Thuli Madonsela lashes CR over Covid-19 lockdown rules, NDZ under fire in court; Saffers 20% poorer – FNB; Sasol

By Jackie Cameron

  • Listen to the people, President Cyril Ramaphosa. That was the message from former public protector Thuli Madonsela in a hard-hitting Open Letter to the president, published in the Financial Mail, in which she sharply criticised South Africa’s strict lockdown rules that have included a ban on tobacco sales and, until recently, alcohol sales. Madonsela, an advocate who has the status of a national heroine after working hard to expose state capture in the Jacob Zuma era, highlights that South Africa’s Covid-19 containment rules do not appear to be reasonable. In the letter, first published by the Financial Mail, Madonsela tells President Ramaphosa: “There wasn’t a murmur of dissent as you announced a 21-day lockdown. Even though we knew some businesses, particularly informal businesses, might not survive, we knew the sacrifice had to be made. This led to questions about whether the draconian restrictions, which devastated the economy and social wellbeing, were the best options the government had…But you need to know, Mr President, that there are increasing concerns about the reasonableness of some of the Covid-19 rules. Like equality, reasonableness is also a legal requirement for policies. Section 33 of the constitution says: ‘Everyone has the right to just administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair.’
  • Advocate Madonsela is among a growing number of legal experts to slam South Africa’s Covid-19 containment strategy. Also this week: As BizNews editor-in-chief Alec Hogg reports, in a scathing judgment, Mr Justice Norman Davis has said many of Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s lockdown regulations were “irrational, distressing, unconstitutional and paternalistic.” For more on that, listen to Alec Hogg’s interview with constitutional lawyer and Free Market Foundation CEO Leon Louw’s take on the Davis Judgement.
  • The average income of customers at South Africa’s First National Bank plummeted by about 20% during the nation’s lockdown as people took pay cuts or had less work to do. FirstRand’s retail banking unit also experienced a “major drop off” in transactional activity and credit-card spending as businesses closed and people stayed home, says FNB. The slump in business is in line with guidance from other South African lenders that earnings for the first half of the year will probably decline by at least 20% as measures to curb the pandemic take their toll on the finances of customers, reports Bloomberg. Banks have all extended relief to clients to help shore up their cash flows, including payment holidays and emergency loans.
  • Managing director of EE Business Intelligence, and energy expert, Chris Yelland has warned that consumers can brace themselves for a hike in electricity tariffs. This follows news that Eskom will miss the government target to split into three separate units by 2022 because it is being held up by legal processes. Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has said the difficulties of unbundling are linked to the challenges of dealing with Eskom’s R450bn-worth of debt. For more on that, see the latest report on Eskom, at BizNews.com.
  • Sasol – one of the most closely watched stocks in South Africa – continues to power up returns for its shareholders. It was among the top 5 performers on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange at the close of the trading session on Thursday, gaining about 3.5%. Liquor group Distell was among the worst performers, losing about 3.5% of its value after a week in which its performance perked up as South Africans were allowed to buy alcohol for home consumption.
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