Saturday, January 23, 2021

JONAS GWANGWA, AWARD-WINNING JAZZ LEGEND, PASSES AWAY AGED 83

Jonas Gwangwa's death falls on the third anniversary of fellow South Africa jazz legend Hugh Masekela's death and the third anniversary of Zimbabwean legend Oliver Mtukudzi's death.

Jonas Gwangwa. Picture: Cyril Ramaphosa Twitter.

Lungelo Matangira 

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has lost yet another giant in the arts. Award-winning jazz musician Jonas Mosa Gwangwa has passed away aged 83.

Gwangwa's death falls on the third anniversary of fellow South Africa jazz legend Hugh Masekela's death and the third anniversary of Zimbabwean legend Oliver Mtukudzi's death.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to Gwangwa, saying: "Jonas Gwanga ascends to our great orchestra of musical ancestors whose creative genius & dedication to the freedom of all South Africans inspired millions in our country & mobilised the international community against the apartheid system.

"In our hour of mourning the loss of many precious lives around us, we pray also that the soul of Jonas Gwangwa will rest in peace."

Born in Orlando East, Soweto, Gwangwa is most well-known for songs such as Morwa and Kgomo.

He carved an illustrious career for himself alongside the likes of Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela, particularly in the 1960s when they all left apartheid South Africa for the US.

According to SA History Online, Gwangwa was mentored by jazz legend Kippie Moeketsi at the start of his music career.

While overseas, he was instrumental in productions such as King Kong andCry Freedom and attended the Manhattan School of Music.

He returned home in 1991, just after the unbanning of political parties and the release of Nelson Mandela. Here at home, he continued his magical work, producing commercial music and producing the theme song for the then-new soapie Generations.

AWARDS AND HONOURS

Gwangwa's song for the movie Cry Freedom was nominated for a Grammy, Bafta and Golden Globe in 1988. He performed the song at the Grammy Awards in the US that same year.

He also received numerous awards here in South Africa including South African Music Awards in the jazz category.

He received the National Order of Ikhamanga from President Cyril Ramaphosa for his exceptional contribution to music and the struggle for freedom in South Africa.

Fear and Frustration in Nigeria as Millions at Risk of Phone Suspension

Friday, January 22, 2021

A man walks past a sign for mobile phone operator MTN in Lagos in 2015.

Pius Utomi Ekpei AFP

By AFP

Abuja

"If I don't have my phone, I don't make money," said Raphael Ajih, resting on a rusty metal chair, his hands clenched on his lap.

The government of Africa's most populous country has ordered telecom operators to block the SIM cards of anyone who fails to register for a National Identity Number (NIN) by February 9.

Across the country, many like Ajih are trying to comply with the directive, only to be frustrated by days-long waits to do the paperwork, often in large crowds despite the Covid-19 pandemic.

The idea behind the NIN is to create a single ID database for Nigeria's 200 million people, replacing the hotchpotch of documents, from drivers licences to voter cards, that citizens use to identify themselves.

A unique number for each person, which in turn will unlock their national ID card, will help to smooth out problems in policy-making and budget planning, the government says. 

The change will also fight Nigeria's rampant crime, goes its argument. By linking the ID number to a SIM, this will weed out unregistered cards used by crooks and jihadists.

Support family

Ajih, 38, sells goods via WhatsApp and Amazon and works as an Uber driver in the capital Abuja – jobs that enable him to financially support his two younger brothers and sister as well as extended family members. 

He sends money to relatives by mobile transfer, something he may no longer be able to do if he fails to get a NIN and submits the number to his mobile operator.

He has already tried twice to enrol but was taken aback by the throngs of people, many not wearing facemasks and not social distancing.

"Covid is real, and yet they are telling people to do this, and there's no control," said Ajih, who decided not to join the crowds.

"If I fall sick, I don't make money... so my health comes first."

Nigeria's health ministry did not respond to AFP's questions about the gridlock reported at enrolment centres. The spokesman of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), which runs the process, declined to comment.

It's unfair.

In addition to the crowds, many people have complained that the process to register is too slow and too complicated.

On a recent Monday morning outside the Grand Ibro Hotel, which rented out space for the enrolment, men and women of all ages were sitting on the pavement, waiting.

As a man hesitantly walked out the main entrance to call out a name handwritten on a scruffy piece of paper, a man in the crowd started shouting.

"They say they can only do 50 people a day while we have thousands standing here! It’s unfair!" said Ugochukwu Ofor.

"We are finding it difficult, very very very difficult. This is the 7th time that I come for this."

"I came all the way from Suleja, Niger state  (about 70 kilometres / 44 miles away). Around 5:15 am I arrived in Abuja, and up until now I still don’t know if it’s going to work. It’s unfair!"

"Yes! He’s right!" people clamoured around him.

"This is very frustrating. I left my kids at home, I couldn’t take them to school today," said Otitoju Funmi.

'Common good'

In a statement, the Nigerian Communications Commission, the independent regulatory authority for the country's telecoms, said "linking NIN to SIM(s) is for the common good of all Nigerians" and will have "far reaching benefits".

At one registration centre that AFP was able to visit, in Karu, about 50 people were waiting outside in the heat, uncertain they would make it inside that day.

The decrepit room where the enrolment took place was about 12 square metres (130 square feet). Inside, only two employees were taking people's details, typing away on two old computers as a noisy fan whirled above their head. 

In Nigeria, personal data and biometric information is collected separately by a dozen federal agencies as well as state agencies.

The government has been trying to centralise all that information for over 10 years, with the NIN.

By linking the process to people's mobile phones and fixing a deadline, it found a way to encourage registration.

"I believe that the deadline is to make people take the process seriously," said Ike Nnamani, president of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria, a non-profit organisation that represents telecom operators.

But it is a mammoth task. 

208 million

The number of active phone subscriptions in Nigeria is 208 million.

Due to the difficulties encountered at enrolment centres, about two weeks ahead of the February 9 deadline, between 16.8 million and 64.6 million were yet to be linked with a NIN, according to data released by the NCC.

Nnamani insists that the suspension of lines is the "very last resort".

Ajih will try to register again, he says, but whatever happens, chooses not to be defeated.

"If push comes to shove and I don't get my NIN, I'll survive," he said. 

He has no other choice.

Ethiopia and Somalia Deny Somalian Soldiers Fighting in Tigray

Friday, January 22, 2021

Ethiopians from the Tigray region protest outside the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in Pretoria, South Africa, on November 25, 2020.

Phill Magakoe | AFP

By Abdulkadir Khalif

Somalia Correspondent

Nation Media Group

Dina Mufti, spokesman of the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry, rejected the assertions, indicating his country never requested Somalia's support in the crackdown against the erstwhile ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Ethiopia has joined Somalia in refuting claims that Mogadishu sent troops to fight in the Tigray war under a secret plan.

Dina Mufti, spokesman of the Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry, rejected the assertions, indicating his country never requested Somalia's support in the crackdown against the erstwhile ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Mufti was reacting to a January 18 letter by the chair of Somalia’s parliamentary Foreign Affairs committee, Abdulkadir Osoble Ali, requesting Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo to investigate complaints by families that their sons serving in the Somalia National Army (SNA) had gone missing while fighting in Ethiopia.

“We have seen reports about Eritrean troops that have crossed into Ethiopia,” Mufti said.

“We are also witnessing similar reports about Somali soldiers participating in the same campaign. Both of these claims are false and unfounded.”

"Nonsense"

Reports emerged this week that about 370 Somali soldiers who had been training in Eritrea were massacred in Ethiopia where they had been drafted to fight alongside Eritrean troops.

On Tuesday, Somalia’s Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe appeared on State-run Somali National Television (SNTV), telling the nation that no Somali forces were involved in the Tigray conflict in Ethiopia.

Dubbe insisted that reports indicating that 370 Somali soldiers were killed while fighting alongside Ethiopian forces in Tigray were fake and based on pure fabrication.

The minister said, “No Somali soldiers have been recruited by Ethiopia or deployed to participate in the fighting in the Tigray region.”

“It is just a rumour and it’s nonsense,” he added.

Mothers' voices

For almost a week, the independent media in Somalia have been releasing the voices of mothers claiming to have lost touch with their youths, reportedly sent to Eritrea for military training by the Federal Government of Somalia.

