronting water crises in many parts of the country. We are developing a comprehensive integrated nation plan that addresses water shortages, ageing infrastructure and poor project implementation. We are urgently establishing an inter-governmental rapid response technical team, reinforced by specialist professionals, to intervene in areas which are experiencing severe water problems. In one of these areas, Giyani, extensive work is underway to get water to the residents, in the immediate term through the repair of boreholes, and then through the rapid provision of proper infrastructure. The safety of our learners in school is critical for creating a healthy, learning environment. We recall with deep sadness the tragic deaths of Michael Komape, who drowned in a pit toilet at Mahlodumela Primary School in Limpopo in 2014, and Lumka Mkethwa, from Luna Junior Primary School in the Eastern Cape, who lost her life in March last year. We conducted an audit last year and found that nearly 4,000 schools still have inappropriate sanitation facilities. Given the scale and urgency of the problem, we launched the SAFE Initiative in August last year, through which we mobilised all available resources, including pledges from business, strategic partners, and the building industry to replace all unsafe toilets in public schools. Since we launched the initiative, 699 schools have been provided with safe and appropriate sanitation facilities and projects in a further 1,150 schools are either in planning, design or construction stages. We are determined to eradicate unsafe and inappropriate sanitation facilities within the next three years. This is an outstanding example of collaboration between government and business to address with urgency a great need that impacts on the right of South Africa’s children to safety and dignity in educational facilities. We are making important progress in restoring the integrity and capacity of our strategic state owned enterprises. To restore proper corporate governance, new boards with credible, appropriately experienced and ethical directors, have been appointed at Eskom, Denel, Transnet, SAFCOL, PRASA and SA Express. We have established the Presidential SOE Council, which will provide political oversight and strategic management in order to reform, reposition and revitalise state owned enterprises, so they play their role as catalysts of economic growth and development. We want our SOEs to be fully self-sufficient and be able to fulfil their development and economic role. Where SOEs are not able to raise sufficient financing from banks, from capital markets, from development finance institutions or from the fiscus, we will need to explore other mechanisms, such as strategic equity partnerships or selling off non-strategic assets. As we do all this, we will not support any measures that, in any form, dispose of assets of the state that are strategic to the wellbeing of the economy and the people. We have the task and the responsibility to safeguard, build and sustain these key institutions for future generations. We have sought credible plans from boards to put in place the right skills and expertise to manage these companies so that we can shift the focus from immediate stability to long-term sustainability. We also seek to build a pragmatic and cooperative relationship between government, organised labour and private sector stakeholders, where we can jointly determine a strategic path for SOEs to create jobs, enable inclusive growth and become operationally and financially sustainable. Security of energy supply is an absolute imperative. Eskom is in crisis and the risks it poses to South Africa are great. It could severely damage our economic and social development ambitions. We need to take bold decisions and decisive action. The consequences may be painful, but they will be even more devastating if we delay. In responding to this crisis, we are informed by the need to minimise any adverse economic cost to the consumer and taxpayer. As we address the challenges that face Eskom we will ensure that there is meaningful consultation and dialogue with all key stakeholders. We will lead a process with labour, Eskom and other stakeholders to work out the details of a just transition, and proper, credible and sustainable plans that will address the needs of all those who may be affected. As we address the challenges that face Eskom, we also need to safeguard our national fiscal framework, achieve a positive impact on our sovereign credit rating, and pay attention to the rights and obligations of Eskom’s funders. Eskom has come up with the nine-point turnaround plan which we support and want to see implemented. In line with this plan, Eskom will need to take urgent steps to significantly reduce its costs. It will need more revenue through an affordable tariff increase. We need to take steps to reduce municipal non-payment and confront the culture of non-payment that exists in some communities. It is imperative that all those who use electricity – over and above the free basic electricity provided – should pay for it. Government will support Eskom’s balance sheet, and the Minister of Finance will provide further details on this in the Budget Speech. This we will do without burdening the fiscus with unmanageable debt. To ensure the credibility of the turnaround plan and avoid a similar financial crisis in a few years’ time, Eskom will need to develop a new business model. This business model needs to take into account the root causes of its current crisis and the profound international and local changes in the relative costs, and market penetration of energy resources, especially clean technologies. It needs to take into account the role that Eskom itself should play in clean generation technologies. To bring credibility to the turnaround and to position South Africa’s