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Tag: Pandemic

Covid and Fraud Destroys Businesses

South Africa may have received global praise for its ability to flatten the COVID-19 curve for the first and second waves without access to vaccines, but it has come at a great cost for small- and medium-sized enterprises.  One year since the lockdown began, thousands of small businesses have been closed permanently and its owners and staff have joined the ranks of the unemployed.  The enforcement of lockdown restrictions and the up and down movement between lockdown levels have simply been to much for many businesses.

“We just thought, close for three weeks, we closed and then we’ll open with a bang. Six, eight months later, and now since 23 March [2020], I lost my restaurant and we never opened again. I couldn’t pay my March and April rent, so my landlord locked the doors,” said Nolene Potgieter, owner of a 400-seater franchise restaurant in Polokwane.

Nolene had 60 employees and was well on her way to living a debt-free life.  Then the pandemic hit South Africa and everything changed overnight.  Today Nolene has R3 million debt.  In an effort so survive the lockdown, Nolene partnered with an independent restaurant, but this only lasted for three months between October and December.  With the increased lockdown over December, her business earned only 15% of its income.

“It’s something that I don’t want anybody else to go through. Oh my goodness, I’m already getting so emotional and I haven’t been like this for the last year. Oh my goodness, I didn’t want this to happen…”

Meanwhile, the country’s economy declined by 7% last year. While the figure attached to negative growth is alarming and has broken records that date as far back as the 1920s, economic experts say it could have been much worse.

Johann De Lange, the Founder and director of business valuation company Worth.Business, said: “I think when you look at the 7% there was an expectation that it will be worse. So it is a little bit better and also businesses are bouncing back, they are adapting to the new normal. If you look at households, the same will apply. A lot of people lost their jobs, it is incredibly sad and disruptive but there needs to be an adaptation to the new normal whether it would be to be more entrepreneurial or need to be a little bit more flexible in terms of employment maybe take on some freelancing work and contract work, you do what you need to do to survive”.

Reabetswe Mabotja, owner of an Events company,  said that she followed the advice of experts and became innovative when she could no longer host weddings and events of 250 people and more.

“I started cooking everyday meals for lunch deliveries and home deliveries, for six people, eight people. We started doing gift packs instead of having these big celebrations that we used to. We would do balloons and cakes here and there.”

Unfortunately, this was not enough to see her through the economic storm that was brought on by COVID-19.

“That is actually something that I can do on my own and that means my employees are not coming into work at all. And I’ve got equipment. I have five, six storages that need rent,” she explained.

The Department of Small Business Development introduced a R500 million SMME support intervention for six months from April last year with the intention of assisting businesses with soft loan funding. But both Reabetswe and Nolen said that despite applying, the service was not availed to them.

These skills could guarantee you a Job

Despite South Africa’s alarming unemployment data, the latest CareerJunction Index serves to remind job seekers that there is still a considerable demand for skilled workers in the country.

The CareerJunction Index (CJI) represents online labour dynamics by providing a detailed analysis of the relative ratio of supply and demand in the job market. In October the CJI was marginally higher than September but still placed under the job market balance of 100.  If the index score is below 100 points, it indicates that there are more employment seekers than available positions.  This makes for a highly competitive environment with several skilled workers vying for the same job.

“While job search activity increased by 15% compared to September, recruitment activity increased by 9%. Trending jobs in South Africa include client/customer support, business development and admin clerk,” said CareerJunction.  Top employment sectors at this stage are business and management, sales, ICT, marketing, cleaning, maintenance and repairs, and architecture and engineering.   Throughout the lockdown, the most in-demand job skills was software development skills, management skills, and sales consultants.

The IT sector has been experiencing continuous growth in recruitment activity over the last three months. Software development skills remain the most sought-after of the IT skills, according to CareerJunction.  Managerial skills are also in high demand, particularly for candidates with experience and skills in finance. The last four months also saw an increase in demand for sales staff.


Trending jobs currently include:

Client / Customer Support

Average salary offerings for a skilled level position:

  • GP R16,013 to R20,845
  • WC R16,701 to R20,827
  • KZN R15,040 to R19,317

Business Development

Average salary offerings for a skilled level position:

  • GP R25,155 to R32,369
  • WC R19,478 to R23,250
  • KZN R18,143 to R23,048

Administration Clerk

Average salary offerings for a skilled level position:

  • GP R12,698 to R15,985
  • WC R11,425 to R14,123
  • KZN R8,995 to R11,200

Supply and demand

The IT, business & management and finance sectors are without doubt the most sought after sectors, followed by the sales, admin, office & support and architecture & engineering sectors.  Even though these skills are in high demand, the supply of skilled workers are still considerably higher than positions available.

It is also interesting to note the decline in the demand for health workers due mostly to the fewer coronavirus cases.


