South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Wednesday 27 May

For all the latest news in South Africa, be sure to check out headlines making waves across the country on Wednesday 27 May.

Following a controversial postponement on Tuesday, Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) are scheduled to address the nation on Level 3 lockdown regulations. Meanwhile, the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) struggles to honour Relief of Distress grants, further embattling the country’s most vulnerable citizens.


Rescheduled: Dlamini-Zuma, NCCC to address South Africa

With the date for South Africa’s move to Level 3 lockdown drawing ever-nearer, the NCCC, tasked with amending regulations of the Disaster Management Act in line with government’s risk-adjusted approach, is expected to provide clarity on the reopening of the economy.

The NCCC, chaired by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dlamini-Zuma, has yet to officially gazette Level 3 lockdown regulations, leaving the window for change wide open, despite earlier assertions by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Dlamini-Zuma’s briefing comes amid a stern public condemnation of government’s continued tobacco ban, with the minister’s relationship with self-confessed cigarette smuggler, Adriano Mazzotti, coming under the microscope. Dlamini-Zuma has denied being ‘friends’ with Mazzotti, despite allegations of the two holidaying together in Europe.

Social Relief of Distress Grants: Sassa making slow progress

With more than 3 million unemployed South Africans applying for financial assistance – in the form of the unique R350 Social Relief of Distress Grant – Sassa’s administrative systems have buckled under the weight.

Despite the electronic application system being launched two weeks ago, Sassa has only managed to process 75 000 claims. Adding insult to injury, Sassa spokesperson Paseka Letsatsi confirmed that only half of those applications would be eligible for payment. Letsatsi explained that the vetting process had found that “some are getting the UIF or some of them are on National Student Finance Aid Scheme (NSFAS)”.

Letsatsi remained confident that the severe backlog would be cleared, adding that Sassa staff were working “around the clock” to ensure all eligible beneficiaries received assistance.

MetroRail unlikely to operate at Level 3 lockdown

The Gauteng Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Roads and Transport says the opening of rail during level 3 lockdown could spell a public transport catastrophe.

The committee said it is was not pleased with the measures presented by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s administrator, Bongisizwe Mpondo, on their readiness to receive passengers under level 3 lockdown regulations.

“As the bulk of working class citizens go back to work, trains are expected to be operational effective 1 June 2020. However, plans presented by PRASA are short of a Gauteng province integrated system and could lead to a public transport disaster during level 3,” the Committee said.

According to the statement released, it has emerged that Metrorail will only have one line in operation in the Gauteng province.

“This move only addresses the north Gauteng commuters, leaving out all other regions in the province.”

Moreover, issues of safety, security and screening measures presented by Mpondo were not reassuring to the committee.

“Some of the doubts were prompted by the fact that PRASA has no indication on average figures of their daily commuters, therefore, making PRASA’s mitigation plans feeble, as they are not informed on any context including that of daily commuters.”

According to the Chairperson of the Roads and Transport Committee, Dumisani Dakile, while they understand PRASA is under administration and faces immense challenges, it has to put the passengers’ lives first. (Source: SAnews)

School vandalism, theft and lack of PPEs threaten reopening plans

Although classrooms are scheduled to reopen to Grade 7 and 12 pupils next week, a wave of vandalism and theft, added to the dire lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) promised by national government, could spell disaster for the back to school plan.

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has condemned the looting of schools supplies and PPEs, after classrooms in both Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were ransacked. KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu noted with grave concern the fact that 463 schools had been vandalised during lockdown.

Adding to the education sector’s woes, two Cape Town schools have already been forced to close, before even officially reopening, due to teachers testing positive for the coronavirus.


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