South Africa’s risk-based lockdown plan set to last 6-8 months

South Africa’s Unemployment Insurance Fund has paid out just over 3.3 billion rand ($177.3 million) to people whose work and income have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and a lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

The fund has processed more than half the 103,000 applications that it has received from employers on behalf of about 1.75 million employees, Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane told reporters in a virtual briefing on Tuesday. That means that more than 862,000 people will receive their benefits. About 10,000 applications could not be processed due to errors and the affected companies have been notified to correct their applications and resubmit, she said.

The government has been criticized for inefficiency at the UIF, with the 40 billion rand set aside to compensate temporarily laid-off workers not being distributed fast enough. The fund is working to meet extra requests for assistance, Kubayi-Ngubane said.

Africa’s most-industrialized economy will implement a curfew from the start of May as it plans a limited return of its workforce into an economy that’s virtually ground to a halt due to a lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. This economic risk-adjustment plan spans six to eight months and the governments sees the peak of the virus curve in September, according to a statement from the Government Communication and Information Service.

The government has approved an allocation of 235 million rand to small businesses’ payroll, rental and utilities for the next three months. This funding will protect about 11,000 jobs, GCIS said.

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