News in South Africa 15th November:
1. 54-Hour JHB water shut down:
Many Gauteng residents are bracing for water supply disruptions on Monday as Rand Water implements its 54-hour shutdown.
Water disruptions can be expected from Monday morning and residents will probably notice a difference if they live in the City of Johannesburg, Rand West, Mogale City, Merafong, Rustenburg, Madibeng, and Emfuleni.
Soweto and Randburg will also be affected.
The bulk supplier will be installing a new pipe that will increase the amount of water that’s being drawn from the Vaal River into a treatment plant in order to increase supply to local municipalities.
Just as Gauteng residents were recovering from relentless power cuts last week, households, schools, businesses, and hospitals will now have to endure water supply problems for the next three days.
The shutdown will result in low pressure or possibly no water in some areas.
Rand Water’s COO Mahlomola Mehlo said: “We are still on track by finalising this work by Wednesday sometime in the morning. We are starting at 5am sharp with phase one of the shutdown.”
Mehlo urged residents to use water sparingly in a bid to avoid emptying Rand Water’s reserves.
Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu is expected to brief residents on contingency plans later on Monday.
2. R800mil fund to create jobs:
President Cyril Ramaphosa says that the government’s new Social Employment Fund will create thousands of work opportunities in South Africa.
Writing in his weekly open letter to the public, Ramaphosa said that fund forms part of the second phase of his Presidential Employment Stimulus, which was launched in October 2020 as part of a response plan to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The president said that the new fund has been allocated R800 million and is expected to create 50,000 work opportunities.
“Applications are now open for organisations to become the fund’s Strategic Implementing Partners. These partners must be able to create work for at least 1,000 participants, and will be expected to reach the employment target within the first quarter of implementation.
“No less than 80% of the funds received needs to be spent on wages. This will ensure that the work supported by the fund is labour intensive, provides meaningful experience and delivers real social value. Social employment is not about work alone, but about creating high-quality assets and services for communities.”
Ramaphosa said that public employment programmes are critical when not enough jobs are being created in the private sector.
As the economy starts to recover from the effects of Covid-19, public employment will fill a vital gap as companies get back on their feet and start hiring again, he said.
“Work opportunities under the Social Employment Fund will be part-time. This means more people can participate, and participants can be employed and have a secure income for longer. This gives participants the time to develop the structure, skills and networks associated with participation in work.
3. Fourth wave on the horizon:
Phase two of the Vooma vaccination drive was rolled out this weekend. The Department of Health was on a mission to administer 500,000 jabs by Sunday, before the festive season and in preparation for the fourth wave of infections.
More than 23 million jabs have been administered across the country so far.
Briefing the media on Friday, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the fourth wave was “inevitable”.
“Our genomic sequencing teams are monitoring any variants of concern, but thus far there has not been any alarm. The other contributor, which is the movement of people, is inevitable as we get closer to the festive season,” Phaahla said.
By Saturday evening, 77,223 jabs had been administered. During the first Vooma campaign, 400,000 people were vaccinated.
“Our teams in all provinces are taking vaccines to the people over and above fixed vaccination sites,” said Paahla, who visited the community of Amsterdam outside Piet Retief in Mpumalanga on Friday.
On the same day, Deputy President David Mabuza was in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, while Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala visited the Port Shepstone taxi rank in the province, where pop-up vaccination sites had been set up.
“The health facilities’ readiness plan is addressing areas such as oxygen supply of which the bulk supplier has finalised contingency plans. Other areas such as bed capacity, equipment, PPE and consumables are also receiving attention,” the health minister said.
Elections were not a superspreader event, Phaahla said. There are no indications of a spike in Covid-19 infections in any part of the country, but the department alongside the National Institute for Communicable Diseases and the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid -19 are monitoring the situation.
4. National Health Insurance possible:
Despite finance minister Enoch Godongwana putting South Africa’s National Health Insurance on the back-burner for now, the fund’s developer, Dr Nicholas Crisp, says that the scheme can be affordable – as long as the government stops wasting money elsewhere.
Crisp says that the R250 billion that the government spends on public healthcare already is enough to keep the NHI going, and when the savings from medical aid schemes are thrown in, 8.5% of GDP spent on healthcare in South Africa will be available for the fund.
Crisp says medical aids should only play a ‘top-up’ role in healthcare in the country and that 74 private schemes are too many.
5. R147mil in unclaimed MultiChoice dividends:
MultiChoice says it’s still looking to pay out about R147 million in unclaimed Phuthuma Nathi dividends.
The pay TV broadcaster is making a renewed call to the public, after making one earlier this year, to find out if they, or any one they know, are owed any money because of their participation in the empowerment Phuthuma Nathi scheme.
In February 2021, it said R207 million in unclaimed dividends was owed to 22,000 of its 80,000 shareholders. Since then, it has managed to pay out about R60 million to 4,400 shareholders.
Phuthuma Nathi chairman Mandla Langa said at the time: “This money belongs to our shareholders. We’re calling on them to contact us to get their money. In these tough economic times we want to do everything in our power to give them what is rightfully theirs.”
Though Putumayo Nathi has been paying dividends every year since the start of the scheme in 2006, a change in contact information or banking details has led to some shareholders not receiving their payments. In some cases, shareholders have passed on and not told their families they owned shares in the scheme.
MultiChoice is not the only corporation trying to find shareholders it owes money to. Vodacom said a few weeks ago that it was trying to pay out R61.1 million in unclaimed dividends from its YeboYethu scheme.