News in South Africa 16h September:
1. Leaving state of disaster:
President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa will need to meet certain requirements before the country’s state of disaster regulations can be lifted.
The president said that the state of disaster will only be lifted if the appropriate Covid-19 prevention regulations are in place in each sector outside of the Disaster Management Act – or if the Covid-19 pandemic ends, removing the necessity of the regulations.
Responding in a written parliamentary Q&A this week, the president said that all organs of state must develop sustainable regulatory measures for the control of Covid-19 beyond the state of disaster.
“Measures must be infused into policies and regulations to normalise Covid-19 preventative measures in the society. The current measures contained in the regulations for dealing with the disaster in the context of the risk-adjusted strategy remain necessary to limit the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
In his own words, Ramaphosa said the state of disaster will end:
- Once sustainable sectoral regulatory measures for Covid-19 response are in place; or
- The need to invoke current extraordinary measures provided for under the state of disaster ceases, all the regulations and directions issued under the national state of disaster will cease to exist.
The president said that ongoing assessments by the National Coronavirus Command Council and Cabinet will determine the satisfaction of conditions for terminating or allowing the state of disaster to lapse.
On Sunday (12 September), Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma gazetted an extension of the national state of disaster, which will see it continue until 15 October 2021.
2. Over 1mil in TERS claims outstanding:
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) says it has more than a million outstanding claims on its Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme (Ters) portal that stand to be closed by the end of December if claimants do not attend to the errors on their applications.
A media statement issued by the Department of Employment and Labour on Wednesday states that simple errors in the applications are the main reason outstanding claims are yet to be finalised. The most common errors on the applications include incorrect banking details, incorrect income and invalid identity or passport numbers.
“We have observed that most Covid-19 Ters payments are unsuccessful due to employers or their representatives failing to follow the application procedures correctly,” says acting UIF Commissioner Advocate Mzie Yawa.
“The application platform provides error messages and guides employers on what they need to do to correct mistakes.”
The department believes the reason a lot of outstanding claims, some dating back to March 2020, are not being attended to by claimants is because they are fraudulent.
Acting departmental spokesperson Musa Zondi, speaking to Moneyweb, says: “It’s because some of the people who have been claiming have been claiming fraudulently and that’s why they won’t be able to answer some of the [errors on the claims] because these are part of the vetting that is to ensure that the [bona fide] people get the money that they need to get.
“How else would one explain having asked so many times for those employers to come back to us and they still haven’t?”
“Of all the claims we have looked at, more than 4 000 were claims from dead people, and those claims would have emanated from somewhere,” says Zondi.
3. More citizens take on municipalities:
More residents are forced to take legal action against their municipalities over service delivery and administrative failures.
Residents in Bedfordview, east of Johannesburg, are taking the City of Ekurhuleni to court over billing problems. The area has also suffered ongoing problems with the power supply.
“The residents’ association of Bedfordview decided to take matters into their own hands because we’re just getting nowhere. Besides letters, we appointed attorneys to try and approach council… Ultimately, we appointed companies to do a forensic investigation to extrapolate the report which shows us the extent of the problem across Ekurhuleni…” said Marina Constans, Director of BBM Attorneys and chairperson of the Resident’s Action Group in Bedfordview.
Meanwhile, residents of Makhanda have been granted a court order forcing the Makana municipality to collect refuse, provide garbage bags to households and manage the town’s rubbish properly.
The case was brought against the Makana municipality by the Ezihagwini Street Committee and the School Governing Body of Mary Waters High School, represented by the Legal Resources Centre.
In 2020, the Grahamstown High Court ordered that the Makana municipal council be dissolved due to its unconstitutional failure to deliver services to the residents of Makhanda. The case was taken on appeal by the premier of the Eastern Cape, Oscar Mabuyane.
Since then, the court has held council officials in contempt for failing to manage the municipal landfill. It has also ordered the municipality to report to a judge on the management of water leaks and sewerage in the town.
Several community activists involved in the watershed case to have the municipal council dissolved, led by Lungile Mxube, have meanwhile established the Makana Citizens Front (MCF) to stand in the upcoming local elections. Apart from promising to provide proper municipal services, the MCF said they would see to it that the “corrupt thieves” of Makhanda – “officials and councillors” – are arrested.
Other than the Makana municipality, other respondents in the matter include the national Minister of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fishing, Barbara Creecy, the Eastern Cape MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mlungisi Mvoko, and the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Xolile Nqatha.
The court was asked to declare the Makana municipality’s by-laws unconstitutional as they failed to protect and fulfil residents’ rights to an environment that is not harmful to their health.
The court also ordered the council to clean up all illegal dumpsites within 14 days and hold public meetings to identify and clean up any other illegal dumpsites that were not mentioned in the court documents.
This continues a trend of residents having to come together to force their local governments to do their jobs through the courts.
4. Kruger Park to boost tourism:
The Kruger National Park is looking to procure goods and services from local small businesses in efforts to boost tourism and job creation.
The national park, which has been hard hit by Covid, aims to work with small businesses in Mpumalanga and Limpopo to boost the local SMME that have suffered due to the pandemic.
“[The Kruger National Park] is surrounded by a lot of communities that have expectations [of] the Park to assist them with employment opportunities and other infrastructure problems.
“There is only so much that the park can offer hence the initiative to meet with entrepreneurs in both Mpumalanga and Limpopo to look at ways that the KNP can procure from locals,” said the Kruger National Park spokesperson Ike Phaahla.
For more than nine decades, the Kruger National Park has become one of the most visited national parks in Africa for wildlife viewing.
As part of the Rural Economic Revival programme, the tourist attraction giant will not only work with businesses in the tourism sector, but will onboard small businesses within construction, building infrastructure, IT, stationary supply, hospitality, and other businesses relevant to the park.
5. State Security Agency corruption:
Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) has published its annual report, detailing a long laundry list of dysfunctionality and scandal at the State Security Agency.
Among the biggest issues are fake security clearance and unapproved and illegal operations within South Africa’s intelligence structures.
Little has been done to correct the many problems highlighted at the agency, with only 0% and 2% of recommended changes made over the last 2 years. There is also a worrying trend of the SSA stepping outside its mandate.
The report adds to woes highlighted by the Office for Interception Centre (OIC) last week.