Civil society springs into action from Amadiba to Soweto

Community members in Protea South, Soweto spread the message of staying at home. Photo: Bongani Xezwi

Things changed overnight in South Africa on 15 March, and it won’t be the last time it does. Daily Maverick’s Daily Digest will provide the essential bits of information about Covid-19 in South Africa and the world each day. Please do read on to understand these issues more deeply.

An overview of Covid-19 cases in South Africa as of 5 April. (Photo: National Institute of Communicable Diseases)

On Friday 3 April, a group of more than 35 prominent organisations penned a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, urging that the child support grant be increased by R500 a month immediately to get money into poor households quickly and simply before they run out of food. As Mark Heywood writes, the authors await a response after they got official confirmation yesterday that the letter had been received by the Presidency.

Civil society has sprung into action in a big way, with some going from door to door to distribute hand sanitiser and accurate information about the outbreak. Mark Heywood outlines the work they are doing and how they’re managing to do it.

On Saturday, an online memorial service was held for the late world-renowned South African HIV researcher Professor Gita Ramjee. She died last week of complications related to Covid-19. Mark Heywood, editor of Maverick Citizen and long-time HIV activist, delivered a tribute during the memorial.

On Sunday, the South African Military Health Service called up registered civilian healthcare workers, such as medical doctors and nurses. It says it is “reinforcing, regrouping and strengthening” its capacity in the response to Covid-19.

This weekend, there was cause for celebration – it was time for some university students to graduate. Stellenbosch University, the University of the Western Cape and the University of Pretoria all found their own ways of having the ceremonies online instead of outright cancelling them. Karabo Mafolo spoke to graduates about the day.

The BRICS New Development Bank has reached out to South Africa with the offer to lend it about R18-billion for its response to Covid-19. It says it can also offer a further R18-billion later in the year to assist the economy. Peter Fabricius asked Finance Minister Tito Mboweni what he makes of the offer.

Meanwhile, South Africa received another downgrade in its credit ratings. Rating agency Fitch made the announcement on Friday. Ed Stoddard unpacks what this means for the economy.

In Durban, a group of police officers have been accused of demanding a “protection fee” from spaza shops and taverns – if the owners don’t pay them the cash, then their shops will be closed down, say the owners. Sandile Motha asked KZN police what is being done about these allegations. DM


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