News in South Africa 23rd April:
1. Union vs govt war possibility:
As unions wait for government to respond to public wage demands today, there is a view from leaders that a ‘war’ with government is unavoidable at this stage.
The union said it’s left confused as to why Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu would choose to discuss matters on the eve of the bargaining council sitting.
Government negotiators are expected to respond to union demands with a revised offer on Friday, but the union is convinced government will offer no salary increase, which will leave it with no option but to seek a strike certificate while preparing for a full-blown work stoppage.
Nehawu says it views this as part of a broader agenda by the government to undermine collective bargaining.
The government has remained unmoved in its decision to freeze salaries for South Africa’s 1,3 million
public servants in the 2021/22 financial year.
2. Mango airline suspended:
Low-cost airline Mango is set to stop operating for a few months, according to internal communication seen by reporters.
The document states that the executives and board of Mango, as well as the interim board of its parent company South African Airways (SAA), decided on this step after having had to fend off creditors for the past six months and not being able to stall them any longer.
SAA’s shareholder, the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE), has been trying to get R2.7 billion of the R10.5 billion allocated in the mini-budget in October last year to go to SAA’s subsidiaries Mango, SAA Technical and AirChefs. Treasury requires Parliament to make a special allocation in this regard before the R2.7 billion can flow to subsidiaries.
According to the document, the DPE has been asked to consider putting Mango in business rescue, just like SAA.
It appears that salaries of Mango employees will still be paid this month. It is unclear what would happen next month.
Meanwhile, technical problems at a major international airline reservation system caused a booking outage at FlySafair yesterday.
3. Tourism industry struggles:
The South African tourism industry has questioned why a travel advisory has been issued from the United States against travelling to South Africa.
The US State Department this week issued a level 4 warning.
The reasons stated included the coronavirus pandemic, violent crime, protests and strikes.
Tourism Business Council CEO, Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, said that the country did have problems but that the US equally had similar types of issues in their own country.
Tshivhengwa said that South Africa did not restrict citizens from going to their country.
“This needs to be looked at. I would suggest that the ambassador in charge of the nation here in South Africa be summoned to explain what they’re basing their restrictions on.”
He wanted to know what they were basing their statements on – was it COVID-19 or other issues and if so, what was the problem and how were tourists in danger?
SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, said that this may have an impact on the industry.
4. Tokyo still falling for scam:
Businessman and ANC veteran Tokyo Sexwale has doubled down on his claims that billions of rands were looted out of a ‘heritage fund’, which was meant for philanthropic causes.
Businessman and former cabinet minister Tokyo Sexwale claims that the government rejected a donation of R75bn to the Solidarity Fund, which was formed to fight Covid-19.
“When Covid-19 came and the president said he was wanting to be assisted to raise money and he raised R3.25bn, he says he sent international envoys to look for the money for the Solidarity Fund,” said Sexwale.
“We said to Kganyago [Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago] go and look from our accounts and give to this presidential Solidarity Fund and he asked the bank how much they should draw. They asked for $5bn [R75bn] for the Solidarity Fund,” said Sexwale.
Furthermore, Sexwale claimed that the government was offered money to increase the social relief grant from R350 to R2,700.
Sexwale was speaking during a press briefing in Midrand, Gauteng, on Thursday where he sought to expand on how funds meant for the poor had allegedly been looted from his “heritage fund”.
The businessman said while making sure this money had been brought into the [SA] economy, they encountered some resistance and upon investigation found it had been stolen.
The National Treasury and the Reserve Bank said on Monday the fund was nothing but a scam in which the ANC businessman had been duped.
5. Clicks turnover positive:
Pharmacy company Clicks said group turnover increased by 7.6% to R18.1 billion in its latest results, while retail health and beauty sales grew by 7.2%, as consumers focused on wellness and immune boosting vitamins and supplements.
The Cape Town-based retailer released its results for the six months to February 2021 on Thursday.
Headline earnings grew by 8.1% to R920 million while headline earnings per share increasing by 9.5% to 371 cents.
The group said turnover was also boosted by its healthcare wholesaler and distributor, United Pharmaceutical Distributors (UPD), which grew turnover by 9%. UPD continued to gain market share, driven by the robust growth in the hospital channel during the pandemic.
Online continues to be the largest and fastest growing store in Clicks with sales increasing by 167% over the prior period, the group said.
Clicks opened its 600th pharmacy in February 2021 as a further 16 new pharmacies expanded the national presence to 601. “The convenience and accessibility of our pharmacy network is demonstrated by the fact that 50% of the country’s population now live within 6km of a Clicks pharmacy,”CEO Vikesh Ramsunder said in a statement.