News in South Africa 30th November:
1. Resurgence of Covid worse than initial wave:
Mkhize said he had come to “give support to Port Elizabeth” and his team was looking at how hospitals were coping, investigating complaints about bed shortages and monitoring behavioural change.
“Whilst Eastern Cape in general has shown a rise in numbers, Nelson Mandela Bay specifically seems to the be a hotspot,” Mkhize said. “But in addition we have seen [a rise in cases] in Sarah Baartman and Buffalo City.
“The increasing numbers are not only seen in the Eastern Cape. We have been monitoring … the Western Cape as well as other provinces. We notice some areas in districts where clusters are showing. At this point. the Western Cape numbers are even higher now than KwaZulu-Natal. It is beginning to indicate that we have resurgence in both provinces at this point.
“We have an opportunity still to act on these outbreaks so that we can further delay the spread of this infection to various provinces. But I must say we are concerned, looking at the fact that we are now entering the festive season, that the numbers might start rising as a result of the practices associated with the festive season.”
Mkhize admitted hospitals had problems, and added: “With the resurgence it has been established that the numbers that we are seeing here are higher than the numbers we saw during the surge in July/August. The pressure is being felt by the staff, [and] it is the same health-care workers who were part of the surge since the onset of the Covid-19. Therefore fatigue, the psychosocial strain, amongst our staff is actually a real issue.
“It is understandable that at this point pressure would be felt but what exacerbates the pressure is the increase, and also the number of staff who get infected is increasing. It forces many of them to take leave and also to quarantine … and so those who remain [are left] with the tension of having to see their colleagues either sick or passing.”
2. Pravin Gordhan cross-examination:
Big day at the state capture commission, with finance minister Pravin Gordhan due to be cross-examined by former SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane’s advocate.
The cross examination is expected to focus on whether Moyane was part of state capture – as Gordhan claimed in the past.
Gordhan was previously scheduled to appear at the commission, but failed to pitch, claiming “cabinet commitments”, which left the commission’s chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, fuming.
“… mere Cabinet commitments can’t be more important than appearing before this commission. There would need to be something more than just mere Cabinet commitments. This commission has got a very limited time to finish its work and Cabinet commitments are work like everybody’s work commitments,” Zondo said.
Moyane was granted leave to cross-examine Gordhan on whether, in laying criminal charges against the minister, he acted maliciously, whether he was motivated wholly, or in part by, or sought to advance state capture, or whether he was abusing a legal process.
3. TERS payments fraud:
Employers who received COVID-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief Scheme are not off the hook yet.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund has appointed forensic auditors to track financial records of companies that received funds.
Some employers have already been arrested for fraudulent claims.
UIF Spokesperson, Makhosonke Buthelezi said fraudulent claimants may have slipped through the cracks as the UIF was not connected to other relevant systems.
Buthelezi said audits will be taking place from 1 December and will take approximately six months.
4. Petrol and Diesel price:
The Department of Mineral resources and Energy on Friday released its fuel price adjustments for December.
While petrol prices will decrease, partly because of reduced international prices of the fuel, the prices of diesel and illuminating paraffin and gas will increase.
“The movement in international prices of petrol decreased, whilst the prices of diesel and illuminating increased during the period under review,” the department said in a statement.
The adjustments are as follows:
- Petrol (both 93 ULP and LRP): 13.00 c/l decrease
- Petrol (both 95 ULP and LRP): 13.00 c/l decrease
- Diesel (0.05% sulphur): 19.86 c/l increase
- Diesel (0.005% sulphur): 19.86 c/l increase
- Illuminating Paraffin (wholesale): 28.86 c/l increase
- SMNRP for IP: 38.00 c/l increase
- Maximum LPGas Retail Price: 137.00 c/kg increase
5. VRP companies missing payments:
Only two of the seven JSE-listed construction companies that are signatories to the Voluntary Rebuilding Programme (VRP) settlement agreement with the government have confirmed that they are up to date with their payments.
The companies agreed in terms of the VRP agreement finalised in 2017 to collectively contribute R1.25 billion over 12 years to a fund to be established for socio-economic development and undertake further transformation initiatives.
Raubex CEO Rudolf Fourie confirmed on Friday the company’s VRP instalment payment for 2020 has been paid and the company is up to date with its payments in terms of the agreement.
WBHO company secretary Shereen Vally-Kara said WBHO’s management confirmed that the group’s VRP payments are up to date.
The ones behind on payments:
Stefanutti Stocks CEO Russell Crawford said on Thursday that Covid-19 has introduced a new challenge with respect to this settlement agreement and it is currently engaging with the government “to negotiate a deferment of the current year’s instalment”.
Group Five and Basil Read failed to respond to a request for comment while Murray & Roberts (M&R) group investor and media executive Ed Jardim said: “This isn’t a matter that Murray & Roberts is able to comment on at the moment.”
Aveng CEO Sean Flanagan said the SA Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) had written to Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) Minister Ebrahim Patel last year, adding “we await his [Patel’s] response”.
However, Safcec CEO Webster Mfebe stressed on Saturday that Safcec has not made any approach to the dtic minister on behalf of any VRP signatory “as each must plead their individual circumstances”.
The companies who are not up-to-date with payments say they have been aversely impacted by Covid-19 – though each must argue their own case.