Booze banned again
Take that six pack of beer out of your boot. Transporting alcohol — except if you are making hand cleaner or detergent; exporting the stuff; or taking it for storage after it leaves the manufacturer — is verboten.
And don’t even think of selling the stuff.
All the big South African news media outlets, plus plenty of international ones, carried details of Cyril Ramaphosa’s Sunday night speech, which announced a reintroduction of a ban on booze sales, plus a 9pm to 4am curfew.
The President said he wanted to put a lid on parties with drinking sprees where people don’t wear masks.
“There is now clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales has resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals, including trauma and ICU units, due to motor vehicle accidents, violence as well as trauma that is alcohol-induced,” he said.
City Press was among those who saw it coming.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, several premiers and others were among those lobbying for a return of the ban, which had been lifted at the start of June, according to the newspaper.
Liquor manufacturers and traders, were understandably, less keen on the idea.
City Press quoted Kurt Moore, chief executive of the South Africa Liquor Brand Owners Association, before the ban was imposed.
He said the industry was concerned about the surge in infections but feared that restrictions such as an outright ban and shorter trading hours “would likely increase panic buying and overcrowding at retail outlets, which would increase the risk of transmission of the virus”.
Noted with thanks, seemed to be Ramaphosa’s response: “The sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol will be suspended with immediate effect.”
So it’s back to bread and pineapples and visits to your local bootlegger. But brace yourself for a slew of stories on the high prices (and easy availability) of the contraband stuff, plus the usual memes.
It’s been a close-run thing.
The Western Cape led from near the start, but Gauteng recently took the lead.
As of Saturday, Gauteng had 81,546 reported cases of the virus, while the Western Cape lags with 74 815.
Now the premiers of the two provinces are among the tally themselves.
Gauteng premier David Makhura has tested positive for Covid-19, TimesLive reported on Friday.
But Western Cape supremo Alan Winde squeaked in ahead of him, announcing on Wednesday that he had caught the virus.
Both men are in self-isolation.
“Follow the five golden rules at all times, including wearing a cloth mask, cleaning surfaces regularly and washing or sanitising your hands often. And, please be kind and compassionate at all times,” said Winde.
“I wish to appeal to all the people of Gauteng to continue playing their part in observing the golden rules of washing their hands regularly, wearing a mask and practising physical distancing,” Makhura said.
Over the past three weeks, Covid-19 infections in South Africa have doubled every 14 days. On this trajectory, the country will record its millionth case in the first week of August, TimesLive reported on Sunday.
While the rest of us spent lockdown fretting, brewing pineapple beer and trying out phrases like “the new normal”, we had been assured Eskom was hard at work fixing its creaking power stations.
So the public and economy-watchers shed loads of tears last week when it emerged the Dark Lords have yet to figure out how to keep the lights on.
In the past few days there have been problems at the Arnot, Kendal, Tutuka and Majuba power stations, which removed more than 2,600MW of capacity, according to Eskom in a report carried by Businesstech.
Eskom said in a statement that while the utility’s teams were working around the clock to return generation units to service, the severely constrained generation system would likely persist in the coming week, according to an IOL report at the weekend.
News24 last week reported that Eskom has not instituted nationwide load shedding since the start of the lockdown in late March after power usage plunged. “But it has been cutting power to localised areas in what it calls load reduction.”
Load reduction? A load of “you know what”, says A Weak in the News and all very familiar.
Was this what was meant by “the new normal” ?
Meanwhile, Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter was miffed, he told The Money Show on 702 and Cape Talk, that the chaps in charge at the time failed to check if the off-the-shelf boiler designs used at the megabuck Medupi power station would work with the available coal.
It seems the boilers get too hot and must be fixed. But that will take time and cost a cool R300 million for each of the six boilers.
Kusile, the country’s other newish, big-buck power station, has the same problems and will involve a similar repair bill.
Any bets on whether Eskom or the government will succeed in getting the officials, contractors and others responsible for this mess to pay up?
Bad news. Doesn’t sell…
On the subject of dark days, News24 on Tuesday made public plans to close a number of well-known titles, outsource others, reduce the frequency of some and speed up the move to digital of others. Gloomy news indeed.
This follows announcements by Associated Media Publishing, in late April, and Caxton, a week later, that they are closing their magazine publishing businesses.
Print was dying, we were reminded by Eyewitness News, while Covid-19 helped drive a few nails into the coffin.
Consolation is hard to find.
The themediaonline noted that “media consumption went through the roof as everyone stayed at home” during lockdown. But even as digital and TV picked up the slack, their advertising revenues declined.
How does a high-profile politician explain the R680 000 his brother happened to deposit on his behalf as a down payment on a new Range Rover?
No problem if your name is Floyd Shivambu, 2IC of the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Flo insists his bro, Brian, had bought a badly beaten-up (but panel-beaten) 2003 BMW from him for the same figure and instead of giving him the cash kindly paid it to the Range Rover dealer. So all’s square and sound.
That’s the Mail & Guardian’s Thanduxolo Jika revisiting an interesting story he wrote a couple of years ago.
But why now?
Well, the VBS Mutual Bank saga is back in the news and it seems Brian was the recipient of millions from the bank and under circumstances yet to be fully ventilated.
Seven men — senior bank officials, board members and an auditor — have been charged with fraud, theft, money laundering, corruption and racketeering that allegedly cost the bank more than R2 billion.
In June, they indicated to the Palm Ridge Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, they would be pleading not guilty, arguing the State “had a weak case”, reports IOL.
Then last week an eighth co-accused, former VBS Bank’s chief financial officer Phillip Truter, told the court he felt very sorry for the people who had lost their life savings after the bank folded in March 2018.
And he has promised to reveal everything and work with the State.
The matter returns to court in October.
Fab labs to blame
Your A Week in the News Correspondent once couldn’t produce his maths homework after a cat peed on it and the smelly exercise book in question had to be binned.
Like some politicians, not everyone believed him.
Last week News24’s Riaan Grobler found a more convoluted variation on an old theme which involves spilled Milo, ants, labradors and a 12-year-old boy’s lockdown schoolwork ruined.
In truth, it’s a sweet little story which concludes on a note to the effect that, fortunately, the lad was returning to school and there would be an end to such dramas.
But what next in this digital age — the dog ate my data?