Similar complaints have gone viral through the social media.

Following days of street protests in parts of Galmudug State of Somalia, the State’s security minister, Mr Ahmed Moalim Fiqi, met on Wednesday with parents, mothers and fathers of the soldiers said to be missing in Galkayo town, 750 km north of Mogadishu.

Fiqi assured the parents that his Galmudug State government will address the issue by referring to relevant federal offices.

So far, the Federal Government has not explained the whereabouts of those men or even confirmed they were indeed serving in the SNA.    

Central Africa Imposes Emergency as Rebels Ring Capital

Friday, January 22, 2021

Incumbent President Faustin-Archange Touadera of the Central African Republic on January 18, 2021. 

Florent Vergnes | AFP

By AFP

Bangui

The Central African Republic on Thursday announced a 15-day emergency as armed groups tried to blockade the capital, Bangui, in a bid to topple newly re-elected President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Thursday's declaration came hours after the United Nations envoy to the country called on the Security Council to agree a "substantial increase" in the number of peacekeepers deployed there in response to deadly violence.

Rebels controlling about two thirds of the perennially volatile nation launched an offensive a week before presidential elections on December 27, trying to blockade Bangui and carrying out several attacks on key national highways.

Now "the state of emergency has been proclaimed across the national territory for 15 days, starting from midnight (2300 GMT)," presidential spokesman Albert Yaloke Mokpeme said over national radio.

He told AFP the state of emergency would also allow authorities "to make arrests without going through national prosecutors".

On Monday

Touadera was declared re-elected by the constitutional court on Monday, though two voters out of three did not cast their ballot, mainly due to insecurity in a country caught up in civil war for eight years.

Earlier Thursday, the UN envoy to Bangui, Mankeur Ndiaye, called on the global body's Security Council to agree a "substantial increase" in peacekeeping operations.

UN troops also need "greater mobility", he added, also highlighting serious desertion from the Central African security forces since December.

In short, "we need a strategy to adapt the mandate", Ndiaye said during a videoconference of the Council organised by the African members after a request from the CAR government.

CAR foreign minister Sylvie Baipo-Temon asked the Security Council to lift an embargo on heavy weapons exports to the country.

China and Russia back the request, but western countries fear such weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

Simultaneous attacks

On January 13, the rebels launched two simultaneous attacks on Bangui but were rebuffed by the UN's existing MINUSCA mission, which has been present in the country since 2014.

"Since the thwarted offensive of the 13th, there haven't been any other attacks, just incidents linked to the curfew," said lieutenant-colonel Abdoulaziz Fall, one of the MINUSCA spokesmen.

Ndiaye did not specify the number of additional peacekeepers wanted on top of the roughly 12,000 MINUSCA soldiers already present – one of the largest and most costly UN operations in the world.

A source familiar with the matter said MINUSCA would like 3,000 extra peacekeepers plus drones, attack helicopters and even special forces.

MINUSCA has lost seven peacekeepers – a very heavy toll – since the rebels stepped up attacks in December.

Food supplies

Attacks on supply convoys by militia groups and their political allies, including former president Francois Bozize, are risking supplies of food, medicine and resources for services such as hospitals, said Vladimir Monteiro, another MINUSCA spokesman.

The price of some basic commodities has increased by at least 50 percent in some places.

Touadera's government controls only about one-third of the former French colony, with militia groups that emerged from a conflict in 2013 controlling the remainder of the territory.

CAR prosecutors have launched an investigation into former president Bozize, accused by the government of plotting a coup with the help of armed groups ahead of the elections.

"The perpetrators... of these unforgettable crimes against the people of CAR will be found, arrested and brought before the competent courts," Touadera said on Monday in his first speech since his reelection, also calling for national reconciliation.

Bozize, who denies the allegations, came to power in a coup in 2003 before being overthrown in 2013, after which the country slid into sectarian conflict.

South Africa to Pay Nearly 2.5 Times as EU for Covid-19 Vaccine

Friday, January 22, 2021

Vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.

Oli Scarff | AFP

By AFP

Johannesburg

South Africa will buy doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine at a price nearly two and a half times what most European countries will purchase it for, the health ministry said on Thursday.

The African country worst-hit by the disease has ordered more than 1.5 million shots of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India, expected in January and February.

A senior health official on Thursday told AFP those doses would cost $5.25 (4.32 euros) each – nearly 2.5 times the amount paid by most European countries.

"The National Department of Health confirms that the price $5.25 is what was quoted to us," deputy director-general of health Anban Pillay said via text message, without explaining the price difference.

European Union (EU) members will pay just 1.78 euros ($2.16) for AstraZeneca's shots, according to information leaked by a Belgian minister on Twitter last month.

Raised concern

Bilateral deals between wealthier governments and manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines have raised concern over price hikes and lack of supply for low- and middle-income countries.

The World Health Organization last year warned against "vaccine nationalism" and "price gouging" once a successful shot was found.

AstraZeneca France told AFP in November that its shots would be capped at 2.5 euros (around $3) per dose "to provide vaccines to the widest population, with as fair access as possible".

The pharmaceutical giant did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the health ministry's price quote.

South Africa's AstraZeneca vaccine order is part of 20 million secured doses to be delivered in the first half of 2021.

The WHO-backed Covax facility is expected to provide shots for 10 percent of the population between April and June.

African Union

Other vaccines will be provided via the African Union and bilateral contracts with suppliers that have not yet been disclosed. 

Opposition groups have meanwhile criticised South Africa's inoculation strategy.

"Reports today indicate that... government will have to spend double what some other countries are paying for their vaccines," the main opposition Democratic Alliance party said on Thursday, blaming poor planning and delayed negotiations.

Trade union Solidarity and prominent rights group Afriforum jointly announced plans to launch a legal battle against the government over lack of transparency.

"The government's non-disclosure of information is further proof why it cannot be trusted with a monopoly regarding the purchasing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines," Afriforum said in a statement on Thursday.

South Africa is battling with a second wave of infections fuelled by a new Covid-19 variant deemed more infectious by scientists.

To date the country has recorded over 1.3 million cases and 38,800 deaths.

The government aims to vaccinate two thirds of its population – around 40 million out of nearly 60 million people – to achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021. 

ZANU-PF Mwenezi Vice Chair Succumbs to COVID-19

23 JAN, 2021 - 07:01 

George Maponga in Masvingo

Zimbabwe Herald

The newly-minted Zanu PF Mwenezi District Coordinating Committee(DCC) vice chair Cde Luckson Chikomo has died due to Covid-19- related complications.

Cde Chikomo, a sugar cane farmer at Mupapa Estates near Chingwizi passed on at Colini Saunders Hospital on Thursday.

Mwenezi West parliamentarian and Zanu PF Secretary for Finance in the Women’s League, Cde Priscilla Zindari confirmed his death.

“He (Cde Chikomo) passed on in hospital in Triangle. He was diabetic and while admitted, he tested positive for Covid-19,” she said.

Cde Zidhari described Cde Chikomo’s death as a big loss to the ruling party in Mwenezi and Masvingo as a whole.

This was also corroborated by Zanu PF Masvingo Vice chair Cde Robson Mavhenyengwa who said the ruling party had been robbed of a hard-working and dedicated servant.

Cde Chikomo was elected into the revived DCCs in Mwenezi last year where he deputised Cde Gift Mazhambe,who was voted chair.

Covid-19: A Personal Experience

23 JAN, 2021 - 00:01  

The Herald Editor Hatred Zenenga

SOME weeks back just before Christmas, I was diagnosed with Covid-19 after developing what I thought was a very bad flu. I had just returned from a workshop in Gweru, where I had interacted with many colleagues. One of them being Foster Dongozi, secretary general of the  Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ). Dongozi passed away a few days after we returned from the workshop. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

While at home, I paid due attention to my body to ensure I figured out what was happening to me. The bad flu was turning out to be something very terrible. I lost my senses of smell and taste, felt feverish, had a mild headache, felt weak in my joints, experienced shortness of breath and my lower back became very painful.

That is when my wife, Grace and son, Anotida, informed me that they were having symptoms similar to those attributed to Covid-19. It was not different from how I felt. So the three of us were now down.

