Flash briefing: Stinky India-SA vaccine deal; ANC stalwart Mthembu dies; interest rates; Eskom; Mozambique; Gold Fields

By Jackie Cameron

  • South Africa will pay $5.25 per dose for 1.5 million shots of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), a senior official said on Thursday, more than some wealthier countries are paying. Health department Deputy Director-General Anban Pillay told Reuters that SII’s price was based on South Africa’s status as an upper-middle-income country under a World Bank classification. The price is higher than the $3 a dose that South Africa and other countries on the continent are due to pay for the same vaccine under an African Union (AU) arrangement, and the 2.5 euros ($3.03) per dose European Union countries have agreed to pay, says Reuters. South Africa is hosting clinical trials of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University, raising questions about the higher price it will be paying.
  • As SA reports more than 38,000 deaths from Covid-19, Minister in The Presidency, and former ANC chief whip in the National Assembly, Jackson Mthembu has passed away from Covid-19 related complications.
  • South Africa’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate for a third straight meeting as it revised its inflation forecasts higher and signalled that it may rise sooner than previously indicated, says Bloomberg. The Monetary Policy Committee kept the repurchase rate at 3.5%. The key rate is at its lowest level since 1998.
  • South African Foreign Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor expressed frustration over the region’s failure to help Mozambique contain an escalating Islamist insurgency, says Bloomberg. The Southern African Development Community was due to hold a special summit this week in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, to discuss its response to the insurgency, which has caused more than half a million people to flee their homes in the north of the country. The militants are also encroaching on a $20bn natural gas project Total SE is building.
  • The biggest labour group at South Africa’s Eskom Holdings blamed “poor leadership” for ongoing nationwide power cuts, a discordant sign as the utility embarks on a plan to become profitable again, says Bloomberg. The National Union of Mineworkers is “very disappointed with the performance” of Eskom Chief Executive Officer André de Ruyter and the lack of a plan to prevent outages, it said Thursday in a statement. The group also continues to oppose the use of independent electricity producers, which Eskom is counting on to help increase generation. But independent analyst Chris Yelland told BizNews in an in-depth interview this week that independent producers could help SA out of its electricity crisis.
  • Gold Fields has appointed former Anglo American Platinum boss Chris Griffith as CEO, the South African miner said on Thursday, says Bloomberg. The former Amplats and Kumba Iron Ore CEO joins Gold Fields at a time when surging gold prices have boosted the miner’s earnings.

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