The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken the government to court over its decision to close the beaches in the Garden Route District for the entirety of the festive season.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the strict measures on Sunday as part of the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 second wave that’s hit the country.
However, the official opposition believes the strict measures are unnecessary and will have dire consequences for jobs.
It filed papers in the Western Cape High Court and says it hopes the matter will be heard on Monday afternoon.
The move followed President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cooperative Governance Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s, failure to meet the party’s deadline for it to justify the closure of the beaches.
“The fact that the national government has requested additional time to prepare a response to our letter requesting reasons for the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches, only demonstrates that there were none to begin with. It would seem that any reasons now provided would be ex post facto manufactured,” the party says.
The DA believes that the closure of the beaches is not in line with the scientific advice available from medical experts and is impossible to enforce. “This regulation is also proving to be the final nail in the coffin for the Garden Route’s coastal economies which are nearing total collapse,” it says.
The DA is not just about saving lives but livelihoods too, alleging that businesses in the hospitality industry along the Garden Route are already reporting devastating and life-threatening losses to the value of hundreds of millions of rands.
“In the South African context, poverty can be far deadlier than the coronavirus, and in this instance, the national government is risking the livelihoods of thousands of South Africans unnecessarily. We cannot and will not allow this to happen.”
On Wednesday, the Western Cape reported 3 233 new COVID-19 cases. The cases had increased by 448 compared to the previous day.
Civil society organisations are calling for an end to budget cuts ahead of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Medium-Term Budget to be delivered on Wednesday.
The organisations under the movement, Cry of the Xcluded, says COVID-19 and the economic and social lockdown has laid bare the failures of the government’s pro-business approach.
The movement includes the Assembly of the Unemployed, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) and the Associations of Mineworkers and Construction (Amcu).
“We have seen over 2.3 million jobs lost, many of us forced into precarious work, our families went to bed hungry and inequality has worsened. Now, we hear that while Tito Mboweni’s stomach is full, he wants to cut more jobs in the public sector as well as cut spending on the essential services and social grants many of us need to survive. But, we cannot afford any further budget cuts! The rich and powerful will continue to laugh as tax cuts make them richer and more powerful, while our suffering worsens and we go to bed hungry, in cold shacks with no sanitation or electricity. Why does government hate the unemployed and the poor so much?”
The civil rights activists believe that government should now be spending more on building houses for the poor and health facilities while also hiring more medical staff.
They want the issue of water and sanitation at rural schools also addressed. In 2019, around 4 500 South African schools still had pit latrines, while in 2018, 23 schools in the Eastern Cape were still without sanitation facilities at all.
The pit toilets claimed the life of Limpopo’s Chebeng Village learner Michael Komape (5) in 2014. Komape drowned in excrement after falling into it at school. He became the face of an expose of the poor state of South Africa’s school infrastructure. Several other children have met a similar fate in various parts of the country. In August 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to rid the country’s schools of pit latrines within two years.
“No more Michael Komapes! How do you do that without spending money? We need support for jobless peoples, children, the elderly, single parents, and those living with disabilities. How do you do that without spending money? We need to shift from mining, and the toxic old mines that destroy our land and make us sick must be rehabilitated. We reject any budget cuts proposed by the government! This is not the way to address the debt and unemployment crisis, and deepening inequality.”
The Cry of the Xcluded is urging government to increase the wealthy’s tax rates, close tax and wage evasion loopholes, utilizing surpluses managed by the Public Investment Corporation as well as prescribed assets, offer real and tangible funding sources for a reinvigorated public sector.
The movement plans to hold a series of protests across all South Africa’s nine provinces, demanding an end to budget cuts. On Wednesday, the activists will also protest outside Parliament.
In October, the Budget Justice Coalition (BJC) tabled an alternative human rights budget, Imali Yesizwe (Our Nation’s Money). The BJC expressed increased concern about government’s “continued steps to cut back on the social spending that is needed to fulfil socio-economic rights, which are enshrined by the South African constitution and international law.”
Musina community members took to the streets on Friday, demanding jobs and business opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
They also called for the water authority to be brought back to Musina.
The residents marched to the area’s Emergency Services offices; the department of Home Affairs; De Beers, local hospital, SAPS offices, Raubex construction group and the Musina Mall, among other organisations.
“We demand 85% local employment (we demand proof of employment from each store), such proof should be accompanied by proof of resident. We demand proof for social responsibility, how much did your company contribute in terms of social responsibility,” their memorandum reads.
The locals also want CVs for new shop vacancies submitted to them for verification purposes before interviews are conducted.
Musina Residents Chairperson Freedom Boikanyo says they also want Musina Mall to explain why most of the shops brought in managers from outside the area, despite promises that the mall was created to create work for locals.
“Why do Musina people hold casual jobs? Why did the Musina Mall hire an outside security company while the local community has many security companies? What has Musina Mall done to date in terms of social responsibility?”
At the EMS, they submitted their list of demands to the area manager. They want to know, among others, why residents are being referred to Polokwane when calling for help. They also demanded that ambulance drivers be local residents as they know Musina well.
They accuse De Beers of awarding Raubex a tender to build a new tarred road without advertising.
“Why did the company not use this as an opportunity to empower local contractors rather than a well-established company? Why did you start with a road that the community hardly uses/,” they ask in their list of demands.
The residents also demanding the reinforcement of the police force in the area.
At Home Affairs, they asked for investigations into allegations of foreign nationals being awarded South African Identity Documents (ID).
They have given the companies seven days to respond to their demands.
Residents of the remote Phasha village finally have a bridge that connects them to the rest of Madibeng Local Municipality, as well as other neighbouring areas of Gauteng.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula officially opened the Madidi Bridge on Tuesday.
“We made an undertaking that through this October Transport Month, we will travel through the length and breadth of this country to monitor service delivery of road infrastructure, showcasing our achievements and intervening where challenges persist,” Mbalula said.
Mbalula reiterated government’s commitment to take on new road infrastructure projects, upgrades and maintenance.
The 50 metres long bridge was built over the Sand River, which is also known as the Toloane River.
As part of Department of Transport’s Labour Intensive Rural Roads Programme, local workers, comprising of youth and women, were involved in its construction.
The project took more than a year and also gave an 25 local sub constructors were given an opportunity to carry out site works.