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.

Young man from deep rural Limpopo beats the odds, gets Bachelor’s Pass

Young man from deep rural Limpopo beats the odds, gets Bachelor’s Pass

Matimba Calvin Ngobeni from the deep rural Potulula area, in the Vhembe District of Limpopo, has beaten the odds exacerbated by novel COVID-19 pandemic and managed to obtain a Bachelor’s Pass.

The 20-year-old Mulima Secondary School learner, which is situated Sio Likhade Village, says doing matric amid COVID-19 was difficult and studying at home because of lockdown exacerbated the situation.

“I am overwhelmed, I don’t even know what to say. The secret to success is hard work,” Ngobeni said.

Ngobeni plans to study law this year.

He calls on the current matriculants to maintain the trend, endure hardship, work hard and study at all times. “I wish them the best,” he adds.

Limpopo province has clinched the 7th spot in this year’s matric results, with an overall pass rate of 68.2%. This was a decline of 5%.

Top 3 performing districts in the province are Waterberg with 77.5% pass followed by Vhembe East with 77.1% and Vhembe West with 72.7%

The MEC for Education in the province, Polly Boshielo, has congratulated the performance by the matric class of 2020, given the difficult conditions that were imposed by the coronavirus.

Boshielo says the department will also focus on improving support for Grade R to 10 to ensure that the learners are able to obtain foundational competencies such as reading, writing and enumerating.

Encouraging the Matric Class of 2020, Limpopo Premier Stan Chupu Mathabatha says the province has always been focused on producing quality passes and that has been obtained by the 2020 class.

“While the overall performance has declined, I am very happy to say that the percentage of our bachelor passes has increased. We have moved from 26.8% bachelor pass in 2019 to 29.1% in 2020” Mathabatha says.

Announcing the overall 2020 matric pass rate on Monday, the Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said, for the past 10 years the National Senior Certificate (NSC) pass rate have consistently been improving from 60% in 2009 to above 70% in recent years.

She says the class of 2020 must be commended for maintaining the trend, with an overall pass rate of 76. 2 %.

Though this is a decline of 5% from the pass record of 81.3% achieved by the class of 2019, Motshekga says quality passes were achieved by the 2020 class.

“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 hallmark of the performance of the class of 2020” Motshekga says.

The Minister added that had it not been for the COVID-19 the class of 2020 could have been the best performers since the inception of the National Senior Certificate.

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.

Limpopo’s COVID-19 vaccination programme in full swing

Limpopo’s COVID-19 vaccination programme in full swing

Limpopo Premier Stanley Mathabatha and Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba, have on Friday launched the province’s COVID-19 vaccine roll-out programme at Mankweng Hospital, in the Capricorn District.

This follows the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the country on Tuesday, with President Cyril Ramaphosa, Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize marking the official start of the vaccination programme in the country on Wednesday.

They joined healthcare workers at the Khayelitsha District Hospital where they were the first to receive the COVID-19 jab.

Mathabatha has described the launch as the last push towards the fight of the COVID-19, which he says will give birth to a new normal.

Mathabatha says it is crucial for health workers to be vaccinated in the first phase to save lives.

Dr Ramathuba says they will be vaccinating health workers in Mankweng Hospital throughout the weekend

“We are going to push and make sure that by the end of the week, all those vaccines that have been allocated, they are finished, and we will be waiting for the second batch” she says.

Limpopo currently has 61 260 COVID-19 cases and 1 785. It is hoped the vaccine will help South Africa, with the most cases and deaths on the continent, win the battle against the pandemic.

SIU probes Gauteng Education department’s R431m spending spree

SIU probes Gauteng Education department’s R431m spending spree

The Special Investigating Unit is investigating the R431 million spent by the Gauteng Education department on deep cleaning and saniters, among other things.

Gauteng premier David Makhura revealed this during a provincial command council briefing on Friday.

The move follows an internal report that shows that the department spent R431 million on sanitation and other COVID-19-related services to schools.

Makhura has rejected insinuations that MEC Panyaza Lesufi might have been involved in the misappropriation of the COVID-19 funds.

“What happened here was there value for money in Education, you can’t just tell without thorough investigation. Who is doing that investigation is the Special Investigating Unit and I know that in addition, MEC Lesufi has said to me that we should task he Auditor General office, and as far as I am concerned, the office of the Auditor General have been working closely with the SIU,” adds Makhura.

“At the moment, there is no allegations that the MEC for Education has a deal in this R400 million and he brought his people there.”

Lesufi has also expressed shock at the exorbitant spending and called for a probe.

PPE scandal

Meanwhile, Premier Makhura has denied allegations that he influenced the awarding of COVID-19 PPE contracts to six companies to the former Chief Financial Officer, Katlego Lehloenya.

The Premier says he noted an error in a SIU report that implicates him and has asked the unit to investigate the matter.

On the ANC Youth League’s call that he be probed for fitness to hold office, the Premier says he avail himself to the ANC’s Provincial Integrity Committee should he be required to will do so.

The youth league has welcomed the move, while at the same time reiterating its call that the Premier step aside until he has is cleared of any wrongdoing.

The young lions also wants MEC Lesufi to do the same.

The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng on the other hand wants Makhura to vacate office.

The party has written to the Speaker of the Johannesburg City Council, requesting that she convenes an urgent sitting to debate a motion of no confidence in Premier.

Gauteng DA asks Hawks to investigate Makhura

Gauteng DA asks Hawks to investigate Makhura

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has submitted a letter to the Hawks to begin investigation into Gauteng Premier, David Makhura.

The opposition submitted the letter to the Hawks in Pretoria on Thursday.

