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Trade Union Heads to Court over Covid-19 Vaccine Rollout

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday that the South African government will be the sole buyer of the vaccines for the country



Trade union Solidarity and civil society group AfriForum are instituting legal action against the government of South Africa over its proposed process for procurement and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines across the country.

AfriForum said the government must not be a monopoly in deciding who receives the vaccine and who does not. AfriForum and Trade Union Solidarity say they want to ensure a transparent process free from corruption or mismanagement.  They want a procedure that will not hamper those who seek to get the vaccines.

South Africa is set to take its first supply of one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in few days. It also expects half a milllion doses in February from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Head of the Solidarity Research Institute Connie Mulder says, “We’re talking about the same government that cannot deliver tests to schools, that cannot supply power for our central provider and now they’re promising they will provide vaccines successfully”

Mulder explains further, that looking at the state’s history of failure, South Africa cannot allow the nationalisation of vaccines during a health crisis.  

Ernst van Zyl, campaign officer for Strategy and Content at AfriForum said

“AfriForum therefore seeks to prevent the potential abuse of government power as it relates to the buying and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, by fighting to allow the private sector to assist in this endeavour,”

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday that the South African government will be the sole buyer of the vaccines for the country and that the Department of Health will liaise with suppliers to purchase stock in order to distribute to provincial health departments and the private health sector.

Mkhize explained that in order to effectively deal with the pandemic, “…the only protection is through vaccination…in terms of the department’s calculation, we need 67-70% of the population to be immunised to break the cycle of transmission – what is called the herd immunity.”

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Central Africa News

Central African Republic Declares State of Emergency

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, the spokesperson for the presidency, made the announcement on national radio.



The Central African Republic has declared a 15-day state of emergency all over the country, as violent attacks continue, following attempts of a coalition of armed groups seeking to overthrow the newly re-elected President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

Albert Yaloke Mokpeme, spokesperson for the presidency, made this announcement, Thursday, on national radio.

He disclosed that the state of emergency will last until Feb. 4.

The rebels staged an attack last week just outside the nation’s capital, Bangui, but were repelled by UN peacekeeping forces. Recently, the U.N. mission has asked the UN Security Council for more troops and more equipment.

The rebels have been carrying out sporadic attacks in towns far from the capital Bangui and on the RN3 highway, which is the crucial supply line that links the capital with neighbouring Cameroon.

The coalition of armed groups is calling for the resignation of President Faustin-Archange Touadéra who was re-elected in a contentious election on December 27.

Militias who claim to represent ethnic or other groups control two-thirds of the country’s territory and this has been raising questions about government’s control of the vast, mineral-rich central African nation.

Just last week a call was made by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), for the immediate end to all armed violence and clashes in the Central African Republic. Reports from the agency state that about 60,000 people have been forced to flee their home since December, most of whom have fled to neighbouring Cameroon.

Meanwhile health workers in the land-locked central African country, have complained that the continued violence has made it more challenging to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The health workers say they are unable to penetrate places where fightings have escalated.

So far, the country has recorded a total of 4,963 positive COVID-19 cases, out of which 1,924 has since recovered. 63 people have died of COVID-19 related issues so far.

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Central Africa News

UN Seeks More Peacekeepers for Central African Republic

The situation in the landlocked Central African country has been tense since after Bozize’s candidacy for the Dec. 27, 2020 elections was turned down.



The United Nations peace mission in the Central African Republic has sought more equipment and peacekeepers amid the violence that has been escalating in the country since last month. 

While speaking to the UN Security Council at a virtual meeting late Thursday, Mankeur Ndiaye, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (MINUSCA) said “We need an increase in our capacity in order to respond to this new threat which is destabilizing the country even further.”

“If our requests are not heard, the response of the mission, and most particularly that of the forces, is going to be to do whatever it can. But troops are currently deployed over extremely large areas and as a result, the force only has limited response ability, and we cannot cover the entire territory because of the size of the country,” Ndiaye added.

He noted that assaults and ambushes have continued, and that some UN peacekeepers have also fallen victim, seven of whom have been killed in recent weeks.

Most of the attacks witnessed in the country are blamed on the so-called Coalition of Patriots for Change armed group, which is backed by former President Francois Bozize.

The situation in the landlocked Central African country has been tense since after Bozize’s candidacy for the Dec. 27, 2020 elections was turned down.

Former President Francois Bozize who is a retired general, seized power in a 2003 coup but was overthrown in a 2013 rebellion. Several militia groups, some close to Bozize, have since attacked armed forces, civilians, and UN peacekeeping forces.

The incumbent president Faustin-Archange Touadera, who won a second term in last month’s polls, has reiterated his commitment to peace in the country.

Last week, The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called for an immediate end to all armed violence in the Central African Republic, stating that some 60,000 people have been forced to flee the country since December. ​​​​​​​

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Business News

Likoni Floating Bridge Officially Opens to the Public

The footbridge connecting Mainland south to Mombasa Island is the first pedestrian footbridge built at the Likoni crossing channel by the State Department of Infrastructure.



The Likoni floating bridge constructed at a cost of Sh1.9 billion officially opened to the public on January 1. This is in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive on commissioning the project in December.

The footbridge connecting Mainland south to Mombasa Island is the first pedestrian footbridge built at the Likoni crossing channel by the State Department of Infrastructure.  

The project is expected to ease pressure at the Likoni ferries and end human congestion at the crossing channels.  Likoni county residents for the first time had the relief of cutting down the time between Likoni to Mombasa. Unlike using the ferries, the bridge is an easier way to connect to Mombasa town centre.

Regional Commissioner John Elungata and the police chief Gabriel Musau led other security officials to oversee movement as commuters plied the bridge which is only seven minutes to cross by foot.

Elungata urged members of the public to make use of the footbridge in order to decongest the overwhelmed Likoni ferries.  

Residents expressed excitement at the completion of the project and lauded the timely initiative by Government.

There are however concerns that the fate of the highly publicised Likoni cable car project initially meant to start in 2017 after receiving Cabinet approval may now be stalled. It was to be undertaken by Trapos Limited but encountered a lot of false starts.

With the commissioning of the Likoni bridge, the fate of the cable cars now hangs in the balance.

Transport Principal Secretary Solomon Kitungu explained that “The cable car is not necessarily to be substituted by the floating bridge. However, project sponsors will have to respond accordingly. If they find out that there is no market then they might not go on with it,”  

Last year, a Senate committee questioned the capacity of Trapos Limited to undertake the project and directed the Kenya Ferry Services (KFS) to cite similar projects the company had successfully completed.  

The cable system was designed for a total of 28 cabins and a maximum of 5,500 passengers per hour across the channel in three minutes and 40 seconds.

Elungata who was equally in the company of Kenya Ports Authority officials and Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) Engineers said that a standard operating procedure will be released on Monday next week because the bridge lies on a sea route used by marine vessels leaving and docking at the port of Mombasa.

The administrator said the engineers and other staffers are on training and will soon be deployed to take over the appropriate running of the bridge.

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