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Bill Corcoran

Cape Town, South Africa
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About Bill
Bill Corcoran is a journalist based in Cape Town, South Africa. He has worked across Sub-Saharan Africa for the past 11 years providing breaking news and analysis from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Liberia, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia to name but a few countries. Bill is currently the Irish Times newspaper's southern Africa correspondent, but he also contributes to other print media outlets in Europe and North America. 

Bill also works as a media consultant for development agencies and has written a number of showcase books on their work.
Feature Stories Content Writing Corporate Content
Current Affairs Fact Checking

South Africa heads for coalition as ANC loses support

31 May 2024  |  The Irish Times
South Africa's general election results indicate the African National Congress (ANC) is set to lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since 1994, securing only 41.52% of the vote. This marks a significant decline from the 57.5% it achieved in 2019. The Democratic Alliance remains the main opposition with 22.26%, while the newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party, led by former president Jacob Zuma, has surprisingly secured 12.81%. The ANC must now form a coalition to govern, with potential partners including the Democratic Alliance, though the MK party has ruled out collaboration with the ANC. Political analysts suggest a coalition with the Democratic Alliance could offer a stable governance path.

Rivals cry foul over Ramaphosa’s speech before South Africa’s election

28 May 2024  |  The Irish Times
Two opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the uMkhonto weSizwe, have filed complaints against South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, accusing him of breaching campaigning rules during a televised address. The complaints allege that Ramaphosa used his position to campaign for votes ahead of the general election. The electoral court will hear the cases after the election results are finalized. The ANC, which has seen declining support, is expected to face a tough contest and may need to form a coalition government. Authorities have increased security measures due to past election violence.

The ANC has won six South African elections since 1994 but its winning streak may be over

26 May 2024  |  The Irish Times
With South Africa's general election approaching, the African National Congress (ANC) faces a significant decline in voter support, dropping from nearly 46% to 40.8% in recent polls. The Democratic Alliance and Jacob Zuma's uMkhonto weSizwe party have gained from the ANC's losses. The decline began after President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the controversial National Health Insurance Bill into law. Despite efforts to bolster support, including involving former presidents and promising a basic income grant, the ANC may need to form a coalition to stay in power. The uncertainty of the election outcome highlights the challenges facing the ANC and South Africa's political landscape.

South Africa building collapse: Rescuers make contact with 11 survivors trapped in rubble

07 May 2024  |  The Irish Times
A five-storey building under construction collapsed in George, South Africa, trapping dozens and killing at least six. Rescue teams have made contact with 11 survivors and are racing against time in a delicate operation involving 200 people. The cause of the collapse is unknown, and an investigation has been launched by the Western Cape provincial premier Alan Winde. The incident is one of the deadliest engineering disasters in South Africa's post-apartheid history.

ANC’s dwindling popularity in South Africa gives cause for thought

12 Feb 2024  |  The Irish Times
With the 2024 general election approaching, President Cyril Ramaphosa is striving to secure another term for the African National Congress (ANC) amidst declining popularity. Despite highlighting the ANC's historical achievements and recent efforts, opposition parties criticize Ramaphosa's administration for failing to deliver on promises. High unemployment and crime rates, along with economic challenges exacerbated by Covid-19 and a failing power utility, have contributed to the ANC's waning support. Recent polls suggest the ANC may not secure a majority, potentially leading to a coalition government. The article also reflects on the historical context of liberation movements in southern Africa and the ANC's unique position among them.

Israeli leaders breathe sigh of relief as ICJ declines to order ceasefire in Gaza

26 Jan 2024  |  The Irish Times
Israeli leaders expressed relief after the International Court of Justice declined to order a ceasefire in Gaza. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu emphasized Israel's right to self-defense and criticized the genocide claims as false and outrageous. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir also dismissed the ICJ's actions, with Ben-Gvir labeling the court as anti-Semitic. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa saw the ruling as a step towards justice for Gaza, emphasizing his country's painful history with apartheid and its stance on freedom and justice. Despite the ICJ's decision, Israel reaffirmed its commitment to international law and its right to self-defense, while South Africa urged Israel to comply with the ICJ's order.

War and peace: thoughts from November 2023

17 Jan 2024  |  North East Bylines
The article reflects on the persistent themes of war and violence in society, despite the lessons of history and the potential for progress. It discusses the impact of war on individuals and communities, the role of politics and media in perpetuating conflict, and the author's personal experiences and observations related to these issues. The text also addresses the situation in the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and calls for European and American intervention to resolve the ongoing strife. The author criticizes the influence of religion in conflicts and advocates for a more secular approach to solving global issues.

