Be ready for your turn, Makhura tells Gauteng residents

Be ready for your turn, Makhura tells Gauteng residents

Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, says Gauteng residents should be ready for their turn as the province intends to rollout massive vaccination.

He made the remark while delivering his State of the Province Address on Tuesday.

“We intend to vaccinate 67% (10.4 million people) of Gauteng’s population. We call on the people of our province to get ready to vaccinate in large numbers. Vaccines save lives. As more vaccine doses arrive, we will vaccinate 215 101 healthcare workers in Phase I of the Vaccine Rollout Plan of our province.

This will be followed 7 372 924 vaccinations in Phase II focusing on essential workers and vulnerable sections of the population such as the elderly and people with co-morbidities. We will conclude with Phase III of the vaccination programmed which will focus on 2 789 427 vaccinations for the rest of the population over 18 years. More than 150 vaccination sites have been identified at primary healthcare centres and vaccinators have been trained across the province,” he explained.

The province started its vaccination programme last week, targeting healthcare workers.

Gauteng has received 16 800 doses for the vaccination of healthcare workers over the next two weeks. The Steve Biko Academic Hospital received 5 720 doses, while Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital received 11 080 doses.

To date, 5 214 healthcare workers in Gauteng have been vaccinated. “We must make it clear that coronavirus is still around and the third wave is a real possibility as we approach winter.  However, we must also say that without equivocation that vaccines constitute the decisive weapon against pandemics. The vaccination plan has to be rolled out urgently and massively to save lives and enabled the economy to recover fully,” adds Makhura.

He has warned against complacency, saying that even though the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has begun, the possibility of a third wave cannot be ruled out.

Makhura adds that the province has expanded the capacity of its public healthcare system, with 4 265 new functional beds and 4 992 posts created and filled between April 2020 and January 2021.

He says another 1 425 beds are in the final stages of being made functional and operational with additional staffing from the start of the new financial year.

“This is a significant long-term investment that will outlive the COVID-19 pandemic. What is important is to improve patient care, clinical outcomes, meet the ideal clinic standards and prepare the health care system for the NHI,” he adds.

Outlining the province’s four priorities, he said winning the battle against the virus and reigniting the economy top the list.

“Firstly, winning the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and building resilient institutional and societal capacity to deal effectively with any future pandemics and disasters in the Gauteng City Region.

Secondly, ( it is) re-igniting the Gauteng economy to take a lead in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan as well as Africa’s industrialisation agenda. Thirdly, recalibrating social policy to improve educational and health outcomes, fight crime and protect the most vulnerable sections of the population against urban poverty and hunger,” says Makhura.

Tshwane south district at top of the 2020 matric class

Tshwane south district at top of the 2020 matric class

Gauteng’s Tshwane South District managed to remain the top district nationally with an average of 89.6%

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced the 2020 matric results on Monday and said 76.2% of the learners who sat down for the exam passed.

The Free State is the leading province with 85.1% learners having passed. It was followed by Gauteng which posted 83.8% pass rate. Both provinces posted a decline of 3.2% and 3.5% from 2019, respectively.

Motshekga says the class of 2020 managed to produce quality passes under difficult circumstances due to COVID-19.

“The high-quality passes we have achieved this year, especially the number of Bachelor and Diploma passes, the overall pass mark, and the passes with distinctions, even in critical subjects, are the hallmarks of the performance of the Class of 2020, We are of the strong view that, had it not been for the novel COVID-19 pandemic, the Class of 2020 could have been the best performers, since the inception of the National Senior Certificate,” said Motshekga.

Education expert Professor Mary Metcalfe, who also believes that the class of 2020 did well, says learners who failed should be encouraged to try again.

“I think the results are excellent given the difficulties of the class of 2020, a drop of 5% is disappointing but the fact that we don’t seem to have major drop out of learners should be encouraging. The fact that some learners failed is a pity, those learners need to be encouraged to write again, to understand that it was a difficult year and not to judge themselves too harshly. We need to support them as family and community to try again,” says Metcalfe

Educators union of South Africa spokesperson, Kabelo Mahlobogwane, says it is encouraging to see that learners and teachers have managed to work very hard under the difficult conditions of COVID-19.

“They worked very hard to make sure that regardless of the situation they still come out as victors, this for us shows the resilience and the capacity and the capabilities that our learners working together with teachers have, and really this is very encouraging and motivating to see that we do have such committed individuals within the basic education sector willing to serve it regardless of the situation,” he says.

