Media Statement by The Ethekwini Municipality Mayor, Cllr Mxolisi Kaunda on the announcement of the economic recovery plan for the municipality and the social relief and economic recovery fund

MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY MAYOR, CLLR MXOLISI KAUNDA ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE ECONOMIC RECOVERY PLAN FOR THE MUNICIPALITY AND THE SOCIAL RELIEF AND ECONOMIC RECOVERY FUND, 23 APRIL 2020

• Deputy Mayor
• Speaker
• Chief Whip
• Chairpersons of Committees
• EXCO Members
• Acting City Manager and senior management of the municipality
• Members of the Media

Good morning

Following the announcement of the national State of Disaster by the President and the national lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), government has subsequently put measures in place not only to save lives, but also to boost our ailing economy.

We would like to commend President Cyril Ramaphosa and the National Command Council for the leadership they continue to provide in ensuring that we flatten the curve of the spread of this virus. We also want to thank the leadership and guidance that is being provided by our Premier, Mr Sihle Zikalala and the Provincial MEC’s in this regard.

COVID-19 has once again demonstrated that we can overcome any adversity if we work together with a unity of purpose. Although we are still in the early stages of the outbreak, indications are that if we continue to abide by the lockdown regulations, we can reduce the negative impact of this pandemic. Therefore, we want to make a call to the people of eThekwini to respect all the protocols of the lockdown by staying at home. Statistics indicate that eThekwini Municipality is the epicentre of this pandemic in the province. Whilst this could be ascribed to the fact that we are the economic hub of KwaZulu-Natal, we must remain vigilant and guard against the flouting of the lockdown regulations. We want to echo the sentiments of the Premier that those who continue to disregard the lockdown regulations will face the full might of the law. Our Metro Police, working with other law enforcement agencies will continue to conduct multi-disciplinary roadblocks and foot patrols in our major routes, suburbs, township and rural areas to enforce the regulations.

COVID-19 and the lockdown has had a catastrophic effect on the economy of the country and the world, and as eThekwini Municipality, we are anticipating that approximately 320 000 jobs will be at risk as the lockdown continues. Our research also indicates that by the end of the lockdown, our economy will have declined by 4 to 6 percent. It is important to indicate that the economy of our city constitutes about 10% of the country’s GDP.

To support the increased measures that have been recently announced by the President of an additional R500 billion economic and social relief, eThekwini Municipality has also developed an Economic Recovery Plan to respond to the COVID-19 economic downturn.

Our Metro’s Economic Recovery Plan is anchored on the following eight pillars:
• Safeguarding jobs
• Monitoring the city income and health of the economy
• Facilitating our share of national government support
• Supporting tourism and industrialisation programme
• Accelerating radical socio-economic transformation
• Supporting the township and informal economy
• Accelerating construction, infrastructure and investment projects
• Operationalising the Socio-Economic Fund

This eThekwini Plan is complemented by the multi Stakeholder “Uziso” Business Support integrated service delivery plan undertaken by our Provincial Partners, the various Chambers of Commerce, and eThekwini Municipality. Here, the likes of our Business Support, Markets, Tourism & Agri Unit is assisting SMME’s with access to COVID-linked information, support fund applications, potential new opportunities, access to an expanding set of experienced Business Advisors from the Private Sector and our Economic Development Unit.

Since the COVID-19 crisis begun, six sectors of the economy have been severely affected which include Construction, Manufacturing, Tourism, Retail, Trade, Finance and Transport.

Our plan recognises the need to ensure that the Municipality remains financially viable, whilst investing in the economy, which creates jobs and prosperity. Working together with our partners, we will monitor the financial health of the municipality and our customers as the pandemic unfolds, and respond appropriately.

It is important to note that eThekwini has been one of the country’s leading tourist destinations, attracting over 3.8 million overnight visitors (domestic and international) and approximately 1.3 million-day visitors in 2019. In 2020 the numbers were expected to increase by approximately 4% domestic and 2% internationally. This was before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, severely altering the economic growth projection and negatively impacting the tourism industry.