Football in the plutocratic community

07 Oct 2023  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
Newcastle United's victory over Paris St. Germain in the Champions League is celebrated as a triumph of the underdog, despite the team's wealthy ownership by the Saudi Public Investment Fund. The article highlights the community's support for the team and its involvement in charitable activities, such as the Newcastle Foodbank. It also touches on the historical and cultural significance of the city and the team, as well as the potential for positive societal change in Saudi Arabia through the ownership of the football club. The sentiment towards the team and its community efforts is overwhelmingly positive, while the portrayal of the opposing team and the UEFA regulations is more critical.

Gigs: the view from the bottom of the musical heap

01 Oct 2023  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
The article provides a detailed and nostalgic account of the author's experiences as a roadie, highlighting the challenges and unique aspects of setting up and managing live music gigs. It reflects on the cultural and personal significance of these experiences, offering practical advice for amateurs and emphasizing the importance of competence, preparation, and respect in the industry. The narrative is enriched with anecdotes about notable figures and events, underscoring the often unseen but crucial role of roadies in the music world.

Johannesburg fire: At least 74 people killed, including 12 children

31 Aug 2023  |  The Irish Times
A fire in a derelict building in downtown Johannesburg has killed at least 74 people, including 12 children, and injured 52 others. The building, occupied by homeless people and undocumented migrants, was owned by the city but had been illegally taken over by crime syndicates. The fire, which started early Thursday, forced many to jump from windows to escape. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa criticized the municipality for the building's neglected state, while city officials and emergency services continue to investigate the cause and search for survivors.

Vladimir Putin defends Ukraine war during address to Brics summit in Johannesburg

23 Aug 2023  |  irishtimes.com
At the Brics Summit in Johannesburg, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Russia's actions in Ukraine, attributing them to a response to Western aggression in Donbas. He emphasized the Brics group's role in establishing a multipolar world order. The summit also focused on Brics expansion, with support from leaders like China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated that many countries are interested in joining Brics. Brazil's President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva expressed a willingness to contribute to peace efforts between Russia and Ukraine.

Brics leaders unite in stand over dominance of trade and finance by West

22 Aug 2023  |  irishtimes.com
At the 15th annual Brics summit in Johannesburg, leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa took a united stand against Western dominance in trade and finance. South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa discussed expanding Brics membership and called for multilateralism and reform of global finance institutions. Brazil's president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva advocated for a new trade unit within Brics, while China's commerce minister Wang Wentao, speaking for President Xi Jinping, opposed hegemony and welcomed new members. Russia's president Vladimir Putin, via a pre-recorded speech, highlighted Brics' economic superiority over the G7 and proposed trading in national currencies. India's prime minister Narendra Modi presented India as a growing economy with significant advancements in infrastructure and renewable energy.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma avoids jail by availing of special remission status

11 Aug 2023  |  The Irish Times
Former South African president Jacob Zuma avoided further jail time by utilizing a special remission status approved by the government, which was implemented on the day he was to resume his 15-month sentence for contempt of court. Zuma's release, part of a broader initiative to ease prison overcrowding, has been criticized by the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, as an elaborate scheme. Despite his release, Zuma still faces 16 corruption charges related to a 1999 arms deal. The decision has sparked controversy and concerns about the integrity of South Africa's criminal justice system.

Taxi strike in Cape Town extended following days of violence

10 Aug 2023  |  The Irish Times
The national taxi association in South Africa has extended an eight-day strike in the Western Cape, which has resulted in five deaths, as it seeks legal action for the return of impounded vehicles. The strike has led to the arrest of 120 people, including the death of a British doctor. Talks between city officials and the South African National Taxi Council were initially called off due to escalating violence but have since resumed. Taxi drivers protest against what they see as unfair impoundment of their vehicles for minor offences. The strike has left many commuters stranded, schools closed, and supermarkets facing food shortages.

