Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #134

Suspension of disability grant applications still causes pain, experts warn SA not out of the woods yet and Cosatu demands action from ANC on corruption

Suspension of disability grant applications still causes pain, experts warn SA not out of the woods yet and Cosatu demands action from ANC on corruption
Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

On Thursday, the suspension of disability grant applications continued to cause confusion and hardship. Public health experts have warned that although new Covid-19 cases are dipping, the majority of South Africa is still at risk of infection. Meanwhile, Cosatu has written to the ANC over corruption and a post-pandemic recovery as it announced a general strike.

Scroll through the gallery below to view the latest Covid-19 numbers available on 27 August at the district level. All maps are sourced from provincial health departments. Limpopo and Mpumalanga did not provide an update by the time of publishing:

While the number of new Covid-19 infections has decreased, 80% of the country is still at risk, say public health experts. During a webinar on Wednesday, they reflected on the pandemic thus far and how the lessons learnt could be used to respond to a possible second surge in infections. 

They emphasised that contact tracing and testing will remain important tools, in addition to interventions such as physical distancing, wearing masks and washing hands. As Estelle Ellis writes, it was also proposed that wastewater should be monitored for genetic traces of the virus as a way to detect new outbreaks earlier.

South Africa is not out of the Covid-19 woods yet

Meanwhile, Cosatu has told the ANC that workers are fed up with the party’s “phoney outrage” over corruption. It called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to actively confront corruption and for the party to reverse its decision to hold on to and promote those accused of corruption. 

It also called for action to combat the economic blow of the Covid-19 hard lockdown – this includes a R1-trillion economic recovery stimulus and extending relief for the duration of the State of Disaster until 15 September. However, as Marianne Merten writes, tangible outcomes don’t seem to be forthcoming. Nevertheless, Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo said during Parliament’s economic ministers’ Q&A that an “implementation credibility crisis” has to be avoided.

Simultaneously, Cosatu has announced it will stage a general strike on 7 October. It said Covid-19 corruption is an “assault against workers and the poor” and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to speed up prosecutions of corrupt people. As Ray Mahlaka writes, this comes after the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme was temporarily paused to allow for an investigation by the auditor-general for possible fraud and irregularities. 

Strike season set to hit South Africa as labour movement sees red

The suspension of disability grant applications during hard lockdown continues to cause confusion and missed payments. The process has supposedly been up and running again since July, however some applicants are still out in the cold. Elri Voigt looks into how this bungle came to be and what is being done to untangle it.

Concerns over corruption is the cause for the delay in securing a tender for the supply of laptops to NSFAS students during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande. He said the bids have not met the requirements and that the department is not prepared to deviate from the rules of the usual tender process. As Ayanda Mthethwa writes, these laptops had been promised to students in June and again in July.

Nzimande: Academic year ends in February 2021 — and corruption fears delay NSFAS laptop tenders

How does the South African tender system work, and how can it be made more corruption-proof? Rebecca Davis investigates.

The South African wine industry lost about R7-billion over 14 weeks, Vinpro, the South African wine producers’ representative body, told the Western Cape ad-hoc Covid-19 committee. It said the unbanning and banning of alcohol put the industry’s international competitiveness at risk, as it lost shelf space to its competitors.

How can South Africa fix its tender system?

In addition, because it was not considered an essential service, the industry could not produce wine but also accumulated surplus stock. This will impact on the next harvest. However, it has a recovery plan: sustain supply, reignite domestic demand, strengthen skills development and drive transformation in the industry. As Karabo Mafolo writes, the organisation said it had spoken to various national departments and ministries about the plan. DM/MC

Gallery

"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"

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