Monday 19th Mar 2018

President Ramaphosa receives courtesy call by President Lungu of Zambia - 
President Cyril Ramaphosa will account to Parliament, and the nation at large, in a question and answer session in the National Assembly today, Wednesday 14 March 2018.
Questions for oral reply by the President are one of the mechanisms utilised by Parliament to hold the President and the National Executive accountable and are scheduled for at least once per quarter. Tomorrow’s session will be President Ramaphosa’s first in his capacity as President of the Republic.
The President will update the nation on, among other issues, the social compact and economic recovery, government’s land reform programme with expropriation of land without compensation as one of the mechanisms, the process towards the review of the Mining Charter and matters relating to the National Prosecuting Authority.
Issued by: The Presidency
President Ramaphosa receives courtesy call by President Lungu of Zambia  
President Cyril Ramaphosa received on Tuesday a courtesy call by President Edgar Chagwa Lungu of the Republic of Zambia.President Ramaphosa, Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) hosted President Lungu in Pretoria for a meeting that formed part of President Ramaphosa’s current round of consultations with leaders of SADC member states. President Ramaphosa recently visited Angola, Namibia and Botswana. Zambia is the incoming Chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

President Ramaphosa and President Lungu committed that South Africa and Zambia will continue to work together on the region’s common agenda relating to, among others, peace, security and economic integration.

Historic relations between South Africa and Zambia were concretised when the African National Congress (ANC) established its headquarters in Lusaka during our shared struggle for liberation. This led to the existing deep and solid bonds of friendship between the peoples of South Africa and Zambia.

Structured bilateral cooperation between South Africa and Zambia formerly took place under the framework of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) which was signed on 18 October 2005.
During the Second Session of the JCC held in Zambia from 9 to 11 October 2017, the two countries agreed to elevate the JCC to a Bi-National Commission (BNC) which would be chaired at the level of Heads of State. South Africa is expected to host the inaugural session of the BNC in 2018.
Issued by: The Presidency
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Roma – In occasione dei cinque anni di Pontificato di Papa Francesco, iniziato il 13 marzo 2013, esce in libreria per le Edizioni San Paolo "Francesco. Il Papa delle prime volte - Tutte le sorprese di Bergoglio" di Gerolamo Fazzini e Stefano Femminis. Ripercorrendo gesti inusuali, intuizioni pionieristiche, scelte inedite (non di rado dirompenti) di Francesco, il libro vuole offrire un ritratto, al tempo stesso originale e documentato, del primo Pontefice gesuita e sudamericano. Evidenziando un filo rosso: il bruciante desiderio, del Papa che ha voluto chiamarsi Francesco (un altro inedito storico), che la radicalità del Vangelo sia messa al centro sempre: nella Chiesa, nella società, nelle relazioni.

Il volume è arricchito da una serie di interviste a Luigi Accattoli, Enzo Bianchi, Austen Ivereigh, Elisabetta Piqué, Andrea Riccardi, Paolo Rodari, Enzo Romeo, Antonio Spadaro, Luis Antonio Tagle, Andrea Tornielli.

E nelle librerie esce anche il libro “Un papa che divide? Le inevitabili contraddizioni di un pontificato rivoluzionario” del decano dei vaticanisti italiani Gian Franco Svidercoschi (si occupa di Vaticano sin dai tempi di Pio XII), già vice direttore dell’Osservatore Romano e collaboratore con Giovanni Paolo II nella stesura di Dono e Mistero. Il libro cerca di raccontare la “novità” di cui si è fatto portatore papa Francesco. E cerca di raccontarla – senza scandalismi ma anche senza paraocchi – a partire dalle “tante contraddizioni che caratterizzano inevitabilmente il progetto bergogliano di attuare una rivoluzione in una istituzione bimillenaria come la Chiesa cattolica”.

A colpire, all’inizio, è il modo completamente nuovo di “fare il Papa”, nello stile pastorale, nel linguaggio, nella estemporaneità delle uscite. Tipico, tutto, di un Papa che viene dall’America Latina, e gesuita. Ma ben presto si delinea la vera “novità”. E’ un ritorno alle radici della fede, al Vangelo. Declinato, però, nel segno della misericordia, della centralità dei poveri, dell’attenzione alle periferie, anche esistenziali, anche morali. E così, nei fatti, diventa una proposta di cambiamento radicale. Che inquieta i cuori, sconvolge mentalità e abitudini, scompagina i centri di potere, provoca resistenze, opposizioni, all’interno della stessa gerarchia ecclesiastica. E finisce – anche per l’eccessiva rapidità nell’apertura dei tanti processi di riforma - per dividere il popolo di Dio su vari fronti: quello sociale, quello politico, ma anzitutto quello spirituale, e perfino quello dottrinale. Basti pensare alle polemiche sulla questione dei divorziati risposati; si arriva a parlare di un Papa “eretico”, e addirittura a ipotizzare uno scisma. C’è gente che non si riconosce nella “Chiesa in uscita” di Bergoglio, e nel suo, come lo chiamano, “perdonismo”.