power sector for the future, we shall immediately embark on a process of establishing three separate entities – Generation, Transmission and Distribution – under Eskom Holdings. This will ensure that we isolate cost and give responsibility to each appropriate entity. This will also enable Eskom to be able to raise funding for its various operations much easily from funders and the market. Of particular and immediate importance is the entity to manage an independent state-owned transmission grid combined with the systems operator and power planning, procurement and buying functions. It is imperative that we undertake these measures without delay to stabilise Eskom’s finances, ensure security of electricity supply, and establish the basis for long-term sustainability. At the centre of all our efforts to achieve higher and more equitable growth, to draw young people into employment and to prepare our country for the digital age, must be the prioritisation of education and the development of skills.  With over 700,000 children accessing early childhood education in the last financial year, we have established a firm foundation for a comprehensive ECD programme that is an integral part of the education system. This year, we will migrate responsibility for ECD centres from Social Development to Basic Education, and proceed with the process towards two years of compulsory ECD for all children before they enter grade 1. Another critical priority is to substantially improve reading comprehension in the first years of school. This is essential in equipping children to succeed in education, in work and in life – and it is possibly the single most important factor in overcoming poverty, unemployment and inequality. The department’s early grade reading studies have demonstrated the impact that a dedicated package of reading resources, expert reading coaches and lesson plans can have on reading outcomes. We will be substantially expanding the availability of these early reading resources across the foundation phase of schooling. Over the next six years, we will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device. We will start with those schools that have been historically most disadvantaged and are located in the poorest communities, including multigrade, multiphase, farm and rural schools. Already, 90% of textbooks in high enrolment subjects across all grades and all workbooks have been digitised. In line with our Framework for Skills for a Changing World, we are expanding the training of both educators and learners to respond to emerging technologies including the internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence. Several new technology subjects and specialisations will be introduced, including technical mathematics and technical sciences, maritime sciences, aviation studies, mining sciences, and aquaponics. To expand participation in the technical streams, several ordinary public schools will be transformed into technical high schools. In line with government’s commitment to the right of access to higher education for the poor, last year we introduced free higher education for qualifying first year students. Thanks to this initiative, links have been re-established with all institutions, and institution heads and student leaders have played a critical role in communicating with students. The scheme is being phased in over a five year period until all undergraduate students who qualify in terms of the criteria can benefit. Stabilising the business processes of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will also be a priority in the coming year so that it is properly capacitated to carry out its critical role in supporting eligible students. We are concerned about developments on some campuses this week, especially reports of violence and intimidation. Of particular concern, is the tragic death of Mlungisi Madonsela, a student at the Durban University of Technology. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and call on law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident. We call on student representatives and university authorities to work together to find solutions to the challenges that students are facing. We will give effect to our commitment to build human settlements in well-located areas that bring together economic opportunities and all the services and amenities that people need. The Housing Development Agency will construct an additional 500,000 housing units in the next five years, and an amount of R30 billion will be provided to municipalities and provinces to enable them to fulfil their respective mandates. However, if we are to effectively address the substantial housing backlog in our country, we need to develop different models of financing for human settlements. It is for this reason that we are establishing a Human Settlements Development Bank that will leverage both public and private sector financing to aid in housing delivery. We will also be expanding the People’s Housing Programme, where households are allocated serviced stands tp build their own houses, either individually or through community-led housing cooperatives. South Africa has one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching social security nets in the world, providing a buffer between poor households and abject poverty. Every month 17.5 million social grants are provided to South Africans. The Department of Social Development is to be commended for having honoured Constitutional Court’s directive for phasing out the services of Cash Paymaster Services. To date the majority of grant beneficiaries have been successfully migrated to the South African Post Office, and the old SASSA cards replaced by new ones. We have made significant progress in devising a Comprehensive Social Security strategy through NEDLAC. The reforms focus on achieving comprehensive