South Africa: Today's latest news and headlines, Friday 22 May

Stay up to date with the latest news in South Africa by looking into what's making headlines on Friday 22 May.

After being left in the lurch by postponements of ministerial briefings, South Africans, keenly focused on the clock, await an update from government on the proposed move the Level 3 lockdown before the end of May. Similarly, provincial health departments rush to prove their medical readiness in hopes of being able to reopen the economy.


Ministers leave South Africans hanging

The cancellation of two vital ministerial briefings on Thursday has left many South Africans scratching their heads. Police Minister Bheki Cele, who was due to update the nation on lockdown regulations and enforcement of the Disaster Management Act, snubbed a media briefing with little explanation.

Anxious university students and staff members, hoping for clarity on contingency plans to assist the tertiary education sector, were also left in the lurch when Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande scrapped his announcement an hour before he was scheduled to appear. Nzimande did, however, comment via social media:

"With the constantly changing environment, we need to take all the facts into consideration, including all new information. While this postponement leaves you in an uncomfortable position, the discussions at hand are absolutely necessary for us to pave a new way forward."

These postponements come amid concerns that government's risk-adjusted district-based approach to easing lockdown restrictions may be flawed and unsustainable.

At the time of publication, the Higher Education Department had failed to provide clarity on the rescheduling of ministerial briefings. Cele is due to brief the media on Friday afternoon.

Zulu forced to stand down on food regulations

Following an announcement by Jonas Sibanyoni of the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Minister Lindiwe Zulu and the Department of Social Development may be forced to scrap the contentious food donation 'directives' which sought to regulate projects overseen by non-governmental organisations.

Following a formal complaint by the Democratic Alliance (DA), Sibanyoni revealed that the Department of Social Development had violated the Constitution. Sibanyoni noted that the department's attempt to regulate and restrict the provision of food violated human rights.

The announcement was welcomed by the DA and civil societies. The DSD has yet to respond to Sibanyoni comments and the SAHRC has yet to finalise its report into the matter.

Non-compliance to lockdown in Gauteng townships

The level of awareness and compliance with the lockdown regulations in Gauteng have improved but areas in some townships remain a concern for government.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura has attributed compliance with the regulations to the law enforcement agencies who have been conducting integrated operations across the province to enforce regulations and combat crime.

"As a result, compliance and public awareness has significantly improved since the national lockdown on 27 March. In particular there is more compliance in the public transport system, open public spaces and shopping malls."

"However, there are still areas of concern in the townships where behavioural change and compliance are not yet at the level required. We note there are still areas in some of our townships were people are walking up and down as if COVID-19 does not exist.

"There are still areas where people are not wearing masks, people gather in crowds and some play sports in the football grounds," the Premier said.

He was on Thursday leading a media briefing by the Provincial Command Council which gave an update on COVID-19. (Source: SAnews)

Latest COVID-19 update

South Africa has recorded 30 new COVID-19 related deaths bringing the total number of deaths to 369 – this as the country's cases rise to 19 137.

"We wish to express our condolences to the loved ones of the deceased and thank the health care workers who treated these patients," said Health Minister, Dr Zwelini Mkhize.

To date 525 433 tests have been conducted with 18 572 tests done in the past 24 hours.

Western Cape remains the epicentre with 12 153 Coronavirus cases in the province. Gauteng has the second highest number of cases at 2 453 with the Eastern Cape third with 2 324.

As of Thursday, KwaZulu-Natal had 1 693, Free State 184, Limpopo 121, Mpumalanga 95, North West 77  and 37 in the Northern Cape. (Source: SAnews)


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