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All systems go for ANC Limpopo Mopani regional elective conference
18 June 2021, 3:45 PM

The African National Congress (ANC) in Limpopo says it’s all-systems go for the start of the regional elective conference in the Mopani region. This is despite letters from members indicating the intention to interdict the conference.

The conference was postponed at the last minute last weekend to make way for the finalisation of the adjudication of an appeal process and to clear a verification report.

The Karibu lodge, outside Tzaneen, is expected to be a hive of activities this weekend as delegates of the conference converge for the 18th elective conference.

ANC Limpopo Spokesperson, Donald Selamolela, says they are confident everything will go as planned.

“Where we are sitting the conference will be starting today the 18th until on Sunday. We are very confident that everything will go as planned. We have no doubt that the regional leadership, in consultation with the provincial leadership, have done everything in their powers to ensure that all is well, and all systems are ready for the regional conference to sit,” says Selamolela.

Attempts to interdict conference

Two letters from lawyers representing some party members have been written to the Deputy Secretary General, Jessie Duarte. Limpopo provincial secretary, Soviet Lekganyane, was also copied.

Selamolela says all outstanding verifications have been concluded.

He would not be drawn to confirm or deny receipt of the letters.

“We are very confident at this stage that with everything we have done. We have done everything and we are on the right side of the law in terms of ensuring that this regional conference sits. We are not worried at all; we are confident that our regional conference will go on,” he adds.

Sekhukhune elective conference

Selamolela says the party is also ready for the Sekhukhune elective conference next weekend.

Selamolela say the remaining three regions are still finalising their branch general meetings.

“In as far as Sekhukhune, we can confidently say it will be sitting in the subsequent weekend of the 26th. The pre-registration process in Sekhukhune has already started, it’s also all systems go. The Vhembe region, the Capricorn region, including the Waterberg region are currently involved in the process of branch general meetings, which they are doing simultaneously with the nomination of councillor candidates. We are confident that in a short space of time both the regions would have reached the threshold.”

‘Squabbles common within the ANC’

Political analyst, Levy Ndou, says squabbles surrounding conferences are common within the ANC and can be attributed to some party officials attempting to influence the outcomes of the conferences.

“These are the things that have been happening in the North West province where you would get a lot of conflict and disagreements towards a conference and in the main. This would come when certain officials or people who have been given to run the administration of the conference, are conflicted or who want the conference to move towards a particular direction and this indeed entrenches factionalism,” he says.

Kaunda’s passing a great loss to Africa and the world at large: Lungu
18 June 2021, 3:30 PM

Zambian President Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu, has visited the home of the late Zambian founding father and former President, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, to pay tribute. Kaunda was hospitalised last week and died on Thursday aged 97.

KK, as Kaunda was affectionately known, ruled Zambia from 1964 to 1991 after leading the country to independence from Britain. He is also lauded for his contribution to in assisting other Southern African countries gain independence from minority rule.

Reflecting on the life and times of Kenneth “KK” Kaunda with Thabo Mbeki:

Paying tribute to Kaunda, Lungu described his passing as a great loss to his family, Zambia, the southern African region, Africa and the world as a whole.

Lungu has described Kaunda as a selfless leader.

“We are all well aware that for our founding father, it was not enough for his country, Zambia, to be liberated when the region and the African Continent remained bonded in the shackles of colonialism and apartheid. He soldiered on to seek freedom for humanity. Today, we mourn an iconic pan-Africanist and global statesman, who was selfless, seeing the goodness in others first, before himself,” he says.

The life and times of the late former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda:

Kaunda’s leadership

Lungu says Kaunda’s ideals on humanism, informed by his Christian faith and values, defined his leadership skills, his qualities and vision for Zambia.

“The ideals of humanism, which were founded upon his strong Christian faith and values, defined his leadership qualities and the vision that he embodied for Zambia, the African continent and the world at large. His exemplary statesmanship, as steadfast and unwavering as he was renowned, gained him international stature as he projected his noble ideals on the international stage, while seeking the best for mankind,” says Lungu.

Lungu passed his condolences to Kaunda’s family and all Zambians, urging them to use the passing to ignite them, to hold firmly and to embrace the “One Zambia, one Nation” slogan.

In conversation with Kenneth Kaunda’s son, Kaweche Kaunda:

AU pays tribute to Kaunda

The African Union (AU) says Kaunda was one of the founding fathers of the Organisation of African Unity. The OAU later became the AU.

AU Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, in a statement describes the late Kaunda as one of Africa’s finest sons. As one of the fighters of the liberation of the continent from colonial rule, the AU says Kaunda represented the true sense of Pan-Africanism.

His speeches in different African meetings preached unity, integration and the need to fight challenges like poverty, hunger and diseases.

From 2002 he began championing the anti-HIV AIDS campaign. Kaunda was involved in conflict resolution efforts in the continent. These included mediating in the territorial dispute between Kenya and Somalia, and again in 2018 In Kenya after the post-election violence.

