CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #128

Solidarity Fund’s spending under scrutiny, SIU investigates billions in tenders, and the tourism industry plans its reboot

By Christi Nortier 20 August 2020

Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

On Thursday, there were more questions than answers around the Solidarity Fund’s R1.123bn spending. Meanwhile, the SIU filled Parliament in on its investigations into more than 600 tenders and contracts related to Covid-19 spending. Airport Companies South Africa has secured another loan to help it recover from the shock of lockdown, while the tourism industry plans its reboot.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 19 August at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. The Eastern Cape, Free State and Mpumalanga did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

Over the past five months, the Solidarity Fund has amassed R3.06-billion in donations to assist with responding to Covid-19 in South Africa. As of 19 August, the fund has spent R1.123-billion. It has repeatedly promised a high degree of transparency and a decidedly anti-corruption strategy in terms of procurement. However, little information is forthcoming about which suppliers have been paid for specific goods and services. As Rebecca Davis writes, information about spending on specific projects — such as testing or gender-based violence prevention — is not readily available and the Fund’s two spending reports cover only food and medical supplies.

Yet to be delivered: The R3bn Solidarity Fund’s promised spending transparency

Meanwhile, the Special Investigating Unit has been busy investigating 658 Covid-19-related contracts worth R5.08-billion. According to the National Treasury, this is just under half of the R10.38-billion Covid-19 expenditure. On Wednesday, the unit reported to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts in Parliament. The investigations look into tenders and contracts involving companies, provincial departments, national departments and municipalities. Marianne Merten unpacks the numbers.

SIU probes R5.08-bn in questionable Covid-19 tenders, while lists of PPE contracts emerge

South Africa’s state-controlled airports company ACSA has signed a new R3-billion loan with Standard Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and Nedbank. In addition, it has put major projects on hold. The lockdown has knocked the company’s revenue and it hopes these measures and the easing of travel restrictions will help. In May, the company said that in a “worst-case” scenario it would need up to R11-billion in funding from the National Treasury to finance new debt by 2025.

South African airports group ACSA gets new funding, shelves projects

This week, interprovincial travel restarted, but the tourism industry says it will not be enough to bring it back from the brink – they need international borders open. The Department of Tourism has stepped in with a draft tourism recovery plan to reboot domestic tourism and spend the next 24 months selling the country as a destination to international tourists. Greg Nicolson tracks what the industry has been through under lockdown and where it hopes to be heading. 

SA tourism gets lifeline, but needs foreign travellers to escape life support

The 2020 Encounters South African International Documentary Festival kicked off with a drive-in screening of Influence, the Bell Pottinger exposé directed by Daily Maverick’s Diana Neille and Richard Poplak.

Encounters Film Festival launches with drive-in screening of Influence

Neither Covid-19 nor the cold could keep people away, write Maverick Life Editors. DM/MC

Gallery

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