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EU sues AstraZeneca over ‘breach’ of COVID-19 vaccine supply contract
26 April 2021, 6:12 PM

The European Commission (EU) said on Monday it had launched legal action against AstraZeneca for not respecting its contract for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines and for not having a “reliable” plan to ensure timely deliveries.

AstraZeneca said in response that the legal action by the EU was without merit and pledged to defend itself strongly in court.

Under the contract, the Anglo-Swedish company had committed to making its “best reasonable efforts” to deliver 180 million vaccine doses to the EU in the second quarter of this year, for a total of 300 million in the period from December to June.

But AstraZeneca said in a statement on March 12 it would aim to deliver only one-third of that by the end of June, of which about 70 million would be in the second quarter.

A week after that, the Commission sent a legal letter to the company in the first step of a formal procedure to resolve disputes. AstraZeneca’s delays have contributed towards hampering the bloc’s vaccination drive, as the vaccine developed by Oxford University was initially supposed to be the main one in an EU rollout in the first half of this year.

After repeated cuts in supplies, the bloc changed its plans and now relies mostly on the Pfizer-BioNTech jab.

“The Commission has started last Friday a legal action against AstraZeneca,” the EU spokesman told a news conference, noting all 27  EU states backed the move. “Some terms of the contract have not been respected and the company has not been in a position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure timely delivery of doses,” the spokesman said, explaining what triggered the move. “AstraZeneca has fully complied with the Advance Purchase Agreement with the European Commission and will strongly defend itself in court. We believe any litigation is without merit and we welcome this opportunity to resolve this dispute as soon as possible,” AstraZeneca said.

Under the contract, the case will need to be resolved by Belgian courts.

“We want to make sure there is a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to and which have been promised on the basis of the contract, “the spokesman said.

‘We had to send a message’ 

Officials confirmed the purpose of the legal action was to ensure more supplies than what the company has said it would aim to deliver. The move follows months of rows with the company over supply issues and amid concerns over the efficacy and safety of the vaccine. Still, while the shot has been linked to very rare cases of blood clots, the EU drugs regulator has recommended its use to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“We had to send a message to (Pascal) Soriot,” an EU official said, referring to AstraZeneca’s chief executive. Germany, France and Hungary were among EU states that were initially reticent to sue the company, mostly on the grounds that the move might not speed up deliveries, diplomats said, but eventually they supported it. After the announcement of the legal action, AstraZeneca said it was in the process of delivering nearly 50 million doses by the end of April, a goal which is in line with the revised-down target of supplying only 100 million shots by the end of the quarter.

The EU wants AstraZeneca to deliver the promised 300 million doses, but in a further sign of its irritation towards the company, it has already forgone another 100 million shots that it had an option to buy under the contract signed in August.

The spat with AstraZeneca has also stoked a dispute oversupplies with former EU member Britain. AstraZeneca said it was prevented from exporting doses from UK factories to make up for some of the shortfalls in the EU, EU officials have said. Now the EU is opposing the export of AstraZeneca shots to Britain from a factory in the Netherlands.

Transnet’s real collapse on horizon: Siyabonga Gama
26 April 2021, 5:11 PM

Former Transnet CEO, Siyabonga Gama, warned that the real collapse of Transnet has not yet happened and people will watch it happen.

Gama appeared before the commission of Inquiry into State Capture for the second time today .

He denied all allegations levelled against him by other witnesses who had appeared before the commission including former Non-Executive Chair of the Transnet board, Popo Molefe.

He also denied laundering money to the Guptas and that his appointment at the entity was influenced by former Public Enterprise Minister, Malusi Gigaba.

Gama says he was not an architect of State Capture as alleged by Molefe. He told the commission there has been inconsistencies in some of the witness statements before the commission- including that of Molefe.

He said Molefe’s evidence was designed to tannish his reputation and he had a personal vendetta against him.

“According to Molefe my appointment was due to the influence of Gigaba. This allegation I believe has been purposed to fit the State Capture narrative. I have worked through the ranks and was appointed as CEO through hard work and dedication and not through the influence hand of Gigaba as Mr Popo Molefe would have you believe. Mr Gigaba was appointed as Public Enterprise Minister in 2010, at that time I had already worked for Transnet for more than 16 years,” he added.

Gama said he was the one who terminated the contracts of Gupta- linked Trillian and Regiments and there has been no evidence produced by Molefe on allegations that he is corrupt and a fraud. Gama says truths and facts have been twisted by the media.

Gama defended his leadership at Transnet, saying the entity’s total revenue and operating profits were at their best when he was at the helm of the organisation. He warned that Transnet is on a downhill slope.

