Issue 433 | 25 June 2020
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Stay Save – Protect South Africa
Corona Virus – 24-Hour Hotline for South African citizens
African Union (AU) Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has called on African leaders to support efforts on the continent to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.
Addressing the Conference on Africa's Leadership Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access, President Ramaphosa said it was essential that there be significant local vaccine manufacturing in Africa.

“Success in developing and providing access to a safe vaccine for all Africans requires collaboration and cooperation of all member states.

“Through this meeting, which brings together African leaders, experts and other key stakeholders, we should produce a roadmap that involves efforts by Africans to produce the vaccines that are effective, safe and affordable,” President Ramaphosa said on Wednesday, 24 June 2020.

He said a portion of the GAVI (the Vaccine Alliance) vaccines, including for COVID-19 and the Expanded Programme of Immunisation, should be sourced from African manufacturers.

“The challenges and efforts needed to rapidly develop, evaluate and produce such a vaccine at scale are enormous, as are the resources required to ensure sufficient coverage across a continent as vast and populous as ours. Therefore, we need to act with urgency.”

He encouraged African leaders to work together and negotiate with global donors to raise funds.

“… We need to mobilise resources in each of our countries and within the continent to secure supply of the vaccine upfront. We need to start to plan now and to improve the infrastructure in each of our countries to prepare for the roll-out of the vaccine.”

This includes accelerating regulatory approvals, strengthening supply chains and improving Africa’s ability to deliver the vaccine to the population.

“Given the depth of expertise and capability on this continent, we need to support the contribution of African scientists and healthcare professionals to the vaccine effort,” the President said.

He said while the disease was still in its early stages in Africa, infections were rising as countries eased their lockdowns in the face of mounting social and economic pressures.

“As the African continent, we have acted decisively and we have acted together in developing a strategy to combat the pandemic.

“We have been innovative in addressing our resource constraints through, for example, the establishment of the AU COVID-19 Response Fund, the Africa Medical Supplies Platform and the Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing.”

President Ramaphosa said the pandemic had forced African countries to revise their budgets to prioritise spending on health, including infrastructure, logistics and the purchase of pharmaceuticals, medical products, equipment and materials.

“It has also underscored the essential value of maintaining funding for medical research even after the current health crisis has passed, so that we may be ready for the next pandemic. The Coronavirus pandemic is not the last such tragedy that humanity will encounter.”

The President urged leaders to work towards a much more responsive and equitable medical system.

“We need to develop centres of excellence and robust health systems capable of withstanding any threat. We urgently need to introduce universal health coverage to ensure no one is unable to access healthcare when they need it.

“By working together, by pooling our resources and by investing in innovation, we shall overcome this grave threat to the health and well-being of our people.”

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, 23 June 2020, opened the inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium of South Africa (SIDSSA).
SIDSSA was hosted virtually and attracted both a national and international audience.

The symposium was held under the theme “Investing in Infrastructure for Shared Prosperity: Now, Next and Beyond” and came at a critical juncture when South Africa charts a course for economic recovery in the post-COVID-19 period.
“Government has affirmed that catalytic infrastructure investment can contribute to higher long-term growth, address spatial disparities, transform the economy and create much-needed jobs.

“The infrastructure projects earmarked to revive the economy will focus on the network industries of water, transport, energy and digital infrastructure, as well as sectors with high job absorption capacity, such as human settlements, agriculture and agro-processing,” said The Presidency in a statement.

It said the symposium was a culmination of a vigorous stakeholder consultative process over the past few weeks to mobilise support and cooperation on the revised Infrastructure Investment Plan.

The consultative process with stakeholders across the public and private sector was led by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, and Head of the Investment and Infrastructure Office in The Presidency, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
The revised plan focusses on partnerships between the public and private sectors for the delivery of sustainable and fit-for-purpose infrastructure.

SIDSSA projects, which will be gazetted after the symposium, have been selected from an initial 177 that underwent a rigorous due diligence process.

