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South Africans face agonising wait for news of missing loved ones

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Residents of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa are facing an agonising wait for news of their missing loved ones as the death toll in the devastating floods and mudslide last week rises to 460.

Reports from government officials on Monday confirmed that at least 460 people have died in the floods amd mudslides, while dozens are still missing as rescue workers continue to search in the southeastern coastal region.

The Premier of the Durban province which covers the KwaZulu-Natal area, Sihle Zikalala, in a statement, said the dead included two emergency workers, while more than 63 people remain unaccounted for.

“The loss of lives, destruction of homes, the damage to the physical infrastructure … make this natural disaster one of the worst ever in recorded history of our province,” said Zikalala.

“In some of the worst-affected areas residents faced an agonising wait for the news of missing loved ones,” he added.

Sbongile Mjoka, a resident of Sunshine village in the eThekwini municipality whose eight-year-old nephew has been missing for days, told reporters that his family is still hopeful of seeing his nephew alive.

“We haven’t lost hope. Although we are constantly worried as the days continue,” Mjoka said.

Another resident, Lethiwe Sibiya, who also spoke to journalists said “everything is a harsh reminder of what we lost, and not being able to find our loved ones is devastating because we can’t grieve or heal. At this stage we are left feeling empty.”

In what has been described as one of the most devastating natural disasters in the country, the floods and accompanying mudslides were the strongest to have struck South Africa in more 60 years triggered by torrential rains that lashed the KwaZulu-Natal province.

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President Hichilema pledges support for Zambian SMEs

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Zambian President, Hakainde Hichilema, has pledged his government’s commitment to support the country’s small and medium scale enterprises as well as the principles of solidarity, equity and inclusivity in his administration’s development agenda.

Hichilema who made the pledge during the 2024 Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Co-operatives Indaba in Lusaka on Wednesday, said his government was committed to promoting the growth of in the country.

The President who was represented at the event by the Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Elias Mubanga, stated that his administration had already embarked on the journey because of the important role MSMEs played in national development.

While delivering a speech on the theme “Harnessing the power of collaboration in fostering Micro Small Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and Cooperative growth for sustainable economic development”, Hichilema noted that this would be achieved by providing MSMEs and Co-operatives genuine engagement in decision-making processes and capacity-building programmes can boost their creativity.

“Inter-connection and inter-independence collaboration stand as a cornerstone of growth across all sectors of the Zambian economy particularly among MSMEs and Cooperatives.”

He added that this can also boost the resilience and entrepreneurial drive of small businesses in order to stimulate development.

“Government is focusing on MSMEs and cooperatives’ engagement, as well as strengthening policy execution to promote and facilitate advanced investments for the nation’s long-term growth.”

He further added that government was engrossed with the participation of MSMEs and Co-operatives and strengthening the implementation of policy to promote and facilitate increased remittances and investment for the nation to attain sustainable development.

Hichilema stressed that in 2023, government, through the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprise Development launched the Revised National MSME Development Policy and its Implementation Plan (2023-2028).

“This underscored government’s commitment to creating an enabling environment for MSMES to thrive,” the Head of State said.

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In Sallah message, Tinubu charges Nigerians to have faith in his reform agenda

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President Bola Tinubu has once again urged Nigerians to have faith in his “bold reforms” and the commitment to his administration’s “Renewed Hope Agenda.”

Tinubu, who gave the reassurance in his Eid-el-Fitr message to the nation on Wednesday, praised Nigerians for their resilience, sacrifice, and endurance in the face of the hardship they are going through as a result of the policies of his administration.

The President who observed his Eid-el-Fitr prayer at the Dodan Barracks in Ikoyi, Lagos State, also urged Nigerians to defend the integrity of the country at all times.

In a chat with journalists after the prayers, President Tinubu said called on Nigerians to imbibe the spirit of the recently concluded Ramadan fasting.

“Today marks a significant day in Islam as Muslims worldwide commemorate the conclusion of Ramadan and the Eid-el-Fitr festivities,” he said.

“Moreover, let us perpetuate the spirit of compassion and support for one another, as demonstrated during the month of Ramadan, and extend assistance to those in need.

“The kind of resilience, sacrifice, endurance that we have, we should preserve that for the country. Be a kind and cheerful giver, love our country better than any other country – that is the only one that we have.

“And we must continue to protect the integrity of our government and leadership. The new hope is alive, well and fine and Nigerians should continue to be very hopeful.

“Without hope there is no salvation, without hope, there is no development, without hope, there is no life,” Tinubu said.

The President went further to state that the Renewed Hope Agenda would result in a better Nigeria in the shortest possible future.

“Renewed hope is very much alive, Nigerians should be hopeful,” he added.

Shortly after he assumed office on May 29, 2023, President Tinubu had assured Nigerians that his Renewed Hope Initiative would be a culmination of his government’s commitment to ensuring that Nigeria and Nigerians fulfill their potentials.

“The Renewed Hope Agenda of my administration is defined by our commitment to unleashing our country’s full economic potential, by focusing on job creation, access to capital for small and large businesses, inclusiveness, the rule of law, and the fight against hunger, poverty and corruption,” President Tinubu had declared during his inaugural speech.

But almost a year after that speech and declaration, Nigeria has been plunged into economic crisis occasioned by high cost of living, inflation, and hardship due to the policies of the government.

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