News in South Africa 5th October:
1. Massive national strike today:
Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) embarked on a national strike on Tuesday (5 October) following a deadlock in negotiations for a new wage deal.
Union members didn’t report for duty in five of the country’s nine provinces and will begin picketing and marching during the course of the morning, Numsa spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola stated..
The union has about 155,000 members, while the strike is expected to attract more than 300,000 workers, including from allied unions, she added.
“The strike is on, and nothing has changed,” Hlubi-Majola said. “As of this morning, workers didn’t go to work, so we are on strike.”
Numsa, one of the most prominent labour organisations in South Africa, is demanding an 8% wage increase in the first year and a 2%-above-inflation increase in the subsequent two years.
The union said it has planned marches for the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal, with rallies also expected to be held in the Western Cape.
“Bosses in the engineering sector benefitted from the sacrifice which workers made last year when a standstill agreement was signed, and no increases were given in order to cushion the industry against the ravages of the Covid-19 virus. Now they are refusing to give back,” the union said in a statement on social media on Monday (4 October).
2. Antivaxx insurance premium hike:
South African companies are trying different tricks to get people vaccinated against Covid-19.
Game stores have been offering discount vouchers to people who produce proof that they are fully vaccinated. Discovery launched a Vaccination Max PayBack Offer in August and, in the same breath, announced that anti-vaxxers might get smoker rates on new insurance policies. The company later sweetened the deal by offering Vitality members 2 500 points for taking the vaccine.
Now, other insurers are doing something too in hopes that dangling a carrot rather than a stick will get their clients to vaccinate.
Old Mutual has launched a “Vax and Win” competition. The insurer said every week, since 1 September, one of its customers in South Africa will win R100 000 in a lucky draw until 17 December 2021. Also, on a weekly basis, another 12 customers will each win R50 000.
Now Sanlam says new applications for personal life cover from Sanlam Individual Life take into account an individual’s Covid-19 vaccination status.
3. Social media outage:
Facebook has apologised for a global outage which saw its Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram services face downtime for several hours on Monday.
The underlying cause of the blackout also impacted many of the internal tools and systems the group use in its day-to-day operations, complicating its attempts to diagnose and resolve the problem quickly, it said.
South Africans were struggling to access social media and message platforms on Monday, with WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook hit by a global outage.
The service monitoring platform Downdetector shows that the global outage was first reported around 17:00 on Monday evening in South Africa.
By Monday night SA time, Facebook was still in its worst outage since 2008 when it was offline for about a day – at a time when it had only about 80 million users.
In 2019, what the company later called a server configuration error affected its service to some users over a 24-hour period.
At the time of publication, some four hours into the outage, Facebook had not said what the problem was. But the BGP routing for its services had apparently been withdrawn, which means nobody on the internet can find the network of servers that hosts its content.
Such a routing change could be the result of an external attack, but experts were betting it had been caused by a bad software update, a bug in a system related to updating Facebook’s routing, or simple human error by the company’s administrators.
The corporation’s internal tools were also reportedly down, making it difficult for employees to do work of any kind.
4. SIU needs staff and funding:
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says that it faces a significant skills shortage and cash shortfall, which continues to hamper its anti-corruption work.
Investigations are based on proclamations issued by the president, and the entities investigated, like the Department of Health which has come under pressure following numerous allegations of corruption, have to foot the bill.
However, these entities argue that they do not ask for the probes, and often the extra spending cannot be accommodated in their budgets.
Thus, the SIU, wants its funding model to be reviewed, warning that the current structure poses a major risk to its operations.
The SIU falls under the department of justice & correctional services and has come to the fore in recent times leading hundreds of investigations into Covid-19-related procurement and tender irregularities.
5. 5.8bn paid in unrest claims:
Some businesses that were affected by the unrest and looting in July, largely in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, have already received a total of R5.8 billion worth of insurance payouts from the South African Special Risks Insurance Association (Sasria), the entity said in a joint statement with National Treasury on Monday.
Sasria – which is still processing claims related to the incident – said it will a receive a R3.9 billion cash injection from the National Treasury, which has come on board as Sasria’s insurer of last resort.
The lifeline from Treasury will enable Sasria to honour its commitments to claimants affected by the unrest which shocked the country just over two months ago.
“Sasria has made important business interventions, namely capital and reinsurance restructure, and government, as the sole shareholder, has committed to stand in as the entity’s insurer of last resort,” the statement said.
Sasria insures businesses and people against strikes, riots and public disorder risks, protecting them against loss or damage incurred as a result of such events.
Although the insurer says it remains in a positive financial position and is committed to paying claimants, it will need assistance from government in the future.
“Our discussions with National Treasury are in line with the desired determination of the best medium that can inject capital, as we look at how to be future-proof ready and acknowledge the lessons learnt during the unfortunate unrest in July,” Sasria MD Cedric Masondo said in the statement.
“The final additional support is dependent on how swiftly Sasria can finalise the total claim amounts. It is expected that the additional support which has been flagged in the recent special appropriation will be concretised in the 2022 Budget,” the statement added.