Flash Briefing: Ramaphosa ‘shocked’ by Magashule behaviour; most vaccinated country back in lockdown; Eskom; Sibanye

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  • ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa is shocked and dismayed by a letter from ANC secretary general Ace Magashule who made an unauthorised attempt to suspend Ramaphosa as party president. Ramaphosa says Magashule’s points are null and void, according to Eyewitness News.
  • Eskom doesn’t want to buy electricity from the company that won most of a government emergency-power tender because it’s concerned about the cost and length of the contract, according to two people familiar with the situation. That’s according to Bloomberg. It says that meeting the terms of Karpowership’s 20-year deal would add pressure to Eskom’s already stretched finances and heighten its exposure to fossil fuels, said the people, requesting anonymity as the utility is yet to comment publicly. The company has a debt burden of R464bn ($32bn) and is struggling to meet payments even with the help of state bailouts. Karpowership of Turkey’s contract is to supply South Africa with 1,220 megawatts of electricity from gas-burning power plants stationed on boats moored offshore. The move is intended to provide a safety net during Eskom’s frequent power-plant outages, which trigger blackouts across the country. Karpowership’s deal would be worth as much as R218 billion over its two-decade duration, according to estimates from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a state institution.
  • Zimbabwe plans to list a bond on the local exchange for the first time in 20 years to raise funds for the expansion and upgrade of a main highway that links the country to its largest trading partner, South Africa, reports Bloomberg. The $250m listing by the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe will be the first note issuance on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange since 2001, when municipal bonds with a government guarantee were listed. Total trade between South Africa and Zimbabwe stood at $2.4bn last year. The 580-kilometre (363 mile) road that links the capital, Harare to Beitbridge, one of Africa’s busiest border crossings that straddles the two countries, is currently too narrow to deal with the vast amount of traffic. On average about 25,000 people and 500 trucks pass through Beitbridge daily, according to Zimbabwean officials. The border point has been closed to non-commercial traffic since January to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Seychelles, which has fully vaccinated more of its population against the coronavirus than any other country, has closed schools and canceled sporting activities for two weeks as infections surge, says Bloomberg. The measures, which include bans on the intermingling of households and the early closure of bars, come even as the country has fully vaccinated more than 60% of its adult population with two doses of Covid-19 vaccines. The curbs are similar to those last imposed at the end of 2020. By April 12, 59% of the doses administered were Sinopharm vaccines and the rest were Covishield, a version of AstraZeneca’s shot made under license in India. To date 62.2% of its population is fully vaccinated, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker. That compares with 55.9% for Israel, the next most vaccinated nation.
  • South African miner Sibanye-Stillwater on Thursday posted a 78% increase in first-quarter core profit, driven by higher metals prices and improved operational performance. High prices for metals extracted by Sibanye, including gold, platinum, palladium and rhodium, have boosted profits against a backdrop of supply disruptions and strong demand. Sibanye said that average prices for four of the platinum group metals (PGM) it mines rose 59% year on year while the average rand gold price was up 8%. The company reported adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) for the quarter at R19.8bn ($1.38bn).

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