Southern African Development Community (SADC) Health Ministers Meet in Limpopo, South Africa

The Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Chairperson of SADC Health Ministers, will this week host the SADC Health Ministers in Polokwane, Limpopo as part of annual meetings between the regional health leaders to discuss a range of health issues affecting the SADC Members States including the effects of recent Malaria outbreak, the status of HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis which continue to remain a public health challenge in the region.

The Ministers are also expected to approve a range of regional strategies and guidelines, as they also monitor and provide a collective oversight of the implementation of the regional health agenda as guided by the SADC Protocol on Health and the Regional Indicative Development Plan.

The other activities that the SADC Health Ministers will be engaging in are simulation exercise for health emergencies and the launch of Malaria Report.

The SADC Health Ministers’ meeting will culminate with the commemoration of SADC Malaria Day, 10 November, at Thomo village in Giyani where the Minister will conduct Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests at a local clinic, household indoor residual spraying, interact share information and create awareness on malaria.

Details of Events
Official opening of SADC Health Ministers’ Meeting – The Ranch, Protea Hotel, 08 November 2017, 09:00
Launch of Malaria Report – The Ranch, Protea Hotel, 07 November 2017, 19:00
SADC Malaria Day Commemoration – Thomo Village, Giyani, 10 November 2017, 9:00

RSVP: Howard Kgoa Cell 079 876 9247 E-mail:

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Health.

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IOM Rolls Out Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Services in South Sudan Displacement Sites

Thousands now have access to HIV/AIDS counselling, testing, and treatment in South Sudan since the International Organization for Migration (IOM) completed the roll out of comprehensive services at the Bentiu, Malakal and Wau Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites in October 2017, benefiting an estimated population of 171,000 people, as well as the host community.

In 2016, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis were the leading causes of mortality in the PoC sites, where people are often unable to access health facilities outside the sites due to protection concerns or destruction of public infrastructure.

“The expansion of services is a crucial development in South Sudan, where internally displaced persons, such as those living in the PoC sites, are among key populations that are considered to be at higher-risk of contracting HIV/AIDS,” explained Salma Taher, IOM Global Fund Project Officer.

Since 2014, IOM has been providing HIV/AIDS services to pregnant mothers at the PoC sites through Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) programme. Through the advocacy of IOM and the UN Development Fund, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculous and Malaria expanded funding to enable the start-up and roll out of services for the general population visiting the clinics in the PoC sites, not only pregnant mothers.

Since the roll out began in July, IOM has tested 213 people, with 16 testing positive and enrolling in antiretroviral treatment.

With timely diagnosis and initiation of antiretroviral medication, the life expectancy of HIV-positive patients has been proven to improve substantially – 10 years for men and 9 years for women, as evidenced in a recent analysis of cohort studies.

A core component to comprehensive services is awareness raising and sensitization to both encourage testing and destigmatize the disease among the displaced population. Through the Global Fund support, IOM has trained over 450 peer counselors across the country, including 51 at the Bentiu and Malakal PoC sites.

Martha (name changed to protect her identity) and her husband are both HIV-positive and enrolled in antiretroviral treatment at the Bentiu PoC site. When Martha first arrived at the site in 2014, she was pregnant and tested positive for HIV. She immediately enrolled in the PMTCT programme and her child, who is now three years old, is HIV-free. Martha is an active member of PMTCT support groups and was trained as a peer counselor. With the knowledge and confidence she gained in these programmes, she was able to convince her husband to pursue treatment when he, too, tested positive for the disease.

The programme is complemented with services from IOM’s mental health and psychosocial support team, which provides peer support through family support groups, counseling for people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by gender-based violence.

The expansion of services is funded through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria with the support of the UN Development Fund. Migration health and psychosocial support services are funded by the USAID Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), the Government of Japan, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of the Republic of Korea, and the Government of Canada.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Office of Migration (IOM).

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Experts to discuss the challenges and implications of declining commodity prices in Southern Africa

The ECA Office for Southern Africa in collaboration with the Walvis Bay Corridor Group (WBCG) will organize the Ad-hoc Expert Group Meeting (AEGM) on the theme “Promoting Growth and Economic Transformation in Southern Africa: The Challenges and Implications of Declining Commodity Prices” on 16 and 17 November 2017 at Walvis Bay, Namibia.

The recent call for accelerated industrialization in Southern Africa through the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap and attendant national industrial policies has elevated the need for diversification. As such, there is wide recognition that the sub-region needs to diversify its economic structure, but obstacles and challenges remain. Whether Southern Africa will be able to turn the current commodity price downturn into an opportunity remains to be seen.

Given that high dependence on primary commodities is not sustainable and population growth is between 2 and 3 per cent per year in most Southern African nations, adequate jobs will need to be created to keep pace with the growing number of people. Additionally, the negative effects of the El Nino and other weather-related phenomena have compounded the adverse effects of the commodity price decline putting food security at risk.

The meeting will review the consequences of dependency on primary commodities in Southern Africa in the face of low and declining prices, and explore policy options and recommend strategies towards addressing the associated challenges. It will also discuss the opportunities for economic diversification from commodities and the risks posed by low commodity prices; explore options for participation in regional and global value chains and proffer recommendations on how Southern Africa can better prepare for future commodity super-cycles.

Participants will review the report on “Promoting Growth and Economic Transformation in Southern Africa: The Challenges and Implications of Declining Commodity Prices” and provide recommendations to improve the draft.