Unemployment crisis

The loss of an alarming 2.2-million jobs pushed the unemployment rate to 43.1%.  Government has taken steps to temporarily alleviate some of the pressure by launching initiatives to place 800,000 South Africans in jobs in a short period of time.  In April president Ramaphosa announced that R100 billion would be allocated for employment protection and creation.  The Presidential Employment Stimulus will aim to create and sustain 800,000 jobs with R12.6 billion committed in the current financial year and an additional investment of R100 billion over the next three years.

One of the initiatives created by government is the digital platform for recruitment and candidate matching  www.sayouth.mobi.  The Department of Basic Education is already using this platform to place 300,00 w

 

Prof Karim says: We’re doing Incredibly Well

According to overall coronavirus statistics, the country is doing ‘incredibly well’ in its response to the pandemic, and there is no need for concern. Professor Salim Abdool Karim, Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee Chairperson,  said that the country is doing very well. Karim said that while new infections may be quite high on a daily basis, when looking at a seven-day average the country is not experiencing a spike yet.

“If you look at a seven-day average, we have been pretty steady and going reasonably well. We had a bit of an incline but it has (now) settled down and the situation now is that we have local transmission at a pretty local level.”

According to Karim the country has seen some outbreaks in recent weeks – particularly in parts of the Eastern Cape, but these outbreaks appear to be under control following an initial spike in infections. Karim said that that his advice at this stage of the epidemic is to continue with the current lockdown restrictions as they are. “We are at this stage in a pretty good position overall in the epidemic, there is no need for us to change anything in my view. There is a problem, which is December – when December comes, people are going to move around a lot and this virus loves movement.”

Professor Karim did however share a major concern: South Africans are becoming increasingly complacent and careless when it comes to the virus.  People have dropped their guard, not wearing mask, not sanitising or washing hands frequently, and no longer avoiding crowded spaces where social distancing is impossible. This phenomenon is known as ‘pandemic fatigue’ and it not unique to South Africa. “We are heading into a December period which carries quite a lot of risk. We have hope that we can get through it by just ensuring that we become more vigilant and control the prospects of super-spreader events. If we can do that, then we can get through December with just a little spike. Because if we don’t then we are looking at a prospect of a second surge.”

Karim believes that South Africa already has ‘good’ rules in place regarding events and wearing of masks during its level 1 lockdown.  Instead of further restrictions, it is more an issue of enforcement of existing restrictions.

US Election will have an impact on SA

All eyes are focused on the United States presidential election outcome. Economists said that South Africa needed to pay close attention as the votes are counted as the results would have an impact here at home. The COVID-19 pandemic has wrecked the global economy, countries around the world are scrambling to rebuild their finances and fighting unemployment.  The United States is a global superpower and therefore, the race for the White House will have a lot to do with the recovery process.

The United States have one of the largest global economies and economists said that America’s stability was pivotal for South Africa too. Viv Govender from Rand Swiss Offshore said the outcome of the US elections would have an impact on South Africa’s plans to recover from the economic crisis that the country is currently faced with.  “Political instability in the US means we are unlikely to see a large scale of government plans to try get the economy out of the crisis of COVID.”

Chief Economist Mike Schussler said the US was one of South Africa’s biggest trading partners and the outcome of these elections would affect us too. “We have the African Growth and Opportunity Free Trade Act, which allows our products to be tariff-free. If that were to be reversed in the next term, it could have a detrimental impact on many areas in South Africa.”

The United States election outcome will ring in a new term of four years in the White House for the successful contender, who will have the power to make significant policy changes, as the world battles to recover from COVID-19.

Matriculants 2020 Overcome Great Difficulties

The Grade 12 class of 2020 has faced great difficulties, more so than their predecessors with the hard lockdown and a global pandemic.  President Cyril Ramaphosa said that the matrics of 2020 had overcome challenges that would test the resolve of even the most experienced and hardened adults.

In three day’s time, over a million matriculants will start writing their final exams. This follows months of lockdown and no school for many students.  The reality of lockdown has brought several other challenges: social isolation, mental strain, stress of prolonged periods of studying, and financial worries. 

The president said that despite having all the odds stacked heavily against them, pupils were determined to sit for their exams.  Matric exams are the pinnacle of the schooling years.  Ramaphosa urged the 2020 Grade12’s to conclude the 12-year race with courage and strength for the final stretch of the exams to the finish line.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS: Millions barred from 2020 hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

PHOTOGRAPH BY AMR NABIL, AP

One of the largest annual gatherings on Earth, the pilgrimage, or hajj, to Mecca, will be off-limits to most the world’s Muslims this year due to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic.

After weeks of speculation, and just before the official pilgrimage is scheduled to begin in late July, Saudi Arabia announced that it will not cancel the hajj but rather severely limit attendance to the sacred gathering only to some Muslims currently residing in the country.

In normal years, more than 2 million of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims travel to Mecca to perform the hajj, which is considered the fifth and final Pillar of Islam.

Every Muslim adult who is financially and physically capable must complete at least one hajj, and for many, it’s the trip of a lifetime.

This year, however, experts estimate that only 1,000 of Saudi Arabia’s 29 million Muslim residents will be allowed to attend.

Although several nations have already prohibited their citizens from attending hajj, the news is still a painful blow precisely because part of the power of the pilgrimage is the way it brings together the global Muslim community, according to Omid Safi, a professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University.

“This hajj decision is an extraordinary piece of news,” says Simon Henderson, a Saudi Arabia expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “This will knock local economies.”

Source: National Geographic

 

 

 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula

MBALULA’S LAST EFFORT TO HALT TAXI SHUTDOWN

In an attempt to avert a public transport meltdown, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula meets with disgruntled taxi associations, while the president’s proclamation of relaxed lockdown regulations pertaining to ‘Advanced Level 3’ come under serious scrutiny.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who has spent most of the week in robust discussions with taxi associations, is expected to reveal details of government’s previously-rejected relief proposal and the way forward for the country’s embattled public transport system.

In addition to announcing sharp fare increases, which will come into effect on 1 July, the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has vowed to orchestrate a ‘shutdown’ in Gauteng.

Tensions between the taxi industry and government have been simmering for months, primarily as a rest of lockdown limitations on minibus capacities which have had harsh financial consequences for both owners and drivers.

Recently, Santaco rejected a once-off relief offer tabled by government. It’s reported that taxi associations are looking for 300% more than Mbalula is willing to offer.

Reasonable  price increases in July

Santaco said it would increase prices but ensure that these are reasonable and affordable. This had nothing to with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, said association spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa.

He said if Santaco does not implement the price hike, at least 45% of their vehicles would be repossessed.

Increases capped at between R5 and R7

Several taxi associations in Gauteng will increase their prices by between R5 and R7 as of July 1. Gauteng Santaco chairperson Johannes Mkhonza said this will depend on the distance of the route, but the increase must be capped at R7.

He said the fare increase was necessary as Santaco members struggle with operational costs, which sees them cough up between R15,000 and R16,000 on vehicle installments.

Source: TimesLive, The South African

The Corona Pandemic is causing anxiety?

The Corona Pandemic is causing anxiety among millions of people. Here are four ways to cope with Covid-19 anxiety.

Suffering from Sleeplessness?

Unfortunately anxiety can lead to insomnia and other related sleep disorders.

Jill Stoddard, a clinical phycologist said the following, “People can experience a range of sleep problems when they are anxious: difficulty falling asleep, middle of the night awakenings with mind racing and ruminating, and having a hard time falling back to sleep. In a cruel cycle the less sleep we get, the stronger our anxiety can become.”

Brandon Peters, a neurologist in Seattle recommends the following.

Maintain a consistent bedtime, try to drink less caffeine, alcohol intake can also have an effect.  Removing visible alarm clocks, exercise and if possible exposure to some daylight every day.Try to avoid anxiety provoking news when you are getting ready to go to bed.

 

Are you struggling to focus?

It’s part of our human nature to focus our attention on a threat.  Coronavirus threatens our health, our livelihoods and due to this we are constantly reading and watching the news trying to think of ideas to protect ourselves and families.

Jonathan Abramowitz, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of North Carolina said the following, “The brain can only do so much. When our attention is absorbed by coronavirus, we have a harder time concentrating on anything else we are trying to do in the moment.”

Aldoa advises the following, “To improve your concentration, try by reducing your tasks to the most essential ones.  In the evening list everything that needs to be done the next day, and rank them by importance and urgency. Be kind to yourself by accepting that it is completely normal for our functioning to be compromised during this stressful time.”

 

Are you forgetting things?

So many of us are currently home schooling and working at the same time. It can be difficult remembering relevant information.

Aleksandra Parpura, a gerontologist said the following,” Anything that relaxes you will also help with memory, as relaxation engages the parasympathetic nervous system.”

Good examples of relaxation include yoga, exercise, spending time outside, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, crafts.

 

Suffering from increased irritability and anger?

All of us are stressed beyond our means. Suffering from cabin fever, everyone being on top of each other can certainly cause anger and irritability.

 

Studies have shown that anxiety can fuel these emotions.

Abramowitz advises, “The first step in preventing your anxiety from hurting your relationships is noticing and acknowledging that anxiety before it turns to anger. Once you catch yourself, you can choose to either temporarily distance yourself from others, or share those feelings with the people in your surroundings. Or visualise a safe beautiful place, preferable one that you can remember visiting, and imagine yourself moving through it, focusing on the experience of all five senses. ”

 

Source: The Washington Post

Photo Credit: Pinterest

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