I then went for a test at the Harare City Council Fire Brigade Station. Results took 72 hours to come and the symptoms were already profound. The family decided to just start steaming as a precaution. The three of us decided to go for tests at a private laboratory and the results came the same day confirming we were positive. Results of the first test also confirmed that I was positive.

Immediately after testing positive, we went into self-isolation. It was around Christmas period, and so there was just myself, my wife and my son. Our maid had gone away, an uncle we stay with and our other son were also away. We had to turn some relatives away as we could not risk infecting our loved ones.

At one time, the situation got quite bad in my case. The fever and shortness of breath worsened for two days. I had diarrhoea, developed a sore throat and felt severe body aches. This was on top of the other symptoms I felt earlier on. Worst of all was that I developed a very bad cough. This, I thought would knock me off.

It was a gruelling experience. The cough worsened, and there was a time when I was giving up. I would cough until I ran out of energy; this would lead to a choking sensation as I could no longer cough to clear my throat. The steaming helped a lot in clearing the whole system.

My friends arranged that three of us go to hospital, and had already secured an ambulance to come and pick us, but my wife, who is a nurse and whose infection was on the mild side, opted to take care of us at home.

At one stage I felt very frightened; I thought I was headed for the worst. Of course, we have recorded many recoveries in this country, but it felt like I had been given the death sentence. This was worsened by the spike in deaths that were being reported. You would wake up to a death notice every other day. The news of death dampened my spirit. Whenever my symptoms got worse, I started imagining the worst and would think I was going to be the next to go.

If it was not for the good care my wife provided during my illness, I can’t imagine how things would have turned out. Being a nurse, she made sure that I took my medication, steamed three times a day and that I ate regularly.

But as she took care of us, my wife would tell me that I was the one who had brought Covid-19 from the Gweru workshop.

Despite being worried at first, I was getting positive through the journey. At the back of my mind I was beginning to believe that I was going to make it. There were wonderful words of support and encouragement coming from relatives, family members and workmates.

I was receiving messages of hope from my bosses at work, relatives, workmates and friends. They kept telling me that I would be fine, and it helped lift my spirits.

Medically, I got doses of antibiotics and some Chinese medicine which helped me a lot. I was steaming three times a day, in the morning, during the day and at bedtime. It helped me breathe better.

My friends who had returned from China went out of their way to deliver the medicine (Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang) to me. I want to believe it was the game changer as I experienced change for the better after a few days of taking the medicine.

After two weeks in quarantine, we felt we were back in good shape and went for a retest, where we were given a clean bill of health,

I am now back at work. However, I haven’t fully regained my senses of smell and taste. The doctor said it would take a bit of time.

As I expected, there has been some stigmatisation at the workplace. You get people trying to avoid you and trying to avoid coming to your office. But the stigma is not affecting me much, because I understand why it is happening.

People also ask me if I have been retested and I have been open to explain that I had gone for a retest and the results were negative. Others are interested in understanding how I recovered, possibly they want to know the methods or they are simply curious.

I have been using the opportunity to tell colleagues that Covid-19 is a deadly disease and it is no joke. I was just lucky that I was in good care and I managed to make it. I want to tell everybody that they should take Covid-19 very seriously.

I get anxious when I see people lowering their masks or are without masks. Let us follow the protocols, especially limiting our travelling and visitors. Covid-19 is deadly. The news these days attests to what I am saying.

I think a lot of work has been done in terms of raising awareness. Everyone now knows there is Covid-19, and this includes young children. The lockdown which is in place has to be fully enforced. The first time it worked well, there is no reason it shouldn’t work well this time around.

I wish to express my utmost thanks to the company, Zimpapers for being there for me when needed most by taking care of my medical bills. Special mention go to the company nursing sister who was always calling everyday to check on me.

My message to fellow Zimbabweans is that the virus is here and it is with us. It is killing people, and it is up to individuals to take responsibility with their own lives. Following protocols from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and our own health experts will go a long way in helping this nation.

COVID-19 Spike Blamed on Movement

23 JAN, 2021 - 00:01 

The Chinese Embassy in Zimbabwe yesterday donated 160 000 medical masks, 90 000 N95 masks, 3 300 protective suits, 3 300 shoe covers and 100 infrared thermometers to the Government. The donation, which took place at the Chinese Embassy in Harare, was received by the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro

Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter

Zimbabwe Herald

THE surge in Covid-19 infections was caused by the movement of people who travelled into and throughout the country during the festive season, a senior Government official has said.

Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro also cited complacency and negligence on part of the public, as a major cause of the spike in cases and deaths.

This comes as 45 more people died of Covid-19 yesterday, while 476 new cases recorded.

He challenged Zimbabweans to be extra cautious and to adhere to World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations when conducting daily business.

Dr Mangwiro further warned those with underlying conditions to be extra cautious and avoid unnecessary movements.

“Provinces are now getting a high number of positive cases. Over the Christmas period, we had a surge in people who travelled from Botswana, South Africa and other countries and people were going to their different rural areas. We all know as Zimbabweans that our bases are in rural areas. There was a lot of travel and movement which continues up to this day,” said Dr Mangwiro.

“The epicentres which we used to have are no longer safe. Every part of the country is getting high figures which means we should take more precautions.”

He urged transporters who are ferrying the public to fumigate and sanitise their buses to avoid the spread of the pandemic.

“These buses must surely be cleaned every day with sanitisers so that they are safe for the next passengers. As Government, we are already spraying cities. We already have timetables to spray them regularly in food markets to make sure we remain safe,” said Dr Mangwiro.

He urged Zimbabweans to assist health workers in their respective areas.

“Let’s make sure that we help each other when the health workers are doing contact tracing. We must be open to them. When one is asked by the authorities to be tested, let’s comply.”

People were supposed to be cautious when dealing with people with underlying diseases such as diabetes, cancer, kidney ailments, heart problems and other chronic ailments who are at high risk of contracting and succumbing to Covid-19.

“The best way to prevent and slowdown Covid-19 transmission is to protect yourself and others from infection by observing WHO guidelines such as isolation, sanitising, maintaining social distance and masking.

“Remember people with underlying conditions are plenty. It’s our job to look after them and our job to make sure they are not in danger. One might also be on chemotherapy as a cancer patient, which can also damage their immunity. If Covid-19 gets into such a person, it’s treble trouble because the person’s immunity is already compromised,” he said,

“We recommend that people stay at home. The virus spreads faster in crowded places, in cars and anywhere you go. Let’s stick to the rules and regulations.”

He warned the public against attending funerals in large numbers, saying gatherings should not exceed 30 people.

Dr Mangwiro said even those with no underlying conditions were supposed to be careful.

Zimbabwe Minister JB Matiza Dies of COVID-19

23 JAN, 2021 - 00:01

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza

Mukudzei Chingwere

Herald Reporter

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister and Zanu-PF Mashonaland East chairperson Dr Joel Biggie Matiza has died.

A veteran of the liberation struggle and a renowned architect by profession, Cde Matiza died of Covid-19 related illness last night at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare aged 60.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed Minister Matiza’s death in a statement, extolling his legacy of hard work and diligence.

“Covid-19 has claimed yet another Cabinet member in Hon Joel Biggie Matiza, Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development.

“Minister JB Matiza brought a new beginning and added vigour to the development of our road network, both trunk and  ancillary.

“He opened the sector to local construction companies and harnessed local professional and technical talent.

“The commencement of  rehabilitation and expansion of the Beitbridge-Harare trunk road marked the highpoint of his frenetic ministerial engagement,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She added: “He employed equal zeal  in airline, railway infrastructure recovery.

“Comrade Joel Biggie Matiza was also a tried and tested cadre of the ruling party. He was Chairman of Mashonaland East Province.”

Zanu PF Mashonaland East political commissar Cde Hebert Shumbamhini said the province had received the news of Cde Matiza’s death with shock.

“We are still in shock. He succumbed to Covid-19 this evening at around 7pm at St Anne’s Hospital in Harare where he was admitted,” he said.

Born on August 17, 1960 in Murehwa, Dr Matiza was Murehwa South House of Assembly member and his previous portfolios in Government include being Minister of State for Mashonaland East Province.

