News in South Africa 14th April:
1. Vaccine rollout halted:
South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccination plans have hit a new snag.
The health ministry decided to halt the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine rollout after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a similar decision.
The FDA reported that six women developed blood clots after using the vaccine. Over six million US residents have been injected with the vaccine.
Locally, more than a million doses of the J&J vaccine are supposed to be delivered next week by the Aspen facility in the Eastern Cape.
Mkhize, in his announcement on Tuesday evening, said after consulting with health experts: “We have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated.”
The South African Medical Association says the suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout in South Africa is not a cause for panic, as it is just a precaution, and should hopefully not last long.
Mkhize said he is hopeful it will last only a few days.
2. Load shedding highly likely:
Eskom said that its power system was constrained, meaning there was a strong possibility of more load shedding this week.
Stage 2 load shedding returned last night, but was suspended at 05:00 this morning. The return to service of three units has been delayed, while another three service units tripped during the day.
Eskom said that it was working to bring them back online and its promised to keep the country informed about any significant changes to the grid.
3. Astral Foods fights for service delivery:
JSE-listed poultry giant Astral Foods has taken government, including National Treasury, to court and won a landmark order to secure better service delivery at municipal level in the Standerton area, where it has one of its biggest processing facilities.
The group confirmed on Tuesday that the order was successfully obtained in the Pretoria High Court on Monday (April 12) due to “poor service delivery” from the Lekwa Local Municipality in Mpumalanga.
Astral, which is South Africa’s largest integrated poultry producer and owns chicken brands such as Festive, Goldi and Country Fair, described the level of service delivery in Lekwa as “untenable”.
The cash-strapped and mismanaged municipality has faced growing protests from both business and the local community over non-delivery of basic services, which has even resulted in sewage spills into the Vaal River.
“Astral decided to take extraordinary steps in launching legal proceedings against the provincial and national government to hold them accountable for the failures in municipal service delivery in Standerton,” the group noted in a statement on the matter.
“Through the court order the Lekwa municipality was obliged to submit a longer-term plan indicating how and when it intended repairing and improving the municipal utility supply infrastructure,” explained Astral. “This plan however did not materialise.”
4. Zeder investment interests:
The agricultural group Zeder said this morning that it “received several approaches from third parties interested in acquiring a number of Zeder portfolio investments”.
Zeder, which was established by PSG, sold its stakes in Pioneer Foods and Quantum Foods last year. The company still owns majority stakes in Capespan and Zaad Holdings, as well as a 40% stake in Kaap Agri.
5. EOH headline profit improvement:
Despite total revenue dropping 29% to R4.4 billion from R6.2 billion, EOH reported an improvement in headline earnings, which grew 83% during the six months to end January 2021.
During the period, customers delayed spend on large planned IT projects, particularly in the hardware space, which negatively affected revenue.
The company, which has been going through a strategic overhaul, has over time disposed of some non-core assets and dumped under-performing operations, helping to stabilise the business, the EOH’s CEO, Stephen van Coller said in the results statement on Wednesday.
It also made progress in settling five out of eight of its so-called problematic public sector legacy contracts.
The company generated a profit of R59 million after recording a loss of R915 million in the prior period.
The company said it directly benefited from digital adoption and transformation accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in its iOCO business.