News in South Africa 11th January:

1. Stage 6 returns:

Eskom has announced that load-shedding will move to stage 6 at 21:00 on Tuesday, 10 January 2023.

Stage 6 returns
Photo by Sebastian Sørensen

It will continue until 05:00 on Wednesday, after which load-shedding will drop to stage 4 until 16:00.

“Stage 6 nightly load-shedding will then be implemented at 16:00–05:00 until further notice. Stage 4 load-shedding will be implemented at 05:00 – 16:00 daily until further notice,” Eskom said.

The state-owned power utility revealed seven generating units tripped on Tuesday, three of which were returned to service.

The return to service of three other units has been delayed.

“Unit 1 of Matla Power Station will be shut down tonight to repair a boiler tube leak,” said Eskom.

South Africa’s load-shedding schedule from Wednesday may be summarised as follows:

  • 16:00–05:00 — Stage 6
  • 05:00–16:00 — Stage 4

2. Manufacturing sector suffering:

Sustained load-shedding has been a severe drain on the manufacturing sector in South Africa, new data shows.

Recent data from Absa’s latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December 2022 – in collaboration with the Bureau for Economic Research (BER) – showed that despite a slight rise in PMI to 53.1 from 52.6 in November, the underlying picture of the sector is mixed.

Absa said there is weak momentum in the business activity index – dragged by persistent load shedding.

“The business activity index ended the year on a weak level. In fact, barring the first three months of 2022, the index has failed to rise above the neutral 50-point mark through the year,” added the bank.

In December, Absa reported a business activity index of 45.2, down from November (49.5) and October’s reading (48.8).

Manufacturing takes a hit

Key findings from Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) reveal that manufacturing production as a whole decreased by 1.1% in November 2022 – indicating the first monthly decline in the manufacturing sector after a four-month-long upward trend.

This was also during the time of record levels of load shedding in the country.

The largest negative contributors included food and beverage production (-2.5%), wood and paper products (-4.5%), petroleum, and other chemical products (-2.5%).

According to StatsSA, the largest positive contributor to production and sales was the motor vehicle industry, which grew 13.4% year on year.

3. SA to host Brics summit:

South Africa, which is presiding over Brics this year, will host the summit for the bloc during the second half of the year, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has confirmed.

South Africa assumed its Brics presidency on 1 January, taking over from its China counterpart which hosted the 14th summit virtually, under the theme ‘Building a high-quality partnership to usher in a new era of global development’.

The 15th Brics summit returns to an in-person meeting, following three years of virtual meet-ups as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the host city remains unknown, South Africa previously hosted the Brics Summit in Johannesburg (2018) and Durban (2013), with all five heads of state of Brics nations attending.

Brics, the group of five of the world’s largest emerging economies – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – aims to promote development, trade ties and cooperation among member countries, among other objectives.

South Africa’s presidency of Brics this year comes at a time when President Cyril Ramaphosa is already under pressure to address the myriad issues facing the country, including instability at state-owned power utility Eskom, growing the economy, and dealing with unemployment.

4. High demand for places at schools:

Gauteng MEC for education Matome Chiloane has assured parents whose children haven’t been placed in schools that they will be taught this year.

He addressed the media on Tuesday about the 2023 online admissions and pupil placements for grades one and eight and the province’s readiness for the new academic year, which begins on Wednesday.

“We are continuing to place our learners. When we started we had 292,145 complete applications. These are the parents who were able to provide all the necessary documentation and also met the deadlines,” he said.

Chiloane said they also had incomplete applications from parents who had failed to provide the necessary documents.

There are 1,394 pupils who are yet to be placed.

These include requests for placement in high-demand areas.

He said the department was aware schools in the province were exceeding their maximum capacity but it would be worse if some children were at home rather than at school.

“This is a double-edged sword,” he said. “Either schools are overcrowded or pupils are left unplaced, at home.

“We have to make a choice and we are making a choice that every child must be at school.”

The department allocated funds to 108 high-pressure schools for 408 self-built classrooms in January 2022 to address the admissions pressure and overcrowding. At the end of last year, funds were transferred to 297 schools to build an additional 878 classrooms. Four new schools are also scheduled to open in 2023 — three secondary schools and one primary school.

5. Roll out of Covid-19 boosters for all adults:

South Africa will extend Covid-19 vaccine booster shots – currently available to people older than 50 – to all adults soon, health minister Joe Phaahla said on Tuesday.

Scientific advisors were currently looking at the change to the vaccination approach, and are expected “in the next few days to finalise” the new protocol, he said.

There are no plans for further vaccinations for children, said national health department child-health specialist Lesley Bamford.

“For now we are confident that two doses provide this age group (who are at low risk of severe disease) with adequate protection.”

Adults are expected to be offered booster shots before the end of January, and there should be no shortage of shots for those who want them. SA has some 10 million doses of the J&J vaccine available, and none of those expires until at least 2024, said Bamford.

The around 8 million Pfizer doses in the country are currently due to expire in March and April, but the government expects the shelf-life for those to be extended for at least another three months, so that they will only need to be destroyed towards the middle of the year.

Other changes to SA’s approach to the coronavirus were already approved by the coronavirus command council chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday morning, Phaahla said.

Those include a push for greater surveillance, with medical practitioners told to send samples for genomic sequencing any time they have a patient with a positive PCR test, to increase the pool of samples through which new sub-variants can be tracked. 

Genetic sequencing is also due to be done on wastewater drawn from aircraft that arrive from China, and “possibly the US”, said Phaahla, as well as “any other country that emerges as [having] rising infections”.

That testing is expected to start by next week.

But the coronavirus council accepted advice that there is no need to impose any new restrictions on South Africans, or to travelers from China, said Phaahla.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, MyBroadband, Moneyweb, TimesLive, and Business Insider.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *