Tag: South Africa

South Africa 2020 medium-term Budget Summarised

Tito Mboweni, the minister of finance, tabled the 2020 medium-term budget policy statement before parliament today – revealing strained finance and little room to manoeuvre South Africa’s struggling economy.

Mboweni said that since the emergency budget that was tabled in June, more data has become available regarding the impact of the pandemic and government’s consequent lockdown on the economy.  He said the economy is expected to contract by 7.8% this year.

The outlook for 2021 is more certain.  Current forecasts are that South Africa’s economy will grow by 3.3% in 2021, 1.7% in 2022, and 1.5% in 2023.   Fiscal measures, primarily focusing on reductions to the national government wage bill, will narrow the budget deficit and stabilise debt over the next five years to return public finances to a sustainable position.  The consolidated deficit narrows from 15.7% of GDP in 2020/2021 to 7.3% by 2023/2024/  The Gross national debt is projected to stabilise at 95.3% of GDP by 2025/2026, the minister explained.

MAIN POINTS OF THE BUDGET

Mboweni stated that the country will take years to get back to pre-Covid GDP.  A recession is expected for 2020 before real GDP growth can climb again.  GDP is expected to grow an average of 2.1% over the medium term and return to pre-pandemic levels by 2024.  Mboweni warned that a second wave of infections and a new restrictions on economic activity would have significant repercussions.

The Governments options to stabilise the fiscus are becoming increasingly limited.  The Fiscal environment has deteriorated significantly over the past five years due to debt interest payments absorbing a growing share of limited public resources, underspending, and a deteriorating government balance sheet, which includes state-owned companies and municipalities struggling to pay wages and operational costs.

Over the next three years Treasury will aim to reign in spending over the next three years to the tune of R300 billion.   The largest share of reductions falls on compensation,  Other non-interest spending items will be reduced while protecting funding for buildings, fixed structures, provincial and local capital grants, and the Infrastructure Fund.

An increased tax collection of R40 billion over the next three years.  The aim is to reach a main budget primary surplus by 2025/2026.

THE WAGE BILL

Government proposes growth in the public-service wag bill of 1.8% in the current year and average annual growth of 0.8% over the 2021 MTEF period.  Treasury has not implemented the third year of the 2018 wage agreement while the matter is still before the labour court.  Government is however actively engaging with labour unions to find a solution to more sustainable employment costs.

SAA BAILOUT

R10.5 billion has been allocated to SAA to implement its business rescue plan.  This will be funded through reductions on the baselines of national departments, public entities, and conditional grants.  This allocation is in addition to the R16.4 billion allocated over the 2020 MTEF in the February budget for settling guaranteed debt and interest.  “Our approach is in line with the principle that funding to state-owned  companies must come from within the current framework and reprioritised from elsewhere. We cannot break the fiscal framework,” the minister said.

Travel Restrictions forcing Airlines to ‘Leave’ SA

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism on Tuesday was briefed by South Africa’s Aviation Industry warning it that the coronavirus lockdown and travel restrictions had a severe impact on the industry.  The Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa representing both international and African airlines, airport operators and other stakeholders, said that South Africa needed a “coordinated and sensitive response” when dealing with the pandemic.

Barsa told the committee that the road to recovery will be ‘long, uncertain and tedious’, and that airlines have a critical role to play in ensuring the recovery of the tourism industry.  According to the group some airlines have reduced the capacity and frequency of flights to South Africa due to the uncertainty around the regulatory environment. It said that some airlines have also threatened to leave South Africa and use neighbouring countries as their new hubs.

Barsa said that losing its hub status would be the biggest risk going forward.  South Africa plays the role of the gateway to Africa and Southern African Development Community countries.  It told the committee that cargo flights are not enough to sustain the routes and that phasing in red-listed countries for leisure tourists is eagerly awaited.

Barsa also called for the relaxing of taxes and tariffs for landing fees, aircraft parking fees and passenger service charges. The committee also heard that domestic travel had become unaffordable as flights to smaller airports are more expensive than those to big cities.  This also affects the geographical spread of tourists.

Although the travel ban list has been adjusted to 22 countries, considerably less than the original 60, the banned list still includes key travel markets such as the US, UK and Germany.  Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said that government is hopeful of opening the country’s borders to all visitors by the December holidays.  “We do believe that we have a second chance to try and recover – and anything that can happen (with Covid infections) can literally take us backwards.”

