Flash Briefing: Confiscate Zuma’s passport, please CR – urges Mashaba; IMF cautions SA; US markets

  • South Africa has secured 20 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine as the death toll from the disease moves past 42,000, the Johannesburg-based Sunday Times newspaper reported. As the global tally of Covid-19 cases passes 100 million, the European Union unveiled a drastic plan to restrict vaccine exports, a move that highlights the perils of vaccine nationalism.For more on Covid-19 and how governments are handling the pandemic, listen to the latest Inside Covid-19 podcast – now up on BizNews Radio.
  • As South Africa prepares to release its annual budget later this month, the International Monetary Fund has underscored the necessity to curb the country’s excessive public sector wage bill. The IMF has also flagged up ‘ill-targeted transfers’ to inefficient state-owned entities as a cause for concern. Last week, the government announced paying R1.3bn to troubled airline SAA for staff severance packages. SAA, arms dealer Denel, the Land Bank, power utility Eskom and other state entities have all been propped up by regular taxpayer-funded bail-outs in recent years.
  • ActionSA, a party headed by former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, is urging the government to investigate reports emerging from numerous sources indicate that former President Jacob Zuma may be readying to jet out of South Africa to Russia in what is believed to be a bid to avoid his appointment with the State Capture Commission. In a statement released at the weekend, it says: “Our government has a responsibility to determine the veracity of these claims and act upon decisively if determined to be true. Denials issued by Duduzane Zuma, the Zuma family spokesperson, provide little credibility especially when they include the remarks ‘South Africans will be officially informed by the relevant people dealing with the matter involving the former president’.” ActionSA said it has learnt through sources that former President Zuma does intend to leave the country. “ActionSA calls upon President Ramaphosa and the South African government to immediately take possession of Zuma’s passport, as a pre-cautionary measure, to ensure that he cannot depart from the country until he has fulfilled his responsibilities to the State Capture Commission. This is to prevent the Constitutional Court ruling being rendered meaningless. Zuma has demonstrated a willingness to treat the State Capture Commission with contempt and has a long history of employing legal tactics to avoid facing accountability in our courts. The South African government has experience on how individuals like Omar Al-Bashir and Prophet Shepard Bushiri have left the country under similar circumstances. This is why ActionSA is calling upon President Ramaphosa to take proactive steps to prevent this,” the party said.
  • This week investors will get a look at fresh data on the manufacturing sector, earnings from Amazon.com and Google parent Alphabet and the January employment report, reports The Wall Street Journal. These results come as warnings grow louder that the US stock market is in a bubble of epic proportions. “You know, this one has checked off all the boxes from a history book,” said Jeremy Grantham, co-founder of Boston money manager Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co., who predicted the market crashes of 2000 and 2008. Mr. Grantham has been calling the current market overheated since last year. For more, log on to BizNews Premium – where subscribers have full access to the Wall Street Journal.
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