 Mahlobogwane believes that the results could have been better had the basic education department provided enough support.

“We strongly believe that we could have gotten better results had we received the support from the department of basic education and this is so sad in a sense that there are a number of learners who didn’t manage to make it, not because of their own individual capacities but because of the situation they find themselves in. The IEB we also congratulate them and we say to basic education, government and other stakeholders that they need to take notes, no situation can hinder the progress of a capable government and department we want to encourage the DBE to focus on preparing public education system,” he says.

The African National Congress (ANC) caucus in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature also congratulated all learners who made it through the difficult year.

“We are proud of the efforts put by all stakeholders to ensure that education becomes a societal priority. We welcome the 83.3 % pass rate making Gauteng the second-best province. Not only has the department under great leadership at all levels done well in terms of numbers but they have improved the quality of the results,” says the caucus in a statement.

Call on Makhura’s government to procure more vaccine as Gauteng gears up for SOPA

Call on Makhura’s government to procure more vaccine as Gauteng gears up for SOPA

Gauteng Premier David Makhura is set to deliver the State Of the Provincial Address following a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and corruption scandals.

PPE corruption scandals rocked the province, which saw the Health MEC Bandile Masuku being axed before the end of his term.

Makhura was also implicated but later cleared by the SIU.

He will highlight the provincial government’s service delivery action plan for the year ahead.

His speech will focus on the strategy to defeat Covid-19, reigniting Gauteng’s economic reconstruction and recovery and providing support and relief to those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and GBV.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Solly Msimanga, has urged Makhura to allocate a budget for COVID-19 vaccines to help the province reach herd immunity sooner.

Msimanga says the province should directly engage all available suppliers to get more vaccines.

He was discussing the performance of Premier, David Makhura’s government over the past year ahead of the State of the Provincial Address (SOPA) on Tuesday.

Msimanga says the DA has formulated a few solutions for each provincial department to implement, that can help make service delivery more functional.

“We as the DA have formulated a few solutions for each provincial department to implement, that can help make service delivery more functional, considering the disastrous performance of this government during 2020. We call it the Getting Gauteng Back on Track Pack, that should help the province start getting back to some form of tangible functionality as we hope in the next 1-2 years, South Africa will be able to almost fully enter a post-Covid world,” says Msimanga.

He says Makhura should implement all the Auditor-General’s recommendations to ensure efficient and effective spending without corruption.

For the departments, Msimanga says the Department of Community Safety must make the Gauteng Traffic Police a 24-hour service.

“Ensure more coordination action between SAPS and the Metro Police to tackle gang crime throughout Gauteng such as Boko Haram in Tshwane and others. Work to reduce gender-biased violence through a multidisciplinary approach,” he says.

Msimanga has called on the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation to appoint a permanent CEO of the Gauteng Film Commission to avoid further internal hostilities that result in irregular decision-making.

“Cut wasteful expenditure on unnecessary celebratory events. Implement consequence management where officials are failing to meet targets or where they are found to be acting in either a corrupt manner or wasteful manner against the good practice of public service,”

The opposition party also wants the Department of Education to immediately place all Grade 1 and 8 students who are yet to be allocated schools for the 2021 academic year.

Mayor Makhubo urges Joburgers to work together to end HIV stigma

Mayor Makhubo urges Joburgers to work together to end HIV stigma

Itireleng Community Health Centre in Dobsonville, Soweto, was the host of this year’s World Aids Day commemorations.

Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo was part of a high-level government team that attended the event.

Mayor Makhubo paid tribute to those who have lost their lives to the virus.

He also urged communities to work together to end the HIV/Aids stigma.

Although South Africa has made significant progress in the fight against HIV/Aids, it still has the highest number of people who are HIV positive in Africa.

According to a 2019 study published in the journal Nature, 5.3 million people under the age of 50 are HIV positive in the country. That’s about 17% of the country’s population between the ages of 15 and 49.

In Johannesburg alone, the study found that almost 500 000 people are HIV positive.

Deputy President David Mabuza said government chose the Itireleng clinic for the event due to the sterling work they do to support adolescent girls, young men and women through its youth friendly services.

The centre also works with ward-based outreach teams in the community and non-governmental organisations.

“This relationship that Itireleng Clinic has with the community is a practical reminder to all of us, that we can only win the fight against HIV and TB if we work together in solidarity to save lives and livelihoods, protect the vulnerable and marginalised.”

Mabuza was leading commemorations in his capacity as the chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).

