News in South Africa 20th October:
1. Teens can now get vaccinated:
The Health Department said that it was expecting a significant number of parents and guardians to take their children to vaccine sites after school on Wednesday to get their Pfizer jabs.
It is the first day that 12- to 17-year-olds qualify for a COVID-19 vaccine and officials said that youngsters in this age group did not need the consent of their parents.
At this stage, children will only be allowed to get one shot of the Pfizer vaccine but this could change once further research determines whether a second dose is safe for this cohort.
The department’s acting Director-General Nicholas Crisp: “We do know that we’ve been getting an increasing number of requests and demands from parents sent directly to us and our team because they want to travel and they want to write their exams and they want to do all various activities and some just concerned that they want their children vaccinated, so I’m sure that those parents that feel strongly about vaccinating their children are going to bring their children in as soon as possible.”
The AfroCentric Group’s, Doctor Samukeliso Dube, urged parents to educate their children on the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations.
“Children should have broad agency because they have to make decisions on whether they want to do this or not. They should be active participants, in other words they should not be forced to get into that space and we do want to ensure that children also do have a voice.”
Dube reiterated that COVID-19 vaccines were safe.
“Even if you get the one jab, your immunity levels should improve significantly.”
2. Vaccine not needed to vote:
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa has reiterated that voters in the upcoming municipal elections will not be required to provide proof of Covid-19 vaccination to cast their ballot.
The IEC is gearing up for South Africa’s sixth round of municipal elections under trying circumstances brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 26 million South Africans are registered to vote on 1 November, in an election which has faced legal hurdles and health concerns around the potential of a super spreader event.
South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has slowed from its record pace in early September, with government’s initial target of reaching 70% of the population by the end of 2021 becoming increasingly unattainable. This has fuelled concerns that crowds of people in congregate settings, like voting stations, may hasten the arrival of the fourth wave.
But while government mulls incentives to nudge people towards vaccination, the IEC says it won’t impose any mandate on voters. This position was reiterated by the IEC’s chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo during voter registration weekend in September.
“Vaccination is not linked to your right to vote,” said Mamabolo. “We are implementing non-pharmaceutical interventions at the voting stations… it is not mandatory for you to be vaccinated in order to vote.”
3. Bitcoin could peak at $80 000:
Bitcoin (BTC) is set to peak at $80 021 in 2021 before concluding the year at $71 415, according to predictions made by 50 fintech specialists via Finder.com’s latest Bitcoin Price Predictions Report.
The year-end figure is roughly 8% higher than the panel’s end-of-year prediction in July, and 37% higher than it predicted in December 2020. Over a fifth of the panellists predict that BTC will reach $100 000 or higher.
Of the full panel, 46% say it’s time to hold on for dear life, 46% reckon it’s time to buy BTC, and the remaining 8% say it’s time to sell.
“I believe we are in the opening stages of rapid bitcoin adoption that will spread past El Salvador and Twitter and into more traditional areas,” says Gryphon Digital Mining CEO and director Rob Chang,
“As this occurs, the general public will be increasingly exposed to bitcoin and this shift from obscurity into the mainstream will catapult bitcoin prices higher for the next few years.”
Chang predicts that BTC will peak at $111 000 this year.
“Toss in halving events and we get structural reasons why the bitcoin price must head higher,” he adds.
The panel expects that Bitcoin will dip to $71 415 by the end of the year. While this is a drop from the anticipated peak, it is still a roughly 20% increase from its price at the time of writing.
The longer-term predictions for BTC seem even more dazzling.
The panellists expect BTC prices to skyrocket to an average of $249 578 and $5 237 082 by the end of 2025 and 2030 respectively.
Three in five panellists are in favour of a BTC exchange-traded fund (ETF), while more than one in five are against the idea.
4. Coalition government disorderly:
News24’s Out of Order Index reveals that only one of the top ten best-run municipalities in South Africa is run through a coalition government. Generally, coalition-led municipalities are poorly governed.
However, that’s not to say a majority-led municipality is well-governed – many of the worst-run municipalities in South Africa are majority-led.
The data provides cause for caution, as political experts expect more coalition-led municipalities to emerge from the 2021 elections. Conflicting ideals and goals often hamstring these councils, and service delivery suffers from inaction.
5. Skilled immigrant struggles:
Skilled immigrants looking to enter South Africa to address the country’s shortage of skills in a range of sectors face long processing times and are increasingly being rejected.
Marisa Jacobs, director at leading immigration firm Xpatweb, said that the Department of Labour (DoL) issues a certificate to employers who can prove that they are unable to find suitably qualified or skilled local candidates for a position, requiring an experienced foreign national to fill the role instead.
This certificate, Jacobs said, is a prescribed requirement for a General Work Visa application issued by the Department of Home Affairs to allow foreign nationals to work in South Africa legally.
“Unfortunately, the DoL certificate is an onerous process and takes months to be considered by the Department of Labour. This makes the process burdensome and impractical for employers, and as such, they turn to the Department of Home Affairs to waive this requirement.”
The Immigration Act allows the minister of Home Affairs to waive any prescribed requirement or form for ‘good cause’ to get around this long wait time.
“The process to obtain a DoL certificate has been considered cumbersome and lengthy. However, the former waiver process has proven to be a solution for many South African employers where a good cause can be demonstrated on why a foreign resource is suitable for a vacancy,” Jacobs said.
She noted that not all foreign nationals will be considered for the waiver, and it is only those with skills that are scarce in the country – and the employer who can demonstrate the economic benefit of such a resource to the company and the economy in general – who are considered.
Persons who have submitted waiver applications are expected to be disheartened as recent developments indicate that these applications are likely to be rejected, said Jacobs.
“Waiver applications submitted since the last quarter of 2020 have been plagued by delays. With a recent focus and pressure on the sustained high unemployment rate, it appears that the Department of Home Affairs has made the decision to redirect waiver applications to the Department of Labour for assessment.