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NEWSFLASH NEWS AGENCY 19 November 6 am

Good morning,

In this bulletin:

# David Mabuza says many municipalities are characterised by infighting
# Eskom implements stage one load-shedding until this evening
# And, a major bank says the repo rate hike will put businesses under more pressure

# Deputy president David Mabuza says many municipalities are characterised by infighting and poor decision-making. He answered questions in the National Council of Provinces in Parliament yesterday. This year’s state of local government report has highlighted that 64 municipalities are dysfunctional. Mabuza said some of the areas that require improvement in municipalities are leadership capacity, managerial capacity, project execution especially in infrastructure projects, and financial management skills, to ensure the sustainability of all municipalities.

# Eskom says due to the low diesel tank levels at three of the four open cycle gas turbine power stations, it has to implement stage one load-shedding today until 9pm this evening. The power utility suspended load-shedding yesterday evening after managing to successfully return eight generating units to service. Eskom says load-shedding is implemented as a last resort to maintain the stability of the power system.

# The Gauteng Department of Education welcomed the safe return of two kidnapped Grade 10 girls. The learners aged 15 and 16 from Hoërskool Staatspresident CR Swart in Waverley, Pretoria, were abducted by two men who forced them into a vehicle and drove off. The girls were forced to take drugs and then commanded to steal laptops and cellphones. Spokesperson Steve Mabona says the two girls later managed to escape after the suspects drove with them to a mall:

Play sound: ENG-SteveMabona1

The department has also noted that another girl learner at the same school has gone missing:

Play sound: ENG-SteveMabona2

# First National Bank believes the hike in the repo rate will put South African businesses under more pressure. The Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee yesterday announced the rate will be increased by 0.25-percent to 3.75-percent from today. FNB says the business sector will be hit hardest. The bank’s Andiswa Bata says the increase is yet another blow in addition to the effects of the rolling blackouts across the country:

Play sound: ENG-AndiswaBata

# President Joe Biden has confirmed that the US has purchased ten-million treatment courses of Pfizer’s antiviral Covid-19 pill. Pfizer applied for emergency authorisation of the drug, branded as Paxlovid, after reporting data showing that it was 89-percent effective at preventing hospitalisation or death in at-risk people. Biden says vaccination is still the most important tool, but this new pill may dramatically reduce hospitalisations and deaths, and help accelerate the path out of this pandemic.

# Tennis: Alexander Zverev of Germany will meet world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the penultimate round of the ATP finals in Turin, Italy, tomorrow. He booked his place in the semis when he beat Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets yesterday. Zverev earlier lost to Daniil Medvedev of Russia, and local player Matteo Berrettini had to withdraw from their match due to injury. Last night, Medvedev defeated Italian Jannik Sinner, 6-0, 6-7, 7-6. Today, Dkokovic will play Britain’s Cameron Norrie and Russian Andrey Rublev will face Norway’s Casper Ruud.

# And the financial indicators: The dollar is trading at 15-rand-62-cents and the euro at 17-rand-74-cents. One British pound costs 21-rand-6-cents and Bitcoin trades at 56-thousand-779-dollar-3-cents. Gold is selling at one-thousand-860-dollars-84-cents a fine ounce and Brent crude oil is quoted at 81-dollars-60-cents a barrel.

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