News in South Africa 19th October:

1. Nuclear power progress:

The United States International Development Finance Corp pledged to support NuScale Power LLC, a US nuclear energy technology firm, to develop 2,500 megawatts of power in South Africa.

Nuclear power progress
“Tihange – nuclear power plant” by Hullie is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

South Africa’s government drafted an economic recovery plan in conjunction with business and labor groups several months ago in a bargaining forum known as the National Economic Development and Labour Council, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft envisages R23 billion being allocated to galvanize private investment in infrastructure and R4.5 billion being spent on public transport over the next 12 months, but provides scant detail on where the money will come from.

“If successful, NuScale would be the first US nuclear energy IPP on the continent and would help support energy resilience and security in one of Africa’s leading economies,” the DFC said.

2. ANC local election changes:

With about a year to go before the local government elections, the ANC is circulating its final draft of rules for local government candidate selection for members to discuss. The 17-page document proposes selection criteria that would see only those who possess the qualities outlined in the party’s 2001 document titled “Through the Eye of a Needle” – leaders who are ethical, ideological and qualified – able to run on the ANC ticket.

The guidelines reflect the need for the ANC to become increasingly competitive, as its majority lead has been declining in each election since 2004. For the first time the party will announce all its mayoral candidates before the elections, as the DA and the EFF have been doing. The ANC also now stipulates how it would like to see its councillors behave in places where the party is in opposition.

According to the ANC’s draft document, candidate selection for the elections will also involve a screening exercise disqualifying those who have been found guilty of “any offence that casts doubt on their suitability to represent the ANC”. This could have been either through an ANC disciplinary process, or at a disciplinary hearing in government or any other place of employment, or in a court of law. But there is an exception.

“If a candidate is involved in one of the above legal processes where no outcome has yet been reached, for offences related to violence, corruption or matters that may bring the ANC into disrepute, the Provincial List Committee should consider all the facts and interview the candidate,” the document states. They would then have to be “carefully screened” and all facts should be transparently presented and carefully considered by the committee. Those excluded by these processes have a right to appeal to the party’s national list committee or electoral committee, and any other ANC structures would also have the right to appeal against the inclusion of any such candidate they might not deem suitable.

3. Bheki Cele corruption investigation:

The Zondo commission’s investigators want to analyse the bank accounts of police minister Bheki Cele and companies linked to him and late ANC eThekwini chairperson John Mchunu.

Cele and Mchunu were political allies and business partners in several companies. Mchunu died in 2010.

Four companies linked to Cele have been flagged, in three of which he is still active director while he has resigned from one.

Cele resigned from Isibhudla Trading but remains active at Ithembelihle Logistics, Tray Holdings and Cracin Property Development. The commission has sent subpoenas to major banks to have a look at Cele’s financial records at the above companies.

Cele spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said the minister declared these financial interests to parliament and has “no knowledge of the subpoena”.

4. Afrox to leave JSE:

The industrial gas company Afrox looks set to leave the JSE after 57 years. Its key shareholder, the German international company Linde, wants to buy out all minority shareholders.

The Linde Offer will be made to Afrox Shareholders other than the Excluded Shareholders (“Eligible Afrox Shareholders”) and will be implemented by way of a single offer.

5. Health professional burnout:

Research from the University of KwaZulu-Natal shows that many health professionals – including doctors and nurses – are suffering from burnout, with a few going beyond and already exhibiting signs of anxiety and depression due to being overworked.

Things leading to burnout include long working hours, a lack of resources, poor working conditions and lack of supervision. The results are particularly notable in the year of the Covid-19 outbreak which pushed healthcare facilities to capacity.

Dr Thejini Naidoo, one of the registrars in the psychiatry department at UKZN medical school and a specialist in training – as part of her Master’s studies – conducted research looking at how prevalent and common is the problem of burnout among doctors who were working in the five teaching hospitals across KZN.

“The key findings were that 59% of the respondents had positive evidence of burnout. She also found that about 20% had gone beyond just burnout, they were presenting anxiety and depression symptoms. When burnout has not been optimally managed, it can then progress towards mental illness.” Stated Dr Fundile Nyati, CEO – Proactive Health Solutions.

All information sourced from articles posted by: Business Insider, BusinessTech, Fin24, Daily Maverick, TimesLive, and 702.

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