5 things you need to know in SA business today and 11 strange events that happened after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident
1. Following a social media spat between Minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng Premier David Makhura over the e-toll system, president Cyril Ramaphosa over the weekend issued a statement instructing them to find a solution by the end of next month.
Last week, Makhura announced in the Gauteng legislature that e-tolls would be scrapped.
However, Mboweni was not impressed: "I don’t know why the middle and upper classes in Gauteng want to complicate our lives. The working class do not pay e-tolls!! Public transport! Hello…" Mboweni tweeted.
Makhura then tweeted in response:
I have referred the e-tolls matter to President@CyrilRamaphosa for final resolution; My engagements him and Minister @MbalulaFikile have been positive. Minister @tito_mboweni can continue to tweet as he cooks; he is a Minister, not the President. #NoTurningBack— David Makhura (@David_Makhura) July 5, 2019
2. And then there's Ramaphosa's other ministerial dilemma:
On Friday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane released a report on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, finding that he violated the Constitution for the establishment of a covert intelligence unit at SARS, and that he deliberately misled Parliament when he omitted a 2010 meeting with Ajay Gupta family. Mkhwebane gave Ramaphosa 30 days to take “appropriate disciplinary action” against Gordhan.
3. The rand is back at R14.20/$ this morning after the dollar surged on Friday thanks to stronger-than-expected US labour data. Also, emerging market currencies suffered following reports that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan fired the head of the country's central bank for refusing to lower interest rates.
4. This morning, Steinhoff announces its chief financial officer Philip Dieperink will quit, “by mutual consent”, after a year in the job. He will leave the company by the end of August. He will be replaced by Theo de Klerk, the current operations director. De Klerk has been with the group since 2003.
5. Yesterday, the African free trade agreement was officially launched at the African Union summit in Niger. Following 17 years of negotiations, this will create the world’s biggest free trade area. After initial qualms, Nigeria this week agreed to sign the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
11 strange events that happened after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident
Reported by Aria Bendix
The HBO miniseries "Chernobyl" has cast renewed attention on the world's worst nuclear power plant accident, which took place on April 26, 1986, when the core of a reactor opened at the ChernobylNuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
Many of the effects of that fateful day are well-documented in the series: The entire city of Pripyat was abandoned, leaving behind a 1,600-square-km exclusion zone that restricts access to visitors. Within three months of the disaster, more than 30 people died of acute radiation sickness.
The disaster also led to some strange events in the days, and years, to come. Here are some of the unexpected byproducts of the nuclear accident.
Some reports say a brand-new Ferris wheel opened early to entertain residents after the accident.
The Pripyat Amusement Park was scheduled to debut for the first time on May 1, 1986 - five days after Chernobyl.
Though the park never officially opened or welcomed visitors, its Ferris wheel reportedly operated on April 27 to entertain residents still reeling from the trauma.
Doctors inaccurately advised women in Western Europe to get abortions, fearing their children would have health problems.
Even medical professionals were plagued with "radiophobia," or fear of radiation, in the disaster's immediate wake. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that between 100,000 to 200,000 pregnancies were terminated by mothers in Western Europe who had been advised that Chernobyl could provoke health issues in their unborn children.
Twenty years after the accident, the World Health Organisation (WHO) determined that radiation doses weren't high enough to cause "adverse pregnancy outcomes." While the nation of Belarus did see a rise in children with birth defects, WHO attributed the spike to more accurate reporting of these cases.
Graffiti artists drew strange, shadowy figures on the walls of buildings.
In the years following the disaster, graffiti artists have traveled to the exclusion zone to paint commemorative murals and portraits. One motif seen throughout the area is a series of shadowy, child-like figures that are said to represent the ghosts of former residents.
Artifacts started to deteriorate, but vegetation continued to grow.
Photographer David McMillan paid multiple visits to the exclusion zone over the course of 25 years. His photo series captures the rapid decay of artifacts and Soviet propaganda material left behind by residents.
By 2009, a portrait of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Russian Communist Party, had all but disappeared. Other sites such an abandoned book store and the empty amusement park were engulfed with vegetation.
Tourists have arranged creepy dolls on abandoned beds and windowsills.
Contrary to how it might seem, the haunting dolls scattered throughout the Chernobyl exclusion zone weren't left there by residents. Most were likely arranged by "disaster tourists," who have taken to placing the dolls on windowsills and the beds of an abandoned kindergarten for dramatic effect.
It's illegal to reside in the exclusion zone, but many older women chose to move back.
The water and soil in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is still contaminated, so it's against the law to live there. Still, the land isn't entirely deserted. In the wake of the disaster, hundreds of local residents returned to their villages despite safety warnings that should have barred them from entering.
The group, known as self-settlers, has adjusted to a quiet life among elevated levels of radiation. Most of them are elderly women in their 70s and 80s who have garnered the affectionate nickname "Chernobyl's babushkas."
Stray dogs might have started mating with local wolves.
When residents of Pripyat were forced to evacuate their homes, they weren't permitted to bring their dogs, who reportedly chased after their owners as the buses trailed away for good. Today, the descendants of these pets roam the exclusion zone.
The European brown bear returned to the region after more than a century.
Prior to the disaster, the European brown bear hadn't been seen in the Chernobyl exclusion zone in more than a century. But in 2014, a Ukrainian biologist recorded a brown bear sighting in the area. The presence of these bears was also documented a few years prior, suggesting that the bears have re-colonized the region.
Scientists released an endangered horse species into the area.
Przewalski's horses were released into the wilderness near the nuclear power plant in 1998 as part of a conservation effort to save the species from extinction. The horses now appear to be thriving in the absence of humans.
Birds and rodents have come down with tumors and cataracts.
To this day, some of Chernobyl's smaller animals such as birds, rodents, and insects continue to display mutations that scientists attribute to radiation levels. These abnormalities include tumors, cataracts, and smaller brains, which may persist for generations but aren't likely to permanently affect the species.
Cow's milk outside of the exclusion zone was found to contain cesium-137, a radioactive isotope.
One toxin released during the accident was cesium-137, a radioactive isotope that can pose a danger to humans for at least a generation.
In 2018, scientists reported that cows were still consuming cesium-137 in their vegetation and transferring the toxin to humans through milk. The study, published in the journal Environment International, found that milk in Ukrainian villages far away from the Chernobyl power plant contained five times the amount of cesium that was considered safe for adults and 12 times the safe limit for children.
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