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Thu, 08 Mar 2018
Listeria outbreak: SA neighbours ban meat exports

Four countries in southern Africa on Monday took steps against South African chilled meat imports made at a factory found to be the origin of the world’s worst-ever listeria outbreak.

Mozambique and Namibia announced they were immediately suspending imports of the products. Botswana said it was recalling the items “with immediate effect”, while Zambia called on South African retail chains in its country to pull the incriminated goods from local shelves.

Since January 2017, 948 people in South Africa have contracted listeriosis – a disease caused by bacteria from soil, water, vegetation and animal faeces which can contaminate fresh food, notably meat.

At least 180 have died, according to official figures.

Health officials say the source of the outbreak was an Enterprise Food plant, 300km northeast of the South African capital of Pretoria.

Queues formed outside Enterprise sites in South Africa as angry consumers and small retailers gathered to demand refunds on their purchases of ready-to-eat meat products that include polony -a local version of baloney sausage – sliced ham and Frankfurter-style sausages.

“I’ve eaten already some polony and Russian (sausage). I don’t know, maybe I can get some disease,” said taxi driver Bongani Mavuso as he queued outside Enterprise’s factory shop in Germiston, Johannesburg to seek a refund. “I’m just coming to collect my money.”

On Sunday, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi took the unprecedented step of advising South Africans to avoid eating all processed meat products sold as “ready to eat” after announcing Enterprise as the outbreak’s source.

The Department of Health ordered retailers to immediately recall affected products.

The chief executive of Tiger Brands, which owns Enterprise, denied that its products had been shown to be responsible for the deaths.

“There is no direct link with the deaths to our products,” Lawrence MacDougall told a news conference.

‘Devastating’ to be linked to outbreak 

MacDougall did acknowledge that the government had linked the ST6 strain of listeria bacteria detected in Enterprise facilities with the outbreak that has resulted in 180 deaths.

“We are being extra cautious and vigilant, we are recalling all products made from the two facilities affected,” he said, adding that the government had only ordered the company to withdraw three product lines.

“Any loss of life is tragic. It is devastating for me to have our products linked to this outbreak.”

Enterprise-branded products accounted for 28.2 percent of processed meat sales in South Africa in 2017. The local market was worth 6.02 billion rand ($500 million) last year alone.

Tiger Brands, one of South Africa’s food giants, made pre-tax profits of 4.27 billion rands ($360 million) in 2017.

South Africa’s two largest supermarket operators, Shoprite and Pick n Pay, have also pulled products made by Rainbow Chickens after Motsoaledi confirmed that listeria had been identified in samples taken from one of its facilities.

Additional precautionary measure

Motsoaledi said on Sunday that Enterprise and Rainbow Chicken’s registration to export their products outside of South Africa had been temporarily suspended. Namibia also said it was suspending imports from Rainbow Chickens.

As fears of listeria continued to rise in South Africa, several other smaller food retailers have also announced [...]

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Fri, 02 Mar 2018
‘Angry and bitter’ Mugabe says Mnangagwa ‘must apologise’...

A bitter Robert Mugabe says new President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies should apologise for last year’s military operation that ousted him from power – and he doesn’t think Zanu-PF will win this year’s polls.

Mugabe made the comments at a private party held for him on Saturday at his Harare mansion to celebrate his 94th birthday.

“They must accept and apologise that what they did was wrong,” the private Standard newspaper quoted Mugabe as telling guests, who included ex-members of Mugabe’s former cabinet.

Can they be trusted again?

He revealed that the ruling party still wanted to work with him ahead of elections due in July, but asked: “Can they be trusted again? Can our people vote for such a Zanu-PF, a Zanu-PF which shredded the constitution? I don’t know.”

Mugabe was persuaded to step down last November in the wake of an army takeover. Parliament had already begun a process to impeach him.

‘Anger and bitterness’

Commented prominent newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube on Twitter: “In his speech at this 94th birthday celebrations Robert Mugabe sounds like he will start an opposition political party. Anger and bitterness have overtaken him.”

The head of the AU commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat visited Zimbabwe last week and told state media that Zimbabwe’s political transition was in line with its laws and constitution.



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Mon, 05 Feb 2018
Mnangagwa says Zim is open for business

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has portrayed Zimbabwe as welcoming investors from around the world, highlighting that his administration was re-integrating white commercial farmers to boost agricultural productivity and insisting that there would be no immunity for members of the previous administration headed by Robert Mugabe.

This was the gist of Mnangagwa’s 30-minute insight interview at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos yesterday.

Zimbabwe – which can expect economic growth of 1percent this year, according to the African Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund – is desperate for international capital and is banking on the international charm offensive by Mnangagwa’s administration to woo investors back to the country.

State media reported ahead of Mnangagwa’s address that executives of global companies said they were keen to engage in discussions with Zimbabwe’s delegation in Davos, raising hopes that the international community may be warming up to Mugabe’s departure, although business reforms and the fiscal deficit remain sticking points.

“We are saying to the world that Zimbabwe is now open for business. (The country) has lagged behind in many areas as a result of isolation over the past 16 years,” Mnangagwa said.


In line with this, Zimbabwe was partially abolishing its indigenisation policy, which prevented foreign investors from owning more than 49 percent of domestic companies. Only in the diamond and platinum mining sectors were investors expected to give black Zimbabweans a 51 percent shareholding.

Asked when he should be judged, Mnangagwa said mistakes should be pointed out to him every day as he tries to transform Zimbabwe’s economy.

NKC African Economics analyst Gary van Staden said yesterday that the opportunities stemming from Mnangagwa’s presence at Davos had to be matched by action.

“It is apparent that Davos and the opportunities such a gathering presents will provide Zimbabwe with a platform it has shunned for two decades and, generally, its presence will be widely welcomed. But the mantra may be ‘action speaks louder than words’, and the Mnangagwa administration faces its first real test when elections fall due later this year,” Van Staden said.

The country’s land reform programme in 2000 resulted in a major fall-out with international financiers and world leaders. Zimbabwe’s agricultural output nose-dived after white farmers were violently removed from their land without compensation. Mnangagwa addressed this issue in the full glare of the international community, saying the government was integrating former commercial farmers where they would have agreed to have their farms resized to pave the way for new black farmers.

Previously he had said the government was seeking to compensate white farmers who had lost their land, although the take-over of farms would not be reversed.



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