Prominent South African politician Jackson Mthembu on Wednesday died of Covid-related complications, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced.
Mr Mthembu, who since 2019 had been serving as the minister in the presidency, was a parliamentarian and long-serving member of the governing African National Congress (ANC).
Ten days ago, Mr Mthembu shared news in a tweet that he had an abdominal pain and had tested positive for coronavirus. His last tweet on that same day read: “I want to thank the many South Africans who have wished me a speedy recovery. As a people we must overcome Covid-19.”
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is also mourning the death of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Minister Sibusiso Moyo. The government said the country’s top diplomat died Wednesday after contracting COVID-19.
Moyo gained international notoriety as an army general, becoming the spokesperson of the 2017 coup that ousted longtime President Robert Mugabe, who was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Moyo is the third Zimbabwe cabinet minister to succumb to COVID-19.
Africa’s coronavirus case fatality rate stands at 2.5%, higher than the global level of 2.2%, a trend that is alarming experts, the head of the continent’s disease control body said on Thursday.
Earlier in the pandemic, Africa’s death rate had been below the global average, the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) head John Nkengasong told reporters.
“The case fatality rate is beginning to be very worrying and concerning for all of us,” he said.
The number of African nations with a death rate higher than the current global average is growing, he added. There are 21 countries on the continent with a death rate of above 3%, including Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Sudan.
Close to 900 million doses have been secured so far through various initiatives, enough to inoculate about 30% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people this year.
Hoarding by wealthy nations, funding shortfalls, regulations and cold chain requirements have slowed the process of rolling out the vaccines. “The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure and the price will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the poorest countries,” warned WHO head Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.