Businesses Closing across South Africa

The 3rd quarter of 2020 saw a sharp rise in liquidations as the coronavirus lockdown continues to impact businesses.  Liquidations increased by 27.4% in the third quarter compared to 2019.  A year-on-year increase of 54% was recorded in September 2020.

A total of 1,395 liquidations have been recorded from January to September with the financing, insurance, real estate, and business services industry reporting the most cases (428).  Unclassified businesses came in second (416) and the trade, catering and accommodation industry in third place (272).  Voluntary liquidations increased with 65 cases and compulsory liquidations increased by nine.

A voluntary liquidation takes place when a business, by its own choice, resolves to “wind-up” its affairs.  This happens when liabilities exceeds assets and the company is no longer financially viable.

Insolvencies have decreased by 61.3% for the three month period ending August 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.  Insolvency refers to an individual or partnership which is unable to pay its debt.  The individual or partnership is then placed under final sequestration.

The closure of business come at a time when South Africans faces an enormous unemployment crisis.  Over two million South Africans have lost their jobs during the heigh of the lockdown.  This is the largest quarter one to quarter two decline since the survey began in 2008.  The formal sector saw the loss of 1,2 million jobs while the informal sector lost 640,000 jobs.  Private households lost 311,000 jobs and the agricultural sector 66,000.

The broader definition of unemployment have recently caused confusion when unemployment stats were released, showing a significant decrease.  It is interesting to note though that the data clearly marks the point where the economically inactive (20.6 million) outweigh the labour force (18.4 million).

The continuing decline of the economy doesn’t harbour well for unemployment rates.

Thuli Madonsela “Ignore Hysterical Voices”

The Former Public Protector Professor Thuli Madonsela shared a cryptic “thought” on Twitter which set tongues wagging online.  Madonsela tweeted on Monday about never giving up and ignoring “hysterical voice.”  Some are speculating that she was throwing shade at her detractors.

“In Zulu, we say umuntu akalahlwa, meaning never give up on a human being – but there are some people whose hysterical voices you simply must ignore for your own peace of mind,” she said.  The post drew various reactions from many people, including even Felicia Mabuza-Suttle who replied: “Preach prof, preach!  I say Amen to that.  Block, delete, unfriend, unfollow.”

Madonsela was the topic of conversation for the whole week after sparking up a debate that South Africans should not wait for corrupt leaders to be found guilty in a court of law to remove them from power.  She stated that corrupt people should be removed from power.  “The corrupt are now mobilising for the support of the very people from whom they have stolen,” she said.  Madonsela added social justice is important if SA wants to make progress in the fight against corruption.

“If we want SA to do better using the opportunities presented by Covid-19, we will have to do better on three fronts — social justice, ethical governance and rule of law. We have to stop saying we are going to deal with people and remove them from power once they have been found guilty in a criminal court. We have to remove them when they are unethical because that’s what the constitution says.”

Madonsela, who many believed to be the best public protector in decades, also got people talking earlier this month by suggesting that amnesty be granted to corrupt individuals who played a “minimal but critical” role in the act.  Her argument was that lowering the consequences for those found to be corrupt would allow the country to start with a clean slate.  “I think some people would self-disclose if they knew they would be given an opportunity to do so without dire consequences,” she said.

“Good bye TaB” Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola TaB, launched in 1963, became popular due to the fact that it didn’t contain caffeine. TaB was aimed at the “dieters” market and sold as a sugar free, decaf, alternative to coke. It was replaced and quickly eclipsed by Diet Coke which was released in 1982. In 2020, Coca-Cola have confirmed that they will no longer sell TaB.

Coca-Cola said TaB was one of the its “underperforming products” and will be discontinued at the end of 2020. Group Director ,Diet Coke USA, Kerri Kopp said: “If not for TaB, we wouldn’t have Diet Coke, or Coke Zero Sugar. Tab did its job.” Other brands to be discontinued includes US Coca-Cola Life, Diet Coke Fiesty Cherry and Sprite Lymonade.

