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Government to step up COVID-19 vaccination efforts: Mabuza
12 May 2021, 7:07 PM

Deputy President David Mabuza says government intends to step up the pace of vaccinations during phase two of the rollout plan with doses of the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines.

The second batch of Pfizer vaccines reached South Africa at the weekend with the rollout of the two-shot vaccination expected to begin next week, targeting healthcare workers.

The elderly are also due to begin receiving vaccines this month.

Mabuza was answering questions at the National Assembly.

“Our vaccination process has been very slow because of a number of factors. Of course, our people must understand that our pace of vaccinations depends on the availability of the vaccines. As a country we have secured two suppliers; J&J and Pfizer.  We have signed the contracts and we are now expecting them to deliver on those doses. So we are going to proceed and we need to be patient as we are going to start on the 17th if everything goes well.”

Economy recovery

Mabuza says he is confident that the economy will grow faster as the country continues to adapt to working under conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mabuza says while investment in the country has reduced measures are being taken to revive the economy.

He says the joint venture between the Presidency and National Treasury, Operation Vulindlela, is among the initiatives government has taken to encourage economic recovery.

“It’s not going to be an easy journey to get out of this current situation. It’s going to be a very tedious exercise. But I am confident that day by day the amount of energy that we put in the reconstruction of our economy will finally see the light of the day.”

Economy projected to expand by 5.4%, but developing world lags behind due to  COVID-19:

Case numbers in Vaal approaching COVID-19 third wave threshold: Experts
12 May 2021, 6:50 PM

The number of new COVID-19 cases is increasing at an alarming rate in Emfuleni on the Vaal. Health experts are worried that case numbers are approaching the third-wave threshold.

Non-adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols, family and religious gatherings are some of the reasons for the spike.

Scores of residents formed long snaking queues outside the Mafatsane Thusong Service Centre in Sebokeng.

Some came to receive the now discontinued R350 social relief grant from the Post Office.

Others wanted access to Home Affairs. Some brazenly defyed the law by not wearing face masks.

“I don’t believe there’s such a thing called coronavirus. I have not seen someone who has died of coronavirus. People die of natural causes it is not coronavirus,” says one resident.

“Mina on my side, there’s nothing like COVID-19. There’s no such…there is no such,” adds another resident.

A similar situation played out at the Sebokeng Post Office. People huddled together outside while waiting to be let in.

The Gauteng COVID-19 Command Council says the Emfuleni region, which includes areas like Sebokeng, Sharpeville, Evaton, Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark has seen a spike in the in the number of new COVID-19 cases during the last three weeks.

Council Chairperson Dr Mary Kawonga says it’s a worrying trend.

“It has been a sustained increase in Emfuleni. The numbers in that area are approaching the third-wave threshhold. So that’s a concern. We have identified that people have relaxed their adherence to NPI’s and this has been seen in places of entertainment. We have seen that in some schools where they have sporting events we have seen clusters of cases showing up in schools, clusters of cases showing up in workplaces. Also in families, clusters of cases have been identified. In Sedibeng there was a big cluster identified in Vereeniging”

Community leader Themba Mnisi says government is equally to blame for the current situation.

“The government if they care about the poor, they were supposed to give people masks everywhere they go for free. Because really they don’t have money to buy masks. People lost their jobs, people are not working. Now how can you expect the poorest of the poor to have masks always where they going. People are uncontrollable because they don’t have food, they don’t have something to put on the table, our people are suffering.”

Public Health medicine specialist Dr Harsha Somaroo also weighed in .

“With a cold, harsh winter forecast for Gauteng and a possible third wave, experts believe prevention is better than cure. And have urged increased social distancing and the mandatory use of face masks. ”

Concerns over increasing number of COVID-19 cases in 3 provinces

SA forging ahead with plans to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines: Mabuza
12 May 2021, 6:10 PM

Deputy President David Mabuza says the country is forging ahead with plans to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines locally.

This as South Africa and India continue to push for a waiver on some intellectual property rights for vaccines and medicines at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

An independent panel’s report into the world’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has now recommended that the WTO urge pharmaceutical firms to hammer out an agreement on voluntary licensing and technology transfers to boost vaccine production.

Mabuza was answering questions at the National Assembly.

“As we take lessons from the implementation of SA’s COVID-19 response plan, we continue to forge ahead with plans of building capacity to manufacture COVID-19 vaccines locally. We are encouraged by recent announcements of an anticipated waiver on intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines that is proposed by SA and India and now supported by the US.”

Ramaphosa calls for building of innovative African medical manufacturing capability

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa says the COVID-19 pandemic has showcased Africa’s capabilities in science and in health response.

Speaking during the Africa Centre for Disease Control’s two-day conference on vaccine manufacturing, Ramaphosa said the talent and will are there, but resources are a challenge.

Ramaphosa said while the production of effective vaccines has provided hope for recovery, not all countries can share equally in the hope of having access to vaccines at the time they need them most. He said the challenge that many African countries face is that the supply of vaccines is currently too slow to meet their needs.

“Our immediate task, therefore, is to secure sufficient vaccine doses for African countries through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which has made valuable progress through its engagements with manufacturers. This effort is supported by other initiatives to manufacture vaccines on the continent, where possible, under license and in collaboration with current manufacturers. The Aspen facility in South Africa, for example, will make some 220 million doses available following AVATT’s agreement with Johnson & Johnson.”

Hope for Africa’s vaccine production

The African Centre for Disease Control (Africa CDC) says it would like to see Africa produce up to 60% of vaccines used on the continent.

Currently, the continent imports 99% of all vaccines, while managing to manufacture only 1%.

The urgency to expand vaccine manufacturing has been spurred on by COVID-19 and the lack of access to vaccination.

CDC Director, John Nkengasong, says the target for increasing capacity is the year 2040.

Vaccine production and access in Africa:

Supporters demand free visa entry to SA for Palestinians
12 May 2021, 5:00 PM

Pro-Palestinian supporters have demanded among others free visa entry to South Africa for people from that country and a total shutdown of the embassy in Israel.

Hundreds of protesters, including representatives from the Muslim Judicial Council, Al Quds Foundation and various political parties marched to Parliament against what they describe as apartheid atrocities committed against Palestinians.

The pro-Palestine protest was organised by the MJC, the Al Quds Foundation and some political parties, including the ANC, the Good Party, the EFF and Al Jamaah.

The Second Deputy President of the Muslim Judicial Council, Sheikh Riad Fataar, has called on all political parties in South Africa to support the people of Palestine.

Fataar says the suffering must come to an end.

“Where’s the humility? People are dying. We are with you. We feel the pain with you. We are crying physical tears for what they are going through. So, today is but another statement from the Muslim Judicial Council.”

The protesting groups also want tougher action against Israel, including a boycott and sanctions.

“The starting point is to recognise the violation of human rights. South Africa has lived through this. What we are seeing in Palestine or East Jerusalem is reminiscent of the history of South Africa. If South Africa cannot recognise those atrocities as human rights violations that they are, then I am astounded.”

Zionist Federation rejects calls for sanctions against Israel

Chairperson of the South African Zionist Federation, Rowan Polovin, has rejected calls for the State of Israel to be sanctioned.

“Calls to boycott and isolate and discriminate against the one and only Jewish State of Israel should be firmly rejected for three reasons; firstly, boycotts are cohesive and anti-democratic and they will never provide a way forward to the Israeli Palestinian conflict because they will not allow for engagement and dialogue. Secondly, boycotts would never work. Israel has an economy larger than South Africa; has very high levels of foreign direct investment and has innovations that are used daily in South Africa and throughout the world.”

Mandela’s words reverberated

The words of late former president, Nelson Mandela, that South Africa cannot be completely free until Palestine is free have again been repeated and invoked during today’s march.

Chief Mandla Mandela attended the march.

“We want our government to hear the call of its people because we are speaking as South Africans today and we are saying we do not want a downgrade of the embassy in Israel. We want to totally shut down our embassy in Tel Aviv in particular and we must fully reinstate and support our embassy in Ramamlah Palestine to show where we stand in the Palestinian issue. We want to say to our government here on our shores that we can never anymore tolerate traffic rights that are being granted to EL AL, which is a national carrier of the Israeli regime that comes daily onto our shores at OR Tambo International. We are, therefore, asking our government and Minister of Transport to revoke that traffic right and do not allow EL AL onto our shores,” says Chief Mandla Mandela.

Pro-Palestinian supporters across all political and religious formations are expected to use International Mandela Day in July to travel to rally support for Palestine.

 Cape Town groups protest against ongoing Israel, Palestine violence:

Alleged arson incident leaves hundreds of thousands of rands of damage in Limpopo village
12 May 2021, 3:48 PM

Locals say hundreds of thousands of rands of damage was caused after the house of a chief, community library and a bakery were burnt down at Ha-Tshikonelo village outside Thohoyadou in Limpopo.

Locals were angry after chief, Nelson Mmbi, was arrested for alleged kidnapping of a local man who later escaped. Residents suspect that the accused are also behind the disappearance of another local man.

Mmbi and his co-accused are in custody.

Police have not made any arrests in connection with the alleged arson incident.

Mmbi royal council spokesperson Joseph Mmbi, “The damage thereof is a hell lot of money, the library is torched, the bakery is torched, and some of the items were stolen. We saw some of the TVs are missing. The library had a lot of books, we are talking original books, the Venda books, I mean Ngoma Ya Vhatei, I mean those are some of the books I can mention for now. The bakery, you can see the machines, not ordinary machines, very expensive machines, the community will come here and bake their lovely scones and whatever.”



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