South Africa will have sufficient staple grains supply in the 2020/21 marketing year, which starts in May 2020 and ends in April 2021.
“Amid the unprecedented uncertainty and our collective fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, we are assured of sufficient food supply at reasonable price levels,” said Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza.
The data released by the department showed that this year’s summer grains harvest could amount to 17.5 million tonnes, which is a 31% increase from 2019 and the second-biggest harvest in the history of South Africa.
“This is a testimony to the hard work and resilience of the South African farming community and investments made in the sector,” Minister Didiza said.
The Minister said South Africa’s agricultural sector would also continue to export agricultural commodities and products, which are crucial for generating much-needed foreign exchange.
Over 2.5 million tonnes of maize (white and yellow maize combined) will be available for exports in the period between May 2020 and April 2021.
"We are committed to support export-led growth and will continue working with the private sector in unblocking bottlenecks to support further space for enterprise development and growth. We do this, while continuously monitoring the food supplies for the country," Minister Didiza said.
– Source: SAnews.gov.za
Monday,04 May 2020
Dear Fellow South African,
The entire world is in the unrelenting grip of the coronavirus pandemic, whose spread has been rapid. A vaccine has yet to be found. Across the world, over 3.4 million people are known to be infected and more than 240,000 have died. These are indeed desperate times.
When the national state of disaster was declared six weeks ago, South Africa only had 61 confirmed coronavirus infections. Despite the relatively low number, expert opinion and international experience indicated that infections would rise exponentially. I said that urgent and drastic measures would need to be taken.
Those measures – which included a nation-wide lockdown and the closure of our borders – have proved to be effective in delaying the spread of the disease.
This has been possible because most South Africans have adhered to the lockdown provisions, practising social distancing and wearing face masks. I applaud you for this and for all the other sacrifices you have made.
At this stage in the progress of the pandemic, other countries had far more infections than we do. As of now – which is 46 days since we recorded our 100th coronavirus case – we have 6,783 confirmed cases. Italy, which has a similar size population to ours, had more than 140,000 cases and the United States had around 700,000 confirmed cases at the 46-day mark.
But this does not mean that the danger has passed. We have not nearly reached the peak of infections in South Africa. All the scientific models show that the infection rate will continue to rise at a much faster rate in the next few months.
However, the speed with which the virus spreads and the number of people who are ultimately infected will be determined by what we do now. That is why the easing of the lockdown needs to be gradual and cautious. It is for this reason that many regulations need to remain in place and why it is absolutely essential that people observe them. I know how difficult this is and I understand the concern that many of our compatriots have about how these regulations are interfering and limiting their rights. But all this is necessary. Our overriding objective is the preservation of life.
Social distancing and proper hygiene are still our best and only defences in this struggle. This is what informs the regulations we have put in place for level 4 of our response. Our considerations are based on empirical evidence, scientific and economic data and international best practice.
In the 1995 judgment of the Constitutional Court that outlawed capital punishment, Justice Arthur Chaskalson wrote: “The rights to life and dignity are the most important of all human rights and the source of all other personal rights. By committing ourselves to a society founded on the recognition of human rights we are required to value these two rights above all others.”
The regulations we have put in place are founded on that commitment to life and dignity, and which justify – in these extreme circumstances – temporary restrictions on other rights, like freedom of movement and association.
In doing this, South Africa is not unlike many other countries.
An estimated one-fifth of the world’s population is under quarantine or nationwide lockdown, with this number growing rapidly in response to rising infections. This includes countries with substantially larger populations than ours, like India with its 1.5 billion people.
Dozens of countries have imposed curfews such as the one that is now in place here. Limitations on movement are in place in a number of countries. In the UK and the French capital, Paris, public exercise is limited to certain hours and within a certain distance of one’s home.