Following the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, before the country’s declaration of the State of National Disaster, a decline totalling 165 000 in visitor numbers for the Easter Season (March to May), compared to 2019, was projected. Furthermore, a decline of R300 million in direct spend; R600 million in contribution to the GDP; and 1 400 in employment contribution as well R39 million in government taxes were expected.

Since the hosting of major events has been suspended, this has adversely affected events such as the Vodacom Durban July, Africa’s Travel Indaba, Rugby and Football events as well as the Comrades Marathon.

The postponement of these events will result in visitor losses of around 280 000 people, thus decreasing the spend by visitors in the City of around R 725 million. The Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre has also had to postpone over 85 events from March till June 2020, losing R64 million of revenue. Ushaka Marine has also lost R50 million of revenue from March to 30 June. Our Hotels and restaurants are at a risk of losing R4 billion in revenue.

To respond to this challenge, eThekwini Municipality will be driving a coordinated plan to mitigate against the impact of COVID-19 on the local tourism and industrial economy. Our plan entails, amongst other things, linking affected industry players with the various funds announced by the national government, including the R200 million Tourism Relief Fund and the Solidarity Fund. We will also ensure that Municipality’s own accommodation bookings will now be directed to small businesses like Bed and Breakfasts. Our Durban Film Office will now provide incentives for production houses to shoot their films in Durban.

Other measures we are putting in place to boost the tourism sector include:
• Bed and breakfasts can apply to the Municipality to pay residential rates for a limited period
• Re-introduction campaign of Durban to visitors as a new, fresher and clean Durban that is cautious about health and safety of visitors, once the economy has re-opened.
• Aggressively focusing on getting more beaches to be awarded a blue flags status.
• Increase funding provided to Community Tourism Organisations from R250 000 to R500 000 to market their areas and create new tourism packages.
• Creating new tourism packages relevant to a post-COVID19 world.
• Working with the National & local Tourism Business bodies, plus Supporters such as the Banks, on investment retention, and where possible in time, an investment expansion program

Industry clusters in manufacturing and maritime industries that are co-funded by the Municipality are already providing COVID-linked support to all firms, not only members, in accessing industry-specific support. We will also work more with businesses in industries that show opportunity as a result of the prioritized government procurement, such as clothing and textiles, chemicals (including disinfectants), engineering and construction of medical devices, innovation in ICT and 3D printing, life and health sciences as well as agriculture and food.

To boost the rural, township and informal economy, which is at risk of shedding over 207 000 jobs, we will identify and assist all informal enterprises who could not access the R2billion made available by the national government. As I indicted above, working with the provincial government and organized Business structures, we are activating and expanding the initiative called USIZO to assist small businesses in the City and across KZN, to access additional support. To further protect small enterprises from the effects of COVID-19, the city will provide a six-month rental holiday for Informal Businesses including:
• Street Traders
• Hives/Incubators and
• Retail Markets
Other measures the city will implement to cushion informal traders include facilitating bulk buying for informal businesses through on-line platforms and 0% increase in rentals and fees for the next 2020/21 Financial Year.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in March, several Investors have put on hold over R10 billion of investment and to unlock this investment, the city will capitalise on a lower interest rate window in 2020, and waive all development application fees until the end of the next 2020/21 Financial Year; a Municipal incentive with an estimated R29 million value. We will also form partnerships with financial institutions, developers, built environment professionals, and construction companies to re-start and accelerate the construction sector. Other measures the city will put in place to fast track infrastructure and investment development will include:
• Reducing the time it takes to process Strategic and Catalytic Projects.
• Rapidly moving to online systems for all planning applications
• Accelerating the implementation of government projects.
• Give more business to Cooperatives
• Ensure that Covid19 procurement includes radical economic transformation
• Expediting Municipal payments to Service Providers daily
• Virtual meetings for Bid Committees and awarding tenders, but letters of award are stayed until businesses open.
• Establishing Panels for accelerated emergency procurement.

In an effort to mobilise additional funds that will be used to support this local economic recovery as well as social interventions for the vulnerable, the Municipality has established a COVID-19 Support Fund.

