News in South Africa 9th September:
1. Calls for state of disaster to end:
Western Cape premier Alan Winde has called for the end of the state of disaster, saying that a blanket approach to dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic is no longer needed.
It should be up to provincial governments to deal with the situation more locally.
He said an example would be how Gauteng is now under the same blanket restrictions as the rest of the country when it’s no longer needed.
“You are managing your hospital system, it doesn’t matter how many beds you’ve got, you don’t need a blanket lockdown across the whole of the country when we don’t need it in Gauteng right now,” he said.
“So quite frankly, and the same thing would apply to a number of our provinces and we started getting it right, I think, in the start of the second wave when we started closing districts down.”
On Wednesday South Africa recorded more than 4,100 new Covid-19 cases. KwaZulu-Natal remains a hotspot with 1,163 new COVID-19 cases.
The state of disaster was declared in March 2020 and has been extended every month since June 2020. There is no limit to how many times it can be extended, and the government requires no parliamentary approval to do so.
2. Different premiums for anti-vaxxers:
Pressure is mounting on South African insurers to change how they deal with anti-vaxxers in the country, says Momentum Metropolitan CEO Hillie Meyer.
He says that if more people don’t get vaccinated, international reinsurers – who cover some of the risks of local insurers – are likely to start pulling out of the country, or insurers will have to respond by hiking premiums for those who refuse to get the jab.
Momentum said that South Africa has seen record death claim numbers as a result of Covid-19.
If these don’t return to normal soon, it, and other insurers, will be forced to adjust offerings to incentivise vaccination.
3. Online driving license system being developed:
The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is developing an updated online driver licence system for South Africa, which it says will significantly improve service delivery.
To improve efficiency and cut the time that members of the public spend queuing at licencing centres, the RTMC proposes that drivers be allowed to make online payments for the renewal of driving licence cards or vehicle licence disks and to have these documents delivered directly to the address of their choice.
“This will improve service delivery, cut the time spent on queues at the licencing centres and bring about much-needed convenience to members of the public and other stakeholders.”
The RTMC said it is also developing other online services that are expected to drastically reduce wait times – including digital vehicle registrations.
“To further streamline services, it is proposed that the registration of a vehicle by a title owner and the notification of change of ownership will in future be done online. Insurance companies will also be able to access an electronic copy of an accident report.
“Members have called for these improvements, and they are in line with the new way of doing business in the digital era in which we live,” it said.
4. Finance minister says “wait and see”:
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, in his first parliamentary Q&A, signalled that a shift to capital spending from consumption would be detailed in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. As would measures on what could replace or supplement the R350 Covid-19 grant.
“All options also need to be considered with regards to their affordability before a final decision can be made,” said Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana during Wednesday’s parliamentary Q&A of economics ministers.
And that’s about as good as it got on details, even as Godongwana aced the politics. The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) is scheduled for 2 November, the day after the local government elections.
South Africa’s 1.2% gross domestic product (GDP) second-quarter increase from April to end-June 2021 is slightly up from the 1% increase of the previous quarter, and Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe highlighted how energy and gas had positively contributed this time round.
But that GDP sliver of an upward shift is expected to reverse itself in the third-quarter GDP numbers, which will include the impact of the July public violence and looting.
Ditto the ever-worsening joblessness numbers. A further deterioration is expected from an already dismal 44.4% unemployment on the expanded definition that includes those too discouraged to look for work, and youth unemployment at 64.4%.
The latest GDP figures, released by Stats SA on Tuesday, also indicate a slowdown in the commodity boom.
It was a commodity tax windfall that underpinned the additional release of more than R32-billion from the national revenue fund to, among others, inject R3.9-billion to the government-owned insurer Sasria to help meet claims from the July public violence and looting.
R2.8-billion has already been paid out, MPs were told on Wednesday, to reinstate until March 2022 the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress grant for which some 12-million people apparently applied, and to introduce support for uninsured small businesses affected by the July public disorder.
The Second Special Appropriation Bill to approve these extra monies is currently in Parliament.
Godongwana snappily sidestepped questions about the cost of the July unrest. It was too early to give definitive numbers, as only a month had passed, the finance minister said. He then provided National Treasury info that had already been presented to the Select Committee on Finance in the National Council of Provinces on 24 August, such as R50-billion being the consensus number on damages and that almost one percentage point had been shaved off 2021’s GDP.
Godongwana proved his political nous. Answers were brief and factual – and the short shrift given to opposition barbs on cadre deployment, ANC tenderpreneurs and such delighted ANC benches, which responded with cheers and applause.
5. Naspers higher than Samsung and Microsoft:
Naspers’ subsidiary Prosus NV, which was ranked third in this year’s global perception study, is now perceived higher than the likes of home electronics and mobile phone maker Samsung and software company Microsoft.
Prosus NV, which debuted on the FutureBrand Index last year, rose from the 11th spot to beat giant companies like Microsoft, Tesla, Ping An Insurance, and Toyota.
The FutureBrand Index looks at PwC’s Global Top 100 companies and assesses and ranks them according to the strength of their perception instead of their market capitalisation and financial standing.
Notably, in the 2021 perception study, it rose above Samsung, which took third place in 2020; it dropped to number 13. It also managed to beat Microsoft, which sat at number seven last year. It dropped three spots to 10 in the 2021 study.
“Helping it secure the number three spot is – like its top five peers – a steady increase in all attributes, with a particularly strong showing for delivering an engaging experience at every touchpoint and delivering sustainable value,” the BrandFuture Index found.
The respondents considered the company to be redefining the experience category, which is further reflected in its score for admiration which reached 32%, the study found.
About 52% of the respondents predicted it would move ahead in the category in three years.