President Ramaphosa pays tribute to late liberation activist PC Jones

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed heartfelt condolences following the passing of Peter Cyril Jones, a liberation activist and leader of the Black People’s Convention.

Jones passed away on Tuesday, 14 February 2023, at his home in the Western Cape, at the age of 72.

Paying tribute to Jones in a statement, the Presidency on Sunday said he was known to be the last black person to see Black Consciousness Movement founding father and icon Steve Bantu Biko alive.

He was arrested, tortured and detained with Biko in the tracks of a liberation mission in 1977 when Biko was ultimately killed.

He further served the liberation struggle as the Vice President of the Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO).

President Ramaphosa said: “PC Jones was a selfless and resolute liberation leader, a Black Consciousness Stalwart who put up a good fight against racial oppression. He devotedly fought for black pride and freedom.”

“May his soul rest in peace and his contribution be remembered for many generations to come.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, AZAPO, and all those who knew and loved PC Jones,” said the President.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Stage 6 load shedding returns on Sunday evening

Eskom will on Sunday evening from 8pm ramp up load shedding to Stage 6, the power utility confirmed.

This was after Eskom on Saturday warned of the possibility.

In a statement, the power utility said: “Stage 4 load shedding will continue to be implemented until further notice while Stage 6 will be implemented at 8pm on Sunday night until 5am on Monday morning.”

Eskom the need to implement Stage 6 was necessitated by the high amount of breakdowns.

“There is a possibility of further changes on the stages of load shedding at short notice. A further update will be published as soon as any significant changes occur,” reads the statement.

Over the past 24 hours, a generating unit each at Camden, Duvha and Lethabo power stations suffered breakdowns and were taken offline for repairs.

“The return to service of two generating units at Drakensberg and a unit each at Kendal and Tutuka power stations are delayed,” it said.

Eskom said two generating units at Lethabo Power Station were returned to service during the period.

“Breakdowns currently amount to 19 385MW of generating capacity while 3 566W of generating capacity is out of service for planned maintenance,” the statement reads.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Eskom warns of possible Stage 6 loadshedding for Sunday evening

Eskom has warned the public Stage 6 load shedding could be implemented on Sunday evening.

The warning came after the power utility implemented Stage 6 power cuts between 8pm on Saturday and 5am on Sunday in an effort to create space to replenish the emergency generation reserves.

Thereafter Stage 4 load shedding was implemented until further notice, with the possibility that Stage 6 load shedding might again be implemented during Sunday night.

The power utility scaled up the stages shortly after it said on Friday, around 10pm, the turbine on Unit 2 of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station tripped while replacing a failed electronic turbine protection module.

“The reactor responded to the turbine trip by reducing power and it remained critical, as designed, with no nuclear safety consequences,” said Eskom spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha in a statement.

He said this enabled the unit to be returned to service quickly and the unit was resynchronised to the grid just before Saturday morning.

Earlier, he had said over the course of the day the unit would increase power back up to full load.

The unit had been online for an uninterrupted 145 days when this occurred.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Floods leave Lekwa Municipality reeling

The Lekwa Municipality in Mpumalanga is reeling from the floods that have in the past week again tested the resilience of its infrastructure.

“Once again, in the last few days, our compassion and our care as a society have been tested and proven to be resolute. Once again, the people of this town joined hands and sacrificed their time and resources to assist fellow community members,” Mayor Delani Louis Thabethe said.

According to the South African Weather Services (SAWS), the Gert Sibande District, of which Lekwa falls under, experienced heavy rains from Tuesday. This led to an increase in the inflow into the Grootdraaidam.

Thabethe said the effect of this inflow affected the outflow, as a result, the Department of Water and Sanitation at the Grootdraaidam continuously released water through sluice gates.

“This is done to ensure that the amount of water stored at the dam does not cause damage to the dam itself and the surrounding town which is Standerton. This has affected the municipality in that several areas were flooded.

“ As of 18 February 2023, at 7am, the Grootdraai Dam level has increased to 28.10m = 112.88% inflow. Outflow is at 996m3/s. Three gates are opened at 3m each,” he said.

The opening of the sluice gates affected several areas. These included:

– River Park, at which which six households were currently flooded and closed.

– Rooikoppen Road towards Shukuma School. Here certain areas are flooded and closed.

– Princess Street, Burger Street, and Beyers Naude Street (next to Caltex Garage) are completely flooded and closed.

– The Standerton Taxi Rank remains flooded and closed. Taxis are making alternative spaces in town to load passengers.

– Certain Roads in Morgenzon were closed earlier and have now been opened. The Morgenzon Golf Course remains closed.

– The Meyerville Bridge, which connects the Meyerville community and the town and is also a major road portion used by the road users from Gauteng and KZN, is partially closed. SUVs and Trucks are allowed to make use of the road with caution.

