News in South Africa 11th February:
1. National state of disaster extended:
Cabinet has approved the extension off the national state of disaster by another month, with the next ‘end’ date set for 15 March 2020.
Critics and opposition parties are pushing back against the use of the Disaster Management Act to deal with the Covid pandemic, as it gives government wide-ranging powers with little to no oversight from Parliament.
It can also be extended one month at a time, indefinitely. The Act gives effect to all lockdown regulations.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) had wanted the president to first submit the extension of the state of disaster to Parliament to be reviewed and approved.
It said that South Africans were tired of accepting without question and debate the national government’s decisions on how to curb the pandemic.
2. Eskom says no load shedding today:
Power utility Eskom has announced that there would be no load shedding on Thursday after generational capacity had sufficiently recovered.
This followed its announcement on Wednesday that it was implementing stage 3 load shedding from 13:00 that day into Thursday morning. It also said that there was a high probability that load shedding will continue into the rest of Thursday.
“Over the past 24 hours Eskom teams successfully returned four generation units to service, helping ease the capacity constraints sufficiently to enable us to not require load shedding.
“Another five units are expected to return to service during the next two days. The load shedding of the past two days has also enabled Eskom to adequately replenish the emergency generation reserves.”
3. SONA today at 19h00:
President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his virtual State of the Nation Address tonight at 19h00.
Expectations for any progress on the president’s 2020 promises is low, with analysts expecting another speech trying to put a positive spin on what has been one of the worst years in recent history.
With the GDP estimated to have shrunk by 7.8% in 2020, some economists were expecting Ramaphosa to use the 2021 Sona to present a new blueprint to pull the country out of the ruins of Covid-19.
Ramaphosa was also expected to outline measures to cushion the unemployed from Covid-19, including the mooted extension of the R350 relief grant, which was proposed by the ANC national executive committee last month but has yet to find expression at government level.
4. Platinum at 6 year high:
Platinum rallied above $1 200 an ounce to a six-year high on bets that a recovery in industry and stricter emissions rules will tighten supply.
The white metal is used primarily in pollutant-cutting catalytic converters in cars, where it competes with palladium. The huge price disparity between the two, as well as the higher loadings demanded by tighter regulations on emissions, has raised expectations that platinum will see greater use.
“Optimism on the outlook for industrial and car demand, more stringent emission regulations and, in the last couple of days, some weakness in the dollar” have driven platinum higher, said Georgette Boele, senior precious metals strategist at ABN Amro Bank NV.
Platinum has outperformed its peers this year after spending most of 2020 lagging behind. The metal’s price outlook was improved significantly by disruption at a key South African refinery, which likely will keep the market in deficit this year, according to the World Platinum Investment Council. Strong investment demand from those expecting a catch-up to gold and palladium also has proved supportive.
5. Johnson & Johnson vaccine safe:
South Africa’s health ombudsman has assured the country that the Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine is safe, following the announcement that the single-jab treatment will replace the two-dose AstraZeneca shot in the country’s phase one rollout plan.
The company will send further batches soon after that.
J&J says it will initially focus on supplying 17 hospitals.