News in South Africa 26th March:

New regulations for Covid-19 lockdown

1. New regulations for Covid-19 lockdown:

South Africa enters a national shutdown on Friday, 27 March. From one minute after midnight, South Africans will be expected to stay home except under very specific circumstances, and businesses that are not essential must be shut down.

Failure to comply with the rules could lead to a month in jail, or a fine.

The lockdown is intended to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus behind Covid-19.

Details of exactly how day-to-day life will work continue to emerge, as the government scrambles to deal with the logistics of implementing the new restrictions.

You can use Uber and taxis during lockdown, but only at these times.

Those looking to make use of e-hailing vehicle services along with taxis and buses will be on strict schedules during lockdown.

Uber, taxis and other vehicles will transport ‘essential workers” and those performing ‘essential duties’ only during certain times during lockdown, said Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, during Wednesdays’ inter-ministerial briefing.

Transport movement will only be allowed to operate from 05:00 to 09:00 and then again from 16:00 to 20:00. People will be allowed to use these services to buy food and to collect medicine, and other essential services.

All vehicles will need to be sanitised at regular intervals with metered taxis and e-hailing vehicles required to be sanitised after each journey. Sanitiser used in all vehicles must have at least 60% alcohol.

You may not buy booze for 21 days

Police minister Bheki Cele has announced that no alcohol will be sold during the lockdown and that people may not transport alcohol from one point to another.

You may not walk your dog.

In some countries lockdowns specifically made provision for jogging close to home, or other forms of outdoor exercise done with care to avoid contact with other people. Some local governments even encouraged outdoor exercise, as a mental health measure.

In a briefing on Wednesday it was announced that you will not be allowed to walk your dog in South Africa once lockdown is in place.

ATMs and bank branches will have cash available.

Banks will coordinate among themselves and sharing resources to ensure that bank notes area available at ATMs and bank branches, trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel said on Tuesday.

You will be able to go shopping – for essentials – and seek medical care.

Movement restrictions do not apply for shopping trips, when you need food or other important groceries, and trips to the pharmacy are also specifically allowed.

A general call to avoid using medical services except for the most urgent matters remains in place, but going to and from healthcare providers is allowed throughout the shutdown. (If you believe you may have Covid-19, contact the National Institute for Communicable Diseases on 0800 029 999. You can also send “hi” to 060 012 3456 via Whatsapp for information.)

See the full list and further details of the regulations on Business Insiders article.

2. Reserve Bank embraces quantitative easing:

The SA Reserve Bank has introduced additional measures to manage liquidity in financial markets during the Covid-19 crisis, including the purchase of government bonds on the secondary market.

This follows an initial raft of interventions announced last week to provide lenders with cheaper access to funding, and reorganise the way it injects liquidity into the financial system, as Bloomberg reported. At the time the bank said it would assess the liquidity management strategy on a continual basis.

The Reserve Bank announced on Tuesday that it will be buying government bonds from the secondary market; not directly from Treasury which is the primary market. The amount and maturity of the bond purchases will be at the discretion of the SARB.

3. 30 cases of price gouging under investigation:

Authorities are investigating 30 cases of so-called price gouging on price-controlled essentials such as hand sanitisers, masks and toilet paper during the coronavirus outbreak, acting commissioner of the National Consumer Commission Thezi Mabuza told journalists on Wednesday.

Eleven certificates have been issued to supermarkets including a Spar branch in Silverlakes, Gauteng, for raising the price of Dettol antiseptic; a Spar in Plattekloof, Cape Town for hand sanitiser; North Safety in Cape Town for hand sanitiser; Checkers Hyper in Kempton Park and Makro in Durban for toilet paper; National Overalls in Gauteng for face masks; Bloemfontein Pharmacy in the Free State for gloves; Mopane Pharmacy in Mpumalanga and Seaside Pharmacy in Table View in the Western Cape for face masks; and Pick ‘n Pay in Milnerton, Western Cape for hand sanitiser.

Eight additional certificates were issued on Wednesday, but had not yet been confirmed by the receivers. These were four in Gauteng, on in KwaZulu-Natal, two in the North West Province and one in Limpopo.

“Swift action” would be taken against culprits found guilty of such actions, she said.

During the inter-ministerial briefing on Wednesday evening, Minister of Trade and Industry Ebranhim Patel added that authorities were cracking down on instances where prices had appeared to rise to a degree that was unjustifiable.

4. Daniel Matjila to clear his name:

Daniel Matjila, the former chief executive officer at the center of a damning report into Africa’s biggest fund manager, has said he plans to clear his name by addressing its findings in a series of public disclosures.

The investigation into South Africa’s Public Investment Corp., led by a retired judge, concluded there had been “substantial impropriety” at the state-owned fund manager and found that the board had acted as a “rubber stamp” for Matjila. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who ordered the probe in October 2018, said he would now hand the report to the National Prosecuting Authority for further investigation.

Matjila plans to detail what he sees as omissions and misunderstandings made by the commission. The PIC mainly manages the pension funds of South African government workers.

5. JSE on the rise:

More gains for the JSE – it rose another 5% yesterday.

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