Containment and prevention measures similar to ours are in place in a number of countries. For example, alcohol sales during lockdown have been either restricted or banned in a number of territories and by local governments, including parts of Mexico, Hong Kong and Greenland, which last month imposed a ban on alcohol sales during lockdown to limit infection but also ‘to curb violence against women and children.’
There has been much public comment on government’s decision to extend the prohibition on the sale of tobacco products into level 4. A decision like this is bound to be controversial, but it is wrong to suggest that there are Ministers or a President doing and saying whatever they want on this matter.
On 23 April, I announced that cigarette sales would be permitted during level 4. This was based on the view of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), and which was contained in the draft framework that was published for consulation.
After careful consideration and discussion, the NCCC reconsidered its position on tobacco. As a result, the regulations ratified by Cabinet and announced by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma on 29 April extended the prohibition.
This was a collective decision and the public statements by both myself and the Minister were done on behalf of, and mandated by, the collective I lead.
Every regulation we have put in place has been carefully considered. Along the way there has been consultation with medical experts, various constituencies and different industries. We have been guided by international bodies and the experience of other countries.
The reality is that we are sailing in uncharted waters. There is still a great deal about the epidemiology of the virus that is unknown. It is better to err on the side of caution than to pay the devastating price of a lapse in judgment in future.
While there are differing views on some of the decisions we have taken – and in some instances these have polarised opinion – government is making every effort to act in a way that advances the rights to life and dignity of all our people.
Listening to our people and their concerns during this period has been one of the distinguishing features of how we as government have managed this pandemic. We continue to listen to the concerns of our people and are prepared to make adjustments that balance people’s concerns about the challenges they face with the need to save lives.
At this difficult time, our collective energies must be focused on ensuring that health and life is preserved, that the delivery of food, water, health care, social security and social support is not disrupted.
Under these extraordinary circumstances, as government, as individuals and as society we will at times make mistakes. When these occur, we will correct them. But we must carry on, losing neither our nerve nor our resolve.
The situation in which we find ourselves demands courage and patience. It requires goodwill and trust between you, the citizen, and your government, and between each other.
Over the past five weeks, most South Africans have adhered to the lockdown regulations and, as a result, we have slowed the spread of the virus.
It is my plea that we continue in this way and that we remain united in confronting this grave threat to the life and dignity of our people.
With best wishes,
President Cyril Ramaphosa
The Executive Director of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) Health Emergencies Programme, Michael Ryan, has again praised South Africa for its strategy in handling the Coronavirus pandemic.
He said there had been a “tremendous amount of innovation going on in Africa in general” and specifically honed in on South Africa.
Ryan said: “Again it is interesting the way in which South Africa is bringing the disease under control and how African countries are in many ways and some ways showing the way.”
He said the strategy in South Africa had been based on “preparation, primary prevention, lockdown and enhanced surveillance”.
Congratulating the Government and institutions involved in the high-performance levels in South Africa, he said the country had “67 mobile lab units around the country, 28 000 community health workers trained in case detection, and I think over 120 000 tests completed with a 2.7% positivity rate”.
Ryan said that much testing for that return was “incredible”.
Since the announcement of the State of Disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which saw South Africa implementing a lockdown on 26 March 2020, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has facilitated the repatriation of over 3000 South Africans stranded abroad (by air).
Hundreds of others have returned through our land borders.
Today, about 275 South Africans who were stranded in the United States of America arrived back home, this afternoon. Others (also from the USA) will arrive back in South Africa on Tuesday, 05 May and Saturday, 09 May 2020.
Given the challenges we have been experiencing regarding the repatriation of our nationals, mainly, from Asian and the Middle East countries, the Department is pleased to announce that on Friday, 08 May 2020 about 600 South Africans from Bangkok, Thailand, Bali and Jakarta will be repatriated.
The majority of South Africans who were stranded in Europe and the United Kingdom have been repatriated.
A further 400 South Africans are stranded throughout Africa. We are working with various stakeholders to explore options on how best to facilitate their return.
