South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Wednesday 22 April
Economists, citizens and politicians unpack President Ramaphosapost-lockdown recovery plan.
Never miss a beat when it comes to the latest news in South Africa, be sure to check out our overview of all major headlines on Wednesday 22 April.
Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s late-night address concerning economic relief measures intended to pull South Africa back from a post-lockdown disaster, government now turns its attention to the ‘gradual’ relaxation of lockdown regulations which will come into effect on 30 April.
Today’s latest news in South Africa, Wednesday 22 April
President Ramaphosa’s plan to save the economy
The extraordinary economic measures announced by President Ramaphosa, which aims to provide R500 billion, or 10% of the country’s GDP, for COVID-19 relief measures has been praised by most economists. The unprecedented economic relief package, which comes at a critical time for a country under lockdown, deals with increased social welfare grants and financial aid for struggling businesses. Ramaphosa highlighted key points of the recovery plan:
“Firstly, an extraordinary health budget to respond to coronavirus,
Secondly, the relief of hunger and social distress,
Thirdly, support for companies and workers,
Fourthly, the phased re-opening of the economy.
The impact of the coronavirus requires an extraordinary coronavirus budget – of around R500 billion – to direct resources towards fighting the pandemic.”
COVID-19 cases rise along with testing capacity
On Tuesday evening, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the total number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa had risen to 3 465. In the same breath, the minister revealed that government’s testing capacity and competency — through an intensified grassroots approach — had increased dramatically since the lockdown was first implemented.
Mkhize lauded healthcare workers and cooperation from local governments, noting that, to date, 126 937 COVID-19 tests had been conducted; with daily averages hovering above 5 000.
Earlier in the day, the health minister revealed that government testing had increased from just 1 000 tests conducted in the week prior to lockdown to more than 19 000 last week. Out of all tests conducted in South Africa, 67% have been completed by private facilities.
Soldier’s ‘expired’ MRE packs gives SANDF food for thought
Charges of fraud have been brought against suppliers commissioned to provide food packs to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). This comes after Military Police received numerous complaints of expired Meal, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) containers.
Video footage, circulated widely online, showed a soldier peeling off aftermarket labels from the packs to reveal the original expiry dates.
SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke, confirmed that investigations into the matter were well underway and that if the allegations were true, the act of supplying expired consumables to the military constituted “sabotage”.
Wholesalers requested to provide list of agricultural products
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development requests all interested wholesalers, distributors or agribusiness outlets to provide a list of specific agricultural production inputs they have in stock.
This, according to the department, will assist in the emergency procurement of these inputs to enable smallholder and communal farmers to complete the current production cycle.
The department intends to procure by means of issuing purchase vouchers to approved farmers. Farmers will purchase from the nearest wholesaler, distributor or agribusiness outlet.
“The department requires a typical “cash and carry’’ set up, not a middleman. Interested suppliers should, therefore, provide a physical address of their business from where farmers can cash and carry products using vouchers,” the department said in the statement.
The support will be capped at R50 000 per approved farmer.
Commodities to be supported and prioritised are as follows:
- Poultry: Day old chicks; point of lay chickens; feed; medication; and sawdust.
- Vegetables: Seedlings; fertiliser; pesticides; herbicides; and soil correction.
- Fruit: Fertiliser; pesticides; and herbicides.
- Other livestock: Feed and medication.
- Winter field crops: Soil correction, fertiliser, seeds, herbicides and pesticides.
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