COVID-19 State of Disaster and Lockdown Regulations: Update (27 July 2020)
LOCKDOWN LEVEL 3
- The break announced on 23 July by President Cyril Ramaphosa ‘will allow schools to prepare for the return of more grades … later in August’, according to a statement issued the next day by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
- This is noting that:
- Grade 12 learners and teachers will return to class on 3 August
- Grade 7 learners and teachers will return to class on 10 August
- school management teams will:
- use 27 to 31 July to ‘wrap up work at school’
- return to school on 17 August to prepare for ‘the return of learners’ on 24 August (although the statement does not specify which grades)
- ‘parents, teachers and learners … are urged to continue with schoolwork’
- ‘during the break, teachers and non-teaching staff (will) remain on duty at home … but should avail themselves when necessary’.
- ‘The academic year will be extended beyond 2020’.
- Both the President and the Minister referred to ‘arrangements for different categories of special schools’ but gave no details.
- The national school nutrition programme will continue to operate.
Technical and vocational education and training colleges (TVETs)
- Laptops will only be made available to National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students at TVET colleges in time for the 2021 academic year, according to a budget vote speech delivered on 22 July by Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande
- The intention of the ‘policy change’ was to ‘support’ NSFAS-funded TVET college students during the Covid-19 State of Disaster by making electronic devices available to them.
Social relief of distress abuse
- A presidential proclamation was gazetted on 23 July requiring the Special Investigations Unit to investigate:
- ‘unlawful or improper conduct’ by anyone involved in procuring ‘goods, works and services … during or in respect of the national State of Disaster’.
- In his address that evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the move had been prompted by increasing allegations of:
- ‘fraudulent UIF claims’
- overpriced goods and services
- the violation of emergency procurement regulations
- collusion between officials and service providers
- the abuse of food parcel distribution, and
- ‘the creation of fake non-profit organisations to access relief funding’.
- ‘To ensure that action is taken speedily’, ‘every six weeks’ the President will receive ‘interim reports’ on the investigations being made.
- A ministerial directive was gazetted on 23 July to ‘clarify’ the position being taken by the Workmen’s Compensation Fund when assessing Covid-19-related claims.
- The new directive:
- categorises occupations into levels of risk of exposure to the virus at work
- notes that, when adjudicating a claim to determine liability, the fund considers:
- the inherent risk associated with the occupation
- other factors relating to exposure, and
- the claimant’s ‘clinical history’.
- Because the fund ‘does not provide compensation for unconfirmed cases’ still under investigation, depending on the circumstances self-isolation and self-quarantine fall under:
- the Covid-19 temporary employer/employee relief scheme, or
- the consolidated directive on workplace health and safety during the State of Disaster.
- On 22 July, a ministerial directive was gazetted formalising Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula’s 16 July announcement on the carrying capacity of taxis and buses over short and long distances.
- Although the new directive does not specify what is meant by ‘long-distance travel’, it refers to a definition in the 12 July disaster management regulations for lockdown level three (‘a trip of 200km or more, whether the travel is within a province or inter-provincial’).
- The directive also confirms that ‘the transportation of liquor from manufacturing plants to storage facilities is permitted’, along with its ‘transportation … to ports of exit for export’.
- A separate directive issued the same day extended the validity and/or grace period of various licences, permits and certificates that expired under lockdown or are affected by it.
- East London, George and Kimberly airports are now open for domestic passenger flights, according to a ministerial directive gazetted on 24 July. Although the directive does not expressly limit these flights to business purposes, it refers to the 25 June Covid-19 disaster management regulations for lockdown level three (as amended on 12 July), which do.
Affordable and social housing debt relief
- Details of Covid-19 impact relief measures for indebted ‘affordable housing lenders’ are expected to be published ‘before end of July’, according to a budget vote speech delivered on 21 July by Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
- The details of ‘rental relief’ for ‘formal’ affordable housing tenants will be published ‘in the next 30 days’.
- In her 21 July budget vote speech, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu Estate said:
- estate agencies will be given a grace period for submitting their audited financial statements to the Estate Agencies Affairs Board, with no penalties imposed ‘until 31 October’, and that
- ‘fees payable for mandatory training will be waved for the current financial year.’
DEVELOPMENTS UNRELATED TO THE COVID-19 STATE OF DISASTER
- Emergency power procurement documents will be ‘put to the market’ by ‘early August’ at the ‘latest’, according to the mineral resources and energy budget vote speech delivered on 21 July.
- A discussion paper on nuclear facility decommissioning policy options was released on 20 July for public comment.
- A draft policy directive gazetted on 21 July for public comment proposes the ‘procedures and processes’ to be followed when resolving disputes between electronic communications network service licensees and landowners affected by their infrastructure.
- A 24 July media statement spelled out the reasons for a review of Unisa, which was announced on 22 July by Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande in his budget vote speech. They include concerns about:
- ‘the quality of offerings/programmes’
- the de-accreditation of some programmes
- ‘unacceptably high student failure rates’
- senior management ‘instability’, and
- a ‘mission drift’ towards ‘more full-time’ programmes.
- A draft Antarctic and Southern Ocean strategy was gazetted on 24 July for public comment.
- Draft amendments to the 2012 South African citizenship regulations were gazetted on 24 July for public comment, focusing on naturalisation certificates. Among other things they:
- propose stricter criteria to be met by an applicant who is the child of an asylum seeker, refugee or foreigner refused permanent residence
- reduce from 10 to five years the period of ‘ordinary residence’ in SA before applying for a certificate of naturalisation, and
- require a successful applicant to sign an oath of allegiance before being issued with a certificate.
Prepared by Pam Saxby
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.