TaB was the Coca-Cola’s first diet soft drink and was especially popular in in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Several variations were also made, including various fruit flavoured options and even ginger ale versions. Prior to TaB, the only sugar free soft drink available on the market was Diet Rite. The name TaB was chosen from a computer generated list of over 185,000 four-letter-words with only one vowel. Suggestions by company staff were also added to the list, but Tabb was the name chosen out of a final list of about 20 names. Robert Sidney, the Packaging designer, decided on the capitalization pattern (TaB).

The original sweeteners used includes cyclamate and saccharin but was changed to Sodium Saccharin due to FDA bans on cyclamate. In 1984, Coca-Cola introduced Nutrasweet into the formula which cost them a significant portion of the market due to complaints about a change in flavour.

 

 

New List for High Risk Countries

The South African Government has released a revised list of high-risk countries for international travel. The list has seen a significant decrease and only 22 countries remain banned. In their statement, the Department of Home Affairs said: “We continue to be reminded that the Covid-19 pandemic is still with us and we need to continue to take precautions. In its last meeting, the Cabinet instructed the ministers of Health, Home Affairs and Tourism to lead a process to review the list. The review of the list of high-risk countries was done in such a way that it strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods.”

“People from high-risk countries who may visit SA fall in the following categories: business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors, and people on international missions in sports, arts, culture, and science. In addition, we recognise that there are a number of regular visitors from mainly European countries that have been accustomed to long visits to our country during our summer season when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The list now contain only 22 countries, compared to the original 57.

  • Argentina
  • Germany
  • Peru
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Philippines
  • Belgium
  • Indonesia
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • Iran
  • Spain
  • Canada
  • Iraq
  • United Kingdom
  • Chile
  • Italy
  • USA
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • France
  • Netherlands

Business travellers are required to request permission from the department when travelling from high-risk countries to South Africa. All travellers are required to produce proof of a negative Covid-19 test result, not older than 72 hours from the time of departure. Screening will be conducted upon arrival, and antigen testing at the airport should a traveller fail the screening protocols. The department received 4,701 applications for travel, mostly from the agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism sectors. 3,113 application have been approved.

Travel News: Things to do in South Africa in December

Visit The National Parks

There are many national parks around this place like West Coast National Park, Table Mountain National Park, Karoo National Park, Kruger National Park, Addo National Park, and many more. The main attraction of Addo national park is the huge number of elephants that reside in this park. Apart from that, the Kruger national park is the largest national park in terms of size and is home to many animals.

Travel

A Beautiful Experience In Pilgrimsrest

Pilgrim’s Rest is a small museum town in Mpumalanga which is protected as a provincial heritage site. It was the second of the Transvaal gold fields, attracting a rush of prospectors in 1873, soon after the MacMac diggings started some 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) away. Alluvial panning eventually gave way to deeper ore mining. In the 1970s the town, not greatly changed, became a tourist destination.  The village is a cultural heritage site and living museum with a variety of village museums, tours, accommodation, restaurants, and shops.

Travel

Gold Reef City

Gold Reef City is an amusement park in Johannesburg, Gauteng. Located on an old gold mine which closed in 1971, the park is themed around the gold rush that started in 1886 on the Witwatersrand, the buildings on the park are designed to mimic the same period. There is a museum dedicated to gold mining on the grounds where it is possible to see a gold-containing ore vein and see how gold is poured into barrels. There are many attractions at Gold Reef City, including water rides, roller coasters and the famous Gold Reef City Casino. Gold Reef City is located to the south of the Central Business District off of the M1. It is also the site of the Apartheid Museum.

Travel

uShaka Marine World

uShaka Marine World is a 16-hectare theme park which was opened on 30 April 2004 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. It comprises 8 sections: uShaka Sea World, uShaka Wet ‘n Wild, uShaka Sea Animal Encounters Island, uShaka Beach, uShaka Village Walk, uShaka Kids World, uShaka Dangerous Creatures and Chimp & Zee. It is located on the strip of land between the beachfront and the harbour. It was the first phase in the redevelopment of the Durban Point.

Travel

Visit The Cango Caves

These caves are the oldest and the most loved and have great cave service. There are two tours and you can choose depending on your preference. First there is a standard tour where you can just walk leisurely around the caves and get a better view at different cave formations around this place. Then there is an adventure tour which takes you through the narrow pathways which have opening that are about 26 centimetres apart.

