Issue 424 | 23 April 2020
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Corona Virus 24-Hour Hotline for South African citizens
 
 
THREE-PHASED ECONOMIC RESPONSE TO COVID-19 PANDEMIC
 
Government has announced a massive social relief and economic support package of R500 billion, which amounts to around 10% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to mitigate against the blow of COVID-19 in the country.
 
 
 
 
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the intervention as the country saw a rise of COVID-19 cases to 3 465 with 58 deaths recorded as of Tuesday, 21 April 2020.

The newly announced support package forms part of the second tier of the country’s three-phase economic response to stabilise the economy, address the extreme decline in supply and demand and protect jobs.

The social relief and economic support package that stands at the centre of the second phase will cater for an extraordinary health budget to respond to the Coronavirus, the relief of hunger and social distress, support for companies and workers and the phased re-opening of the economy.

“The impact of the Coronavirus requires an extraordinary coronavirus budget – of around R500 billion – to direct resources towards fighting the pandemic. This will include the reprioritisation of around R130 billion within the current budget,” said the President.

The third phase is the economic strategy implemented to jumpstart the recovery of the economy as the country emerges from the pandemic.
 
The announcement of the reprioritisation of the State’s coffers to fight the pandemic follows recent deliberations at Cabinet, the National Coronavirus Command Council, the President’s Coordinating Council and the National Economic Development and Labour Council, among others.
 
IMF, World Bank approached for COVID-19 funds

The President announced that the rest of the funds to fight COVID-19 would be raised from both local sources, such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and from global partners and international finance institutions.

To date, government has approached the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, BRICS New Development Bank and the African Development Bank. Work is underway between National Treasury and these institutions on the various funding transactions.
 
This funding will be used in the first instance, to fund the health response to the Coronavirus through the provision of treatment, additional expenditure on personal protective equipment for health workers, community screening, an increase in testing capacity, additional beds in field hospitals, ventilators, medicine and staffing.

“An amount of R20 billion will be directed to addressing our efforts to address the pandemic,” said the President.
 
Municipalities receive R20 billion

As the coalface of service delivery, municipalities are among the hardest hit at a time when the demands on them are increasing.

In this regard, additional funding of R20 billion will be made available to municipalities for the provision of emergency water supply, increased sanitisation of public transport and facilities, and providing food and shelter for the homeless.

With the Coronavirus crisis set to add to job losses, the President announced that an additional R100 billion would be set aside for the protection of jobs and to create jobs.

An additional amount of R2 billion will be made available to assist SMMEs and spaza shop owners and other small businesses.

Loan guarantee scheme

In partnership with the major banks, National Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank, government will introduce a R200-billion loan guarantee scheme. This will assist enterprises with operational costs, such as salaries rent and the payment of suppliers.
 
 
In the initial phase, companies with a turnover of less than R300 million a year will be eligible.

The scheme is tipped to support over 700 000 firms and more than three million employees during this period. A number of banks are ready to roll out the product before the end of the month.
 
 
Tax relief measures

In addition to existing tax relief measures, government will also introduce a four-month holiday for companies’ skills development levy contributions, fast-tracking VAT refunds and a three-month delay for filing and first payment of carbon tax.

To assist more businesses, the previous turnover threshold for tax deferrals is being increased to R100 million a year, and the proportion of PAYE payment that can be deferred will be increased to 35%.

Businesses with a turnover of more than R100 million a year can apply directly to the South African Revenue Service for deferrals of their tax payments.

“No penalties for late payments will be applicable if they can show they have been materially negatively impacted in this period,” said the President.

Additionally, taxpayers who donate to the Solidarity Fund will be able to claim up to an additional 10% as a deduction from their taxable income.
 
In total, these tax measures should provide at least R70 billion in cash flow relief or direct payments to businesses and individuals.

The Finance Minister is expected to flesh out further details on the tax-related announcements when he tables the adjusted budget.
 
Re-opening of the economy

The fourth area Cabinet deliberated on was the phased re-opening of the economy.

The President said the reopening of the economy will follow a risk-adjusted approach, balancing the continued need to limit the spread of the Coronavirus with the need to get people back to work.

“As we do so, we remain firm in our resolve to contain the transmission of the virus. We will therefore need to act with agility and flexibility in the weeks and months ahead, and respond to the situation as it develops,” he said.

– Source: SAnews.gov.za
 
 
PRESIDENT RAMAPHOSA ENGAGES AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADERS
 
In line with decision of the Extended African Union (AU) Bureau meeting, held on 3 April 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday, 22 April 2020, chaired a virtual meeting of business leaders on the continent to discuss the continental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to this challenge.
 
 
The President convened the virtual meeting in his capacity as AU Chair.

Members of the AU Bureau, other invited Heads of State and/or Government, the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and business leaders from some of Africa’s largest firms participated in the meeting.

The engagement aimed to foster business support for the AU's Joint Continental Strategy for the COVID-19 outbreak and discussed the development of a continent-wide initiative to assure the resilience of the African economy and Africa's joint capacity to manage the economic consequences of the pandemic.

The AU Bureau has been engaging with various sectors, including the World Health Organisation, CDC as well as developmental finance institutions in an effort to coordinate a broader response and to mitigate some of the challenges brought by this crisis.
 
