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AfriForum threatens Tourism Minister with legal action
8 April 2020, 8:38 AM

Lobby group AfriForum has given Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane a week to address its concerns over government’s relief fund for small businesses to cushion them from the impact of COVID-19.

The Minister has announced that the fund will be in line with the department’s policy of black economic empowerment and economic transformation.

However, AfriForum says this is discriminatory as the COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone.

The CEO of the organisation Kallie Kriel says they will approach the court if the Minister does not revise the policy.

“We believe it is a disgrace at the moment that in a time of crisis where we have a common enemy such as COVID-19 and which we should all fighting together, government is implementing a racial policy. The fact is the virus knows no colour and you can not confuse measures with assistance in supposed of crisis. We believe in times of crisis everybody should be assisted and that is why we will fight this to the bitter end.”

The DA says this is not a time to apply a racial criteria in determining eligibility for government relief for businesses affected by COVID-19.

“This is not a time for petty political ideologies to prevail. Corona knows no race, it knows no class and it knows no differentiation between businesses. It is going to affect our economy no matter what your race no matter where you live. It therefore makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in this time of great crisis for SA to be resorting to petty racial bean-counting. We need to fight this virus together. We need to ensure that relief is available to all businesses who qualify for such relief by government,” says DA Interim leader John Steenhuisen.

Good news for wine industry

Western Cape Agriculture Minister Ivan Meyer has welcomed the amendment of the Disaster Management Act regulations to allow for the export of wine from South Africa.

He says transporting wines, agricultural cargo and fresh produce to sea ports and international airports is now permitted during the lockdown period.

Meyer says the top export products from the province include citrus fruit, wines, grapes, fresh apples, pears and quinces. Meyer says the wine industry is an important contributor to the agricultural economy and a major job creator in the province.

“The Western Cape is the home of 98% of all the wine cellars of South Africa and we are pleased that wine exports will now continue. We are ready to protect our agricultural exports and this amendment is welcomed in the Western Cape,” Meyer says.

Malawi's President Peter Mutharika addresses guests during his inauguration ceremony in Blantyre, Malawi.
Malawi president, ministers take 10% salary cut to fight coronavirus
5 April 2020, 4:28 PM

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika has announced that he and his cabinet will take a 10% salary cut in order to redirect the money towards the fight against the coronavirus.

He also announced a number of measures aimed at assisting small and medium-sized businesses, including tax-breaks, a reduction in fuel prices and an increase in risk allowances for health workers.

Mutharika also ordered tobacco markets to be opened and allowed to operate without disruption to protect small farmers and bolster foreign currency receipts. Tobacco is Malawi’s chief foreign currency earner.

“The coronavirus attack has a huge negative impact on the economy and businesses everywhere. There are many business people and industry players who are uncertain about the situation as it is unfolding. I know that everyone is worried,” he said. “Therefore, government will take measures to protect jobs and incomes, protect businesses and ensure continuity of the supply chain and the survival of the economy.”

Mutharika also directed the Reserve Bank of Malawi to allow banks to offer a three-month moratorium on interest payments on loans to small-and medium-sized businesses, among other measures. He also ordered strict monitoring of price controls at all stores.

Malawi only has four cases of COVID-19, but the government has already ordered all non-essential workers to work from home with immediate effect until further notice.

In the video below, is an interview on Malawi’s first COVID-19 cases:

The President also directed the central bank to “cushion the foreign exchange market to ensure availability of forex of the foreign exchange rate,” and work on an emergency liquidity assistance framework to support banks in the event of worsening liquidity conditions.

The government will also increase loans under the Malawi Enterprise Development Fund that will help micro, small and medium scale businesses that have been seriously affected by the pandemic to 15 billion Malawi kwacha ($20.69 million) from 12billion kwacha.

VIDEO: Inter-Ministerial Committee briefs media on COVID-19 lockdown law amendments
2 April 2020, 6:00 PM

Government has announced the immediate relaxation of some lockdown regulations, such as the re-opening of spaza shops, including informal food traders. Close relatives of deceased persons are now also allowed to travel between provinces to attend funerals. Night vigils are still not permitted. No more than 50 people are allowed to attend a funeral. This number excludes the undertakers.

In the video below, the Inter-Ministerial Committee briefs the media on the revised laws:

Nigeria imposes offshore oil worker restrictions in coronavirus battle
29 March 2020, 3:56 PM

Nigeria’s petroleum regulator has ordered oil and gas companies to reduce their offshore workforce and move to 28-day staff rotations as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, according to a circular seen by Reuters.

Health experts fear a widespread outbreak in Africa’s most populous country, which has about 200 million inhabitants, and the country is keen to protect oil production, which provides90% of much-needed foreign exchange.

A coronavirus case on an offshore rig could spread quickly among workers and have a potentially devastating impact on production.

Director of the Department of Petroleum Resources Sarki Auwalu says only staff on essential duties will be allowed to travel to offshore or remote locations.

“Non-essential staff currently at offshore/remote locations should be withdrawn with immediate effect,” he says in a statement.

Nigeria, which has 97 confirmed coronavirus cases, has shut international airports, closed all land borders and imposed curbs on cargo vessels allowed to dock at its ports in an effort to contain the outbreak.

Rivers State, in which Port Harcourt serves as the hub of Nigeria’s oil industry, closed its own borders to human traffic this week.

Oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria have previously said that the health and safety of workers was their top priority.

Industry sources said that a number of oil companies had already shifted from 14-day rotations to 28 days. Some are also implementing a 14-day quarantine for workers before they leave for rigs. Oil prices have fallen by two thirds since the start of the year, which has forced Nigeria to cut its budget and prompted oil companies to reduce their spending plans.

SABC expands news, current affairs services in bid to keep nation up-to-date on COVID-19
28 March 2020, 5:29 PM

The SABC has expanded its News and Current Affairs services on free-to-air television channels with immediate effect.

The public broadcaster says this is a direct response to the escalating need for public awareness on information around the coronavirus outbreak. It has also committed to continue to provide citizens with valuable, accurate and factual news and information during this period.

“The SABC has decided to urgently expand its news and current affairs services on free to air television channels as well as its African language radio stations, including English radio stations  like SA fm and Radio 2000 with immediate effect. This means that all relevant  media briefings will be broadcast live on SABC Tv and radio,” says SABC acting spokesperson, Mmoni Seapolelo.

In the video below, the COVID-19 National Command Council brief the media on latest developments:

This comes as efforts to thwart fake news continue.

The University of Cape Town and Groote Schuur Hospital have urged South Africans to verify messages passed on to them on the virus.

The call followed a fake message that the university says has been doing the rounds on WhatsApp attributed to a “Head of Virology”.

It called on members of the public not to panic and go to credible sources of information for developments.

A social analyst and managing director of the Black Box theory Yavi Madurai gives more insight to fake news:  

Weather

 

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