Putin calls off trip to emerging economies conference in South Africa

19 Jul 2023  |  irishtimes.com
Vladimir Putin has canceled his attendance at the Brics summit in Johannesburg, with Russia's foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to attend in his place. South Africa's presidency confirmed the change amid legal pressure from the Democratic Alliance party to enforce an ICC arrest warrant against Putin for war crimes related to the Ukraine conflict. President Cyril Ramaphosa's government, which has ties to Putin's regime, has been hesitant to commit to the arrest, citing potential repercussions including a declaration of war against Russia. The ANC has previously ignored an ICC warrant, allowing Sudan's Omar al-Bashir to leave the country in 2015. Ramaphosa's affidavit to the Gauteng high court argues that arresting Putin would undermine peace efforts and be an unconstitutional act of war. Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen criticized the government's justifications as

Frustrations with South Africa over Ukraine may force US to reconsider financial aid

12 May 2023  |  The Irish Times
The US has publicly accused South Africa of supplying arms to Russia for the war in Ukraine, a claim that could lead to international sanctions and the loss of economic investments and benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. US Ambassador to South Africa Ruben Brigety has not provided evidence but expressed confidence in the allegations. South Africa denies official approval of any arms sales to Russia and has initiated an independent investigation. The incident reflects internal confusion within the South African state and the ruling African National Congress, which has members with differing allegiances. The country's international relations are expected to face challenges in 2023 with upcoming Brics and Agoa summits.

The Trevelyans apologise

08 May 2023  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
The article discusses the historical acknowledgment and apology from Laura Trevelyan, a descendant of Charles Trevelyan, known for his role in the Irish Famine and profiting from Caribbean slavery. While Laura has made reparations to Grenada, she suggests the British state should be responsible for reparations to the Irish. The piece criticizes the British Empire's violent past, including the torture camps in Kenya post-WWII, and the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) ignorance of British history. It also touches on the contemporary political scene in Britain, including the economic challenges and the role of Anne-Marie Trevelyan, MP for Berwick. The article calls for a better understanding of British history and suggests that reparations are less effective than understanding and cooperation.

Putin’s planned visit to Durban poses a geopolitical dilemma for South Africa

28 Apr 2023  |  The Irish Times
Russian President Vladimir Putin's planned visit to a summit in Durban presents a significant geopolitical dilemma for South Africa, which is obligated to arrest him due to an ICC warrant. The situation is complicated by South Africa's historical ties with Russia and its economic relationships with Western nations. The ANC-led government is struggling to navigate this crisis, with potential solutions including virtual attendance or seeking a temporary reprieve from ICC obligations. The article highlights the broader implications for South Africa's international relations and trade partnerships.

Reality and how to survive: the five stages of acceptance

08 Apr 2023  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
The article discusses the challenges of an ageing population in the UK, criticizing the government's reduced care sector provision and restrictive immigration policies. It explores the five stages of acceptance—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—relating them to societal behaviors and attitudes towards ageing, healthcare, and social care. The author argues for empathy, cooperation, and proper funding for social care as solutions, rather than political ideology or policy initiatives.

Easter and fake traditions

20 Mar 2023  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
The article critiques the authenticity of various traditions, particularly those associated with Easter, and extends this skepticism to economic policies. It argues that many traditions are either fake or exaggerated, and highlights the negative impact of monetarist economic policies on society. The author calls for a reevaluation of these traditions and policies, advocating for higher wages, full employment, and a more cooperative approach to solving societal issues.

Investigations into ‘farmgate’ scandal clear South Africa’s beleaguered Ramaphosa of wrongdoing

17 Mar 2023  |  The Irish Times
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has been cleared of wrongdoing by two investigations into the 'farmgate' scandal, which involved the theft of a large sum of money from his game farm. The South African Revenue Service and the public sector ombudsman found no evidence of misconduct in Ramaphosa's handling of the incident. The scandal had previously threatened his political career and his bid for reelection as leader of the ANC. The police's priority crime unit, the Hawks, is still investigating the matter, with no conclusion yet.

Political Football 3 – 0 Tories

14 Mar 2023  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
The article draws parallels between football and politics, criticizing the UK Conservative government's handling of various social issues and the BBC's treatment of Gary Lineker. It highlights the support from football figures like Marcus Rashford and Alan Shearer for social causes and criticizes the perceived class-based bias in British society. The piece suggests that the government is failing and faces a multitude of problems, from food banks to immigration policies, and implies that the public's dissatisfaction could lead to significant political consequences for the Conservative Party.

Ramaphosa hampered by corruption allegations and power cuts

09 Mar 2023  |  The Irish Times
Explosive allegations by Eskom's former chief executive Andre de Ruyter about corruption within South Africa's power utility have cast a shadow over President Cyril Ramaphosa's efforts to clean up the ruling ANC party. De Ruyter claims that crime syndicates linked to senior party officials are causing significant financial losses and contributing to the ongoing power cuts. The ANC has threatened legal action against de Ruyter, demanding retraction and apology. The situation has led to widespread despondency and skepticism about Ramaphosa's ability to tackle corruption. With general elections approaching, the ANC's chances of re-election hinge on resolving the power crisis, which is crucial for economic growth and job creation. Ramaphosa has declared a national state of disaster and created a new minister-of-electricity position to address the issue.

