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ANC, learn from the BDP on presidential succession!

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

For the second time in its young democracy, South Africa is experiencing a crisis in as far as the presidential transition is concerned. On 20th September 2008, former president Thabo Mbeki resigned after being recalled by his party, the African National Congress (ANC), with about nine months left in his second term.

Mbeki’s resignation, together with most of his cabinet, made it easy for a transition to former president Kgalema Motlanthe who held fort until president Jacob Zuma ascended to the presidency on 9th May 2009. Currently, following the ANC’s recall of president Jacob Zuma he defied the party and attempted refusing to resign, leaving his party with no option but to threaten to remove him through a parliamentary vote of no confidence moved by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

The ANC gave Zuma forty hours to resign, but despite, in the morning of 14th February 2017, giving indications that he was not going to resign, but would rather let the ANC remove him constitutionally through a vote of no confidence or impeachment, he, with about one hour remaining before the deadline, resigned, albeit reluctantly.   

There is no doubt that removing president Zuma through a vote of no confidence was going to cause a crisis of unprecedented proportions not only to the ANC, but also to the country as a whole. Zuma’s resignation, as Mbeki did, therefore, saved not only his party, but also South Africa as a whole.

In terms of section 102 (2) of the Constitution of South Africa, “if the National Assembly, by a vote supported by a majority of its members, passes a motion of no confidence in the President, the President and the other members of the Cabinet and any Deputy Ministers must resign”.


It is needless to state that had Zuma refused to resign and had to be removed through a motion of no confidence his entire cabinet would have had to resign and South Africa’s economy, which is already in junk status, would have been further weakened, resulting in increased hardship and suffering by the people, especially the poor.


The ANC itself, especially following its cooperation with the Opposition leading up to the intended vote of no confidence, would have emerged even more divided, the result being that its fortunes in the 2019 national elections would be diminished. Of course, even then the ANC was unlikely to lose power in 2019, but the losses it suffered in the 2014 national elections as well as during the 2016 local government elections, coupled with the loss of support it would suffer as a result of the Zuma debacle, were likely to lead to a further decline in 2019.


Even worse, had the matter progressed to Zuma’s removal through a vote of no confidence the possibility of a split within the ANC could not be discounted. Though Zuma left at his weakest considering his popularity when he defeated Mbeki with an overwhelming majority, his support, especially in his strong hold, Kwa-Zulu Natal, and the Free State and Mpumalanga provinces, he still commands significant support within the ANC.

It is this support base, possibly fueled by tribalism and the disgruntlement of the Nkosazana Dhlamini-Zuma (NDZ) supporters, following Dhlamini-Zuma’s loss to Cyril Ramaphosa at the December 2017 elective conference, that could be the base for a splinter political party.   
The ANC, therefore, needs to come up with a solution to avoid this saga which, in my view, if not addressed will result in further turbulence within the ANC. Today it is Zuma, but tomorrow it may be the current ANC president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who could be compelled to resign before the end of his term as state president.

If precedence were to prevail, Ramaphosa will have to resign as state president immediately he ceases to be party president if he is to avoid the humiliation of a recall which Mbeki and Zuma have suffered. In Ramaphosa’s case, it is likely to be more painful because considering the narrow margin with which he won the party presidency, and the existence of the Zuma faction which is likely going to grow following his recall, he is unlikely to win the second term as ANC president, limiting his term as state president to one.

The other reason why Ramaphosa may only last for one term is that his deputy, David Mabuza, is likely to unseat him considering the fact that unlike Ramaphosa, Mabuza has support in both factions of the ANC. No wonder he got the highest votes during the elective congress.
Mabuza, dubbed “Mr. Unity” because of his call for ANC to avoid factional slates, but to have consensus candidates in an effort to unify the party in the run up to the December 2017 elective conference, is, in my view, a threat to Ramaphosa’s presidency.

