South Africa yesterday paid heartfelt tributes to Winnie Mandela, who died aged 81, as politicians hailed her as an inspirational anti-apartheid campaigner and defended her often controversial record.
The former wife of Nelson Mandela died in a Johannesburg hospital on Monday, mourned by many who praised her as one of the most charismatic and energetic activists who fought white-minority rule.
Her convictions for kidnapping and fraud, and her reputation for overseeing brutal gang violence in black townships, were largely brushed aside by eulogies of her bravery, independence and integrity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who described her as “an abiding symbol of the desire of our people to be free”, confirmed that a memorial service would be held on April 11 and an official funeral on April 14.
Zweli Mkhize, a Senior Minister in the African National Congress (ANC) party government, said Winnie Mandela’s death marked “the end of an era” as she was a leading stalwart from the darkest days of the anti-apartheid struggle.
“We are losing the last few of those very committed freedom fighters and I think all we have to do is to always take lessons from her life,” Mkhize said outside Winnie Mandela’s house in Soweto where she lived for decades.
“When she had to face the apartheid government, she was fearless — but also among ourselves she was never shy to criticise.”
The outspoken leader of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party Julius Malema, who became a confidant of Winnie Mandela in recent years, was also among mourners at her modest two-storey red brick home yesterday.
“Because (she) was living among her people, and never betrayed her people, they gave her the title of the ‘Mother of the nation,’” he said.
“We are here to celebrate the life of a person who has never looked down on black people and the poor masses.”
Malema attacked those who criticised her chequered past, saying that “the least we can do is defend her in death and not allow the racists to insult her”.
“They fear her even in death — that is why they continue to call her names, that is why they continue to characterise her in a manner that we do not know.”
The ANC’s Women’s League, which Winnie Mandela once led, will stage a mass march to her home on Wednesday.
The firebrand activist died peacefully in Johannesburg’s Milpark hospital on Monday, her family said, adding that she was “was one of the greatest icons of the struggle against Apartheid”.
Most of Winnie Mandela’s 38-year marriage to Nelson was spent apart, with Nelson imprisoned for 27 years, leaving her to raise their two daughters alone and to keep alive his political dream.
Glamorous and tough, she played a high-profile role in the battle to end repressive white-minority rule.
But her reputation came under damaging scrutiny in the later years of apartheid rule.
In 1986, she was widely linked to “necklacing”, the burning alive of suspected traitors who had flaming, petrol-soaked tyres forced over their heads.
In 1990 the world watched when Nelson Mandela finally walked free from prison — hand-in-hand with Winnie.
The following year, she was convicted of kidnapping and assault over the killing of Stompie Moeketsi, a 14-year-old boy.
In 1992, the Mandelas separated, and then divorced in 1996, after a legal wrangle that revealed she had an affair with a young bodyguard.
In 2003, she was found guilty of theft and fraud over bank loans.
During her old age, she re-emerged as a respected elder who was feted as a living reminder of the late Mandela — and of the long and celebrated struggle against apartheid.
Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu described her as “a defining symbol” of the battle against oppression.
“She refused to be bowed by the imprisonment of her husband, the perpetual harassment of her family by security forces, detentions, bannings and banishment,” Tutu said.
LGA Boss Vows To Deliver Fubara, Others In Rivers
The Chairman of Oyigbo Local Government Area in Rivers State, Hon. Akara Okechukwu, has reiterated that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would win all positions from governor to state House of Assembly.
He stated that the foundation of victory had been laid by the Governor of the state, Chief Nyesom Wike, following his infrastructure development successes in the state.
Okechukwu said this while reacting after the state PDP campaign team visited his area, last Saturday, saying that the people of Oyigbowere ready to reciprocate what the present administration has done for the LGA in every aspect.
“I have no fear, and I am convinced that the Governorship candidate of PDP Siminialayi Fubara and other state candidates of the PDP will win.
“The people of Oyigbo have vowed to vote massively for PDP because that is the only way to pay back Governor Wike for his good works, mostly in Oyigbo.
“As I speak, 95percent of people living in the area have their Permanent Voters Cards (PVCs), and this indicates sure victory for our great party. I thank the people for coming out enmasse for the campaign, I am really happy,” Okechukwu said.
Speaking, Chairman, Revenue Committee of the LGA, Senibo Daniel Chijindu, described the massive turn out as historic, saying that it was an indication of total victory.
“I will say that the massive turn out of people was historic because this is the first time people came out enmasse for campaign. Honestly, this is an indication that Oyigbo was ‘Simplified’ and was totally for PDP.
“Governor Wike has given Rivers State, a facelift in all ramifications. That is why Oyigbo people said they are for PDP in totality,” he said.
The revenue boss advised those who register for PVC should go and collect their PVC because that is only way to sustain the good governance of PDP.
Also speaking, former commissioner for commerce and industry and stakeholder of PDP in Oyigbo, Hon. Nancy Nwankwo, said adequate sensitisation has been done for the importance of PVC and vote PDP.
According to her, women in Oyigbowere already prepared to celebrate the victory of SiminialayiFubara come May this year, saying they come out enmasse to vote for PDP.
“I am convinced that SimFubara will do better hence he is civil servant. He has proven his intellectual capacity faithful and truthful to replace Governor Wike,” she said.
By: Tonye Orabere
NCDC Confirms 38 Deaths Of 123 Diphtheria Cases …Says Gaps In Vaccination Coverage Fuelling Outbreak
No fewer than 38 persons have died out of the 123 diphtheria cases recorded in Nigeria so far, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has confirmed.
