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South Africa: Today’s latest news and headlines, Thursday 3 September

For all the latest news in South Africa, be sure to check out what’s making headlines across the country on Thursday 3 September.

As Eskom continues to ratchet up the debilitating national load shedding schedule, citing surges in demand and severe supply constraints, already-embattled South Africans lament the scourge of corruption which has crippled state owned enterprises and coronavirus-related relief efforts.

Eskom: Load shedding, mounting debt and delayed repairs

Things have gone from bad to worse at Eskom. The embattled power utility, which has struggled to sustain power supply amid dire maintenance challenges, recently shifted from Stage 2 to Stage 4 load shedding. Eskom explained that the loss of critical generation units, coupled with a sudden increase in demand owing to the bitterly cold weather lashing South Africa, had culminated in Stage 4 load shedding.

The utility further warned that load shedding would continue throughout the weekend and, potentially, at higher Stages, should citizens defy the call to reduce power consumption.

The latest bout of load shedding coincides with Eskom’s report to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations. The presentation detailed a dire state of affairs, with revenue shortfalls exceeding R300 billion and accumulated debt creeping to the R500 billion mark. Eskom noted that its dire financial position would ultimately need to be remedied by an increase in electricity tariffs, thereby putting more strain on cash-strapped South Africans.

Stage 4 load shedding will continue from 08:00 until 22:00 today.

UIF Ters payment scheme marred by corruption

Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has acted swiftly against top management structures of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), following a damning report of irregularities and fraud penned by the Auditor-General of South Africa Kimi Makwetu.

UIF Commissioner Teboho Maruping was the first senior-ranking official to fall on Thursday, followed by the CFO, the COO and the head of the supply chain. The UIF Ters scheme, intended to assist South Africans during the COVID-19 crisis, has, since its inception, been marred by delays and scandals; including an amount of R169 900 being paid to ineligible prisoners. Nxesi confirmed that, so far, 38 cases of corruption and fraud related to the UIF Ters programme had been opened. Nxesi added:

“I assure you that I will not rest until every payment is accounted for, and every wrong-doer made to account.”

Makwetu noted that he was only able to audit two-thirds of the R40 billion set aside for UIF assistance but that investigations would continue to uncover the precise depth of the malfeasance.

Another DA leader throws in the towel ahead of elective conference

The official opposition party has been dealt yet another blow to its top leadership structure ahead of its October elective conference. In Thursday, Gauteng DA leader John Moodey announced his resignation in a strongly-worded media briefing.

Moodey, who was, at one time, in the running to lead the party following the exit of former leader Mmusi Maimane, explained that he no longer considered the DA his home and that the party he joined many years ago had become unrecognisable. Moodey added that recent leadership changes — most notably, the election of Helen Zille to the position of Federal Council chair — had destroyed the party’s traditional value systems. Moodey explained that the side-lining of non-white leadership was the final straw, saying:

“If you just look at it, over the past few months, no less than five black mayors have been replaced by white mayors and there are these other people who left the party on those principles.”

The DA has responded by saying that Moodey had ‘made a mistake’ by choosing to abandon the party.

Nehawu ‘national day of action’ protest

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has vowed to proceed with its ‘national day of action’ despite threats of fierce retaliation of law enforcement agencies. Nehawu’s Secretary-General Zola Saphetha explained that the strike — which would culminate in a memorandum being delivered to the president’s office — was intended to raise awareness around the struggles of frontline health workers.

Nehawu has cited bitter wage disputes and a lack of personal protective equipment as primary concerns.

The demonstration will include a national motorcade which is likely to disrupt traffic at lunchtime.

Department urges citizens to use water sparingly

The Department of Water and Sanitation has called on citizens to use water sparingly, as spring season begins.

“This is mainly because temperatures will begin to rise, putting a strain on the already declining dam levels, as experienced in KwaZulu-Natal.  Water will not only evaporate, but the demand for water will increase. Most probably, the demand may exceed water supply,” the department said on Wednesday.

The department said decreasing dam levels, together with the spread of COVID-19, have put a strain on water management systems.

“Now more than ever, each one of us has to use every single drop of water responsibly. We are an arid country, ranking in the world’s top 30 driest countries.”

“Added to this are the dire effects that climate change continues to pose on the country’s weather patterns. We need to appoint and commit ourselves as water ambassadors in the spaces we occupy,” the department said.

Last week, Human Settlements and Water Sanitation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, participated in a virtual ministerial discussion on water issues during World Water Week, where she called on citizens to value water. (Source: SAnews)

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