 
SA PARTICIPATES IN G20 VIRTUAL MEETING OF MINISTERS OF AGRICULTURE
 
Agriculture Minister, Thoko Didiza, on Wednesday, 22 April 2020, participated in the G20 virtual meeting of Ministers of Agriculture.
 
 
 
In her submission, Minister Didiza made the meeting aware that primarily all the countries were concerned about protecting the well-being of their citizens from the devastating novel Coronavirus.

The containment measures taken thus far has seen countries closing their borders, increasing testing of citizens and treating those that are sick. Minister Didiza emphasised that a number of economies were facing serious challenges and more workers had lost their jobs and their livelihoods. She said the agricultural community had noted the negative impact some of these measures had on the food security of nations, particularly those that rely on imports for a range of foodstuffs.

– Source: www.sanews.gov.za
 
 
UAE DONATES SEVEN TONS OF MEDICAL SUPPLIES TO SA
 
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sent an aircraft containing seven tons of medical supplies to South Africa to support the fight against the Coronavirus.
 
 
This will benefit about 7 000 healthcare workers to enhance efforts to contain the virus.

The Ambassador to South Africa, Mahash Al Hamli, said the Embassy dedicated itself to serve as an active partner and contributor to the international community in the global efforts to combat the pandemic.

“There is communication and coordination on educational, political, economic and social levels.

“The arrival of the aid provided to South Africa is proof of the lasting partnership between our two countries and our common commitment to eradicate this virus and support South Africa’s efforts,” the Ambassador said.

The donation would be handed over to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), he added.

He commended President Cyril Ramaphosa for responding quickly and deciding to lock down the country.

He said South Africa’s guidelines on what measures could work in other countries were helpful.

“The guidelines have helped us to support our employees.

“We follow the rules and make sure we take all the correct measures. Our staff members are working from home and keeping safe.”

Ambassador Al Hamli said they managed to get their citizens back home from all countries globally.

The Embassy is also assisting in bringing back South Africans who are in the UAE.

“So far, we have helped return eight South African citizens.

By next week, it will be 150 citizens … we have worked closely with DIRCO to achieve this”, he said.

He added that the UAE was also working with the University of Cape Town to provide them with computers for graduates.

It has also donated some essential resources to several families who were struggling to get by due to the lockdown.

He encouraged people to stay safe and said affected families would be kept close in prayer.

He wished all affected members a speedy recovery and said solidarity helped during troubling times.

– Source: Pretoria News
 
 
PRESIDENT MOURNS PASSING OF MAMA LINDIWE MYEZA
 
 
President Cyril Ramaphosa has offered his sincere condolences on the passing of veteran activist and esteemed member of the Order of the Baobab, Mama Lindiwe Leah Aida Myeza.
 
“We have lost a special veteran of our struggle, and a veteran of the rebuilding of various communities and sectors of our society who had been subjected to the worst effects of apartheid. Mama Lindi’s passing in our nation’s hour of need during the COVID-19 national disaster reminds us forcefully to embrace her values of compassionate and selfless care,” said President Ramaphosa in a statement on Wednesday, 15 April 2020.

Myeza, who was born in Sophiatown in 1935, passed away at the age of 85.

“Her values and her tireless conversion of these values into action created a better future for generations of South Africans,” said the President in his tribute.

Mama Lindiwe distinguished herself in various sectors of resistance to apartheid and building capacity among young people and women.

She led and supported initiatives, including literacy for women; care for youth in the wake of the Sharpeville massacre of 1960; the South African Women in Dialogue programme; as Vice-President of the South African Council churches, and the council’s efforts to bring together congregations that had been racially segregated by apartheid.

In 2006, Mama Lindiwe became an esteemed member of the Order of the Baobab. She was honoured as an icon representing bravery, resourcefulness and selflessness.

”She has made an indelible impression on the lives of many and continues to do so. Her commitment to the upliftment of all people has led to a marked improvement in the lives of many of the oppressed and disadvantaged.

“We miss her dearly but will honour her with our commitment to and action for an inclusive society centred on securing the well-being of the most vulnerable people in our midst,” said the President.

– Source: SAnews.gov.za
 
 
UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA LAW ACADEMIC APPOINTED ON INTERNATIONAL PANDEMIC COMMISSION
 
The Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria recently announced that Professor Dire Tladi was appointed to serve on the Commission dealing with Pandemics and International Law of the "Institut de Droit International", based in Geneva, Switzerland.
 
 
The Institut de Droit International is an organisation devoted to the study and development of international law, whose membership comprises some of the world's leading public international lawyers. It was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1904. The Institut decided to place the topic of pandemics on its agenda in the wake of COVID-19.

Professor Tladi joins other leading international lawyers, such as former President of the International Criminal Tribunal, Theodore Meron, and Judge of the International Court of Justice, Xue Hanqin. Other members of the commission are Shinya Murase (Special Rapporteur), Gerard Niyungeko, Antony Anghie, Eyal Benvenisti, Claudio Grossman, Bernardo Sepulveda-Amor, Jose Alvarez, Francesco Francioni, Vanda Lamm, Vaclav Mikulka, Fausto Pocar, Antonio Remiro Brotons and Campbell McLachlan.

Professor Tladi has been a member of the Institut de Droit International since 2017. He is a Professor of International Law in the Department of Public Law and a fellow of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa.