Ebbene, al di là dei contrapposti trionfalismi e pessimismi, il cattolicesimo sta oggettivamente vivendo un periodo di transizione molto complesso, molto contrastato, molto lancinante. Ma che, se guardato e vissuto con coraggio e coerenza, potrebbe spalancare orizzonti oggi impensabili. E il Vangelo della misericordia – proposto da Francesco come programma per la missione della Chiesa, e come bussola sia per la vita personale che per quella pubblica – è comunque una prima significativa risposta all’esigenza, non solo di un nuovo spirito di fede, ma anche di un nuovo umanesimo. - (NoveColonneATG)
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Reuters - 

CAPE TOWN - Rating’s agency Moody’s warned on Monday the water crisis affecting Cape Town would cause the city’s borrowing to rise sharply and the provincial economy to shrink the longer the situation lasted.

The severe drought afflicting South Africa’s Western Cape province is expected to cut agricultural output by 20 percent in 2018, decimating the wheat crop and reducing apple, grape and pear exports to Europe, according to national government.

The City is bracing for “Day Zero” in late August when its taps could run dry.

Moody’s said in a report that one of the most direct impacts would be on Cape Town’s operating revenues, as 10 percent of them are from water charges.

The ratings agency estimates capital expenditure related to water and sanitation infrastructure could be as much as 12.7 billion rand ($1 billion) over the next five years.

“The long-term solutions are likely to require significant capital and operating expenditure,” Daniel Mazibuko, an analyst at Moody’s said.

The drought also threatens to slow South Africa’s economic rebound which has been fuelled by a surge in agricultural production. Cape town generated nearly 10 percent of the country’s total gross domestic product in 2016.

Last Tuesday, Statistics South Africa said the economy grew 3.1 percent in October-December, the highest rate since the second quarter of 2016, after expanding by a revised 2.3 percent in the third quarter. Agriculture showed a 37.5 percent expansion after growing 41.1 percent in the previous quarter.

Government has declared drought a national disaster after its southern and western regions including Cape Town got hit hard by the drought, freeing extra funds to tackle the crisis.
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by Editor - Southern Cross - 

Christ chose a small band of twelve everyday men and charged them with the awesome responsibility of teaching everyone on earth about him and his mission.

He also chose a scholarly man, initially fiercely opposed to this mission, the converted Saul of Tarsus, and gave him the same vocation, that of preaching with them the Good News to every nation on earth.

These apostles, including Peter, whom Jesus chose to be the rock to stabilise their solidarity, could not accomplish this formidable task in their own lifetimes. They ordained their successors to carry on the mission and to remember Jesus’ warning: “I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16).

The imagery of sheep among wolves is a fearful one. Jesus prayed that it would be Peter who would sustain the others against such adversities: “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:32).

At this time, the man to strengthen his brother bishops is Pope Francis, now five years in his post. Although he was chosen from among the cardinals of the Roman Church, he was never a Vatican-shaped bishop or a member of the Roman curia. He came from the Southern Hemisphere, the first pope in history to do so.

His formation as a Jesuit priest was in the environment of his home country Argentina. As archbishop of Buenos Aires he had to contend with the political strife of the 1970s when the Church and his Jesuit brothers were persecuted.

He said later that he regretted not doing more to resist the injustices of those times. Perhaps this twinge of conscience was at the root of his response to an interviewer, Fr Antonio Spadaro, who in June, 2013, asked him to define himself. Francis replied: “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.”

As archbishop of a city of very wealthy and very poor citizens, Francis made a point of being close to his flock, mixing with them on the streets and on the buses. In identifying himself with ordinary folk, he did not hide his limitations.

This fellow-feeling revealed itself immediately after his election. He saw past the grandeur of St Peter’s basilica, the magnificent architecture, the splendour of the robed clerics. We can guess that with this frame of mind he perceived the throngs in St Peter’s Square below him as fellow humans who, like him, were in need of Christ’s redemption, rather than as enthusiastic fans.
The Acts of the Apostles describes how the pious Cornelius, recognising that Simon Peter had been sent by God, fell at the apostle’s feet to worship him. Peter disarmed him abruptly by saying: “Stand up. I am a human being just like you” (Acts 10:26).

Here Peter appeared not only as a man given a divine mission to spread the Gospel but also as only a man.

Such is Pope Francis. He is head of Christ’s Church, bishop of the city of Rome with its long history of imperial might, military conquests, religious persecution, and the seat of popes.
Unlike previous popes, he has not been influenced by the political and cultural pressures of Europe’s historical conflicts and geographical upheavals.

