News in South Africa 6th May:

1. Eskom winter struggles:

Data published by Eskom this week shows that the utility has not been able to generate enough electricity to adequately meet peak evening demand.

Eskom winter struggles
Image taken by: Lisa

On Monday night it fell 254 megawatts (MW) short of peak demand at 6pm, and on Tuesday night it was 158MW short.

These shortfalls existed even after it interrupted load supply to large customers (and, on Monday evening, to the aluminium smelters through a mechanism called ‘virtual power station’).

Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha explained on Twitter that the virtual power station “is a regulated mechanism in which Eskom can ask certain pre-agreed customers … to switch off power for about two hours when it has shortages”.

“The customer gets compensated for the loss of production, at a rate approved by Nersa [National Energy Regulator of SA],” he said.

On both nights, Eskom used almost all available open cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), both its own and those from independent power producers (IPPs) – 14 in total on Monday, and 20 in total on Tuesday.

2. Ace Magashule suspends Cyril Ramaphosa:

Embattled ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has been suspended by the party.

In a letter, drafted 3 May, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte informed Magashule that he was temporarily suspended.

“Accordingly, on the authority of the NWC, you are hereby temporarily suspended, with effect from 3 May 2021, until the final outcome of your court proceedings,” she wrote.

Magashule is out on R200 000 bail and charged with corruption, fraud and money laundering related to a Free State asbestos tender.

Duarte told Magashule that, as part of his suspension, he may not carry out his duties and responsibilities as secretary-general, he may not represent the organisation publicly; and he cannot make public pronouncements nor can he mobilise ANC structures.

However, Ace Magashule is appealing his suspension from the party and has in turn, sought to suspend President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“I have also, in accordance with the powers vested in me as the secretary-general of the ANC, and furthermore in full compliance with the relevant conference resolutions, summarily suspended the president of the ANC, Comrade Cyril Ramaphosa,” he said on Wednesday.

It turns out the Magashule letter was real, and those officials just couldn’t believe it. But they say the suspended Magashule did not have the power to act, so it doesn’t matter anyway.

3. Vaccine production woes:

South Africa is one of only a handful of African countries — the others are Egypt, Ethiopia, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia — with at least some capability to make vaccines.

Yet our country is producing next to none.

South Africa, for instance, has world-class local vaccine-production facilities in the form of the Cape Town-based company, Biovac, which was created in 2003 in partnership with the government as a way to “establish local vaccine manufacturing capability”.

And although Biovac is putting a process in place to produce the pharmaceutical company, Sanofi Pasteur’s six-in-one jab, Hexaxim, as well as Pfizer’s Prevnar 13, it has not yet produced any vaccine from start to finish in two decades of existence.

In fact, no South African company has manufactured a shot from scratch since 2001 — and the COVID pandemic has exposed this massive failure and its corresponding consequences.

With a dire, global shortage of COVID-19 jabs, countries with local vaccine manufacturers have consistently been able to procure jabs faster and quicker than those nations that have no such facilities.

South Africa, on the other hand, has struggled to get hold of enough COVID shots fast enough.

4. India travel restrictions:

Scientists who advise the South African government have expressed their worry about the coronavirus variant found in India.

Two members of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee have warned that, if South Africa doesn’t immediately implement stricter border controls, infections from other countries, like India, could spread like a veld fire.

Calls for South Africa to ban travel – or at the very least quarantine visitors – from India are growing among local politicians and medical experts. Several nations have recently banned travellers from India due to the worsening Covid-19 crisis which has killed close to 4,000 people in the past 24 hours.

India is being ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic, accounting for 25% of all worldwide deaths reported between 26 April and 2 May. India accounted for almost half of the 5.7 million new Covid-19 cases reported globally last week.

Morgues and crematoriums are overwhelmed. Hospitals are crippled by dire oxygen shortages with India relying on ventilators supplied by foreign aid. More than 226,000 people have died due to Covid-19 since the start of the outbreak last year. A quarter of these deaths occurred in the past month alone.

This swell of infections and fatalities is being driven by the B.1.617 variant, which has caught the attention of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD).

5. Please Call Me royalties:

Nkosana Makate says he deserves billions from Vodacom for suggesting a Please Call Me service to the company. Vodacom, however, feels that its R47 million offer is fair.

The battle over compensation is being heard in the North Gauteng High Court, with Makate asking Judge Wendy Hughes to tell Vodacom how much it should pay him.

To understand the dispute, one has to go back to 2001 when he shared an idea for a Please Call Me-type service with then director of product development at Vodacom, Philip Geissler.

Geissler told Makate he would receive compensation for the idea, although he didn’t have the authority to make this promise.

This promise cost Vodacom dearly. It opened the door for Makate to demand a large sum from the mobile operator for his idea.

Vodacom would, however, not entertain Makate’s demands, and a protracted legal battle followed.

Makate wanted R6.75 billion from Vodacom, but in 2014, the South Gauteng High Court dismissed his case against Vodacom with costs.

He appealed this ruling, and after the Supreme Court of Appeal rejected his application, he took the matter to the Constitutional Court.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Business Insider, Moneyweb, News24, Bhekisasa, and MyBroadband.

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