Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #81

Emergency Covid-19 Budget tabled, challenge to lockdown laws in limbo, and calls made for suspension of schools

Emergency Covid-19 Budget tabled, challenge to lockdown laws in limbo, and calls made for suspension of schools
A woman walks along a flooded road during a storm in the Masiphumelele informal settlement in Cape Town. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Nic Bothma)

On Wednesday, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tabled the emergency Covid-19 Budget. Meanwhile, the Pretoria High Court reserved judgment after hearing arguments regarding the leave to appeal an earlier judgment that lockdown regulations are unlawful and unconstitutional. It was announced that professional football can restart training and matches. And civil society and school bodies have called for classes to be suspended after a spate of new Covid-19 cases.

Swipe through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 24 June at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tabled an emergency Covid-19 Budget on Wednesday afternoon, and, as Marianne Merten writes, it was grim. Mboweni spoke of deep debt and a loss of revenue. He also highlighted the unprecedented zero-based budgeting and a more precise breakdown of how the R500-billion stimulus package will be spent. The full emergency Budget speech can be read here

The Pretoria High Court reserved judgment in an application for leave to appeal an earlier judgment that lockdown regulations are unlawful and unconstitutional. The application was brought by Cogta Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and opposed by the Liberty Fighters Network, which had brought the challenge. Judge Norman Davis heard both arguments before reserving judgment, saying it will be delivered “shortly”.

Meanwhile, professional football players can return to training – and matches. The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture has approved the Premier Soccer League’s proposed plan for a return to play under lockdown Level 3. In addition, the Department of Health and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases gave it the green light. As Yanga Sibembe writes, this means major leagues can now conclude their final stages, which were paused because of lockdown. 

A number of trade unions and school bodies have made a call for all classes to be suspended because of an increase in Covid-19 cases among school staff and learners. However, the Department of Basic Education has hit back, saying infections are rising in communities and not in schools. As Bheki C Simelane reports, this comes as it was confirmed that more than 180 pupils tested positive for Covid-19 at the Makaula Senior Secondary School in Mount Frere in the Eastern Cape.

In Cape Town, teachers at Yomelela Primary School in Khayelitsha’s Site B are terrified of going to work after their colleague, Grade 3 teacher Nomonde Bukani, died from Covid-19. She was told she tested positive for Covid-19 just over a month after another teacher at the school alerted the school principal, the Western Cape Education Department and the premier about the unsafe working conditions. Biénne Huisman reports on what is being done.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear where and when refugees staying at temporary shelters in Cape Town will be moved. The group was split up and sent from the city’s CBD to two temporary shelters before the lockdown came into effect. As Sandisiwe Shoba writes, the refugees may soon be forced to leave the sites when they close down and will have to consider repatriation, reintegration or resettlement.

The City of Cape Town has come under fire for putting out a tender for private companies to demolish illegal informal structures. Civil society organisations and the opposition in the City Council of Cape Town have challenged the move. They question why the City needs more personnel to enforce by-laws when it has enough law enforcement officials. 

As Vincent Cruywagen writes: “While the City of Cape Town might very well be correct in law, its proposed action to remove shelters, in winter, in the face of a national catastrophe speaks more to lack of political emotional intelligence and morality.” DM/MC

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