June 16, 2021

the fight against the epidemic feeds corruption

Call for a “new deal” for Africa

About thirty leaders from Africa, Europe and the Middle East called for a « new deal » to help the African continent overcome the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, in a call initiated by Presidents Emmanuel Macron (France), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa) and Macky Sall (Senegal). “If the health shock is to date better controlled there than elsewhere, it could however be more lasting, deep and destabilizing for the whole planet”, they warn in a column published by The world Wednesday June 2.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also A call from European and African leaders “for a“ new deal ”” for Africa

This “Refoundation” must include an increased mobilization of financial resources in favor of Africa. The challenge is to bring to a successful conclusion the discussions around “special drawing rights”, these monetary assets of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in order to succeed in reallocating “100 billion dollars for the benefit of the African continent and other vulnerable countries”, according to the signatories of the forum.

The other major axis of this « new deal » concerned “Access to vaccines”, from more equitable sharing of existing doses to technology transfers and the lifting of patents to encourage the production of vaccines directly on the continent. These proposals will be discussed at the G7 summit which opens on June 11 in the United Kingdom and to which South Africa has been invited. An emergency as vaccine deliveries are “Almost at a standstill” in Africa, while cases of the virus have increased by 20% in the past two weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday. “The threat of a third wave is real and growing”, alerted its regional director, Matshidiso Moeti.

This is what contracts related to the fight against Covid-19 that are the subject of investigations for corruption in South Africa represent. One of these cases splashes the popular Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize: according to local media, his ex-spokesperson, Tahera Mather, and his former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, would have received millions of rand in irregular payments linked to a communication contract around Covid-19.

Read also In South Africa, vast investigation into the corruption caused by the fight against Covid-19

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU), responsible for scrutinizing suspicious transactions, had already revealed in February that the equivalent of nearly 14 million euros had been siphoned off last year by corruption, fraud and inflated prices for protective equipment supplied to public hospitals.

These repeated cases could end up arousing anger in the African country most affected by deaths and contaminations due to Covid-19 and whose economy has been severely shaken by the health crisis. Unemployment in the first quarter of 2021 has thus reached a record level of 32.6%, according to official data released on Tuesday.

Charges of malfeasance related to the pandemic have also flourished elsewhere on the continent, in Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, or more recently in Cameroon where an audit report revealed that billions of CFA francs dedicated to the fight against Covid-19 had been hijacked.

Elderly people wait before being vaccinated against Covid-19 in Johannesburg, South Africa, on May 17, 2021.

The South African variant renamed “Beta”

The WHO has given names of Greek letters to the variants of Covid-19. The one identified in South Africa is henceforth nicknamed “Beta”, while the British variant has been renamed “Alpha” and the Brazilian “Gamma”. A decision that aims to simplify things while scientific names (B.1.617, B.1.1.7, B.1.351) are difficult to remember.

The other objective is to prevent the general public and the media from using names “Stigmatizing and discriminatory”, the WHO said on Wednesday. In February, in an interview with World Africa, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, the leading scientific voice on the virus in South Africa, had already called for the rest of the world to stop talking about a “South African variant”. “It gives the impression that we created the variant and that we are spreading it everywhere”, he had stressed.

Read also Covid-19: “Talking about a South African variant is inappropriate and stigmatizing”

Launch of vaccination in Burkina

Burkina Faso began its Covid-19 vaccination campaign on Wednesday, three days after receiving a delivery of 115,200 doses of AstraZeneca funded by Covax, the global mechanism for delivering vaccines to poor countries. In a first step, 92,000 doses will have to be administered to health professionals, then around 20,000 to candidates for pilgrimage to Mecca, according to the Ministry of Health.

Read also Covid-19: UN worries about insufficient vaccination in Africa

Six countries in Africa have not yet started to vaccinate their populations: Burundi, Eritrea, Somalia, Tanzania, Chad, but also Madagascar, which received a first shipment of vaccines on May 8 but did not still not launched his campaign. In Africa to date, 2.5 doses have been administered per 100 inhabitants, compared to 87 in the United States and 47 in Europe. The world average is 26 doses per 100 inhabitants.

On Tuesday, the WHO urgently approved the Chinese Sinovac vaccine to allow the Covax device to have additional doses for disadvantaged countries. A green light hailed as “A crucial step” by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Women more vulnerable

It’s here “Shadow pandemic”, according to the Mo Ibrahim Foundation report released Wednesday. During the first months of the health crisis, women and girls were confronted with heightened situations of vulnerability. The confinements decreed in many countries have often coincided with an increase in sexual and gender-based violence.

Read also The Covid-19 pandemic has prevented 12 million women from accessing contraceptives worldwide

In a survey conducted by the foundation among 1,056 women in six Sahelian countries, 52.1% of respondents say they have been victims of domestic violence, against 40.6% before the arrival of Covid-19. They are even 96% to report it in Senegal, against 81% before the pandemic. In addition, 1 million girls in sub-Saharan Africa may never return to school benches after becoming pregnant during confinement, the report said.

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