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Government urged to allow private sector to procure COVID-19 vaccines
2 March 2021, 1:00 PM

Lobby group, Afriforum, and trade union, Solidarity, are urging the government to allow the private sector to purchase and distribute vaccines to combat the coronavirus.

Afriforum says government has admitted under oath in its court documents that there is no legal restriction on the private sector to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

The two organisations had taken the government to court to declare any legal exclusion of the private sector regarding the purchase of vaccines unconstitutional.

Trade union Solidarity’s, Dirk Hermann, has told the media in Pretoria that the private sector must be involved.

Afriforum’s Ernst Van Zyl says allowing the private sector to purchase and distribute the vaccines would make the country’s rollout more efficient and corruption-free.

“Afriforum argues that the government monopolising the vaccine drastically infringes on the basic rights of all South Africans. The private sector’s participation in the purchasing and distribution of the vaccines is essential for the protection of constitutional rights of access to healthcare. Apart from the possibility of abuse of power by the government, its track record of corruption and maladministration during the pandemic does not inspire confidence in anyone at all,” says Van Zyl.

This comes amid the Western Cape government’s plan to procure vaccines independently of the African National Congress-led government.

A move Gauteng premier, David Makhura, says is a pipedream.

He was responding to a DA Gauteng leader Solly Msimanga’s question on why the province was not directly procuring COVID-19 vaccines from big pharmaceuticals to fast-rack the province’s target to vaccinate over 10-million people.

Makhura says pharmaceutical companies are putting pressure on governments to sign agreements to absolve them from any risks. He says it is therefore important for the procurement of vaccines to be centralised.

“Vaccine federalism will not work. You will fall into the trap of these big pharma. Big pharma acts on its own interest. When people get disease big pharma makes big money. So set aside that illusion honorauble Msimang. That is a dangerous illusion you will set out this country,” says the Gauteng Premier.

EXPLAINER:  VIDEO South Africa’s vaccine rollout strategy:

 

Trump and his wife quietly got vaccinated for COVID before leaving the White House
2 March 2021, 12:20 PM

Former US President Donald Trump and then first lady Melania Trump both received COVID-19 vaccinations as far back as January.

US Media reports quoting an anonymous Trump advisor indicate that the former first couple received the first of a two-dose vaccine regime while still at the White House.

It’s unclear which vaccine – either Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna the Trump’s received, but why they didn’t publicise their vaccinations is unknown.

It was former Vice President Mike Pence and other senior administration officials at the time that appeared in televised vaccine efforts as they sought to grow confidence in the process given high levels of hesitancy amid questions around efficacy and safety – not only in the United States but around the world.

Trump had in the past expressed skepticism around vaccines in general, blaming them for autism – but appears to have shifted his view.

Both President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have been publicly vaccinated against COVID-19.

US President Donald Trump tweets that he, First Lady have tested positive for COVID-19:

Trump did not do enough 

Biden on Thursday said the coronavirus vaccination programme he inherited from Trump was in “much worse shape” than he had expected, while urging patience and said the government has bought 200 million more doses.

“We’re not going to have everything fixed for a while, but we’re going to fix it,” Biden said in remarks at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

With demand for the vaccine far outstripping supply, Americans are struggling to get appointments for their inoculations, leaving Biden with an acute problem less than a month after taking over from Trump.

Biden said Trump, who spent his last two months in office in a futile effort to overturn the results of the November 3 presidential election that he lost, did not order enough vaccine and did not do enough to get people lined up to get vaccinated.

A Trump representative did not immediately respond to a request for reaction to Biden’s comments. Trump had expressed pride in the speed of the vaccine development on his watch.

Biden said the US government has signed contracts for 100 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 100 million more from Pfizer.

Biden promises vaccinations to all Americans by summer: 

Parliament should act against Mkhwebane, says Justice Kriegler
2 March 2021, 11:20 AM

Former Constitutional Court Justice, Johann Kriegler, says he strongly believes Parliament should act against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

He was reacting to a report of an independent panel that found evidence of incompetence and misconduct on Mkhwebane’s part.