The fund seeks to achieve the following objectives:
• Support business recovery in instances where the national support measures have not been able to assist small businesses.
• Support initiatives that are aimed at creating sustainable jobs
• To co-ordinate the Municipality’s interventions in the economic recovery.
• Stimulate small and micro businesses.
• Fund projects that will contribute to social relief and economic recovery while supporting measures to deal with the COVID19 pandemic, such as find permanent support for the homeless.

We want to reiterate that the fund is not intended to duplicate national support measures announced by the President, but rather to provide assistance in instances where the support measures have not been adequate or to fund socio-economic projects and activities that are local in nature and that will protect the poor, while creating jobs.

The Fund will receive its initial Government funding from the eThekwini Municipality through R40 million worth of savings identified across the departments and clusters of the municipality. The business sector, non-governmental organisations, donor agencies, national and provincial government as well as Entities will be mobilised for additional funding. In this regard, we sincerely appreciate the 1st large Private sector donation into this Fund organised by the KZN Growth Coalition.

In a very personal commitment of solidarity, the Management and Political leadership of the Municipality will be given various options of donating a portion of their salary into the fund on a voluntary basis. The Management oversight of the Fund will include respected members of business leadership and government executives.

We also want to encourage ordinary citizens to donate to the fund, provided that such donations are lawful.

This fund will operate for a period of 12 months, and will then be reviewed by EXCO which may choose to continue with the fund. During this time, it should have provided the full stimulus to the economy. The Impact that the fund has will be measured, documented and reported to EXCO and all external Stakeholders. Once all funding has been disbursed, the Support Fund will be closed.

We want to make it categorically clear that radical socio-economic transformation will be a cornerstone of this economic recovery plan. These initiatives must assist us to accelerate industrialisation in township and rural areas so that we can bring over 2 million people who earn below R100 000 per annum and the unemployed into the mainstream economy.

In intensifying our fight against the COVID-19, the city has also put in place a raft of measures to ensure that our residents adhere to personal hygiene and receive uninterrupted services.

Since the announcement of the lockdown by the President, the city has installed 223 static water tanks to informal settlements and rural areas. 130 chemical toilets have been delivered to different informal settlements throughout the city. We also have an ongoing programme of cleaning hostels and informal settlements, providing soap, and hand sanitisers. I want to publicly thank companies such as Unilever, Toyota, and several others for their generous donations towards these relief measures, and we encourage many others to please join us.

The homeless people are also a key component of our interventions as most of them have been given a new lease on life. Working with NGOs, we have been able to house homeless people in 11 shelters and temporary sites around eThekwini where they are provided with meals and other essentials. The faith-based community organisations have been invaluable in all these endevours, and deserve our sincere thanks. During their stay in these sites, the Municipality & it’s Social Partners are ensuring that their lives are improved through Drug Withdrawal Management programmes and others are being reunited with their families.

We are pleased to announce that about 120 homeless people have volunteered to undergo the rehabilitation process and they are making progress. Through these interventions, the municipality is also assisting a homeless man who is a registered student at UNISA to further his studies by providing him access to Internet.

Turning to more disturbing matters, it would be remiss of me if I do not sound a warning to those who continue to take advantage of the lockdown by invading land and erecting illegal structures. The President has asked all of us to limit our movements to prevent the spread of this pandemic. As the city, we are not going to allow lawlessness during this period. We are also going to rely heavily on Residents and the Media to alert us if people invade land in broad daylight.

In closing, we want to echo the President’s sentiments when he was addressing the nation on Tuesday, plus last night, that after this pandemic, we look ahead to a better future, together. We have no doubt that the combined Economic Recovery Plan we are announcing today for our city, will certainly assist the lives of the people of eThekwini, and their Businesses, for the better.

I thank you.

