News in brief: 15 – 30 June 2021

James Sleight

Arts sector in crisis

As the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on South Africa’s government and economic institutions, the arts sector has suffered terribly. During lockdown, theatres and galleries lay empty, with actors and artists out of work. However, many argue that the pandemic has only exacerbated the problems that already existed, citing decades of incompetent leadership, lack of direction, and government neglect. The government’s lack of interest in the sector is especially baffling as the creative industries are globally recognised drivers of growth. In South Africa the arts sector alone accounts for 6.9% of the total workforce, more than a million workers. 

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Anger over exclusion of ECD centres from teacher vaccinations

South Africa’s early childhood development (ECD)  sector is appalled by the Department of Social Development’s silence on the exclusion of its teachers from vaccinations. An open letter, which was sent on behalf of ECD centres nationwide, carries the hashtag #TheForgottenSector.

It calls on Minister Lindiwe Zulu, to urgently “add our incredibly hardworking ECD sector workforce, teachers and staff, to the teacher vaccination rollout”.  During the course of the pandemic there has been ongoing frustration within in the sector over distribution Covid-19 relief funds and the Departments’ failure to reopen ECD centres after the hard lockdown. ECD practitioners have continually pleaded to be valued on a level with teachers from private and public schools and to be taken care of by the Department of Basic Education.

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Civil society ramps up pressure to reinstate Covid-19 grant

Advocacy group Black Sash said: “It is imperative that stricter lockdown regulations be complemented by the immediate reinstatement of the Covid-19 SRD Grant.” #PayTheGrants notes a “deepening humanitarian crisis and unprecedented suffering,” calling for Basic Income guarantees. The Black Sash has further proposed that this grant be used as a bridge until such time as a Basic Income Support grant can be implemented.

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Juneteenth is recognised as a federal holiday in the United States.

What is Juneteenth?

Juneteenth also known as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, and Black Independence Day, is now officially a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the emancipation of African-American slaves. While emancipation came about in various times, places and circumstances during the course of the American Civil War and its aftermath, Juneteenth coincides with the final surrender of Confederate troops on 19 June 1865 in Galveston, Texas.

While celebrated by African Americans since 1865, the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was only signed into law on 17 June 2021.  The new holiday faced stiff pushback from some Republican lawmakers eager to open an additional front on American’s “culture wars,” and thus maintain the energy of the party’s far-right base. While most Americans welcomed the new federal holiday, there were scattered news reports from around the country of those who took offence, perhaps seeing it as a rival to cherished July 4th, Independence Day, celebrations.

It may take some time before some are able to find a place for Juneteenth in the pantheon of American holiday traditions. For example, in one ill-conceived gesture an IKEA store in Atlanta offered its employees a special lunch menu featuring chicken and watermelon to honour the new holiday --these food items, of course, have often been used to perpetuate negative racial stereotypes in American popular culture. However, the recognition of this historic day by the US government is certainly a step in the right direction.

From Stats SA: shocking youth unemployment rates

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFSof the 1st quarter of 2021, young people are still struggling in the South African labour market. 

Almost one in every two young people (15 – 34 years) did not have a job in the first quarter of 2021

  • Youth account for 59,5% of the total number of unemployed persons. 
  • Nearly one in three young South Africans ( between15 24 years) were disengaged with the labour market -- not in employment, education or training

For more information, download the full report here.

News in brief: 1 - 15 November

Finance Minister Godongwana gives # MTBPS2021; Dismal voter turnout at South Africa’s municipal elections; Petrol prices approach R20 per litre; Will load shedding impact matric exams?

News in brief: 16 – 31 October 2021

Annual consumer price inflation up slightly in September; Massive database of killings by police made public; UN climate change study paints grim picture; Constitutional court confirms warrantless searches in cordoned off areas unconstitutional; Civil society underwhelmed by Government proposal to replace the Covid-19 SRD grant

News in brief: 01 October – 15 October 2021

Stats SA on South Africa’s protected areas; Medical Research Council estimates Covid-19 has claimed nearly a quarter million South African lives; Report Studies pilot Global Basic Income Grant (BIG) projects since 2000; Gender-Based Violence Council Bill to Be Introduced to Parliament

News in brief: 16 September – 30 September 2021

Consumer inflation edges up in August; Komape family wins court battle seven years after their son drowned in a pit toilet; Covid-19 exposes South Africa’s broken food system; Teen pregnancies spike during pandemic

News in brief: 01 September – 15 September 2021

Gauteng Quality of Life survey shows heavy impact of Covid-19 on economy; 12.9 million apply for Covid19 SRD Grant; Bad news for S.A education as we emerge from Lockdown; Stats SA: Economy records fourth consecutive quarter of growth; Masks work and vaccine saves lives, but disinformation stands in the way.

News in brief: 16 – 31 August 2021

Can the government force us to be vaccinated?; Former Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini to be prosecuted for perjury; South African’s unemployment rate now the highest in the world; SA labour market is more favourable to men than women

News in brief: 1 – 15 August 2021

Concern over fate of SA’s children amidst the govt Covid19 response, Coal dependence of SA power industry, SASSA SRD grant application process under strain, Debate over Copyright Amendment Bill

News in brief: 15 – 31 July 2021

Re-instatement of SRD grant; Making 'Ecocide' an international crime; Police raids unfairly targeting poor.

News in brief: 1 – 15 July 2021

Lockdown impact on school dropout rates; Calls for basic income support; Govt spending breakdown

News in brief: 15 – 30 June 2021

Arts sector in crisis; ECD excluded from vaccinations; Shocking youth unemployment statistics; What is Juneteenth?

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