According to Professor Tladi, “The work of the Institut de Droit on this topic will hopefully clarify important rules of international law in times of pandemic, such as the duty to cooperation, responsibility for outbreaks, immigration-related questions, as well as the contours of the duty to act in the best interest of the human population.”

Prof. Christof Heyns, the Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa, commented as follows: “We are very proud of Professor Tladi’s appointment. This is an honour but also a great opportunity to make a contribution to ensuring that international law retains its relevance for and impact in a time of great upheaval worldwide.”

– Source: University of Pretoria
 
 
TRANSNET DONATES PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT
 
 
Transnet has donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worth R5.2 million as part of the national effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19.
 
The donation from South Africa’s largest freight company comes after government’s call for businesses and individuals to contribute to the fight against the virus.

The handover of the PPE took place at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital (CHBAH) on Saturday, 18 April 2020. Most of the donated equipment will be used at this hospital.

The hospital, which offers healthcare services to people in Soweto and surrounding areas, will receive 18 500 PPE kits, including 5 000 litres of hand sanitiser, 2 000 protective coveralls, 2 000 facemasks, 5 000 litres of germicidal hand soap and 1 000 disposable sleeve protectors, latex gloves and, infrared and digital thermometers.

CBAH has 2 888 approved beds and 2 680 useable beds. The approved staff at the establishment is 7 106 and the current count of warm bodies is 6 197.

The hospital services an average of 100 000 inpatients and 824 000 outpatient cases annually.

The PPE will also be shared with other healthcare facilities in the Gauteng province.

The Gauteng Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku, welcomed the donation.

“We are grateful for the generous donation by Transnet. This kind of assistance comes at a time when the country is joining hands together to make sure that our people are protected against COVID-19, particularly our healthcare workers.

“We have always maintained that the health system in Gauteng must be patient-centred, clinician-led and stakeholder-driven,” said Masuku.

The PPE donation was procured through five small medium and micro-sized businesses.

Saturday’s PPE donation follows those already made by individuals and organisations such as the Bank of China.

– Source: SAnews.gov.za
 
 
VOLKSWAGEN SA TO PRODUCE MASKS AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
 
Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) has joined the drive to produce face masks and medical equipment to assist in the fight against COVID-19.
 
 
The company announced that it had teamed up with Gusco to produce soft fabric face masks, with production having commenced last week. The current goal is to deliver a few thousand masks in the Nelson Mandela Bay region in the coming weeks.

VWSA is also assisting the Government’s National Task Force to produce medical equipment such as ventilators. To that end, the carmaker’s research and development team is using 3D printing technology to produce parts for a mechanical ventilator that will be manufactured at its Uitenhage plant once legal approval has been gained. This ventilator is based on an open-source design produced by VW's sister-brand Seat in Spain.

Furthermore, VWSA’s engineers are also part of an international Volkswagen Group team pioneering possible ways in which the company can assist during the global crisis.

"We are continuously investigating ways in which VWSA can offer support to the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in this time of crisis,” said VWSA Chairperson Thomas Schaefer.

“We are working together as business under the lead of the Business Chamber in assisting Dr Black and his team with everything we can from engineering to logistics. It is very important for all the key stakeholders in the Metro to collaborate in order to flatten the curve of the infections while protecting the lives of our most vulnerable citizens,” Schaefer added.

– Source: IOL Motoring
 
 
NEW SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM WEBSITE LAUNCHES DURING LOCKDOWN
 
 
The team behind the @southafrica Instagram account has launched a photo tourism website where everyone can start planning their post-lockdown trips.
 
ThisIsSouthAfrica.com aims to combine people’s collective passion for South Africa and their free time during lockdown to create a powerful local travel planning resource. South Africans under lockdown are dreaming about all the places across the country they’re going to visit when it’s safe to do so, and that presents an opportunity.

The website combines the practicality of Google Maps and the visual aspect of Instagram to enable everyone to add amazing photographic locations from across South Africa and plan their local road trips. Each photo location will include location data, a list of activities and accessibility information to improve the search and planning functions.

The platform is the brainchild of Craig Rodney, the person who runs the @southafrica account on Instagram. Every single day for the past seven years, Rodney has posted a stunning image of South Africa on the page. That’s over 3500 user-generated images of one of the most photogenic countries on the planet, reaching close to 300 000 followers.

Rodney notes that he’s loved managing the @southfrica account and creating the archive on Instagram, but quickly identified one big hindrance. Beyond simply appreciating the images on Instagram, you can’t easily filter locations to plan your travel itineraries based on the images that inspire you.

“South Africa is consistently voted one of the world’s most beautiful places – and for good reason! With the rise of photo tourism, the way people source destination inspiration and plan their trips has changed. The @southafrica account on Instagram is one of the most powerful online platforms for promoting travel and tourism in our country and has long been used as a source of inspiration for local and international travellers alike. As amazing as the gallery of images is, it’s very one-dimensional. We need to provide users with the opportunity to plan trips around SA based on inspiring photography. Now, instead of just a beautiful picture in an app, it’s a picture that is geotagged, with information about that particular spot in SA,” says Rodney.

“I want to use the @southafrica account to help the local travel industry as much as possible. When it’s safe to travel again, there’s going to be a boom in post-lockdown appreciation for local travel. International travel will be slower to open up and will be expensive, driving local travel even more.  There are thousands of stunning and diverse locations across every part of our country, and this will help shine a light on all of them."

Anyone can become a contributor on ThisIsSouthAfrica.com and load their favourite and most beautiful images of South Africa for consideration. Once a new location is added onto the site, it gets geotagged and linked to the contributor’s Instagram account. It will also be categorised according to its accessibility (are they easy or hard to reach), what activities are available at that location, and adds tips and tricks provided by the contributor. What this does is provide a lot more information that is not specifically available on Instagram. Users can then log onto the platform, create a profile and start building their dream trip around South Africa. The free-to-use platform will see a lot more development to its capabilities and offering in the coming months.

“Explore This Is South Africa: https://thisissouthafrica.com/99"

– Source: www.goodthingsguy.com
 
 
SOUTH AFRICAN CHEFS FEATURED IN FREE EBOOK AMONGS WORLD’S BEST CHEFS
 
Chefs from across the globe have been featured in an eBook, and South Africa is being represented by Veronica Canha-Hibbert and Stephanie Ceronio.
 
 
Gourmet chefs, running the top kitchens in the world, share their best recipes during this trying time. Some of the chefs are Michelin Star holders and the best in their fields. Working with the WG Magazine, we get a glimpse into some of the best restaurants in the world.

Flavel Monteiro was inspired to publish the free eBook after seeing a long line of coffins on the news. It was 23 March 2020, and he was witnessing his country and his industry being crippled by the Coronavirus. He wanted to create something that would bring the culinary industry together.

He worked tirelessly with global chefs and released the eBook on Easter Weekend as a way to celebrate. Flavel said it was a truly amazing accomplishment to see it all come together. South Africa was represented in the eBook by chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert and chocolatier Stephanie Ceronio.

South African chef Veronica Canha-Hibbert from The Silo in Cape Town, shared her recipe for Coffee Sous Vide Ostrich Fillet. South African Chocolatier Stephanie Ceronio from Jack Rabbit Chocolate Studio in Pretoria, shared her decadent recipe for Beurre Noisette Toffee Cookies. Stephanie also shares a recipe for her signature Bonbons and her Basic But Perfect Pasta recipe.

– Sources: WG Magazine / www.goodthingsguy.com
 
 
ICONIC DURBAN BEACHFRONT HOTELS LIGHT UP SKYLINE WITH MESSAGE OF LOVE AND HOPE
 
 
As South Africa entered day 22 of a national lockdown to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, two iconic hotels on the Durban beachfront lit up with a message of love and hope.
 
Southern Sun's Elangeni and Maharani hotels on the beachfront turned on certain lights in hotel rooms to construct a heart alongside the words of "hope" and "love".

The pictures of the hotel's message were put on Tsogo Sun's social media pages recently and it quickly went viral.

"A heartfelt message from us to you during the lockdown," the hotel group said.

Writing on the hotel's Facebook page, Debbie Iris Creighton Cloud said: "This is fantastic! Thanks for spreading love and hope!

The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, forcing many hotels and guest houses across the country to close while some have had to work with a skeleton staff.

– Source: Daily News
 
 
FOOD EXPERTS ARE COMING TOGETHER TO RAISE MONEY FOR CHARITY BY DOING CLASSES
 
 
Food experts from the struggling South African hospitality industry are giving lessons and more during lockdown to raise funds for charity.
 
Our Social Kitchen is a digital platform that was formed in response to the devastating impact the Coronavirus pandemic is having on the restaurant industry, both locally and globally. People in all spheres of the hospitality industry are suffering as first social distancing, and then lockdown measures, were implemented across the country.

The platform is a coming-together of foodies, fans and fellow professionals, in order to help an industry they feel passionate about navigate a time of crisis.

Since eating out is off the table, Our Social Kitchen gives chefs, bakers, mixologists, baristas and other industry experts in South Africa a stage on which to continue to do what they love. Food experts are live-streamed as they prepare a recipe of their choice in their own kitchens, and the community can interact with them, purchase their products or donate to listed initiatives. The audience is encouraged to ask questions, share photos of their own dishes, or nominate someone to take part.

The ultimate aim of this platform is to keep South Africa’s hospitality workers in front of their “audience”, albeit virtually, and hopefully to contribute in a meaningful way to help them get through this dire financial period.

The Our Social Kitchen initiative was started by Empire State, Arnold Tanzer from Food on the Move and Caroline McCann of Braeside Meat Market. Other sponsors that have helped to make this possible include Slow Food International.

Our Social Kitchen also serves as a fundraising initiative for Slow Food International and NOSH Food Rescue.

“We took a lot of things for granted before the Coronavirus spread across the world, forcing many of us into isolation and lockdown. A relaxed meal with friends in a favourite local restaurant. An afternoon lingering over tea and scones in the patisserie on the corner. Buying a loaf of crusty fresh bread on a Saturday morning from an artisan baker. Appreciating the heady aroma of a cup of coffee as the barista hands you your fix on a Monday morning. This is all, temporarily, gone. People in the food and hospitality industry are suffering. Your favourite restaurant or coffee shop may not see the other side of this pandemic.

“We want to help as many people in these industries as possible. Because it is irresponsible to support our most-loved establishments in the old way, we have come up with a creative new way for you and your favourite food makers to interact. Our Social Kitchen is a platform to allow us to cook, make and share dishes with our favourite chefs, baristas, mixologists and bakers online, to support their craft, and to sit down at a virtual table to have a meal with the people we love."