South Africa: Russian ship will not fire supersonic missiles in naval exercise

22 Feb 2023  |  The Irish Times
The South African Defence Forces confirmed that Russian warships will not fire supersonic missiles during the Exercise Mosi II naval drills in South African waters. The exercise, involving Russian, Chinese, and South African vessels, will simulate various maritime operations but will exclude missile firing. Despite concerns due to the timing with the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, South Africa maintains that its participation is not an endorsement of the war. The country has also conducted similar exercises with other nations, including the US, France, and India.

Concern as ‘neutral’ South Africa prepares for naval exercise with Russia and China

30 Jan 2023  |  The Irish Times
South Africa's decision to conduct naval exercises with Russia and China, coinciding with the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, has raised concerns about its neutral stance on the conflict. The Exercise Mosi II will take place off the KwaZulu-Natal province coastline, with South Africa defending its right to host the operation. Despite abstaining from UN resolutions condemning Russia, South Africa's ruling ANC party's engagement with Russia has worried many about potential damage to relationships with other democracies. The main opposition party, the DA, has criticized the ANC for favoring Moscow. South Africa's historical ties with the USSR and less interventionist partnerships with Russia and China are seen as reasons for its stance. The naval exercise will involve three Chinese, two Russian, and one South African vessel, with the Russian frigate Admiral Gorshkov participating. Diplomatic attention from Russia, the US, and Europe has increased, with discussions on the naval exercise and South Africa's strategic importance.

The battle for the Grainger Market

14 Jan 2023  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
The Grainger Market in Newcastle is at the center of a struggle involving various stakeholders, including Newcastle City Council, local traders, and community organizers. Dr. Sara Gonzalez from the University of Leeds presented research highlighting the market's cultural and community value. Despite efforts to revitalize the market through events and funding schemes, there are concerns about poor management and lack of support from the council. The article calls for better organization and leadership to preserve the market's unique character and ensure its future prosperity.

Some of Ramaphosa’s most ardent critics put on back foot ahead of crucial ANC ballot

15 Dec 2022  |  The Irish Times
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is heading into the ANC's elective conference with a strengthened position after several of his critics were disqualified from standing for election due to the party's 'step aside' rule. Among the disqualified is Ace Magashule, facing corruption charges, and Bathabile Dlamini, found guilty of perjury. Ramaphosa recently survived a parliamentary vote on an impeachment inquiry related to the Phala Phala scandal. The ANC's 55th National Elective Conference in Johannesburg will see roughly 4,500 delegates vote for the party president and other top positions.

South Africa’s ruling ANC wrestling with ‘Farmgate scandal’ report

02 Dec 2022  |  The Irish Times
South Africa's ruling ANC is in turmoil over the 'Farmgate scandal' involving President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is accused of covering up a theft at his farm. An independent panel's report suggests he may have violated the constitution and anti-corruption laws. The ANC's national executive committee postponed a meeting to process the report, with Ramaphosa's allies expected to defend him. The NEC will reconvene before December 6th, when parliament will debate the report and potential impeachment proceedings.

On edge and fearful: the plight of Cabo Delgado’s refugees

20 Nov 2022  |  The Irish Times
In Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is providing critical aid to refugees fleeing Islamist insurgent attacks. The insurgency, led by Al-Shabaab and aligned with Islamic State, has caused widespread displacement and violence since 2017. Recent military interventions by regional forces and Rwanda have brought some stability, reducing the influx of refugees to Mueda. However, the situation remains dire, with many refugees facing trauma, health issues, and a precarious future. A study by the Rural Observatory of Mozambique indicates that some displaced people are returning home due to improved security and dissatisfaction with resettlement camps, but warns of ongoing risks including famine and crime.

The Kwasi-Budget; ideology, division and power

23 Sep 2022  |  North East Bylines
The article critiques the economic policies announced by Kwasi Kwarteng, highlighting a division between the rich and the poor. It discusses the impact of past conservative policies on the UK's economy, including the devaluation of the pound and the rise of foodbanks. The author expresses skepticism about the potential success of enterprise zones and inward investment in economically depressed areas. The article also touches on the UK's energy policy and the strategic considerations a serious government should make. It concludes by condemning the Kwasi-budget as harmful to the majority of the country and drawing parallels with authoritarian states.

