News in South Africa 21st October:

1. Travel restrictions hitting tourism:

The government needs to do away with its high-risk list or so-called ‘red list’ of Covid-19 hotspot countries or face more chaos around international travel into South Africa.

Travel restrictions hitting tourism
“travel’s end” by Robert Couse-Baker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

That’s the warning from major industry bodies the Tourism Business Council of South African (TBCSA) and the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa), following government’s updating of the list on Monday.

Germany, South Africa’s third largest overseas tourist source market, was added to the list after a spike in Covid-19 infections in that country, together with Canada and other nations likes Spain and Italy.

The inclusion of Germany and Canada means that leisure tourists from eight of SA’s top ten international tourist source markets are now effectively banned from travelling to the country’s shores. Other major source markets on the red list include the UK, US, France, Netherlands, India and Brazil.

“We are calling on government to do away with the high-risk or red list, because it makes no sense,” TBCSA CEO Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa stated on Tuesday.

“Business travel from countries on the list is already allowed and we see no difference to leisure tourists, who can follow the same Covid-19 rules, such as having a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours before arrival,” he said.

2. Forced SABC TV license proposal:

South Africans who watch video streaming services like Netflix or pay-TV services like DStv or StarSat, and who don’t even watch or use the services of the South African public broadcaster, could be forced to pay a SABC TV licence fee like a compulsory “traffic fine”.

This is the latest plan of the financially struggling South African public broadcaster to prop up its finances.

Pinky Kekana, South Africa’s deputy communications minister, told parliament’s portfolio committee on communications on Tuesday morning that the SABC wants to broaden the definition of the existing mandatory SABC TV licence that is payable by people with a TV set.

The SABC now wants pay-TV operators like MultiChoice that runs DStv, China’s StarTimes that runs StarSat, as well as subscription video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Showmax and others who operate in South Africa, to collect SABC TV licence fees on behalf of the struggling SABC.

3. Looters funding luxury lifestyles:

For a band of businessmen who clearly made a habit of treating themselves to grotesquely expensive gifts, the Free State’s now infamous asbestos audit couldn’t have kicked into gear at a better time.

On 22 December 2014, only a few days before Christmas, the province’s department of human settlements (FSHS) transferred R20-million into a joint venture account set up by Edwin Sodi’s Blackhead Consulting and Igo Mpambani’s Diamond Hill Trading 71. This was to be the first of eight payments the joint venture received from the department.

By August 2016, Sodi and Mpambani’s companies had bagged R230-million in taxpayers’ money.

But Blackhead Consulting and Diamond Hill, by all appearances, merely acted as dealmakers and never intended to perform any actual work on the project. The joint venture paid R44-million to their main sub-contractor, a company called Mastertrade 232, to perform the audit. Mastertrade, in turn, appointed its own sub-contractor, the Ori Group, to do the work.

Apart from confirming that the asbestos ‘looters’ reserved a negligibly small portion of the money for the project, this investigation again underpins the callousness at the heart of corrupt government contracts – while Radebe, Sodi and Mpambani bought Ferraris, Bentleys and upmarket properties with their asbestos riches, thousands of poor people in the Free State remain exposed to dangerous materials that are yet to be removed from their homes.

4. JSE fines Steinhoff:

The Johannesburg stock exchange has fined retailer Steinhoff a total of R13.5 million for breaching its listing requirements.

This includes a maximum possible fine of R7.5 million for publishing “incorrect, false and misleading” information in its previous financial statements.

“The accuracy and reliability of financial information published by companies are of critical importance in ensuring a fair, efficient and transparent market,” said the JSE in a note.

“The company and its directors are therefore obliged at all relevant times to ensure that all financial information and reports that are published are, in all material aspects, accurate and correct. In addition hereto, the investing public relies on a company’s published financial information to make important investment decisions.”

5. No contracts for government officials:

Parliament is being asked to consider introducing legislative amendments to stop politically connected people from getting tenders from the state.

The Special Investigating Unit says the fact that such people are getting contracts, does not necessarily make them illegal.

Finance watchdog, Scopa was being briefed on Tuesday on the progress of COVID-19 related investigations

Among the top contracts, the SIU is probing is the R139-million personal protective equipment contract linked to a business owned by the husband of presidential spokesperson, Khusela Diko. 

The SIU is currently probing contracts involving 930 service providers.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Business Insider, Moneyweb, News24, Daily Maverick, Fin24, and ENCA.

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