Maverick Citizen


Trade unions demand action, huge payments to unlicensed suppliers exposed, and Parliament feels pandemic delays

Trade unions demand action, huge payments to unlicensed suppliers exposed, and Parliament feels pandemic delays
Compilation image by Sahra Heuwel.

This past week, Daily Maverick investigations revealed massive Covid-19 payments to unlicensed and unqualified suppliers. Meanwhile, trade unions have demanded action from government to better protect workers from the virus. In addition, Parliament has had to conduct crucial oversight without audits because of a delay caused by lockdown.

Maverick Citizen’s Coronavirus Daily Digest has changed format to a Coronavirus Weekly Digest. Each Friday morning, the digest will summarise highlights from the previous week’s news about the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa. 

Investigations expose massive irregular pandemic spending

South Africa has paid R2-billion to hundreds of unlicensed suppliers of personal protective equipment and other medical goods, according to a Scorpio investigation. This means 80% of the nine province’s emergency spending went to companies not licensed and regulated by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. Pieter-Louis Myburgh tracks where the money went.

An infographic illustrating how South Africa’s provinces spent their emergency funds. (Source: Daily Maverick)

Meanwhile, the Gauteng government has defended spending billions on field hospitals which are still under construction after the Covid-19 peak has passed. A new report on its spending makes the province’s expenditure even more difficult to decipher. Mark Heywood investigates.  

Hospitals manage elective surgical procedures

Many hospitals have the capacity to institute catch-up plans to deal with elective surgeries that were put on ice during the early part of the pandemic. Hospitals have thousands of people waiting and Covid-19 is still a threat. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to government officials in the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo about their strategies to get the system back on track.

Some South Africans say they will refuse a Covid-19 vaccine

A recent global online survey has suggested that 64% of South Africans will accept a Covid-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. Of those, only 29% “strongly agreed” and the rest only “somewhat agreed”. Nevertheless, South Africa is in the group of countries with the least intention to get vaccinated. Adele Baleta unpacks the survey’s findings and implications.

Trade unions demand action from government

The SA Communist Party has called for the National Health Insurance and Universal Basic Income Grant to be implemented as soon as possible, given the devastating impact of Covid-19. 

In addition, it voiced its support for Cosatu’s nationwide protest against corruption. As Suné Payne writes, the party said workers and lower middle classes had suffered considerably because of the pandemic. It also proposed a wealth tax and a tax on capital transactions.

On Wednesday, Cosatu’s members embarked on a national strike alongside members of the SA Federation of Trade Unions, the National Council of Trade Unions and Federation of Unions of SA. They marched to express their anger over a lack of government support for all workers, and floated the possibility of retracting their vote for the ANC if there was no meaningful engagement with their demands. 

They also condemned Covid-19 corruption while workers went hungry and risked their lives to battle the pandemic. Bheki Simelane reports from Johannesburg. 

The loss of school days counted

More than 40% of school days have been lost for most schoolchildren in 2020 because of the pandemic. In addition, access to learning materials was skewed according to the wealth of the school. As Ayanda Mthethwa writes, the fact that some grades were prioritised over others has had a huge impact on learning. 

Study finds that most school pupils suffered massive loss of learning days, access to learning materials skewed

Borders open amid confusion

The first international flights in months touched down in South Africa this week. By Monday, the new regulations had just skidded in on time. As Sasha Planting writes, they were filled with holes and left passengers, insurers, flight crews and airlines scratching their heads. 

Parliament oversight continues – without audits

Parliament has had to conduct oversight of departmental spending and delivery without annual reports or audited financials. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the deadline for these crucial documents was pushed to November, creating a squeeze for legislators. As Marianne Merten explains, this is far from normal and there are concerns the rush may impact the quality of oversight that will be felt for quite some time.

Parliament: 57 channels and nothing on – Budget oversight sans annual reports and audited finances

Interest rates will only go up from here

Interest rates are likely to rise gradually and the effects of the 275 basis point cut will be felt in mid-2021, according to the South African Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Review. The bank’s repo rate is currently 3.5%, meaning the prime rate for consumers is at a record low of 7%. Ed Stoddard outlines the impact of these low numbers. MC


Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.