Hi there and welcome to The Wrap simple news updates for busy people, brought to you by Verashni Pillay and the explain.co.za team 💁🏽♀
- Our take: Life after the hard lockdown
- The big story: A landmark moment for South Africa
- News in brief: Social media was pretty awkward this week
- The international round up: One outbreak ends
- The big read: Ebrahim Patel isn’t really a communist
So, let’s dive in:
🔊 For the audio version of The Wrap, go here
🗞️ For text, check out the attached PDF or keep scrolling
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 1. EDITORIAL: OUR BRAVE NEW WORLD 💫
In just a few hours, you’ll be allowed to visit restaurants again, albeit under dramatically different conditions. It won’t be the same as the last time you casually met some friends for sushi and wine.
Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane outlined the rules that restaurants and other parts of the tourism sector will need to follow, as part of the country’s move to an ‘advanced Level 3’ lockdown. The long and short of it is: as long as you and the restaurant observe social distancing and other measures such as screening, you’re in the clear. And you’ve got a great reason to eat out too – to save the struggling restaurant sector.
So we’ve entered the brave, new, post-lockdown world. As President Cyril Ramaphosa has said: it’s now in our hands.
We can choose to bend the rules, as they start looking more and more like guidelines.
Or, we can recognise that the wave has begun, and our hospitals and healthcare workers are under pressure. Let’s make their lives easier by doing everything we can to flatten the curve, even as normal life starts to resume, albeit with masks and the ever-present smell of sanitiser.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 2. SA STARTS TRIALS FOR NEW COVID-19 VACCINE 💉
In a landmark moment for both South Africa and Africa, Wits University researchers are leading the trial for a new Covid-19 vaccine. The candidate vaccine, known as ChAdOx1-Cov19, is one of 268 other vaccines being researched and tested around the world. This trial is conducted in collaboration with Oxford University and the Oxford Jenner Institute in the United Kingdom.
Why is it important?
If ChAdOx1-Cov19 is a success, it would fast-track immunisation against the virus not only for people here in South Africa, but throughout Africa as well. The ability to be at the forefront of production locally will also ensure the country and the continent is not left behind, if and/or when a vaccine becomes available.
The trial is also being conducted in Brazil and the UK, on about 15 000 participants between the two of them.
In South Africa, the vaccine is being tested on 2 000 participants. Half the participants will be injected with the vaccine, and the other half will receive a placebo, according to the Wits University website. At least 50 people living with HIV were also included in the trial.
The objective of the trial is to determine whether the ChaAdOx1-Cov19 vaccine will protect people against Covid-19, to ensure the vaccine does not cause unacceptable side effects, and to measure if it induces a satisfactory immune response, says Wits University.
Professor Shabir Madhi, who is leading the trial, says that the earliest we will see results is the end of 2020, and the production of an actual vaccine may only be available by the last quarter of 2021.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 3. NEWS IN BRIEF 📍
🔸 A Covid-19 project unifies Africa
As the world battles with a shortage of testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies, African nations have teamed up to find a solution across the continent. 🙌🏽
President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the Chair of the African Union, launched the Africa Medical Supplies Platform this week. It’s a single online marketplace, similar to eBay or Amazon. It aims to provide African Union Member States with a fair chance to purchase certified testing kits, PPE and any other medical equipment at a LOW COST, with full transparency, ease and security.
Ramaphosa called the platform a “silver lining” to the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that it is “the glue that’s going to bind the continent together”. Hopefully, this will be a prototype for the long-awaited African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Before the pandemic upended the world as we knew it, the agreement was set to launch in July 2020. That date has now tentatively been moved to January 2021. It will be the world’s largest free trade area, by number of countries, once it’s fully up and running. The objective is to allow easy trading across the continent, which will theoretically offer business more protection from external supply and demand shocks from international markets.