The states currently facing the disease caused by serious infection of the nose and throat that is easily preventable by vaccine, are Kano, Lagos, Yobe and Osun, respectively.
The nation’s disease control and prevention agency, which disclosed this at a ministerial press briefing, organised by the Federal Ministry of Health, said more cases of the disease were being expected in days ahead, as it spreads to other places.
Speaking through its Director of Special Duties, Dr Priscilla Ibekwe, NCDC said: “As of January 22, NCDC have 123 confirmed cases and 38 deaths. 100 cases are from Kano, with 32 deaths. In Lagos there are five cases with three deaths. In Yobe, there 17 confirmed cases and three deaths, and Osun has recorded one case with no death”.
According to Ibekwe, besides clinically suspected cases, there have been laboratory-confirmed cases.
Ibekwe said the agency was working with state ministries of health and partners to enhance surveillance and response to the outbreak.
She said,”Given the sub-optimal coverage for the third dose of the diphtheria containing pentavalent vaccine (54percent – 2021 MICS & NICS) in the country, we expect more cases from more states.
“The centre has collaborated with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to organize a 5-day workshop on enhancing laboratory diagnosis of diphtheria in Nigeria for laboratory scientists working in NCDC’s National Reference Laboratories and its lab network (this was planned before cases were reported as part of preparedness), and;
“Written to all states HCHs to institute immediate and necessary public health measures for timely detection and response to diphtheria at state level”.
Speaking on measures being put in place to prevent the disease from spreading further, Ibekwe said NCDC has published a public health advisory, accessible on its website, which educates Nigerians on risk factors and offers advice.
She said:”Parents ensuring that their children are fully vaccinated against diphtheria with 3 doses of the pentavalent vaccine. Healthcare workers should maintain a high index of suspicion for diphtheria”.
She also spoke on how to better understand and contain the prevailing global outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 COVID-19 variants.
She said:”The sub-lineages i.e., XBB.1.5 partly responsible for the current increase in COVID-19 cases in the US and elsewhere countries have not yet been detected in the country.
“However, this variant has not been associated with increased severity of illness and now appears to be levelling off.
“The variants reported in China so far have been those circulating globally including in Nigeria for some time.”
However, the Nigeria Centre of Disease Control and Prevention has attributed the current outbreak of diphtheria in some parts of Nigeria to a drop in the childhood vaccination coverage in some areas of the country.
The Director-General of the Agency, Dr Ifedayo Adetifa, who spoke about the development on a television programme, said that there were 34 deaths recorded over the weekend from the outbreak which hit four states.
He said due to the effectiveness of the childhood vaccination programme, most people have forgotten what it looks like.
He said, “Diphtheria, a vaccine preventable disease that used to be common decades ago is on the increase in some states in Nigeria. The fact that there is a resurgence suggests that there is significant reduction in vaccination coverage among pockets of the population and this reduced pockets of immunity has given rise to the cases we have seen.
“It is not a matter of diphtheria spreading from state to state, the bacteria that causes the disease is present everywhere and it spreads, and any state in which you find the disease now is likely to be associated with suboptimal vaccination rates, either in general or in particular in pockets of population. Failure of childhood vaccination in the failed states causing the diphtheria outbreaks.
“Kano has highest number of cases followed by Yobe, by weekend, there were 34 deaths in total.”
He warned that although diphtheria was highly preventable and treatable, fatality can increase without antibiotics and appropriate conditions, including the diphtheria antitoxin. He assured that with early detection and prompt treatment, the fatal outcomes are usually low.
Adetifa stressed that the really severe cases require the diphtheria antitoxin, even as he assured that the NCDC had distributed vials of the antitoxin since December for use in Lagos and Kano states, and was planning to extend availability to every state where the disease cases are found.
“It is important that patients should be recognised early, and laboratory confirmation carried out so that treatment can commence immediately.”
Adetifa said there were arrangements for trainings of personnel for laboratory diagnosis of the toxin including testing for most of the clinical effects.
“We are in a good state to help, but patients need to be recognised early and diagnosis made quickly and they are placed on the right treatment.
“We are using the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency, NPHCDA data to predict high risk states, there is connection with low socioeconomic situation, and we need to look out for healthcare workers who can be given courses of antibiotics.
Long-Hour Fasting, Danger To Kidney, NAFDAC Warns
The Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. MojisolaAdeyeye, has advised Nigerians against subjecting themselves to long-hour fasting, saying it was risky to their kidneys.
Adeyeye, who attributed the high rate of kidney problems in Nigeria to prolonged fasting by some religious adherents, insisted that those subjecting themselves to prolonged fasting on religious grounds must moderate the act.
She spoke in Abuja, yesterday, while briefing the media on the breakthrough by her agency in tracking high consignments of Tramadol and other pharmaceuticals to the Republic of Benin.
On the high rate of kidney problems in the country, she said: “Kidney failure, we are a very religious country- Muslims and Christians fast a lot and it is part of the kidney problem.
“Your body has to have homeomistatic balance, meaning that the water level in your body must be enough to make your organs to function.
“Some people will fast for 10 or 20 days and drink only little water, the kidney is being punished. Now, if you put chemicals in it, it triples in exponential manner, it damages the kidney because the kidney doesn’t have water to dilute and filter.”
Adeyeye, who tasked Nigerians to fast but with common sense, added: “I fast but with common sense. We have to fast with common sense; otherwise we will pay with our kidneys.”
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