Zimbabwe Health Minister arrested over COVID-19 corruption allegations
19 June 2020, 7:50 PM
Zimbabwe’s Health Minister, Obadiah Moyo, has been arrested for COVID-19 related tender fraud and corruption. The country’s Anti-Corruption Commission accuses Moyo of illegally awarding a R7 billion tender to Swiss company, Drax International to procure PPEs and pharmaceutical drugs.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo has been arrested. He’s at Rhodesville police station. It’s in connection with procurement contract corruption.
Drax International is allegedly not even a pharmaceutical organisation but a consultancy firm which was only registered this year.
It’s believed that Moyo awarded the mega-contract without following the proper procedures after Drax’s bid was rejected by Treasury.
Initial investigations reveal that Drax hyper-inflated prices – a mask that cost 28-dollars was marked up at 98 dollars.
The contract has since been rescinded by the government.
SABC Correspondent Ephert Musekiwa reports from Harare:
The opposition, the MDC, applied pressure for investigations into the awarding of the tender and to have Moyo and Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube to be investigated over the awarding of the tender.
Zimbabwe currently has 463 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths and 63 recoveries.
Below is the dashboard tracking global COVID-19 cases, death toll, recoveries and more
Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality in a dysfunctional state: Business Chamber
19 June 2020, 7:47 PM
The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality without a permanent Executive Mayor is in a dysfunctional state. This is the view of the Metro’s Business Chamber. It has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in filling the vacancy.
The Chamber says without a mayor, the municipality is unable to table the draft budget. Treasury has also threatened to withhold the municipality’s equitable share.
The chamber says the state of the municipality makes it difficult to do business.
“We are alarmed with the decaying infrastructure in this bay, we cannot create jobs, we cannot attract investors if we do not have an enabling environment to do so. Currently Nelson Mandela bay is not an enabling environment for business, says NMB Business Chamber President, Andrew Muir.
Deputy Mayor Tshonono Buyeye has been acting as interim mayor. The African National Congress (ANC) in the region which is part of the coalition government says it’s also concerned.
“We are also guided by the understanding that in the absence of a mayor, the act does provide that the deputy is to assume full responsibility in the absence of a mayor. Currently, that is what is happening in the city. There is no mayor but there is an interim mayor in the form of the deputy executive mayor who was elected by council,” says NMB ANC RTT coordinator, Luyolo Nqakula.
Former mayor Mongameli Bobani hopes to return to the position following fresh talks.
“The UDM has opened the doors between the ANC and the DA. The national office of the UDM led by general Bantu Holomisa, our president, they are dealing with that matter. We are the deployees on our side we will take a cue from them,” says Bobani.
In the video below, Bobani is removed as Nelson Mandela Bay Metro:
The municipality has been without a permanent mayor since December.
The DA together with the UDM, ACDP and cope have petitioned the speaker Buyelwa Mafaya for a special council meeting to elect a new mayor on the 25th of this month. Other items the parties want to be debated in the special council meeting are the removal and the replacement of the speaker, the Chief Whip and the deputy mayor. Speaker Mafaya is yet to reply to the petition.”
Kim Daniels reports about wastewater that runs into estuaries within the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro:
North West hospital confirms 123 COVID-19 cases
19 June 2020, 7:33 PM
Witrand hospital in Potchefstroom in the North West has confirmed 100 patients and 23 staff members to have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). The hospital looks after patients with mental and physical disabilities.
North West Health MEC, Madoda Sambatha, says the infection started with two patients inward three and four.
“Samples were then taken for two hundred and 38 people made up of 202 patients and 36 staff members. This was prompted by the nature of patients’ inability to maintain social distancing and wearing masks.”
North West has 1 606 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 5 deaths.
Infographic: latest COVID-19 statistics:
Other hospitals with confirmed COVID-19 cases
The General Gizenga Mpanza Hospital in KwaDukuza, KwaZulu-Natal, closed after 9 mothers and 42 health workers tested positive for COVID-19.
St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban was closed at the beginning of April when 48 health workers tested positive for the virus.
Staff members at Kingsway in Amanzimtoti contracted the disease and the hospital was closed. Parkland in Durban was also temporarily closed.
In the video below, nurses and doctors test positive for COVID-19 at Boitumelo Hospital:
SABC to appear before parliament amid possible retrenchments
19 June 2020, 7:04 PM
TheSouth African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) will be called to a virtual briefing with Parliament’s Communications and Digital Technologies Committee next week Wednesday. This is according to Committee Chairperson Boyce Maneli who says their next meeting was only scheduled in July.
This comes as the SABC intends to embark on a possible retrenchment of staff members.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) and United Democratic Movement (UDM) have raised their voices over the possible retrenchments.
DA Member of the Committee, Phumzile van Damme, says her party has noted media reports that the Public Broadcaster intends to embark on a retrenchment process.
About 600 permanent staff members could be retrenched and the contracts of 1200 freelancers could be terminated.
“We share the frustration and the anxiety of SABC staff members who are worried at this time that they could lose their jobs. We have asked that the SABC appear before the Parliamentary Committee of Communications as a matter of urgency so that they can brief us about their plans and we can satisfy ourselves that they have indeed considered all options and retrenchments are a very-very last resort,” says Van Damme.
