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South African President Announces Milestone Land Reform3 minutes read

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said that members of the public would be able to apply to lease 700,000 hectares of under-utilised or vacant state-owned land in seven of the nine provinces in the country.

Ramaphosa hailed this as a major milestone in the agrarian reform process, which gives effect to the promise of the Freedom Charter that the land shall be shared among those who work it.

Given South Africa’s history, broadening access to agricultural land for commercial production and subsistence farming is a national priority, Ramaphosa said in his weekly presidential newsletter.

“As agricultural land is the mainstay of the natural resource base, the availability and sustainable use of farmland to grow crops and for animal husbandry is key to the nation’s survival,’’ he said.

South Africa has vast tracts of land suitable for agricultural production, with 37.9 per cent of its total land area currently being used for commercial agriculture.

Although the post-apartheid land reform process has resulted in more land being restored and destituted to black South Africans, the pernicious effects of the 1913 Natives Land Act continues to be in patterns of farmland ownership.

That act went far beyond dispossessing millions of people of their ancestral land, depriving the indigenous people of their right to own and work the land on which they depended for sustenance and livelihood, Ramaphosa said.

This great injustice of the act effectively “engineered the poverty of black South Africans,” he said.

“Its aim was to destroy our people’s prospects for self-reliance, independence and economic prosperity.

“At the most fundamental of levels, it destroyed our ability to feed ourselves,” the president said.

Like many other countries, South Africa’s arable land is under threat from land degradation, water scarcity and urban encroachment.

Prime agricultural land is also being lost through land-use changes.

Transforming patterns of agricultural land ownership is vital not just to address the historical injustices of the past, but is necessary to safeguard the nation’s food security, Ramaphosa said.

The 2019 report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture noted that while the country exports food, 41 per cent of people in rural areas and 59.4 per cent in urban areas have severely inadequate access to food.

Agrarian reform has been a priority of successive administrations since democracy, said the president.

He noted that between 1994 and 2018, the state delivered 8.4 million hectares to previously disadvantaged individuals under the land reform programme.

This progress amounts to less than 10 per cent of all commercial farmland.

In his State of the Nation Address early this year, Ramaphosa committed that state-owned agricultural land would soon be released for farming.

This redistributive vision aims to strike a balance between social justice and redress, and to enhance agricultural output by bringing more black farmers into the mainstream of the economy, Ramaphosa said.

“Land is a productive asset that generates profit and can be used for collateral to secure other assets,” he noted.

“South Africa must ensure that land acquired for farming purposes is productively used,’’ the president said.

To safeguard the allocated state land for farming purposes, the lease is not transferrable, and beneficiaries will sign a lease agreement with the state and pay a rental fee consistent with the land value, according to Ramaphosa.

He said farmers must be supported along the road to sustainability and profitability.

As part of this programme, beneficiaries will be trained in financial management and enterprise development, Ramaphosa said.

“Experience has shown that emerging and small-scale farmers often lack the financial skills to exploit market opportunities and to integrate with value chains.

“Women, youth and persons with disabilities are being prioritised as beneficiaries.

“Broadening access to land and opportunities for farming will support job creation and enterprise development, and improve the market for food, agricultural goods and services,’’ he said.

The ultimate goal of releasing these land parcels is to transform the agricultural landscape by growing a new generation of farmers, Ramaphosa said.

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Hoodlums Raid Popular Sports Paper In Nigeria’s Lagos

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The spate of looting, an aftermath of the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, continues as suspected hoodlums on Sunday attacked the offices of a popular sports newspapers in Lagos State.

Dr Mumini Alao, the Group Managing Director of Complete Sports newspapers, in a statement on Sunday, said the hoodlums attacked the head office of the paper in Okota area of Lagos.

He said the suspected hoodlums forced their way into the company and ransacked the offices.

“The hoodlums came very early on Sunday morning, October 25, 2020. They attacked our office security guards, tied them up, and proceeded to ransack several offices in the building,” Alao said.

“Luckily for us, one of the guards escaped to raise the alarm, thus forcing the fleeing hoodlums to abandon some of their loot, including a Toyota Corolla car, Apple desktop, HP laptop, and several mobile phones taken from our premises.

“The incident has been reported at the Okota Police station, while two of our personnel that were injured by the hoodlums have been treated at a private hospital.”

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Parliament in Somalia endorses new PM Roble’s Cabinet

The new Cabinet formed includes eight women – four ministers, a State minister and three deputy ministers.

Bernard Akede

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The new Cabinet formed

The new Cabinet formed last Monday by Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, has been approved by the Lower House of the country’s Federal Parliament.

A list of 71 ministers, State ministers and deputy ministers was presented by the Premier to the legislators, stating that their selection was based on their integrity and capacities.

“I have selected the ministers upon closely examining their abilities to deliver services to the people,” he said in a brief speech.

All MPs present, 188 in number, voted in favour of the new Cabinet by show of hands.

The new Cabinet formed includes eight women – four ministers, a State minister and three deputy ministers. 

While delivering a speech to seek parliamentary approval of his portfolio holders and political programme, PM Roble emphasized the zeal of his government to tackle the country’s most pressing issues, particularly insecurity as well as the smooth running of the anticipated general election in 2020 and 2021.

The return of most of the deposed PM’s Cabinet members had been anticipated by many analysts.

However, in the new Cabinet formed, a number senior ministers lost positions. Among them were the holders of the Defense, Internal Security, Interior, Information and Education dockets.

The ministers of Commerce and Industry as well as Public Works did not appear in the new list.

Those who retained their positions in the cabinet include Deputy PM Mahdi Mohamed Guled alias Khadar, Foreign minister Ambassador Ahmed Issa Awad and Finance minister Dr Abdirahman Dualeh Beile.

Others are Health minister Dr Fawzia Abikar Nur and Planning minister Jamal Mohamed Hussein.

The new Cabinet comprises of 27 ministers, 27 deputy ministers and 17 state ministers.

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Doctors Without Borders Launches Mass Casualty Plan After School Shooting In Cameroon

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Following this morning’s school shooting in Kumba, South-West Cameroon, Doctors Without Borders launched a mass casualty plan.

According to a press statement, the group responded with ambulance service and surgical care in the Presbyterian General Hospital (PGH), Kumba.

Doctors Without Borders received a total of ten patients between the ages of 10 and 15. Of these patients, five were referred to other hospitals for specialist treatment through our ambulance service; four continue to receive treatment in PGH; and tragically, one patient was pronounced dead on arrival.

“As a medical humanitarian organisation we lament the tragic loss of life in the Kumba community. This attack, which saw children gunned down while attending school, was a reprehensible and indecent act. Civilian structures including schools and hospitals must not be targets, ” said Alberto Jodra Marcos, Emergency Coordinator for Doctors Without Borders in South-West Cameroon.

It would be recalled that Gunmen stormed the Mother Francisca College in Kumba in southwestern Cameroon on Saturday, killing at least eight schoolchildren and wounding eight more.

One parent who was just outside the school at the time of the attack said the gunmen arrived on motorbikes and in civilian clothes in the middle of the day before shooting the children indiscriminately.

It was not clear if the attack was linked to the ongoing struggle between the army and groups attempting to form a breakaway state called Ambazonia in the English-speaking west.

A local witness in the area said Ambazonian fighters were responsible for the bloodshed.

“Ambazonian fighters arrived [at] the school… started shooting into the classes. They say the students are traitors for attending classes when they have called for an effective school boycott in the Northwest and Southwest regions… we ran into the house for safety. It was so terrifying,” he said on condition of anonymity.

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