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Mass retrenchments loom at Village Main Reef, NUM fumes
26 April 2020, 6:15 PM

Mineworkers at the Village Main Reef’s operations in Klerksdorp face a bleak future. This follows mine management’s cellphone messages to some workers. Management informed workers it will cut 6 000 jobs at the mine’s Tau-Lekwa, Kopanang and West Gold plant operations.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is opposed to the move. NUM insists that the company did not follow procedure when issuing Section 189 notices, which indicate the decision to retrench some workers.

This is a heavy blow for the mine workers, as the country is currently on lockdown. Most industries, such as theirs, operate under new and strict regulations, that only allow for half of the workforce to report for duty.

The say workers at Tau Lekwa operation received cellphone messages instructing them not to return to work, after the lockdown is lifted. Others say they didn’t receive their payments for this month, while others received only half of their salaries.

Workers say they have not received clarity form management as to why their salaries were cut. SABC News is in possession of a statement that indicates that Tau-Lekwa lost over R1.2 billion between 2015 and 2019.

It further lost R107 million in the first three months of 2020. The document also says that Kopanang Mine lost R307 million from March 2018 to December 2019. But workers say they are concerned about the situation the employer has put them through.

“It has invoked anger in us as the employees. We want to shame the company. He has actually degraded the dignity of the employees.”
“They have issued payslips and mine shows zero and I have worked for this month.”

“We are saying to them they must be clear, how did they reached to that level of saying they apply section 189 they are going to cut jobs that are closed to six thousand employees,” some workers say.

NUM says it is opposed to the retrenchments. Regional secretary in the Klerksdorp region Masibulele Naki has urged the company to remunerate the workers.

“We are saying to the capitalist of Tau Lekwa, Kopanang and West Gold plant, if they are tired to mine they must do us a favour they must come to the table and actually avail money to pay total packages of all Tau-Lekwa employees from there we will negotiate where we go.”

The Village Main Reef management could not be reached for comment.

In this video below, NUM rejects retrenchment announcement at Village Main Reef:

Bheki Cele
Cele apologises to Muslim community for ‘blasphemous’ remarks
26 April 2020, 5:45 PM

Police Minister Bheki Cele has apologised to the Muslim community for, what he terms, were blasphemous remarks made during the arrest of worshipers on Saturday for contravening lockdown regulations. The congregants were arrested in Mbuzini, Mpumalanga, during a prayer gathering.

In a video circulating on social media, one of the police officers asks congregants whether the congregants or Mohammed are bigger than the President.

“Police Minister General Bheki Cele has taken note of a video clip circulating on social media now confirmed by the SAPS as depicting the arrest of about 24 worshippers on Saturday. The group was arrested for contravening COVID-19 disaster management lockdown regulations in relation of prohibition of gatherings a matter that is currently under an urgent investigation by the SAPS to establish the identity of the person behind such sacrilege. Minister Cele wishes to emphasise that police have a constitutional obligation to enforce the laws of the country,” says the Minister’s Acting Spokesperson Mathapelo Peters says Cele.

Cele has called on religious leaders to observe the lockdown regulations and not organise gatherings.

Social media users were divided over the issue on Saturday night. While some berated the worshipers for gathering amid the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, others slammed the police for their behaviour, saying they could have effected arrests without being offensive.

Taxi driver arrested for violating lockdown regulations

Meanwhile, a taxi driver has been arrested for overloading and contravening the COVID-19 traffic regulations in Mamelodi, Pretoria, on Saturday.

It is alleged that the driver was transporting 22 passengers in a 15-seater minibus. Gauteng traffic police spokesperson Obed Sibasa says the driver did not have a permit to be on the road and his vehicle has been impounded.

“Eleven adults and 11 children between ages 3 and 13 with six of the children unaccompanied, that’s subject of the police investigation. It is alleged that the driver drove from Marble hall, Limpopo to Gauteng using gravel roads or backyard routes when he was arrested in Mamelodi contravening COVID-19 transport regulations in terms of loading capacity.”

Portugal to move asylum seekers to vacant tourist flats after hostel virus outbreak
26 April 2020, 4:40 PM

Portugal will test 500 asylum seekers for the coronavirus and move some into apartments left empty by tourists, after an outbreak at an immigrant hostel last week prompted scrutiny of overcrowded conditions that could lead to contagion.

Portugal is housing 800 asylum seekers in hostels across the country while they wait for their applications to be processed. A single case at one hostel in Lisbon last week prompted all 175 residents to be tested, revealing that 138 had contracted the virus.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Sunday it was planning to “take advantage of the reduced pressure on the housing market in the capital” to move some asylum seekers to hostels and apartments left empty because of the lack of tourists this summer.

Applications for asylum increased in Portugal nearly threefold in the past five years to 1 716 in 2019.