The Presidency said the priority projects in the immediate term were those that best supported the aims of government, which include creating jobs, alleviating poverty, growing the economy and promoting a better quality life for all citizens.

The selection process culminated in a series of pitch sessions, which afforded project sponsors an audience with over 60 national and international funding institutions. These included multilateral development banks, development finance institutions, asset managers and commercial banks.

In addition to facilitating access to the funding that is needed to implement the projects, the SIDSSA process also seeks to overcome regulatory obstacles to infrastructure roll-out by developing a framework for fast-tracking approval processes and facilitating quicker executive decisions in the short- and medium-term, as well as influencing legislation to support developmental imperatives.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa says a new continental online platform will help African countries to access critical medical supplies needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the African Union (AU), said this when he launched the Africa Medical Supplies Platform on Thursday, 18 June 2020.

“Through this platform, we will address shortages and security of supply, ensure price competitiveness and transparency in procurement, reduce logistical delays, simplify payment processes and provide a common platform where governments can access services from quality and certified suppliers.

“Think of it as the Amazon, the Alibaba or even the eBay of Coronavirus resources on the African continent, made in Africa by Africans, the fundamental difference being that on this platform, the buyer is not an individual but governments,” he said.

The Africa Medical Supplies Platform, developed in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), is a non-profit initiative launched by the AU as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the COIVD-19 pandemic.

The online platform was developed under the leadership of AU Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa, and powered by Janngo, on behalf of the AU’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Afreximbank will facilitate payments, while logistics partners, including African national carriers and global freight forwarders, will expedite delivery.

A strong emphasis is also placed on showcasing and funding "Made in Africa" manufacturers of medical equipment, with relevant certification.

Afreximbank brought to bear its US$3 billion Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility, of which US$200 million has been reserved to support food production, as well as the manufacture of and trade in medical equipment and supplies.

Countries to get competitive prices by cutting out the middle man

Launching the platform in a virtual media briefing, the President said countries would be able to source supplies directly from manufacturers in both the necessary quantities and at competitive prices.

“Once a vaccine is available, it too will be added to this portal, in line with our stated commitment to ensuring there is equitable access to any form of life-saving medication.

“Resources will be secured by governments on a quota basis determined by, among other things, vulnerability level.

“The benefits of resource pooling in such a manner are innumerable.”

He said countries would have ready access to an online marketplace at the click of a button, as opposed to the onerous and time-consuming process of scouring the globe to procure these medical supplies.

The President said connecting manufacturers and suppliers with governments directly removed the “middle man” in supply chain processes that far too often become the doorway through which corrupt practices, like price inflation and “agent management fees” enter.

“By pooling the needs of the continent, we manage to achieve quantities of scale and present suppliers with a large and assured market.

“Finally, and arguably most importantly, with this platform, we are laying another building block towards the African Continental Free Trade Area, whose launch has been delayed by the pandemic,” he said.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa has congratulated the President of Burundi, Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye, on his election and inauguration as President of Burundi.
“The election of President Evariste Ndayishimiye will contribute to the strengthening of peaceful and sustainable development of Burundi and progressive bilateral relations with South Africa,” The Presidency said.

The President, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union, looks forward to working with President Ndayishimiye as he leads the people of Burundi to a better life.

“His Excellency President Ramaphosa recalled the long history of excellent relations between South Africa and Burundi, which grew stronger from the Arusha dialogue process that led to the end of the conflict in Burundi, and ushered in a new dispensation towards reconciliation, security and development,” The Presidency said.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa has congratulated Kenya, India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway on their election as non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
The elected members will replace the outgoing members South Africa, Indonesia, Dominican Republic, Belgium and Germany on 1 January 2021.

“As South Africa’s two-year term will come to an end on 31 December 2020, we will continue to work closely with the existing and newly elected members of the Security Council, in ensuring collective multilateral action to maintain international peace and security,” the President said on Friday, 19 June 2020.

