News in brief: 16 – 31 August 2021

James Sleight

Can the government force us to be vaccinated?

In an interview with eNCA, South African epidemiologist and WHO science council member Prof Salim Abdool Karim, argued that the severity of the Covid-19 pandemic now means that the option to take a vaccine is no longer a personal choice. “It has to be that for the public good that there is a vaccine mandate.”

But can the government really require it? Apparently yes, at least in theory. Recently South African Health Minister, Joe Phaahla, confirmed that his department is discussing the introduction of mandatory Covid-19 vaccines. However, mandatory vaccines would raise serious constitutional issues around bodily integrity and religious beliefs. Although allowances would be made for those with strong medical or religious reasons, Phaahla emphasises that no official decision has been made, and expresses doubt that the government will ever go that far.

 A more likely avenue would have business requiring vaccines of their employees, as there is strong legal and constitutional precedent for implementing measures to secure a safe and healthy workplace, especially in the face of a pandemic. However, The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has entered the fray, stating that compelling people to get vaccinated against their will would be a violation of human rights.

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Former Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini to be prosecuted for perjury

Former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, is facing perjury charges.

A summons has been issued for her to appear in a Gauteng court in September. Dlamini presided over the SASSA grants fiasco in 2017, when SASSA’s assumed grant payments in house, after the illegal contact with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), expired in March 2017. Her insistence that CPS, and only CPS, was capable of managing grant payments stalled the transition process and nearly resulted in the interruption of the sole income for millions of  South Africans.

 In 2018, Dlamini allegedly gave false evidence under oath during an inquiry into the social grants payments. A subsequent Constitutional Court judgement found that the report from the inquiry “strongly suggested” that Dlamini lied under oath, and then forwarded the matter to National Director of Public Prosecutions, who determined that Dlamini should be prosecuted for perjury. The Black Sash Trust and the Centre for Applied Legal studies have welcomed the news, saying, "this decision sends the message that everyone is equal before the law, and public officials must be held accountable for their actions."

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South African’s unemployment rate now the highest in the world

Stats SA reports the 2nd quarter unemployment rose to a record 34.4%, up almost 2% from the 1st quarter. This figure places South Africa with the highest unemployment rate of the 82 countries tracked by Bloomberg. According to the expanded definition, which includes those who have given up even looking for work, unemployment stands at a shocking 44.4%.

 Key takeaways include:

  • 83,000 jobs lost in manufacturing.
  • 278,000 jobs lost in the finance sector
  • 166,000 jobs lost in community and social services
  • 44% of those aged15-24 are unemployed

Ongoing disruption from Covid-19, government austerity measures, persistent inequality, and ineffective economic policies are all seen as contributing to these dismal numbers.

According to Bloomberg, the unemployment data is likely to deteriorate further in the third quarter due in part to the disruption from the July unrest in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

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From Stats SA: South African labour market is more favourable to men than women, and Black African women are most vulnerable

South Africa has made significant progress towards achieving gender equality since 1956, when 20 000 women marched to the Union Buildings on 9th August in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women. However, it is equally clear that inequality still exists in employment and educational opportunities.

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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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