South Africa | LIVE | Jackson Mthembu to be honoured with official funeral, SA's Covid-19 death toll nears 40 000

Ramaphosa: Govt may need to increase debt to get Covid-19 vaccines

President Cyril Ramaphosa said at the ANC's national executive committee lekgotla on Friday that government will look at increasing public borrowing to fund the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.

He was delivered his political overview at the opening of the two-day meeting of ANC leaders, their alliance partners and other top government deploys. 


UK says no decision on payment for positive Covid-19 tests

LONDON – The British government has taken no decision on whether to pay £500 to everyone in England who tests positive for Covid-19, environment minister George Eustice said on Friday.

Newspapers cited a policy paper which they said showed the government was considering such a move to encourage more people to take tests for the new coronavirus, though it would cost £453 million a week.

Studies show many people ignore instructions to self-isolate when they have contact with someone who has the virus because of the financial impact of being unable to work while quarantining for 10 days.

Some low-paid people already receive a £500 payment if they self-isolate. The newspaper reports said the government was considering a universal payment.

"I'm not going to comment on this particular paper but we've always kept it under review," Eustice said. "No decisions to be made on this, but this is a dynamic, fast-moving situation with the pandemic."

Eustice said the government recognised that self-isolating was "a financial challenge for some".

Cases surged in Britain at the end of last year, fuelled by a new highly transmissible strain of the virus, which has put the health service under extreme pressure. On Thursday, Britain recorded 37 892 new cases with 1 290 deaths.


Beijing launches mass testing to stem virus outbreak

Beijing on Friday kicked off a drive to test two million people in 48 hours as the city rushed to snuff out a new local cluster of cases believed to be linked to a more contagious virus variant.

Long queues snaked through the Chinese capital – which reported 19 coronavirus cases in the past week – as the mass testing campaign got under way in Dongcheng and Xicheng districts.

The two downtown districts include Tiananmen Square and several government ministry offices, and are home to around two million residents.

AFP saw one testing line stretch over 400 metres, with around a thousand people waiting to be tested.

"I received the notification this morning and thought I'd come during lunch hour; but there are so many people here in line," one Dongcheng resident said.

Officials plan to complete the testing by Saturday, and with the Lunar New Year holiday looming – typically a time when hundreds of millions travel across the country to visit families – they are keen to avoid a fully fledged outbreak in Beijing.

Locals have complained about long wait times in freezing temperatures, with social media users on Friday saying queues for tests were "unending" as residents braved the winter chill to get swabbed.

"I queued for three hours and finally got tested," one user said on China's Twitter-like Weibo platform.

The Xicheng district government said in a social media notice on Friday that some of the confirmed cases had been into the area and there was an "increased risk" of infections.

 - AFP


'High risk' of third Covid-19 wave in South Africa by winter without rapid immunisation, says expert

 - SA experts have called for government to ensure rapid immunisation of the population in order to avoid a third resurgence by winter.

 - However, government has been mum on its vaccine rollout plans.

 - The Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture did not respond to News24's enquiries on the matter.


Covid-19: Small clinical study finds that ivermectin has potential - to decrease viral load

 - The study’s aim was to establish the drug’s potential use against Covid-19.

 - Further clinical trials are needed to establish ivermectin's impact on the virus.


Outrage as Johann Rupert jumps vaccination queue in Switzerland

 - SA billionaire Johann Rupert was one of the first people in Switzerland to get a Covid-19 vaccine - before the official launch of the local vaccination drive. 

 - Rupert received the jab at a Mediclinic-owned hospital group.

 - Swiss politicians have expressed outrage, and have called for an investigation.


Doctor who died in the KZN chopper crash had tried to save Jackson Mthembu's life that same day

One of the doctors who died in the fatal helicopter crash in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday was part of the team who tried to save Minister Jackson Mthembu’s life, who died from Covid-19 complications the same day.

During an interview with eNCA on Thursday evening, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize revealed that Dr Kgopotso Rudolph Mononyane, an anaesthetist, had delayed his departure to KwaZulu-Natal to assist in efforts to save the minister at Netcare Milpark Hospital.

"One of the doctors who has passed away in the crash was actually called by a friend to come and assist and save Minister Jackson during the difficult time. He dropped the trip he was supposed to go to in KwaZulu-Natal and then his team waited, delayed his flight... he came back and they worked very hard," said Mkhize.



The case of ivermectin for Covid-19: 'We need a balanced, sensible approach'

 - Ivermectin has demonstrated antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and some studies have shown a range of benefits, from prophylaxis to mortality reduction.

 - However, an expert warns that there are very important issues that need to be considered, including several limitations of these studies.

 - We therefore have to wait on more solid-based evidence before using the drug for Covid-19, he said.


Vaccines may not work as well against Covid variant in SA, new research shows

 - Covid-19 vaccines may be less effective against a more infectious version of the coronavirus first found in South Africa.

 - New research shows the mutated strain can evade the antibodies developed in response to vaccination or infection with the original version of the coronavirus.

 - But Pfizer has said it could update its shots to combat new variants in just six weeks.


Jackson Mthembu remembered: Loyal, hardworking and a friend for life

Loyal, hardworking, committed and a friend for life - this is how those who knew and worked closely with Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu remembered him.

Mthembu died on Thursday morning of Covid-19 complications, just 10 days after saying he tested positive for the virus.


Jackson Mthembu was among the very few dedicated, humble and principled leaders of government, says the EFF.

"Despite his access to power and influence, Cde Mthembu was never caught in scandals of influencing tenders and government contracts to benefit his friends and family.

With decisiveness, he always provided logical and sound leadership which often transcended narrow partisan loyalties define parliamentary politics.