The election for term 2021 to 2022 took place on Wednesday and Thursday in the UN General Assembly in New York.

"South Africa wishes the elected members a successful tenure on the Security Council and assures them of its support in resolving regional and global conflicts, addressing the root causes of conflict and promoting inclusive political dialogue and peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the UN Charter and International Law,” The Presidency said.

South Africa remains deeply concerned about the emergence of unilateralism and its attendant threat to the international rules-based system.

“South Africa, therefore, reaffirms the centrality of the UN Charter and the primacy of the UNSC on issues of international peace and security,” The Presidency said.

– Source:
The first participants in South Africa's first clinical trial for a vaccine against COVID-19 will be vaccinated this week.
The first clinical trial in South Africa and on the continent for a COVID-19 vaccine was announced on Tuesday, 23 June 2020, during a virtual press conference hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg.

The South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial aims to find a vaccine that will prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

In South Africa, over 100 000 people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 since March when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster and lockdown.

By 17 June 2020, South Africa contributed to 30% of all diagnosed COVID-19 cases and 23% of all COVID-19 deaths on the African continent. These statistics emphasise the urgent need for prevention of COVID-19 on the continent.

Shabir Madhi, Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, leads the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial.

Wits University is collaborating with the University of Oxford and the Oxford Jenner Institute on the South African trial.

“This is a landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by COVID-19,” said Prof. Madhi, speaking at the launch of the South African Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial, which is being run at multiple sites in South Africa.

“We began screening participants for the South African Oxford 1 COVID-19 vaccine trial last week and the first participants will be vaccinated this week,” said Prof. Madhi.

Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice Principal and Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs at Wits, who facilitated the virtual press conference, said vaccines were among the most powerful tools to mitigate life-threatening diseases.

“Without a vaccine against COVID-19, there will likely be ongoing contagion, causing severe illness and death. Wits is committed to developing a vaccine to save lives in collaboration with the University of Oxford.”

– Source:
United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, António Guterres, will deliver the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on 18 July this year, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has announced.
This year's lecture will be the first to be hosted virtually, due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

"The theme for this year's lecture, “Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A New Social Contract for a New Era”, will focus on the current inequalities that have come under sharp relief during the COVID-19 pandemic and will look ahead to what we must do to address the world's fragilities and build a fair globalisation," the foundation said in a statement on Thursday, 18 June 2020.

According to the foundation, the annual lecture invites prominent people to drive debate on significant social issues.

Previous speakers include South Africa's Chief Justice, Mogoeng Mogoeng; former United States President, Barack Obama; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; and former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, among many others.

Guterres is the ninth Secretary-General of the UN, and took office in January 2017.

"Whether working as a volunteer in the poor neighbourhoods of Lisbon or representing his constituency in the Portuguese Parliament and from his years as Prime Minister to his service as UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr Guterres has sought to ease suffering, protect the vulnerable and ensure human rights for all," the foundation said in its statement.

"These priorities have remained at the core of his efforts today as Secretary-General of the UN."

The lecture will be streamed live from the foundation's headquarters in Johannesburg and the UN in New York.

– Source:
The New Development Bank (NDB), formerly called the BRICS Development Bank, will be giving South Africa a US$1 billion loan to help the country fight the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to a statement published by National Treasury, the NDB board approved this Emergency Assistance Programme Loan to South Africa on Friday, 19 June 2020.

"National Treasury welcomes the approval of the loan and together with NDB are working on final technical and administrative requirements. Final details on the loan will be published once all processes have been concluded," said National Treasury in a statement.

In a separate statement, the NDB said it wanted to help South Africa roll out better healthcare response and to provide a social safety net to most vulnerable individuals who've borne the brunt of the economic mayhem that COVID-19 had caused in the country.

"The programme envisages preventing, detecting and responding to the health threat posed by COVID-19, and providing social grants to vulnerable groups affected by measures implemented to prevent and contain the disease," wrote the NDB in its statement.

