South Africa: Deputy President Mabuza to Lead Government’s Commemoration of Solomon Mahlangu

Deputy President David Mabuza will on Friday, 06 April 2018, lead Government’s 39th Commemoration of the late Solomon Kalushi Mahlangu.

The Deputy President will visit the Gallows at the Kgoši Mampuru II Correctional Facility in Pretoria.

The year 2018 marks the 39th anniversary of the execution by hanging of Mahlangu, an ANC Military Wing uMkhonto weSizwe combatant. He was hanged by the apartheid regime at the Pretoria Central Prison on 6 April 1979. Before he was executed, Mahlangu said: “My blood will nourish the tree that will bear the fruits of freedom. Tell my people that I love them. They must continue the struggle.”

The execution provoked international protest and condemnation of South Africa’s apartheid policy. In fear of crowd reaction at the funeral, the police decided to bury Mahlangu in Atteridgeville. On 6 April 1993, he was reinterred at the Mamelodi Cemetery.

In 2005, a statue of Mahlangu was unveiled in Mamelodi township in Tshwane. In the same year, Mahlangu was posthumously awarded “The Order of Mendi for Bravery in Gold for his bravery and sacrificing his life for freedom and democracy in South Africa”.

The Deputy President, together with Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Ministers and the Mahlangu Family are expected to take the 52 steps to the Gallows, as they observe the re-enactment of Solomon Mahlangu’s final moments before execution.

Later in the day, the Minister of Arts and Culture, Mr Nathi Mthethwa will deliver a memorial lecture in honour of Solomon Mahlangu at the Vista Campus in Mamelodi.

Details of the events are as follows:
Part One: Visit to the Prison
Date: Friday, 06 April 2018
Time: 05h30 (media to arrive at 04h30)
Venue: Kgoši Mampuru II Correctional Facility, Pretoria.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

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Source:: South Africa: Deputy President Mabuza to Lead Government’s Commemoration of Solomon Mahlangu


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Communiqué on the Meeting between the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia

The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, was received today by the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss a number of issues of mutual interest.

The Chairperson reiterated his congratulations to the Prime Minister following his confirmation by Parliament yesterday and praised the peaceful and smooth transition of power, which is a source of pride for Ethiopia and the entire continent. He assured the Prime Minister of the African Union’s full support to the Government and people of Ethiopia as they work to consolidate the remarkable socio-economic progress made by their country and further strengthen national unity and widen the political space. The Chairperson stressed the critical importance of Ethiopia’s stability and prosperity for the region and the continent as a whole.

The Prime Minister and the Chairperson also exchanged views on the overall situation in the Horn of Africa, including the IGAD-led process in South Sudan and efforts in support of the Government of Somalia towards lasting peace and stability. They pledged to work closely together in the pursuit of peace, security and stability in the region and beyond.

The Prime Minister and the Chairperson discussed issues relating to continental integration. The Chairperson commended Ethiopia for signing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and encouraged speedy ratification. He looked forward to working closely with the Prime Minister on the implementation of the AfCFTA and other aspects of the integration agenda, including the Single African Air Transport Market and the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons and the African Passport.

The Prime Minister reaffirmed Ethiopia’s commitment to the ideals and objectives of the African Union and its determination to continue to play its rightful role towards their achievement. The Chairperson noted that the fact that he was the first dignitary to be received by the Prime Minister following his assumption of responsibility was a further illustration of the importance that Ethiopia attaches to the continental organization.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Union Peace and Security Department.

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Source:: Communiqué on the Meeting between the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia


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President Ramaphosa congratulates Mr. Abiy Ahmed on his election as head of the ruling coalition of Ethiopia

President Cyril Ramaphosa has extended his warm congratulations to Mr. Abiy Ahmed on being chosen to lead Ethiopia’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ruling coalition on 28 March 2018, and his subsequent swearing-in as Prime Minister on Monday, 02 April 2018.

President Ramaphosa said: “Your election is a vote of confidence in your leadership by the various parties of the ruling coalition and holds the hope that a stable leadership transition and the widening of political dialogue can open the way to peaceful development in the country.”

Ethiopia plays a leading role on the African continent, not only as the seat of the African Union, but as a historic beacon of the values of freedom and sovereignty as embodied in the life of late Nelson Mandela, whose centenary we celebrate this year.

The interests of the countries and people of Africa remain at the top of South Africa’s strategic priorities, as evidenced by the commitment to forging closer cooperation with Ethiopia displayed by discussions during the recent South Africa-Ethiopia Senior Officials Meeting in March 2018.

“I look forward to working with you, Mr Prime Minister, to further strengthen the strong bilateral relations between our two countries, focusing on economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of our respective countries and peoples,” President Ramaphosa concluded.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

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Source:: President Ramaphosa congratulates Mr. Abiy Ahmed on his election as head of the ruling coalition of Ethiopia


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South Africa: Statement Regarding the Source of the Listeriosis Outbreak

Statement Regarding the Source of the Listeriosis Outbreak:
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) is concerned about recent developments and statements supposedly released as facts into the public domain about the listeriosis outbreak.
We are particularly worried about the confusion that emanated from statements made at the meeting called by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture on 28 March 2018.
Of major concern are the claims that the primary source of the outbreak is still unknown, and that the Minister of Health has backed down on his previous announcement that the source had been identified, both of which we refute. The statements the Minister of Health has made have emanated from epidemiologic and scientific investigations conducted by the NICD. The implication that the NICD has misled the Minister of Health and the public is rejected. Furthermore, we condemn the statement made that the government prematurely scapegoated ‘Enterprise and Rainbow’ without sufficient evidence. We contend that this evidence has been amply provided by the NICD.