The UDM says companies including the SABC should find other alternatives to save jobs instead of retrenching staff.
“When companies incur financial losses, there should be other attempts to ensure that the institution is saved without resorting necessarily to retrenchments especially during this difficult time when many people are losing jobs and South Africa is going to be facing massive job losses around the corner,” says UDM Member of the Committee, Nqabayomzi Kwankwa.
The SABC was only expected to appear for a scheduled virtual meeting before the Committee in July. However, Maneli says the Public Broadcaster will be required back in a three-hour virtual meeting on Wednesday evening due to the latest developments.
Maneli says they have noted the letter on possible retrenchments at the Public Broadcaster. “The committee would have planned to call the SABC to appear before the committee in the next term. However, given the urgency and importance of the matters, the committee has begged the indulgence of Parliament to amend the programme to bring the SABC appearance before the committee on Wednesday 24th June 2020 at 18H00 to 21H00 hours. The virtual meeting will focus on the turnaround strategy presented by SABC to Parliament and includes the Human Resource pillar which will afford the committee the opportunity to engage this very important matter amongst others,” Maneli explains.
Unions at SABC react to the retrenchments
The Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) says it was caught completely off-guard by the announcement. The union’s Clive Mervin says the SABC had an opportunity to engage the union’s three days ago.
“As the Communications Workers Union, we have never engaged with the SABC on retrenchments, so we have not had a formal discussion with the SABC. The only meeting we had as the national office bearers with the SABC was to discuss the whole issue of restructuring, and we have never discussed any issues on retrenchment, so they are acting in very bad faith. In actual fact, they are cowards instead of talking to us, they had an opportunity to engage us as the national office bearers in our meeting of three days ago.”
He elaborates on their stance on the video below:
Broadcasting, Electronic, Media & Allied Workers Union’s (BEMAWU) president Hannes du Buisson says, “Our remedy is to revert to the Labour Court on an urgent basis to stop this process. If the SABC claims that it consulted and that they are proceeding with the retrenchments, the letter that they served on us today said that the SABC has not made a final decision in this respect but most certainly SABC employees can be assured that we will not simply let the SABC make people lose their jobs.”
Du Buisson explains further in video below:
Meanwhile, the SABC says it will consult with its over 3 000 employees about plans to cut jobs and restructure the broadcaster.
It’s a stressful time for employees and a desperate time for job seekers, with added pressure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of companies, both public and private, that are planning retrenchments is growing. Trade Union Federation, COSATU, has described the situation as ‘worrying’.
Reaction to retrenchments during COVID-19 pandemic with Labour Attorney, Natasha Moni:
Indebted fathers seek financial help: Report
19 June 2020, 3:20 PM
A new report shows that South African fathers, who are in debt are seeking help sooner rather than later. As the country marks Fathers’ Day this weekend, many families are facing financial distress as a result of COVID-19.
Data from a leading debt counsellor suggests that while things are difficult, there is a positive shift in sentiment when it comes to Dads seeking help.
DebtBusters’ debt index for the first quarter of 2020 shows South African households were struggling to pay their debt even before the COVID-19 lockdown.
Borrowing has increased substantially in the first quarter and so did debt levels. Total debt levels increased to 33% on average compared to the same period in 2016. Debt for top earners increased by 63% compared to the first quarter of 2016.
“The total debt levels are escalating and income levels are not increasing. These numbers are all before the lockdown happened, so pre-C so the numbers you’re looking at is first quarter those who applied to us. And it just shows an escalation in terms of the debt levels particularly alarming is the amount of unsecured debt level increase and that is things like credit and retail accounts. But we compared the debt levels to the income levels and what we are seeing is a deterioration even for consumers who are seeking debt counselling and so it would be interesting to see what the lockdown figures look like when we speak again,” says DebtBusters Chief Operating Officer, Benay Sager.
The data shows that many more consumers need help with managing debt.
“What we have seen as DebtBusters is that about 80% increase compared to the same period last year in terms of the inquiry consumers are making about the solution. 80% more people are interested and potentially taking this solution. And many of them are evaluating their solutions in regards to payment holidays from the banks and actually waiting to see if they will have a job to go back to,” adds Sager.
Segar says people in debt wait too long before getting help, hoping the problem will sort itself out. He hopes there will be a more comprehensive debt package after the COVID-19 outbreak to assist consumers with debt relief.
“There are about 2000 people who are actively in debt counselling and we think from where we sit there should be millions of people seeking this help. The thing about debt counselling is that it’s provided for by the National Credit Act. And it’s a fantastic way for the consumer to get back on their feet. Unfortunately, the lockdown and the COVID- 19 had a very devastating effect on many parts of the economy and lenders have tried to provide relief to consumers. And what happens after the initial assistance period let’s say it’s three months or so for most banks I think that’s when the real picture emerges for all of us and we start to understand how many people are in devastating financial situation.”
DebtBuster’s says sentiment is shifting and in many households, male breadwinners are now asking for help.
“What we see is that a lot of the fathers who are a little bit younger in their 20s and 30s generally start putting money away for their kid’s education especially tertiary and secondary education. And those who are a little bit older and the kids are out of the house when they come to us they say they need to leave a legacy to make sure their kids are debt-free. ”
In the video below the plight of indebted consumers is discussed: