In South Africa, there have been 5,782 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,675,013. Deaths have reached 56,711 (+110), while recoveries have climbed to 1,565,684, leaving the country with a balance of 52,618 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 1,117,569 (+72,465).
- Jacob Zuma: Ex president of South Africa President Jacob Zuma has pleaded not guilty to 16 counts of corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering charges relating to a 1999 arms deal worth $5bn when he was deputy president. The arms deal involved buying new fighter jets, helicopters, submarines and warships. Questions emerged about the deal months after it was signed, with some critics saying the government should have spent the money on fighting poverty. Mr Zuma was South Africa’s president from 2009 until 2018 when he was forced to resign after a vote of no confidence. His defence team asked that the lead prosecutor, Billy Downer, be revised from the case as he had “no grounds to prosecute” to which the presiding judge said the matter would be “dealt with on July 19th”. Zuma claims to be the victim of a politically motivated witch-hunt by his opponents in the governing African National Congress (ANC) party.
- Corruption: The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says that it has never before seen such an immense scale of corruption in one investigation, as it has with South Africa PPE fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic. The unit has prioritised R14.3 billion worth of alleged corruption around PPEs in the country, reasoning that this type of activity did the most harm to citizens. The unit is actively investigating 2,695 cases of contracts worth R7.6 billion, with close to 2,000 more cases still to be looked at. Gauteng accounted for the majority of the cases, with 1,832 contracts worth R5.6 billion being investigated. [TimesLive]
- President Macron: President Emmanuel Macron of France, at a joint news conference with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria on Friday, said that France was going to invest in increasing the local production of Covid 19 vaccines in Africa to help bridge the gap between African and Western nations with regards to the availability of the COVID-19 shots. He said Africa made up around 20% of the world’s need for vaccines but only 1% of vaccine production and “on this, we will this afternoon have an investment strategy to help these industrials produce more, and quite quickly” to “boost production of vaccines in the African continent”. According to Macron, France already had a partnership with South Africa’s Biovac Institute. Later on Friday, Macron opened another one with South African pharmaceutical company Aspen. The European Union will deliver more than 100 million doses to Africa this year, of which 30 million will come from France.
- Power ships: Two senior officials from the minerals and energy department have confirmed under oath that they met with the losing bidder in the power ships deal and two alleged associates of Gwede Mantashe at an upmarket restaurant, where they discussed a tender worth billions. The bidder claims he was pressured to engage in a corrupt scheme – while the officials say they merely assured him that the tender process would be clean. The multi-billon rand power ship deal ultimately went to a Turkish company who scored a long-term contract to supply the bulk of the 2,000MW on offer. [amaBhungane]
- Scandal: President Cyril Ramaphosa says that he has spoken to health minister Zweli Mkhize about the Digital Vibes scandal, saying that minster is cooperating fully with the Special Investigative Unit on the matter. Ramaphosa described the accusations against Mkhize as disturbing, saying that the SIU’s investigation needs to be completed without delay so any due legal processes can be followed. The president said he will deal with the matter once all the facts are available. Mkhize is accused of being complicit in an irregular R150 million communications contract given to associates, which he benefited from. [EWN]
- Racism: The allegations of racism levelled against Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter have been dismissed by an independent investigation, which called the allegations “wrong, egregious, false, baseless and without substantiation”. The investigation also found no evidence of the other allegations against de Ruyter, which included maladministration, abuse of power, and irregularities. The claims were made by former chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano, who was fired of a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of poor performance in the role. The investigation was carried out and compiled by Advocate Ishmael Semenya. [Eskom]
- Markets: The South African rand rallied to its highest in more than two years against the dollar on Wednesday, as investors cheered the latest evidence of a sustained rebound in global economies and as US Treasury yields pulled back. With the local economy remaining weak and facing power cuts, the rand’s recent rally has been mainly on the back of global factors, including higher commodity prices which benefit resource-rich South Africa and expectations US lending rates will stay lower for longer. On Thursday the rand is trading at R13.52/$, R16.50/€ and R19.15/£. [Reuters]