We do not regard these claims as a small matter, because the NICD is not just a routine diagnostic laboratory with an impact localised to South Africa. The NICD’s work goes far beyond the borders of our country and has an international impact. In outbreaks of this nature, the NICD is obligated by the International Health Regulations to report findings through the National Department of Health to the World Health Organization, and cannot afford to, and does not mislead.

To serve its purpose, the NICD has specialised laboratories and public health and epidemiologic expertise. This expertise leads it to serve as a reference centre, not only for the public and private sectors in South Africa, but across Africa. It shares information and works together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and eminent international institutions (including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of the USA, the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and Public Health England. The NICD is the co-ordinator of the prestigious PulseNet Africa network, within PulseNet International. PulseNet is a global network of laboratories dedicated to tracking foodborne infections (including listeriosis) world-wide, all of whose laboratories, including the NICD, utilise internationally-recognised standardised genotyping methods and share information in real-time.

Therefore, the work of the NICD is scientifically sound and evidence-based. For those who still have lingering doubts, this is how we arrived at the conclusions announced by the Minister of Health on 04 March 2018. The search for the cause of the outbreak began with the isolates of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria from case-patients referred from National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) and private sector clinical laboratories to the NICD, where they underwent confirmatory testing and whole genome sequencing (WGS). WGS is the most sensitive and specific molecular tool available to assess genetic relatedness of bacterial isolates. Of the 439 clinical isolates from case-patients sequenced to date, 92% belong to sequence type 6 (ST6) and are highly genetically related. This confirms that this single strain is causing the outbreak and is responsible for disease in the vast majority of patients with listeriosis.
At the same time, an intensive process of trying to identify the source of the outbreak was undertaken by the Departments of Health (DoH), Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and Trade and Industry (DTI), municipalities and the NICD. Epidemiological investigations included interviewing patients. As 86% of patients interviewed reported eating polony in the month before falling ill with listeriosis, ready-to-eat processed meat products became the focus of investigations. The key breakthrough came when a group of nine children attending the same crèche in Soweto developed febrile gastroenteritis in January 2018. The L. monocytogenes ST6 outbreak strain was identified in one child and in three samples of two brands of polony from the refrigerator at the crèche. This prompted further investigation of the production facilities manufacturing these polony products.
Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane production facility was visited on 2 February 2018 by a team, which included two WHO food safety experts. Extensive sampling was done. Polony production involves a number of steps: raw ingredients are mixed into an emulsion, the polony emulsion is poured into casings (the plastic wrapping) and clipped at either end of the casing, the polony is cooked in its casing, then finally it is cooled. Any Listeria that is present in the raw ingredients or emulsion should be killed during the cooking process. However, any L. monocytogenes found beyond the cooking stage poses the danger of contaminating the polony and causing disease, because polony is not usually cooked again before it is eaten. Of great concern was that the L. monocytogenes ST6 outbreak strain was found in the postcooking processing environment, and also on the final polony products.
The whole genome sequencing (WGS) technology that identified the ST6 outbreak strain is the gold standard method for characterising which specific L. monocytogenes strain is causing an outbreak. This highly specialised test is performed at the NICD. WGS essentially shows the genetic fingerprint of the bacteria, by sequencing the chemical building blocks (nucleotides or base pairs) that make up its genome (the complete set of its DNA, including all of its genes). The L. monocytogenes genome has approximately 3 million base pairs. The outbreak strain isolates from patients and from the Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane production facility (notably, the post-cooking area and the final product clips and casing) differ by only ≤7 single base pairs out of 3 million. This extremely high level of genetic relatedness (99.99% similarity) means there can be no doubt that these L. monocytogenes ST6 strains are all linked, and that there is certainty that products manufactured at Enterprise Polokwane are the source of the outbreak. This is much like paternity confirmation by DNA testing.
From the evidence above, it is extremely misleading for anyone to claim that the primary cause of this listeriosis outbreak is unknown. Since the first press conference held by the Minister of Health on 05 December 2017, it has been reiterated many times that L. monocytogenes is widely found in nature and can be found in water, soil, vegetation, and the faeces of some animals. Food can be contaminated from any of these sources throughout the food chain (farm, processing, packaging, retail and home food preparation). However, normal food production safety measures and water treatment procedures should deal with the risk of contamination. In addition, the WHO’s five keys to safer food should be practiced by all. These are:
  • Wash hands and surfaces before, and regularly during food preparation.
  • Separate raw and cooked food, and don’t mix utensils and surfaces when preparing food.
  • Cook food thoroughly – all bacteria are killed above 70°C.
  • Keep food at safe temperatures – either simmering hot, or in the fridge.
  • Use safe water and safe ingredients to prepare food.
We can report today that additional results from samples of products produced at the Enterprise Polokwane production facility and sold at the Enterprise Germiston factory shop are available. Seven samples of ready-to-eat processed meat products taken on 15 February 2018 tested positive for L. monocytogenes ST6 (outbreak strain). This means that the outbreak strain has been found inside the ready-to-eat processed meat products manufactured at Enterprise Foods’ Polokwane production facility, dispelling claims made to the contrary.

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

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Source:: South Africa: Statement Regarding the Source of the Listeriosis Outbreak


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