COIDA Covers Occupationally Acquired COVID-19

The Compensation Commissioner has issued a notice providing for any employee who falls ill through exposure at their workplace to be paid through the Compensation Fund or FEM. Employers should assist employees with such claims through their respective COIDA Insurers.
Occupationally acquired Covid-19 diagnosis relies on:
  • Occupational contact to a known source of the Covid-19 virus.
  • Applying the guidelines as per the World Health Organisation in diagnosing the Covid-19 virus.
  • An approved official trip and travel history to high risk countries and/or areas of Covid-19 during a work assignment.
  • A presumed high-risk work environment where the transmission of Covid-19 is widespread.
  • A chronological sequence between the work exposure and the development of symptoms
The payments contemplated to employees are subject to COIDA section 65 and 66, the notice, and/or calculations in terms of COIDA.
  • Who are temporarily unable to perform the work he or she was employed to do as a result of contracting Covid-19 in the course of their work, from the date of diagnosis, but for no more than 30 days.
  • Permanent disablement as a result of contracting Covid-19 in the course of work.
  • Medical aid in all accepted cases of Covid-19, medical aid shall be provided for a period of not more than 30 days from the date of diagnosis; and
  • Death benefits i.e. reasonable burial expenses, widow’s and dependent’s pensions shall be payable, where applicable, if an employee dies as a result of the complications of Covid-19.
The notice also sets out what documentation is required to submit a claim.
Online:
Manual:
For COIDA claims download relevant documentation below:
For submission of completed documentation, see details below:
The Office of the Compensation Commissioner shall consider and adjudicate upon the liability of all claims. The Medical Officers in the Compensation Commissioner’s office are responsible for medical assessment of the claim and for the confirmation of the acceptance or rejection of the claim.
Sources:
COIDA Notice
Department of Employment and Labour website
Federated Employers Mutual website
Master Builders Association KZN

Statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Escalation of Measures to Combat COVID-19 Epidemic

UNION BUILDINGS, TSHWANE

23 MARCH 2020

My fellow South Africans,

It is a week since we declared the coronavirus pandemic a national disaster and announced a package of extraordinary measures to combat this grave public health emergency.

The response of the South African people to this crisis has been remarkable.

Millions of our people have understood the gravity of the situation.

Most South Africans have accepted the restrictions that have been placed on their lives and have taken responsibility for changing their behaviour.

I am heartened that every sector of society has been mobilised and has accepted the role that it needs to play.

From religious leaders to sporting associations, from political parties to business people, from trade unions to traditional leaders, from NGOs to public servants, every part of our society has come forward to confront this challenge.

Many have had to make difficult choices and sacrifices, but all have been determined that these choices and sacrifices are absolutely necessary if our country is to emerge stronger from this disaster.

Over the past week, South Africans have demonstrated their determination, their sense of purpose, their sense of community and their sense of responsibility.

For this, we salute you and we thank you.

On behalf of the nation, I would also like to thank the health workers, our doctors, nurses and paramedics who are on the frontline of the pandemic, our teachers, border officials, police and traffic officers and all the other people who have been leading our response.

Since the national state of disaster was declared, we have put in place a range of regulations and directives.

These regulations have restricted international travel, prohibited gatherings of more than 100 people, closed schools and other educational institutions and restricted the sale of alcohol after 6pm.

We reiterate that the most effective way to prevent infection is through basic changes in individual behaviour and hygiene.

We are therefore once more calling on everyone to:

  • wash hands frequently with hand sanitisers or soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • cover our nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow;
  • avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.

Everyone must do everything within their means to avoid contact with other people.

Staying at home, avoiding public places and cancelling all social activities is the preferred best defence against the virus.

Over the past week, as we have been implementing these measures, the global crisis has deepened.

When I addressed the nation last Sunday there were over 160,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases worldwide.

Today, there are over 340,000 confirmed cases across the world.

In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases has increased six-fold in just eight days from 61 cases to 402 cases.

This number will continue to rise.

It is clear from the development of the disease in other countries and from our own modelling that immediate, swift and extraordinary action is required if we are to prevent a human catastrophe of enormous proportions in our country.

Our fundamental task at this moment is to contain the spread of the disease.

I am concerned that a rapid rise in infections will stretch our health services beyond what we can manage and many people will not be able to access the care they need.

We must therefore do everything within our means to reduce the overall number of infections and to delay the spread of infection over a longer period – what is known as flattening the curve of infections.

