News in South Africa 7th December:
1. Matric examination rewrite faces opposition:
A lawyer representing concerned matric pupils is threatening to go to court to force the department of basic education to reverse its decision to get grade 12s to rewrite maths paper 2 and physical science paper 2.
This comes in the wake of teacher union Sadtu’s move to seek an urgent interdict on Monday to halt the rewrite.
A petition calling for the cancellation of the rewrites has so far garnered almost 67,000 signatures.
Erhard Prinsloo, from PWG Attorneys in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, forwarded a letter to the department on Saturday, calling for it to provide reasons by 9am on Monday why the decision for a rewrite was taken.
“Tens of thousands of innocent learners will now be punished for the criminal conduct of a few adults. Final grade 12 exam papers have leaked before, but never has a rewriting been decided upon to remedy this unfortunate occurrence.”
Teacher unions are accusing the Department of Basic Education of punishing pupils for their failure to vet the examination process.
“It would not be fair to put these innocent learners in a position where they can rewrite the exam papers as early as next week with the same level of confidence and preparedness as previously.”
The organisation’s Basil Manuel said only the pupils implicated in the matric exam leaks scandal should have to rewrite the papers.
“Only 200 have been found to have actually had access to the paper. Now to punish such a large number is an overreaction. If you simply only focus on those who had the paper or the schools where the paper was, that will detract from the integrity of the exam. We are saying those who are guilty must be punished but don’t punish the innocent as well,” he said.
2. Glencore CEO to retire:
Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg will retire from one of the world’s biggest coal producers in the first half of 2021, after a 36 year stint at the mining company.
On Friday, Glencore announced that the South African Glasenberg will be succeeded Gary Nagle who is the current head of the miner’s coal division. Nagle will move from Australia next year to Switzerland to join Glasenberg, as part of his transition into the role.
Glencore chairperson, Tony Hayward lauded Glasenberg, who has been CEO since 2002 for his efforts in growing the mining company.
Glencore’s shareprice had risen by almost 4% at market close on Friday, following the news of Glasenberg’s retirement. But he is not making his exit with an unblemished record, the company had 16 fatalities last year, mostly in its copper operations in Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The group has also been subject to a number of investigations, in the US, UK, Brazil and Switzerland on allegations of bribery, money laundering. It has also been named in class action lawsuit in the US, which is one of a few.
3. Covid superspreaders at rage events:
The 2020 Matric Rage gathering have been identified as a COVID-19 superspreader events.
This is after several pupils attending the events in Kwazulu-Natal tested positive.
The events that took place so far, are in Ballito from 27 November to 4 December and Jeffrey’s Bay from 26 November to 6 December.
The Johannesburg Rage is scheduled for 12 to 13 December. Plettenberg Bay Rage is scheduled for 29 January to 6 February 2021.
Rage festivals are usually attended by pupils to mark the end of the matric year.
According to the health ministry, all those who attended the events are regarded potential COVID-19 contact. Attendees are urged to self-quarantine for 10 days and to get tested.
Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize says the superspreader events are proof of the dangers of what happens when large crowds consume alcohol.
4. Grocers to assist with vaccine distribution:
Grocers Pick ‘n Pay and Shoprite have said they are willing to step up and help in the dissemination of the much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine once it becomes available.
This is one of the most highly anticipated vaccines that is set to save many people as the second wave of the deadly pandemic, Covid-19, threatens a resurgence putting at stake people’s lives and livelihoods.
Will South Africa have the manpower to vaccinate scores of people and where will it be done? This is where retailers have said they are willing to step in.
David North, group executive of strategy and corporate affairs at Pick n Pay said the retailer is ready to assist in any way it is required to.
“When supplies of vaccine reach this country, the challenge of getting the population vaccinated in a speedy and efficient way will be a huge logistical challenge. We all need to work together, and Pick n Pay stands ready to help in any way,” said North.
Shoprite, one of Africa’s biggest and leading food retailers have also said they are committed and ideally positioned to assist with the distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa.
The Cape Town-based retailer has pharmacies that are conveniently located in selected Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets across the country. This is the infrastructure the retailer aims to use as it “is easily accessible to customers across all income levels.”
“MediRite already administers flu vaccines as a service to its communities and is therefore ideally positioned to administer the Covid-19 vaccines once available in the country,” said the group in response to questions.
5. ANC debating corruption-accused leaders:
This Monday morning the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that is expected to decide whether Ace Magashule will step aside as secretary-general is due to resume, after starting on Sunday evening. There are many dynamics that are swirling around this meeting, with legal opinions and WhatsApps flying about at a furious rate.
While it is not possible to accurately make predictions at this stage, there are signs that the balance of power is shifting. Key to this may be the views of Deputy President David Mabuza and the ANC’s Treasurer-General, Paul Mashatile. But the probable decision to not even temporarily remove Magashule will further weaken the party and what is left of its authority.
Whether Magashule will be forced to “step aside” is one of the fundamental questions facing the ANC. If he remains as secretary-general, and is able to go through a criminal trial while still occupying this position, the ANC will be weakened in the eyes of voters during an election year.
There has been much informed reporting about a series of legal opinions in which lawyers have expressed different views about whether Magashule, or anyone in his position, can be forced to step aside. It would appear that three of these opinions say he cannot, while one says he can.