Maverick Citizen

CORONAVIRUS DAILY DIGEST #38

Magazines collapse, early childhood development centres to close while actuaries predict the worst

Two SANDF soldiers talk to a boy as they keep an eye on food handouts on 5 May in Johannesburg during the national coronavirus lockdown. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

Things changed overnight in South Africa on 15 March when the national state of disaster was declared — and it won’t be the last time it does. Daily Maverick’s Daily Digest will provide essential snippets of information about Covid-19 in South Africa each day. Read on to get the full picture.

The lockdown is hellish for any industry in South Africa and magazine titles are the latest to be pushed over the edge. One of the country’s biggest magazine groups, Caxton, announced the closure of its entire magazine section on Tuesday. Titles include Bona, Country Life, Food & Home, Rooi Rose and Your Family. As Tim Cohen writes, the longstanding decline of South African media has been aggravated by the lockdown and has proved fatal in more cases than one.

Early childhood development centres also face closures. Parents are struggling to cover the fees and it is feared that the centres will have to close without urgent government intervention. As Vincent Cruywagen reports, up to a million children could be stranded by the time the centres are due to open in September.

Meanwhile, businesses listed on the National Treasury’s publicly inaccessible Central Supplier Database have been the target of a scam, according to an investigation by amaBhungane. The businesses were contacted by people claiming to be health department officials and offering tenders for a non-existent sanitiser machine. Gemma Ritchie, who spoke to a business owner almost caught in this trap, explains what to do when faced with a suspicious-sounding official and how and why scams are rising.

A “concerned group of professionals” headed by actuaries has sent a report to President Cyril Ramaphosa which shows that a continued, restrictive lockdown will damage the economy and create a “humanitarian disaster to dwarf Covid-19”. As Terry Bell writes, the report says that if the restrictions are not lifted immediately, they might cause 29 times more deaths than the measures aim to prevent.

South Africa’s football leaders have been asked to submit a return-to-play proposal for Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa to consider. As Craig Ray writes, Mthethwa revealed that the ministry is engaging with a number of sporting bodies which contacted the ministry to “plead their case”.

Communities affected by mining must be given a chance to comment before the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy publishes guidelines on safety during the Covid-19 pandemic. This was the order of the judge in the Johannesburg Labour Court after weeks of advocacy and litigation on the part of civil society organisations. As Estelle Ellis writes, community organisations had voiced concerns that the communities faced a catastrophe as mines gear up again.

The Department of Public Works has come under scrutiny for its lack of transparency about the Covid-19 quarantine facilities it has chosen. The Committee on Public Works heard that one facility in Mpumalanga was “appalling” and an appeal had been made for the names and locations of other sites to be made known so that the committee could have more oversight visits. As Karabo Mafolo reports, Minister Patricia de Lille was also questioned about the Beitbridge fencing project.

The Western Cape and Eastern Cape provincial governments have clashed over interprovincial travel for funerals. Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane has voiced his concerns once again of the risk posed to the province when people travel there from the Western Cape to attend funerals. Mabuyane’s “attack” is compromising co-operative governance, says Western Cape MEC for Transport and Public Works Bonginkosi Madikizela. As Estelle Ellis reports, the Eastern Cape has seen an influx of traffic from the Western Cape. DM

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"Information pertaining to Covid-19, vaccines, how to control the spread of the virus and potential treatments is ever-changing. Under the South African Disaster Management Act Regulation 11(5)(c) it is prohibited to publish information through any medium with the intention to deceive people on government measures to address COVID-19. We are therefore disabling the comment section on this article in order to protect both the commenting member and ourselves from potential liability. Should you have additional information that you think we should know, please email [email protected]"