Travel

Cape Town: The Most-awarded City in Africa

Cape Town is consistently voted as one of the top holiday destinations in the world for families, couples and solo travellers. South Africa’s Mother City boasts spectacular natural beauty, superb accommodation and fantastic weather year-round – and some of the best beaches in the world! The city’s acclaimed food and wine experiences are as alluring as its iconic landmark: Table Mountain, one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. And for some of the best land-based whale watching on the planet, head for the Whale Coast during whale season.

Travel

Cape Winelands: South Africa’s Culinary Heart

The beauty of the Cape Winelands’ green valleys ensconced by craggy mountains is as much of a treat for the eye as its cuisine is a treat for the palate. Sip, swirl and sample award-winning wines, indulge in gourmet farm-to-table cuisine or wander down oak-lined streets to local art galleries with this stunning scenery as your backdrop. Although only an hour’s drive from Cape Town, a night or two in this peaceful patchwork of vineyards and mountains will dissolve any lingering city stress.

Travel

Sun City: Africa’s Premier Holiday Resort

About three hours from Johannesburg lies Sun City, South Africa’s undisputed ‘Kingdom of Pleasure’. If you’re looking for true escapism and non-stop entertainment, then this is without question where to go in South Africa. There are championship golf courses and world-class casinos, slide-filled water theme parks plus nightclubs, shops and restaurants. They’ve even built their own beach! And if that’s not enough, Sun City is right next to the Pilanesberg National Park, where you can go on a Big 5 safari.

Travel

Pilanesberg National Park

Set within the crater of an ancient volcano and centred around a large hippo- and croc-filled lake, the Pilanesberg National Park is one of South Africa’s best wildlife destinations. Although conveniently close to Sun City, these two top destinations feel words apart. Some visitors choose to stay in Sun City and pop across for a half-day safari, but with such great Big 5 game viewing on offer – plus a wide selection of excellent safari lodges – we recommend a night or two in this beautiful piece of African wilderness.

Travel

Eastern Cape: A Family Favourite

The Eastern Cape is hard to beat when it comes to exciting and stress-free Big 5 safaris for the whole family. The region offers a combination of child-friendly lodges in malaria-free reserves, all within driving distance of the Garden Route’s finish line or Port Elizabeth International Airport. But it’s not just families who get to have all the fun in the Eastern Cape – the area’s parks and reserves also have a handful of secluded, luxurious lodges that are among our favourites for a romantic South Africa safari.

Lifestyle: Remove these invasive species from your garden

Did you know that South Africa has 379 invasive plants?

Now is the time to check if you have any of these invaders in your garden and to get rid of them.

It is estimated that there are approximately 27 000 indigenous species in South Africa and 9 000 foreign or exotic plant species that have been introduced to the country over the past few centuries. Of all these plants, only 379 have been listed as invasive species in government legislation.

The National List of Invasive Species includes 559 species divided into the following groups:

Terrestrial and freshwater plants (379), marine plants (4), mammals (41), birds (24), reptiles (35), amphibians (7), freshwater fish (15), terrestrial invertebrates (23), freshwater invertebrates (8), marine invertebrates (16) and microbial species (7).

Invasive species are divided into 4 different categories that must be controlled:

Category 1a

These are invasive species which must be combatted and where possible, eradicated. Any form of trade or planting is strictly prohibited. Category 1a species are usually species which are newly established and have small populations. These fall under the mandate of the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) in terms of control and management.

Category 1a – Yellow flag iris (Iris pseudacorus)

Category 1a – Snake grass (Equisetum hyemale)

Category 1b

These are established invasive species which must be controlled and wherever possible, removed and destroyed. Any form of trade or planting is strictly prohibited and landowners are obligated to control Category 1b plants and animals on their properties. A species management plan should be drafted for large properties.

Category 1b – Chandelier plant (Bryophyllum delagoense)

Category 2

Invasive species or species deemed to be potentially invasive, in which a permit, issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs, is required to carry out a restricted activity.

Category 2 – Watercress (Nasturtium officinale)


Category 2 – European blackberry (Rubus fruticosa)

Category 3

Invasive species which may remain in prescribed areas or provinces. Further planting, propagation or trade is however, prohibited.


Category 3 – Mulberry (Morus alba)

 

Why are invasives a problem?

