News in South Africa 23rd March:
1. Government vaccine rollout too slow:
The private sector is getting impatient with government’s slow rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, with many attempting – and failing – to secure their own doses for employees and their families, meeting with a lot of red tape.
Government has managed to only vaccinate around 5,500 people a day since the rollout starting on 17 February.
Some businesses calculate that they would be able to vaccinate 60,000 people a day, given the chance.
The government has monopolised vaccine sourcing, with producers only doing deals there for the time being.
2. SAA business rescue in final stages:
South African Airways (SAA) administrators are preparing to wrap up work on the dormant state airline after more than 15 months, yet questions over its future viability remain as the Covid-19 crisis depresses demand.
SAA is close to being “both solvent and liquid,” with remaining issues including outstanding employee payments and the appointment of a receiver to take over financial management likely to be resolved this month, a team of business-rescue experts led by Siviwe Dongwana said in an update.
While the carrier has cut almost 80% of its workforce and reduced liabilities to R2.6 billion from R38 billion after deals with creditors and lessors, there’s no indication of an imminent return to flying.
But it is not yet clear when the airline will fly again. This morning, it was reported that the SAA flight that collected a batch of Covid-19 vaccines from Brussels last month experienced an “extraordinarily dangerous” event on take-off.
3. Second airport planned in CPT:
Hersov and business partner Nick Ferguson bought the Fisantekraal Airport in November 2020 and renamed it Cape Winelands Airport. The airport is located on a 150-hectare site 13 kilometres northeast of Durbanville. It is therefore perfectly situated to serve the Cape Town aviation sector.
When it was built by the South African Air Force in 1943 it featured four runways to operate Lockheed Ventura bombers. Although all four runways are still visible in overhead photos, only two of these runways are currently in use.
There are numerous aircraft hangars on the property which are used for the storage and maintenance of private aircraft and helicopters.
The picturesque location makes it a favourite for flight training and offers an alternative to the Cape Town International Airport for private aviation.
However, operations manager of the group says that there is room for the airport to handle non-scheduled flights and other services which are currently ‘taking up space’ at CTIA. The plan to convert the airport into a bigger operation with scheduled flights will take many years, it said.
4. Old Mutual profits decline:
Old Mutual’s annual results show a 75% decline in adjusted headline profit to R2.5 billion. The company reports a “net pandemic impact” of almost R4.4 billion, and said that it fast-tracked payment of approximately R13 billion in mortality claims during the year.
The company saw lower sales volumes in life and savings products due to lockdown restrictions and higher credit losses in its banking business as customers continue to face financial pressure.
Still it reported a final dividend of 35c a share – from 75c previously.
5. Student protests continue:
Student protests are set to continue this week as students from 18 universities participate in the national shutdown-with more expected to join.
A meeting is also expected between student organisations and the Higher Education and training department.
It’s been a week since students embarked on a nationwide shutdown and took the streets.
Students aren’t backing down and insist that the higher education and training department must meet their demands.
Students are planning a march on the Union Buildings.