The food charities being supported by the platform are listed below:

Slow Food International operates in over 140 countries, promoting good, clean and fair food for all while protecting biodiversity. One of their main campaigns is to create 10 000 food gardens in Africa – a project spear-headed locally by Themba Chauke. He is currently the Slow Food 10 000 Gardens project coordinator in Limpopo, where he has established 50 food gardens in the Vhembe District Municipality, in conjunction with Adopt A River. The aim is to raise sufficient funds to establish two food gardens every month, which feed 50 people a day in the most impoverished areas.

NOSH Food Rescue works with retailers and farmers to redistribute surplus food and produce to those in need. Run by Hanneke Linge, this organisation is currently in crisis as farmers having many tonnes of surplus produce as a result of the effects lockdown has had on the hospitality industry. In addition, there are millions of people who are now faced with lack of access to adequate nutrition. NOSH urgently requires resources to deliver the surplus food to the many who need it. NOSH is currently setting up an essential service hot-food distribution with various partners.

– Sources: Our Social Kitchen / www.goodthingsguy.com
 
 
SA MAGICIANS PERFORM DARING ESCAPE ACT ON BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT
 
In a daring act performed on "Britain's Got Talent", South African duo, Brendon Peel and Li Lau, had the entire audience and judges on the edge of their seats.
 
 
The pair auditioned for the British reality TV show in January 2020, with the clip finally being released to the public on Tuesday, 16 April 2020, on the official Britain's Got Talent (BGT) YouTube channel as an "unseen" video.

Speaking to Channel24, Brendon says it has always been a dream of his to perform on an international platform like BGT. "I think most performers would like to perform for Simon Cowell at one point or another," he says, adding that the opportunity to be part of the show "arose out of nowhere".

For their audition, Brendon (a magician and mentalist) and Li (an escape artist) performed an act which combined both of their skills.

While Li sits cuffed to a chair, trying to pick a couple of locks which will set him free, Brendon is on the other end of a contraption that has a crossbow aimed directly at Li's head. For the complicated act to work, Brendon has to solve a bunch of Rubik's cubes and then use them to add weight to a scale which, if tipped in the wrong direction, will set off the crossbow and send it flying directly at his colleague's head.

This same act caused Brendon and Li to make headlines in 2019 when they performed it at the National Arts Festival in Makhanda. After something went wrong with the performance, the crossbow was set off, and Li was shot in the head. Fortunately, he did not sustain any serious injuries.

The performance on BGT is one that is difficult to watch, and according to Brendon, just as nerve-wracking to perform.

"It has gone wrong before so, of course, we were super nervous to do it again," he says.

The pair had agreed that they would only perform the dangerous stunt again if a big opportunity, such as this, came along.

The BGT clip does not reveal whether Brendon and Li made it through to the next round of the competition. For now, the magician can't say much more. He does, however, mention that he is proud of what both him and Li achieved.

"Both myself and Li are very proud of what we did. We represented South Africa on an international stage. And we'd like to think that, no matter what happens, we've flown the South African flag high."

– Source: www.news24.com
 
 
SIYA KOLISI LAUNCHES FOUNDATION IN AID OF SA HOSPITALS
 
 
Siya Kolisi has launched a foundation, which is donating protective gear to South African hospitals.
 
Rugby World Cup-winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is giving back to South Africa via his foundation, which is aiding the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 28-year-old was due to launch the charity organisation later in the year, but the novel virus outbreak has seen him fast-track the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and masks to hospitals in his native Port Elizabeth and his new home Cape Town.

The Bok skipper says he was inspired by the support the men in green and gold received from South Africa during their triumphant tournament in Japan.

“We were out there and could feel the support of the people behind us,” Kolisi said.

“That’s why I think we fight and support as much as we can, because that’s what was given to us – that support. And we try to give it back now to the people that needed the most."

Kolisi says the lockdown has been a struggle for the less privileged, with some losing income.

“It’s really tough because a lot of people are hungry, a lot of people don’t have jobs right now. It’s the best way that we can have a chance of fighting this is, by making sure we keep the people at home,” he said.

“We have a lot of people who have other sicknesses, other diseases in our country and we want to make sure we protect them and the elderly. That’s the toughest part right now, trying to get enough food to everybody and enough resources like the protective gear to everybody so that they can be safe and strong.

He hopes that some good can come out of this difficult period in the form of important lessons that can further aid society.

“Hopefully, whatever we do right now to be able to look after people, I hope this carries on. It doesn’t stop. We’ll make sure,” he said.

“We want it to be a world with no charity or organisations that are needed, like the work that we do as a foundation, hopefully, one day it’s never needed because everything is equal."

– Source: www.southafrican.com
 
 
 
 
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR JERRY MATJILA, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS (UN), DURING THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON PROTECTING CIVILIANS AFFECTED BY CONFLICT INDUCED HUNGER, 21 APRIL 2020
 
“Mr President,

“At the outset, South Africa wishes to thank the Dominican Republic for convening this briefing to address the link between hunger and conflict.

“We thank the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, Mr Dongyu, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Mr Beasley, and the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, Mr Egeland, for their detailed and factual briefings.