The bank established an Emergency Assistance Facility to help its member countries, which are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It said the Emergency Programme Loan to South Africa was the third to be approved by its board in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The bank provided these emergency loans to China and India earlier this year.

– Source:
The South African National Parks (SANParks) says it is preparing to recall its hospitality staff for a phased approach in the reopening of its overnight facilities.
This follows an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that accommodation providers can resume operations on alert level 3.

SANParks CEO, Fundisile Mketeni, said the President's address on Wednesday, 17 June 2020, was good news for SANParks and many nature lovers who for the past three months had been yearning to visit their favourite national park.

“However, we urge those who cannot wait to book into our accommodation to exercise a bit of patience as SANParks readies itself for the reopening,” Mketeni said.

Mketeni said SANParks would approach the opening of its accommodation facilities responsibly to ensure that the gains made by South Africa in curbing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic were not compromised.

The process of recalling back staff in preparation for the reopening is still to commence.

“We will then immediately activate the re-training of staff on new operating protocols in line with industry standards.

“The safety of both staff and guests is critical and we have to ensure that we are in compliance with regard to regulations as well as health standards and protocols. We will announce the dates for the reopening of accommodation bookings in the next few days,” Mketeni said.

– Source:
Cape Town was named the most innovative city in Africa in the wake of the global crisis.
Cape Town has added another accolade to its collection, as it was ranked the most innovative African city in dealing with the ongoing global pandemic.

The Coronavirus has affected most normal activity across the globe, with close to 10 million people worldwide infected since the pandemic broke out in late 2019.

The Countries Global Ranking of Startup Ecosystem 2020 by international agencies, the Health Innovation Exchange and Moscow Agency of Innovations have recognised the Mother City’s response to the pandemic.

The groups named the city the most innovative in Africa in the wake of the global crisis.

Internationally, Cape Town is ranked 79th according to the index, which looked at over 1 000 cities worldwide.

Out of 100 countries, it is the only South African city to make the listing.

Democratic Alliance’s Western Cape Spokesperson for Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, Deidre Baartman, welcomed the city’s ranking.

“We welcome this prestigious ranking for Cape Town, which really highlights the commitment of the people and governments of this province to create innovative ways to serve communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 came with no blueprint for how governments and society should respond to the crisis. But through innovation and technology in a whole-of-government approach, we have learnt to adapt. The Western Cape works closely with Wesgro and the City of Cape Town to run the COVID-19 Support Finder – an online tool for connecting businesses with resources and partnerships they need to keep their doors open.”

The ranking comes despite Cape Town being located in the country’s COVID-19 epicentre, the Western Cape.

The province has initiated a few innovations, including the conversion of the Cape Town International Convention Centre into a healthcare facility, which is equipped to house hundreds of patients ahead of the anticipated peak infections projected in the coming weeks.

– Source:
Amazon recently announced the creation of 3 000 new virtual jobs in customer service in South Africa this year.
These roles will range from customer service associates to technical experts who will work virtually and provide 24/7 support to Amazon customers in North America and Europe. The addition of 3 000 permanent and seasonal full-time positions will bring the total permanent workforce in South Africa to 7 000.

“We are thrilled with the talent in South Africa, and we are excited to add 3 000 skilled jobs this year in customer service and to help keep people working during this unprecedented time,” said Andrew Raichlin, Director of Amazon Customer Service in South Africa.

“The new jobs reflect our continued commitment to South Africa’s economic development, and I am proud to have South Africa be a growing part of our ability to deliver a great experience to Amazon customers around the world and provide employees with the opportunity to work safely from home.”

“We welcome the decision by Amazon to locate more of its global services in South Africa. The business process services sector has grown fast, drawing on the skills and talent of young South Africans and a stable infrastructure. The sector has been able to provide world-class support to clients, both locally and internationally,” said Ebrahim Patel, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition.

