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Unions representing SABC employees threaten to approach court over retrenchments
1 July 2020, 10:25 PM

Organised labour at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is threatening to approach the courts after the public broadcaster ignored a letter of demand in respect of the retrenchment process.

Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union’s (Bemawu) Hannes du Buisson says they partnered with the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) to issue the letter highlighting concerns over the SABC’s attempt to consult directly with its employees.

The SABC will begin this consultation process tomorrow, with Du Buisson vowing to raise this during that meeting or otherwise approach the Labour Court.

“No absolutely no, … the SABC has not acknowledged receipt (of the letter) absolutely nothing. So they just basically ignored a very important letter that we jointly as organised labour at the SABC sent the SABC for them to be given an opportunity to respond to very important issues that we raised in terms of the process of this consultation and they chose to ignore that.”

In the video below, unions outline their views on looming retrenchments at the SABC: 

Two weeks back the Corporation issued a Section 189 Labour Relations Act notice. The Corporation says due to its financial situation it has to retrench approximately 600 permanent employees and end the contracts of 1 200 freelancers.

Executives appear before Parliament

Appearing before Parliament‘s Communications Committee a week after issuing the notice, Chief Financial Officer Yolande van Biljon said while that the public broadcaster has addressed most of the low hanging fruit when it comes to cost-cutting,  the salary bill now needs to be tackled.

Van Biljon has told the committee that the public broadcaster has to do what is necessary, even if it is very painful.

In the video below,  SABC Executives explain challenges to the Parliament Portfolio Committee :

President Cyril Ramaphosa
Don’t panic says President Ramaphosa, as coronavirus cases increase
1 July 2020, 9:22 PM

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged South Africans not to panic and be alarmed by the rising number of coronavirus infections in the country. He was speaking during the virtual Presidential Imbizo on coronavirus this evening. 

The President interacted with communities across the nation through over 80 community radio stations and some SABC platforms. Currently, the country has more than 150 000 infections with the number of deaths fast approaching 3000.

 Ramaphosa says the country will overcome the virus. “Of course the rise in infections is making us all anxious. We need to know our workplaces are safe; we need to know our schools are safe. But we are not helpless in the face of this virus if we take the necessary precautions, we really do not have to be afraid.”

In the video below, President Cyril Ramaphosa virtual interaction:

Lockdown 

South Africa entered the Level-3 lockdown on 1 June. Since then sectors of the economy have reopened and more people are going to work. 

Ramaphosa says people needed to go back to work. “The reality is that we could not remain under lockdown forever. People need to earn a living. Learners need to continue with their education. Businesses need to reopen to survive and for their staff to keep their jobs. “ 

SA’s Economy

South Africa’s economy has taken a knock as a result of the lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. The economy contracted by 2% in the first quarter of 2020. Figures revealed by Statistics South Africa on Monday revealed that Gross Domestic Product fell as a result of significantly low production output in the mining, manufacturing, and construction industries. 

“We must not underestimate the magnitude of the challenge we are facing and we have to be realistic that it will take some time for our economy to recover. What is important is that the work has begun, and we are confident that in the coming months we will begin to steadily see results.” 

SA coronavirus cases jump to 159 333, a further 92 deaths reported
1 July 2020, 9:08 PM

South Africa has recorded 8 124 new coronavirus cases. This brings the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 159 333. In a statement, the Department of Health has also reported a further 92 COVID-19 related deaths.

“Seventeen cases from Eastern Cape, 28 from Gauteng, 10 from KwaZulu- Natal and 37 from Western Cape. This brings the total deaths to 2749. We wish to express our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who treated the deceased,” the Department’s statement read.

Currently, the mortality rate is at 1, 7%. The number of recoveries is 76 025, which translates to a recovery rate of 47, 7%.

Latest Stats below:

Numsa calls on government to resolve taxi industry impasse
1 July 2020, 8:17 PM

The National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (Numsa) says it is dismayed and disappointed by what it terms the failure of  government to resolve issues raised by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco).

On Sunday, the association announced that operators will load to full capacity, contravening government’s regulations for taxis to load only at 70 percent capacity.

In the video below, Santaco announces that all its taxis will operate at full capacity : 

The association says the regulations are making it difficult for the sector to continue operating. It says owners are unable to make a profit and pay their monthly installments to banks.

Numsa says the sector needs more support from the government to continue operating.

