News in South Africa 17th February:
1. Johnson & Johnson vaccines arrive:
South Africa has received the first delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines at OR Tambo International Airport last night.
The consignment will be moved to a secure facility in Gauteng before being distributed overnight to the various vaccine centres in all provinces – marking the official launch of government’s rollout strategy.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize said an additional 500,000 J&J doses are expected to arrive over the next four weeks, with another 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected to be received at the end of March 2021.
Due to logistical purposes around the arrival of the vaccines, no media was granted access. The media, will however, be invited to key vaccination milestone events around the country over the next few weeks.
Government remains committed to saving lives and protecting livelihoods. All citizens are reminded that adhering to health protocols together with the vaccine remains our best defence against the virus.
2. Power prices could rise by 16%:
SA is set to see electricity prices rise sharply following protracted legal wrangling between Eskom and the regulator.
In a judgment dated 15 February 2021, the Gauteng High Court ruled that R10 billion should be added to Eskom’s allowable revenue in the 2021/22 financial year.
Additionally, Eskom can increase tariffs by nearly 16%. According to the order by Justice Joseph Raulinga, 5.44c/KWh can be added to the average standard tariff. Eskom customers will therefore pay 132.2c/kWh, which amounts to an increase of 15.6%.
Each party was ordered to pay their own costs.
The latest ruling follows Eskom’s court application to recover R23 billion in the 2021/22 financial year. A High Court judgment in July last year ruled in the state-owned power company’s favour.
3. State capture perpetrators will be punished:
While state-owned enterprises were the “honey pots” for state capture, the money that was stolen will be found and used to the benefit of South Africans, said Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The minister made the remarks during the debate of the State of the Nation Address on Tuesday.
Gordhan said, if needed, criminal charges will be brought against those who are implicated in the stealing of funds from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) during the state capture years.
“We will trace funds wherever in the world they may be,” he said. “Monies stolen by all sorts of role players will be returned to SA and used to the benefit of South Africans.”
Gordhan said SOEs have a crucial role to play in growing the economy. But they need to first be restructured and reformed following the impacts of state capture.
4. Unused AstraZeneca to go to African Union:
South Africa will give its doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union after scrapping their use due to efficacy concerns, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
The country suspended its vaccine rollout — which was meant to begin with the AstraZeneca shots earlier month — after a study found the jab failed to prevent mild and moderate illness caused by a new variant discovered in South Africa.
“The doses we purchased have been offered to the African Union to distribute to those countries who have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock,” Mkhize told Parliament.
The country had secured a million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India and was set to receive an additional consignment of 500,000.
But South Africa has now settled for the approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, securing nine million doses including 80,000 expected to be delivered this week.
Vaccination will begin with healthcare workers as part of an implementation study, Mkhize said.
5. DRDGold declares 40c dividend per share:
DRDGold has declared an interim dividend of 40c per share for the six months ended 31 December 2020 – 60% more than for the same time last year.
Its revenue increased by 41% to almost R3 billion, and operating profit doubled due largely to the average rand gold price, which was 42% higher at R988,998/kg.
BHP also reported results yesterday, with a 15% increase in its half-year revenue. Its interim dividend was also hiked by 55%.