Flash Briefing: Second state capture whistle-blower targeted; SA-born billionaire launches Africa’s largest vaccine plant; Consumer inflation hits five year high

  • SARS whistleblower Johann van Loggerenberg’s house was burgled this week – marking the second state capture witness to have their home invaded in a week. While typical criminality, common to South Africa, could be at play, Van Loggerenberg says that several factors about the burglary indicate this was not a normal break-in. Given its proximity to the burglary of former GCIS CEO, Themba Maseko – another state capture whistleblower – and the release of the first part of the state capture report, observers are raising red flags. There have been calls for authorities to take whistleblower safety more seriously.
  • US biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong on Wednesday launched a plant that will produce a billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in Cape Town by 2025, fulfilling a longtime plan to help bring greater health equity to the country of his birth. Africa struggled to secure vaccines while wealthy countries were already giving their populations shots. While doses have started flowing to the region, the continent is seeking ways to ensure it isn’t left behind again. In May, Soon-Shiong said he would give an initial R3bn to South Africa to help with the transfer of new technology for Covid-19 vaccines and other therapies, including for diseases such as cancer, HIV and tuberculosis.
  • Consumer inflation rose to its highest level in five years in December, backing the case for a potential increase in interest rates as soon as next Thursday when the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) sits down for its first scheduled meeting of 2022. Consumer price inflation, as measured by Stats SA’s consumer price index (CPI), hit 5.9% year on year in December, its biggest annual increase since March 2017 when the rate was 6.1%. The MPC meeting comes against a backdrop of increased market volatility, which is driven by uncertainty on the extent to which the US Federal Reserve will increase rates to tame inflation, which rose to an annual rate of 7% in December, the highest since 1982.
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