At the time of his death, he was also a Zanu PF Central Committee member and previously served in Government as Deputy Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing.

According to his curriculum vitae deposited at Parliament, Minister Matiza joined the liberation struggle in 1977 as a Zimbabwe African People’s Revolutionary Army (Zipra) cadre.

He attended local schools before going to Nigeria for his tertiary education, graduating with a BSc Hons degree in Architecture and an MSc degree in Architecture from Ahmadu Bello University.

He graduated with a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) from the Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship, Malaysia, in collaboration with Chinhoyi University of Technology on December 15 last year.

During his tenure in Government under President Mnangagwa’s administration, Minister Matiza pushed for the rehabilitation of roads in the country using local resources and entrusted local companies to undertake the work.

During his tenure, the Government embarked on massive road rehabilitation projects of varying magnitudes in every constituency.

President Mnangagwa commissioned the completed stretches of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway under Phase One of the rehabilitation programme which involves upgrading and widening of the road.

This is one of the major infrastructure development projects post-independence which is expected to stretch all the way to Chirundu on the border with Zambia.

Minister Matiza’s death comes at a time the nation is still in deep mourning following the death on Wednesday of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo, who has since been declared a National Hero.

He will be buried on Wednesday at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

This week, President Mnangagwa presided over the burials of the late Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and the late Zanu PF Central Committee member Cde Moton Dizzy Paul Malianga at the National Heroes Acre.

Early this month, the country lost decorated military commander, Brigadier-General Collin Moyo (Retired), who was buried at the national shrine.

Dr Matiza became the fourth Minister to die of Covid-19 related complications following the deaths of Dr Moyo, Dr Gwaradzimba and former Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri.

The late Dr Gwaradzimba also died after testing positive for the virus which is threatening to overwhelm the health services.

The death of Dr Matiza robs the country of a liberation war veteran who pursued education and entrepreneurship after the struggle and served his country in various capacities.

He was a passionate believer in the diligence and expertise of Zimbabweans in various trades.

Maj-Gen Zimondi Succumbs to Covid-19

23 JAN, 2021 - 00:01 

Major-General Paradzai Zimondi (Retired)

Deputy News Editor 

Herald

Former Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) Commissioner-General, Major-General Paradzai Zimondi (Retired) has died.

He died last night due to Covid-19-related complications at the age of 74.

Mashonaland East Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Aplonia Munzverengwi, confirmed the death to The Herald last night.

“Yes I can confirm that he has died. He died this evening (last night). It’s really sad,” she said.

“We are devastated as Mashonaland East province because in the last four consecutive days, we have lost the GMB manager, the provincial information officer Mukonde who will be buried in Mashonaland West tomorrow (today), former Minister Aeneas Chigwedere then Minister Matiza and now, vaZimondi.

“I am at a loss for words. This is saddening.”

General Zimondi retired as ZPCS Comm-Gen in November last year after 22 years of service, which began in 1998 when he was 51.

Maj-Gen Zimondi was born on 4 March 1947.

He joined the Zimbabwe Prison Services as a Deputy Commissioner in 1997 and in July of the same year, undertook a study of British, Danish and Swedish prison systems.

In 1998, he was appointed Acting Commissioner following the retirement of Mr Langton Chigwida the previous year.

Mr Chigwida had been at the helm of the prison service since 1984.

Maj-Gen Zimondi was appointed as substantive commissioner on April 1, 1998.

He joined the liberation struggle and received military training at Mgagao Training Camp, Tanzania, in 1974 and was posted to Chimoio, Mozambique, where he assumed the position of a trainer.

At Mgagao, the late Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Air Chief Marshal Perrance Shiri, was Maj-Gen Zimondi’s trainer, together with Rex Tichafa in 1975.

After independence in 1980, Maj-Gen Zimondi was attested into the Zimbabwe National Army as a colonel and rose through the ranks to become major-general.

He held various commanding posts in the army, including being Commander of Presidential Guard.

Maj-Gen Zimondi helped to set up a formidable prisons service in the country through improving the delivery of health systems in prisons across the country.

Friday, January 22, 2021

AFRICA RECORDS HIGHER DEATH RATES DURING CORONAVIRUS SECOND WAVE

Africa has so far recorded around 3.3 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 82,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

FILE: Hospital staff carries a stretcher in the area dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 coronavirus patients in Mopti, on 28 May 2020. The Somine Dolo Hospital, that represents the main health facility in central Mali, set up an autonomous area to isolate the patients infected. Picture: MICHELE CATTANI/AFP

AFP 

ADDIS ABABA - Health systems in Africa hobbled by shortages of oxygen and other resources are struggling with COVID's second wave, pushing the fatality rate above the global average, the continent's health watchdog said Thursday.

Africa has so far recorded around 3.3 million cases of COVID-19 and nearly 82,000 deaths, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

These figures represent small fractions of the global totals, but cases have increased by an average of 14% each week for the past month.

Africa CDC director John Nkengasong told a press conference Thursday that the continent-wide case fatality rate was now 2.5% - above the global average of 2.2%.

That is a break from earlier in the pandemic, when death rates on the continent were on average lower than the rest of the world, Nkengasong said.

"During the second wave we are beginning to see that reverse. So I think that is one of the remarkable characteristics of the second wave, which we must fight hard," Nkengasong said.

A total of 21 African countries have so far recorded death rates higher than 2.2%, Nkengasong said.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic in Western Sahara - an African Union member state - has a death rate of 11.8%, followed by Sudan at 6.2%, Egypt at 5.5%, Liberia at 4.4% and Mali at four percent.

Nkengasong explained this by noting that rising cases were stretching health systems.

"That also means you're overwhelming the ability of nurses, doctors to manage patients. Because of that there will be inadequate attention and care... to patients because we have limited beds, limited supplies."

He also cited the need for more oxygen supplies, which he said was becoming "critical".

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, health officials have described being forced to "decide which patients to manage and which not to manage," Nkengasong said.

Last week the African Union announced it had secured 270 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, which will complement those secured via Covax, the globally-pooled vaccine procurement and distribution effort.

There are "ongoing talks" with Russia and China to potentially secure more doses, though "for now we don't have any deals," Nkengasong said on Thursday.

ONLY THROUGH GLOBAL SOLIDARITY WILL WE END THIS PANDEMIC: WHO AFRICA

The health agency's regional director, Doctor Matshidiso Moeti, has spoken out against vaccine hoarding by some well-off countries.

Sandra Lindsay(L), a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre, is inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine by Dr Michelle Chester at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre on 14 December 2020 in the Queens borough of New York. Picture: AFP.

Kevin Brandt 

CAPE TOWN - The World Health Organization Africa on Thursday said that countries needed to adopt a 'we first, not me first' attitude to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The health agency's regional director, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, spoke out against vaccine hoarding by some well-off countries.

“It would be deeply unjust if the most vulnerable Africans were forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk population subgroups in wealthier countries are made safe. Only through global solidarity will we end this pandemic.”

The organisation said that as of this week, 40 million doses have been administered in 50 mostly high-income countries.

On the continent, Guinea started its vaccination rollout, injecting 25 people so far.

The Seychelles, which is regarded as a high-income nation, is the only African country to start a national vaccination campaign.

COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 82,000 people across the region, while more than 3,3 million have been infected.

‘HE LEAVES BEHIND A LEGACY OF HONESTY’ - POLITICIANS REMEMBER JACKSON MTHEMBU

Mthembu passed away earlier on Thursday from COVID-19 related complications.

FILE: Jackson Mthembu and Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams at a communications briefing at the ANC national policy conference on 5 July 2017. Picture: Thomas Holder/Eyewitness News.

Tshidi Madia & Shamiela Fisher 

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - South Africa has been rocked by news of the death of senior African National Congress (ANC) member and Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu.

Mthembu died earlier on Thursday from COVID-19 related complications.

Last Monday, he tweeted that he had sought medical attention at the 1 Military Hospital in Tshwane after experiencing abdominal pains. It was there that his COVID-19 diagnosis was confirmed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa released a statement announcing Mthembu's passing.

ANC leaders have expressed their sadness and have also praised Mthembu for his dedication to the movement and the country.

ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said Mthembu died with his boots on, working for the people of South Africa.

She said he left behind a legacy of integrity and honesty, praising the late minister in the Presidency for his work ethic and commitment to serving South Africans.

Stern, firm and loyal to both South Africa and the ANC, this is how the Duarte has described Mthembu.

She said many in the ANC were struggling to make sense of the news.

Duarte added that Mthembu was a defender of the truth: “He leaves a legacy of honesty and integrity and a legacy of deep value.”

Duarte said the late minister, who once served as the voice and face of the ANC, would always be remembered for his friendly approach to people.

“And an ability to communicate very easily to people and to draw people in conversations.”

She believes his passing should be a reminder to everyone of the period the world is in.

A friend and colleague who's come a long way with Mthembu is national ANC chair Gwede Mantashe.

Mantashe said news of the minister's passing had left him in shock: “He was a reliable ally in any battle that you faced, we have lost him in the movement, we have lost him in government but Mpumalanga will lose him more, Witbank in particular. So, it’s a big loss to the country.

“When we received this news, I was disoriented and that’s why it is still difficult to handle the media on this one.”

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen, who served with Mthembu in the National Assembly as chief whips of their respective parties, has described him as a revered figure in the ANC and a true South African patriot.

Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa had lost a close ally and an exemplary leader: “He was a larger than life figure who at the centre of a great deal of political action, we were able to find a compromise in Parliament and that was because of his ability to try and find compromises.”

ANC parliamentary chief whip Pemmy Majodina said the ANC lost one of its most talented leaders.

Majodina said Mthembu was friendly but firm in his approach: “He loved joy, he loved parties. He would not harbour anger at any stage. He was full of life and that is what one is going to miss about him.”

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor had nothing but praise for Mthembu: “So, this is a person who was deep in the struggle and truly made a contribution to the freedom that all of us enjoy today and for him to enjoy it for such a short time... is very painful.”

South African Minister Mthembu Dies of Covid-19

22 JAN, 2021 - 00:01

JOHANNESBURG. — South Africans yesterday reeled after the news that Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu (62) passed away due to Covid-19.

Ten days ago, Mthembu was hospitalised after showing symptoms of the virus. He was the fourth member of the executive who tested positive in that week, along with Employment and Labour Deputy Minister Boitumelo Moloi, Water and Sanitation Deputy Minister David Mahlobo, as well as governance’s Obed Bapela.

The week before that, the police ministry announced its deputy minister, Cassel Mathale, had contracted Covid-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed his passing in a statement, extending his condolences to the minister’s family and colleagues.

“Minister Mthembu was an exemplary leader, an activist and life-long champion of freedom and democracy. He was a much-loved and greatly respected colleague and comrade, whose passing leaves our nation at a loss.”

Born in 1958, Mthembu fought against apartheid from his student days in the 1970s and helped set up two metal workers unions when he worked in the steel industry, which campaigned for better conditions for black workers.

In the 1980s, the apartheid authorities frequently jailed him, often in solitary confinement, but when political parties were unbanned the following decade, he became the ANC leader in his hometown of Witbank in Mpumalanga.

From 1994 he served in parliament, becoming national ANC spokesperson the following year, a position he also held from 2009 to 2014, before becoming minister in the presidency in 2019.

Citizens are also in shock after the news, with many taking to Twitter to pay homage to the leader.

In the last remark on his Twitter feed on January 11, Mthembu wrote that he had “visited a military hospital in Tshwane to get medical attention for an abdominal pain”, and there tested positive for Covid-19.

The death toll from Covid-19 in SA, which has been the worst hit on the continent, has almost reached 40 000. 

— EWN.

Zimbabwe Minister Mourns Karimatsenga

22 JAN, 2021 - 00:01 

Herald Reporter

The Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa has paid tribute to liberation war fighter, Cde Martha Tembo Nyakudya Karimatsenga, who died on January 16 at a private hospital in Harare.

Minister Mutsvangwa described Cde Karimatsenga as a liberation war supporter and fighter who dedicated her life to the struggle for national independence.

Born on January 6, 1950, Cde Karimatsenga died 10 days after celebrating her 71st birthday.

In her eulogy, Minister Mutsvangwa said: “I knew Mai Tembo Karimatsenga as the wife of Cde Tembo Karimatsenga who was a general manager of a top hotel in Beira.

“As Zimbabwean expatriates in Mozambique, both of them embraced our Chimurenga national struggle and hosted many of the leadership and cadres.

“I worked in the Office of the Special Assistant to the President of Zanu who is now HE Cde Mnangagwa, the President. Many times we benefited from Mai Karimatsenga’s hospitality.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said she developed a strong personal bond with Cde Tembo Karimatsenga who joined the rank and file of women in the struggle when she moved to Maputo.

“Our personal bonds endured well into freedom and independence till her untimely death. My deep and sincere condolences to her dear children and grandchildren who we continue to retain strong bonds with. May her soul rest in internal peace,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Cde Tembo Karimatsenga was born Martha Tiriwokunze Nyakudya at Rombe in Mashonaland Central and was raised at Eskbank Farm.

She met her husband, David Soko Karimatsenga, in Christon Bank and they moved to Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Zambia and eventually Mozambique when the liberation war was raging.

The two played active roles in the liberation struggle alongside leaders in Zanu, experiencing many near death events and having much of their personal property and vehicles destroyed by the enemy forces.

When she retired, she became a very active member of the Roman Catholic Church.

Cde Tembo Karimatsenga, who is survived by seven children, 19 grandchildren and five great grandchildren, was buried at Warren Hills Cemetery yesterday.

Struggle Stalwarts Malianga, Gwaradzimba Laid to Rest

22 JAN, 2021 - 00:01 

Elita Chikwati Senior Reporter

Herald

Illustrious, dedicated and decorated war liberators who sacrificed their lives at a tender age to the cause of Zimbabwe, national hero Morton “Dizzy” Paul Malianga and heroine Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba (Cde Shee Tapera) were buried at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday

Cde Malianga died on January 15 after a short illness, while Dr Gwaradzimba succumbed to Covid-19 complications on the same day.

The joint burial at the National Shrine was presided over by President Mnangagwa, with Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa and Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe also in attendance, among other senior Government officials and service chiefs.

A sparse crowd gathered at the national shrine to witness the double burial, which is the third such ceremony following that of national heroines Cde Victoria Chitepo and Vivian Mwashita in 2016 and Cde George Rutanhire and Cde Maud Muzenda in 2017.

Covid-19 protocols were followed in line with the World Health Organisation regulations during the burial.

A limited number of mourners were allowed and only five members of each family were allowed to proceed to the graveside.

The bodies arrived at the National Heroes Acre around 11am aboard Doves Funeral Services hearses that were being led by two gun carriages.

The shrine was engulfed in a sombre atmosphere with close relatives and mourners watching from a distance.

Pallbearers clad in white personal protective equipment pushed the caskets draped in national flags on trolleys to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in a slow march.

UMC pastor Reverend Josephine Bopani gave a prayer and short sermon before representatives from the families of the two heroes took to the podium. Rev Bopani’s message gave hope to the people of Zimbabwe traumatised by the deadly Covid-19 pandemic which had killed over 879 people by yesterday.

She read from Psalm 125 verse 1-2 which says: “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken, but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forever more.”

Rev Bopani said Zimbabweans should now look up to God for protection from the pandemic.

Zimbabwe Republic Police choir also put up a polished performance with their songs and dances, with the Imbube Group churning out songs that comforted mourners.

Malianga family representative, Mr Joshua Kadzura Malianga, said the late nationalist who hailed from a politically conscious and active family, pioneered the struggle for national independence.

“Malianga was well known for his committed participation in the liberation struggle,” he said.

“He was a pastor and at one time a Methodist editor. He was also instrumental in the formation of the NDP.”

Dr Gwaradzimba’s son, Remembrance, eulogised his mother, who was also known as Auntie Gwa, Doc, Cde Shee, Mafirakureva and mother, among other names.

“I called her shamwari,” he said. “She had a unique personal relationship with each of her sons. We had a strong bond with our mother. She had many non-biological children.

“We have lost a confidante, pillar of hope, visionary and a loving mother. We are thankful for the time we lived with our mother.”