The party says the former Chief Financial Officer Kabelo Lehloenya implicated Makhura in the province’s COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) scandal.

DA Gauteng leader, Solly Msimanga, says the crime-fighting body must investigate the entire Gauteng government.

“We are here outside the offices of the Hawks here in Pretoria where we have come to give in a letter and also request investigation to be done into the office of the premier and to request that government of Gauteng really be investigated in terms of what has been happening since the pandemic has started,” he says.

Msimanga adds, “Right now we are talking about close to R2.8 billion that has really gone towards corruption and fruitless expenditure.”

The Gauteng DA leader says Lehloenya alleged that the premier gave her six companies to be awarded the contracts.

He says his party will table a motion of no confidence if investigations take time.

“We don’t have the confidence that the Gauteng departments will be able to investigate themselves within the province.

“We are asking for the Hawks and we also writing a letter to the Auditor General, the Special Investigating Unit, and the President of the country to look into this matter and really investigate what is happening and give us answers before we take steps further in terms of tabling a motion of no confidence into the premier in the legislature, even before the state of the province address is to take place.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the ANC Youth League have called for Makhura to vacate office.

Lesufi gobsmacked over R431 COVID-19 spending

Lesufi gobsmacked over R431 COVID-19 spending

The Gauteng Education Department has expressed shock over a report of R431 million having been spent on COVID-19 services.

In a media statement, MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he is taken aback by the report, compiled by the Head of Department (HOD) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), that the department spent millions on decontamination, disinfection, deep cleaning and sanitation of schools.

Lesufi has reaffirmed his commitment to leave no stone unturned on this matter and hold those who procured these services to account.

The department says it is engaging law enforcement agencies and Auditor General to investigate.

South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, has urged Gauteng Premier David Makhura to launch an investigation into the matter.

The news comes amid a Special Investigating Unit’s investigation into the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment in the province, which led to the sacking of the province’s health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku. Karabo Tebele is a producer and newsreader for Voice of Wits.

UFS prepares clinical trial protocol to establish efficacy of Ivermectin for COVID-19

UFS prepares clinical trial protocol to establish efficacy of Ivermectin for COVID-19

A clinical research company of the University of the Free State is preparing a clinical trial protocol to determine the efficacy of Ivermectin for COVID-19.

The institution says this will be done in a randomised, controlled study according to the requirements of the legal professions, in order to submit it for approval to the relevant national regulatory authority.

Medics in the country have been calling for the use of the drug to treat the pandemic.

However, a snag has been a lack of approval by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

“Should the clinical trial protocol be approved by the relevant national regulatory authority, the UFS will be the first university in South Africa to attempt such a study,” says the university.

Ivermectin is a widely used drug for the treatment and control of parasites in animals.

It is also used to treat several tropical diseases in humans not commonly seen in South Africa, as well as scabies and head lice.

Some experts say the drug inhibits viral loads in patients who have contracted COVID-19 and keeps those with early symptoms from progressing to the hyper-inflammatory phase of the disease.

They even suggest that it helps critically ill patients recover.

However, rigorous science and evidence-based research is yet to confirm this.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has promised to set up an independent panel of experts to investigate the drug as a possible COVID-19 treatment.

Ackerville bids final goodbye to Mthembu

Ackerville bids final goodbye to Mthembu

The community of Ackerville in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, bid a final farewell to one of its own on Sunday.

Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, succumbed to COVID-19 on Thursday.

While the number of those attending the anti-apartheid activist’s burial was limited due to the country’s COVID-19 restrictions, which allow only up to 50 people, some residents braved the rain and lined-up the streets to see Mthembu’s funeral procession off.

The 62-year-old has touched the hearts of many South Africans as he still stayed in the township and his wife continued working as a nurse despite the Minister’s status, something described as rare in South Africa’s political landscape.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the eulogy in church.

He said Mthembu was a principled and humble man.

To him – Ramaphosa said – the Minister was more than a colleague and a comrade.

Ramaphosa says the Minister’s death has left a void both in government and his political home, the governing African National Congress (ANC).

Mthembu was born in Mpumalanga, 62 years ago.

He was a student leader in the 70s and rose through the ranks of the ANC – serving as the national spokesperson of the party during the Mandela administration.

He went on to become the party’s Chief Whip in Parliament during the Zuma era and was appointed as the Minister in the Presidency after the 2019 general elections.

Most South Africans who have crossed paths with him have said they will remember him for his humility, sense of humour, professionalism and forthrightness.

SACP Free State calls for universal access to COVID-19 vaccine

SACP Free State calls for universal access to COVID-19 vaccine

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State is calling for intensified response against COVID-19 and universal access to vaccine.

SACP Free State Provincial Secretary, Bheke Stofile, says the BRICS bloc of nations, which constitute over 40% of the global population, should have coordinated research, resources and efforts in the development of a universally accessible vaccine, informed by the need to “put people before profits”.

He believes that such efforts would have tamed, what he says, is the current capitalist driven commodification of the production and distribution of vaccines, informed by a profit motive rather than protection of life.

Stofile says the SACP Free State is, nonetheless, supportive of the need for universal and equitable roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination.

The party has on the other hand raised concern at the surge of COVID-19 cases in the Free State.

More than 70 000 people in the province have been infected by the virus and at least 2 473 others have died.

“Many people have recovered from the virus, but, sadly, many people also perished. The resultant disruption consequent of these COVID-19 cases on families, their livelihood and the economy are dire. Society cannot act as though it is business as usual.”

The party is urging locals to “take responsibility and follow the COVID-19 preventative measures and recommended hygiene protocols.”

These include the wearing of a mask, physical distancing and regular handwashing. – Report by Puisano News