News in South Africa 20th July:
1. Life expectancy has declined:
Life expectancy in South Africa has declined for the first time in almost two decades due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has prompted a 34% rise in adult deaths in 2021. The Total Life Expectancy (LE) at birth has dropped by 3.5 years, with males declining to below 60-years-old at rates last recorded in 2014.
Almost 67,000 South Africans have died due to Covid-19 since the country’s first case was recorded in early March 2020. Nearly 200,000 excess deaths have been estimated by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).
The majority of all recorded deaths are attributed to those aged 60 and above, according to data provide by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD). These deaths have seen a significant decline in South Africa’s LE, steeper than the drop recorded during the height of the HIV pandemic in early-2000, according to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) latest mid-year population estimates which were published on Monday.
South Africa’s LE in 2006 dropped to 50.7 following five consecutive years of decline attributed to HIV/AIDS. Antiretroviral (ART) and prevention of mother-to-child-transmission (PMTCT) treatments saw the LE begin to recover in 2007. Since then, South Africa’s LE – recorded as the average number of years a new-born can expect to live based on the mortality conditions at the time – grew by almost 30% to 65.5 years in 2020.
“By 2021 life expectancy at birth is estimated at 59.3 years for males and 64.6 years for females which is a drop from 2020 where life expectancy at birth was 62.4 years and 68.4 years for males and females respectively, and this is attributable to the increase in deaths from Covid-19,” explains Stats SA.
2. Next wave of attacks to target police:
Police are reportedly on high alert, after receiving intelligence that the ‘next wave’ of orchestrated attacks in South Africa will target police stations.
These alleged raids will attempt to get their hands on arms and ammunition. Weekend reports pointed to similar tactics, saying that the government’s security forces were working to protect these targets.
Officials have warned that the attacks seen last week risk spilling over to other provinces.
While things appear calmer in hotspot areas, smaller attacks are still ongoing. Police and SANDF visibility is being ramped up in identified locations.
3. Amendments to Disaster Act:
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has called for written comments on the Disaster Management Amendment Bill, which proposes a major shake-up for South Africa’s state of disaster regulations and by extension the country’s Covid-19 lockdown rules.
South Africa declared a national state of disaster under Section 27(1) and Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act on 15 March 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
While the state of disaster was originally set to lapse on 15 June 2020, the act provides that it can be extended by the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) minister by notice in the gazette for one month at a time before it lapses.
The government has relied on the state of disaster to introduce and give effect to lockdown restrictions, which it has used to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, it has also faced criticism for giving national government wide-ranging powers over the lives of citizens, with almost no limits, and little to no oversight from parliament.
The amendment bill acknowledges this issue and that the Disaster Management Act does not currently provide adequate legislative accountability and oversight over the regulations published in terms of it, the duration of a state of disaster, nor in respect of the extension of a state of disaster.
The key changes in the new bill include:
- A national state of disaster may be effective only ‘prospectively’ (going forward) and for no more than 21 days, unless the National Assembly resolves otherwise.
- A minister may terminate a national state of disaster before it lapses.
- A copy of the notice declaring a national state of disaster must be tabled in the National Assembly, and the National Assembly may disapprove of any regulations or directions made under such a declaration or may make recommendations to the Minister pertaining to such regulations and directions.
- Only the National Assembly, a provincial legislature or a municipal council may resolve to extend a declaration of a national, provincial or local state of disaster respectively and for how long.
- The Bill also provides for the requisite majorities required in the National Assembly, provincial legislature and municipal council to extend a national, provincial or local state of disaster, respectively.
- A resolution to extend a national, provincial or local state of disaster may only be adopted after a public debate.
While the proposed changes would introduce the many changes critics of the current state of disaster have been calling for, it are still a very long way away from becoming law – and will likely face opposition along the way.
4. Businesses returning to normal:
Where possible, businesses that were disrupted by the last week of unrest are returning to operation, including those that were in the thick of it.
Vehicle manufacturer Toyota South Africa Motors (TSAM) will resume normal production at its plant in Prospecton in Durban on Tuesday (July 20) following an eight-day disruption to its operations caused by the unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
TSAM senior manager for corporate communications Clynton Yon confirmed this on Monday, and said no damage was caused to TSAM’s plant or equipment during the unrest nor was there any damage to the new cars at its vehicle distribution centre in Durban.
Azar Jammine, chief economist at Econometrix, said on Monday the answer to questions about the possible impact of last week’s unrest and looting on foreign direct investment “is not as obvious as it sounds”.
Jammine said on the face of it, one would have thought it would be very negative and the outlook for South Africa would be seen as being entirely bleak.
“But what I have determined is that foreigners are actually viewing the Constitutional Court’s resistance to Zuma flouting it as an endorsement of the respect for the rule of law in South Africa – and that aspect is looming almost as a counter to the negativity about where is it all going …
“Foreigners are regarding very favourably the stand that the [President Cyril] Ramaphosa regime is taking on the flouting of the constitution and see this as being different to what they often see in the rest of Africa,” he said.
Mikel Mabasa, CEO of automotive business council Naamsa, said he was unable to confirm this, adding the information Naamsa has is that only Toyota had serious disruption to production last week and all the other OEMs are still “fully operational”.
5. Presidency affirms riots part of coup:
The presidency has rebuked Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula’s remarks that there’s no evidence of insurrection or a coup attempt in the unrest that took place last week.
Mapisa-Nqakula contradicted the president on Sunday, saying that she does not believe an insurrection took place. However, the presidency said that the security cluster’s briefings were clear: the violent riots and looting were orchestrated by individuals attempting to destabilise the government and the economy.
It is not clear where any views counter to this are sourced, the presidency said. The deputy minister of defence said the final word rests with president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is commander in chief of the SANDF.