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Social media users call for Mpumalanga premier’s arrest
25 January 2021, 3:49 PM

Social media users call for Mpumalanga Premier, Refilwe Mtsweni-Tsipane’s arrest. A social media uproar ensued after images of her without a mask surfaced over the weekend during the late Minister Jackson Mthembu’s funeral.

On Sunday, Mtsweni-Tsipane released an apology with an explanation of what happened regarding her no-show mask at the gravesite.

In her explanation, she claimed that the mask had come loose and that she was not aware of its absence until later.

“Upon arrival at the cemetary and disembarking from her vehicle, the premier’s mask was damaged and the premier was oblivious of the fact that it had fallen off. The premier was of the belief that the mask was intact, as had been the case throughout the proceedings.”

Many have disputed her claims on social media platforms, citing footage from earlier in the day, after the premier left the podium after speaking at the funeral, saying there is footage of Deputy President, David Mabuza indicating to her to put a mask on. The minister is then seen nodding her head and walking by Mabuza without heeding his call to put on the mask.

Mabuza telling her to put her mask-on:

Later on at the gravesite, in a couple of frames from television footage, Mtsweni is seen hugging a woman in police uniform without a mask on.

Animal farm

By Monday afternoon, three hashtags relating to Mtsweni’s no-mask saga were trending in the country – #ArrestRefilweMshweni Mpumalanga Premier #BhekiCele

Calls for Mtwseni’s arrest

Some have called on Police Minister, Bheki Cele to take action and arrest the premier. Cele’s office has released a statement via its communications manager, Lerandzo Themba saying “The minister is investigating the matter.”

Social media have called for the minister to be arrested as there is clear evidence of her not wearing a mask and admission of guilt through the statement she released over the weekend.

ATM leader, Vuyo Zungula also reacted to the mask saga by tweeting: “When an ordinary citizen is not wearing a mask, do police investigate or they enforce the law? No investigation is needed here, people won’t have confidence in our justice system if the elite are treated differently.”

TIMELINE | Jackson Mthembu’s life from student politics to Minister in the Presidency
22 January 2021, 4:21 PM

Born Jackson Mphikwa Mthembu in 1958 in eMalahleni (then Witbank), Mpumalanga, he joined the political arena as a student activist, where he had his fair share of run-ins with apartheid law enforcement authorities.

His political life included stints as the spokesperson for the African National Congress (ANC) at the provincial and national levels.

He also led his party in the parliamentary caucus, serving as Chief Whip of the ANC in the fifth parliament.

In 2019, he was sworn-in as Minister in the Presidency, a position he held until his untimely death on 21 January 2021.

Below is a brief timeline of the late Minister Jackson Mthembu’s life:

Uganda presidential elections credibility under threat
13 January 2021, 10:38 PM

Uganda is gearing up for a heated presidential election contest on Thursday. Frontrunners are current President Yoweri Museveni and former actor/musician and MP, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.

Museveni, a former soldier, has been in power since 1986 (35 years). When he came into power, his closest contender Wine was only four years old.

General Museveni’s rise to power came through a Coup d’Etat, which allowed him to be in the seat of power for almost four decades, not without the help of two changes to the Constitution, to allow him to remain in power for that long.

Wine, on the other hand, started off as a musician/actor and only joined politics a few years back. He doesn’t like to be labelled a politician, saying “My involvement in politics is not a result of inspiration, but that of desperation.”

He says the violation of human rights, intimidation, unlawful arrests have been the order of the day under Museveni’s rule.

He hopes to come into power and be the new hope for Uganda – an East African country with an 80% youth population, who are using new media platforms and social media to get their voices heard.

Unrest leading up to election

The last week has not been a peaceful one in Uganda, with reports of the military patrolling streets leading up to the Thursday presidential election.

Images and videos of the military patrolling the streets and one where men dressed in military uniform, assaulting someone were also shared on Twitter.

In an interview with CNN, President Museveni said the Ugandan youth should vote for him because “I am the one who enabled the 80% to survive childhood diseases and we have given them education and a base for the economy and we have a good budget to support them.”

Facebook  shutdown:

Local condemnation

To date, the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and the East African Community have not released any statements to condemn the human rights violations and intimidation reported leading to the presidential election in Uganda.

On Wednesday morning, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) released a statement condemning the violence in Uganda.

The statement says, “The brutality unleashed on the people of Uganda by a government led by a dictator whose time has gone, must stop.”

Some international observers have also pulled out, with the United Nations expressing its concern.

“We are deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for 14 January and the challenges this situation may pose, not only for voting day itself but also for the post-electoral period. In the run-up to the election, numerous human rights violations have been reported, including of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and participation, as well as arbitrary deprivation of life, arbitrary arrest and detention, and torture.”

Museveni will be running for his sixth term as President.

In Dec 2019, SABC News, current affairs program, African Perspective had an exclusive interview with Bobi Wine:

What He Said: Highlights of Ramaphosa’s re-adjusted Lockdown Level 3
12 January 2021, 9:36 PM

In his address to the nation, on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced changes to the harsher lockdown measures implemented on December 28, 2020. He focused on a number of issues regarding the re-adjusted lockdown level 3, as the country battles a second wave of the coronavirus.

Closure of 20 land ports

In the latest adjustment to the lockdown regulations, 20 land ports have been closed to control the number of infections through the borders:

Health workers under pressure

The President said these new measures will hopefully bring relief to the country’s health workers who are treating around 15 000 COVID-19 patients in different hospitals across the country:

Vaccine roll-out 

The President announced that healthcare workers are among the first to be receiving the “much anticipated” vaccine. The roll-out will start soon:

President Ramaphosa said the government needs to vaccinate a total of 40 million citizens to try to suppress the spread of the virus. This number will boost the country’s chances of ‘herd immunity’, he explained.

INFOGRAPHIC | Mother-to-child HIV infection in Africa
1 December 2020, 8:21 PM

Africa remains the continent with the largest population of people living with HIV/Aids. In 2019, 20.7 million people were living with the virus in East and Southern Africa.

Though strides have been made in recent years to curb the spread of the virus, with Anti-Retro-viral Treatment (ART) being available to many, some countries still lack the capacity to effectively reduce the infection rate from HIV positive mother to newborn child.

According to data provided by Avert.org, Nigeria is one of the worst-performing African countries in dealing with mother-to-child transmission with an infection rate of 22%.

South Africa, on the other hand, has managed to reduce this rate because of a comprehensive roll-out of ARTs put in place by government. Data released in 2017 shows that South Africa has a 1,3% mother-to-child transmission rate.

Mother-to-child infection infographic below:

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