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Pope wears mask for first time at public service

Pope wears mask for first time at public service

PHILIP PULLELLA POPE Francis wore a mask for the first time at a public function on Tuesday when he and other religious leaders attended a prayer service for peace around the world. The pope wore a white mask during the service at the Rome Basilica of Santa Maria in Aracoeli. Previously he wore masks only in a car taking him to his weekly audiences in the Vatican. He had come under some criticism, particularly on social media, for not wearing a mask at his general audiences and sometimes coming in relatively close contact with visitors. Francis, 83, attended the service…
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COVID-19 graft scandals fuel South Africans’ anger with ruling ANC

COVID-19 graft scandals fuel South Africans’ anger with ruling ANC

SIYABONGA SISHI and ALEXANDER WINNING A spate of corruption scandals during the COVID-19 pandemic has further fuelled some South Africans' frustration with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and its failure to tackle graft despite renewed promises from President Cyril Ramaphosa. Reports of suspect deals between state officials and businesses providing medical equipment, as well as food aid parcels to the poor, have sparked outrage in a country which has recorded some 650,000 coronavirus cases, the highest number in Africa, and is also in the grip of a deepening recession. "In the coronavirus pandemic, we thought ... things will…
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Doctors in Kenyan capital end strike over pay delays, lack of PPE

Doctors in Kenyan capital end strike over pay delays, lack of PPE

DOCTORS employed by Kenya's Nairobi County government have resumed work following a six-day strike over delayed salaries and a lack of protective equipment when handling patients who may have COVID-19, a union official said. Thuranira Kaugiria, Nairobi County secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, said in a WhatsApp message the doctors had returned to work after signing an agreement with county officials on Wednesday. In the agreement, the government promised to pay doctors on the fifth day of every month, failing to which the doctors were free to stop work without notice. The agreement, seen by…
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Rural South African nurses fear being forgotten in vaccine roll-out

Rural South African nurses fear being forgotten in vaccine roll-out

SOUTH African nurses called on the government on Monday to ensure overstretched workers in rural clinics and hospitals get access to COVID-19 vaccines as the hard-hit country received its first batch of doses. Rural nurses have reported shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks during the pandemic and - with few detailed announcements about inoculation plans for remote areas - many fear they could be last in line. “Healthcare workers’ hands are full as we speak, we are very concerned about overstretching them to breaking point,” said Sibongiseni Delihlazo, spokesman for the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA),…
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South Africa sets up body to probe COVID-19 corruption

South Africa sets up body to probe COVID-19 corruption

SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a ministerial committee to investigate alleged corruption in state tenders in the fight against COVID-19, his office has said, including with businesses supplying protective gear. Reports of suspect deals between government officials and businesses providing medical equipment, as well as food aid parcels to the poor, have sparked outrage in South Africa, where more than half a million cases of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to make it the fifth-largest outbreak in the world. South Africa's anti-corruption watchdog said on Monday it was investigating irregularities in these contracts, the latest in a…
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South Africa probes medical suppliers over COVID-19 tender graft allegations

South Africa probes medical suppliers over COVID-19 tender graft allegations

SOUTH African investigators are probing 102 suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the country's most populous province after news reports alleged that politically connected individuals had won lucrative COVID-19 tenders. David Makhura, premier of the Gauteng province where major cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria are located, said payments of around 1 billion rands ($60 million) to PPE suppliers had been halted after an initial audit raised red flags like overpricing and bad quality. Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku, will take at least four weeks of leave during the investigations, he added. Gauteng has more confirmed COVID-19 infections than…
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Political pressure, fraud in multi-billion COVID-19 contracts

Political pressure, fraud in multi-billion COVID-19 contracts

A probe into public spending on coronavirus in South Africa has found evidence of political pressure, price inflation, and fraud in many of the contracts, fuelled by an "insatiable pursuit of self-enrichment", a report showed on Friday. The Special Investigation Unit (SIU) launched the probe in July after a flood of whistleblower submissions alleging irregularities in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and hospital supplies like beds and wheelchairs. The investigation found evidence of tax fraud, the use of shell companies to win multiple contracts, instances of price inflation of up to 500%, and political pressure put on managers…
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More arrests loom as South Africa’s COVID billions are probed

More arrests loom as South Africa’s COVID billions are probed

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER AS South Africa’s crackdown on COVID-19 corruption gains steam, it has emerged that a staggering 67% of the R15-billion spent by the government on personal protective equipment (PPE) is suspicious and now the subject of high-level investigations. SA’s law enforcement agencies, brought together by President Cyril Ramaphosa to co-ordinate their investigations into COVID-19 related fraud and corruption, have revealed to the country’s parliament the true extent of the suspected graft and disclosed that more arrests would be made, some as early as tomorrow. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU), the Hawks - the elite crime busters - and…
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