President Mnangagwa applauded the two who sacrificed lives, careers and families to break the yoke of colonial bondage that was wearing down the indigenous people in the country.

“It was the spirit of patriotism, bravery and selflessness that propelled them to confront the enemy, even from a seemingly weaker position,” he said.

“This conviction to make their individual and collective contribution was inspired by the ideological consciousness for the need to attain sovereign independence and freedom to determine our own destiny.

“Most of our departed comrades, including the two we are bidding farewell today, envisaged a free and prosperous Zimbabwe that knew no discrimination based on colour, race, religion, political affiliation, gender or creed. Until now, this is the Zimbabwe we all want and indeed the Zimbabwe we must all work hard to realise.”

War veterans leader, Cde Christopher Mutsvangwa, said Cde Malianga was there as a young man from the beginning of colonial resistance.

Now we have our own army, the ZDF,” he said. “It owes its origins to Morton Malianga for organising the pioneer cadres to go for military training and set up the guerilla movement which would become a whirlwind by 1979.”

Cde Malianga was one of the few surviving nationalist leaders of the struggle for national independence.

He was instrumental in the formation of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the formation of the Zimbabwe African National Union (Zanu) in 1963.

At independence, he was appointed senator in the first Parliament of Zimbabwe and later held several deputy ministerial posts.

He was a central committee member at the time of his death.

Dr Gwaradzimba abandoned school at age 16 to pursue politics and joined the liberation struggle in Mozambique and later trained in Tanzania. She rose through the ranks to detachment commander level in the provincial command structure.

At independence, she pursued her education and remained active in politics.

She sat on several boards and spearheaded development programmes in Manicaland where she was Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution until the time of her death.

National Hero Status for SB Moyo

Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (left) delivers a letter of conferment of national hero status on Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo to Mr Cephas Moyo, the father (centre), while brother Bothwell looks on in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Justin Mutenda

 22 JAN, 2021 - 00:01 

Joseph Madzimure and Africa Moyo

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister, Lieutenant General Sibusiso Busi Moyo (Retired), has been declared a national hero.

Lt Gen Moyo succumbed to Covid-19-related complications on Wednesday at a Harare medical facility.

He was 59.

Defence and War Veterans Affairs Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who is also Zanu PF national chairperson, was dispatched to the Moyo family home in Harare yesterday evening by President Mnangagwa to deliver the message.

She said Lt Gen Moyo  will be buried at the National Heroes Acre on a date to be advised.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said President Mnangagwa and the party saw it fit to honour Dr Moyo as national hero for the contributions he made during the liberation struggle and after independence.

The ministries of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, and Health and Child Care are now working on modalities and logistics on how the burial will be conducted.

“He has been conferred national hero status. The party was unanimous in according him the national hero status. We acceded to a request by Midlands Province and the Defence Forces that he be declared a national hero,” said Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri.

“I have been sent by the President of the Second Republic, President Mnangagwa and his two deputies, Vice President Costantino Chiwenga and Vice President Kembo Mohadi and the Zanu PF leadership, representing the Government and the party, to deliver a condolence message and confer a hero’s status to the late Cde Moyo,” she said.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri described the late Lt Gen Moyo as a dedicated and courageous fighter who contributed immensely to the liberation struggle.

She said he joined the liberation struggle at a tender age after abandoning his high school studies, and  “distinguished himself as a courageous freedom fighter who helped liberate the country from colonialism”.

Minister Muchinguri-Kashiri said apart from his distinguished academic accomplishments, Lt-Gen Moyo was instrumental in the curriculum architecture of the Zimbabwe National Defence University (ZNDU).

In accepting the hero status, Lt Gen Moyo’s father, Mr Cephas Moyo, described his son as a courageous person, who dedicated his life to serve the nation.

He thanked Zanu PF and President Mnangagwa for according his son the national hero status.

“We are really humbled by the hero status accorded to my son by the ruling party Zanu PF and the President. We are really humbled,” said Mr Moyo.

Brother to the late national hero, Mr Bothwell Moyo, who is the family spokesperson, described the late as a unifier and a pillar of strength to the family.

“My brother was a father figure, and always jovial during family gatherings,” he said.

Lt Gen Moyo’s mother-in-law, Mbuya Vivian Matanda, described him as an intelligent person who was frank and open to everyone.

“He was a pillar of strength. His death came as a shock to us, but we are happy with the recognition accorded to him,” said Mbuya Matanda.

Tributes continue to pour in for Lt Gen Moyo, with Sadc Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax saying she learnt of his death “with deep sorrow and sadness”.

“My sincere condolences to HE President Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa, the Government, the bereaved family and the people of Zimbabwe on this loss,” she said.

Dr Tax said Lt-Gen Moyo served Sadc in various capacities including as a member of the Council of Ministers; head of a number of SADC Electoral Observer Missions; and as Chairperson of the SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.

“He tremendously contributed to SADC integration, specifically, to the enhancement and consolidation of peace and security in the region. May his soul rest in eternal peace!”

Iranian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Abbas Navazani said Dr Moyo’s death was “deeply saddened”, adding that he was a “dear friend of Iran who promoted and strongly supported deep and genuine friendship between Iran and Zimbabwe”.

“Iran deeply appreciated the great contribution of Dr Moyo to the excellent political, economic and cultural relations between the two countries.

“The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Harare would like to extend its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family and to the Government and the people of Zimbabwe,” said Ambassador Navazani.

Zanu PF acting Deputy Secretary for Youth Affairs Cde Tendai Chirau said Dr Moyo’s death had robbed the nation of a true patriot who served with distinction.

“The Youth League mourns with you and celebrates the extraordinary life of this remarkable soldier, father and diplomat who devoted his life to raising high the banner of our nation,” he said.

“Ever young at heart, he was in many respects an inspiration to many youths, who he always passionately counselled not to be enticed by ephemeral pieces of silver at the expense of our enduring legacy of freedom and self-determination.

“Notably, the forward-looking diplomat had already begun to spearhead a youth-centred campaign for the 2023 presidential elections, which roped in a number of university students, starting with Mberengwa as the initial centrepiece.”

He added that Dr Moyo was an astute diplomat whose tenure in office was characterised by high organisational acumen and top-notch people skills; a fitting epitome of the Second Republic’s “Zimbabwe is open for Business” mantra, into which he had “inexorably immersed himself in pursuit of the engagement and reengagement agenda under Vision 2030”.

“Without you, Zanu PF is undoubtedly poorer. Indeed, we are all left poorer, and mere words certainly fail us in expressing this loss,” said Cde Chirau.

Lt-Gen Moyo was born on November 20, 1961, at Mnene Hospital in Mberengwa and joined the liberation struggle in 1976.

He received military training in Zambia and the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

‘Unity Essential in Covid-19 Fight’

22 JAN, 2021 - 00:01 

President Mnangagwa (with scarf) looks on as pallbearers carry caskets of National Hero Cde Morton Malianga and National Heroine Cde Ellen Gwaradzimba, before burial at the National Heroes Acre in Harare yesterday. — Picture: Tawanda Mudimu

Mukudzei Chingwere Herald Reporter

President Mnangagwa yesterday urged the nation to unite in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic to suppress the spike in deaths related to the disease.

He made the plea yesterday while presiding over the burials of the late Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Dr Ellen Gwaradzimba and the late Zanu PF Central Committee member Cde Moton Dizzy Paul Malianga at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

Dr Gwaradzimba succumbed to Covid-19 complications in Harare last week with the pandemic killing more than 879 people since March last year.

Other high-ranking Government officials who have so far died of Covid-related complications include Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Dr Sibusiso Moyo and Lands and Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement Minister Perrance Shiri.

The pandemic has killed more than two million people across the globe, infecting over 96 million people.

President Mnangagwa said the war of liberation was won on the basis of collective effort, adding that the ongoing pandemic would be defeated if all Zimbabweans played their part.

“As we mourn and lay to rest our departed national hero and heroine, let us be reminded that our freedom and independence was achieved by many in their own various ways.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa and husband Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa attending the burial yesterday

“No one family, clan or tribe can ever be exclusively credited. We achieved our aspiration for independence and peace as a united people.

