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Ramaphosa praises Tanzania’s Mkapa as a visionary leader
24 July 2020, 4:01 PM

Tributes continue to pour in for Tanzania’s Former President, Benjamin Mkapa. President Cyril Ramaphosa is the latest leader to send a message of condolences to the government and the people of Tanzania.

Mkapa passed away today at the age of 81.

President Ramaphosa has praised former president Mkapa as being a visionary African leader.

“An exceptional peace broker leading several peace mediation processes in Africa. He was a revolutionary at heart and formidable leader championing peace, integration and economic development in East Africa and Southern Africa,” he says.

President Ramaphosa also recalled the words of the late struggle icon, President Nelson Mandela in his address to President Mkapa in his 1998 visit to Tanzania where he said, “The struggle for our liberation was one that you made your own, not in any distant way but as freedom fighters sharing the sacrifices and the dangers. You gave us a home away from home when we most needed it.”

President Ramaphosa underscored the important role played by Mkapa, particularly how he supported and encouraged sanctions against apartheid South Africa for their occupation of Namibia at the United Nations and on the international stage.

Mkapa was then Tanzania’s Foreign Minister and a close ally to South Africa’s struggle movement.

“The people of South Africa will always have warm recollections of the life of former president Mkapa, for the role that he played not only in South Africa but also on the African continent,” the South African President says.

Peacekeeper

African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat has described him as a peacekeeper in the East African region.

Mkapa was Tanzania’s third president who served from 1995 to 2005.

In the file video below, Vuyo Mvoko speaks to Mkapa:

His legacy is one that showcases his commitment to Africa’s independence as well as achieving peace and stability on the continent. Mkapa was vocal about the atrocities in countries like Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.

His death was announced by President John Magufuli, saying he died at a Dar es Salaam Hospital where he was receiving treatment.

“We have suffered a great loss, our old man, the third President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa has passed on. We will give you more details later but Mkapa is gone,” he said.

Magufuli also declared a seven-day mourning period. During this time, all flags in the country will be flown at half-mast. Leaders in the East African region hailed him for his work as a peacebuilder.

Mkapa was part of the team that negotiated Kenya’s peace and reconciliation following the 2007/8 post-election violence in which more than 1 000 people were killed.

Most recently, he presided over the Burundi peace talks after the country’s former President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term, which led to renewed fighting in the country.

 

 

Suspects linked to Joburg New Year’s Day shooting due in court on Monday
24 July 2020, 3:30 PM

Five people with suspected links to the New Years’ Day attacks in Melville and Newtown in Johannesburg are expected to appear in court on Monday.

Two people died, while six others were seriously wounded after gunmen opened fire during a drive-by shooting in Melville in the early hours of New Year’s Day. Hours later, 11 people sustained gunshot wounds at the Mary Fitzgerald Square in the Johannesburg CBD after a person fired into the crowd from the M2 bridge.

In the video below, prayer service held for victims of Melville shooting:

The five suspects were arrested in Kliprivier south of Johannesburg yesterday while police were following up on a kidnapping case of an elderly man.

National Police Commissioner Kehla Sitole says they’ve discovered that some of the firearms recovered yesterday were identified in videos of the New Year’s Day shootings.

“No further details on the rescue can be provided at this stage in order to protect the investigation. The victim stated that he was not physically harmed but as a precautionary measure he was taken to hospital for a thorough medical examination,” says National Police Spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo.

“In the meantime, of the five suspects who were arrested yesterday, three men are to be charged with kidnapping and they will appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday, 27 July 2020. The remaining two, a man and a woman will be charged for being in possession of firearms unlawfully and they will appear in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court also on Monday,” he adds.

 

FITA’s bid to have tobacco sales ban lifted suffers another blow
24 July 2020, 3:05 PM

The High Court in Pretoria has dismissed the Fair Trade Independent Association’s (FITA) application to appeal a ruling dismissing its bid to have the ban on the sale of tobacco products lifted.

The sale of cigarettes was banned in March as part of government’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

FITA believes that the court erred in its interpretation of the Disaster Management Act. It also argued that the ban of cigarette sales had increased illicit trade of the products.

Government has cited health risks as the primary motivation for the ban. British American Tobacco is also challenging the ban, in a case that will be heard in the High Court in Cape Town next month.

FITA will now petition the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The organisation says the tobacco sales ban threatens jobs and has helped underground businesses to thrive.

FITA applies to appeal cigarettes sales ban:

DA to take government to court to keep schools open
24 July 2020, 2:53 PM

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is taking government to court over its decision to close schools as the country approaches a peak in COVID-19 infections.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement on Thursday evening, saying the decision to close schools for four weeks followed consultations with numerous stakeholders and was in line with recommendations of the World Health Organisation.

The world health body has previously warned countries against reopening schools while local transmissions of the coronavirus are on the rise.

The official opposition says the decision is irrational. It is political rather than scientifically motivated and “not in the best interests of South Africa’s 14 million schoolchildren.”

DA leader John Steenhuisen says: “The decision to close schools is rather a result of the ANC capitulating to all-powerful teachers’ unions, in particular SADTU, who do not have the best interests of learners at heart. In bowing to this threatening interest group – a crucial component of the ANC’s political support base – the ANC is trampling on children’s constitutional right to education, which recognises that education is fundamentally important to a child’s health, food security, future earnings and safety,” the party says.

Steenhuisen says they will approach the court on an urgent basis but will first await the government gazette the decision so that they can scrutinise the legislation used as a reason for this.