“The taxi industry has estimated that it needs, from government, no less than R20 000 per taxi, for most of its operators to survive. Anyone with the least knowledge of the cut-throat competition in this industry will have no problem accepting that the government’s necessary stringent lockdown regulations and continuing passenger load regulation of 70% will cause this sector to collapse,” says the union in a statement.

Government engaging with the sector 

Two weeks ago the government announced that it has set aside R1.135 billion to help taxi owners and operators deal with the impact of the coronavirus. Yesterday, Minister Fikile Mbalula said that they have met with Santaco and the National Taxi Association regarding the challenges that the industry is facing.

Numsa has raised concerns over the transformation in the industry.

“This sector remains thoroughly untransformed, informal, and inferior in comparison to other transport modes. It continues to be unsupported by the government and is confined to operating in the low wage economy populated by the African and Black majority of the working class. “

Safety of commuters 

Numsa calls on government to consider the safety of the working class who use taxis to commute to work.

“ We reject, with the contempt it deserves, the argument that workers’ lives must be placed in danger because the ANC government must pursue austerity measures against workers in order to protect the financial wealth of South African White Monopoly Capital and its international backers. Our members who are largely dependent on the taxi industry for transport demand that the government must meet the funding demands of the taxi industry. Our members’ lives cannot be sacrificed at the altar of profits!”

Nums is also pleading with the industry stakeholders to protect commuters from possible coronavirus infections.

“We also urge the taxi owners, operators, and drivers not to punish with possible infections and death their fellow poor brothers and sisters who use this form of public transport, by ignoring lockdown regulations and filling up their taxis to the maximum capacity. Rather, this is a golden opportunity for the African and Black working class, who are the majority and are dependent on this sector, to unite and demand genuine transformation, full government funding, and modern improvements, to this system of public transport that caters for the majority of the working class in this country.”

Below is the union’s statement:

US states backtracking on phased reopening as coronavirus cases increase
1 July 2020, 6:54 PM

A growing number of states are pausing or even backtracking on their phased reopenings in the United States as public health experts sound the alarm about significant increases in coronavirus spread across the nation. The country’s daily caseload increased by more than 46 000 in the last 24 hours while a top infectious diseases expert warned that the number could rise to 100 000 per day, in just the latest worrying trend for a country that has lost more than 130 000 people to the COVID-19 pandemic.

California and Texas were at around 8 000 new cases overnight and Florida with more than 6 000, with record numbers being seen in Arizona, Georgia, Oklahoma and the list goes on.

The Lone Star State of Texas- like others, moving too quickly to reopen, ignoring safety benchmarks, and now bearing the consequences.

“We’re seeing this massive relapse, this resurgence, and it’s happening in all the major metro areas of Texas, and it’s very alarming. The rate of acceleration is extreme. We’re seeing daily dramatic increase, almost a vertical slope. Some of the models are saying that we may be at 4 000 cases a day in Houston by the early/middle of July. So it would be catastrophic for the city. So this is a pretty bad scenario,” Dean of Baylor College’s National School of Tropical Medicine Dr Peter Hotexz explains.

Exponential spread 

Briefing Senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, the country’s leading public health experts warned of exponential spread if the rising case numbers were not brought to heel.

“I can’t make an accurate prediction, but it is going to be very disturbing. I will guarantee you that because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country, they’re doing well, they are vulnerable. I made that point very clearly last week at a press conference. We can’t just focus on those areas that are having the surge. It puts the entire country at risk. We are now having 40 plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100 000 a day if this does not turn around. And so I am very concerned,” says Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci.

Driving the new numbers are the young people in the main who have not adhered to social distancing and public health measures like wearing masks; adding to the urgency of a vaccine and when that will be available remains an open question.

“There is no guarantee and anyone who’s been involved in vaccinology will tell you, that we will have a safe and effective vaccine. But we are cautiously optimistic, looking at animal data and the early preliminary data that we will at least know the extent of efficacy sometime in the winter and early part of next year. Again, working with the companies and the investment made by this Congress, hopefully, there will be doses available by the beginning of next year,”  says Fauci.

While the wearing of masks has become a political football due to President Donald Trump and his supporters’ reluctance to wear one, the tide is beginning to turn with a growing number of Republicans and conservative media now breaking with the President. Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was holding a mask when he said this.

“Until we find a vaccine, these (holds up mask) are really important. This is not as complicated as a ventilator, and this is a way to indicate that you want to protect others, and we all need, during this period until we find a vaccine to think of us as not only protecting ourselves but for others during this highly vulnerable period.”

A virus literally changing minds and where politics is simply no match for science.

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