News in South Africa 7th October:
1. Unions strike today:
Union federations are expected to strike today, disrupting business and services across all sectors. The unions are protesting government’s failure to honour wage agreements, corruption and looting of state resources, and inadequate protections against Covid-19 in the workplace.
Services such as health care and education are expected to be disrupted on Wednesday as public sector workers down tools and stay at home for the protest.
Union leaders in three of the largest federations, Cosatu, Fedusa and the National Council of Trade Unions have been on a collision course with the government after it backed out of a pay hike deal following finance minister Tito Mboweni’s huge budget cuts to contain rising government debt and a ballooning budget deficit.
Teachers, nurses and doctors are expected to join other public servants in the one-day walkout that comes at an inopportune time for the SA economy, which was ravaged in the second quarter by lockdown measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
The strike is also supported by the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), the main Eskom union. But Eskom said it did not envisage any disruptions to business operations.
2. Second wave speculation:
It is still unclear if SA will experience a second surge of Covid-19 — but if it does, the country will be prepared.
This was the assurance of health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday.
“We have a plan now that’s been tabled with us from the World Health Organisation (WHO) on how to deal with the second wave and, therefore, I would say, we are in a much better position. Once we have gone through the plan, I will suggest we come and share it so we are on the same wavelength when it comes to preparation for the future,” he said.
“Of course we may still be facing a second surge. How likely that is, is something I think we all speculate about because many of the countries that are overtaking SA are on the second surge. But whether in SA it’s going to be like that depends, of course, on how we deal with our containment measures,” said Mkhize.
3. Edwin Sodi raided:
More than 25 luxury vehicles owned by businessman Edwin Sodi and his firm Blackhead Consulting, were seized yesterday.
The NPA reported that assets and cash totalling R300 million had been frozen.
Sodi, along with ousted Mangaung mayor Sarah Mlamleli, the head of the Free State human settlements department Nthimotse Mokhesi and others face more than 60 charges tied to a tainted R255m asbestos audit contract, which envisioned an audit of 36 000 low cost homes in the province.
The contract was worth R255m, with Sodi allegedly paid R230m of that.
“The curators have been working at the business premises as well as Sodi’s Bryanston property. They have concluded their work for the day,” he said.
4. Airline border confusion:
Global airline giant Emirates will resume its flights to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport from Thursday (October 8), Fouad Caunhye, the airline’s regional manager for Southern Africa confirmed to Moneyweb on Tuesday.
This comes after Dubai-based Emirates was forced to cancel its original resumption flight to the city on Sunday due to South Africa’s confusing Covid-19 travel regulations.
The rules require international airline crew, like normal passengers, to have a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test for the virus within 72 hours prior to flying to the country, in addition to being restricted to possible quarantines.
The situation wasn’t made any easier by relevant government departments only announcing the regulations just before – and a few days after – the October 1 reopening of South Africa to mainstream international travel.
Following news of Emirates cancelling its Sunday flight to Durban (which broke via news agency AFP in Dubai on Saturday), worried KwaZulu-Natal provincial government and airport officials raised the issue with various national government departments over the weekend.
This led to the transport department on Sunday clarifying the issue somewhat.
“Air crew who are not in possession of a negative PCR certificate will still be permitted entry into South Africa but will not be permitted to move around freely. Such crew members are expected to self-quarantine at their hotel,” it said in a statement.
Emirates will restart with three return flights a week to King Shaka International. Before South Africa’s initial Covid-19 lockdown and international travel ban in late March, the airline was operating a daily service on its Durban route.
5. Checkers rewards program success:
Checkers says its loyalty programme, Checkers Xtra Savings has helped it take away roughly R4 billion in market share from competitors in the last financial year.
The food retailer launched rewards card in October 2019, quite a late arrival as most food retailers including Pick n Pay, Woolworths and Spar had been rewarding their customers for being loyal for years.
Checkers said on Tuesday that since Xtra Savings was launched a year ago, it has been signing up more than 15 000 customers daily. The programme now has more than 5 million members.
“Xtra Savings has been instrumental in Checkers gaining R4 billion in market share from competitors in the last financial year, according to Nielsen. It has seen a phenomenal uptake,” said the company in a statement on Tuesday.