His silence during the Zuma recall debacle was conspicuous. He, together with the Secretary General, Ace Magashula, and his deputy, Jessy Duarte, are no doubt in the NDZ faction which may have been defeated at the December 2017 elective conference, but is not over and done with.     In my view, the reason the ANC is faced with the recall debacle is that the ANC elective congress is not aligned with the national elections. Currently, there is a period of one year six month between the elective congress and the national elections.


The effect of this is that following the elective congress, there can be two centers of power in that there can be, as was the case until Zuma’s resignation as the state president, a party president who is not necessarily the head of state. This is problematic in that if the party president and the head of state are not in good terms there can be conflict which can paralyze the functions of the state.


Every politician has a political program he or she campaigns on and wants to implement after being elected. And for the newly elected person to implement his or her program he or she has to have full control of not only the party, but also the state machinery. There is an understandable apprehension that the state president can use his or her state powers to frustrate the party president’s political programme, especially if they are not in good terms as it was the case with Zuma and Ramaphosa.


During the run-up to the December 2017 elective conference, Zuma openly declared his support for his ex-wife, NDZ, despite the fact that Ramaphosa had been his deputy since Kgalema Motlanthe’s departure. It is because of this apprehension that after being elected ANC president Zuma engineered Mbeki’s recall though he today claims he was against the recall, something which the EFF Commander-in-Chief, Julius Malema, has vehemently denied.   


In this respect, South Africa needs to change the way it manages its transition in order to bring stability to the country. It can learn from the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP). In the BDP, there is a tradition that the state president who is also the party president resigns as state president before the end of his term, allowing the vice president, to automatically succeed him.

In terms of the BDP tradition, this state vice president would have been the party Chairperson and is only elected party president at a special congress a day before the state president resigns. So, there is never a time when the state president is not the party president.
Coupled with this is the constitutional provision which provides for automatic succession in terms of which the state vice president automatically succeeds the state president when the state president, for reasons specified in section 35(1) of the Constitution, ceases to be president.

Section 35(1) of the Constitution of Botswana provides that “whenever the President dies, resigns or ceases to hold office, the Vice-President shall assume office as President with effect from the date of death, resignation or ceasing to be President. The South African Constitution does not provide for automatic succession. Section 90(1) provides that “when the President is absent from the Republic or otherwise unable to fulfil the duties of President, or during a vacancy in the office of President, an office-bearer in the order below acts as President: (a) the Deputy President; (b) a Minister designated by the President; (c) a Minister designated by the other members of the Cabinet and (d) the Speaker, until the National Assembly designates one of its other members.

Thereafter, as per section 86(3) of the Constitution, the president would be elected by the National Assembly, at a time and on a date determined by the Chief Justice, but not more than thirty days after the vacancy occurs. Of course, there are those, especially in the Opposition, who are opposed to the automatic succession provision, arguing that it denies Batswana to, through an election in Parliament, elect a person of their choice as president when the president ceases to be president.   

As shown above, in the BDP, there is never the two centers of power which obtains in the ANC after the state president steps down as party president. According to Zuma, about two years ago, the North West province suggested that the elective congress be aligned to the national elections, but the motion was not adopted. This, in my view, was a costly mistake which Ramaphosa needs to remedy now when he still has the political gravitas to influence the party to adopt the resolution and to amend the Constitution accordingly.

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Appendicitis: Recognising the Signs

29th March 2022

Many a times I get clients casually walking into my room and requesting to be checked for “appendix”.  Few questions down the line, it is clear they are unaware of where the appendix is or what to expect when one does have it (appendicitis). Jokingly (or maybe not) I would tell them they would possibly not be having appendicitis and laughing as hard as they are doing. On the other hand, I would be impressed that at least they know and acknowledge that appendicitis is a serious thing that they should be worried about.

So, what is Appendicitis?

Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix; a thin, finger-like pouch attached to the large intestine on the lower right side of the abdomen. Often the inflammation can be as a result of blockage either by the faecal matter, a foreign body, infection, trauma or a tumour. Appendicitis is generally acute, with symptoms coming on over the course of a day and becoming severe rapidly. Chronic appendicitis can also occur, though rarely. In chronic cases, symptoms are less severe and can last for days, weeks, or even months. 

