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24 August 2017 05:04 (South Africa)
Africa

SADC Wrap: HIV breakthrough for Swaziland, while Grace pushes Mugabe for a name

  • KRISTEN VAN SCHIE
    KRISTEN VAN SCHIE
  • Africa
Photo: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) and his wife Grace (R) smile after arriving at the Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, about 100 kilometres east of Harare, Zimbabwe, 02 June 2017. EPA/AARON UFUMELI

From across southern Africa – KRISTEN VAN SCHIE brings you a weekly round-up of news making regional waves.

Swaziland last week released remarkable findings into its fight against Aids, with new figures showing the country’s infection rate has dropped dramatically in recent years.

The number of infected adults in Swaziland went from 31% in 2011 to 27% in 2016 – still a high figure, but one which shows that the virus is spreading far more slowly through the population: 46% slower.

Swaziland’s health minister Velephi Okello unveiled the data at a press conference in Paris, attributing the success to the government’s commitment to get those living with HIV on to antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).

We have more than doubled the number of people who have started on anti-retroviral treatment, and we have also almost doubled the number of men who have been circumcised in the country,” she said, according to AFP.

The magazine Science explains that the consistent use of ARVs drives down the levels of HIV in the blood: “In response, the risk of an infected person transmitting the virus plummets.”

The room reportedly “erupted into hoots and applause” when the findings were announced.

***

Zimbabwes Grace Mugabe last week called on her nonagenarian husband to name his successor, telling a crowd that “his word” on the matter was “final”.

The First Lady, who has just turned 52, has been a visible force in Zimbabwean politics in recent years, sabotaging rivals within the ruling Zanu-PF and quickly rising in party ranks.

President Robert Mugabe has refrained from naming a successor, even as his medical trips abroad become more frequent and his public behaviour more frail.

At a rally for the party’s women’s league last week, which she heads, Grace said her husband must not be “afraid” to name names.

Quotes Deutsche Welle: “Tell us who is your choice, which horse we should back. We will rise in our numbers and openly support that horse. Why should our horse be concealed?”

And NewsDay: “Tell us who you want to lead us and we will campaign for that person. We just want your word and it’s done. You must not be scared.”

Not so, say the Zanu-PF veterans, who quickly called for the First Lady’s expulsion from the party, reports VOA.

Mrs Mugabe must know that the final word about some of these issues cannot be determined by Mugabe,” said the group’s secretary-general Victor Matemadanda. “People of Zimbabwe, you will vote for a person of your choice and in Zanu-PF the same will happen.”

***

Tanzania last week announced, with Kenya, the end of a tit-for-tat trade spat – but quickly failed to follow through.

The back-and-forth bans began with Kenyan restrictions in April on Tanzanian gas and wheat flour.

Tanzania reciprocated by slapping a ban on Kenyan tyres, margarine and fermented milk,” reports The Citizen. “Tanzania also banned overland transport of maize from Zambia into Kenya, which is experiencing one of the severest shortages of the staple.”

The announcement last week of the lifting of restrictions “ended months of losses for businesses on both sides of the border”, reports Kenya’s The Standard.

It didn’t last long.

Before the week was up, Kenyan traders were already finding their products still restricted – including milk from a dairy farm belonging to the country’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta.

Reports The Standard: “It would appear Sunday’s meeting to [sic] the restrictions that have driven a wedge between the two countries, where Kenya is the bigger loser on the strength of being a bigger exporter, have not borne any fruit.” DM

Photo: Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe (L) and his wife Grace (R) smile after arriving at the Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, about 100 kilometres east of Harare, Zimbabwe, 02 June 2017. EPA/AARON UFUMELI

  • KRISTEN VAN SCHIE
    KRISTEN VAN SCHIE
  • Africa

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