The panel, which released a report yesterday, has recommended that Parliament goes ahead with determining whether she is fit to hold office.

Justice Bess Nkabinde, Advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza and Johann de Waal were on the panel.

Kriegler says their report is credible.

“Independent panel acting in terms of the rules of Parliament has produced a report. I have seen their recommendations, they are perfectly clear. The Portfolio Committee should now take the matter to the floor of the house with a motion for the impeachment for the dismissal of Advocate Mkhwebane.”

The DA has also called on Parliament to immediately start proceedings against Mkhwebane.

Judge Johann Kriegler, Chairperson of Freedom Under Law comments on the issue:

PP badly treated?

Some South Africans have accused the governing ANC of badly treating the Public Protector because some of her reports have found some party leaders guilty of wrongdoing.

Mkhwebane’s has had damning findings against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s CR17 bank statement seen by some as the final straw.

But the ANC says there’s no truth in the allegations.

ANC spokesperson, Pule Mabe, says the governing party does not want to have a cozy relation with any Chapter 9 institution.

“It’s not even desirable we are not looking for coziness from a Chapter 9 institution. It would be very wrong for us to even wish for that. These are independent institutions, they are established by the Constitution, and they are expected to strengthen constitutional democracy not to be cozy with political parties.

Actually, the moment they start doing that they will be acting in violation of their own mandate. So the Public Protector and whoever incumbent that occupies that office at any given time must act with utmost independence and never give a shred of doubt at how they conduct their work,” says Mabe.

Discussion on the process to remove the Public Protector: 

 

Fuel price to increase at midnight
2 March 2021, 9:30 AM

Cash-strapped motorists will be paying more for fuel with effect from midnight.

The price of petrol is expected to increase by 66 cents per litre, while a litre of diesel will go up by 57 cents and paraffin by 49 cents.

The price hikes come as food prices also go up and an increase in electricity tariffs looms.

The Automobile Association (AA) recently attributed the latest fuel price hike to increased economic activity because of the global roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines.

Increased economic activity has led to the appreciation of the rand against the dollar and an increase in demand for oil.

US look to take major step forward in Olympic qualifying bid
2 March 2021, 9:15 AM

The United States men’s under-23 soccer team are aiming to make up for past disappointments, coach Jason Kreis said on Monday as his squad gathered in Mexico for a training camp ahead of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

With the US women having already earned their spot at this year’s rescheduled Tokyo Games, the men will try to do the same and qualify for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics if they can reach the final of the March 18-30 competition.

“I see it as an opportunity, I presented it to the guys that we have a chance to sort of not rewrite history but take a major step forward,” said Kreis, during a media call from Guadalajara.

“I don’t think any of us should feel any real onus about what has happened four years, eight years ago, none of us were part of that.

“What it is for me is just kind of right some wrongs.”

The US open against Costa Rica on March 18, then face the Dominican Republic on March 21 before wrapping up Group A play against arch-rivals Mexico on March 24.

Group B includes Canada, Honduras, Haiti, and El Salvador.

The top two in each group advance to the semi-finals with the winners of those two contests securing tickets to Tokyo.

Different look

Originally scheduled for last year, the qualifying tournament was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as a result, the US squad will have a very different look from the one that might have been selected.

Most of the 31 players called up this time were taken from Major League Soccer rosters with only five based outside the US

Eight players from the 20-man squad named last year are not in Guadalajara.

Another notable absentee is 18-year-old Los Angeles Galaxy standout midfielder Efrain Alvarez, who is eligible to play for both Mexico and the U..and according to Kreis is not yet ready to commit to one national team.

Galaxy’s Jonathan Klinsmann, son of former Germany international and World Cup winner Juergen, is one of four goalkeepers in the squad looking to earn Olympic spots.

“The team feels different in a lot of ways,” said Kreis, who will trim his squad to 20 players by March 15. “There’s a host of players that weren’t available this year that were available last year.

“Ultimately it looks a little different from the top end perspective perhaps. At the end of the day, I still feel very good about the talent level we have.”

Weather

 

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