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Gauteng Health seeks to address possible shortage of beds when COVID-19 reaches its peak
24 June 2020, 9:24 PM

Gauteng Health MEC Bandule Masuku says he is working tirelessly to ensure that they increase the number of beds needed to deal with the coronavirus.

Masuku revealed in the Gauteng Legislature that the province may be facing a shortage of 6 878 critical care beds and 1 788 ICU nurses when coronavirus cases hit an expected peak in late August and early September.

Masuku was visiting the Kopanong Hospital in the Vaal to inspect the progress that the hospital is making to increase wards.

“There is work in progress. Our approach has always been that we repurpose our facilities so that we can have something to use beyond COVID. If you look at Kopanong now, it is a 245 bedded Hospital, but using 214 beds. With the new wards that we putting up, we would have increased the capacity with over 55 to 60 beds. It means we are almost establishing a new hospital.”

Gauteng accounts for 22.7% of the total number of coronavirus cases in South Africa. This amounts to 24 041 cases. Provinces across the country are getting ready for the peak.

Below are the latest coronavirus statistics in South Africa:

 

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On Tuesday, Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize opened the 66 000 square-metre temporary medical facilities in Nelson Mandela Bay in Port Elizabeth. The facility is set to accommodate 3 300 patients once fully operational.

Mkhize said the facility will alleviate pressure off the public health fraternities.

“A total of 3 300 beds coming along with oxygen reticulation. All of this is a very important combination of what our needs are at this point. This has now been established in record time.”

SABC has to do what is necessary, even if it’s painful: CFO
24 June 2020, 8:51 PM

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Chief Financial Officer Yolande van Biljon has told Parliament’s Communications Committee during an online meeting, on Wednesday, that the public broadcaster has addressed most of the low hanging fruit when it comes to cost-cutting and the salary bill now needs to be tackled.

This comes after the SABC sent a Section 189 notice to staff, saying it was contemplating possible retrenchments of as many as 600 fulltime workers.

The contracts of 1 200 freelancers could also be terminated.

The SABC executives told the committee that they expect a 400% increase in losses as the country battles coronavirus.

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

 

‘No to retrenchments’

Earlier, Deputy Communications Minister Pinky Kekana objected to any retrenchments at the public broadcaster.

Democratic Alliance Committee Member, Phumzile van Damme, has told the SABC executives that the skills audit process should be completed before any retrenchments are considered.

Van Damme says SABC staffers are very worried.

“We have a letter that was sent to us from the SABC Editorial staff and it’s very concerning there are concerns that staff were not consulted and were not given back feedback of the audit. You need to go. You need to finish the audit and take the staff with you. There is a lot of competing interest. They must be able to self-sustain, two staff members, can I request that when you deal with processes deal with it with dignity aware of the anxiety … so where are these people going to get their jobs.”

Mboweni’s budget takes no steps to address SA’s debt : Analyst
24 June 2020, 7:43 PM

 

The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, delivering the supplementary budget on Wednesday afternoon, says South Africa faces a huge debt crisis unless the deficit is stabilised, adding that while the country has much strength, debt is SA’s biggest problem.

But Institute of Race Relations Deputy Head of Policy Research, Hermann Pretorius, says the Minister’s budget speech takes no steps to address South Africa’s debt. Pretorius says it is concerning that nothing has been done to the public wage bill.

“In the emergency budget, Minister Mboweni warns of the danger of debt, but takes no steps to address this. He gives a strong indication of R40 billion increases in taxes over the next four years while failing to reduce the size of the bloated public wage bill or turn off the tax-taps to failing SOEs.”

According to the Minister, the severe economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic has made the adjusted budget necessary.

“Looking ahead, the Minister seems to place our country’s economic hopes on vast infrastructure expenditure with money we simply do not have. You cannot borrow your way out of debt or spend your way out of insolvency,” says Pretorius.

Mboweni announced more than R30 billion to support increased screening and testing of the coronavirus as the economy continues to re-open. He says provinces will add at least R5 billion more for the education catch-up plan and social welfare support for communities.

“The Minister’s unaffordable infrastructure spending plans are probably a consequence of his wanting to use this emergency budget to kick the fiscal can down the road, only to realize that he has to borrow desperately to build more road first,” concludes Pretorius.

In the video below, Minister Tito Mboweni’s tables the budget:

 

Below is the Full speech: 

Gauteng officials to attend Ansia Kheha’s funeral
24 June 2020, 6:04 PM

The City of Johannesburg MMC of Community Development, Councillor Margaret Arnolds will pay her respects at the funeral service of three-year-old Ansia Kheha on Thursday. Arnolds will be joined by Community Safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko.

Ansia’s body was found by a waste picker in a veld in Orange Farm last Thursday. No arrests have been made.

The government is currently embarking on a grass cutting initiative to create safer spaces for children. This includes the area where Ansia’s body was discovered.

In recent weeks, velds and open pockets of land have been used as dumping grounds for the bodies of dozens of women and children.

Arnolds has again urged communities to speak out and break the cycle of abuse.

The number of gender-based violence cases has been continuing since the national lockdown.

Addressing a gender-based violence dialogue on Monday, African National Congress president Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the surge in the cases. He urged young men to take part in fighting the scourge, also calling for harsher measures to deal with the perpetrators.

In the video below, Orange Farm residents want justice for the murder of the three-year-old:

SA economy expected to contract by 7.2%: Mboweni
24 June 2020, 4:12 PM

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni says the government expects the South African economy to contract by 7.2% in 2020 as the coronavirus ravages the world and the local economy.

Mboweni was delivering his special adjustment bill, on Wednesday, as the country battles the pandemic.

The Finance Minister says South Africa has accumulated too much debt and the coronavirus lockdowns will make the situation even worse.

Mboweni says the Ramaphosa administration is focused on helping South Africa position itself for economic recovery after the coronavirus. He adds that they are faced with a massive task in closing the mouth of the hippopotamus.

‘Debt expected to rise’

Mboweni says debt is expected to rise to around 81% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This is substantially higher than the 65% of GDP forecast by the government in February before the lockdown.

“This year, out of every rand that you pay in tax, 21 cents goes to paying the interest on our past debts.”  “Our Herculean task is to stabilise debt,” Mboweni explains.

However, he says the government will work to stabilise the debt at around 87% of GDP by the 2023-24 financial year.

The Treasury has warned that finances are overstretched and the country could face a sovereign debt crisis if it does not act fast.

The Minister has confirmed that the process of zero-based budgeting will be used in the future and resources will be allocated on a needs basis.

Minister Tito Mboweni tables the supplementary budget: 

Consolidated Budget Spending

Projected total consolidated budget spending, including debt service costs, will exceed R2 trillion for the first time ever.

SA is already R35.3 billion behind in tax collection in past two months

SA is already R35.3 billion behind on our 2020/21 target. (Gross tax revenue collected during the first two months of 2020/21 was R142 billion, compared to our initial forecast for the same period of R177.3 billion)

Tax Revenue Shortfall

R300 billion Tax Revenue Shortfall (Gross Tax Revenue for the 2020/21 fiscal year is revised down from R1.43 trillion to R1.12 trillion)

Below is Minister Mboweni’s Full Supplementary Budget speech: 

 

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