Zimbabweans facing an increasingly uncertain future in South Africa

21 Aug 2022  |  The Irish Times
Tens of thousands of Zimbabweans in South Africa face potential deportation as the government discontinues the Zimbabwe exemption permit. The permit, introduced in 2009, allowed Zimbabweans to live, work, and study in South Africa due to the crisis in Zimbabwe. With an estimated 178,000 Zimbabweans affected, rights groups and organizations like the Helen Suzman Foundation and the Zimbabwean Immigration Federation are challenging the decision in court. The discontinuation could exacerbate South Africa's migration challenges and increase xenophobic violence, which UN experts have warned about. The South African government, represented by the ANC, insists on national responsibility for citizens, while critics argue the state lacks resources to manage the situation.

Howay the lads and lasses: the new football foodbank season ‘22/23

08 Aug 2022  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
Newcastle United Fans Foodbank has resumed its activities at St. James Park, collecting significant donations to support the Newcastle West End Foodbank amidst rising food insecurity. The initiative, supported by Newcastle United's owners, including Jamie Reuben, has raised over £20,000 in a week. The article criticizes the government for its inaction on food poverty and highlights the community's efforts to address the issue. It also touches on the broader socio-political implications of football ownership and community support.

Top-level change at African National Congress could tarnish hopes of retention of power

29 Jul 2022  |  The Irish Times
A leadership change in the African National Congress's KwaZulu-Natal provincial structure threatens the party's chances of retaining power in South Africa's 2024 general election and undermines President Cyril Ramaphosa's anti-corruption efforts. The new provincial leaders are aligned with former President Jacob Zuma, who faces corruption charges. Despite setbacks, Ramaphosa is expected to secure a second term as ANC leader, but the party's internal conflicts and declining popularity pose significant challenges.

Support for ANC slides amid spiralling crime and daily power cuts

26 Jul 2022  |  The Irish Times
South Africa faces a winter of discontent with daily power cuts, rising crime, and economic challenges. The African National Congress (ANC) is losing support amid corruption allegations and internal divisions. President Cyril Ramaphosa is criticized for failing to address these issues effectively. The upcoming ANC elective conference and the 2024 general election are seen as potential turning points, with possible outcomes including coalition governments or destabilizing actions by the ANC to retain power.

Monarchy or secular republic?

05 Jun 2022  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
The article contrasts the British monarchy with the secular republic of Turkey, highlighting the historical and contemporary significance of both systems. It reflects on the enduring legacy of Queen Elizabeth II and the challenges her successor, Charles, Prince of Wales, will face. The text also discusses the political figures Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, emphasizing the differences between the British and Turkish political landscapes. The author suggests that while a secular republic may seem appealing, the practicalities and historical context make it unlikely for the UK.

South Africa adopts measures to avoid corruption in flood relief efforts

19 Apr 2022  |  The Irish Times
South Africa's government is implementing comprehensive oversight structures to prevent corruption in the allocation of disaster relief funds for KwaZulu-Natal province, which has been severely affected by recent floods. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the formation of an oversight committee to ensure transparency and accountability, drawing lessons from past corruption during the Covid-19 pandemic. The committee will include government auditors, religious leaders, and community representatives. The floods have caused significant damage, displacing over 40,000 people and destroying essential infrastructure. Efforts are underway to provide temporary accommodation and rebuild the affected areas.

Mozambique’s battle with terrorism hinges on unprecedented co-operation

18 Apr 2022  |  The Irish Times
Regional leaders have modified their military mission in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado province to a more multidimensional approach, transitioning from rapid deployment to a broader peace support operation. This shift requires unprecedented co-operation between SADC, Mozambique, and Rwanda. The mission aims to strengthen governance, rebuild infrastructure, and restore normalcy while continuing military operations against Islamic insurgents. Despite historical tensions, there are signs of improved co-ordination among the involved forces. The success of this strategy hinges on local buy-in and effective collaboration at high political levels.

South Africa hails Covid milestone as vaccine factory set for fit-out

03 Feb 2022  |  irishtimes.com
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has unveiled a new vaccine production facility in Cape Town, marking a significant step towards vaccine equity in Africa. The plant, developed by US-based biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, aims to produce second-generation Covid-19 shots for distribution across the continent. Despite the current low vaccination rates in Africa, as reported by the WHO, the facility is expected to produce a billion doses annually by 2025. Soon-Shiong's company, ImmunityBio Inc, is developing a T-cell vaccine that targets the virus's core proteins and is undergoing clinical trials. The initiative also includes a knowledge transfer and capacity building in South Africa, with future plans to develop treatments for other diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis, and HIV/Aids.