🔸 New numbers for a new problem
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, right? That’s why you may have seen Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on your TV screens this week doing… another budget speech. Don’t those only happen in February? Mboweni was presenting an emergency budget, the first in our democratic history and, you guessed it, all thanks to Covid-19.
The Minister said that:
▪️ Our fiscal debt is our largest weakness
▪️ The economy could contract by 7.2% this year – the biggest reduction in 90 years
▪️ Unemployment is our biggest challenge
But instead of taking you through the many details of his speech, check out our video for three positive takeaways, AND how you can save some money in these trying times. We got you, fam! 😉
🔸 Government wins case over decision to ban tobacco sales
Turns out the government was right about banning cigarette sales after all. The Pretoria High Court ruled in favour of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s rationale to ban cigarette sales.
The court said adequate medical evidence exists to link smoking to severe forms of Covid-19. It concluded that banning cigarettes is a rational decision taken by the state to protect lives and curb the spread of the virus, as well as to prevent additional strain on the country’s healthcare facilities during the pandemic.
🔸 Oh Hell(en)
Our not-so-favourite Twitter drama mama strikes again. 🙄 This week, DA Federal Chair Helen Zille tweeted that the last apartheid president FW De Klerk helped end that regime. We’re sure you’re thinking, what she tweeted is not THAT bad, right? Yeah, it got worse. 🤦🏽
She said dismantling apartheid was something the ANC was incapable of doing at the time. When she was accused of racism for her views, she said “There are more racist laws today than there were under apartheid.” 🙄
Some DA leaders filed complaints against her tweets. The DA will investigate, but Sunday Times reported that DA leader John Steenhuisen is choosing silence. Probably because he’s seen what happened to other leaders who tried to take on Zille… That tactic won’t work long.
Black leaders, like Phumzile Van Damme, are furious. She has said so publicly, also stating that vocal black leaders are being hounded out of the DA, and the party’s disciplinary processes have fallen apart. Zille and her Twitter account is proving to be the opposition party’s Achilles heel.
🔸 Julius brings… himself to task
In an attempt to clear his name from the VBS scandal, EFF leader Julius Malema invited five journalists to a briefing to “interrogate” his involvement in the debacle.
Malema specified that Pauli van Wyk – who has written the most damning reports on him and his party – be invited, saying it was his son’s idea, to show he has nothing to hide. Van Wyk declined attending, saying on a radio interview that:
“He publically banned us [Daily Maverick], and he must publicly un-ban us… When it pleases them they ban us, but when they want to have a PR movement and when they are panicking about arrests coming, they suddenly want us at their beck and call.”
The nearly hour-long briefing was heated, and at some points awkward. Afterwards, Malema even posted a video of himself unpacking his wallet to show his different cards and prove he doesn’t have the money. 🤔
🔸 Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng comes under fire
South Africa’s Chief Justice Moegeng Moegeng is a revered figure. There were concerns about his staunch Christian faith when he was first appointed, but he proved his critics wrong by judicial decisions upholding our Constitution. Now, he’s come under fire for comments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 👀
Moegeng said SA has failed to take a ‘balanced’ approach to the conflict, and claimed he was under an obligation as a Christian to love Israel. This was while speaking in an online webinar hosted by Israel’s The Jerusalem Post this week. SA is aligned with Palestine, whose plight has long been paralleled to apartheid South Africa.
Reverend Moss Ntlha, General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of South Africa, has pointed out that the Zionist idea that Christians were called to side with Israel, no matter what, was theologically flawed, and a trap. “The Christian scriptures clearly teach us that in Christ, there is neither Jew nor gentile,” he wrote in his opinion piece.
Moegeng has been called to retract his comments, and may face a complaint against him at the Judicial Services Commission. This as Israel is planning to annex parts of the illegally occupied West Bank, thanks to a VERY problematic treaty worked out by the Trump administration.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 4. INTERNATIONAL ROUND UP 🌎
🔹 End of Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The worst-ever outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the DRC is officially over, after nearly two years. For an EVD outbreak to be declared over, there has to be a 42-day period since the last positive case on record has tested negative. There are still hotspots to watch out for in the north west of the country, and ongoing transmission from animals is a possibility – but it’s a good sign.
