750,000 children have dropped out of school in SA since the pandemic began in March last year, marking the lowest school attendance in 20 years. Researchers estimate that almost a full year of learning has also been lost since the pandemic started.
These findings are from the NIDS-CRAM report (National Income Dynamics Study — Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey). These same researches could find no correlation between teacher deaths and the opening and closing of schools. Another report, released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), concluded that opening and closing schools had no impact on how the waves of the pandemic rose and fell.
Seeing the successful execution of Jacob Zuma’s 15 month jail sentence for contempt as a test for the rule of law, civil society warned Police Minister Bheki Cele and Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole against subverting the Constitutional Court order jailing former president Jacob Zuma.
A growing chorus of journalist, analysts, and civil society organisations are pointing out that the recent looting spree sparked by the pro-Zuma protests are more about hunger and desperation less to do with agitators and political opportunists.
Youth unemployment stands at nearly 75 percent, and more than 40 percent of the entire workforce is jobless. Such circumstances are worse than unsustainable; they are insurrection and anarchy waiting for a spark. The worsening economic conditions brought about by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have resulted in a growing need for more government assistance to the poor.
As rioters target supermarkets, activists are calling on the government to help those who cannot survive amidst rising prices and mass unemployment. Beyond merely reinstating the demanded Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant, many are calling for government to increase it from R350 to R585 per person per month to meet the established food poverty line set by Stats SA in 2020. Several civil society groups see the increased poverty and increasing unrest as further proof of a need for a Basic Income Grant.
It is important to note that this is before the COVID-19 pandemic had any real impact on the economy.