News in South Africa 30th September:
1. State of disaster continues:
If it were up to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the state of disaster would be lifted today.
“I would like to see the state of disaster ending as soon as possible, but the science tells us otherwise and that is why we still have a state of disaster,” said Ramaphosa.
The president was addressing the media during an impromptu round table discussion at the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House, in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.
In his capacity as the president of the ruling party, he took questions on various issues including when the government would be lifting the national state of disaster, put in place in March 2020.
“I wish it could end today. I really wish we could say the state of disaster has ended but we are guided by science and the science of the pandemic and the advisory committee advises us on all this, but there is fear and concern that there could be another wave.
“And what if tomorrow I announced that the national state of disaster ended, and then another wave comes and then we have got to go back to another state of disaster again. So we have reduced and lightened the restrictions on the state of disaster to enable the economy to go back to where it was pre-Covid and, to a large extent, I think that is now beginning to happen.”
2. Compulsory vaccines being considered:
In the same briefing, on Wednesday, Ramaphosa spoke about compulsory vaccines in the country, saying it was an ongoing discussion and debate in government.
The president previously assured the nation that the government would not force vaccines on citizens; however, many private businesses and groups have decided to make the jabs mandatory.
Ramaphosa said that while the government understands the need to push vaccines to restore full economic activity, mandatory vaccines need to be done with due consideration and engagement with workers and customers.
However, he said the matter should be up for discussion. “The trade union movement is not responding positively to this compulsion and we have political parties in our country who are against it, so we have to navigate our way around this one very carefully because it also impacts on the constitutional rights of our people.
“We are discussing it in government and I would want to say that to the extent that people want to make it compulsory, let us engage first with our workers and customers.” He admitted there was still apathy, with the number of people volunteering to get vaccinated decreasing.
3. Massive increase in crimes:
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which depressed an already strained economy, saw an increase in various crimes in the country, with millions of rand lost to debit card fraud.
In its 2020 annual crime statistics report, the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) revealed that crimes such as cash-in-transit (CIT) robberies, digital crimes, debit card fraud, and robberies of Post Office branches spiked.
Cash In Transit:
Between 2019 and 2020, CIT robbery incidents rose by 22% from 244 incidents to 297 incidents. During April and May last year, however, the incidents decreased significantly thanks to Level 5 lockdown restrictions.
After the relaxing of some lockdown regulation, in June 2020, occurrences spiked again with 40 incidents reported between August 2020 and December last year.
Digital Banking Fraud:
Phishing, vishing, and Smishing have become popular go-to methods used by criminals to carry out crimes across digital channels.
Between 2019 and 2020, fraudulent incidents reported across all platforms rose by 33% with a total monetary loss of R305.9 million. Sim swop incidents spiked by 91.35% last year.
Debit Card Fraud:
Although credit card fraud decreased by 27% from 2019 to 2020 as people used debit cards as opposed to buying on credit, this resulted in a spike in debit card fraud.
The total loss in debit card fraud in South Africa added up to R520.5 million last year, a 26.5% increase compared to R411.2 million in 2019.
4. A great year for fund managers:
For the year to the end of June 2021, 44.4% of South African equity managers outperformed the S&P South Africa Domestic Shareholder Weighted (DSW) Capped index according to the latest S&P Indices Versus Active (Spiva) study. On a risk-adjusted basis, these managers fared even better, with 57% beating the index.
While only 38.2% of managers outperformed the large-cap S&P South Africa 50 on a total return basis over this period, 65.2% beat this index on a risk-adjusted calculation.
The risk-adjusted return takes the annualised average monthly return of funds, divided by the standard deviation of their monthly returns.
This was a positive performance for active managers over a period when the South African market was much broader than it has been in recent years. This is clear from the longer-term performance of active managers relative to the S&P South Africa 50.
Over five years, just 7.3% of managers outperformed the large-cap index. That percentage stays the same on a risk-adjusted basis.
South African managers running global equity funds also had a stronger year, with 34% of them outperforming the S&P Global 1200 index. On a risk-adjusted basis, just over 50% outperformed.
Longer term, however, only 10.6% outperformed the S&P Global 1200 over five years. Their performance was even weaker on a risk-adjusted basis, with just 8.5% outperforming.
5. SA still recovering from Nkandla:
South Africa is still trying to recover money spent on upgrades to former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home, with a special tribunal in the Pietermaritzburg High Court hearing evidence from witnesses involved with the project.
The trial involving Nkandla architect Minenhle Makhanya has heard details of how air conditioning in three private areas cost R4 million instead of an approved R150,000.
The Special Investigating Unit Special Tribunal hearing sitting in the Pietermaritzburg High Court has continued on Wednesday with evidence from one witness.
Makhanya is at the centre of former President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla residence upgrades, which were overseen by the Department of Public Works at a cost R246 million to the taxpayer.
Efforts are under way to recover R155 million from Makhanya.
The Special Tribunal hearing being held in-camera has heard how R8.8 million was paid for the tarring of the two roads leading to Zuma’s private residence.
But a police report that had recommended the patrol roads put the cost at only R98,000.
SIU Tribunal spokesperson Selby Makgotho said that the trial would hear more evidence on Thursday.