Ramaphosa urged to act on massive Covid-19 fraud uncovered in South Africa

26 Jan 2022  |  irishtimes.com
South Africa's president Cyril Ramaphosa is facing calls to take action against hundreds of officials implicated in Covid-19-related fraud and corruption, as revealed by the Special Investigations Unit's report. The investigation uncovered irregularities in 62% of the contracts examined, totaling 14.3 billion rand. The SIU has referred 224 government officials for disciplinary action, three for executive action, and recommended 330 companies for blacklisting. The Democratic Alliance has urged the National Prosecuting Authority to prosecute those responsible swiftly.

South Africans with Omicron variant 80pc less likely to be hospitalised, study finds

22 Dec 2021  |  The Irish Times
A study in South Africa has found that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 results in significantly fewer hospital admissions and severe illness compared to the Delta variant. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases and local universities attribute the milder infections to high immunity levels among the population. Omicron, now the dominant strain in South Africa, is highly transmissible and associated with higher viral loads. The study is not yet peer-reviewed, and experts caution against drawing premature conclusions about Omicron's severity. The World Health Organisation also lacks sufficient data to compare Omicron's severity with Delta's.

Jacob Zuma’s medical parole declared unlawful

15 Dec 2021  |  irishtimes.com
A South African court has ruled former president Jacob Zuma's medical parole unlawful, ordering his return to prison to complete a 15-month sentence for contempt of court. Zuma was released on September 5th due to an undisclosed medical condition, despite the medical parole advisory board's rejection of his application. National commissioner Arthur Fraser, who authorized the release, has defended his decision but refused to provide medical records to the court. Zuma's presidency was marked by allegations of public sector corruption, and his imprisonment in July led to violent protests and unrest. The Democratic Alliance party hailed the court's decision as a victory for the rule of law. Zuma's lawyers are seeking to appeal, claiming he is terminally ill.

Omicron ordeal: ‘Exasperated’ by Irish system meant to keep variant at bay

01 Dec 2021  |  irishtimes.com
An individual recounts their experience of entering Ireland from South Africa amidst the implementation of new travel restrictions due to the Omicron variant. Despite arriving before the restrictions were enforced, the individual decided to comply with the new rules, which included a 10-day self-isolation and two mandatory PCR tests. However, they faced delays and miscommunication from the Health Service Executive (HSE), receiving their first official contact more than 48 hours after arrival and encountering issues with the scheduling of PCR tests. The article questions the effectiveness of the restrictions and the HSE's ability to manage the situation.

State agents loyal to Zuma may have sparked mass riots, says Ramaphosa

12 Aug 2021  |  The Irish Times
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed investigations into whether state security agents loyal to former President Jacob Zuma were behind the deadly unrest following Zuma's jailing for defying a court order. Ramaphosa, who recently brought the State Security Agency under presidential control, testified at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry about public sector corruption during his time as Zuma's deputy. He admitted to being initially unaware of the extent of corruption but recognized warning signs over time, such as the brief appointment of Des van Rooyen as finance minister. The inquiry, which began in 2018, has heard from Ramaphosa as its last witness before preparing its final report.

NUFC Fans Foodbank: season preview

06 Aug 2021  |  northeastbylines.co.uk
As Newcastle United prepares to kick off against West Ham, the NUFC Fans Foodbank calls for community support amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic, economic hardships, and social media squabbles. The article emphasizes the harsh realities faced by locals struggling with basic necessities and the need for a united response. The Fans Foodbank, which will be present at all home matches, is organizing a public meeting to discuss ending Foodbank dependence and highlights the importance of community unity regardless of individual opinions on football or politics.

View from South Africa: Springbok improvement gives locals a boost

02 Aug 2021  |  The Irish Times
South African rugby fans are elated after the Springboks' decisive victory over the British & Irish Lions, boosting their confidence for the final Test. The win is seen as a return to the form that won them the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Analysts believe the Springboks are now favorites to win the series. The article also touches on the impact of COVID-19 in South Africa, particularly in the Western Cape, and the civil unrest following Jacob Zuma's incarceration. The victory provides a much-needed morale boost amid these challenges.

Lions relieved to leave the chaos of Gauteng province behind them

12 Jul 2021  |  The Irish Times
The British & Irish Lions have relocated to Cape Town, escaping the chaos of Gauteng province, which is the epicenter of South Africa's COVID-19 pandemic and recent violent political protests. The team is now based at the Arabella resort in Hermanus, where they face adverse weather but enjoy a safer environment with lower infection rates and political stability. The Lions' coach, Warren Gatland, highlighted the challenges faced in Johannesburg due to COVID-19 outbreaks among hotel staff. Despite ongoing national restrictions, the Lions' tour continues, with upcoming matches against South Africa A and the Stormers. The Springboks' preparations have been more disrupted by the pandemic, potentially giving the Lions an advantage in the upcoming Tests.