Acute appendicitis is a medical emergency that almost always ends up in the operating theatre. Though the appendix is locally referred to as “lela la sukiri”, no one knows its exact role and it definitely does not have anything to do with sugar metabolism. Appendicitis can strike at any age, but it is mostly common from the teen years to the 30s.

Signs to look out for

If you have any of the following symptoms, go and see a Doctor immediately! Timely diagnosis and treatment are vital in acute appendicitis;

Sudden pain that starts around the navel and shifts to the lower right abdomen within hours

The pain becomes constant and increases in severity (or comes back despite painkillers)

The pain worsens on coughing, sneezing, laughing, walking or deep breaths

Loss of appetite

Nausea and vomiting

Fever

Constipation or diarrhoea

Abdominal bloating/fullness

Diagnosis

The doctor often asks questions regarding the symptoms and the patient’s medical history. This will be followed up by a physical examination in which the Doctor presses on the abdomen to check for any tenderness, and the location of the pain. With acute appendicitis, pressing on and letting go of the right lower abdomen usually elicits an excruciatingly unbearable pain. Several tests may be ordered to determine especially the severity of the illness and to rule out other causes of abdominal pain. The tests may conditions include: blood tests, a pregnancy test, urinalysis, abdominal  “How do ultrasound scans work?” ultrasound (scan), CT scan or MRI Scan.

Treatment

The gold standard treatment of acute appendicitis is surgical removal of the appendix known as appendectomy. Luckily, a person can live just fine without an appendix! Surgical options include laparoscopy or open surgery and the type will be decided on by the Surgeon after assessing the patient’s condition. Painkillers and antibiotics are also given intravenously usually before, during and after the surgery.

Complications

Appendicitis can cause serious complications such as;

Appendicular mass/abscessIf the appendix is inflamed or bursts, one may develop a pocket of pus around it known as an abscess. In most cases, the abscess will be treated with antibiotics and drained first by placing a tube through one’s abdominal wall into the abscess. The tube may be left in place for a few hours or days while the infection is clearing up but ultimately one would still have surgery to remove the appendix.

Peritonitis – without treatment, the appendix can rupture/burst. The risk of this rises 48–72 hours after symptoms start. A ruptured appendix spreads the infection throughout the abdomen (peritonitis). This is life threatening and requires immediate surgery to remove the appendix and clean the abdominal cavity.

Death – The complications of appendicitis (and appendectomy) can be life threatening, only if the diagnosis has been missed and no proper treatment has been given on time. This is rare though with the evolved medical care.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email  HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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A degree of common sense

7th February 2022

Here’s a news item from last month you may have missed. In December 2021 the University of Staffordshire announced it would be offered a degree course in pantomime! Yes, that’s right, a degree in popular festive entertainment, the Christmas panto.

We used to have one here, put on by the Capitol Players, though it seems to have fallen away in recent times, but the spectacle is still alive and well in the UK, both in local ad-dram (amateur dramatic ) societies and on the London stage and most of the major cities, these latter productions usually featuring at least one big-draw name from the world of show business with ticket prices commensurate with the star’s salary.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the pantomime format, it consists of a raucous mixture of songs and comedy all based around a well-known fairy or folk tale. Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Cinderella, Jack & The Beanstalk & Dick Whittington are perennial favourites but any well-known tall tale goes. There is no set script, unlike a play, and storyline is just a peg to hang a coat of contemporary, often bawdy, gags on, in what should be a rollicking production of cross dressing – there has to be at least one pantomime dame, played by a man and always a figure of fun, and a Principal Boy, ostensibly the male lead, yet played by an attractive young woman.

As an art form it can trace its roots back to 16th century Italy and the Commedia Del’Arte which used a mélange of music, dance, acrobatics along with a cast of comic stock characters so it has a long and proud theatrical tradition but you have to wonder, does that really qualify it as a suitable subject for a university? Further, what use might any degree be that can be acquired in a single year? And last but not least, how much standing does any degree have which comes from a jumped-up polytechnic, granted university status along with many of its ilk back in 1992, for reasons best known to the government of the time? Even more worrying are the stated aims of the course.

