News in South Africa 18th June:

1. Teachers next in vaccine rollout:

The Health Department said that South Africans could expect the arrival of 300,000 vaccines earmarked for educators on Friday.

Teachers next in vaccine rollout
Image taken by: RODNAE Productions

But the department has also warned that South Africa was in trouble, with all provinces showing an increase in new COVID-19 infections.

Acting Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and the department briefed Parliament about the preparedness for the third wave and vaccines.

The Health Department said that Basic Education Department staff, who included teachers, administrative and support staff at all schools, irrespective of age, would be vaccinated next.

The department said that it wanted to target just under half a million persons over ten days.

The vaccination of teachers is seen a vital as schools over 20 schools in Gauteng have been forced to close due to rising Covid-19 infections, disrupting teaching time.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona says the department is monitoring these developments, with nearly 1,000 teachers and over 2,000 students testing positive.

2. Gauteng infection rate worsening:

Gauteng is driving South Africa’s third wave of Covid-19 infections, while its vaccination rate is slower than the national average, falling behind provinces with fewer resources such as Limpopo and the Free State.

South Africa’s disrupted Covid-19 vaccine rollout is approaching the 2 million mark, with more doses administered in Gauteng than in any other province. Of the 1,965,812 doses administered throughout the country by Wednesday, almost a quarter – some 491,411 jabs – had been dispensed at vaccination sites in Gauteng.

But the country’s most populous province, which accounts for almost 60% of all new cases recorded in South Africa and recently entered unchartered territory in surpassing the second wave’s peak, is not leading the national rollout despite having the largest share of vaccination sites.

Just 3.29% of all South Africans have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with those fully immunised accounting for less than 1% of the entire population.

The latest data published by Statistics South Africa in mid-2020 shows that Gauteng has a population of almost 15.5 million people, of which only 3.17% have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

In addition to being behind the national average, the pace of Gauteng’s vaccination drive is slower than the rollouts in Limpopo (3.63%) and the Free State (3.58%) which both have a significantly smaller share of vaccination sites. Both provinces combined have less than half the number of active vaccination sites in Gauteng, according to the department of health.

3. Strikes could be looming:

The risk of local government workers going on strike has increased as two major unions involved in talks indicated that they would reject a proposal by an independent facilitator to cut wages in real terms and freeze other perks over the next three years.

“Early indication is that the majority of our members have rejected the proposal outright,” said Papikie Mohale, national spokesperson of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu), referring to the recommendation by Naledi Burwana-Bisiwe.

4. Third largest diamond found:

Botswana Diamond Mining, Debswana, which is a joint venture between the Government of Botswana and De Beers, announced that it had unearthed the third-largest diamond known to man.

This apparently happened on June 1, but was announced only this week. Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi got to touch and feel the gem yesterday in Gaborone. The stone is 1 098 carats, and now tongues are wagging as to what it could be worth.

Whatever it retails for, the Botswana government will get a cool 80% of the sale proceeds.

Regarding the price estimate Dr. Petré Prins from Prins & Prins Diamonds stated:

“This gem looks very similar to the second-largest stone ever discovered. That was also discovered in Botswana. It was called the Lesedi La Rona. That was just a few carats bigger than this one. This is a very similar type of diamond. It is also a very clear, perfectly colourless stone with good clarity. So one should expect that, because of the same size, the same quality, it should reach more or less the same price.”

“For the previous one, a similar stone, [Laurence] Graff paid $53 million. So I would expect this stone to reach a similar amount.”

5. Home Affairs needs new tech:

The Department of Home Affairs wants permission from National Treasury to use a private information technology (IT) provider for its systems, rather than having to rely on the State IT Agency (SITA).

This was the feedback from Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Home Affairs, during a recent budget vote debate in the National Council of Provinces.

Responding to questions from DA MP Ricardo Mackenzie, Motsoaledi said that the IT services provided by SITA were the “original sin” of Home Affairs.

Motsoaledi said that while other government departments may be somewhat affected by problems at SITA, it has a crippling impact on Home Affairs. “We have done away with manual systems and introduced a live capture system about eight years ago,” the Minister stated.

He explained that Home Affairs is reliant on its IT system provider because the department’s staff is not made up of IT experts.

However, Motsoaledi said that they have not only identified the problem — they have also come up with a solution. “We have actually identified why SARS doesn’t have systems down,” the Minister said. “It’s because it has been exempted from getting these services through SITA and we are working with Treasury to do that.”

Motsoaledi said that they visited SITA’s headquarters in Centurion and met with all the IT companies in South Africa that are capable of providing the necessary services. “IBM, EOH later replaced by Gijima, BBD and D, Shannon, you name them. We even called their CEOs to sit there and help us resolve this IT system — the original sin of Home Affairs.”

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

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