5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 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).

  • Mandatory: 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. [TimesLive]

  • Returned: The European Union is returning millions of Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccines to South Africa to be distributed among the rest of Africa. Local pharmaceutical group Aspen had an agreement to fill and finish the J&J shot for distribution – however, it had no control over where the doses would eventually go. 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. [ENCA]

  • Land expropriation: Parliament’s ad hoc committee tasked with drafting changes to the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation is said to be days away from finalising its task and presenting it to the National Assembly. The drawn-out process wants to change the wording in the Constitution to include the capacity to expropriate land without compensation, including the improvements to that land – such as homes, buildings and other developments. While the Constitution already allows for expropriation without compensation, the ANC wants it to be clear that this includes everything on the land as well. [EWN]

  • Speculation: DA federal chair Helen Zille has come under fire for questioning the independence of South Africa’s judiciary. Zille claimed that officials within the Constitutional Court ‘tipped off’ the ANC about the IEC’s case to have the 2021 elections postponed, which led the ruling party to withdraw its case to have the deadline to submit candidates extended. She provided no evidence to back the claim. Analysts said that her comments are damaging and sow mistrust in a judiciary already under constant attack. Legal experts said there appears to be no basis for the accusation beyond ‘self-serving speculation’. [News24]

  • Markets: A rally in the South African rand came to a halt on Thursday afternoon, as investors turned cautious ahead of a US jobs report on Friday that could affect expectations over the path of the Federal Reserve’s policy. The rand had risen steadily this week in the wake of a dovish speech from Fed Chair Jerome Powell last Friday when he suggested the bank was in no rush to raise interest rates. On Friday, the rand was at R14.45/$, R17.16/€ and R19.98/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today