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VIDEO: Minister Mkhize welcomes WHO Surge team
14 August 2020, 3:41 PM

Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize is holding a media briefing to welcome the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Surge team in South Africa.

WHO team is here to bolster the national COVID-19 response.

Livestream below:

 

WHO is set to deploy 43 experts from various fields to support the COVID-19 outbreak response management. The first 17 health expects arrived in South Africa last week and include key expertise in epidemiology, surveillance, case management, infection, prevention and control, procurement, as well as community mobilisation and health education.

The surge team will be jointly led by Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa and Dr Michael Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

They will work virtually from Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo and Geneva, Switzerland respectively to support the experts on the ground.

VIDEO: Memorial Service for Bob Mabena
13 August 2020, 3:30 PM

Veteran broadcaster and media personality Bob Mabena is being remembered at a memorial service held at Power House, in Houghton, Johannesburg, on Thursday. Mabena’s career spanned over three decades. He passed away on Monday, 10 August 2020.

Livestream below:

Higher than anticipated number of SAA employees seek voluntary retrenchment
12 August 2020, 4:15 PM

Over 3 000 South African Airways (SAA) employees have applied for voluntary retrenchment. The number is much higher than anticipated and could lead to a collapse of operations.

Last month, SAA unions accepted an offer for Voluntary Severance Packages for 2 700 workers as part of a proposed rescue plan by the government-appointed Business Rescue Practitioners.

As part of the plan, 1 000 employees would be retained to run a new restructured national airline. But now, a total of 3 142 employees have applied for Voluntary Severance Packages which offer a guaranteed payment of R350 000 per employee and up to R2 million for pilots.

Unions say the reason for the high number of applications is because workers have not been paid salaries for the past four months and are now struggling to survive.

For more on this story, see video below:

Treasury to consider centralised procurement of COVID-19 related tenders, contracts :Mboweni
30 July 2020, 5:14 PM

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni says National Treasury is considering centralising procurement for COVID-19 related tenders and contracts, together with the Department of Health. This follows allegations that some of these contracts have been awarded irregularly.

Mboweni was responding to the debate on the Adjustment Appropriation Bill.

The bill was before the National Assembly for approval. 226 lawmakers voted in favour, while 129 voted against it.

The bill aims to reprioritise about R130 billion to essential service departments to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Finance Minister used the occasion to dispel what he called “various myths.”

IMF loan 

Mboweni says the R70 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund is insignificant compared to the weekly domestic borrowings and international bonds that government takes up.

The Minister says the IMF loan attracts much lower interests compared to the international bonds, adding that if needs be, government could take up additional loans with the World Bank to boost the fiscus.

He has denied that the R500 billion stimulus package has disappeared, saying that government has had technical difficulties in disbursing the R200 billion loan guarantee scheme to support struggling businesses.

He’s also denied that all COVID-19 related contracts are corrupt.

The Minister also vaguely touched on the awarding of the R125 million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) contract to Sakhisizwe Diko, the husband of Presidential Spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

The Diko’s have since countered, saying they requested the contract to be cancelled.

Mboweni says, “There is an urban legend that R500 billion has disappeared, but nothing could be further from the truth. How could R500 billion disappear? There is nothing of that sort. We have experienced technical difficulties in the loan guarantee scheme with the Reserve Bank, National Treasury and banks are working on it to restart to give a better boost to the economy. Related to that is, to assume that every tender related to COVID-19 is corrupt is incorrect.”

Opposition parties react to IMF loan

The Democratic Alliance’s Geordin Hill-Lewis says the IMF loan is a shame for the country.

“The fact that the government relies on lending from the IMF is the first in the history of this country because of years of mismanagement and not growing the economy has forced borrowing from the IMF. The ANC must not celebrate, but feel ashamed due to mismanagement and corruption. The IMF loan is a turning point in South Africa.”

Economic Freedom Fighters Chief Whip, Floyd Shivambu says, “It is evident now that National Treasury has lost the plot on COVID-19 despite the issue of emergency procurement guidelines. Provincial departments have lined up relatives, friends, boyfriends, wives and girlfriends to be suppliers of PPEs at unreasonable rates. This is a reflection of the National Treasury’s incapacity.”

Inkatha Freedom Party’s, Mkhuleko Hlengwa says, “The reprioritisation of the budget will be a target of corrupt elements who want to steal the money we don’t have; whether in KZN with blankets for social relief, or Gauteng with PPEs, or in the Eastern Cape with the so-called scooters and dodgy invoices.”

Freedom Front Plus leader, Dr. Pieter Groenewald says, “The Honourable President when he announced the R500 billion, (we) said we will ensure there is no misappropriation of the monies and budget and what do we see? We read papers and see all the corruption that is taking place. Gauteng alone … more than R2 billion to corruption.”

African Christian Democratic Party, Steve Swart says, “Minister, let’s remind you, the president said on the 4th of April – 3 months ago – we’re going to keep an owl’s eyes in how the money is going to be spent. So, please excuse us as the ACDP for not holding our breath for the expectation of speedy action, but fortunately, internal audits will pick up the irregularities.”

United Democratic Movement Chief Whip, Nqabayomzi Kwankwa says, “There is this talk in government that there is R500 billion stimulus package, which does not exist in real terms. One wonders if the government borrowed over R1 trillion since 2006/07, that has not dented unemployment rate and inequality. One wonders if this imaginary R500 billion, whether this money is spent in the manner it is intended (for). I doubt very much.”

Chairperson of Appropriations Committee, Sifiso Buthelezi says, “We have learnt with concerns (about) corruption and misuse of funds by companies colluding and overcharging government and we are glad the competition commission is taking up the matter and we must criminalise such companies who are getting away with murder.”

LIVE: Funeral service of the late struggle stalwart, Andrew Mlageni
29 July 2020, 7:02 AM

The funeral service of the last remaining Rivonia trialist, ANC veteran and South African struggle stalwart, Andrew Mlangeni, is being held in Soweto, Gauteng. Mlangeni served more than 20 years at the infamous Robben Island prison. He passed away at the age of 95 last week.

Below is the live stream of his funeral service:

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