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Joe Biden launches presidential bid

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Joe Biden 2020

Former US Vice-President Joe Biden has declared a presidential bid, putting an end to months of speculation.

In a video announcement, Mr Biden warned that the “core values of the nation… our very democracy, everything that has made America America, is at stake”.

The 76-year-old enters a crowded race for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

He is up against 19 other hopefuls, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders.

In his announcement, Mr Biden recalled President Donald Trump’s much-criticised response to the deadly Charlottesville white nationalist riots of 2017, saying the US was in a “battle for the soul of this nation”.

“I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time,” he said. “But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are, and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”

Mr Biden is the most experienced of the Democratic candidates. A six-term senator, he served as President Barack Obama’s deputy for two terms and ran twice unsuccessfully for president – in 1988 and 2008.

He was tipped to run again in 2016, but ruled himself out after the death of his 46-year-old son, Beau Biden, from a brain tumour.

Since his stint as vice-president, Mr Biden has enjoyed relative popularity among Democrats. On some issues, such as same-sex marriage, he was ahead of Mr Obama.

His popularity is reflected in opinion polls – he has consistently led every national poll of the Democratic primary tracked by the website RealClearPolitics.

The sheer weight of his experience sets him apart from many of the younger 2020 Democratic hopefuls, and widespread national popularity and name recognition make him an immediate front-runner.

Mr Biden is also betting on having the strongest appeal of the Democratic candidates across America’s Midwest, where many low-income voters have abandoned the party in recent years in favour of Mr Trump.

But the former vice-president also carries political baggage that the liberal wing of his party sees as problematic – including support for the Iraq war, opposition to efforts to improve racial integration, and controversy over his 1991 handling of sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

More recently, his campaign stumbled before it began, when he was forced to address claims he had inappropriately invaded the personal space of women. He apologised, saying: “The boundaries of protecting personal space have been reset,” he said. “I understand it and I’ll be much more mindful.”

There is also the question of Mr Biden’s age. On inauguration day he would be 78, making him the oldest sitting president in history, at a time when many Democratic voters are looking to a younger generation to galvanise the party.

Joe Biden enters the Democratic presidential contest as a front-runner, if not the front-runner.

He has near-universal name recognition, high approval ratings within the party and among political independents, a close connection to the halcyon days (at least, for Democrats) of the Obama presidency, and the potential to raise vast amounts of campaign money through traditional Democratic donor networks.

Of course, so did Hillary Clinton in 2015 – and we all know how that turned out.

Mrs Clinton’s key weakness in that presidential race was her long time in the public eye, leaving a long record for her opponents to pick apart, and binding her to a status quo establishment many Americans had come to distrust.

Mr Biden shares those challenges in spades, and he faces a much more diverse and talented primary field than Mrs Clinton did.

His position against school bussing to end segregation in the 1970s, his chairmanship of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991, and his support for the 2003 Iraq War and stringent anti-crime and bankruptcy bills put him out of step with today’s Democratic Party.

Then there’s his advanced age, propensity for verbal stumbles, allegations of inappropriate physical contact and status as a two-time loser in past White House bids.

The former vice-president has a lot going for him. He also has a lot going against him. The durability of his campaign is one of the big questions hovering over the early days of the 2020 Democratic race. Those questions will soon be answered.

Mr Biden first ran for the presidency in the 1988 election, but he withdrew after admitting that he had plagiarised a speech by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the Labour Party in the UK at the time.

After that bid he spent time rising through the Senate ranks, eventually becoming chairman of the judiciary and foreign relations committees.

In 2008 he ran for president again, but failed to gain the political traction he needed and dropped out again. Instead, he joined the Obama ticket as candidate for vice-president.BBC

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INTERNATIONAL

US issues travel warning for Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe Shut down

The United States has issued a warning to its citizens in Zimbabwe over possible civil unrest in the southern African country.

The US issued the travel advisory on Tuesday warning that “violent crime, such as assault, carjacking, and home invasion, is common”.

It urged those deciding to travel to Zimbabwe to stay alert and avoid openly displaying cash, stay away from political rallies, demonstrations and crowds, as well as monitor local media for breaking events and to be prepared to adjust plans”.