He has called on all South Africans to make responsible health choices as the social wellbeing of communities depends on the actions of every individual. 

“Each one of us needs to play their role in reducing new HIV and TB infections, in stopping gender-based violence and femicide, and in protecting the most vulnerable in our society, including adolescent girls and young women.”

Pic Credit: GCIS

This year’s theme for World Aids Day was “We’re in this together – Cheka Impilo,” a challenge to every South African to always do check-ups and know their health status. 

“It is a campaign that aims to initiate people on HIV treatment, find the missing TB cases and screen people for non-communicable diseases. Cheka Impilo or testing is emphasised because if a person does not know their health status, it is difficult to treat them for a disease or virus like HIV, TB, non-communicable diseases as well as COVID-19,” explains Mabuza. 

 He says since the campaign was launched in 2018 and the country has made good progress 

“Although much more work still needs to be done to ensure that indeed, access to healthcare is a human right for all people and not only for the few. In the period from April 2019 to March 2020, we were able to test more than 18 million people for HIV, thus exceeding the annual target of 14 million that we had set for ourselves.  Our treatment programme has also reduced the number of deaths due to AIDS by 60 percent.” 

Although the country has made great strides in meeting the first target of ensuring that people know their HIV status, Mabuza admitted that more has to be done. 

“Global solidarity demands that we double and increase our efforts, capacities and resources to support and encourage the 38 million people currently living with HIV globally. Shared responsibility requires all of us to support and encourage the more than twelve 12 million who are awaiting life-saving HIV treatment. 

This is important since HIV and Covid-19 become exacerbated by inequality in lack of access to health infrastructure and social safety nets. For us as government, guaranteeing human rights and public health are mutually inclusive,” says Mabuza. 

Impact of COVID-19

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the pandemic has made it difficult to maintain HIV programme performance whilst dealing with the pressing urgency of the crisis.  

He says the country still managed to made tremendous strides in tackling HIV/Aids. 

“As a country, South Africa adopted the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets in 2014, with the aim of ending Aids as a public health threat by 2030. As we know these targets state that 90% of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) must know their status; 90% of those, must be on ART; and of those on ART, 90% must be virally suppressed,” says Mkhize. 

He encouraged the use of condoms when engaging in sexual activities. 

“We also know that prevention is better than cure: condoms remain the cornerstone of prevention and hence consistent and correct use of male and female condoms will reduce HIV and other sexually transmitted infections as well as unplanned pregnancies.  

Pic Credit: GCIS

Furthermore, both male and female condoms, MAX and MAXIMA and compatible lubricant are distributed for free in public health facilities and through other organizations and departments,” he adds. 

Mkhize encouraged men to make use of free male medical circumcision services. 

“For all men out there we also provide Medical Male Circumcision for free in facilities and selected sites. We know from research that men who are circumcised are less likely to contract HIV by 60%. However, this does not render one immune to contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.  

This is why we still recommend consistent and correct use of condoms even in circumcised men,” says Mkhize. 

There shall be no peace in SA as long as foreigners are here, vows PutSouth AfricansFirst leader

There shall be no peace in SA as long as foreigners are here, vows PutSouth AfricansFirst leader

#PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement is making waves in South Africa. The group of activists are calling for government to put the needs of South Africans ahead of foreign nationals.

As part of their rolling mass action, on Friday they marched to the Gauteng Premier’s office to vent their frustration.

#PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement’s National Chairperson, Victoria Mamogobo, says the nationwide protests that South Africa has seen is a sign that the government is oblivious to the reality in the country.

Mamogobo was speaking outside Premier David Makhura’s office, where the various organisations under the #PutSouthAfrucansFirst banner, marched to submit a memorandum.

They called for a safer, cleaner and sustainable community.

The group says the South African government should deport all foreign nationals who have been in the country since 1994.

“It is unfortunate that we have to fight hard to force the government that we elected in power to represent us; we have to twist their arms using force in order for them to listen,” Mamogobo says.

“What kind of government is this that fails to protect its citizens and our country? What kind of government is this that doesn’t want to build a strong wall to protect its citizens?” she asks.

Mamogobo says migrants who have been neutralised should not be spared.

“They must go back home to fix their countries and fight their governments. Those who have a problem with this request are welcome to leave with foreigners. When they leave, because they will leave our country whether they like it or not, there shall not be peace in the Republic, for as long as foreigners are here,” says Mamogobo.

South African First (SAF) political party is among the organisations that are part of the #PutSouthAfricansFirst Movement.