It is essential that every person in this country adheres strictly – and without exception – to the regulations that have already been put in place and to the measures that I am going to announce this evening.

Our analysis of the progress of the epidemic informs us that we need to urgently and dramatically escalate our response.

The next few days are crucial.

Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands.

This is extremely dangerous for a population like ours, with a large number of people with suppressed immunity because of HIV and TB, and high levels of poverty and malnutrition.

We have learnt a great deal from the experiences of other countries.

Those countries that have acted swiftly and dramatically have been far more effective in controlling the spread of the disease.

As a consequence, the National Coronavirus Command Council has decided to enforce a nation-wide lockdown for 21 days with effect from midnight on Thursday 26 March.

This is a decisive measure to save millions of South Africans from infection and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

While this measure will have a considerable impact on people’s livelihoods, on the life of our society and on our economy, the human cost of delaying this action would be far, far greater.

The nation-wide lockdown will be enacted in terms of the Disaster Management Act and will entail the following:

  • From midnight on Thursday 26 March until midnight on Thursday 16 April, all South Africans will have to stay at home.
  • The categories of people who will be exempted from this lockdown are the following: health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – and other persons necessary for our response to the pandemic.

It will also include those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products. A full list of essential personnel will be published.

  • Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
  • Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.
  • All shops and businesses will be closed, except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.

Companies that are essential to the production and transportation of food, basic goods and medical supplies will remain open.

We will publish a full list of the categories of businesses that should remain open.
Companies whose operations require continuous processes such as furnaces, underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and maintenance to avoid damage to their continuous operations.

Firms that are able to continue their operations remotely should do so.

  • Provision will be made for essential transport services to continue, including transport for essential staff and for patients who need to be managed elsewhere.

The nation-wide lockdown is necessary to fundamentally disrupt the chain of transmission across society.

I have accordingly directed the South African National Defence Force be deployed to support the South African Police Service in ensuring that the measures we are announcing are implemented.

This nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management programme which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.

Community health teams will focus on expanding screening and testing where people live, focusing first on high density and high-risk areas.

To ensure that hospitals are not overwhelmed, a system will be put in place for ‘centralised patient management’ for severe cases and ‘decentralised primary care’ for mild cases.

Emergency water supplies – using water storage tanks, water tankers, boreholes and communal standpipes – are being provided to informal settlements and rural areas.

A number of additional measures will be implemented with immediate effect to strengthen prevention measures. Some of those measures are that:

  • South African citizens and residents arriving from high-risk countries will automatically be placed under quarantine for 14 days.
  • Non-South Africans arriving on flights from high-risk countries we prohibited a week ago will be turned back.
  • International flights to Lanseria Airport will be temporarily suspended.
  • International travellers who arrived in South Africa after 9 March 2020 from high-risk countries will be confined to their hotels until they have completed a 14-day period of quarantine.

Fellow South Africans,

Our country finds itself confronted not only by a virus that has infected more than a quarter of a million people across the globe, but also by the prospects of a very deep economic recession that will cause businesses to close and many people to lose their jobs.

Therefore, as we marshal our every resource and our every energy to fight this epidemic, working together with business, we are putting in place measures to mitigate the economic impact both of this disease and of our economic response to it.

We are today announcing a set of interventions that will help to cushion our society from these economic difficulties.

This is the first phase of the economic response, and further measures are under consideration and will be deployed as needed.

These interventions are quick and targeted.

Firstly, we are supporting the vulnerable.

  • Following consultation with social partners, we have set up a Solidarity Fund, which South African businesses, organisations and individuals, and members of the international community, can contribute to.

The Fund will focus efforts to combat the spread of the virus, help us to track the spread, care for those who are ill and support those whose lives are disrupted.

The Fund will complement what we are doing in the public sector.

I am pleased to announce that this Fund will be chaired by Ms Gloria Serobe and the deputy Chairperson is Mr Adrian Enthoven.

The Fund has a website – www.solidarityfund.co.za – and you can begin to deposit monies into the account tonight.

The Fund will be administered by a reputable team of people, drawn from financial institutions, accounting firms and government.

It will fully account for every cent contributed and will publish the details on the website.