He can expect us to honour him and love him for his unique calling in the Church. Yet he wants us to realise that he is also one of us, the shepherd who smells like his sheep and who leads by walking with the flock rather than ahead of them.

Unlike previous popes, he has not been influenced by the political and cultural pressures of Europe’s historical conflicts and geographical upheavals. He has not lived in cities and villages where the traditions of past royal rulers and nobility may still dominate the Church and its membership.

He is a man of his time who, whatever the reaction to what he says and does, has set a firm course into the future. This is simply put in the first lines of his 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel): “The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus … I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark on a new chapter of evangelisation marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.”

South African Clergy on Pope Francis: Congrats on 5 Years!

by Nereesha Patel -

Five-year of Pope Francis’ pontificate. Born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he made history in 2013 when he became the first non-European pope in over 1000 years, the first Jesuit pope, and the first pope to come from the Southern Hemisphere.

Since his election, the pope has enjoyed immense popularity among Catholics and non-Catholics alike, due to his humility, his ability to communicate on a colloquial level, his diplomatic efforts, and his working towards making the Church more welcoming.

Pope Francis’ concern for those living in poverty is especially noteworthy: it has become a significant theme of his papacy, and he has urged Catholics to devote more time to the alleviation of poverty.

“In the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who — although rich — became poor,” the pope said on the first World Day for the Poor last year. Because of this, “in their weakness, a saving power is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.”

South African Church leaders have offered their congratulations to the pope for reaching this milestone as well as thoughts on his tenure and achievements thus far.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier
“In many ways, Pope Francis has exceeded my expectations,” said Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, archbishop of Durban. “He not only set about reforming the Church as mandated, but he also made sure that the reform would be carried out by a structure, and so would not depend on the goodwill of even well-disposed and supportive individual heads of dicasteries.”

Fr Chris Chatteris
Fr Chris Chatteris SJ of the Jesuit Institute said Pope Francis comes from a tradition of a preferential option for the poor, and the poor are the majority of the Church.
“This has had the effect of putting on the backburner some of the issues dear to the Church in the developed world of the United States and Europe.
“I think ordinary people really appreciate having a pope who is filled with pastoral concern and compassion. They don’t necessarily read his documents, but they can sense that here is a man who is truly concerned about them,” Fr Chatteris added.

Fr Ralph de Hahn
Veteran media priest Fr Ralph de Hahn commended the pope for being “fearless in attacking the frigid, static, legalistic Church of Rome, just as Jesus attacked the Pharisees for their legalism”. “He spoke harshly against those in the conservative camp who, adorned with titles and rich garments, stifle the flow of compassion and relief to the poor,” said Fr de Hahn.
Although there have been times when Pope Francis has lacked diplomacy, he noted, the pope has never lacked sincerity and love. “He is considered by millions to be bold, outspoken and adventurous, but not stupid,” said Fr de Hahn.

Archbishop William Slattery
Archbishop William Slattery of Pretoria described Pope Francis as an “accessible person”. “I think the pope has had a huge and positive impact on the presence of the Catholic Church today,” the archbishop said. “I am impressed by the emphases which have emerged from his papacy: mercy, tenderness, humility, service and closeness to people.”
He added: “On his visits, the pope gives special place to the poor and the prisoners. His actions have been dramatic and have drawn attention to where there is poverty, marginalisation and migration.” Archbishop Slattery praised the pope for highlighting the importance of family, a topic Pope Francis explores in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family). He also lauded the pope for calling on Catholics to live their baptism and evangelise. “He emphasises the spiritual foundation of the Church found in the Gospel and in the person of Jesus,” the archbishop said. Pope Francis, the above clergy believe, has accomplished a great deal during his five-year papacy, cementing his legacy in the Church, a legacy rich in hope, fidelity and mercy.

Nereesha Patel
Writer at The Southern Cross
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Cape Times - 

Port Elizabeth - Several passengers were injured when a fire extinguisher exploded during a freak accident on an Algoa Bus in Port Elizabeth. The incident happened in Mendi Road outside New Brighton on Monday morning shortly before 8am.  Eastern Cape Health Spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo said that one of the passengers phoned the ambulance control centre.

According to a report from the department's ambulance service, the explosion occurred near the front door of the bus. "The explosion was identified as a fire extinguisher that ignited. White powder substance engulfed the bus leading to panic and chaos". 
The report read that passengers broke the emergency exit windows and jumped out to escape while others rushed to the rear end of the bus resulting in a stampede.

Some passengers suffered from respiratory problems as a result of inhaling the powdery substance.
A total of 16 passengers sustained various injuries.
- African News Agency (ANA)
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