“Equally, with the current deadly war against this evil Covid-19 pandemic facing our nation, we will win as a united people,” said President Mnangagwa.

He warned of a new and deadlier variant in communities and urged behaviour change and adherence to the prescribed containment measures.

“The present Covid-19 variant is stronger and spreads much faster, hence we must be more vigilant, disciplined and shift our attitude and behaviour.”

President Mnangagwa implored the nation not to lose heart and advised the public to follow the prescribed control measures.

“Alive to the ongoing reality, let us however not lose heart. Let us fight on and resolve to overcome.

“In our organisations, communities and families, social groups and communication platforms, we must keep hope alive.

“It is also of paramount importance that we all follow the health and security protocols and procedures to contain the spread of the pandemic,” said the President.

He urged everyone to continue sanitising, wear face masks properly as well as maintain social distance rules.

President Mnangagwa said it was not time to be tired and drop guard in hopelessness and called on all people except essential staff, to stay at home.

“Those who are not on essential duties should stay at home. Learning from our departed heroes who brought our nation thus far, let us serve, fight on and save lives to flatten the curve. United with one common purpose, we will overcome and defeat Covid-19.”

Speaking of Dr Gwaradzimba who played a critical role in the education sector, President Mnangagwa challenged academics to play a part in the development of the country.

Zimbabwe is working towards attaining an upper middle income society by 2030 on the back of rapid economic growth underpinned by the National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

“Her history as an academic and continued service to the nation in the political arena must challenge more academics to avail themselves for strategic national deployment across all sectors of the economy.

“Our National Vision 2030 and the present National Development Strategy 1 requires all hands on the wheel, across all sectors of the economy and fields of specialisation. Iwe neni tine basa,” said President Mnangagwa.

Dr Gwaradzimba whose Chimurenga name was Cde Shee Tapera, joined the liberation struggle in 1976.

She underwent military training in Tanzania at Nachigwea Military Academy in 1977 and was deployed and operated in the Gaza Province that covered the south-eastern zone between 1977 and 1978 where she rose to detachment command level in the provincial command structure.

After independence, Dr Gwaradzimba rose through the party ranks to be a member of the Zanu PF Central Committee and Manicaland provincial chairperson in the Women’s League.

She was a member of the academic staff at the University of Zimbabwe, Mutare Polytechnic and Africa University where she was the Dean of Students before being appointed Manicaland Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution, a position she held until her death.

Cde Malianga was founding president of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and after the party was banned in December 1961, he became Zimbabwe African People’s Union (Zapu) secretary for Public Affairs.

He was appointed Zimbabwe African National Union’s first secretary for Youth and Culture at the party’s first congress in May 1964.

In 1965, he was arrested by the settler regime for his liberation efforts and spent 10 years in prison but during his incarceration at Salisbury Maximum Security Prison, Cde Malianga obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in economics, business economics and accounting.

After his release from prison in December 1974, he worked with other members of the Zanu Central Committee in mobilising for the liberation war.

He attended the Victoria Falls talks, the Geneva Conference and the Lancaster House Conference.

After independence he was appointed Senator and became Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Development in 1981 and two years later, he became Deputy Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development.

In the second Parliament, he was elected Member of Parliament for Mutare West and appointed Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce in 1988 and in March 1990 he was re-elected as MP for the constituency and appointed Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Uganda Reports on Elections

Uganda's Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa

File | AFP

Xinhua News Agency

Kampala

Uganda on Wednesday briefed foreign diplomats on the just-concluded presidential elections.

Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, government ensured favourable space for free, fair and peaceful electoral process, said Sam Kutesa, the country's foreign affairs minister, in a statement.

Kutesa said the heavy security deployment in the capital Kampala and surrounding areas during the election process was intended to ensure "domestic tranquillity, the security and welfare of its citizens."

"We would like to reassure the international community that this tranquillity will continue to prevail beyond the immediate aftermath of the elections, into the future," he said.

The minister said Uganda has sufficient capacity to deal with its affairs and rejects foreign interference in its internal affairs.

Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni won the elections with 58.64 percent of the vote.

AfDB, EIB Ink Joint Action Plan to Boost Public, Private Investments in Africa Amid COVID-19

Doaa A.Moneim

Thursday 21 Jan 2021

'Sustainable economic growth and security in regions facing particular challenges, such as the Sahel and Horn of Africa, are our top priority,' said AfDB’s acting Senior Vice President Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have inked a joint partnership action plan that aims to boost public and private sector investments in Africa amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The joint action plan focuses on climate action and environmental sustainability, transformative large-scale quality infrastructure investment, information and communication technology infrastructure and services, financial inclusion with a gender lens aimed at the empowerment of girls and women, education and training, and the health sector, according to the AfDB.

“It is crucial that more multinational development banks and other development finance institutions commit to closer and stronger collaboration, such as seen through this joint action plan between the AfDB and the EIB, in order to more efficiently and effectively support our regional member countries during these troubling times,” said AfDB’s acting Senior Vice President Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala.

“Sustainable economic growth and security in regions facing particular challenges, such as the Sahel and Horn of Africa, are our top priority.”

Meanwhile, EIB Vice President Thomas Ă–stros said that the signed action plan demonstrates the firm commitment of the EIB and the EU Bank to delivering investment that makes a real difference to Africa and enhance cooperation and engagement with African partners to ensure that Africa emerges from the health, social, and economic challenges of COVID-19.

Over the past 5 years, the shared portfolio of the two institutions has grown to €3.4 billion, leveraging investment totaling €10.2 billion for 26 projects across the continent, according to the AfDB.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/399327.aspx

Africa’s Economy Declined by 2.1% in 2020, to Grow by 3.4% in 2021: AfDB’s President

Doaa A.Moneim

Thursday 21 Jan 2021

Ahram Online

Adesina affirmed that Africa remains fertile ground for investment, adding that it possesses the same fundamentals that had driven the continent’s phenomenal growth over the past decade.

Africa’s economy shrank by 2.1 percent in 2020 and is expected to grow by 3.4 percent in 2021 as the global economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and its severe impacts, according to the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi A. Adesina.

Adesina made his statements during the Africa Investment Conference, a virtual one-day event organised on Wednesday by the UK Department for International Trade, which brought together UK and African business and government leaders to discuss investment and partnership opportunities.

The conference focused mainly on four sectors, including sustainable infrastructure, renewable energy, financial and professional services, and agriculture and agri-tech.

Adesina affirmed that Africa remained fertile ground for investment, adding that it possesses the same fundamentals that had driven the continent’s phenomenal growth over the past decade.

“The continent offered ample opportunities in terms of natural resources, vast tracts of arable land, and a young and rapidly urbanising population, especially with the potential presented by the newly launched African Continental Free Trade Area”, said Adesina.

“The fundamentals in those phenomenal growth rates in Africa are still there. Africa still leads in terms of ease of doing business, and the digital explosion that you see in Africa today,” Adesina underscored.

“Many things have changed since last year. There is one thing I can tell you that has not changed: that is my ambition for the UK to be Africa’s investment partner,” said UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

UK Trade Commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith reviewed the UK private sector’s strengths and values, and business-to-business opportunities working with the UK government that can be tapped for the continent in the coming period.

She noted that ten of the fastest-growing economies were still in Africa, adding that there was not enough awareness of how much innovation was happening in the region.

“There was an opportunity to blend African and UK innovation. I’ve been struck by how many opportunities there are”, said Wade-Smith.

The participants urged the UK, during the conference, to pay attention to Africa particularly in healthcare and innovation investments, especially that there are 365 pharmaceutical companies in the continent, compared to 7,000 in China and 11,000 in India, as individual countries with comparable population sizes.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Minister for Africa James Duddridge, Minister for Investment Gerry Grimstone, as well as business leaders from Standard Bank, pharmaceuticals firm AstraZeneca, and mobile operator Vodacom participated in the conference.