“Hunger is both a cause and effect of war and conflict. The link between hunger and conflict is a persistent issue and it therefore comes as no surprise that sixty per cent of people suffering from food insecurity worldwide live in countries affected by conflict.

“Armed conflict disrupts food systems, causes mass displacement of people, destroys livelihoods and triggers food insecurity. Food insecurity and competition for natural resources have in turn resulted in many current conflicts, which we deal with today. These factors set the stage for multiple years of food shortages, especially where conflicts are exacerbated by natural disasters, including the impact of climate change. The COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate the already difficult situation in these countries as it will cause food shortages, destructive competition for limited resources and manipulation of food provision.

“Mr President,

"Civilians are the primary victims of these vicious cycles of food insecurity and armed conflict, in particular women, children, the aged and disabled persons. Civilian and essential infrastructure, aid convoys and humanitarian workers are also targeted during conflict situations.

“In this regard, we emphasise the plight of internally displaced persons, refugees and migrants, who are subjected to difficult living conditions during conflict situations and more often than not, have limited access to humanitarian assistance, including food. We therefore underscore the importance and urgency of unimpeded access to food aid and humanitarian assistance to all vulnerable groups.

“At the same time, we are witnessing an increase of parties to conflict using hunger as a weapon of war, which constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law and can also constitute a war crime. Violations of international humanitarian law must not be condoned and perpetrators must be held accountable for their actions.

“In order to do more to minimise and prevent conflict-induced hunger, the Council could consider the following:

“Making more effective use of prevention and early-warning systems, such as integrating indicators on alarming food insecurity levels and the restriction of humanitarian access to populations, in peacekeeping operations and country reports submitted to the Security Council;

“Requiring coordinated and multifaceted responses as well as close cooperation between humanitarian relief and development efforts as part of the humanitarian-development nexus;

“Promoting gender- and age-sensitive humanitarian assistance that remains responsive to the different needs of the population, thereby ensuring that these needs are integrated in the humanitarian response;

“Making the provision of adequate health services in conflict areas as part of a strategy to eradicate hunger;

“Taking into consideration the impact of economic sanctions imposed on a country in conflict, which may inadvertently also give rise to conflict-related hunger, as civilians could have less access to nutrition and medicine and are faced with higher prices for foodstuffs; and

“Ensuring full compliance by all parties to a conflict to relevant international humanitarian law and international human rights law as well as holding those accountable that violate such international law.

“Mr President,

"Let me conclude by underscoring that peace and food security go hand in hand. In order to end hunger, as the Security Council, we need to address the root causes of conflicts and end all wars in the spirit of Silencing the Guns.

“I thank you.”
 
 
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR JERRY MATJILA, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, DURING THE VTC SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON YEMEN, 16 APRIL 2020
 
“Mr President,

“We thank Special Envoy Martin Griffiths and OCHA Under-Secretary-General Mark Lowcock for their briefings.

“South Africa continues to reiterate its support to the Special Envoy and applauds his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Yemen during these distressing times amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Mr President,

“South Africa joins other members of the Council in welcoming the unilateral ceasefire that was announced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the Joint Forces Command. This is in line with the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire in Yemen and we trust that all parties can make similar commitments in support of the UN’s peace process. We note and welcome the Government of Yemen’s positive response and look forward to the Houthis making a similar commitment.

“As pointed out, South Africa supports the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy and we therefore encourage the parties to continue their cooperation with him in order to reach a Yemeni-led and -owned, comprehensive and inclusive political settlement, which addresses the legitimate concerns of all Yemenis. In this context, we also call for the full and meaningful participation of women in all aspects of an inclusive political process.

“In the same vein, we emphasise the full implementation of the Hodeidah Agreement by all parties, which we believe will direct the path to continued dialogue and a political settlement. Furthermore, we welcome the announcement of the Special Envoy’s comprehensive initiative to supplement all diplomatic efforts to end the war in Yemen.

“Mr President,

“South Africa remains concerned at the alarming number of deaths exceeding 100 000 that resulted from this war thus far. It has also led to widespread starvation, amidst the dire humanitarian situation which continues to worsen due to the continuing conflict.

“South Africa strongly urges all parties to resume political negotiations that will result in a lasting peace in Yemen and will allow for the rebuilding of the country.

“Mr President,

“The first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Yemen on 10 April, in the Hadramout governorate. Yemen remains critically under-equipped to bear the burden that this virus will place on its health facilities, bearing in mind that only half of its health-care infrastructure is operational. South Africa welcomes the measures taken by both the National Government of Accord and the Houthis to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Yemen. These measures highlight the ability of both sides to work together towards a common goal.

“In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, South Africa calls on the parties to the conflict, to fulfil their responsibility to the people of Yemen by ensuring access, and unhindered passage of humanitarian and medical supplies to those in dire need and to stop the spread of this virus.

“It is certainly the time to lay down arms and take up the fight against the Coronavirus, together. South Africa reiterates its call to all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations in terms of international human rights and international humanitarian law.

“In conclusion, Mr President,

“This unprecedented humanitarian crisis is a strong indicator of the human toll of continued military action and conflict, which necessitates an urgent commitment to a ceasefire and the pursuit of a negotiated, peaceful and inclusive solution to the crisis.

“We wish to reiterate that the only sustainable solution to this conflict will be a negotiated, Yemeni-led and Yemeni-owned political settlement that provides a strong economic and political future for all Yemenis.

