News in South Africa 19th April:
1. Restart of J&J rollout needed:
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has been urged to restart the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with the local health regulator Sahpra saying that there are no significant risks with the vaccine.
Parliament’s Health Portfolio Committee chair, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, is urging health Minister Zweli Mkhize to settle concerns about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Dhlomo is, however, confident South Africa will be able to restart the J&J Sisonke vaccination program soon. That is after its rollout was halted following blood clot cases in the US.
But the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority says there are no major safety concerns. It is also suggesting closer monitoring of high-risk individuals instead.
“Their negotiations, their findings with the scientists in the country in liaison with the other scientists in the world should actually allow us to start again,” says Parliamentary Health Portfolio Committee, Sibongiseni Dhlomo.
2. Eskom loses IT support:
Eskom has said that business software giant Oracle is no longer supplying it with IT support services, which the utility has described as “quite essential” to some of its crucial operations.
“There haven’t been any positive development between the parties,” an Eskom spokesperson said on Friday morning.
Last week Eskom lost a court application to compel Oracle to renew its support services until April 2022. It has since lodged leave to appeal.
While Eskom says it has processes in place to reduce the risk to its operations, in court filings, it also warned that it might not be able to fulfil its obligation to supply electricity if Oracle stops supplying IT services.
The utility and the US-headquartered tech giant have been in a contractual dispute since 2019, when Oracle conducted an audit of Eskom’s use of its products. It found that the power utility had been overusing its products and should pay more.
Eskom has denied overuse claims and has questioned the audit’s findings.
3. Municipal financials worsening:
South Africa’s municipalities are in severe financial distress, with the situation getting worse year over year – and a parliamentary response from acting minister in the presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni shows why.
According to Ntshavheni nearly half (47%) of all senior municipal officials, as well as those in charge of finances, do not meet competency levels. This is indicative of a lack of skills and competencies to do their job.
160 municipalities are in financial distress, carrying R132 billion in debt.
4. TERS receivers could be audited:
Companies who have received money through the Covid Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) may be selected for audit.
The Covid-19 Ters relief was part of the South African Government relief scheme, which made available approximately R65 billion for payments to millions of workers.
The Department of Labour (DoL) has appointed forensic auditors to verify companies’ Ters claims.
Companies who have received money, may be selected for audit. The auditors will perform investigations and examine the authenticity of the Ters claims, analyse the financial records of employers as well as verify whether the money received was accurately paid over to the qualifying employees.
Audits commenced in December 2020 and are expected to be completed within a six-month period.
Many companies have already been audited or are currently being audited.
In terms of DoL communications, companies who applied for, and are recipients of the Temporary Employer-Employee Relief (Covid-19 Ters), must have the required information available should the auditors initiate the audits.
The Covid-19 applications were available for the period March 2020 to March 31, 2021.
If you are selected for audit, we urge employers to cooperate with the appointed forensic auditors and supply all required information within the stipulated time frames.
Non-compliance may result in legal action.
5. Pepco to be listed in Warsaw:
European discount retailer Pepco Group has decided to list its shares in Warsaw rather than London, in what could become Poland’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) this year, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Pepco, which has over 1,000 stores in Poland and owns British discount retailer Poundland, is valued at around 5 billion euros ($6 billion), according to one of the people, plus a third source with knowledge of the matter. They declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the situation.
Pepco declined to comment.
Its plan to go public comes amid a flurry of European listings, with companies raising a whopping $19.6 billion in IPO proceeds in the first quarter as investors hunt opportunities in a record low-interest rate environment.
Last month Pepco, which does not trade online, said it was considering a public listing of its shares in either London or Warsaw.
The company, which also trades as PEPCO and Dealz in Europe, is part of South African conglomerate Steinhoff, which is still battling the fallout of a 2017 accounting scandal.