It will have a board of eminent South Africans to ensure proper governance.

To get things moving, Government is providing seed capital of R150 million and the private sector has already pledged to support this fund with financial contributions in the coming period.

We will be spending money to save lives and to support the economy.
In this regard, we must applaud the commitment made in this time of crisis by the Rupert and Oppenheimer families of R1 billion each to assist small businesses and their employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

  • We are concerned that there are a number of businesses that are selling certain goods at excessively high prices. This cannot be allowed.

Regulations have been put in place to prohibit unjustified price hikes, to ensure shops maintain adequate stocks of basic goods and to prevent people from ‘panic buying’.

It is important for all South Africans to understand that the supply of goods remains continuous and supply chains remain intact.

Government has had discussions with manufacturers and distributors of basic necessities, who have indicated that there will be a continuous supply of these goods. There is therefore no need for stockpiling of any items.

  • A safety net is being developed to support persons in the informal sector, where most businesses will suffer as a result of this shutdown. More details will be announced as soon as we have completed the work of assistance measures that will be put in place.
  • To alleviate congestion at payment points, old age pensions and disability grants will be available for collection from 30 and 31 March 2020, while other categories of grants will be available for collection from 01 April 2020.

All channels for access will remain open, including ATMs, retail point of sale devices, Post Offices and cash pay points.

Secondly, we are going to support people whose livelihoods will be affected.

  • We are in consultation on a proposal for a special dispensation for companies that are in distress because of COVID-19. Through this proposal employees will receive wage payment through the Temporary Employee Relief Scheme, which will enable companies to pay employees directly during this period and avoid retrenchment.
  • Any employee who falls ill through exposure at their workplace will be paid through the Compensation Fund.
  • Commercial banks have been exempted from provisions of the Competition Act to enable them to develop common approaches to debt relief and other necessary measures.

We have met with all the major banks and expect that most banks will put measures in place within the next few days.

  • Many large companies that are currently closed have accepted their responsibility to pay workers affected. We call on larger businesses in particular to take care of their workers during this period.
  • In the event that it becomes necessary, we will utilise the reserves within the UIF system to extend support to those workers in SMEs and other vulnerable firms who are faced with loss of income and whose companies are unable to provide support. Details of these will be made available within the next few days.

Thirdly, we are assisting businesses that may be in distress.

  • Using the tax system, we will provide a tax subsidy of up to R500 per month for the next four months for those private sector employees earning below R6,500 under the Employment Tax Incentive. This will help over 4 million workers.
  • The South African Revenue Service will also work towards accelerating the payment of employment tax incentive reimbursements from twice a year to monthly to get cash into the hands of compliant employers as soon as possible.
  • Tax compliant businesses with a turnover of less than R50 million will be allowed to delay 20% of their pay-as-you-earn liabilities over the next four months and a portion of their provisional corporate income tax payments without penalties or interest over the next six months. This intervention is expected to assist over 75 000 small and medium-term enterprises.
  • We are exploring the temporary reduction of employer and employee contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund and employer contributions to the Skill Development Fund.
  • The Department of Small Business Development has made over R500 million available immediately to assist small and medium enterprises that are in distress through a simplified application process.
  • The Industrial Development Corporation has put a package together with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition of more than R3 billion for industrial funding to address the situation of vulnerable firms and to fast-track financing for companies critical to our efforts to fight the virus and its economic impact.
  • The Department of Tourism has made an additional R200 million available to assist SMEs in the tourism and hospitality sector who are under particular stress due to the new travel restrictions.

I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests.

We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.

I have directed that special units of the NPA be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption.

We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail.

South Africa has a safe, sound, well-regulated and resilient financial sector.

Since the global financial crisis, we have taken steps to strengthen the banking system, including increasing capital, improving liquidity and reducing leverage.

With a strong financial sector and deep and liquid domestic capital markets, we have the space to provide support to the real economy.

We can make sure money flows to firms and households.

We can ensure that our markets are efficient.

Last week, in line with its Constitutional mandate, the South African Reserve Bank cut the repo rate by 100 basis point. This will provide relief to consumers and businesses.

