SA’s proud moment in space history: Musk’s SpaceX docks; DA exposes ANC plan to grab your savings to fund Covid-19

By Jackie Cameron

  • South African Elon Musk’s dream to develop commercial space travel became reality when his company SpaceX successfully docked a commercial capsule at the International Space Station on Sunday. The Pretoria-born global technology pioneer behind Tesla, PayPal and other companies is the driving force behind SpaceX. Two NASA astronauts on the SpaceX Crew Dragon entered the International Space Station less than a day after their historic launch. Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were watched by millions of people as they spoke to technicians and politicians at the control station on earth. Listen to this BizNews Flash Briefing to hear a few key moments. SpaceX is leading up to getting humans to live and work for a long time on the surface of the moon, with the purpose of going to Mars, the global audience heard.
  • As South Africa moves to level 3 of Covid-19 containment, President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted how the bulk of the masks, ventilators and testing kits were still being procured from China and distributed across the continent, according to the Sunday Times. Ramaphosa said he had appointed an envoy for the continent “to scour the world for diagnostic and medical supplies” which would assist SA in its fight against the virus. “We have been able to have great success in the last few days of getting the suppliers in China to agree to make available up to 30-million test kits per month for us on the African continent. They will also make available 10,000 ventilators per month and 80-million masks per month for our continent and what we are doing is to now set up a procurement platform which we are going to launch next week,” he is reported as saying.
  • The South African government has approved only 11% of applications for Covid-19 relief funding for small, medium, and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs), according to a report from Rapport published on MyBroadband.co.za. The Covid-19 SMME Relief Funding Scheme was established and is administered by the Department of Small Business Development. It offers soft-loan funding to qualifying SMMEs over a six-month period which started on 1 April 2020. The scheme was mired in controversy after a draft document which MyBroadband previously reported on suggested race-based criteria would be used to determine businesses who qualify for the financial assistance. According to the Department’s Progress Report on Covid-19 SMME Relief Funding, it has received 12,982 applications for funding, while only 1,501 have been approved.
  • The DA says a leaked ANC discussion document on post-Covid economic recovery specifically proposes for the first time the amendment of Regulation 28 to prescribe pension fund investments. It has promised to fight an ANC plan to use pension fund savings to fund infrastructure projects and state-owned enterprises (leaked document: see here). The DA says it “will fight this proposal every step of the way, because it is fundamentally destructive to economic confidence, and it undermines the pension savings of millions of hard working South Africans. Asset prescription is not only destructive, it is also totally unnecessary. If SOEs were well run then there would be no shortage of private sector funding ready and waiting to lend them money and fund infrastructure projects. The ANC cannot run SOEs properly, and will not sell them, so now wants to force citizens to pay by sacrificing pension returns. It is a lie for the ANC to say that asset prescription is necessary, or ‘developmental’, when they refuse to consider every better policy option.”

President congratulates Elon Musk on historic space flight

President Cyril Ramaphosa has offered his warm congratulations to South African citizen and global technology pioneer Elon Musk for his company SpaceX’s historic first commercial flight into space.

Powered by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into space on Saturday, 30 May 2020, en route to docking with the International Space Station 19 hours later.

This was the first time in history that a private-sector entity launched astronauts for NASA, which is an entity of the United States government.

Elon Musk holds South African, Canadian and United States citizenship.

President Ramaphosa said: “In the midst of our struggle against Covid-19, Elon Musk has made us proud as a country and continent.

“The Dragon’s successful flight to the International Space Station speaks of the ability of a resilient, industrious, fearless and visionary individual to harness talent and material resources to open new frontiers of hope, adventure and opportunity for generations into the future.

“It is most appropriate that we have been given this hope and excitement at a time when insecurity and uncertainty defines the human condition in many parts of the world.”

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