News in South Africa 17th November:

1. Sasria to pay our R32b for unrest:

The South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria) expects to pay out R32 billion to all claimants affected by the unrest that took place in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng in July. The riots insurer together with its agent companies has already paid out R12.5 billion worth of claims.

Sasria to pay our R32b for unrest
Image taken by: Rodrigo Teixeira

The majority – 12 050 of 14 051 claims received – are for amounts below R1 million.

Retailers and mall owners generally received the highest single payment per client because of the extent of the damage to stock and property. Sasria said the most it has paid out per single client is R1.5 billion.

“In terms of all claims received, the most in number and rand value came in the following order: fire commercial, heavy commercial vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and business interruption,” Sasria said in a statement.

Welcoming National Treasury’s announcement in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement last week that it would inject R11 billion into the state insurer, Sasria said the funds will go a long way in assisting with its liquidity and recapitalisation project.

Sasria says it plans to settle claims up to R20 million by the end of the year and 80% of claims of up to R60 million by the end of March next year, while the settlement of bigger claims will take longer.

“The realistic overall settlement of the R32 billion would include the reinstatement of buildings and that we are saying will take up to 18 months,” Sasria’s executive manager in insurance operations, Fareedah Benjamin, said.

2. Workers absent – fearing violence:

Half of South African employees see violence as the greatest risk they have to face in their daily lives, with at least 53% having personally felt the affect of violence close to home, a new survey has revealed.

The latest annual Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative (WPDI) violence survey, which was conducted among workers from crime hotspots in the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, also found that the majority, or 80%, of respondents felt unsafe in their neighbourhood — a major increase from the 61% last year.

The study, commissioned by French international banking group BNP Paribas and its consumer finance arm, revealed the affect of violence in gang-ridden and high-violence communities on corporate SA, with the organisations surveyed reporting an average of 20% of absenteeism as a result of violence.

The inaugural 2020 survey found that 81% of respondents had been late to work as a result of violence or crime, while 72% missed work altogether.

Almost 40% of corporates surveyed and 75 of the youth peacemaker network (WPDI) sample believed that community violence was a major contributor to absenteeism.  

The survey found that the affect of violence on livelihoods and wellbeing has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, with 76% of respondents convinced that violence had increased in their community — an increase of 12% compared to last year. More than 70% blamed the perceived increase in violence on unemployment and retrenchments.

In 29% of the cases reported the perpetrator of the violence was an intimate partner, compared to only 13% a year ago.

At least 58% of women had experienced gender-based violence (GBV). About 41% said they experienced GBV monthly.

The violence had left many women feeling disempowered, with at least 50% of those who experienced GBV reporting that they still lived in fear and 38% said they were either too ashamed or too scared to take action against their perpetrators.

3. Stricter BEE laws planned:

Parliament’s National Assembly has passed the Employment Equity Amendment Bill and has sent the draft law to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

The bill will allow the Employment and Labour minister Thulas Nxesi to set employment equity targets for different business sectors. The minister can set targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions.

It also aims to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses and add rules for doing business with the government.

The Department of Employment and Labour has previously indicated that it plans to introduce the new sector-specific equity rules in 2022.

“The expected introduction of five-year sector targets will mark the beginning of a clean slate,” said the department’s director of employment equity Ntsoaki Mamashela said in September.

“All current employment equity plans will fall away on 22 September 2022, and the new plans will have to be aligned with five-year targets. Self-regulation has not worked,” she said.

Mamashela said further sector engagements which started in 2019 on sector targets would continue. She said talks have already been held with several sectors, including mining, financial & business services, wholesale & retail, and construction.

It is envisaged that the sector engagements will be concluded by February 2022 with proposed targets, she said.

4. SARS to release Zuma’s tax records:

Investigative journalism outfit amaBhungane and business magazine the Financial Mail have won their court application to access the tax records of former president Jacob Zuma. 

The Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria ruled on Tuesday that the SA Revenue Service (SARS) must supply the two publications with Zuma’s tax records for the years between 2010 and 2018 within 10 days. 

SARS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Judge Norman Davis also ruled that sections of the Tax Administration Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), which hindered the two groups in accessing the tax records, were unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court will, however, have to confirm his findings. 

The two publications brought the case, in part, based on reporting included in The President’s Keepers, a 2017 book by investigative journalist Jacques Pauw. 

AmaBhunagne and the Financial Mail lodged a joint application in the High Court to access to the former president’s tax return in November 2019.  

At the time, they said they took the decision after the Financial Mail unsuccessfully tried to access Zuma’s tax records for the years between 2010 and 2018 by filing a PAIA application.  

The application and a subsequent appeal were both denied by SARS on grounds of taxpayer confidentiality, and the fact that the PAIA excludes tax information from its public interest considerations.

Sole said the ruling removed the exemption that tax information enjoyed from the PAIA public interest override.

“This does not open the floodgates but provides for disclosure where the public interest clearly outweighs any harm, which it certainly does in this case. We think the social value of tax secrecy is exaggerated and mainly serves the powerful and not the community. This judgement begins to strike a better balance.”

5. Coalition deadlines looming:

Coalition talks between political parties have broken down, with the deadline for forming councils in hung municipalities looming.

Action SA leader Herman Mashaba has confirmed that parties have rejected proposals from the DA, where the latter seeks to control major metros like Tshwane and Joburg.

The DA wants control of both metros, believing that the largest coalition partner should get the mayoral position.

Meanwhile, talks between the EFF and ANC have collapsed completely, with the former not entertaining any more negotiations with the ruling party. The DA says it still has faith in the talks.

All information sourced from articles posted by: Moneyweb, TimesLive, BusinessTech, Fin24, and EWN.

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