* Have invaded and taken over 10% of the country. This is well over 10 million hectares of land (or an area the size of KwaZulu-Natal).

* Use 7% of the water resources in South Africa. This is roughly the same amount of water needed by humans to survive in this country.

* Threaten our rich biodiversity by replacing indigenous and endemic vegetation. This will result in a loss of insect species that are dependent on these plants and the ripple-effect loss of the birds, reptiles and mammals that feed on those insects.

* Invade land better used for crops and livestock grazing.

* Are often toxic to man or animals.

 

Life is a Garden

Education News: Universities to extend 2020 academic year

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says to ensure that matriculants are not compromised by the late release of the Grade 12 results, Universities South Africa has agreed to extend the academic year to the end of February 2021.

Universities are expected to start their 2021 academic year in March or April next year.

This, Motshekga said, will ensure that students will still be able to get admitted to institutions of higher learning on time.

The Minister said this when Ministers in the Social Services Cluster responded to oral questions in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

“On 24 August this year, our Director-General Mathanzima Mweli met with Universities South Africa, which is the body that regulates admissions to higher education institutions, and they indicated that universities will be extending the 2020 academic year to the end of February next year.

“So while the opening of universities is not universal, we are certain that when we issue matric results on 23 February next year, we will not be disadvantaging learners because most universities will start their 2021 academic year in March or April next year,” she said.

This comes after the department announced last month that the 2020 Grade 12 examinations would be completed by 15 December, with marking being concluded on 22 January and the results released on 23 February 2021.

The new school year will commence on 25 January 2021 for teachers and learners a few days later.

Support for matriculants doing home schooling

Motshekga said, meanwhile, that matriculants who are doing home schooling are receiving the necessary support.

“There is support for self-directed lesson plans, which are accompanied by study guides and revision.

“We also provide them with work sheets that enable them to revise. We give them recorded lessons. We also launched a very good programme last week, which we call Woza Matric, which is recorded lessons that are online and also on different stations.”

The Minister said the department is also using media.

“We help them to form study groups via additional printed material and online support, but we also find that different schools and different provinces go out of their way to assist them.

SANews

News: You can collect your passport at some banks if you applied before lockdown.

According to Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s borders remain closed for most travellers, and for the time being the department of home affairs will not be accepting applications for new passports.

South Africans who are abroad and need to return to SA can apply for emergency passports.

The Department, in partnership with the banks which participate in the online system for smart ID card and passport applications has opened for collections for clients who had applied for these documents before the lockdown. This service will only be provided on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the banks’ operating hours.

People who had applied for these documents before 26 March 2020, which is the lockdown’s starting date, may collect their smart ID cards and/or passports from their selected bank branches.

Bank branches that will be re-opening for collection of smart ID cards and passports, are the following:

  • Absa Greenacres, Port Elizabeth
  • Absa Sandton City
  • Absa Towers, Johannesburg
  • Absa Lifestyle, Centurion
  • FNB Lifestyle, Centurion
  • FNB Menlyn, Pretoria
  • FNB Merchant, Sandton
  • FNB Portside, Cape Town
  • Investec Bank Sandton
  • Nedbank Arcadia
  • Nedbank Constantia Kloof, Roodepoort
  • Nedbank Rivonia
  • Nedbank Nelspruit
  • Nedbank St Georges Mall, Cape Town
  • Standard Bank Simmonds Street
  • Standard Bank Canal Walk, Cape Town
  • Standard Bank Killarney Mall
  • Standard Bank Centurion Lifestyle
  • Standard Bank Kingsmead, Durban
  • Standard Bank Jubilee Mall, Hammanskraal

The eHomeAffairs portal remains deactivated as new applications are still not accepted in the current level of the lockdown.

There is an expectation that passports that have expired, or will expire soon, will have their expiry dates extended, said Motsoaledi, as has been done with the likes of driver’s licences. But that is simply not possible, he said.

“You can not extend a passport… you will never enter any country,” said Motsoaledi.

South Africans abroad will be issued with temporary, one-way passports, he said, so they can get home, but with embassies closed they can not apply for anything other than such emergency documents.

“I want this issue to be understood very clearly: we can not as some people have asked extend a passport through a stamp or whatever, passports are never extended.”

Photo Credit: Unsplash

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