News in South Africa 3rd June:
1. Infections approaching 6000:
South Africa recorded 5 782 new Covid-19 infections by Wednesday and 110 new Covid-19-related deaths, taking the official death toll to 56 711.
According to a statement by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, as of Wednesday, the country recorded a total of 1 675 013 confirmed Covid-19 cases.
He said the positivity rate is 12.7%.
In the last 24 hours, 110 deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 0, Free State 11, Gauteng 54, Kwa-Zulu Natal 4, Limpopo 11, Mpumalanga 4, North West 16, Northern Cape 7 and Western Cape 3 which brings the total to 56 711 deaths.
“We will be monitoring this increase in positivity rate to see if it sustains and meanwhile urge all citizens to remain vigilant and adhere to non-pharmaceutical interventions, even if vaccinated,” Mkhize said.
The total number of people vaccinated is 1 117 569. In total, 72 465 vaccine jabs were administered in the last 24-hour cycle. Of the total number of people vaccinated, 637 801 were administered using the Pfizer vaccine as part of phase two of the national vaccine rollout.
Statistics around infection rates, new cases and Covid-19 vaccinations are meticulously kept in countries around the world.
While there is generally an agreement over the statistics, one of the hardest things to track is the number of deaths.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says, based on the excess death mortality estimates produced in 2020, there is likely a significant undercount of total deaths directly and indirectly attributed to Covid-19.
2. Large scale PPE corruption:
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says that it has never before seen such an immense scale of corruption in one investigation, as it has with South Africa PPE fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The unit has prioritised R14.3 billion worth of alleged corruption around PPEs in the country, reasoning that this type of activity did the most harm to citizens.
The unit is actively investigating 2,695 cases of contracts worth R7.6 billion, with close to 2,000 more cases still to be looked at. Gauteng accounted for the majority of the cases, with 1,832 contracts worth R5.6 billion being investigated.
3. Eskom vs Unions:
Organised labour at Eskom have described the power utility’s decision to file for a dispute after wage negotiations deadlocked as a “declaration of war”.
The unions have been in talks with Eskom for weeks, with both parties not moving from their demands.
Eskom is offering workers a conditional 1.5% wage hike and they want 15%.
Eskom said the demands by members of the NUM, Numsa and Solidarity were unaffordable.
Its decision to declare a dispute makes way for an arbitration process where a CCMA commissioner will intervene to try to break the deadlock.
Should these efforts fail, unions could call a strike.
NUM energy sector coordinator Khangela Baloyi said: “What we saw from the beginning is that they wanted to collapse this meeting and negotiations. But now we need to inform everyone that we are back to our demand of 15% and all other elements with it.”
The NUM separately rejected the report that comprehensively cleared Eskom CEO André de Ruyter of charges of racism, saying Parliament should investigate those.
4. Digital Vibes due process:
President Cyril Ramaphosa said he is dealing with the “serious and disturbing” allegations against Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who is embroiled in a scandal involving an irregular tender.
The tender was awarded to Digital Vibes, whose consultants have ties to Mkhize.
Delivering his budget vote to the National Assembly on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the institutions charged with uncovering and prosecuting corruption are doing what is expected of them.
“It is important, as we rebuild these entities, that we demonstrate our confidence in their ability to investigate all allegations and to act without fear and favour. We must affirm the rule of law and the importance of due process.
“It is this principle that informs our approach to recent allegations around the minister of health and certain contracts awarded by his department,” Ramaphosa said.
“And what I can say to South Africans is that I am dealing with this matter, and there is full cooperation from the minister,” he said.
Meanwhile allies are apparently suggesting to Zweli Mkhize that he should step aside, and the ANC integrity commission wants to talk to him.
5. Land expropriation stumbling block:
Plans by the African National Congress to amend the constitution to make it easier to seize land without paying for it have gone awry, because it failed to pin down sufficient support from other parties to push the changes through.
While the radical Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-largest party, backs expropriation, it says proposals flighted by the ANC don’t go far enough. The main opposition Democratic Alliance and other smaller parties oppose any constitutional changes, which require the backing of two-thirds of lawmakers — a majority the ruling party lacks.
“We as the EFF will not vote for a sell-out amendment which still speaks of compensation,” Julius Malema, the party’s leader, said in a speech to parliament on Wednesday. “We will not vote for a constitutional amendment which refuses to acknowledge the state custodianship of South Africa’s land because we know that expropriation of land piece by piece will take us more than 100 years to reclaim our land.”
The ANC decided in 2017 that the constitutional amendments were necessary to address racially skewed land ownership patterns that date back to apartheid and colonial rule, but the process was bogged down by wrangling over the details. The uncertainty spooked investors who feared property rights will be undermined, and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration moved to reassure them that the process would not be allowed to degenerate into a free-for-all and that land will only be taken under narrowly defined circumstances.
A lawmakers’ panel is currently considering how best to alter Section 25 of the constitution, which deals with property rights. It was supposed to conclude its work last month, but it requested a 30-day extension after its members failed to reach consensus.