In the video below, the UN calls for stricker lockdown restrictions globally:

The Council for Refugees (CPR), responsible for housing people while their applications are being processed, has capacity for just 150, and puts up the remaining applicants in hostels or social housing.

CPR head Monica Farinha told Reuters she was concerned that the conditions of the hostels, with several people to a room, meant there was a high risk of contagion.

Health Minister Marta Temido said on Sunday that a study of nearly 3 000 of the country’s 23 864 cases indicated that co-habitation and contagion in concentrated spaces such as care homes and the Lisbon hostel were the top causes of transmission of the disease.

The country is preparing to ease a lockdown imposed on March 18 and currently in place until May 2, but the health minister urged people to remember that social distancing measures would need to continue to avoid a resurgence in cases.

SAFA senior managers volunteer to take a 15% salary cut
26 April 2020, 3:32 PM

The South African Football Association’s (SAFA) senior managers have volunteered to take a 15% pay cut in a bid to soften the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The managers have also recommended several other drastic measures to negate the impact of coronavirus on the association’s finances.

The SAFA managers took the decision at a meeting aimed at considering various cost reduction options. This after they recognised that the postponement of various competitions and activities due to the outbreak of the pandemic has put SAFA’s finances under pressure.

Among the drastic measures recommended is that employees work from home and those who cannot work from home take annual leave from 4 May. If their annual leave doesn’t cover the lockdown, unpaid leave will be taken when their leave is depleted.

No pay cuts for Chelsea players

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s first-team players are not taking pay cuts or contributing towards the club financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The club says following extensive talks, players have instead been asked to continue supporting other charitable causes.

It had been reported that Chelsea were in talks with players over the possibility of a 10% pay cut due to the crisis.

Premier League clubs such as Southampton and West Ham United announced wage deferrals for players. This because of the suspension of English soccer in March due to the outbreak.

Arsenal announced a 12.5% pay cut for players and coaching staff.

Meanwhile, Arsenal has said it will reopen their London Colney training ground to their players next week for individual training. The Premier League club will continue to observe social distancing rules amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Hope to resume playing

Many European leagues are hoping to start up again in the next two or three months, without spectators, and training has begun in Germany and Austria, yet restarting remains fraught with difficulties.

Several leagues around the world have produced a medical protocol for training, mostly along similar lines. These generally involve thorough testing of players to ensure they are not infected and dividing the squads into groups of six, observing social distancing guidelines.

Yet many details for the restart of competitions, such as whether teams would have to be isolated until the league is finished and what happens if a player tests positive, remain unclear.

Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Geoff Dreher says it is a difficult situation. “It’s difficult to say right now. Everything is rapidly changing from a day-to-day, week-to-week basis and hopefully it will be variable depending on the league and the country that you are playing or with the surrounding communities and taking the expertise from the public health officials if they feel like a transmission is controlled right now,” says Dreher.

Germany’s Bundesliga may well be the guinea pig as it is the closest of the major leagues that’s planning to resume games. Like other leagues, it can only start with a green light from the government. On Thursday, the Bundesliga said players will be monitored by an appointed team health official and would have regular testing.

SA seeking R95 billion for COVID-19 social and economic crises
26 April 2020, 2:59 PM

South Africa is seeking to acquire R95 billion of funding from global financial institutions to address the coronavirus social and economic crisis. President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a R500 billion stimulus package aimed at cushioning the economic impact of the pandemic.

The country moves to level-4 of the lockdown from the first of May. While some of the funds for the stimulus package will come from reprioritisation of the budget as well as a partial reopening of the economy, negotiations are in progress with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, the BRICS New Development Bank as well as the African Development Bank to source funding.

The IMF has said South Africa is entitled to apply for up to $4.2 billion dollars in response to the crisis and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Friday that government could negotiate for a facility of “maybe between $55 and $60 million” at the World Bank.

Mboweni said COVID-19 expenditure has changed the fiscal framework and he will soon be tabling a new budget bill before Parliament.

He also said that, together with the Reserve Bank, over R800 billion in interventions are being made to assist the economy and the fight against coronavirus. The rest of the country’s relief package would be financed by a mix of R130 billion of reprioritised spending and other local sources.

South Africa has recorded 4 361 cases. The country has registered 86 deaths. More than 161 000 people have been tested for the virus as of Saturday.

Breakdown of the stimulus package below:



Rating Agency Moody’s says SA’s economy should recover

Ratings agency Moody’s says South Africa’s economy will contract by 6.5%  in 2020. Moody’s says the R500 billion stimulus package announced by President Ramaphosa will weaken public finances and constrain government’s ability to provide support to state-owned entities such as South African Airways (SAA) and Eskom.

However, Moody’s says research shows that economic growth should recover by 4.5% in 2021. The stimulus package announced by President Ramaphosa equals to 10% of the GDP of Africa’s most industrialised nation.



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