Staffordshire University claims it is a world first and the masters course is aimed at people working inside as well as outside the industry. Students on the course, due to start in September 2022, will get practical training in the art form as well as research the discipline.

“We want to see how far we can take this,” Associate Professor of Acting and Directing Robert Marsden said. The role of pantomime in the 21st Century was also going to be examined, he said, “particularly post Me Too and Black Lives Matter”. Questions including “how do we address the gender issues, how do we tell the story of Aladdin in 2021, how do we get that balance of male/female roles?” will be asked, Prof Marsden added.

Eek! Sounds like Prof. Marsden wants to rob it of both its history and its comedic aspects – well, good luck with that! Of course that isn’t the only bizarre, obscure and frankly time and money-wasting degree course available. Staying with the performing arts there’s Contemporary Circus and Physical Performance at Bath Spa University. Sounds like fun but why on earth would a circus performer need a university degree?

Or how about a Surf Science and Technology degree at Cornwall College (part of the University of Plymouth). Where the one thing you don’t learn is….how to surf!

Then there is a  degree in Floral Design at University Centre Myerscough. No, I hadn’t heard of it either – turns out it’s a college of further education in Preston, a town that in my experience fits the old joke of ‘I went there once…..It was closed’ to a ‘T’!

Another handy (pun intended) art is that of Hand Embroidery BA (Hons), offered at the University for the Creative Arts. Or you could waste away sorry, while away, your time on a course in Animal Behaviour and Psychology. This degree at the University of Chester teaches you about the way animals think and feel. Cockroaches have personalities according to the subject specs– you couldn’t make it up.

Happily all these educational institutes may have to look to their laurels and try to justify their very existence in the near future. In plans announced this week, universities could face fines of up to £500,000 (P750m), be stripped of their right to take student loans or effectively shut down if they cannot get 60 per cent of students into a professional job under a crackdown on ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses. Further, at least 80 per cent of students should not drop out after the first year, and 75 per cent should graduate.

The rules, published by the Office for Students (OfS), aim to eliminate ‘low-quality’ courses by setting new standards & requiring courses to improve their rating in the TEF, the official universities ratings system. Universities not meeting the new standards will not be able to charge full annual fees of £9,250. Unconventional courses that could fall victim to the new rules could include the University of Sunderland’s BA in Fashion Journalism, where students learn essential’ skills such as catwalk reporting and the history of Chanel.  They have only a 40 per cent chance of entering highly skilled work 15 months after leaving.

At University College Birmingham, BSC Bakery and Patisserie Technology students – who learn how to ‘make artisan bread’ – have a 15 per cent chance of a professional job within 15 months. Universities minister Michelle Donelan welcomed the move, saying ‘When students go to university, they do so in the pursuit of a life-changing education, one which helps pave their path towards a highly skilled career. Any university that fails to match this ambition must be held to account.’

OfS found that at 25 universities, fewer than half of students find professional work within 15 months.  Business and management courses at the University of Bedfordshire (14.8 per cent) were among the least likely to lead to graduate-level jobs.  Asked to comment, the University of Sunderland said it always looked ‘to find ways to improve outcomes’; University College Birmingham said data on graduates and definition of ‘professional work’ was limited. I’ll bet it is! As the saying goes, ’what the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over’. What a pantomime!

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Why regular health checks are important!

7th February 2022

With the world still reeling from the negative impact of the Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19), and the latest Omicron variant (which is responsible for the ongoing global forth wave) on everyone’s lips, we should not forget and neglect other aspects of our health.

While anyone can get infected with corona virus and become seriously ill or die at any age, studies continue to show that people aged 60 years and above, and those with underlying medical conditions like hypertension, heart and lung problems, diabetes, obesity, cancers, or mental illness are at a higher risk of developing serious illness or dying from covid-19.

It is a good habit to visit a doctor regularly, even if you feel healthy. Regular health checks can help identify any early signs of health issues or assess your risk of future illness hence prompting one to take charge and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Heart disease, diabetes, some cancers and other non-communicable diseases (even communicable) can often be picked up in their early stages, when chances for effective treatment are high.

During a health check, your doctor will take a thorough history from you regarding your medical history, your family’s history of disease, your social life and habits, including your diet, physical activity, alcohol use, smoking and drug intake. S/he will examine you including measuring your weight, blood pressure, feeling your body organs and listening to your heart and lungs amongst the rest. Depending on the assessment, your doctor will notify you how often you need to have a health check. If you have a high risk of a particular health condition, your doctor may recommend more frequent health checks from an early age.

Diet – a healthy diet improves one’s general health and wellbeing. It is recommended that we have at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily. Physical activity – regular physical activity has significant health benefits on one’s body, mind & soul. It contributes to preventing and managing non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers and diabetes, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, enhances thinking, learning, and judgment skills and improves overall well-being. According to the world health organisation (WHO), people who are insufficiently active have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to people who are sufficiently active. Aim for 30 minutes to an hour of moderate physical activity at least four days in a week. Examples of moderate physical activity include brisk walking, gentle swimming and social tennis.

Weight – maintaining a healthy weight range helps in preventing long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. It is also vital for one’s mental wellbeing and keeping up with normal activities of daily living. Ask your doctor to check your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference annually. If you are at a higher risk, you should have your weight checked more frequently and a stern management plan in place.

Alcohol – as per WHO reports, alcohol consumption contributes to 3 million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Healthy drinking entails taking no more than two standard drinks per drinking day with at least two alcohol-free days in a week.

Smoking –Nicotine contained in tobacco is highly addictive and tobacco use is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, many different types of cancer, and many other debilitating health conditions. Every year, at least a whopping 8 million people succumb from tobacco use worldwide. Tobacco can also be deadly for non-smokers through second-hand smoke exposure. It is not ‘fashionable’ if it is going to cost you and your loved ones lives! If you are currently smoking, talk to your doctor and get help in quitting as soon as possible to reduce the harm.

Blood pressure: Hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition. Have your blood pressure checked annually if it is normal, you are aged under 40 and there is no family history of hypertension. You might need to have it checked more frequently if you are over 40, your blood pressure is on the high side, or you have a personal or family history of high blood pressure, stroke or heart attack. Your doctor will be there to guide you.

Dental care – eating a low-sugar diet and cleaning and flossing the teeth regularly can reduce one’s risk of tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss. Visit a dentist every six months for a dental examination and professional cleaning, or more frequently as per your dentist’s advice.
Blood tests – annual to five-yearly blood tests may be done to further assess or confirm risk of disease. These may include blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, kidney function, liver function, tumour markers, among other things. They may be done frequently if there is already an existing medical condition.

Cancer screening – various screening techniques can be done to detect different cancers in their early or pre-cancer stages. These include; skin inspections for any suspicious moles/spots, two-yearly mammograms for those at risk of developing breast cancer, Pap smear or the new Cervical Screening Test (CST) every five years, stool tests and colonoscopy (every five years) for those at most risk of bowel cancer, prostate cancer screening for those at risk (over 45 years of age, family history of cancers etc.). Discuss appropriate tests with your doctor.

Vaccinations – You should discuss with your doctor about the necessary routine immunisation, in particular; the Covid-19 vaccines, an annual flu shot, a five-yearly pneumococcal vaccine if you have never had one or you are immunocompromised and any other boosters that you might need.

If you need further advice or treatment please call 4924730, email HYPERLINK “mailto:info@themedicscentre.co.bw” info@themedicscentre.co.bw or visit www.themedisccentre.co.bw

Antoinette Boima, MBBS, BMedSci, PgDip HIV/AIDS, Cert Aesth Med is the Managing Director of The Medics Centre in Palapye.

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