The meeting will be attended by experts in the areas of development economics, international development, trade and regional integration, academia, government, regional economic communities, development partners, private sector and civil society.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

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PSC Interview: Little chance of a free and fair poll in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe is heading for crucial elections in 2018 amid a growing economic crisis and fierce infighting in the ruling Zanu-PF. President Robert Mugabe (93) is eligible for re-election, but there are moves behind the scenes to determine his eventual successor. The PSC Report spoke to Derek Matyszak, Senior Research Consultant for the Institute for Security Studies in Zimbabwe, about the run-up to the polls.

At what stage are the preparations for the 2018 elections?

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is presently constructing an entirely new voters’ roll for the country, and says it will finish the process in January 2018. Nothing is being done, however, to align electoral laws with the new 2013 constitution, and there does not appear to be any political will to do so. There is a big difference between the preparations by the ruling Zanu-PF party for the polls and those of the myriad opposition parties. While Zanu-PF has already been campaigning – suggesting that it will use its parliamentary majority to call elections early – and distributing patronage to secure votes, the opposition parties, including the MDC-T led by Morgan Tsvangirai, are still fumbling in their attempts to form a united front against Mugabe. They are beset with leadership problems and are totally unprepared.

Do Zimbabweans have the guarantee that it will be a free and fair poll?

There is no possibility of a free and fair election in Zimbabwe under current conditions. Zanu-PF controls all the key institutions of state, including those which are nominally independent. This control extends to the ZEC, the judiciary, the police, military, all electronic media broadcasters and local government. The last is particularly important, as Zanu-PF’s influence over traditional leaders helps to secure the rural vote, which constituted 70% of the voting population in the 2013 elections. All 226 traditional chiefs have recently been given an Isuzu twin cab vehicle by the Mugabe administration. The rural voters are more subjects than citizens and the traditional leadership makes it clear that voting against Mugabe and Zanu-PF has severe and adverse repercussions.

There is some dispute over the fairness of the 2013 elections. Some say Zanu-PF won hands down, but in a recent briefing you indicated that those elections were marred by irregularities. Why do you say that?

Most analyses of the 2013 elections acknowledge that extensive electoral fraud took place. The question is really whether the fraud turned a loss into a win, or a win into a landslide. Certainly, without the fraud Zanu-PF would not have secured its two-thirds majority in Parliament. There are two key numbers from the 2013 presidential election: one is that Tsvangirai’s vote remained largely unchanged from 2008, while Mugabe’s tally increased by 1.03 million. There were only about 780 000 newly registered voters. So even if every one of these new voters had voted for Mugabe (they obviously did not) the provenance of over 220 000 votes requires explanation. One is that people who did not bother to vote in 2008, when election fever was high, suddenly decided to vote in 2013, when election fever was low. The other is that there was extensive multiple and fraudulent voting. There is considerable evidence of the latter. If these votes are discounted, the numbers are roughly as suggested by the most reliable opinion poll of the time, splitting the votes 53%–47% (a difference of six percentage points) between the two in Mugabe’s favour, rather than the 61%–35% (a difference of 26 percentage points) officially announced.

Is it clear at this stage who will succeed Mugabe?

It is not. And it is quite unwise to pronounce definitively on the subject, as it is probable that Mugabe himself does not currently have a clear preference. At various points in time, there are, however, frontrunners. This time last year it was apparent that an accommodation had been reached between Mugabe, his wife Grace and the ‘Lacoste’ faction in Zanu-PF, which prefer Emmerson Mnangagwa as a successor. Mnangagwa began to look like the president-in-waiting. That accord went sour and, in dramatic events at a rally last weekend, a visibly angry Mugabe indicated that the vice president would soon be fired and replaced by his wife. He subsequently fired Mnangagwa as vice president on 6 November.

Mnangagwa now appears to be out of the succession race, at least from inside Zanu-PF. The number of supporters he can take within him if he leaves the party, which appears inevitable, will test his strength. The G40 group, which coalesces around Grace Mugabe and has suggested Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi as a favourable candidate, is now clearly in the ascendancy within Zanu-PF.

What will happen if Mugabe dies or steps down before the elections? What does the constitution say?

Should Mugabe die or retire, the vice-president who last acted as president (there are two) takes over for an interregnum period of no longer than 90 days. In this time Zanu-PF must name a person as president to serve out the term of office remaining before the next presidential election.

Is the opposition able to put up a strong fight in the 2018 elections?

The opposition, by its own admission, is in disarray. It is severely under-resourced, which leads to organisational problems. There is also factionalism within each of the opposition parties and jostling for positions, which make it very difficult for the parties to come together to form a united front against Mugabe and Zanu-PF. Furthermore, Tsvangirai is fighting cancer and there is a large question mark over his candidacy for 2018. If he is unable to stand, the MDC-T may fracture again, right on the brink of the election, which will be completely debilitating.

Do you think the current economic crisis will have an impact on how the electorate will vote?

The economy is teetering on the brink of a meltdown. Without some sort of rescue package, the only question seems to be when rather than if it will happen. Zanu-PF is hoping that the wheels will stay on until the end of March/April, when it may contrive to hold the early poll. If they fall off before then, this will certainly have an effect on the coming election, as had the 2008 meltdown, which probably contributed to Tsvangirai’s first-round win in March that year. If this happens, Zanu-PF may abandon what appears to be a plan to hold an election that appears legitimate, and resort to violence and repression to remain in power.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Institute for Security Studies (ISS).

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