– Certain roads in the rural areas of the municipality have been affected and some cannot be used currently.

Currently, said the Mayor, law enforcement officers have been deployed to all affected areas to monitor and direct traffic.

“Other stakeholders and other departments are also on the ground to assist members of the community and road users with all types of assistance. Transnet has also deployed a trolley with the capacity to carry eight passengers only in case of emergency for Meyerville residents e.g. doctor appointments, hospital, etc,” Thabethe said.

Social intervention

While no fatalities or injuries and no massive damage have been reported, there has been a great need to rescue and evacuate homeless people.

Clothing and food have been provided for the affected.

“Six families that were staying at the River Park precinct have been evacuated and placed at the Municipal Halls. They were provided with food parcels and blankets. There are houses and informal settlements in Standerton and in Morgenzon that continue to experience minor flooding into their homes and Emergency Services are on the ground to provide assistance where needed,” he said.

He thanked stakeholders, departments, businesses, churches, and individuals currently assisting it manage the situation and provide support and assistance.

“Members of the community and road users are requested to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and observe safety at all times.

“We must treat all water on our roads with caution and ensure safety first. As the people of Lekwa, we have overcome other challenges before and we will overcome this one as well. I know this is a major setback as we were busy rebuilding our infrastructure and this will take us steps back but I am optimistic that we will rise again,” said the Mayor.

Source: South African Government News Agency

COVID-19 pandemic lessons should help build robust health systems

This, according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, is so that the continent does not continue to be plagued by the same inequities every time it is faced with a health emergency.

The President made the remarks while delivering a solidarity address during a high-level breakfast meeting of African Heads of State and Government on Africa Centres for Disease Control in Addis Ababa, Ethopia, on Saturday evening.

“Inequities in access to quality health services and products is a blight on the conscience of the world. The onus falls on each member state to advance the agenda of equitable healthcare for all, and to achieve Universal Health Coverage as aspired to in the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

“As health emergencies increase in frequency across our continent, our progress towards achieving Universal Health Coverage as well as full pandemic preparedness is being impeded.”

The AU COVID-19 Commission, he said, should be commended for investing heavily in Africa’s health agenda.

“This panel of health experts from across the sectors… have been exceptional advocates for the New Public Health Order, travelling the world to attract investment, and magnifying the voice of African health interlocutors,” he said.

Members, he said, defended the amendments to the Africa CDC statutes that advocate for the organisation to have the power to declare public health emergencies of regional concern.

“Our focus is to continue attracting investment into Africa CDC’s growth and sustainability and to ensure a strong network of national public health institutions in every member state that supports it.

“As Ministers, you have a key role to play in ensuring this ambition is elevated in our respective countries,” he said.

With regards to pharmaceutical manufacturing, President Ramaphosa reminded dignitaries of the meeting of the Bureau in May 2022 where they discussed the serious problem of the continent’s nascent manufacturing industry being unable to secure markets.

Several bold demands were made following this meeting.

“Firstly, that GAVI, UNICEF and other large procurers of vaccines purchase 30 percent of the vaccines destined for Africa from African manufacturers. The Africa CDC, the PAVM secretariat and the AU COVID-19 Commission have done the leg work to ensure that GAVI establishes an Advance Market Commitment facility for African Manufacturers.

“Secondly that Africa CDC convenes a working group on pharmaceutical manufacturing,” he said.

In due course, the working group will be convened by the Africa CDC.

He said member states “have a responsibility to support manufacturers through preferential procurement policies, working in collaboration with their respective finance ministries”.

“The mRNA spokes must be well supported. Financial support is key to their sustainability. For them to secure loans and other investments, we as member states must demonstrate a strong will to prioritise African products in our procurement policies.

“We continue to make very good progress in the establishment of an AU Health Workforce Task Team. This structure will co-ordinate training, deployment, and the retention of health workers on the continent,” he said.

The COVID-19 Commission, he said, has been inspired by the success of the Africa Leaders Malaria Alliance and is now working on a proposal to establish an Alliance on Health Systems Strengthening.

“This alliance will use a scorecard-based visibility and accountability system so that we can all support, incentivise and reward one another for innovatively increasing health spending and manifesting good health outcomes. I heartily encourage full participation when the consultation procedures get underway this year.

“I will close by expressing my support for a campaign to replenish the Africa Epidemics Fund, formerly the COVID-19 Relief Fund,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said South Africa stands ready to support the AU Commission in ensuring this fund will help African countries respond to current and emerging health threats.

“As much as the World Bank’s Pandemic Fund has been invaluable, we must also be able to have our pandemic financing mechanism, as we did with COVID-19,” he said.

Source: South African Government News Agency