social security and retirement reform that is affordable, sustainable and appropriate for all South Africans. With the assistance of the National Planning Commission, we reached consensus on reforms that include the National Social Security Fund, institutional arrangements, regulatory reforms, improved unemployment benefits, improved social assistance coverage, and active labour market policies for citizens between 18 and 59 years. We will now incorporate this consensus agreement into a policy framework to guide implementation. This year, we will take a significant step towards universal access to quality health care for all South Africans. After extensive consultation, the NHI Bill will soon be ready for submission to Parliament. The NHI will enable South Africans to receive free services at the point of care in public and private quality-accredited health facilities. By applying the principle of social solidarity and cross-subsidisation, we aim to reduce inequality in access to health care. Realising the magnitude of the challenges in health care, we have established an NHI and quality improvement War Room in the Presidency consisting of various key departments to address the crisis in the public health system while preparing for the implementation of the NHI. We have a funded national quality health improvement plan to improve every clinic and hospital that will be contracted by the NHI. By introducing the NHI together with a multi-pronged quality improvement programme for public health facilities, we are working towards a massive change in the health care experience of South Africans. While we have made progress since 1994 in bringing down certain categories of serious crime, communities across the country are still plagued by gangsterism and violence. As part of our concerted effort to make our country safer and more secure, the Community Policing Strategy was launched in October last year. The strategy focuses on building partnerships between communities and the police; making more resources available for policing and better communication between the police and communities about crime prevention strategies. This will enable policemen and women to become more proactive in addressing crime and broader public safety concerns. In addition, we are strengthening the functioning of various specialised units such as the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units and improving our administrative and record keeping capacity at all levels. The SAPS has embarked on a restructuring process to shift more policing resources to the local level. Violence against women and children has reached epidemic proportions. Every day, South African women are faced with discrimination, abuse, violence and even death, often by those they are closest to. Over the last year, we have started to address this scourge in a more serious and coordinated way. At the Presidential Gender-based Violence and Femicide Summit, women from all walks of life came together with government and civil society to outline a road map to end gender-based violence, improve coordination of planning, and establish a commitment to resourcing and accountability. Work is underway to implement the decisions of the Summit, including preparing the National Strategic Plan on Gender- Based Violence. This year, we will work with our partners in civil society to implement the decisions of the National Summit on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide. We are expanding and dedicating more funds to places of support, such as the Thuthuzela Care Centres and Khuseleka Care Centres. We have been working to ensure the better functioning of Sexual Offences Courts. We will improve the quality of services in shelters and ensure they also accommodate members of the  LGBTQI+ community. We will strengthen the national hotline centre that supports women who experience gender-based violence and ensure it is functional. We have listened to the call to make funds available to combat gender-based violence, and have allocated funding in the current budget to support the decisions taken at the Summit. Government will lead the campaign to include men and boys as active champions in the struggle against gender-based violence. Ending gender-based violence is an urgent national priority that requires the mobilisation of all South Africans and the involvement of all institutions. South Africa has extremely high levels of substance abuse, which feeds crime and violence against women and children, it deepens poverty and causes great hardship and pain for families. As government we continue to roll-out interventions to address social ills tearing our communities apart such as alcoholism and substance abuse. Knowing as we do that there are strong linkages between substance abuse, drug trafficking, crime and insecurity in communities – we are focusing on tackling this problem at its source through prevention programmes targeting vulnerable persons especially our youth. We are resolute that all taverns, shebeens and liquour outlets near school premises must be shut down. We recognise, as do all South Africans, that our greatest efforts to end poverty, unemployment and inequality will achieve little unless we tackle state capture and corruption in all its manifestations and in all areas of public life. The action we take now to end corruption and hold those responsible to account will determine the pace and trajectory of the radical social and economic transformation we seek. The revelations emerging from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture and other commissions are deeply disturbing, for they reveal a breadth and depth of criminal wrongdoing that challenges the very foundation of our democratic state. We commend these commissions for the work they are doing, often under challenging circumstances, to uncover the