Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #50

Mines get new guidelines, SARB expected to cut repo rate again and the arts find new ways to survive lockdown

A satellite image of the Phalaborwa mine, South Africa's largest open-pit mine. Mines in SA have been given new guidelines to deal with the coronavirus. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nasa Earth Observatory)

On Monday 18 May, President Cyril Ramaphosa used his weekly letter to reaffirm the government’s commitment to welcoming critique of its Covid-19 response. New guidelines on how to operate mines during the pandemic were gazetted on Sunday, while economists predicted that the SA Reserve Bank would cut the repo rate again. Meanwhile, hundreds of Zimbabweans have been repatriated.

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 18 May at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape and Gauteng did not provide updates by the time of publishing:

 

The government welcomes critique and dissenting viewpoints on its Covid-19 response, wrote President Cyril Ramaphosa in his latest weekly letter published on Monday. He reaffirmed the value of the Constitution, the right of every citizen to use the courts to challenge the law and that government would adapt its strategy according to new information. He wrote that the government has not called for criticism “to be tempered or for it to be silenced”. Read the letter here.

Meanwhile, different sectors continue to adjust their own responses to the pandemic as the lockdown lingers.

The mining industry has new procedures to follow after Mines and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe gazetted minimum guidelines for the “mitigation and management” of Covid-19 in mining operations. He was speaking at a briefing on Sunday about the 19 employees who tested positive for the virus at the Marula mine in Limpopo. 

As Ed Stoddard reports, Mantashe said that industry agreed that screening was not enough and that testing would have to become the new standard.

South Africa’s arts community has come up with new ways of surviving the lockdown – financially and creatively. As Marianne Thamm reports, artists are still waiting for financial relief from the government.

The pandemic has forced the cancellation of school sport seasons and with it the sporting dreams of many schoolchildren. Craig Ray spoke to teachers and coaches about how pupils are dealing with the disappointment of “the lost season”.

While alcohol is banned under lockdown, the glass companies that supply the bottles are shattering. As Sasha Planting reports, the glass industry can run at 100% production during the lockdown but in reality, it is not feasible and the entire supply chain is in a bottleneck.

It is expected that the South African Reserve Bank will cut the repo rate at least another 50 basis points when its Monetary Policy Committee meets this week, according to researchers at Standard Chartered Bank. Ed Stoddard reports that the rate has been cut by 225 basis points so far this year.

It is expected that more Zimbabweans in South Africa will be helped to return home this week. Last week, five buses took about 200 Zimbabweans left “destitute by the coronavirus lockdown” back to Zimbabwe.

The trip was sponsored by Zimbabwean-born businessman Justice Maphosa, while another 200 were assisted by the Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa to make the journey back. However, as Carien du Plessis reports, the embassy insists it can do nothing to help those choosing to stay in South Africa but struggling to make ends meet. DM

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