Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #110

Still no ambulances for NMB, another corrupt Covid-19 contract unravels and SA loses out on Rugby Sevens Series

Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

On Thursday, it was reported that the fleet of 10 ambulances promised to Nelson Mandela Bay have still not arrived. The workings of yet another corrupt Covid-19 contract has come to the fore. Meanwhile, South Africa heard it will lose out on hosting some of the Sevens Series this year.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 29 July at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments; however, the North West, Free State and Limpopo did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

How did Covid-19 emergency funding turn into a “cadres’ feast”? Some corrupt civil servants have left a trail littered with clues as they went. Ferial Haffajee unpacks the timelines and figures of one story that illustrates the trends. It boils down to politically connected people starting businesses to provide goods and services which they have no knowledge of in order to take a shot at a contract while funding is a-plenty.

How Covid-19 emergency procurement turned into a cadres’ feast

Because national Treasury had relaxed the rules around procurement, because the pandemic is an emergency situation, provinces and municipalities ignored much of its guidelines. The Special Investigations Unit is on to 90 of them, though.

During a virtual sitting of the National Assembly, opposition parties questioned why President Cyril Ramaphosa has not addressed allegations against his spokesperson Khusela Diko as part of his fight against corruption. Deputy Minister in the Presidency Thembi Siweya shot back, saying that Ramaphosa has addressed the nation on how seriously the government takes allegations of corruption and that the Special Investigations Unit is already looking into corruption related to Covid-19 funds.

Meanwhile, 12 military doctors have been charged after failing to go to the Eastern Cape to assist with its Covid-19 crisis. They refused to be part of the deployment. They argue they were deployed over WhatsApp, which skips at least a weeks’ worth of formal processes and didn’t include any details of where they would go and for how long. As Carien du Plessis reports, the case has been postponed to September.

Military doctors unhappy with ‘WhatsApp deployment’

There is no sign of the fleet of 10 ambulances that the Eastern Cape MEC for Health, Sindiswa Gomba, promised was already in Nelson Mandela Bay when she briefed Parliament last week. The metro’s ambulance service has been hard hit by Covid-19, with only one operating in the metro and one in nearby Uitenhage for Covid-19 patients. The department’s communications director, Siyanda Manana, insists Gumba did not lie to Parliament and that the “administrative processes of the transfer of the vehicles” had been completed. As Estelle Ellis reports, more promises were made that the vehicles would arrive by the end of this week.

Eastern Cape Health MEC said ambulances were sent to Nelson Mandela Bay — but no sign of them yet

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union has called for health workers to stage a stay-away on 28 August to protest against the lack of personal protective equipment and their ill-treatment at work. As Chanel Retief reports, the union has vowed to embark on a strike in September if its demands are not met.

Nehawu threatens strike over lack of protection for health workers

Residents of Waterworks near Lenasia say Thabiso Mokhele, who allegedly died from starvation, is not the first Lesotho national in their community to suffer immensely during lockdown. The area is plagued by poverty, hunger and unemployment and government officials who play politics with their pleas and deliver only empty promises. Bheki Simelane spoke to residents about their plight.

Gauteng’s Waterworks community reeling after resident starves to death

A flicker of light has been ignited in the inner city of Johannesburg. The Inner City CAN Collective has been launched to connect 15 micro CANs to make sure the organisation is alive at the street or building level. Each focuses on their small community’s needs, whether it is cleaning committees, help with documentation, soup kitchens or libraries. Jean Veitch, the collective’s admin leader, writes about their experiences of organising during the lockdown. 

The Johannesburg Inner City CAN Collective: Dignity through solidarity

World Rugby has scrapped the Cape Town and Dubai legs of the 2020/2021 HSBC World Sevens Series because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The rounds had been scheduled for November and December 2020. However, both Cape Town and Dubai are expected to return to a full series schedule in 2021. As Craig Ray writes, the loss of this vital earner will come as a major blow to SA Rugby.

It will take South Africa’s economy two years or more to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, according to new modelling by Business for SA. It is made up of Business Unity SA and the Black Business Council and was formed to support the government’s health and economic response to the Covid-19 crisis. As Ray Mahlaka writes, the economy was already weak before the virus hit.

Business sees long and hard road for SA’s economic recovery

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde has argued that there needs to be a “differentiated” approach to Covid-19 regulations in the province to allow the reopening of some economic sectors, such as wine and tourism, which are struggling to survive. He says deaths related to Covid-19 are flattening in the province. He called for an urgent meeting with Co-operative and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to consider his proposal. DM/MC

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