News in South Africa 26th January:

1. Jobs at risk due to lockdown:

Nearly 1.4 million formal and informal jobs are at risk in the South African economy, with the current Covid-19 lockdown alert Level 3 restrictions having a direct impact across at least seven sectors: travel, tourism, entertainment, leisure, manufacturing, agriculture, and services not classified elsewhere.

Jobs at risk due to lockdown
Image taken by: Nipan Chawcharernpon

The total number of people employed across these sectors equates to one in 12 jobs being directly at risk of destruction. If one includes family and dependants as a reflection of the normal size of households, the Level 3 restrictions could impact millions more as they rely on the breadwinner’s wages.

Since many also help dependants outside the immediate family, the overall number of people impacted could be as much as 10% of the South African population.

Remember too that South Africa is often credited with the highest unemployment rate in the world. The impact will be felt even if only half of the jobs at risk are destroyed.

Some provinces have even higher numbers: one in six jobs in the Western Cape and one in five in the Northern Cape are at risk.

While the Eastern Cape has ‘only’ one in 13 jobs at risk, the impact could be greater, as the province’s extended unemployment rate could increase to close to 60%.

2. RCS partners with Mr Price:

Consumer finance company RCS has partnered with Mr Price to offer the value fashion retailer’s customers credit services, it announced on Monday.

The deal has been on the cards for some time as RCS said it was concluded in November 2020.

“[Mr Price’s]… apparel division contributes 72% of group sales and 83% of profits, but has historically been predominantly cash-based, with only around 18.8% of sales on credit,” said the finance company.

The low sales on credit is the gap RCS has seen and hopes to penetrate as the RCS store card will be accepted in over 1200 Mr Price stores.

“In the current post-Covid-19 economic downturn, which has put South African consumers under considerable financial strain, RCS’s financial services not only enhance individual’s lifestyles, but also help retailers to achieve their objectives by focusing on their core business driver – retail – while relying on RCS to provide valuable strategic additions, such as tailor-made credit solutions,” said the company.

3. Vaccine delay due to competition:

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa defended the government’s approach to secure Covid-19 vaccines, saying it had acted as swiftly as possible in the face of extensive negotiations to get sufficient doses.

Medical professionals, scientists and labor unions have criticized the administration’s poor planning and said its haphazard process and a lack of transparency led to unnecessary delays and cost lives. The country has confirmed about 1.4 million infections so far, the most in Africa, and deaths have exceeded 40,000 amid a resurgence of the coronavirus.

“Given the unprecedented global demand for vaccine doses, combined with the far greater buying power of wealthier countries, we had to engage in extensive and protracted negotiations with manufacturers to secure enough vaccines,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly newsletter published on the Presidency’s website.

As South Africa anxiously waits for the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive on home soil, there are mixed feelings among those tasked with administering the jabs.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has acknowledged the vaccine roll-out will be the biggest and most complex logistical undertaking in the country’s history.

Four hundred healthcare workers have already died after contracting the coronavirus and their surviving colleagues will be the first in line when the lifesaving doses arrive.

There is scepticism when it comes to the mammoth task of rolling out these vaccines with the help of technology, vaccine cards, and data capturing.

4. SSA exposed in Zondo commission:

Former chairperson of the State Security Agency (SSA), Sydney Mufamadi, dropped bombshells at yesterday’s Zondo commission hearing. He testified that the SSA launched three operations to counter President Cyril Ramaphosa‘s nascent campaign for ANC president in 2018 and helped launch a bogus trade union to neutralise his opponents in the North West.

It put Zuma’s political opponents under surveillance and paid for toxicologists to taste Zuma’s food and test his bed sheets for R1.5 million a year. It also funded a media propaganda campaign.

It is alleged that the SSA put an end to the ‘Zuma Must Fall’ protests, and even infiltrate the Fees Must Fall student movement to swing the narrative around that.

Zuma has refused to appear before the commission to face any allegations.

5. Gauteng education corruption:

Between June and August 2020, the Gauteng Department of Education spent more than R431-million on sanitising schools. This money was paid in sundry payments to hundreds of companies, many of which appear to have no expertise or prior involvement in the cleaning industry.

To make matters worse, it was for a form of ‘deep cleaning’ and ‘decontamination’ that was not required or recommended by either the Department of Health or the Department of Basic Education. Maverick Citizen went looking for answers.

On 8 November last year, Maverick Citizen reported that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) had spent R98-million on decontaminating schools for Covid-19 in September 2020. At the time, departmental spokesperson Steve Mabona justified the large expense. He said it was necessary to allay fears of teachers, unions, SGBs and parents. He also explained that the cost was very high because of the large portfolio of buildings occupied by the GDE.

However, what Mabona did not explain was that the R98-million was only a small fraction of the costs the GDE had incurred. Since then the Gauteng Government Expenditure Disclosure report for October 2020 reveals that a further amount of R260-million was paid for “sanitising of buildings” in that month alone. This was made in 947 separate “sundry” payments, each in the region of R250,000, many to the same companies.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Business Insider, Moneyweb, Fin24, Bloomberg, EWN, TimesLive, and Daily Maverick.

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