1. New variant infections slows:
South African scientists said a new variant, with a concerning number of mutations, spread at a slower rate last month than in July.
The so-called C.1.2 variant accounted for just 1.5% of all virus samples sequenced in the country in August compared with 2.2% in July, according to the Network for Genomic Surveillance South Africa.
The variant, first identified in South Africa, has been found in a number of countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritius, Portugal, New Zealand and Switzerland.
The slowing of the spread of the variant could indicate that it’s unlikely to become dominant in the manner that previous mutations such as the beta and delta variants have become.
2. Vaccinations needed to combat 4th wave:
Infectious diseases specialist Professor Salim Abdool Karim has joined other health experts and officials in urging South Africans to get vaccinated before an expected fourth wave hits the country.
If people are to get infected during the inevitable Covid-19 fourth wave in the coming months, then they better be fully vaccinated, says epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist, Professor Salim Abdool Karim.
Karim stressed that being fully vaccinated would put people in a better position during the imminent fourth wave, which is estimated to happen around November and December.
Karim was speaking on Monday during a media briefing to announce the premiere date of a Covid-19 documentary filmed at a Pretoria Hospital.
Karim said future waves would be driven by new variants, but how it would emerge and what it would look like were unknown.
Apart from being vaccinated, non-pharmaceutical protocols were also important, Karim noted.
“I know we are frustrated. I know we would like to go back to the way things were, but, unfortunately, the waves don’t agree with us on that score and the waves are demanding that we use our prevention measures – if we are to control them or if we are to mitigate their full impact,” he added.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the average daily vaccinations in the last week was around 250 000 doses, including the first and second doses of Pfizer as well as the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The department has now set a target of vaccinating up to 300 000 people a day.
3. ANC “weaker” to other parties:
The Constitutional Court’s ruling last week that local government elections must go ahead by November 1 has energised opposition parties and civic society who see an opportunity to deliver a kill shot to the ANC.
The court ruling was in response to an application by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) for the postponement of the elections on the grounds that free and fair elections could not be guaranteed due to the impact of Covid-19.
On Monday (September 6), the IEC issued a statement saying it was complying with the ConCourt ruling, but that a new deadline would have to be set for candidate nominations.
“It is clear [that] there are different interpretations amongst parties as to whether the order of the Constitutional Court permits the Commission to reopen nominations,” says the IEC. “The Commission has taken advice on the matter and is of the view that amending the timetable to reopen nominations is reasonably necessary in the circumstances.”
The ANC failed to register candidates in 93 of the country’s 257 municipalities.
This would be fatal to its local government election campaign should the IEC be blocked from reopening the candidate registration list.
There are currently 77 970 candidates, 911 of whom are independent, contesting more than 10 500 municipal seats across the country.
4. Another hurdle for land expropriation:
Land expropriation without compensation has hit another hurdle in South Africa, with parliament having to delay the process of getting rules adopted due to the coming elections.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said the adoption of land expropriation without compensation legislation couldn’t be delayed to December because of the local government elections.
The elections must be held by early November, meaning Parliament has to delay the passing of key legislation aimed at speeding up and reform.
The National Assembly programming committee on Monday discussed the implications of the polls on Parliament’s work.
On Friday, the ad hoc committee tasked with amending legislation that will see land expropriation without compensation embedded in the Constitution adopted its report.
But it might be a while before the National Assembly passes it into law.
EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini said Parliament couldn’t afford to set back the process.
“It is another month of a delay for people to know where they are standing. Are we going to expropriate land without compensation or not? And it is a very urgent issue that our communities out there, don’t know where they’re standing, and they need the land back.”
But African National Congress deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude said the national legislature couldn’t rush the issue.
5. Cape Wines exported to the US:
Some of South Africa’s most renowned wines have found their way to United States and are selling for as little as $9.99 a bottle.
One of South Africa’s leading independent wine producers, Douglas Green Bellingham (DGB), has partnered with Cape Classics to bring a range of products to the US.
DGB represents some of the country’s oldest wineries, including Boschendal, established in 1686, and Bellingham, founded in 1693. Cape Classic has been introducing South African wines to the US market since 1992.
During its almost 30-year tenure as a wine importer, Cape Classic has amassed a portfolio of 26 brands, including some from France. The partnership with DGB will add a further 15 individual products to its range for sale in the US.
In addition to premium wines from Boschendal and Bellingham, the every-day, inexpensive wines will come for The Beachhouse’s light whites and the Pinotage-Shiraz blended Ribshack Red.
“We are exceptionally proud to represent DGB’s legacy as an incredibly inclusive wine company that produces quality-driven wine over a range of price points,” says Cape Classics President & CEO, Rob Bradshaw, emphasising the importance of DGB’s sustainable farming practices and inclusive workspace.
“For decades DGB has been a leader in hiring, training and developing a next generation of black winemakers.”
The most expensive bottle of wine included in the recent partnership between DGB and Cape Classic is Boschendal’s Shiraz-led blend Black Angus, which will sell in the US for $39.99 (R570). Purchasing a case directly from Boschendal in South Africa, the same bottle will cost around R340.