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South Africa to Scrap Tax on Sanitary Pads

The 15% tax on sanitary products will be done away with starting in April, says the country's Finance Minister.

South Africa's newly appointed Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, announced in a speech on Wednesday that the country will no longer tax sanitary products.

Starting in April, the 15 percent value-added tax on sanitary pads will be scrapped. Levies on bread flour and cake flour will also be done away with.

The Finance Minister, who was appointed just two weeks ago, revealed the plan before Parliament as part of a medium term budget policy, intended to outline government spending for the next three years, reports South Africa's Sunday Times. He said he reached out to people on social media ahead of the decision, where he garnered several responses.

"I received 3,299 tweets in total," BBC Africa quoted Mboweni as saying."One of them is from Tintsi Ngwenya in Johannesburg, who said: 'Sanitary pads should be tax free - after considerable debate and consultation, as of the 1 April 2019, government will zero-rate the following items: One, sanitary pads. Two, bread flour Three, cake flour."


The policy comes after public outcry that the high cost of sanitary products prevented young women, particularly those in rural parts of the country, from attending school. South African women spend an average of R600 ($42) yearly on sanitary products, according to a report from News 24.

In some areas, the provision of sanitary pads is completely free for female students, adds BBC Africa. We will ensure that female learners in schools have access to sanitary pads," said the Finance Minister later in his speech.

"Several provinces have already taken the lead in rolling out the provision of free sanitary pads in schools. Funds will be added to the provincial equitable share to enable provinces to progressively further this objective," he added.

Last August, Botswana announced that it would provide free sanitary pads for school-aged women across the country, and Kenya implemented a similar plan in June of last year.

Many are celebrating the scrapping of the tax, and are remaining optimistic that the next step will be the provision of free sanitary pads across the country.



Photo by Rachel Seidu.

#EndSARS: Security Forces Open Deadly Fire on Protesting Nigerians

Nigerian security forces have reportedly opened fire on protesters at Lekki Toll Gate amid continued demonstrations against police brutality. This comes after the Nigerian government recently enforced an abrupt curfew in Lagos.

It has been reported that security forces in Nigeria have opened fire on protestors at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos. Several reports from various media outlets have confirmed this incident after numerous images and videos emerged on social media. The footage reveals protesters running away from security forces as they fire live rounds into the crowds while others have been shown to be injured. No fatalities have as yet been officially confirmed by mainstream media. Protesters have continued mass demonstrations against the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) which has been now been "rebranded" by the Nigerian government to a new unit termed the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT).

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Photo by Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

How Davido's 'FEM' Became the Unlikely #EndSARS Protest Anthem

When Nigerian youth shout the line "Why everybody come dey para, para, para, para for me" at protests, it is an act of collective rebellion and rage, giving flight to our anger against the police officers that profile young people, the bureaucracy that enables them, and a government that appears lethargic.

Some songs demand widespread attention from the first moments they unfurl themselves on the world. Such music are the type to jerk at people's reserves, wearing down defenses with an omnipresent footprint at all the places where music can be shared and enjoyed, in private or in communion; doubly so in the middle of an uncommonly hot year and the forced distancing of an aggressive pandemic that has altered the dynamics of living itself. Davido's "FEM" has never pretended to not be this sort of song. From the first day of its release, it has reveled in its existence as the type of music to escape to when the overbearing isolation of lockdown presses too heavily. An exorcism of ennui, a sing-along, or a party starter, "FEM" was made to fit whatever you wanted it to be.

However, in the weeks since its release, the song has come to serve another purpose altogether. As young Nigerians have poured out into the streets across the country to protest against the brutality of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad, known as SARS, "FEM" has kept playing with the vigour of a generational protest anthem. From Lagos to Abia to Benin and Abuja, video clips have flooded the Internet of people singing word-for-word to Davido's summer jam as they engage in peaceful protests. In one video, recorded at Alausa, outside the Lagos State Government House, youths break into an impromptu rendition of the song when the governor of the state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, tried addressing them; chants of "O boy you don dey talk too much" rent through the air, serving as proof of their dissatisfaction with his response to their demands—and the extortionist status quo.

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Trump to Remove Sudan from Terrorist List Following 330 Million Dollar Payment

President Donald Trump has announced that Sudan will be removed from the list of countries that allegedly sponsor terrorism after Sudan recently met the required payment of USD 330 million.

According to the New York Times, President Donald Trump has announced that Sudan will no longer be on America's terrorist list. This follows national orders by the United States' Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, that demanded that Sudan pay USD 330 million in compensation. The compensation is for alleged terrorist attacks on US embassies in both Tanzania and Kenya in 2008. BBC reports that Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok confirmed that the funds have been transferred and is "awaiting confirmation of receipt" from the US. The country is still reeling from over 17 years of civil wars and has been unable to engage in international trade due to having been blacklisted by the US.

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South African Amapiano Hit 'John Vuli Gate' Smashes Shazam Charts

South African hit song 'John Vuli Gate' by Mapara A Jazz featuring Ntosh Gazi and Colano has recorded the highest entry into Shazam's global chart following the #JohnVuliGateChallenge on social media.