The South African Reserve Bank has also proactively provided additional liquidity to the financial system.

The Governor has assured me that the Bank is ready to do ‘whatever it takes’ to ensure the financial sector operates well during this pandemic.

The banking system will remain open, the JSE will continue to function, the national payment system will continue to operate and the Reserve Bank and the commercial banks will ensure that bank notes and coins remain available.

The action we are taking now will have lasting economic costs.

But we are convinced that the cost of not acting now would be far greater.

We will prioritise the lives and livelihoods of our people above all else, and will use all of the measures that are within our power to protect them from the economic consequences of this pandemic.

In the days, weeks and months ahead our resolve, our resourcefulness and our unity as a nation will be tested as never before.

I call on all of us, one and all, to play our part.

To be courageous, to be patient, and above all, to show compassion.

Let us never despair.

For we are a nation at one, and we will surely prevail.

May God protect our people.

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso.

God seën Suid-Afrika. God bless South Africa.

Mudzimu fhatutshedza Afurika. Hosi katekisa Afrika.

I thank you.

MUT moves autumn recess forward and encourages use of technology

Cebo Nyondo

While it is true that early Autumn break as a result of the CODIV-19 will disrupt the academic programme, this has also become an opportunity for academics, and administrative staff to show their mettle. On 18 March 2020, the MUT management resolved to push the Autumn break forward. Now the University will re-open on 15 April 2020, having closed on 18 March 2020. In the meantime, academics have been requested to use technology to communicate with the students to reduce the loss of contact time.

Addressing the media on 18 March 2020, after the University Management meeting, Dr Enoch Duma Malaza, the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said the institution was going to use technology to ensure that teaching and learning continued. “To reduce the heavy reliance on the contact mode of teaching, the University will strengthen the use of Blackboard, which is an online tool/software to enhance teaching and learning,” said Dr Malaza.

At the coalface of this new way of teaching and learning is the Teaching, Learning and Development Centre (TLDC) headed by Dr Manyane Makua, who is the Senior Director. The TLDC has crafted a plan that will be used by academics. Cebo Nyondo, E-learning and Educational Technology Specialist at the TLDC, said the plan was to capitalise on the current expertise available at the University. These include staff members that are already familiar with Blackboard, one of the technologies that has been used as a tool for teaching and learning for a while at MUT.  “Furthermore, the focus is on how the teaching and learning activities will be moved to an online environment, thereby implementing a distant learning approach. The TLDC is proposing a structure that will be followed for all courses and by way of implementation will provide training to all who require it during the recess period and will extend this initiative even after contact sessions resume,” said Nyondo. Nyondo said the proposed structure adopts “constructive alignment” devised by Professor John B. Biggs. “The use of such an alignment will help in developing courses that will mimic the nature of contact session and thereby creating an interactive learning environment,” he concluded.

MUT academics will be trained on the development of online courses. The training will be a practical hands-on training, focusing on the minimum structure. Furthermore, the TLDC will have structured two workshop sessions in a week accommodating 10-15 academics per day. The plan was presented to the Senate this week.

#StayOnComms

Change Agent, Melody Kuboni, standing, assisting a staff member with one of the virtual applications

As the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak continues to devastate the world, MUT has found more creative ways to ensure that communication is on point during the autumn early recess. MUT’s Change Agents started visiting offices from Tuesday to help assist those staff that had never had Outlook App and WhatsApp downloaded on their smartphones. “We are heartened by the uptake on people allowing our Change Agents to assist them with setting up emails and even WhatsApp on their phones. We will soon be sending big data and infographics via WhatsApp so that our students and staff are not left out,” said Mbali Mkhize, Senior Director: MarComms.

A special email address to communicate COVID-19 has been created. “Be on the lookout for emails from virtualcampus@mut.ac.za. We need to streamline communications so that staff can immediately relate to what is being communicated and how that could save lives”, Mkhize added. All information on COVID-19 is now on a special website, https://www.mut.ac.za/virtualcampus/.