truth. These commissions need to be able to do their work without any hindrance, and we call on all those people who are in a position to assist them in their investigations to make themselves available. While these Commissions will in time make findings and recommendations in line with their mandates, evidence of criminal activity that emerges must be evaluated by the criminal justice system. Where there is a basis to prosecute, prosecutions must follow swiftly and stolen public funds must be recovered urgently. To this end, we have agreed with the new National Director of Public Prosecutions, that there is an urgent need to establish in the office of the NDPP an investigating directorate dealing with serious corruption and associated offences, in accordance with section 7 of the NPA Act. I will soon be promulgating a Proclamation that will set out the specific terms of reference of the Directorate. In broad terms, the Directorate will focus on the evidence that has emerged from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, other commissions and disciplinary inquiries. It will identify priority cases to investigate and prosecute and will recover assets identified to be the proceeds of corruption. The Directorate will bring together a range of investigatory and prosecutorial capacity from within government and in the private sector under an investigating director reporting to the NDPP. In the longer term, we will work with the NPA and other agencies of law enforcement to develop a more enduring solution that will strengthen the capacity of the criminal justice system to deal with corruption. Fellow South Africans, As we grapple with the challenges of our recent past, and as we deepen our efforts to overcome the grave injustices of centuries, it is essential that we do so with our eyes firmly fixed on the future. The world we now inhabit is changing at a pace and in a manner that is unprecedented in human history. Revolutionary advances in technology are reshaping the way people work and live. They are transforming the way people relate to each other, the way societies function and the way they are governed. The devastating effects of global warming on our climate are already being felt, with extreme weather conditions damaging livelihoods, communities and economies. As a young nation, only 25 years into our democracy, we are faced with a stark choice. It is a choice between being overtaken by technological change or harnessing it to serve our developmental aspirations. It is a choice between entrenching inequality or creating shared prosperity through innovation. Unless we adapt, unless we understand the nature of the profound change that is reshaping our world, and unless we readily embrace the opportunities it presents, the promise of our nation’s birth will forever remain unfulfilled. Today, we choose to be a nation that is reaching into the future. In doing so, we are building on a platform of extraordinary scientific achievement. The successful construction in the Northern Cape of the MeerKAT telescope, the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope, and the development of the Square Kilometre Array has enabled South Africa to develop capabilities in areas such as space observation, advanced engineering and supercomputing. These skills and capabilities are being used to build HERA, a radio telescope designed to detect, for the first time, the distinctive radio signal from the very first stars and galaxies that formed early in the life of the universe. This is not merely about advancing human understanding of the origins of the universe – it is about responding to the challenges that face South Africans now and into the future. It is about developing the technology and the capabilities that will build a dynamic and competitive economy that creates decent, sustainable jobs. It is about enhanced food security, better disease management, and cheaper, cleaner and more efficient energy. It is about smart human settlements and social development solutions built around people’s needs and preferences. It is about smarter, more responsive, more effective governance. To ensure that we effectively and with greater urgency harness technological change in pursuit of inclusive growth and social development, I have appointed a Presidential Commission on the 4th Industrial Revolution. Comprised of eminent persons drawn from different sectors of society, the Commission will serve as a national overarching advisory mechanism on digital transformation. It will identify and recommend policies, strategies and plans that will position South Africa as a global competitive player within the digital revolution space. Building on the work we have done over the last year, we will focus on further strengthening the capacity of the state. We have made progress in examining the size and structure of the state, and will complete this work by the end of this administration. We invite all South Africans to make suggestions on how we can better configure government to serve the needs and the interests of the people. In improving the capabilities of public servants, the National School of Government is introducing a suite of compulsory courses, covering areas like ethics and anti-corruption, senior management and supply chain management, and deployment of managers to the coal face to strengthen service delivery. We will process the operationalisation of section 8 of the Public Administration and Management Act, which strengthens the outlawing of public servants doing business with the state and enable government to deal more effectively with corrupt activities. This provision will see the imposition of harsher penalties, including fines and/or prison sentences for officials that transgress. The Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit will be established to to strengthen