In 2019, the UK-Africa Investment Summit, hosted in London by the UK’s Prime Minister, resulted in 27 trade and investment deals worth £6.5 billion and commitments valued at £8.9 billion were enclosed.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/399328.aspx

COVID-19 Patients Still Have Symptoms 6 Months Later; Interferon May be Helpful Treatment After All

Reuters 

Sunday 17 Jan 2021

The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus

Half a year later, COVID-19 patients still have symptoms

Most patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have at least one symptom six months after falling ill, according to findings from a study in Wuhan, China, where the novel coronavirus first emerged in late 2019. Doctors there tracked 1,733 patients who were diagnosed and hospitalized between January, 2020 and May. Six months later, 76% had at least one symptom including fatigue or muscle weakness (seen in 63%), sleep difficulties and anxiety or depression. Most of those who had been severely ill had ongoing lung problems and chest abnormalities that could indicate organ damage, while 13% of patients whose kidneys functioned normally in the hospital went on to develop kidney problems later, researchers reported on Friday in The Lancet. "We are only beginning to understand" some of the long-term effects of COVID-19, study coauthor Bin Cao from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing said in a statement. "Our analysis indicates that most patients continue to live with at least some of the effects of the virus after leaving hospital," highlighting the need for post-discharge care.

Interferon boosts proteins that deny entry to coronavirus

An experimental inhaled form of interferon being tested for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients may not have a limitation researchers had feared. A potential problem with interferon is that it increases levels of a protein called ACE2, which the new coronavirus uses as a gateway into cells. In test tube experiments, researchers looked at cells that line the path from the nose into the lungs and discovered there are actually two forms of ACE2 - the well known one and a short form that lacks the entryway used by the virus. Interferon increases the short form of ACE2 but not the longer form, they found, which means it does not appear to boost entry points for the virus. "We were excited to discover a new form of ACE2," Dr. Jane Lucas of the University of Southampton, who co-led the study reported on Monday in Nature Genetics, said in a statement. "We believe this may have important implications for managing COVID-19 infection." An inhaled interferon from Synairgen Plc is being tested in late-stage trials.

Saliva viral load improves prediction of COVID-19 severity

The amount of the new coronavirus in saliva might help guide doctors' care of patients because it is a better predictor of disease course than viral load in swab samples obtained from the nose and the back of the throat, researchers said. They studied 26 mildly ill COVID-19 patients, 154 hospitalized patients - including 63 who became critically ill and 23 who eventually died - and 108 uninfected individuals. Saliva viral load, but not nasopharyngeal viral load, was linked with COVID-19 risk factors like age and gender, and with immune system responses. Saliva viral load was also superior to nasopharyngeal viral load at predicting critical illness and death, the researchers reported on Wednesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review. Saliva contains inhaled germs that are cleared from the lungs by the body's protective mechanisms, coauthor Akiko Iwasaki of Yale University explained in a tweet on Sunday. The saliva viral load therefore reflects how well the virus is making copies of itself all the way through the respiratory tract, from the nose to the lungs, and not just in the nose and back of the throat, Iwasaki said.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/398983.aspx

 Of Shortcomings and Solutions in Handling the Covid Crisis

Mahmoud Mohieldin 

Ahram Online

Sunday 17 Jan 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Even the most optimistic could not have predicted that a vaccine against the Covid-19 would have been developed in such a short period of time. This is a battle that modern science has won. We were told it would take 18 months to two years or more to produce a coronavirus vaccine, but in fact it took less than a year.

It was only normal that the Covid-19 vaccines were developed by labs and scientific circles that saw huge investments directed towards accomplishing certain missions in the US, Europe, China and Russia.

The thing about these investments is that they are politically supported and backed by institutional work that supports scientists and research and puts together the work of scientific research centres, governments and companies amid active international cooperation between all these parties. This is what encourages the sustainability of such high-yield investments.

However, the threat of the pandemic continues, with an increasing number of infections and fatalities. The mutation of the virus poses a new threat that requires ongoing scientific efforts. For science to help people, it needs effective systems and adequate resources, as has been confirmed by a report of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB) that warned of the coronavirus months before the outbreak based on its experience with previous pandemics.

The GPMB warning was not taken seriously, however, and as its report warned the world was then hit by negligence in the necessary preparations before the outbreak and panic and confusion after it.

A new report by the GPMB called “A World in Disorder” has now called for five urgent lessons to be learned in order to bring order out of the catastrophe.

These are that the political leadership is largely responsible for not making the protection of people’s lives a priority even in cases where that conflicts with their livelihoods, that effective preparations against pandemics are not limited to what governments do to protect people, but rather depend on what people do to protect each other, and that the impact of pandemics extends beyond health damages to social and economic dimensions that weigh heavily on the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society.

The efforts made to prevent the pandemic were not sufficient given the health and social considerations or the necessary response, and the return on investment in securing the global health system is very high, the report said.

The estimates of the return on investment in prevention systems can be described in terms of the proverb that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The money the world has lost due to the pandemic would have been sufficient to prevent it for a period of no less than 500 years, given that the cost of fighting the pandemic had exceeded $11 trillion up until the time the GPMB report was released, in addition to the $10 trillion in lost revenues due to the pandemic.

The cost of preventive measures to prevent the pandemic would not have exceeded $5 per person per year and a total of $39 billion annually for the entire world’s population. Even so, it seems that the lessons of the pandemic have not yet taken hold, as the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) COVAX facility, which targets making vaccines available in developing countries, has faced a deficit of 85 per cent of its total funding of $38 billion since its establishment last year.

Besides the financing challenges, it is important to stress that the global preparations required to prevent and deal with the pandemic are not the sum of individual initiatives. Dealing with the pandemic as a global shock should be dealt with within one integrated system. Any health system is measured by the strength of its weakest link, and one fatal error would be to believe that the coronavirus crisis will end if the most-vulnerable stratum is vaccinated and refrains from mingling with others.

The reason behind providing the vaccine for all, including the poor in lower income countries, is dictated by the concept of preserving personal interests – if it is not sufficient simply to adhere to the values ​​of compassion and solidarity in the face of the most severe human, social and economic crisis humanity has experienced in the modern era.

However, the application of this simple approach to international solidarity, not necessarily absent from the general concept, has been impeded by practices such as politicising vaccines according to their country of origin or beneficiary country, reserving unneeded stocks of vaccines beyond the actual needs of countries able to procure the necessary funding, and procrastination in supporting the poorest countries.

To curb the spread of the pandemic in developing countries, including the Arab and African states, it is critical not to halt efforts to address the health and social repercussions of the pandemic and ways to ensure and recover from its economic impacts.

It is vital to prevent these countries from experiencing liquidity crunches resulting from shrinking growth and the contraction of their economies and to prevent them from suffering from debt crises in the light of what is known as the fourth wave of debt accumulation that has come on the back of the three waves that have taken place over the past five decades.

Debt accumulation has been responsible for two economic crises in developing countries and for the global financial crisis of 2008 that followed the third wave. Fears of a fourth wave of such accumulation have mounted after the rise in loans by seven per cent annually before the outbreak of Covid-19 and their recent increase by nine per cent, according to the recently released World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report.

The pandemic hit as the Arab countries, with a few exceptions, were suffering from the repercussions of a lost decade of development due to low growth rates and a retreat of public and private investments and exports. Moreover, a number of Arab countries have been mired in domestic conflicts and tensions. For these and other reasons the region has been the only area in the world where extreme poverty has been on the rise.

The Middle East and North Africa region, which includes the majority of Arab countries, experienced an economic downturn of about five per cent last year, which will not be compensated for by limited growth of about two per cent this year. The situation requires setting out public-spending priorities to support the response to the pandemic, strengthening social security systems, and driving up vital public investments to pave the way for private domestic and foreign investments to generate job opportunities.

If public investments in developed countries and emerging markets by one per cent of GDP increase private investments by about 10 per cent, thereby increasing growth and employment opportunities, then such investments should be directed towards stimulating economic activity at a time when it is feared that a global economic slump could turn into a lingering recession as demand continues to decline in the light of the repercussions of the pandemic.

Sustainable investments compatible with the need to protect the environment and that do not exacerbate climate change, and smart investments that drive competitiveness in the digital age, have a positive impact on the general public and the economy. Such vital investments are “the ounce of prevention” that to the economy and its future are “worth a pound of cure.”

*The writer is an economist. An Arabic version of this article appeared on wednesday in Asharq Al-Awsat.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 14 January, 2021 edition ofAl-Ahram Weekly.

http://english.ahram.org.eg/News/398675.aspx