"The dedication of Minister Jackson Mthembu was demonstrated through his principled participation in the struggle against the nonsensical apartheid regime, as a students’ leader, a youth activist, as workers’ leader, community leader and certainly without entitlement for individual benefits.

"He understood that his participation in the struggle was for a common good and for the people, not for individual benefits and glory.

"Cde Jackson Mthembu almost always rose above factional politics, and never felt entitled to any leadership responsibility. He was a true servant of the people.

"During his tenure as spokesperson the ruling party, Cde Jackson Mthembu refused to partake in carefully planned activities and reactionary programme to destroy the Congress Youth League generation which has set Economic Freedom in Our Lifetime as its generational mission.

"When factionalists called him to testify against leaders of the Youth League with the sole aim of convicting and thereafter banishing them from the organisation, Cde Mthembu went to testify in defence of the Youth League Leaders.

"Despite the ultimate destruction of the Youth League, his voice will be counted as part of those who refused to suffocate the young generation of leaders who set as its agenda the revolutionary purpose to attain economic freedom in our lifetime.

"It was under Chief Whip Mthembu that Parliament commenced a closer and detailed inquiry into Guptas criminal syndicates’ redirection of State assets and resources into their self-enrichment agenda.

"He understood the frustration of all Members of Parliament including from his benches on the growing arrogance of the Gupta criminal syndicate and its representatives who disregarded processes and undermined the legitimacy of State institutions."

Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde, says he is deeply saddened by the news that the Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, has passed away, following Covid-19 complications.

"Mr Mthembu was a hard working and dedicated member of the executive, who always acted with integrity.

"He was also a kind man, who thought for the best interests of South Africa, and our democracy.

"I extend my condolences to his family and friends, and to the African National Congress.

"May he rest in peace."

The ANC Parliamentary Caucus has learnt with a deep sense of sadness of the untimely passing of The Minister in the Presidency, Comrade Jackson Mthembu from Covid-19 related complications.

Speaking from Colesberg, where ANC Chief Whip Pemmy Majodina was at the burial of another ANC MP, she said: "We are shattered, this is painful and death continues unabated. We have lost my predecessor, a selfless leader; a brother who was firm in his leadership and gave me support, not seeking to lead from the grave but enabling me the space to lead and one of the best ANC cadres amongst us”.

"As the ANC Parliamentary caucus, we are devastated by the untimely passing of Minister Jackson Mthembu."

"Covid-19 has robbed us of such a dynamic leader of our people who dedicated every inch of his being to strengthening our democracy.

She said his love and loyalty to the country to the country and dedication to its people will be missed.

"We will miss his contagious laughter, affable manner and jovial nature and.

"In his honour, we will continue to fight all forms of corruption and strengthen our resolve to build a better country for all our people as we nurse back our nation to economic recovery.

"Your departure therefore has not only robbed us of your diligence and excellence- but also stole from us a communicator par excellence.

"Your dedication and patriotism, humility and selflessness will be sorely missed.

"We are grateful for your commitment to the Constitution and putting first South African people during your tenure."

Mthembu worked hard in keeping the nation updated on the risk adjusted strategy, she said.

"You brought us communication innovations that enabled the use of technology and remote systems at the peak of Covid-19 enabling the country to still be in touch with its citizens.

"As the ANC caucus in Parliament, we will continue to hold high the values that Minister Jackson Mthembu stood for and strengthen our capabilities as lawmakers in ensuring that public finances are utilised for the public good.

"Hamba Kakuhle [Go well] Mvelase!

Olwakho ugqatso ulufezile! [You have paid your dues!]

The "Most Handsome Man" is no more.

This is how the late Jackson Mthembu would like to be introduced, says Zizi Kodwa.

I lost a mentor, a dependable cadre whose loyalty to the ANC is above reproach.

It was you Mvelase and the late Paks Mankahlana, who inspired me about political communication as an important tool in advancing the objectives of the struggle.

It was you Mvelase, that in later years when we both became Members of Parliament in 2014, you approached me and said, " Ziziman as you know the ANC has no spokesperson, I think you should consider going to Luthuli House".

I was hesitant as we had just been sworn in as Members of Parliament, but you explained, why me.

I immediately changed  my mind and agreed, this conversation made it easy when I was later approached by the Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe that I should resign as MP and join him at Luthuli House as ANC National spokesperson.

I thank you for trusting me with such a huge responsibility.

I thank you for being a mentor, I thank you for your guidance during the most difficult times I relied on you.

No words can express how I feel now, but I will celebrate your life.

FAREWELL Handsome man


Zizi Kodwa

ANC women's league president Bathabile Dlamini called Mthembu a man who was favoured by the ANC’s leaders.

She referred to a time of former president Nelson Mandela’s fondness for Mthembu.

"He was very passionate [about] his work but also he was a straight forward person and a fighter that could differentiate between political and organisational work, and personal relationships with a comrade. He was a also a favourite of the leadership.

"During Madiba’s time, he was called back to the head office to be the spokesperson of the ANC. It was a pleasure to work with him." 

Mthembu ensure that every message was passed down to communities during the pandemic, said Dlamini.

"Communication is very important during these hard times and sustaining a story line."

- Lizeka Tandwa

ANC Eastern Cape chairperson Oscar Mabuyane described Mthembu as a dependable, reliable, educated and diligent cadre of the movement. 

"He was principled and very consistent. You would never find him wanting on matters of principle. He grew up in the ANC and knew the responsibility of a leader. He understood and really respected the ANC.

"We called each other ‘Mthembu-Wakuthi’ because we came from the same clan. We were very close. Ours is just to hope the family will accept what it cannot change.

"I know the difficulty of losing a child and husband is not a soft one. He has been our leader and we got a lot of counselling from him. [He was] very humble and down to earth. I will miss him."

- Lizeka Tandwa

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