management of ethics and anti-corruption and ensure consequence management for breaches of government processes. Fellow South Africans, South Africa has this year taken up a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council. We will use this position to advance peace on the continent and across the globe, taking forward Nelson Mandela’s vision of a peaceful, stable and just world. Fellow South Africans, In a few months time, South Africans will go to the polls for the sixth time in our democracy to vote for national and provincial governments. This is an opportunity for our people to exercise their hard-won right to determine the direction of this country. I have engaged with the Independent Electoral Commission and also with the Premiers of all provinces, and intend to proclaim the 8th of May 2019 as the date of the election. We wish to remind all eligible South Africans who have not yet registered as voters that they still have until the proclamation of the election date to register. Fellow South Africans, We are a people of resilience, of determination and of optimism. Despite the worst excesses of apartheid, we did not descend into vengeance when our freedom was won. Our democracy has blossomed and flourished, nurtured by the goodwill of the men and women of this great land, who understand only too well at what cost it was attained. But the road towards true freedom is a long one, and we have seen divisions in our society grow. Between black and white, rich and the poor, between rural and urban, between the sexes, and between language groups and cultures. At times it has seemed that the milk of human kindness that allowed us to reconcile in 1994, had gone sour. But we will not surrender to the forces of pessimism and defeatism. Our society is anchored in the roots of tolerance and co-existence, and we stand firm, resolute and united against all and everything that seeks to divide us or destroy our hard-won gains. They told us building a non-racial South Africa was impossible, and that we would never be able to truly heal from our bitter past. Yet we weathered the storm, and we are prevailing. It was the eternal optimism of the human spirit that kept hopes alive during our darkest time. It is this optimism that will carry us forward as we face a brave new future. It is a South Africa in which every man, woman and child is provided with the opportunity and means to make a better life for themselves. It is a South Africa ready to take advantage of the technological changes sweeping the globe to make our economy grow and create jobs for our people. It is a South Africa whose people have vision, drive and ambition; making it a hub of innovation, entrepreneurship and enterprise. It is a South Africa that acknowledges the problems of the past, but looks firmly to the future. It is a South Africa whose leaders are bold and courageous, leaders who remain servants of the people – and for whom fulfilling their duty is the highest, and the only, reward. Above all, it is a South Africa of which we are all proud, of what we have achieved and of where we hope to be. The task before us is formidable. Above everything else, we must get our economy working again. I call upon every South African to make this cause your own. Because when we succeed – and of this we are certain – it is the entire nation that will benefit. As government, as business, as labour and as citizens, let us unite to embrace tomorrow. Let us grasp our collective future with both hands, in the immortal words of the Freedom Charter: side by side, sparing neither strength nor courage. This task – of building a better South Africa – is our collective task as a nation, as the people of South Africa. As we approach these tasks and challenges, we should heed the word of Theodore Roosevelt, who said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” We all have a role to play as individual South Africans, faith-based organisations, sports organisations, trade unions, business, students, academics and citizens Let us continue to embrace the spirit of citizen activism in line with the injunction, Thuma Mina, in the onward march towards equality, freedom and prosperity for all. I thank you.last_img read more

Lifeline Express

first_imgGrateful patients bearing small bags of fruit and vegetables are common along the railway platforms where Lifeline Express — the world’s first hospital on rails — halts for three-week camps across rural India. So when a distraught parent dropped a bundle into Zelma Lazarus’s lap at one of the stations and begged her to help his son who had lost his arms in a threshing machine accident, the CEO of Impact India, the foundation that created Lifeline, took it in stride — until she opened the bag and found the severed limbs.“The rural poor often slip through the gaps in the public health system,” Lazarus says. “Lifeline Express is like a magic train to them, and they expect us to perform miracles.” In this particular case, the “magic train” couldn’t help, but Impact India could: The foundation brought the boy to Mumbai, where he was fitted with a pair of artificial limbs. The mission of Lifeline Express is to vanquish avoidable blindness, deafness and physical handicaps. After 19 years and nearly 600,000 surgeries, the train and its 100,000 volunteers have not even scratched the surface of disability in India. Impact India’s chairman, A. H. Tobaccowala, estimates that the train has reached less than 10% of the population in need of medical attention.When the Impact Foundation was set up in 1981 by Sir John Wilson — a prominent British supporter of the disabled who himself was blinded in a laboratory accident at school — three United Nations agencies threw their weight behind the organization, with the understanding that it would be run as a public-private partnership. Accordingly, Impact India was