Jacob Zuma seeks to challenge his incarceration after starting jail term

08 Jul 2021  |  The Irish Times
Former South African president Jacob Zuma, who began a jail sentence for contempt of court, is challenging his incarceration. The Pietermaritzburg high court will decide on a stay of his arrest, while the constitutional court will hear his application to rescind his sentence. Zuma's imprisonment follows his refusal to testify at a corruption inquiry. His supporters initially resisted his arrest, but he eventually complied. The ANC supports the rule of law, while the Democratic Alliance views his arrest as a victory against corruption. Zuma faces additional legal challenges related to a 1999 arms deal.

View from South Africa: Covid crisis and Zuma trial overshadow Lions tour

05 Jul 2021  |  The Irish Times
The British & Irish Lions' victory over the local Lions franchise has been overshadowed by South Africa's worsening Covid-19 crisis and the political turmoil surrounding former president Jacob Zuma's refusal to comply with a court order. Rugby analysts noted the ease of the Lions' win and expressed concerns about the lack of strong opposition before the first Test against the Springboks. Meanwhile, the media's attention has largely been on the third wave of Covid-19 and the potential for violence due to Zuma's defiance of his prison sentence.

Lions arrive in South Africa despite raging third wave of coronavirus

28 Jun 2021  |  The Irish Times
The British and Irish Lions rugby team arrived in South Africa amidst a severe third wave of COVID-19, with President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing stricter lockdown measures. Despite the health crisis, particularly in Gauteng province, the tour is set to proceed without spectators, under strict safety conditions including a bio-security bubble and regular testing. The Delta variant is driving the surge, and the slow vaccination rate is contributing to the crisis. The tour may relocate to the Western Cape, and South African Tourism hopes the event will promote the country to potential tourists post-pandemic.

South Africa to host world’s first Covid-19 vaccine technology transfer hub

21 Jun 2021  |  The Irish Times
South Africa will host the world's first Covid-19 vaccine technology transfer hub, an initiative by the World Health Organisation to enhance Africa's access to vaccines and boost pandemic preparedness. The hub will transfer mRNA technology to local manufacturers, with Afrigen and Biovac as initial recipients. WHO aims to establish additional hubs in Africa, with Senegal and Nigeria under consideration. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa emphasized the need to address the vaccine gap between developed and developing nations and called for an end to vaccine nationalism.

South Africa’s health minister put on leave amid corruption probe

09 Jun 2021  |  The Irish Times
South Africa's health minister, Zweli Mkhize, has been placed on special leave amid a corruption investigation involving contracts awarded to Digital Vibes, a company allegedly controlled by his former aides. President Cyril Ramaphosa's decision comes as the country faces a third wave of Covid-19 and a slow vaccine rollout. The Special Investigations Unit is probing over 14 billion rand in Covid-19-related corruption. Tourism minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has been appointed as the caretaker health minister. Mkhize denies wrongdoing and has pledged to return any money received from Digital Vibes. The Democratic Alliance has called for firm action against Mkhize.

Man jailed for 18 years in South Africa for killing Irish aid worker

09 Jun 2021  |  irishtimes.com
Mitspa Nzakomba Oyoka, a 27-year-old Congolese national and nightclub cleaner, was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the Western Cape High Court for the 2018 murder of Irish aid worker John Curran in Cape Town. Initially claiming self-defense, Oyoka later admitted that Curran posed no threat and pleaded guilty to murder, theft of Curran's phone, fraud, and being in South Africa illegally. The sentences will run concurrently, and Oyoka will be deported after serving his time. Curran, a former school principal, was working for the Irish NGO Mellon Educate at the time of his death.

Man jailed for 18 years in South Africa for killing Irish aid worker

02 Jun 2021  |  irishtimes.com
Mitspa Nzakomba Oyoka, a 27-year-old Congolese national, was sentenced to 18 years in prison after pleading guilty to the murder of Irish aid worker John Curran in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2018. Initially claiming self-defense, Oyoka later admitted that Curran posed no threat during their encounter. Oyoka also apologized to Curran's family and pleaded guilty to additional charges of theft, fraud, and violating the Immigration Act. The sentences for these crimes will run concurrently, and Oyoka will be deported after serving his sentence. Curran, who worked for the Irish NGO Mellon Educate, was found with 26 stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the skull.