“Your observers must watch if there will not be a decline leading to a real collapse and profitability over the next three years when the impact of Prasarisation fully sets in. Between 2016 and 2016 Transnet embarked on a process to start anew strategy, for the year ended March 2018 Transnet announced 75 % growth in net profits of R4.9 billion against an increase of 11.3 % to 72.9 billion driven by strong volume growth. These were not the results of a struggling company yet in May 2019. Molefe informed the commission that the new board had averted a financial collapse,” he said.

‘2018 board incompetent’

Gama claimed the Transnet board appointed in 2018 was incompetent and ill-equipped. He says the board was further dismantled by the company’s corporate strategy accusing him and every executive with long year tenure at the entity of corruption and executing them.

“My attempts to induct the board to Transnet processes, control systems, strategy’s and challenges and to arm the board with the necessary information , even to educate them and to ally the allegations, was armed with huge resistance. They were armed with no operational knowledge or expertise of the company they directed. Then they set out their mandate of rooting out corruption at Transnet by way of nothing less than a purge by removing the entire top layer of executive management starting with the Group Chief executive in 2018.”

‘Real state capture’

Gama told the commission multinational mining company Anglo American was the real state capture. Anglo-Kumba earnings, before interest taxed ended 21 December 2020, increased to a rate of R45.8 billion.

He says for years Transnet tried to normalise the tariff being paid by big mining companies for rail freight but has failed. He told the commission the Kumba/Transnet agreement is anti-competitive, exclusionary and has kept out Black junior iron Ore miners, who don’t have capacity to export Iron Ore or Manganese in their own names.

He says to this day, Kumba pays Transnet R1 billion less per annum than what they ought to pay and had it tariff been normalised in line with Assmang’s tariffs which was normalised in 2013.

“And this anti-competitive behaviour and the super profits being earned by Kumba is set to be condoned until 2028. Any Transnet official who seeks to normalise this earns the wrath of the Anglo,” says the former Transnet boss.

Gama’s testimony in the video below:

DA wants Mapisa-Nqakula investigated for chartered flights claims
26 April 2021, 4:35 PM

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to institute an urgent investigation into allegations that Defence and Military Veterans Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, wasted millions of taxpayers’ money on chartered flights and luxury accommodation.

The party says she must also be suspended without compensation pending the outcome of the investigation.

DA Shadow Defence Minister, Kobus Marais, says a dossier of evidence has been submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence, detailing at least five instances where doubt can be cast over Mapisa-Nqakula’s actions.

He says this is in addition to evidence submitted before that she allegedly extorted more than R5 million from an SANDF service provider.

Holomisa implicates Minister Mapisa-Nqakula in a R5 million scandal:

Ruling on Ntutuko Shoba’s bail application set down for Friday
26 April 2021, 4:27 PM

Judgment in the bail application of Ntutuko Shoba, who is the alleged mastermind behind the murder of 28-year-old Tshegofatso Pule, will be handed down on Friday in the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court.

Shoba brought a second bid for bail today maintaining his innocence. He stated through his defense lawyer, Shaddy Sithole, that he will not interfere with any evidence should he be granted bail.

Shoba maintains he did not have a hand in Pule’s murder. He has solely put the blame on Muzikayise Malephane, who pleaded guilty of murder, defeating the ends of justice as well as unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Malephane entered a plea bargain with the state naming Shoba as the mastermind. But Shoba maintains they only connected through alcohol sales during the hard lockdown.

Shoba also submitted that he was a breadwinner and that his grandmother depended on him. However, he was fired from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange a few days ago. A decision, he says, he will be appealing.

Ntuthuko Shoba in court for second bail application:


N West ANC IPC scolds Mahumapelo, warns it won’t be held at ransom
26 April 2021, 3:09 PM

The African National Congress’ (ANC) North West Interim Provincial Committee (IPC ) has called on former premier and party provincial chairperson, Supra Mahumapelo, to refrain from contravening the party’s constitution.

Mahumapelo is currently attending a disciplinary hearing alongside ANC Woman’s League Secretary, Bitsang Lenkopane, for allegedly holding a meeting in Mareetsane near where the IPC had organised an event.

Yesterday, Mahumapelo told branch delegates in Delareyville that he believed the process was aimed at damaging his reputation.

Spokesperson for the ANC IPC, Kenny Morolong, however says Mahumapelo has no regard for the party’s constitution.

“These comrade undermines the decision and the directives of the IPC and the NEC. He has absolutely no regards for the ANC constitution, he has no regard for the ANC structures. His recent rents justify why the IPC decided to subject him to the disciplinary processes. Comrade Mahumapelo without him the ANC of his imagination cannot be led. We wish to issue a stand warning that we will not be held at ransom,” adds Morolong.

During his address to his supporters yesterday, Mahumapelo accused the ANC of violating the Constitution, saying some of the party’s resolutions are in conflict with the law.

He urged the ANC NEC to suspend its step-aside resolution until the party’s next national conference.

Supra Mahumapelo briefs branches on recent suspension of a number of prominent ANC members:



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