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SAA to resume domestic flights but may need financial support, says Aviation analyst
26 May 2020, 9:43 PM

Aviation experts say the resumption of South African Airways (SAA) flights without the government’s capital injection could deepen the airline’s financial troubles.

SAA has announced it is preparing to resume domestic flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town from mid-June. It also announced the cancellation of all planned scheduled flights on regional and international services until the end of June 2020 with immediate effect.

Aviation analyst Joachim Vermooten says SAA will need financial support for the first six months to enable it to achieve a good load-factor. He says measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 will also make it difficult for SAA to generate enough revenue.

“It depends on whether the government is providing money for that. It’s clear that under the present conditions, you get the reasonable load-factor to start up headline operations immediately. Government has clearly indicated in the past that they don’t have any money to spare. So, we have to see what happens to start operations. Without demand rising quickly, (it) will actually increase the losses of SAA in the short term. They need funding to be able to do that.”

 One of the unions at SAA, the National Transport Movement (NTM), has welcomed the move.

“We believe that in the interim, while the government is still exploring the new airline, it must service the public. It will then be a step in the right direction for employees to earn a salary during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says NTM president Mashudu Raphetha.

Retrenchment of SAA employees

Meanwhile, the Business Rescue Practitioners for SAA say they are going to seek an urgent date for the hearing of their appeal against the Labour Court judgment earlier this month.

The Court found that their move to retrench SAA employees was unfair. The Labour Court granted them leave to appeal the judgment on Monday.

Financial woes at SAA revealed during State Capture Commission: 

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Lindiwe Sisulu
Plans afoot to turn around Water and Sanitation Department: Sisulu
26 May 2020, 9:42 PM

Water and Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu says officials are working hard to turn around the troubled department. Sisulu addressed a virtual meeting of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on investigations into irregular expenditure in the department as well as at Water Boards.

Scopa heard that disciplinary steps have been taken against nearly 100 officials and just more than R3 million has been recouped so far.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has embarked on several investigations to clean up its act. They have taken steps against 97 officials, of which 13 have been dismissed.

Water boards have raked up irregular expenditure of billions of rands, and the Special Investigations Unit has been roped in to investigate.

Scopa Chairperson, Mkululeko Hlengwa, says too little is happening.

“We are dealing with a department that has not covered itself in glory when it comes to financial management. We are not happy with the slow pace of investigations and also prosecutions. We must get prosecuting authorities to explain.”

But Minister Sisulu says they are doing all they can to turn around a department that has not been performing well for years.

“I do understand the agitation of the committee, but also want you to understand the enormity of problems we are confronted with. The fact that we give you this report shows how determined we are to clean image of the department.”

She told Members of Parliament that the distribution of mobile water tanks across the country, is not sustainable, but a workable solution to ensure people have access to clean water in the time of COVID-19.

“The programme we embarked on of tanks, may not be sustainable, but indicates how far behind we are with people getting bare necessities … that is a constitutional right. We rode out 19 000 tanks, (which) shows more than 19 000 villages (are) without water. It is criminal.”

Some places are still struggling to get access to water: 

 

COVID-19 cases at SA prisons rise to 732
26 May 2020, 8:43 PM

The Department of Correctional Services has a total number of 732 COVID-19 cases with 256 officials and 476 inmates.

In a statement, the department confirms that the Western Cape has recorded nine additional cases of officials, whilst Gauteng has registered three remand detainees and Eastern Cape an additional official.

The Eastern Cape has the highest number of cases at 490 and most of them are inmates.

The department has recorded a surge in offender recoveries with 27 offenders in the Western Cape testing negative.

“This indicates good progress by the team of healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19. The total number of recoveries in DCS is now standing at 170.”

The Western Cape has the highest number of recoveries, 86, with 215 number of coronavirus cases.

Below is a breakdown of the statistics:

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Earlier Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has warned that the worst is still yet to come when it comes to coronavirus infections. Mkhize says South Africa is expected to deal with a bigger outbreak.

Currently, 950 people are in hospital and 120 of which are in Intensive Care Unit. This is as the country prepares for Level 3 of the lockdown which will see more people returning to work.

Grade 7 and 12 learners are also heading back to school on 1 June.

Task team set up to investigate killing of political figures in KwaZulu-Natal
26 May 2020, 8:41 PM

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Community Safety and Liaison Bheki Ntuli has set up a task team to investigate the killing of two political figures in the province on the same day.
On Monday, an African National Congress (ANC) Councillor and an ANC Youth League Branch Secretary were killed in Mtubatuba and Hammarsdale, respectively.

Six people have been killed in what is perceived to be politically-related attacks in KwaZulu-Natal since the beginning of the year.