South Africa under pressure in race to vaccinate older people

20 May 2021  |  The Irish Times
South Africa faces challenges in meeting its COVID-19 vaccination targets due to a sluggish start and limited vaccine supplies. The government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa's African National Congress, aims to vaccinate five million elderly people by the end of June, but Health Minister Zwelie Mkhize acknowledged the target might not be met. Criticism has been directed at the government's rollout plan, with the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, labeling it 'slow and shambolic.' Despite efforts to increase vaccination sites and collaborate with various agencies, the pace remains a concern, especially with an anticipated third wave of the pandemic. As of the article's publication, South Africa has recorded over 1.6 million COVID-19 cases and 55,000 deaths, with nearly 600,000 vaccine doses administered.

Irish scientist optimistic alpaca can be ally in fight against Covid-19

10 May 2021  |  The Irish Times
An Irish scientist, Dr. Peter Durcan, based in Cape Town, South Africa, is optimistic about using alpaca antibodies to develop an effective treatment for Covid-19. Despite logistical challenges, recent lab results show these antibodies are potent against both UK and South African Covid variants. Durcan's biotech company, Afrobodies, has been producing custom-made alpaca antibodies and now aims to crowdfund further development through a new company, Covid Impilo. The antibodies have shown promise in neutralizing the virus, particularly in the context of vaccine delays.

South African government under pressure to allow fans attend Lions series

10 May 2021  |  The Irish Times
South Africa's government faces mounting pressure to allow fans to attend the British and Irish Lions series against the Springboks, despite COVID-19 risks. SA Rugby and the department of sport, arts, and culture have proposed filling venues to 50% capacity to mitigate financial losses. The decision is complicated by the slow vaccine rollout and the potential for a third COVID-19 wave. Various stakeholders, including sports officials, health experts, and fans, express differing views on the safety and necessity of allowing spectators.

Senior member of South Africa’s ruling ANC contests party suspension

07 May 2021  |  www.irishtimes.com
Ace Magashule, a senior leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), has contested his suspension from the party, which is related to charges of corruption, fraud, and money laundering. The suspension is part of the ANC's new step-aside rule aimed at tackling corruption. Magashule, who denies the charges, has also attempted to suspend President Cyril Ramaphosa from the ANC, accusing him of buying votes. Ramaphosa has denied these allegations. The ANC's national executive committee will respond to Magashule's actions at an upcoming meeting, and Magashule's trial is set to begin on August 11th.

Corruption was rife in South Africa’s ANC, Ramaphosa tells inquiry

29 Apr 2021  |  The Irish Times
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted to a high-level inquiry that corruption was rampant in the African National Congress (ANC) under his predecessor Jacob Zuma. He emphasized the party's commitment to eradicating corruption and explained how it took root during Zuma's tenure. Ramaphosa highlighted the failures in the ANC's cadre deployment policy and the financial collapse of state-owned enterprises due to tender fraud. He defended the ANC, stating that corruption was the result of individual actions, not party directives. Ramaphosa will face further questioning at the inquiry next month.

Pravin Gordhan: South Africa’s finance minister and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, head into to a court hearing in Pretoria.

07 Apr 2017  |  The Irish Times
South African President Jacob Zuma is reportedly planning to dismiss Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas, according to the South African Communist Party (SACP), a coalition partner in the ANC-led government. The SACP dismissed claims that Gordhan and Jonas were using an international investor roadshow to seek support for regime change. The SACP threatened to withdraw its members from cabinet posts if the dismissals occurred. The tension within the ANC has escalated amid rumors of a cabinet reshuffle and perceptions of corruption. Gordhan, known for his anti-corruption efforts, has been at odds with Zuma since his reappointment in 2015. The political uncertainty has led the opposition party, Democratic Alliance, to plan a motion of no confidence against Zuma.

Unprecedented Opposition to South African President Jacob Zuma After Finance Minister Sacking

07 Apr 2017  |  The Irish Times
South African President Jacob Zuma is facing widespread calls to resign after he dismissed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, leading to political turmoil and economic repercussions. Civil society groups, opposition parties, and religious leaders, as well as members within Zuma's own party, the African National Congress (ANC), have intensified their opposition. The sacking of Gordhan was followed by a downgrade of South Africa's credit rating to junk status by Standard and Poor's. Further concerns arise as Fitch and Moody's also review the country's credit rating. Critics argue that Gordhan's removal was due to his anti-corruption stance and fiscal prudence, which clashed with Zuma's development plans. Despite the opposition, Zuma retains significant support within the ANC, and the outcome of a national working committee meeting suggests he still holds power within the party.

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