CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #36

New rules as a million people go back to work this week

By Christi Nortier 4 May 2020

A general view of displaced people leaving Strandfontein shelter on April 30, 2020 in Cape Town, South Africa. Is it reported that Strandfontein camp for homeless people erected by the City of Cape Town will be closed down. (Photo: Gallo Images/Brenton Geach)

Things changed overnight in South Africa on 15 March when the national state of disaster was declared — and it won’t be the last time it does. Daily Maverick’s Daily Digest will provide the essential snippets of information about Covid-19 in South Africa each day. Read on to get the full picture.

 

More than a million people are expected to return to work this week in South Africa. “In returning to work, it can’t be business as usual,” said Minister of Employment and Labour Thulas Nxesi during a briefing on Sunday 3 May on lockdown level 4 “back-to-work-readiness”. As Ed Stoddard writes, Nxesi’s message was clear: comply with the new regulations or be closed down. Read the full briefing here.

 

 

Minimum guidelines for mining companies on how to manage the Covid-19 pandemic must be gazetted by 18 May, the Labour Court ordered on Friday. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union had taken the Mineral Resources and Energy Department to court, saying the department had not provided clear guidelines as to how workers will be protected on duty during the outbreak.

As Ed Stoddard reports, an interim standard operating procedure in force until 18 May now obliges mining companies to provide mineworkers with adequate face masks and hand sanitiser and to make sure social distancing and regular cleaning of surfaces are possible.

A Turkish military cargo plane filled with a donation of medical supplies to help South Africa in its response to Covid-19 arrived in Cape Town on Thursday. Over the course of the weekend, three other aircraft arrived. 

However, these were not carrying donations and touched down to pick up military equipment bought by Turkey from Rheinmetall Denel Munition. As Carien Du Plessis writes, this has raised questions as to whether or not this sort of export is allowed under South Africa’s lockdown.

 

An infographic explaining the restrictions on aviation during South Africa’s lockdown level 4. The infographic was published on the Covid-19 Online Resource & News Portal website on 1 May 2020. (Source: Department of Health)

An infographic explaining the restrictions on aviation during South Africa’s lockdown level 4. The infographic was published on the Covid-19 Online Resource & News Portal website on 1 May 2020. (Source: Department of Health)

An infographic explaining the restrictions on aviation during South Africa’s lockdown level 4. The infographic was published on the Covid-19 Online Resource & News Portal website on 1 May 2020. (Source: Department of Health)

The South African government will not publicise its projections about the Covid-19 pandemic’s death toll in the country, said Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on the eve of the beginning of Level Four lockdown, 30 April. 

He said this was because the projections changed often and the figures could be abused for “sensational purposes”. However, as Carien du Plessis writes, Mkhize said more time and more data is needed to see a clearer pattern emerging.

 

 

Meanwhile, Parliament’s finance and appropriation committees heard on Thursday that bans on alcohol and cigarettes cost the South African Revenue Services R1.7-billion in April. Much was discussed about revenue drop, international loans, the revised Budget and job losses, writes Marianne Merten.

Simultaneously, the Department of Correctional Services said it has “no plans” to release prisoners as a way of curbing the spread of Covid-19 in prisons. As Estelle Ellis writes, civil society organisations are calling for more oversight as cases continue to climb among prisoners and staff.

In the Western Cape, the fate of the Strandfontein homeless relocation camp was again tossed into uncertainty at the end of last week. As Suné Payne writes, the issues regarding the camp came out in the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape legislature. Vincent Cruywagen reports that the matter of closing the camp came before the high court. All in all, as Payne writes: “War of words overshadows flight of homeless at Strandfontein relocation camp”.

In the sports world, federations are unsure of their futures as they become enveloped in financial difficulties as sport continues to be suspended under lockdown. Yanga Sibembe spoke to the federations for hockey, gymnastics and golf about the situation they find themselves in and how they are working around the sudden interruption of events and income. DM

Gallery

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