News in South Africa 4th December:

1. Nelson Mandela Bay a hotspot:

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said there was clear evidence of a resurgence of COVID-19 infections across the country with an increase in the number hospital admissions.

While addressing the nation on interventions to combat the surge in coronavirus cases, the president extended the National State of Disaster until 15 January 2021, keeping the country on lockdown level one.

Nelson Mandela Bay a hotspot
“Nelson Mandela Stadium in Port Elizabeth” by Ngrund is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“There is now clear evidence of a resurgence of infections in parts of our own country, which, if not confronted decisively and directly, could lead to great suffering and death.”

Government is now taking region-specific interventions to curb the spread of COVID-19 – with Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape declared a coronavirus hotspot.

The localised restrictions see an introduction of a 10 pm curfew, restricted alcohol sales and smaller social gatherings.

The president said the measures were not meant to punish residents but were a clear warning and deterrent to other areas in the country to take the necessary precautions.

“They are not intended to increase the hardship experienced by our citizens. These measures are needed to contain the spread of the virus and to save lives… When identifying a hotspot, consideration is given to the number of new COVID-19 cases, the testing rate within the population and the number of deaths.”

2. Oil prices rally:

OPEC and a group of Russia-led oil producers agreed to increase their collective output by 500,000 barrels a day next month, signaling the world’s biggest producers are betting the worst of a pandemic-inspired shock to demand is behind them.

The deal marks a compromise after sharp disagreements earlier in the week among a group of producers that have acted in relative concert for months, agreeing to cut production deeply to stabilize oil markets. The coronavirus pandemic sapped global demand early this year, tanking prices and straining the finances of big producers such as Saudi Arabia and Russia.

In recent weeks, international oil prices have started to bounce back, climbing some 25% since the start of last month. Asian economies have been recovering strongly, boosting oil demand there. Oil investors, meanwhile, have bet on future demand growth elsewhere after a series of promising milestones hit by several Covid-19 vaccines in development. This week, the U.K. authorized one for emergency use, setting in motion the West’s first mass vaccination drive.

Sasol, which earlier this week concluded a deal for its Lake Charles plant and pledged to cut costs and spending,  also saw a 6% gain in its share price.

3. Solidarity Fund commits millions to vaccines:

The Solidarity Fund has committed R327-million towards getting a vaccine for South Africans.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says government has partnered with other nations to ensure that South Africans have access to an effective and affordable vaccine.

The only viable defence against COVID-19 is the vaccine, there are now many initiatives around the world to speed up the development of the vaccine,” said Ramaphosa.

“We continue to collaborate with partners in the international community to ensure all countries have access to an effective and affordable vaccine so that no one is left behind.”

Ramaphosa says South Africa is participating in the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility – known as the Covax facility.

The programme aims to pool resources and share vaccine development risk and thus ensure equitable access to vaccines when they become available. Finance minister Mboweni said that South Africa has paid R500 million towards the programme, with a further R4.5 billion budgeted to get access to a vaccine once available.

4. Government capital raising to sell SAA:

South Africa is looking to raise about $400 million from the sale of a stake in its bankrupt national airline, according to people familiar with the situation, a plan likely to lower the chances of finding a partner to aid its revival.

The funds would be used to re-capitalise the reformed South African Airways, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been made public. The government is banking on SAA attracting interest because it holds some lucrative routes and valuable landing slots, such as at London’s Heathrow Airport, they said.

South Africa’s search for a buyer of equity in SAA comes at a time when the aviation industry is mired in the biggest crisis in its history, having been laid low by the Covid-19 pandemic. Although Ethiopian Airlines Group has said it would consider a deal for SAA, Chief Executive Officer Tewolde GebreMariam has made clear he’s not interested in investing capital.

5. Legal opinions split in ANC:

Lawyers will play a crucial role in whether corruption-accused ANC leaders — including secretary-general Ace Magashule — will have to step down.

Conflicting legal opinions on whether the party can remove leaders who are charged with corruption are expected to ignite heated debate at the weekend’s national executive committee meeting.

Ahead of its last NEC meeting of the year, the ANC sought legal advice on how members facing criminal charges or alleged wrongdoing can step aside from their official duties.

It is understandood that there were four legal opinions sought from top legal minds in the country, including the ANC’s long-time lawyer, advocate Gcina Malindi, former ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa, advocate Mashudu Tshivhase and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.

Two of the legal opinions — by Phosa and Tshivhase — advise the party against forcing any of its members to step aside, while it is reported that Malindi gives the ANC the go-ahead to ask members to step aside.

These legal opinions are expected to be debated at length at the NEC’s three-day meeting, taking place virtually between Sunday and Tuesday.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Business Insider, EWN, The Wall Street Journal, ENCA, Fin24, and TimesLive.

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