Through our mission in Turkey, we continue to monitor the situation of the 50 students and 29 South African artists who have reached out to us. We are looking at possible ways of repatriating those who want to come back home. We want to appreciate the cooperation of the Turkish Government. They have given us assurances that all students will remain in their university residences as well as receive their daily meals.
We continue to explore solutions for the 29 Artists, and are pleased that the Turkish Government has assisted with food and other necessities they needed.
The Department wishes to assure all those who are still stranded abroad that it is doing everything it can to find ways to bring them home.
Media Statement, 03 May 2020
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
INTERVENTION TO UNESCO BY THE MINISTER OF SPORT, ARTS & CULTURE OF SOUTH AFRICA, MR N MTHETHWA DURING THE FIRST ONLINE MEETING OF MINISTERS OF CULTURE HELD ON 22 APRIL 2020
Our government’s approach to combat the effects of COVID19 epidemic is predicated on three phases.
The first phase began in mid-March when we declared the coronavirus pandemic as a national disaster.
This included a broad range of measures to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic on businesses, on communities and on individuals. The measures included tax relief, the release of disaster relief funds, emergency procurement, wage support through the UIF and funding to small businesses.
The second phase of our economic response to stabilise the economy, address the extreme decline in supply and demand and protect jobs. As part of this phase, we are announcing this evening a huge social relief and economic support package of R500 billion, which amounts to about 10% of GDP.
The third phase is the economic strategy we will implement to drive the recovery of our economy as the country emerges from this pandemic.
The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) was amongst the first to respond through the COVID19 Relief Fund.
The relief fund was meant to cushion the impact of the pandemic on Athletes, Creative Workers, the technical staff and the entire cultural value chain.
This intervention was based on the understanding that the sector thrives on numbers and therefore are the hardest hit by the measures taken to combat COVID19.
The government is now focused on programmes of social relief in the economic support package. This involves:
1) an extraordinary health budget to respond to coronavirus,
2) On relief hunger and social distress.
3) The support of companies and workers.
4) Phased re-opening of the economy.
The effect of the coronavirus requires an extraordinary coronavirus budget — of around R500 billion — to direct resources towards fighting the pandemic.
In order to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the cultural and creative industries, The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture is offering the following relief to support artists, entities, associations, etc.:
- The Department has reprioritized its budget allocation from quarter one to avail over R150 million (which is approximately 8 million US Dollars) to provide the much needed relief to practitioners in the cultural and creative sector.
- The allocated funds will be utilized to render various forms of support to practitioners during this period. Priority will be given to artists and practitioners who were already booked by some of the cancelled and postponed events funded by the department, as well as to the legends of the industry.
In addition, we will continue to employ the following strategies:
i. Sustain and/or scale-up the production and supply of ACH products and services
- The Mzansi Golden Economy programme to continue providing catalytic funding to arts organizations, industry bodies and community arts centres around the country, targeting art disciplines that have the potential to contribute to economic growth, job creation and skills development.
- The ArtbankSA is tasked with purchasing artworks from South African artists, particularly that of emerging artists in order to lease and sell the artworks to South African government departments, government properties outside SA, private companies and private individuals.
We will undertake these efforts cognizant of the fact that our success depends on the success of the African continent. This will involve the following amongst others:
- Pursue regional, continental and global policies which encourage economic growth whilst ensuring that the sovereignty of the state is maintained; and focus on maximising opportunities for regional and intra -Africa trade;
- SA to advocate for UNCTAD proposed package of US$2.5 trillion for liquidity to finance immediate challenges and debt write-offs for a sustainable recovery. This includes international support measures for production and supply of medical supplies and equipment, as well as food.
- The AU Covid-19 Response Fund and financial resources provided to the Africa Centre for Disease Control (CDC) should be utilised to ramp up screening and testing in the continent
- A robust and resilient recovery plan, premised on stronger collaboration between government and private sector to build national, regional and continental productive capacity for value added mineral exports.