founded in 1983 with managerial and technical support from the Tata Group conglomerate. Tobaccowala and Lazarus, who were respectively chairman and general manager of corporate affairs at a Tata Group company called Voltas, were seconded to the new foundation and have been there since.Making TracksImpact India initially focused on immunization and prevention of diseases such as polio and malaria. In 1989, it started “Cure on Wheels,” a van that traveled around the hinterland, dispensing medical and surgical treatment to people beyond the reach of the state-funded basic health service. But the care the van was able to provide was still too little and, often, too late. Impact wanted to extend medical services to larger numbers of people in even more remote parts of the country. The challenge, however, was that sterile facilities for the surgeries and post-operating recovery were needed, while procedures had to be consistently replicable across the country. This was clearly a task beyond what a van could do. So Impact turned to India’s railway system — all 109,000 kilometers (68,000 miles) of it. Three old, wooden carriages were donated by Indian Railways and renovated to the foundation’s specifications. An air-conditioned operating theater with three adjustable tables, a diagnostic center, a sterilization chamber and a post-operative recovery room were installed in one carriage. The other two contained the living quarters, pantry, office and pathology lab. Funding for the overhaul came from international charities, such as the Ford Foundation, USAID and Impact UK. On July 16, 1991, Lifeline Express rolled away from Mumbai to Khalari in Bihar state, then the smallest railway station in India.The present Lifeline Express has five customized carriages that were unveiled in 2007. Indian Railways once again provided the carriages, and Impact UK funded their overhaul. The new train has state-of-the-art facilities, including an auditorium, public announcement system and closed-circuit cameras. There is also a second, self-contained, two-table operating theater, which can be detached from the rest of the train and function as a standalone unit in the event of a disaster.The train may be new, but the procedures have remained much the same since the early days. Lasting three to four weeks, each project serves nearly 5,000 people and relies on community participation. At every stop, local villages and non-governmental organizations offer various assistance, from food and laundry services to crowd control (polite patients waiting in line and disorderly mobs are equally common) to finding accommodations for post-operative patients and family who accompany them.The train has only a few permanent staffers, such as the cook, a technician in charge of maintaining the pathology lab and computers, an operating theater assistant and a driver. All medical specialists — surgeons, doctors, nurses, anesthetists — are volunteers, providing the equivalent of $80,000 of donated time for every project. At any given moment, a 20-person medical team is on the train, working 15 hours a day.Remote ControlEach project costs the foundation about $65,000. Typically, the sponsor — generally companies such as Tata and Mahindra & Mahindra or state governments — decides the location of the camp. Impact India’s only condition is that it must be in a suitably remote location. Project work starts a month before the train reaches the station. The Lifeline team liaises with the district administration to make sure all the red tape — permits and so forth — and publicity are dealt with before the train arrives. Town criers, flyers, clowns on stilts and poster-draped elephants spread the news about the train and urge people to register at the nearest community welfare center or primary health center. Once selected, patients are called to a local school or marriage hall, which serves as a makeshift waiting room.The train treats “avoidable disabilities,” which means the focus is on ear and eye ailments, as well as orthopedic and facial handicaps, such as illnesses caused by polio and cleft palates. Typically, each specialty is run as a week-long camp. Other ailments are also examined. Last year, a British clinic sponsored a dental unit on the train and volunteered its services. Neurosurgeons have begun treating epilepsy, while counseling superstitious, often illiterate villagers about why the afflicted are not cursed or possessed by evil spirits. Perhaps the greatest advantage Lifeline Express has over other health services for the poor is its ability to reach “the doorstep of the patient,” says G. Chandrasekhar, medical director of K.B.H. Bachooali Charitable Ophthalmic & ENT Hospital in Mumbai. “My hospital also performs free surgeries, but patients have to reach here. Lifeline Express takes me to the patient.” Chandrasekhar has volunteered as an ophthalmic surgeon for the train in 2005 and 2007, and says he’s waiting to be called again.Three Lifeline Express trains now operate in China and Zimbabwe, while hospital river boats based on the India model have been set up to tend to patients in Bangladesh and Cambodia. Lifeline has inspired other projects in India, too. In 2007, the government launched Red Ribbon Express to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS, and Science Express to promote science among students.Tobaccowala may regret the large numbers that remain untreated, but there is a consolation: The country’s government wouldn’t have reached even a small fraction of the people helped by Lifeline Express. India’s public health system is dangerously overstretched and large parts of the country have limited or no access to basic medical care. Government spending on health, at 3% of total its budget, is among the lowest in the world. There is one doctor to every 870 people.A recent government report notes that