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Motshekga must provide clear guidelines for reopening of schools: Civil society
18 May 2020, 8:30 PM

Some civil society organisations say they are keenly awaiting clarity from the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga on how schools will be prepared to open amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have been closed for nearly six weeks as government battles to contain the virus.

To get schools ready to operate during the lockdown, precautions must be implemented. Motshekga is scheduled to address the public on these matters on Tuesday afternoon.

As the country awaits with bated breath Motshekga’s address, civil society organisation Section 27 says much more needs to be done.

“We are concerned about issues such as the school’s nutrition programme; children with disabilities; whether there are enough PPEs; the vital role of sanitation for over 4 000 schools with pit toilets and lack of running water. How will social distancing work at schools? How will scholar patrol be implemented?” asks Section 27 Spokesperson, Motheo Brodie.

Equal Education Secretary General Noncedo Madubedube echoes Brodie’s sentiments.

“There are a couple of things we want to hear as the Minister addresses the nation, is the feeding schemes. We are concerned as the country faces a humanitarian crisis around food shortages, that learners in poor and working-class communities become even more marginalised in terms of food security. So, we think its imperative for the programme to open regardless of who is back at school or not. We want a plan on how to track and make sure that learners who are locked down will have access to curricular,” she says.

In the video below, is a report on concerns that rural schools may not be ready for reopening:

Minimum requirements

COPE and the Freedom Front Plus say minimum requirements must be adhered to for schools to reopen.

“We agree with unions that all minimum requirements must be met. Like proper infrastructure – toilets, sanitiser, masks, soap and water must be there. Must be sure there will be social distancing, that’s the only way we can support opening of schools again,” says COPE’s Dennis Bloem.

“There are many ways to present education. The normal school is not the only way. It’s not new news, but it seems the department is only learning it now. The department used to be quite sceptical about homeschooling placing stringent regulations to homeschooling, now much more accommodating,” says the Freedom Front Plus’ Wouter Boshoff.

The DA’s MP, Mbulelo Bara, says the party supports the reopening of schools but with conditions.

“There are issues, namely water and sanitising, and social distancing how will it work where there are a lot of learners in the class. Thirdly some schools were burnt down during lockdown what will happen there? There must be the provision of masks and PPEs for teachers.”

ACDP MP, Marie Soekers, believes it’s possible to save the academic year.

“We want to hear about curriculum adjustments for the rest of the year; to make sure the year is not lost. Not late return but the safety of children is most important.”

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has called on Motshekga to put an end to the confusion with regards to the reopening of schools and the process leading up to this.

The Department previously told Parliament that school management staff should return to schools on the 11th of May to prepare for learners in grades 7 and 12 to return to school on the 1st of June.

Below is a graphic on the proposed dates for schools reopening:

“The IFP is concerned that the department issues instructions to teachers and those instructions are in a matter of within days or hours are withdrawn. The IFP is, therefore, saying the ministers and MECs must take leadership. They must stop this confusion. They must stop confusing teachers, they must stop confusing learners; they must stop confusing parents. They must take leadership and be decisive on the issue of education so as to save the academic year 2020 for South Africa,” says IFP member of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature, Mntomuhle Khawula.

Committee chairperson Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba was unavailable for comment.



Economists forecast another interest rate cut for SA
18 May 2020, 6:00 PM

The majority of economists in a SABC News Survey expect the Reserve Bank to cut the repo rate this week. Nine out of 11 economists surveyed expect the Reserve Bank to cut the repo rate by between 25 basis points and 100 basis points.

Video below details the survey done by SABC News:

The Reserve Bank has so far this year cut the repo rate by 225 basis points, putting money in the hands of distressed businesses and households.

The Reserve Bank expects inflation to remain within the target bracket for some time to come, averaging 3.6% in 2020 and increasing to 4.5% in 2021.

The economy has taken a knock on the back of lockdown regulations put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Most economists believe a cut would help stimulate the economy and boost consumer confidence. It is expected that the Reserve Bank will revise downwards its economic growth forecast.

Most views shared by economists are that inflation will fall below the lower end of the Reserve Bank’s target range in the coming months. This as a result of low demand conditions due to suppressing effects of the coronavirus and the lower petrol price following the collapse in the price of oil.

Some say the Central Bank will likely cut the repo rate as it is primarily focused on providing as much support to the economy as it can – given the unprecedented economic damage that COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown are having in South Africa.

Others believe a smaller 25bp rate cut would be ideal, as the Reserve Bank would likely need to preserve some room to implement further easing later in the year, should conditions worsen further. Some say the earlier 225 basis points cuts are yet to filter through the economy and therefore it would be premature for another rate cut, before an assessment of the impact of the previous rate cuts.

The Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is expected to announce its decision on Thursday.

COVID-19 curve continues upward trend in SA with the death tally now at 194
10 May 2020, 9:13 PM

Coronavirus infections in South Africa continue to rise with the death toll as of Sunday jumping to 194. Three of the eight new deaths are from the Western Cape, four from Gauteng and one from the Eastern Cape.

The total number of cases has now risen to 10 015.

In a statement, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize expresses concern over the infection rate in the Western and Eastern Capes. Both provinces have contributed 84% to the total number of the new cases.

Mkhize has, however, expressed relief at the number of recoveries the country is seeing. He says 4 173 South Africans have beaten the disease.

Appeal for unbanning of church gatherings
9 May 2020, 7:46 PM

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow church gatherings during the less restrictive level 4 of the nationwide lockdown that is currently in place.

The council says it has written to the President requesting him to allow churches to operate the same way schools would be allowed to reopen under the lockdown.

The Department of Basic Education has proposed that the reopening of schools be done in phases, starting with Grades 7 and 12 from June.

President of the Council, Dr Monokoane Hlobo, says the church has a role to play during this time.

“The church should actually play a role in the present situation. You have people who need to be counseled on their problems, particularly with regards to gender-based violence and the church has a role to pray for the healing of the land so that that is why we are actually saying the President should actually allow the church to start to operate gradually. What we are saying is that if a grade 12 or grade 7 learner is trusted to go to school, government should also trust the church people to go back to the church.”



South Africa currently has 9 420 COVID-19 infections and 186 deaths. Cooperative Governance Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has urged South Africans to continue to adhere to regulations that are in place as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The Minister has warned that failure to do so could force the country back to the stringent level 5 lockdown.

Social distancing and the avoidance of crowded spaces are some of the precautionary measures that authorities are encouraging.

SA COVID-19 cases jump by 525, pushing number of infections to over 9 000
9 May 2020, 4:44 PM

Health authorities have reported 525 new COVID-19 cases in South Africa, pushing the number of infections to 9 420.

The death tally has gone up by eight, now standing at 186. Seven of the deceased are from the Western Cape, which has become the epicentre of the outbreak in the country. One of the deceased was a health worker at the Tygerberg Hospital.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize made the announcement while in the Western Cape on Saturday.

He has paid special tribute to the nurse and conveyed condolences to families of all those who have lost their loved ones to the respiratory illness.





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