“I thank you.”
 
 
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR JERRY MATJILA, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, DURING THE SECURITY COUNCIL CONSULTATIONS REGARDING SYRIA-CHEMICAL WEAPONS, 15 APRIL 2020
 
“Let me begin by thanking the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms Izumi Nakamitsu, for a detailed and factual briefing.

“We would also like to thank the Director-General of the OPCW for his 78th monthly report and have noted that due to recent developments regarding the outbreak of COVID19, the Director-General has postponed all scheduled deployments and missions, including those to Syria.

“Mr President,

“South Africa reiterates our position that we condemn any use of chemical weapons. No cause can ever justify the use of any weapon of mass destruction by any actor under any circumstances.

“The use of chemical weapons undermines the international norm against the production, use and stockpiling of chemical weapons established under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The alleged use of chemical weapons by a State Party to the Convention is a very serious matter that would constitute a material breach of obligations under the Convention.

“Mr President,

“South Africa strongly supports multilateralism and the international rule of law, which includes the non-discriminatory and consistent application of the provisions of relevant multilateral instruments and the preservation of the international norm against weapons of mass destruction, including chemical weapons.

“South Africa remains committed to its international obligations as a State Party to the CWC and as a member of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We have taken note of the IIT report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria and will thus work with the Executive Council of the OPCW and the Conference of the States Parties to the CWC in examining the Investigation and Identification Team’s (IIT) report.

“It is imperative that CWC States Parties continue to have confidence in the OPCW as the only technically competent international authority in its area of work and that there should be no political interference in its work. South Africa will continue to work towards preventing the politicisation of the relevant multilateral instruments, whilst at the same time holding States Parties accountable for any non-compliance with their obligations, based on incontrovertible evidence.

“We welcome the ongoing consultations between the Declaration Assessment Team (DAT) and the Syrian Government and await its outcome. It is, however, regrettable that after almost five years, the relevant outstanding issues identified by the OPCW have not been resolved yet. It is important that the work in this area is concluded as soon as possible. In this context, we urge both parties to continue to work together to resolve all outstanding matters without further delays.

“In conclusion, Mr President, South Africa wishes to reiterate that the only sustainable solution to the Syrian question remains the achievement of a political solution through an inclusive Syrian-led dialogue aimed at achieving a political resolution reflective of the will of the Syrian people.”
 
 
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR JERRY MATJILA, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, DURING THE CLOSED SECURITY COUNCIL VTC MEETING ON THE UNITED NATIONS MISSION FOR THE REFERENDUM IN WESTERN SAHARA (MINURSO), 9 APRIL 2020
 
"Mr President,

"Thank you for convening this timely briefing on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). We also wish to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr Colin Stewart, and the representative of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) for their detailed and informative briefings.

"Let me begin by expressing South Africa’s sadness at the passing of Mohammed Khaddad, a leading POLISARIO leader, who actively participated in the UN-facilitated negotiation process. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and his people who continue to strive for their right to self-determination.

"Mr President,

"South Africa has always and will always support efforts to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. As Council members are aware, the primary mandate of MINURSO and its raison d’être, as established in Security Council Resolution 690 (1991) and subsequent resolutions, is the holding of a free and fair referendum on self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

"It is in this context that South Africa has urged and will consistently urge the UN Security Council to take up its responsibility and ensure that through a neutral and balanced approach it assists the parties in moving towards a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement.

"To this end, South Africa would like to propose a Council visit to the occupied territory, as it did in 1995, to assess the situation on the ground and resuscitate the current political impasse amongst the parties.

"Mr President,

"I wish to reiterate my country’s unequivocal and strong support for the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). We call upon the Council in this regard to ensure that MINURSO executes its core mandate, which was created 29 years ago, pursuant to Security Council Resolution 690 (1991), to facilitate the holding of a referendum in Western Sahara to enable its people to realise their right to self-determination.

"I wish to impress on the Council that in the 45 years that the Council has been seized with the Question of Western Sahara there has been little progress in the negotiation process to seek a final solution to the conflict. We urge that the next Personal Envoy should move quickly to advance the political process and move it to its next stage where there are direct, substantive negotiations between the two parties to the conflict, the Frente POLISARIO and the Kingdom of Morocco.

"As Council members are aware, May 2020 will mark one year without a Personal Envoy on Western Sahara. This situation is unprecedented and has had a profoundly damaging impact on the political process. However, although it is pivotal that the Secretary-General appoints a Personal Envoy, the Council should not tie progress on the political process to the appointment of a Personal Envoy

"In the meantime, we call on all parties to put in place confidence-building measures in order to build much-needed trust in the negotiations and the political process.

"South Africa supports the UN Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. We therefore urge both the Kingdom of Morocco and the Frente POLISARIO to strictly abide by the terms of the ceasefire agreements, such as Military Agreement No 1, to avoid violence that could lead to a rise in hostilities in the territory.

"To this end, South Africa calls on the parties to uphold international law and respective Council resolutions, as consistent violations by the parties do not assist in reducing the current tensions between the two sides.

"Mr President,

"In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and with many countries under lockdown, self-isolation or quarantine, South Africa calls on the international community to support efforts in the occupied territories and refugee camps, where the healthcare system is poor and medical supplies and equipment are limited.