Momentous approach towards COVID-19 could save MUT

Dr Malaza, third from right, addressing the media on the Senate’s decision regarding CODIV-19

The way countries deal with COVID-19 could save their citizens from infections. This is a shout out to President Cyril Ramaphosa following the declaration of COVID-19 as a national disaster on 15 March 2020 and the directive to institutions in the South African Post-school System by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Blade Nzimande issued on 17 March 2020.

At MUT this is a shout out to Dr Enoch Duma Malaza who started cautioning EMC about COVID-19 as far back as the end of January. “Setting up a COVID-19 Task Team was a good decision as there have been awareness campaigns on COVID-19. I am happy that our Task Team comprises of the Clinic Services, the Resources & Planning division; academics in the health sciences and Marketing and Communications who have all joined hands to collaborate on preventing COVID-19 from entering MUT. The Task Team is attending webinars and addresses so as to find ways of keeping COVID-19 out of MUT, Umlazi Township and the country,” said Dr Malaza.

“This week, Senate took a hard decision to pronounce an early recess for staff and students. MUT and the country have never confronted a threat at this level. We urge all members of the University to commit to the struggle against this pandemic irrespective of where they are in the University hierarchy. MUT staff and students will return on 18 April and this is an attempt to slow down the pandemic,” as Dr Malaza wrote to staff and students.

KZN MEC for Health meets some members of the MUT Task Team on COVID-19

Sister Mkhwanazi

In order to sustain the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is positioning itself to remain current in the discourse around COVID-19. Sister Nomsa Mkhwanazi & Dr Thobile Poswa, members of the MUT Task Team on COVID-19 represented the University at a special stakeholder meeting with the management of universities in KZN held in Pietermaritzburg. This meeting had been convened by the KZN MEC for Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu in order to discuss the department’s plans and solicit contribution from higher learning institutions.

Sr Mkhwanazi said some of the meeting’s highlights focused on “Sustainable engagement in the area of establishing and having the Department of Health minimum standards for Campus Health Clinics facilities within the institutions with active student engagements. We also discussed how the Department of Health could support Campus Health clinics with medical supplies over and above treatment for STIs and contraceptives to relieve the overburdened state facilities from treating minor ailments. The health department will provide artwork for universities to reproduce fliers and the like. The University Vice-Chancellors were also urged to avail accommodation facilities dedicated to quarantine and isolation of COVID-19 cases.”

The discussions also focused on how universities could see this period as a way of building entrepreneurial skills within universities. MUT’s Technology Station was encouraged to develop sanitizers and other products that would help in the University’s third stream income.

MUT celebrates Water Week, and highlights the COVID-19 pandemic

Some of the school learners at the TSC lab

When celebrating the International Water Week, as part of its attempts to cultivate and strengthen relations with immediate communities, the University decided to partner with Umlazi Township schools. Addressing learners from Velabahleke, Menzi, Vukuzakhe and Sishosonke; Thulisile Mtshengu, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Health at MUT, highlighted the importance of water by quoting the decision taken by the United Nations on 28 July 2010, saying the human right to water and sanitation (HRWS) was recognised as a Human right by the United Nations General Assembly.

“The Department of Water Affairs in the country said we needed to have the whole week. In South Africa we focus on water pollution. We look at how we can use greywater as water is regarded as a scarce commodity that needs to be conserved. We ask these questions: How can we prevent water pollution? How is the water sampled? When the water has been tested, is it fit for human consumption? How can we change greywater to freshwater? We also look at water analysis,” said Mtshengu. The learners from the different schools were taken to the University’s Technology Station in Chemicals (TSC) where they were given a lecture on how the station deals with water from river streams.

The department also saw the meeting as an opportunity to talk about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 that has been declared a National Disaster. Dr Thobile Poswa, the Head of the Department of Environmental Health at MUT, appealed to learners to be change agents, and take all possible measures to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus. He asked learners to use masks, and gloves and sanitizers as often as possible. “Wash your hands with soap, throw away used masks. Be careful. We touch many surfaces, which might be contaminated. This is now our daily challenge.  You need to be champions of this disease,” said Dr. Poswa. The students were also given certificates to encourage them to become ambassadors of COVID-19 and water conservationists in their areas.