What took so long? Well, decades of conflict in the east of the country has led to widespread mistrust of authorities, which has made it harder for health workers to work with communities. 😕 What DID help was collaboration, according to WHO’s Regional Director to Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti. “This is a sign of hope that with solidarity and science, epidemics can be controlled,” she said.
Think about that, and then the US decision to withdraw funding from WHO during the Covid-19 pandemic… 🤦♀️
🔹 Malawi’s successful election a win for justice
Judges in certain African countries are starting to push back against authoritarian regimes, The Economist reports this week. Malawi’s Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda declined taking indefinite leave, after President Peter Mutharika suggested he do so to “write his biography”. This of course had NOTHING to do with the judiciary annulling Mutharika’s re-election last year after serious irregularities, including the use of correction fluid (read: Tippex) to change voters’ marks on ballot papers 🙄.
This week, Malawians got to vote in a re-run with a resounding victory for the opposition coalition. This is a rare case of the judiciary standing up to Big Men across the continent, and those in the know are hoping cases like this will echo beyond Malawi’s borders.
🔹 Travel ban blocks annual pilgrimage to Mecca
Muslims across the globe may have to forego any planned trip to the holy city of Mecca this year, with strict limits now in place. Citizens from other countries that are already within Saudi Arabia may attend, but international visitors are barred. This year’s Hajj, as the journey is known, will be dramatically scaled down, and the country faces a massive economic hit, as well as many businesses in the global travel industry. But as Islamic scholars have pointed out, this isn’t the first time a plague has disrupted this mass pilgrimage in its 1,400 years of history.
🔹 Djokovic’s ‘friendly’ tournament leads to infections
What was he thinking? Tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has been left with egg on his face after he and eight others contracted Covid-19 at an exhibition tournament he was hosting.
An exhibition event is a bit like a “friendly”, and several have been held during the pandemic, while the major series are on pause. But unlike other friendly matches, there was limited social distancing on Djokovic’s Adria Tour. It was played to crowded stadiums, with players hugging and high-fiving each other, as well as playing basketball and dancing together, CNN reported. One of the infected people is the pregnant wife of one of the players. 😱
🔹 China launches global navigation satellite system
After two decades, China has finished the installation of its own global navigation satellite system, BDS. This will make the growing super power even more self-sufficient, and avoid dependence on foreign rivals when it comes to a network that underpins modern business technologies and the military. BDS is now the fourth global navigation satellite system in use, joining the USA’s GPS, the EU’s Galileo, and Russia’s Glonass.
▁ ▂ ▄ ▅ ▆ ▇ █ 5. THE BIG READ AND WEEK AHEAD 🤓
We loved this in-depth profile on the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, in this week’s Financial Mail. He’s been the butt of many jokes, thanks to his Department’s ridiculous lists of what can, and can’t, be sold under lockdown. (Turns out, it was businesses who asked him to create those lists.)
It’s a good profile, where people who have known him for decades, and been on the opposite side of many issues with him, have said he has smarts, integrity and a hard work ethic. Even Helen Zille reluctantly agreed! The article is behind a paywall, but R10 gets you in.
In the week ahead:
▪️ The Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture is set to resume hearings again on Monday, after over three months in limbo due to lockdown regulations. The Commission was set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018, and it’s been ongoing since. The first person to take the stand is former PRASA board chair, Popo Molefe.
▪️ In terms of Covid-19 in SA, government’s leading adviser Abdool Karim said the country should prepare for multiple small peaks, and the worst of the pandemic is likely to dissipate in October or November, according to Sunday Times.
That’s it from us at The Wrap, a product of https://explain.co.za/ – simple news summaries for busy people. 💁🏾♀
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