He also mediated in the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

In May 2021, the AU gave him an award to recognise the role and contributions he made to the liberation of Africa and its people.

Kenneth Kaunda’s obituary with Sophie Mokoena:

FDA orders J&J to discard 60 million doses of vaccines due to possible contamination
11 June 2021, 7:54 PM

The New York Times reports that the Food and Drug Administration has decided that about 60 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines manufactured at a contaminated plant in the United States be discarded.

The FDA has yet to release a formal statement explaining its decision that could offer greater insight into the viability of two million J&J doses awaiting clearance over contamination concerns in South Africa.

FDA orders the discarding of 60 million doses of the J&J vaccines:

At issue is the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore which was shut down by the FDA in April after it reported that J&J doses were likely contaminated by a drug material intended for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was also being manufactured at the plant.

South African Health authorities have been awaiting guidance on about two million J&J doses that were compounded and finished at an Aspen Pharmcare facility in Gqeberha – a decision that could have major implications for South Africa’s scaling up of vaccine administration in the country.

Explainer on the FDA’s decision to order J&J to discard its vaccines with Sherwin Bryce-Pease:

Falling behind with vaccination

Earlier, the Department of Health conceded that it is falling behind with its vaccination programme because of the hold on the release of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The department said the vaccines can only be distributed once the FDA gives the green light pending the outcome of its investigation into contamination issues at a plant in the US.

1.2 million doses of the vaccine are awaiting release from the Aspen plant in Gqeberha, of which 500 000 have been secured for the vaccination of teachers. Another 30 million doses were expected to arrive in the country in the next few weeks.

By Thursday night, more than 1.6 million people have been vaccinated, of which more than one million received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

Department of Health Director General, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, said because of the constraints of the delivery of vaccines, they are failing to meet their targets.

“There has been a problem as we are aware through contamination that happened in the factory in the US; hence the Food and Drug Administration is still going to release those vaccines hence we have not received those vaccines. Except for those single doses that were done through Sisonke trial that we used, which was not really commercial vaccines but rather the research stock that we were using. But because of the supplying constraints that we have as a country, we are unable to move as fast as we can as South Africa.”

Harrismith protesters vow to continue until Ramaphosa intervenes
11 June 2021, 6:04 PM

Police have dispersed stone-throwing protesters on the N3 amid ongoing protests in Harrismith, Free State. Roads remain closed with stones and burning tyres, while schools are also closed.

Residents, who are calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene, have vowed to continue with their protest. They also want Harrismith to be removed from the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality.

The residents say the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has not kept its promises to them.

Residents of Intabazwe in Harrismith demand to be separated from the Maluti-A-Phofung municipality:

Residents say Harrismith is side-lined in terms of services and development.

50-year-old unemployed mother, Puleng Sithole, has lived in the area called Linda Mkhonto for over five years without services. She says they lived in the area before it was formalised, but nothing changed even after they were officially allocated sites.

Sithole says water is a daily struggle and tankers only deliver water once a month.

“We don’t get enough water we are struggling because the trucks come only once in a month and for three weeks, we would be without water. We are also unable to get to take wheelbarrows and go collect water far away and we also don’t even have money to send children to collect water for us.”

Improved service delivery

Residents, who want Harrismith to be removed from the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality, are calling for improved service delivery.

“Electricity, water and roads at least pavement we would appreciate that,” one resident says.

“Unemployment is a serious issue here in Harrismith because we are unemployed, especially when it comes to youth. It is a very serious problem if you are unemployed because we are unable to supply for our families; we cannot do anything. That’s why we end up gambling and stuff which is not right,” says another resident.

Free State COGTA has confirmed that it has written to the Office of the President to intervene.

Meanwhile, there’s a heavy police presence on the busy N3 and N5 in Harrismith to monitor the situation.

EU advises against AstraZeneca shot in people with rare blood condition
11 June 2021, 5:21 PM

Europe’s drug regulator on Friday advised against using AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine in people with a history of a rare bleeding condition and said it was looking into heart inflammation cases after inoculation with all coronavirus shots.

The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) safety committee in its evaluation, said that capillary leak syndrome must be added as a new side effect to labelling on AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

It is a condition in which blood leaks from the smallest of vessels into muscles and body cavities and is characterised by swelling and a drop in blood pressure.

The regulator first began looking into these cases in April and the recommendation adds to AstraZeneca’s woes after its vaccine has been dogged with problems, including a possible link to rare blood clotting issues.

In May, the EMA had advised against using the second AstraZeneca shot for people with clotting conditions.

Reports that Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine causes blood clots:

The watchdog is also broadening its probe into cases of myocarditis and pericarditis following inoculation with AstraZeneca’s vaccine and other shots from Pfizer, Moderna and J&J.

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