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Teachers Strike in Malawi

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The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on Monday began an indefinite strike action that coincided with school resumption and the new academic year.

The teachers, who are demanding an increase in wages as well as COVID-19 risk allowance, on Monday boycotted classrooms saying they feel unsafe in school environments.

TUM is also demanding that teachers be given personal protective equipment (PPE), training on how to deal with Covid-19 cases within their schools and a plan for social distancing in classrooms.

President Lazarus Chakwera ordered schools to be closed five weeks ago following a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.

Schools were to reopen on Monday after a drop in the number of cases of coronavirus.

Local media is reporting that most students returned home after reporting to school in the morning.

In the town of Mponela, 65km north of the Capital, Lilongwe, learners closed roads with huge stones and tree branches to express solidarity with their teachers.

Police have since dispersed the protest.

Ministry of education spokesman, Chikondi Chimala, said the government was holding meetings with teachers’ representatives to resolve the issue.

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UN Requests Access to Probe War Crimes in Tigray

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The United Nations is seeking access to Ethiopia’s northern region, Tigray, as it aims to probe war crimes after reports of killings and sexual violence in the region.

UN Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet has asked the country’s government to grant access to its monitors who want to investigate the incidents that may be war crimes.

In a statement released on Thursday, Bachelet said multiple parties have been identified as key players in the alleged war crimes and they include the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), Ethiopian National Defence Forces, Eritrean Armed Forces, Amhara regional forces and allied militia.

Bachelet says there are persistent and credible reports of grave human rights violations in Tigray, which was some months ago, the theatre of war in Ethiopia as the TPLF battled Ethiopian forces.

The UN said it has been able to corroborate information about “indiscriminate shelling in Mekelle, Humera and Adigrat towns in Tigray region.”

The Ethiopian government has also been charged to protect witnesses to the incidents against reprisals.

Bachelet also expressed concern at detentions this week in Tigray of journalists and translators working for local and international media.

The statement by the human rights office of the UN said although the journalists have now been released, there have been worrying remarks by a Government official that those responsible for “misleading international media” would be held responsible.

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Tanzania’s Electric SGR Operations Gets Power Boost

Energy minister for Tanzania Medard Kalemani has confirmed that the construction of power lines between Kinyerezi in Dar es Salaam and Kingorwira in Morogoro was complete and that Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) was set to supply the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) locomotives.

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Energy minister for Tanzania Medard Kalemani has confirmed that the construction of power lines between Kinyerezi in Dar es Salaam and Kingorwira in Morogoro was complete and that Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (Tanesco) was set to supply the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) locomotives.

Speaking at a Tanesco workshop on Sunday, he said

“We have invested Tsh71.1 billion (about $30.7 million) in building the necessary power infrastructure for the first phase of the SGR. The project is 100 per cent done,” he said, detailing a number of other projects that the government has implemented in the energy sector.

Dr Kalemani, who doubles as Chato MP dismissed concerns that SGR train operations could be disrupted in times of power cuts. He explained that the locomotives will have inbuilt power-saving systems capable of retaining charge for at least one hour.

Medard Kalemani

He further explained that in an effort to meet the 5,000 megawatts target by 2025, Tanzania was currently undertaking some power generation projects which includes the 2,115 megawatts (MW) Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station.

Tanesco’s managing director Tito Mwinuka said although the country’s current demand is 1,180MW of electricity, Tanzania now produces 1,604 MW.

Mwinuka showed confidence in the progress recorded and promised it will be completed by June 2022.

He further added that the Tsh6.5 trillion ($2.8 billion) Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station had strategic importance to Tanzania’s economic outlook and that the government deserved commendation for its implementation.

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Kenya Receives “Machine Guns and Bazookas” as COVID-19 Vaccines Arrive

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As Kenya takes delivery of 1.02 million doses of vaccines through the COVAX facility, the East African nation’s Minister of Health, Mutahi Kagwe remarked rather humorously that the days of fighting COVID-19 with “rubber bullets” have ended.

Kagwe described the vaccines as metaphorical “bazookas and machine guns” as the doses are expected to help the country lead a better charge against the virus.

The World Health Organisation, UNICEF, International Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness were all on hand as the vaccines arrived in the East African country from India.

COVID-19 vaccines arrive Kenya

Kenya became the fourth country on the continent to receive the vaccines following Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, just on Tuesday.

The Kenyan Minister of Health said he expects the vaccine to help limit the spread of the virus and also redirect the nation to economic recovery.

Kenya will vaccinate more than 400,000 medical staff, with frontline health workers and people working in essential services also to be prioritised.

Health workers in the country are, however, unhappy after being forced to resume following a 70-day strike over the lack of Personal Protective Equipment to shield them against the disease.

Kenya has recorded more than 106,000 cases, with a fatality of 1800 recorded. The nation’s case fatality rate of over 1.6% is lower than the African average of 2.6%.

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