On the advise of the WHO, the party says the organisation doesn’t prescribe a one-size-fits-all approach to the issue. It says the WHO also has not always been consistent on what it advises.”So they don’t always get it right.”

Steenhuisen says government should have prepared for the peak during the hard lockdown.

One Movement Leader Mmusi Maimane welcomes government’s decision to close schools:

“Not only MAC advisors but also both the South African Paediatric Association and the American Association of Paediatricians have come out in strong support of schools being open. The latter cites “mounting evidence” that transmission of the coronavirus by young children is uncommon, partly because they are less likely to contract it in the first place. Governing body associations, NGOs and medical specialists have argued to keep schools open, but these arguments have been swept aside on a wave of political expediency,” the DA adds.

The DA reiterated its position that those parents who choose to keep their children out of school should be allowed to do so. “Staff members who choose to stay home must accept a salary cut. If this were the case, it is doubtful that unions would be calling so loudly for schools to close.”

“The cost of closing schools is profound and will be borne by children and families for many years. Many children will drop out of school never to return, and many more will fall so far behind that they are never able to catch up.

“The ANC has targeted the nation’s schools for closure even as taxis are allowed to operate at full capacity and gatherings of up to 50 adults are allowed for funerals and religious services. This is not science, it’s politics. Instead of an education and a bright future, the ANC is bequeathing our children debt, hunger, and ignorance. The DA will fight this every step of the way,” the party concludes.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) National Spokesperson Mkuleko Hlengwa also says the party does not agree with the manner in which government is dealing with schools during this time.

“There is fundamental contradiction in what the president has said given that on one hand he closes schools and yet keeps them open. We fundamentally believe that government has not taken the guidance or heeded the caution of the World Health Organisation that said that schools must only be re-opened once community transmission has been contained. This is not the case in South Africa, the President last night was not bold nor was he decisive on this important and life-threatening crisis.”

The Freedom Front says it is clear that government has yielded to the pressure of trade unions in making a decision to close schools for a month from Monday.

“A short break of two weeks should have been given to all the children and all the teachers after that all the schools that can comply to the health regulations should be allowed to be opened to all the grades and all the children because we must ensure that our children get educated for the rest of the year,” says Party leader Pieter Groenewald. – Additional reporting by SABC Radio News

More than 100 000 African health workers infected with COVID-19: WHO
23 July 2020, 10:02 PM

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the threat posed by COVID-19 to health workers across Africa. The organisation says more than 10 000 health workers in the 40 countries, which have reported on such infections, have been infected with COVID-19 so far, a sign of the challenges medical staff on the frontlines of the outbreak face.

This comes as COVID-19 cases in Africa appear to be gathering pace. There are now more than 750 000 cases of COVID-19, with over 15 000 deaths. Some countries are approaching a critical number of infections that can place stress on health systems. South Africa is now among the worst-hit countries in the world.

“The growth we are seeing in COVID-19 cases in Africa is placing an ever-greater strain on health services across the continent,” WHO Regional Director for Africa, says Dr Matshidiso Moeti. “This has very real consequences for the individuals who work in them, and there is no more sobering example of this than the rising number of health worker infections.”

According to the world health body – so far, about 10% of all cases globally are among health workers, though there is a wide range between individual countries. In Africa, information on health worker infections is still limited, but preliminary data finds that they make up more than 5% of cases in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa alone, and in four of these, health workers make up more than 10% of all infections.

WHO says inadequate access to personal protective equipment or weak infection prevention and control measures raise the risk of health worker infection. Surging global demand for protective equipment as well as global restrictions on travel have triggered supply shortages.

“Health workers can also be exposed to patients who do not show signs of the disease and are in the health facilities for a range of other services. Risks may also arise when health personnel are repurposed for COVID-19 response without adequate briefing, or because of heavy workloads which result in fatigue, burnout and possibly not fully applying the standard operating procedures.”

Preventative measures

The WHO says in many African countries infection prevention and control measures aimed at preventing infections in health facilities are still not fully implemented. The organisation says when it assessed clinics and hospitals across the continent for these measures, only 16% of the nearly 30 000 facilities surveyed had assessment scores above 75%. Many health centres were found to lack the infrastructure necessary to implement key infection prevention measures, or to prevent overcrowding. Only 7.8% (2213) had isolation capacities and just a third had the capacity to triage patients.

“One infection among health workers is one too many,” said Dr Moeti. “Doctors, nurses and other health professionals are our mothers, brothers and sisters. They are helping to save lives endangered by COVID-19. We must make sure that they have the equipment, skills and information they need to keep themselves, their patients and colleagues safe.”

In the video below, Western DRC cases pass 60 as WHO warns of funeral risks:

The WHO has been working closely with health ministries to reduce health worker infections since the outbreak began. The organisation says it has trained more than 50 000 health workers in Africa in infection prevention and control, with plans to train over 200 000 more, as well as providing guidance documents and guidelines on best care practices and the most up-to-date treatment regimes.

“WHO is also helping to fill gaps in the supply of personal protective equipment. Currently, 41 million items of personal protective equipment are ready to ship from China to cover the needs of 47 African countries. Shipments for an initial set of 23 African countries are planned to start during this weekend,” it adds.

The organisation says as a result of its efforts and those of its partners, some African countries have managed to reduce health worker infections considerably.

“For example, two months ago over 16% of COVID-19 infections in Sierra Leone were among health workers. The figure has now dropped to 9%. Cote d’Ivoire has reduced the proportion of infections among health workers from 6.1% to 1.4%. Scaling up infection prevention and control measures can further reduce infections among health workers.”

Weather

 

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