1. Government to review lockdown:
The government is reviewing South Africa’s lockdown restrictions on a weekly basis and is encouraged by the declining number of Covid-19 cases seen in the country, says health minister Joe Phaahla.
Addressing media on Friday (3 September), Phaahla said an analysis would be conducted by the health department and the Coivd-19 ministerial advisory committees in the coming days.
If there is indeed a sustained decline, then restrictions will be eased, he said. Phaahla said the two key concerns are KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape, with the rest of the country seeing steady declines.
“We will continue to assess this and will give a report to president Cyril Ramaphosa and the team of leadership in the next week. If it becomes clear that there is stability and the infection rates are definitely stabilising, we will give the necessary advice.
“You can look forward to some more relaxations – but there will still be a responsibility on us to follow the protocols.”
Phaahla said that the government was not oblivious of the pressures created by the level 3 lockdown and that the health department would give this advice on lowering restrictions.
On Thursday (2 September), South Africa reported 9,203 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,796,405.
Deaths have reached 82,914 (+418), while recoveries have climbed to 2,568,465, leaving the country with a balance of 145,026 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 13,112,268 (+270,731).
2. Unions warn against forced vaccinations:
Unions have warned that Discovery’s move to make vaccines mandatory for staff is a ‘slippery slope’, saying that businesses do not own workers, so they can’t be forced to take the vaccine.
Discovery said that it would implement the mandatory vaccine policy from 1 January 2022.
Employees who do not have a valid medical or religious reason for not being vaccinated will not have a future at the company, it said.
The government is also looking to implement some form of mandatory vaccination policy, but more in the sense of imposing added restrictions on those who refuse to get the jab.
The government is planning relaxed lockdown Covid-19 restrictions for vaccinated people, health minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday.
Phaahla said the health department is not considering making vaccines mandatory but is prioritising “encouragement”.
“What we are looking at is soft kinds of incentives. People are hungry for entertainment, for music festivals, to go to Orlando stadium to watch a soccer match,” Phaahla told a briefing at the Chris Hani Baragwanath vaccination site in Soweto.
“With confirmation that you are vaccinated, we could start opening up more facilities and say, ‘if you are vaccinated, so many people can go to a soccer stadium to watch a match; if you are vaccinated, so many people can go to Newtown to watch some music’.”
3. EU returning Johnson & Johnson vaccines:
The EU will return millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses imported from South Africa.
It comes after an agreement between European Commission head, Ursula von der Leyen, and President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Local company, Aspen Pharmacare, had a contract with J&J to fill-and-finish its vaccine.
But under the contract, South Africa was required to waive its right to impose export restrictions on doses and this saw Aspen exporting millions of doses to Europe.
The agreement has now been converted into a licence agreement, with J&J relinquishing control over where the doses are distributed.
The EU has agreed to return the 10 million or so doses it imported from South Africa, which will now be distributed on the continent.
4. Cape Town getting own stock exchange:
Alternative stock exchange 4 Africa Exchange (4AX), a rival to the JSE is rebranding to become the Cape Town Stock Exchange (CTSE), as the group will be relocating to a new head office in Cape Town.
4AX, which is one of two licensed and regulated stock exchanges in SA, with both an equity and debt listing licence, will move from its offices in Parktown, Johannesburg, to the Woodstock Exchange Building, in Woodstock, Cape Town.
The move is part of its efforts to differentiate itself by basing itself in a city that it says is reflective of its own inventiveness.
“We’re looking forward to making our home in one of the world’s favourite cities. Much like our business, Cape Town is synonymous with growth, innovation, and a focus on technological development, so we know it’s going to be a great fit,” says the group’s CEO Eugene Booysen.
The region is putting a lot of effort into becoming the technology capital of SA through the Silicon Cape movement, and as Booysen puts it, “that’s a vein we want to tap into.”
He adds that the shift is also part of its effort to intensify its focus on small-and medium-sized companies. “We believe that these growing enterprises offer huge potential to investors. They and the people who make them tick, are this country’s real assets.”
Though being a home for small- and mid-sized listed companies has been one of its goals since its launch in 2017, 4AX has not managed to attract many companies. It only has seven equity listings.
Booysen says this will be changing quickly as it expects to double the number of listings by the end of this financial year. Aside from more listings, he also expects its debt marketplace to gain some traction.
Booysen says when it came to setting shop in Cape Town, he can’t fault the local authorities’ efforts in supporting its transition.
For its part, the city and the province are happy to host the exchange.
“The opening of the CTSE in the province signifies Cape Town’s capabilities when it comes to landing significant business for the region, reinforcing our place as the financial services hub on the continent,” says Yaw Peprah, acting CEO of Wesgro, the official investment and trade promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.
5. Land expropriation bill almost complete:
Parliament is just days away from finalising changes to the Constitution that will explicitly allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The ad hoc committee tasked with the job is set to meet on Friday to finalise a second draft of the 18th Constitutional Amendment Bill.
The committee has until 10 September to report back to the National Assembly. Because it was a constitutional amendment, the bill will require a two-thirds majority to pass when it comes to the vote.
A third draft of the bill tried to push back the cut-off date for claims from 1913 to 1800, but this was rejected by the committee, which this week instead combed through a second version of the Constitutional Amendment Bill, clause by clause.
The African National Congress (ANC) has insisted that the bill states that land to be expropriated includes any improvements on it.
The country’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), said that there was no need to amend Section 25 of the Constitution, arguing that it already allowed for expropriation for nil compensation.