Party president, Mario Khumalo, says he honoured the invitation to join the march because it is based on the national interest. Khumalo wants only the undocumented immigrants to be sent back to their countries of origin.

“The current situation in the country is very shaky, the level of unemployment in the country and a number of undocumented foreigners in this country. Our message is very clear. We need to have strict border regulations undocumented immigrants need to go back to their country; they have no legal bases to be here, with drugs young girls are getting prostituted by the very same people who come to the country undocumented we don’t know who this people are so we need to put the interests of South African citizens first,” says Khumalo.

He says the migrants have nothing to contribute to the South African economy.

“99% of the immigrants who are in South Africa are not even supposed to be here. They have illegal documents so how are they contributing to the economy.”

 “How can they contribute to the economy of this country selling sweets on the streets? How are they paying tax? The only people who will add contribution to South Africa is people with scared skills, poor people should not come here. We already have poor people in South Africa,” says Khumalo.

Voice It In Action (VIIA) President Kgothatso Moloto was also part of the march. He says they are hoping that the government will put in the work to enforce the laws and avoid unnecessary violence.

“The government has neglected proper implementation of immigration laws, so we are here to request that the government start putting in the work to ensure that laws are enforced. When laws are not enforced, this create unnecessary violence and hatred, that should be stopped we shouldn’t be hating each other,” says Moloto.

Some of the issues highlighted in the memorandum include the tightening of the country’s borders and the use of healthcare facilities by illegal migrants. They say this leads to a shortage of medication, which then increases the country’s mortality rate.

A representative from the Premier’s office accepted the memorandum on Makhura’s behalf and promised to respond to the protestors’ demands within 14 days.

Some South Africans have slammed the group as xenophobic, saying they forget that various countries helped end apartheid and also housed activists who were exiled due to that regime’s oppressive laws.

Musida honoured to represent Ha-Masia

Musida honoured to represent Ha-Masia

Shudufhadzo Musida (24) says she feels honoured to become the first Miss South Africa who hails from Ha-Masia village, in Limpopo.

The Venda beauty was speaking on VOW FM’s Breaking Ground after her homecoming tour.

King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana organised the three-day tour. Musida says she felt privileged to have been welcomed by the king.

“I feel honoured for the king to feel that I have made the Limpopo people proud and better. I feel honoured to represent them and I know how it feels to be overlooked, so for me I am very honoured to be the one representing them, I understand where he is coming from and for them to feel represented is a huge thing,” says Musida.

Musida visited the Nsovo Special School, Fhulufhelo Special School and Takalani Children’s Home in her home district during the tour.

She says the tour was an amazing moment for the village to celebrate her.

“Homecoming tour was very amazing, it was very amazing to see a lot of people coming out in numbers to celebrate me as an individual and the winning and the crowning and people came out in thousands of numbers. I’ll be on the street and people would be screaming ‘our Shudu’ everywhere that I went.”

The newly crowned queen believes her parents played a huge role in ensuring that her dreams become a reality. She says her grandfather never limited the grandchildren from dreaming.

“He was just a loving, nurturing person, it was always a thing of knowing that you can dream as much as you want and he never limited us. He always encouraged us that we can dream as much as we want and can be whatever we put our minds too.”

She added: “My mom Thandi, moved the world for me, whatever dream that I had she was always there behind me, with full support all the time, she was always instrumental in making sure that I do my very best,”

Shudu, as Musida is affectionately known, says the children in Ha-Masia village were raised and taught to prioritise their education and their dreams to see them blossoming in reality.

“We were raised and encouraged to go to school and prioritise education because it is the tool to define and validate our dreams. So, they taught us that if you don’t get education you are going to stay in the village for the rest of your life and if you don’t get education that also limits your life prospect. So, from a young age I was taught that education is important and that is why I am who I am and we are still taught to prioritize education.”

 Her prime focus is to ensure that mental health is destigmatised.

“All of us interact with mental health on an everyday basis, but it is about choosing to do something about it, in my village when people are suffering from mental health they are labelled to be crazy and I believe that when you suffer from mental health it doesn’t mean that you need to be cast out from society, you just need medical help or someone to speak to.”

“I have been in conversation with SADAG and government to educate more about mental health awareness,” she says.

Musida encouraged students who are affected by mental health problems to seek help.

“Most students struggle with mental health, especially during exams and I encourage them to make use of places that offer help like school counselling.”

The Wits University student has been juggling Miss SA pageant duties and exams.