“The economy will increasingly shift to more productive services and digital technologies, which can provide significant opportunities for young people. The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digital transition of work, and this decision by Amazon to locate these jobs in South Africa shows our ability to offer a good value proposition. Government has focussed part of our incentive programme on the industry. With our talent, strong ICT infrastructure and digital capabilities, we aim to secure thousands of more jobs like these in years to come.”

– Source:
Inspirational speaker and extreme swimmer, Ryan Stramrood, has broken the record for crossings between Robben Island and the mainland recently, completing his 109th swim in a time of 2h34. The swim surpasses the record of 108 swims achieved by the late Theodore Yach in 2016.
Only days after the lockdown laws allowed Ryan access to the ocean, he set off from the rocks on Robben Island’s shore to swim to Blouberg beach, some 7.3 km as the crow flies. Wearing only a Speedo costume, goggles and a neoprene cap, Ryan entered the 14 degree Celsius waters, grossly undertrained after being in lockdown with no water training access for over 10 weeks. He made it across to Blouberg beach in 2h34min.

Said Ryan: “When I arrived at the beach standing on the shore in my Speedo with the air temperature at 10C, looking over the bay’s 7.3 km of icy water, I knew it was going to be a tough one. Usually, we train and condition our bodies hard for these attempts, but lockdown has not allowed it. I relied purely on muscle memory and determination to reach the beach yesterday and believe me it hurt.”

Ryan’s record swim will be ratified by the Cape Long Distance Swimming Association. He has also achieved a very long list of highly commendable swims, including the notorious English Channel, a mile in sub-zero water conditions in Antarctica, double North Channel relay and a difficult attempt to solo swim from Russia to the United States of America, which fell short.

Ryan concludes: “Lockdown has been brutal to us all. My own inspirational speaking and mindset workshop business has not escaped the impact. But once again, in that cold water yesterday, when the shore seems a million miles away and an impossible target, I remind myself that the mindset engaged and the work put in now, will make this highly uncomfortable and unsafe space seem like a distant memory the minute I walk out on that beach. Can’t wait to take these messages back on to the stages as the world opens up again.”

Ryan said: “I dedicate this crossing to my friend the late Theodore Yach who set the bar so high and who would surely still be doing so if he were alive today. I was exceptionally pleased to find my feet on the soft sand of Blouberg beach to confirm the success and give special thanks to Derrick Frazer of BigBay Events and Mark De Klerk for their invaluable support on this milestone crossing”.

– Source:
“Mr President,

"Allow me to express my gratitude to you for calling this session today. Our deliberations should by no means be seen as business as usual. In this regard, I would like to thank Mr Nickolay Mladenov for his insightful, yet perturbing account on the situation in the Middle East and more specifically, the question of Palestine.

"Seventy-two years ago, we spoke of a “catastrophe”, a period in Palestinian history known as the “Al-Naqba” when more than 700 000 Palestinians were forced to abandon their homeland and seek refuge in neighbouring countries and abroad as a Jewish state came into being on Palestinian soil.”

Read more:
"Madam President,

“My delegation would like to express its gratitude to you for convening this meeting. We would also like to thank the briefers, Mr David Shearer, SRSG for South Sudan and Mr Edmund Yakani, human rights and peace activist, for their comprehensive and useful briefings on the developments in South Sudan.

"We commend you Mr Shearer and Mr Yakani and the UNMISS team for all the work you are doing to contribute to peace and stability in South Sudan amidst difficult conditions, which have also been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Read more:
“Mr President,

“At the outset, I would like to thank France for convening this meeting on refugees, which is timely as we will be observing World Refugee Day, this coming Saturday, on 20 June 2020. This year’s World Refugee Day comes at a time when the number of displaced people around the world is considered to be at its highest, and against the backdrop of negative socio-economic changes. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for a more inclusive and equitable world.

“I would also like to thank Mr Filippo Grandi for his enlightening briefing. South Africa commends the efforts of the High Commissioner for Refugees in pursuing its mandate of refugee protection, and promoting their inclusion amidst difficult conditions.”

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