"In this regard, South Africa calls on the Kingdom of Morocco to fulfil its responsibility as the occupying power by ensuring the necessary access, and unhindered passage of humanitarian and medical supplies, to the territories.

"I also wish to express my country’s deep concern regarding the ongoing human rights abuses, such as the limited access to Western Sahara by human rights defenders, researchers, lawyers and NGOs. We also urge that all current efforts should be strengthened to ensure the continuity of humanitarian aid to the Sahrawi refugees and other vulnerable groups who may be at grave risk due to COVID-19. We further urge support for the Solidarity Fund launched by the Secretary-General, and we hope that the Saharawi’s will be considered for support in the context of the fight against COVID-19.

"Let me conclude Mr President, by stating that in the lead-up to the MINURSO mandate renewal in October 2020, the Council should review its working methods on this file in order to seek consensus on the mandate renewal amongst all Council members, in a transparent manner."
 
 
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR JERRY MATJILA, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF SOUTH AFRICA TO THE UNITED NATIONS, DURING THE SECURITY COUNCIL VTC MEETING ON COVID-19, 9 APRIL 2020
 
“Mr President,

“I thank the Secretary-General for his comprehensive and informative briefing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the issues that fall under the mandate of the Council.

“At the outset, South Africa would like to commend the work of the Secretary-General in garnering international solidarity and coordination to address the spread of COVID-19 and its unprecedented impact globally. We also commend the strong leadership role played by the World Health Organisation under its Director-General, including the persistent initiatives and ongoing measures taken to address the spread of the pandemic such as sharing reall-time information, providing much-needed technical support and the mobilisation of resources. The work of the WHO is indispensable in this time of global crisis.

“We support the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire to allow for focussed attention towards mitigating the spread of the virus. We view this as a significant opportunity for countries in conflict situations to immediately cease all hostilities in the spirit of silencing the guns and to prioritise saving the lives of their people.

“South Africa also supports the call for urgent global action and solidarity and concurs with the Secretary-General that this is the time to strengthen solidary and not perpetuate divisions.

“The severe impact of the Coronavirus on countries globally has disrupted daily life and the way of life as we know it. We are facing a new reality, which we have to adapt to and it cannot be business as usual. It demands of us to be more united and strengthen our coordination efforts better than ever before. It is clear now more than ever that no country can address this pandemic alone and that multilateralism remains the only effective tool for confronting acutely global challenges such as this pandemic.

“It is imperative that the Security Council should continue to focus on matters that fall within its mandate, which include its response and necessary support to countries in conflict and post-conflict situations in order to mitigate the security challenges and diminish the impact of COVID-19.

“In this context, I would like to focus my intervention on several points:

“Firstly, South Africa is concerned over the potential negative impact of COVID-19 in terms of the possibility of undermining the gains already made in countries that are in transition and post-transition phases. In this regard, we ought to strengthen the Council’s focus on such situations in order to prevent potential relapses and re-emergence of conflict.

“Several countries, for instance, in West Africa, are preparing for elections. Some of these countries are recovering or have recovered from devastating conflicts. In this regard, the assistance of the Council and the international community to the respective authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19 in their preparations and conduct of elections in a peaceful and conducive environments, is imperative to consolidate the gains of peace.

“Secondly, we underscore the importance of access to humanitarian assistance, medical and food supplies to those that are vulnerable and in need. We also stress particular attention to the safety and humanitarian needs of refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants, who mostly live in difficult conditions. In this regard, we appeal to the international community to redouble its support towards humanitarian assistance and urgent provision of the essential medical necessities.

“It is within this context that we welcome the launch on 26 March 2020 of the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan and urges the international community to contribute to the Plan.

“In the same vein, we reaffirm the Secretary-General’s call for “waiving of sanctions that can undermine countries’ capacity to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic” as well as the call made by the African Union and the Southern African Development Community on lifting of economic measures. The immediate action to lift economic measures and waive sanctions is imperative in order to enable countries to access essential supplies to prevent the further spread of the pandemic. In this regard, processes of providing humanitarian exemptions within various sanctions regimes in order to allow authorities to adequately respond to the pandemic is paramount.

“Thirdly, South Africa is concerned over the impact of COVID-19 on peacekeeping missions and Special Political Missions. The pandemic has disrupted planned rotations and has put the safety, health and security of peacekeepers and UN personnel at risk. We are encouraged by the measures put in place to mitigate these challenges and maintain operational strength to continue discharging mandated tasks of missions. In this regard, we commend the resilience and efforts of missions to continue with operations despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

“Mr President,

“South Africa would like to stress that the unity of the Council is critical at this stage. The world is anticipating a united and decisive response from this Council that will ensure adequate support to countries in conflict situations and sustain the continued operations of United Nations missions on the ground.

“We are pleased that the Council continues to receive briefings on the impact of COVID-19 on the specific areas that fall within the mandate of the Council through the regular reports by the Secretariat, which we believe will enhance our response and support to the UN Missions in the field.

“In conclusion, we recognise that this pandemic has impacted us all. I would, therefore, like to take this opportunity to wish a speedy recovery to all those who have been affected by COVID-19 across the globe, in particular our peacekeepers and United Nations personnel who stand on the frontline in executing the Security Council’s mandate for the maintenance of international peace and security.

“I thank you.”
 
 
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