“I wasn’t sleeping, I would complete my miss SA duties during the day and at night I would study and make sure that I am ahead to be able to submit my assignments on time
 I wouldn’t advise anyone to do it unless if you feel that it is your time. For me, it was a very challenging experience because I wasn’t having enough sleep.”

As part of Miss SA prizes, Musida is receiving world-renowned coaching, advanced networking, business and life skills.

Call for Zondo’s ex-enforcers to be held accountable

Call for Zondo’s ex-enforcers to be held accountable

Reverend Thembelani Jentile, who heads the Mamelodi Baptist Church in Pretoria, says all the former pastors of Rivers Of Living Waters Ministries, who have been testifying against Church leader Stephen Zondo, should also be held accountable for the abuses they allege to have witnessed at the church.

Jentile made the remarks during an interview on VOW FM’s Breaking Ground programme on red flags of churches led by false prophets.

It was in response to evidence submitted by those who used to work in prophetic ministries and with Zondo before the CRL Rights Commission.

They testified, among others, how prophetic church leaders use witchcraft to solicit money from the congregants.

“It is very difficult, but as a pastor and religion scholar a true prophet would be someone who predicts that something  would happen and it happens. If you say to people give and you will be blessed or do this and you would receive money and then that doesn’t happen, then people would judge you and that is what the old testament is struggling with,” says Jentile.

He says true prophets should be able to help people with socio-economic challenges. “Everyone who prophesies and doesn’t deal with the socio-economic issues and political issues that people are going through to me is a false prophet because this world dictates what we must go through and I think God is concerned of what people are going through.”

“So in South Africa there are people who are dealing with spiritual things and others deal with day to day issues and separating them creates a serious problem,” he adds.

Jentile believes it would be difficult for the CRL Rights Commission to solve matters of faith and spirituality.

Although he commends all the pastors who say they have repented from duping people for coming out to testify at the commission, he believes all of them are thugs. “All of them should be held accountable, they can’t come and say Zondo did this, they are also as guilty as Zondo; they were part of the crime that was robbing people and they didn’t do anything about it, they knew that what Zondo was doing was wrong,”

“Zondo is a thug according to them but they are also thugs, the little thugs are now exposing higher ranking thugs,” says Jentile.

‘Zondo not a real prophet’

Meanwhile, Reverend Andile Mali who was Zondo’s right-hand man says when he joined the church, he was made to believe that he was serving under the Kingdom of God.

Sharing his experience on VOW FM’s Breaking Ground, Mali said Zondo appointed him after he saw his spiritual gift.

“His wife asked me to go and preach at one of his branches because when I was at the Vaal I was also a preacher and people saw the potential and the gift that God bestowed on me. When I came back with the report he appointed me as a pastor who can be able to pray for people because other people when they came to church they were possessed by demons,” said Mali while explaining how he ended up in Zondo’s church.

He says when he prayed, people were receiving the healing, deliverance and restoration. “He decided that he needed me next to him.”

Mali says Zondo was not a real prophet but he was getting messages from other gifted people. “When the holy  spirit blow, we would get  messages and we would give  all the messages to him and he would write them down, that is why when he comes to church he would read all the prophecies from the book those are the prophecies that he would take from us when the holy spirit is flowing.”

“I was not alone and we thought we were submitting under the kingdom of God, so that whatever that was happening people would receive correct prophecies.”

False prophets prey on the vulnerable

Solomon Izang Ashoms, who is a journalist and the founder of Movement Against Abuse in Churches, also weighed in on the matter during the Breaking Ground discussion.

He touched on the Bushiris’ escape to Malawi, saying the couple ran away from South Africa because they are afraid of spending time in jail.

Ashoms, who has been investigating high profile pastors for over 10 years, says what he saw is a total abuse of power by certain church leaders. 

“There is muthi in the pulpit to activate the supernatural powers. The congregants don’t even understand they think anytime that using the supernatural in churches is a miracle,” he alleges.

He says many church leaders have taken him to court for exposing their ways. 

“I have met Bushiri, I told him you cannot go on doing this you are going to be in trouble. They look for people who need jobs and tell them they are going to be blessed, that is a lie and then they look for people who are also sick and promise them healing. Even single women who are looking for a spouse have been victims of the fake and manufactured miracles and before you know it you have lost money,” says Ashoms.

Ashoms says some people have evidence against Bushiri and they just need proper channels to present it to the court.

Bushiri, Zondo and many other so-called miracle pastors are also dogged by allegations of rape and some – even murder.

They, however, all maintain their innocence.