Americans were also urged to carry a copy of their passport and visa, while ensuring the originals are kept safe at their accommodation facilities, and also to keep travel documents up to date and easily accessible.

The warning comes as tensions mount in the face of unending fuel shortages, crippling power cuts, the rising cost of living, runaway inflation and continued price hikes of basic commodities and increasing transport costs.

Zimbabwe experienced a wave of violent protests in mid-January after the government increased the prices of petrol and diesel, from $1.33 to $3.34 in local currency for petrol and $1.20 to $3.20 for diesel. African News Agency

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INTERNATIONAL

South Africa election: ANC wins with a reduced majority

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Ramaphosa

South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) has been returned to office after winning the parliamentary election, but with a reduced majority.

The ANC secured 58% of the vote, ahead of the Democratic Alliance (DA) on 21%. The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), came third with 11%.

A struggling economy and corruption have eroded the ANC’s popularity.

ANC leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, called on the people to build a united South Africa.

In his victory speech, he said the result showed that South Africans still had faith in the ANC – in power since 1994 – to deliver.

“Let us now work together, black and white, men and women, young and old, to build a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it as proclaimed by our forebears,” Mr Ramaphosa told supporters in Pretoria.

He called for a South Africa “which is united, which is non-racial, which is non-sexist, democratic and prosperous”.

The BBC’s Will Ross says the ANC may not be too disheartened by the reduced majority.

He says that although its support has dropped, this was not a disastrous performance and some might even be tempted to call it a fairly successful exercise in damage limitation considering the ANC’s corruption scandals and the slow progress in tackling poverty.

Turnout was about 65% in the twin parliamentary and provincial elections – a drop compared to the 73% registered five years ago.

It was the first time the ANC’s share of the vote has fallen below the 60% mark and it will now have 19 fewer seats in the 400-member parliament.
This has been a critical election for the man promising to defeat corruption and boost a stagnant economy.

Cyril Ramaphosa will now argue that he has the mandate to create a cabinet capable of reducing unemployment that runs at 27% – more than half of it among the young. That means sidelining allies of his scandal-plagued predecessor Jacob Zuma.

They will, however, remain entrenched in the structures of the ANC unless prosecutions or the reports of public inquiries into corruption force them to quit.

Perceptions of honest government are critical if Mr Ramaphosa is to attract the investment South Africa needs.

This is Africa’s largest economy and tackling its inability to provide jobs for the young is the great challenge ahead.

In a country where the youth have traditionally led rebellions – in 1976 and again in the mid-1980s against apartheid – the most striking statistic in this election is the fall-off in voting by young people.

More than six million did not register to take part – roughly half of those in the 18-30 age bracket who were entitled to vote.

Disenchantment over corruption and the failure to provide jobs is deep.

It is a trend of alienation that Mr Ramaphosa will need to stem if the long-term health of democracy here is to be guaranteed.BBC

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ENTERTAINMENT

Zodwa Wabantu proposes to Ntobeko Linda

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Zodwa Wabantu Ntobeko Linda

Zodwa Wabantu has over the years proven that she is a nonconformist of note, and on Sunday Mzansi’s fave went “down on bended knees” to propose to her 24-year old lover, Ntobeko Linda. And he said “yes”.

Taking to her official Instagram account the local dancer and socialite shared the special moment with a powerful caption that highlights the plight that most successful women face when their partners aren’t doing well financially.

“We as Women we give our Men Money to Marry us. Hard working Women hide that they Marry themselves by giving their Boyfriends money to go to their families to pay Lobola. Some Women get Desperate to have that Ring on their Fingers.

She continued: But I don’t mind showing reality cause everything that has to do with Zodwa Wabantu is real. Mine is Real, I will Marry him”.

If you think that was dramatic enough then clearly you don’t know Zodwa because the dancer also revealed the prices of the rings.

She pulled receipts, showcasing that the “custom made princess style 9ct rose gold morganite and diamond” ring cost R47,826,09, while the one she bought for her bae only costs R5,217,39.

Zodwa has previously confirmed that she’s been dating Ntobeko for four years and now it seems the couple is ready to take their relationship to the next level.IOL

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