the low number of trained medical professionals in India has led to a shortage of one million nurses, 600,000 doctors and 200,000 oral surgeons. The scarcity is especially pronounced in rural areas. “Many of the people we treat have never been to a doctor before,” Lazarus says. “People are so desperate for medical treatment they lie on the tracks to stop the train from leaving.”Seeking SustainabilityDespite all this, Lazarus says she wishes that the train would become defunct. Why? “The train arrives at the platform, treats as many people as it can and then leaves. It is not a sustainable solution for these people’s health care needs. Once that is attained, there will be no need for a Lifeline Express.” To address health care needs over the longer term, Impact India started an initiative in 2005 in Maharashtra state. The grassroots program aims to reduce disability by improving community health and neonatal and maternal care by focusing on malnutrition, sanitation, hygiene and family planning. To get the message across, mobile clinics are equipped with LCD screens showing film clips about health-related issues, while a local art form called Warli painting is used on posters, clothing, walls and even water pots to spread the word.“Hospitals are already overworked treating patients. They can’t focus on prevention and awareness,” says G.V. Rao, country director of Orbis India, a blindness-prevention nonprofit. “That can be done by trains and planes to draw attention to these preventable and easily treated ailments.” Orbis’s Flying Eye Hospital travels the world with volunteer surgeons, who treat patients and train local specialists in eye care. In India, Rao says, Orbis has screened more than 3.5 million children over the past eight years, treated nearly 600,000 people and performed more than 60,000 surgeries. “Policy-level changes are needed,” Rao says. “Children should be screened for basic health issues during school enrollment. Diet and nutrition issues should also be tackled at the primary level.”For India’s rural poor, prevention is essential because the chance for a cure may never arrive. More than budgetary support, it requires an approach to rural health care emphasizing nutrition and immunization. Until that happens, there will always be offerings of fruit and flowers for the doctors on board Lifeline Express.   Related Itemslast_img read more

Kidambi Srikanth Pulls Out of PBL to Focus on International Events

first_img Get the best of News18 delivered to your inbox – subscribe to News18 Daybreak. Follow News18.com on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, TikTok and on YouTube, and stay in the know with what’s happening in the world around you – in real time. New Delhi: Kidambi Srikanth on Monday pulled out of the upcoming Premier Badminton League (PBL) to focus on international events ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.The 26-year-old from Guntur, who had guided Bangalore Raptors to their maiden title win in the last PBL, will not feature in the fifth edition scheduled to be held from January 20 to February 9. “It’s a tough road ahead. Need to go full throttle and fulfill the expectations that lie on me. Hence, I won’t be playing PBL this year to focus more on international events. Wish @blr_raptors all the very best and hope for a smashing season this year as well,” Srikanth wrote on his twitter handle. It’s a tough road ahead. Need to go full throttle and fulfill the expectations that lie on me. Hence, I won’t be playing PBL this year to focus more on International events. Wish @blr_raptors all the very best and hope for a smashing season this year as well.— Kidambi Srikanth (@srikidambi) November 25, 2019 2020 Olympics2020 tokyo olympicsbadmintonIndia First Published: November 25, 2019, 6:12 PM IST Srikanth is currently enduring a winless streak since claiming four titles in 2017. He had reached the finals of India Open earlier this year.He has been battling form and fitness issues and has slipped to world no 11. He made it to the semifinals of Hong Kong Open earlier this month.London Games bronze medallist Saina Nehwal, who is also going through a bad patch, had withdrawn from the PBL on Sunday to prepare herself for the next international season.Being the pre-Olympic year, shuttlers across the globe are trying to stock up ranking points to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics to be held from July 24 to August 9, 2020.The Olympic qualification period is between April 29, 2019 and April 26, 2020 with the ranking list published on April 30 to be used to decide the spots. last_img read more

Is Rihanna wearing a saree in her new music video?

first_imgAfter Beyonce’s appearance as an Indian actress in Coldplay’s Hymn for the Weekend video evoked more than mere interest, now pop sensation Rihanna seems to be taking a whiff of India in her latest music video.The Work singer, who never fails to live up to her reputation of being the experimental and phenomenal artist that she is, is seen donning a saree-inspired, orange-hued outfit in the music video of the track, Sledgehammer.Also Read: Sonam Kapoor, Mumbai and Beyonce come together for Coldplay’s new track The song that features in the upcoming Hollywood movie, Star Trek Beyond, has Rihanna crooning to the powerful lyrics penned by the Chandelier artist, Sia.Also Read: Unlike you, Barack Obama knows all the lyrics to Rihanna’s Work Work Work Rihanna weaves magic, stirs up a storm and gives a literal translation of the word interstellar–all this with that saree-like thing on her (because, who else but Rihanna could’ve pulled this off?)Having confessed her love for the Star Trek franchise previously, Rihanna sports a series of patterns painted on her face, that seem to go well with her overall attire in the video for Sledgehammer.Watch the video here:last_img read more