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Despite the impact of Covid-19 over a million learners prepare to sit for the 2020 matric examinations starting on Thursday. The Department of Basic Education has announced that the 2020 matric exams will maintain the same high standards as seen in previous years. Never in the history of their schooling careers did the present crop of grade 12s experience anything like this year. As it is the standard of education and the quality of Matric passes have come in for criticism, but the learners cannot be faulted for that. To add insult to injury the Grade 12s have to pass under very challenging circumstances. Good Luck to them all.

*Our province has attracted national attention. A group of farmers have joined hands to produce cotton. There is a growing need for cotton and the farmers near Malelane produced 2 million kgs of cotton in 2016. This is indeed great news for our province and hopefully our area as well. 

*The 2021 school calendar has been revised. The new school year will commence on 25 January 2021. The first term will end on 31 March. The second term will run from 13 April till 25 June. 

The third term will be between 13 July and 23 September. The last term will be from 05 October till 08 December 2021. However, Covid-19 could send us all back to the drawing board.

*Russian drug maker, Pharmasyntez has asked the Kremlin to allow it to produce a generic version of US COVID-19 drug, Remdesivir, that was used to treat US President Donald Trump. Remdesivir is not available in Russia and a generic version cannot be produced and distributed without the consent of the patent-holder, U.S. firm Gilead Sciences GILD.O. Pharmasyntez wrote to the US firm in July requesting its consent in the form of a voluntary license, but did not hear back. The Siberia-based drug maker is now asking the Kremlin to activate a compulsory licensing process on the basis of national security, granting it the right to produce the generic – labelled Remdeform – without Gilead’s consent. It is morally wrong for the US drug maker to withhold consent. Hundreds, if not thousands, of lives will be saved. But that’s how the US operates. It takes what it doesn’t have and hardly ever shares what it does.

*Thulatshepo General Trading was a company belonging to the late Tshepo Ngwenyama. But even though he was dead his company was awarded a R50 million contract to supply the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, Rural development, Land and environmental Affairs with agricultural implements. It is uncertain how this happened but in keeping with increase in corrupt practices this is not shocking anymore.

*Cosatu is angered over a decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) to reportedly not extend COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). Business for South Africa is also concerned over the decision as President Cyril Ramaphosa had previously committed that the benefit would be available until the end of the State of Disaster. The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) says it has spent over R51 billion in payments to help workers, business and the economy mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown on workers.

*The Office of the Presidency has committed to supporting newly-crowned Miss South Africa Shudufhadzo Musida. Following her crowning, Musida committed to working on raising awareness around mental health. She was welcomed as an ambassador of Brand SA and among her new responsibilities in her capacity, as part of a collective of ambassadors whose work is to raise the South African flag, will be to articulate the country’s programmes, eyeing long-term positive reputation and global competitiveness. Musida says it gives her hope to see that what she chose to focus on is being supported.

*A yet to be released South African film and the first Muslim movie in Afrikaans, Barakat has won Best Narrative at the 23rd Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Festival in America. Twenty pictures from around the world have been showcased this year at the influential festival for women of Colour. The creators say the film, directed by Amy Jephta, celebrates the life and culture of the Cape Flats. Jephta says the movie challenges preconceived narratives of the Flats and Coloured communities of the Mother City. She says it takes away the focus from the violence, crime and drugs in the area and celebrates life, culture and family life. Barakat tells the story of how a family tries to cope after the death of the father in the house. It will only be released in South Africa in May next year after being showcased at film festivals around the world first. The cast features Vinette Ebrahim, Quanita Adams, Mortimer Williams and June van Merch, among other.

*President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the public and private sectors to work together to complete infrastructure projects. Ramaphosa was opening the Infrastructure South Africa, Project Preparation Event. Speaking in Midrand, Johannesburg, Ramaphosa says the infrastructure sector must ensure that preparation and financing are at the forefront of project planning. His message failed to include the role of the State in this exercise. What can the Government do to help public and private sectors to successfully complete projects. It has pumped billions into Eskom, SAA and other lame ducks. 

*Our Government has failed to assist the small business persons. These businesses play a vital role in keeping people employed and also creating job opportunities. There are far too many bureaucratic hurdles to get the necessary informal certification and clearances from relevant authorities.

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