In the latest incidents, ANC PR Councillor from the Mtubatuba Municipality, Philip Mkhwanazi, was shot multiple times at his home in the Dukuduku area at Mtubatuba, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

In a separate incident, ANC Youth League Branch Secretary, Thamsanqa Gcabashe, from Hammarsdale was gunned down near his home last night.

Intra-political fights 

Commenting after Gcabashe’s murder, ANC Youth League Secretary in KwaZulu-Natal, Thanduxolo Sabela, says there has been tension in Hammarsdale since 2016. He is calling on police to make a speedy arrest.

“We want law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in the investigation of this matter. Because in the recent past, it has been somewhat very clear that there is violence meted against young leaders in KZN.

The majority of people who have been assassinated in the spade of political killings in KZN have been young people. We are calling upon the minister of police and the entire law enforcement agencies to apprehend the killers. As the ANCYL, we have raised this with the leadership of the ANC that the processes that lead to the election of ward councillors have caused some tensions and problems in that ward,” Sabela explains.

KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Community Safety and Liaison, Bheki Ntuli, is appealing for calm as the police investigate the incidents.

“If the situation is like this we need to look at all fronts. Because you may not be too sure what is happening up until we finalise our investigation. We will then have the pointer in the right direction. Before the lockdown, we had already re-activated political intervention committee so that we are able to say the intra-political fights, the inter-political fights must be nipped in the bud so that we prepare for the local government elections.”

Root cause of killings

About 100 politicians were killed in the province in the build-up to the 2016 Local Government Elections. These killings led to the appointment of the Moerane Commission of Inquiry to investigate the root cause of these killings.

Political Analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu says it’s difficult to ascertain the root cause of these incidents as in the majority of these killings very few convictions have been made.

“Sometimes you find that these killings are hard to establish as to what their causal factors are. Because you have infighting within political parties, especially going into the elections. Everyone wants to get the position. So, then you find that some of these killings in fact start from within individual political parties and then others it’s inter-party killings and then thirdly, you have people who have their own issues, but then they use this time to basically eliminate their enemies, not necessarily on political grounds but on other reasons. But all said, it’s painting our province in a bad light.”

The police are calling on community members to come forward with information that can lead to the arrest of the perpetrators.

Rights of employees should be given top priority amidst COVID-19: Experts
26 May 2020, 6:39 PM
Next week the country goes into Level 3 of Lockdown. That will see thousands of people going back to work and legal experts say the rights of employees should be given top priority.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unprecedented changes to working conditions have raised crucial questions about the duty of employers to protect the safety of employees in a corporate environment that has changed dramatically this year.

According to Michael Yeates, Director at the Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Employment Practice, employers have a legal obligation to protect the health of workers as they begin to return to work.

“Employers that plan to implement a return to work for their employees, they would have to conduct a risk assessment, in consultation with the health and safety committee, come up with a workplace plan … a protocol. Also, the appointment of a COVID compliance officer to ensure that these measures are implemented. This would include everything from face masks, sanitisers, and any other protocol to promote social distancing in the workplace. They would have to restrict the amount of people that they allow in the workplace.”

Yeates adds that an employer’s duty to ensure a healthy and safe working environment does not extend to an employee’s private residence when that employee is working from home during lockdown.

In relation to leaves, he says, “If employees were forced to take their paid annual leave during this period, an employer can claim from the Temporary Employment Relief Scheme (TERS) relief scheme, on the condition that it credits the employee back their annual leave that they were forced to take.”

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has called on all businesses to uphold human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission remains concerned that certain businesses are unaware of their human rights obligations under the South African constitution.

Senior researcher for equality at the SAHRC, Dr Shanelle van der Berg, says if workers are at risk of contracting COVID-19, the right to access healthcare services and the right to human dignity will be infringed.

She explains that employers should also not neglect their most vulnerable like the blind and hearing impaired.

“When we talk to socio-economic rights, it’s access to healthcare services; right to education, right to sufficient food and water. We have seen in the media that mineworkers are testing positive for the virus. There is also a risk that mineworkers will transmit this to vulnerable communities that are affected by mining operations. Communities’ right to health is (important). If the employer does not comply with the law, workers would have a right not to report to work. Labour inspectors will also be very important as we move into Level 3 to ensure widespread compliance.”

If workers find that their employers are not compliant with COVID-19 health and safety regulations, they are urged to contact the SAHRC for recourse.

Experts say the duties and obligations placed on employers as economic activity begins to reignite is not to infringe on the rights of employees.

Some companies will be open for business and workers returning to work under level 3. This will bring about a whole new experience at the workplace in terms of organisational culture and structuring as Human Resources Expert Nomihlali Ntsunguzi explains: 

Below are measures that will be in place during Level 3: 

 

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Author- Prabashini Moodley

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