Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, has announced that Home Affairs has suspended services for smart IDs, passports and marriage registrations under the amended Level 3 lockdown regulations announced by President Ramaphosa last night.
Motsoaledi painted a grim picture of the situation at Home Affairs, saying that:
“Huge crowds gather at our offices while not observing protocols, regardless of markings, people don’t observe rules. The situation of not observing protocol has gotten worse.”
Motsoaledi says out of 412 offices, 266 had to close at some point since lockdown began in March 2020. Some offices were closed more than once because employees had tested positive.
Between March and December, he says 532 staff members in the Civic branch tested positive for Covid-19. The affected employees are mostly from Gauteng, KZN and Eastern Cape. Seven front office employees have already died in 2021, also putting a strain on service delivery.
The Minister says the issuing of death certificates has also increased exponentially. All indications are that at the end of January, we would have had even more death registrations than in 2020.
Death registration in December 55 676 more than what was registered in the previous two years.
“On 4 and 5 January, Home Affairs registered 10 582 deaths. If this trends are going upwards…it will get worse.”
Taking all these factors into consideration, Home Affairs has decided to suspended certain services temporarily:
- Application for smart IDs is suspended, except for matriculants
- Applications for passports, except for people who fall in categories that are permitted to travel
- Marriage services, solemnisation and registration of marriages
- Collection of IDs will only be for people who have received SMS notifications
Motsoaledi said that Home Affairs will continue to operate from Monday to Friday, and will extend operating hours to 19:00 until 15 February to accommodate people to register births and deaths.
“In order to defeat the pandemic, we appeal to everyone to observe Covid-19 protocols. No one will be allowed to enter Home Affairs offices without masks. Our biggest enemy is not complying with social distancing.”
Source: Business Insider SA
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is still not paying out special coronavirus grants as it tries to verify the identity documents of those who applied over recent months.
The delay has resulted in new cut-off dates for applications for the so-called Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS):
The final deadline for TERS applications for March to May 2020 is September 25.
TERS applications for June close on October 15.
TERS applications for July to September 15 close on October 30.
The UIF’s process to pay out the TERS grants has been marred with irregularities.
In a new report, the auditor-general outlined various problems it found with the TERS system, including that the UIF did not sufficiently corroborate information it received from applicants.
This resulted in fraudulent payments, which included:
- Almost R696 million was paid to foreigners who have not made UIF contributions in the past 12 months
- More than 50 children under the age of 15 received payments
- More than R440 000 was paid out to the accounts of dead people
- Almost R170 000 was paid to prisoners
- More than R30-million was paid to people with invalid identity numbers
- It also found that there was “double dipping” of more than R140 million – thousands of people who already get state grants, including students and disability grant recipients also received TERS payments.
- The AG report resulted in the suspension of top UIF executives, including its commissioner Teboho Maruping.
The UIF took the TERS platform offline over the past weekend to implement changes to its systems, as recommended by the AG. The system was supposed to be restored by Monday, but by Tuesday it was still down.
“Currently payments are still on hold as the [UIF] is still working with the Department of Home Affairs and other government databases to verify about 5 million identity documents of Covid-19 TERS applications. This is done to ensure that payments are made to deserving and authentic workers,” said Marsha Bronkhorst, acting UIF Commissioner, in a statement.
“We are aware of the negative impact this delay has caused and is causing. But in the interests of mitigating the risks which have been identified both by our Risk Unit and the Auditor General, we unfortunately have to pause payments,” she added.
In total, the UIF has paid out almost R42-billion in 9.5-million payments to workers.
From July, claims will only cover employees whose employers are:
- not permitted to commence operations under lockdown regulations
- unable to make alternative arrangements for vulnerable workers (those above the age of 60 years, or with co-morbidities), such as working from home
- unable to make use of their services because of the coronavirus restrictions, for example on how many employees can be in the workplace at the same time.
The Department of Employment and Labour has suspended all TERS payments that are currently outstanding.
The Department has identified a number of anomalies in respect of past payments made to persons who are deceased, imprisoned or minor.
The Department will be comparing its database with that of the Department of Home Affairs in order to rectify this situation going forward.
It is unclear for how long payments will be suspended.
Cash-strapped employees struggled to apply for TERS benefits in July, amid a series of hiccups within the system.
Moneyweb previously reported that applications for May opened late, as well as June applications, which were closed shortly after due to security breaches. The system only came back online in the second weekend of July.
The SA Post Office suspended its new interim CEO, Lindiwe Kwele, in December 2019, after just four months at the helm of the struggling state-owned enterprise.
Kwele was appointed as interim CEO in August last year when former Post Office CEO Mark Barnes resigned citing differences on a forward strategy in relation to the structure of the group.
After his resignation, Barnes said there was a competent team in place at the Post Office, led by Kwele, which can still realise the potential of the organisation.
Kwele first joined the Post Office in June 2017 as Chief Operating Officer. Before that, she was Deputy City Manager for the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.
Business Day has now reported that Kwele and Mothusi Motjale, The SA Post Office’s head of the supply chain management division, were suspended on 4 December.
“The Post Office confirmed the suspension of the duo, saying it would allow for an independent investigation into unspecified matters,” the report stated.
Kwele fighting back
Advocate Eric Mabuza, who is representing Kwele, told Fin24 that the suspension is being challenged and has been referred to arbitration.
Kwele was suspended only two weeks after the new board was appointed and accused the board of delaying the process.
“How could the new board have familiarised themselves with matters at the SAPO within just two weeks?” he asked.
He added that Kwele “was just implementing decisions by the previous board”, adding that the suspension is related to politics.
The SA Post Office continues to make big losses, which required the government to give it a capital injection of R2.95 billion over the previous financial year.
There were, however, positive movements under Barnes. He said in the Post Office’s last annual report that the company was progressing towards profitability.
He added that the organisation was in a sound financial position, with no external bank borrowings or outstanding National Treasury guarantees.
The Post Office’s revenue increased by R897 million (19.8%) to R5.44 billion compared to the previous reporting period.
Expenses, however, increased even faster. Total expenses increased by R1.43 billion to R6.78 billion, which resulted in a net loss of R1.172 billion.
A London court has granted ride-hailing firm Uber a licence to keep operating in the capital, accepting the firm’s assertions that its corporate culture had changed and that it should be allowed to keep driving on the streets of London.
However, Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot on Tuesday granted an operating licence lasting only 15 months.
The firm told Westminster Magistrates’ Court it has made significant changes since a regulator refused to renew the company’s operating licence last year over public safety concerns.
The company insists it has changed, and a clean break with the past means it should be granted a new licence.
By Sifiso Zulu for EWN
President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended Tom Moyane as South African Revenue Service (SARS) Commissioner with immediate effect.
The Presidency says Ramaphosa met with Moyane on Monday to inform him of his decision after reports that the now suspended senior tax official refused to resign.
Ramaphosa has cited that developments at SARS under the leadership of Moyane have resulted in a deterioration of public confidence in the institution and public finances being compromised.
Moyane appeared in Parliament recently to answer questions about infighting at SARS including his handling of ex-tax official Jonas Makwakwa’s disciplinary hearing.
Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko says: “The president has said the actions of Mr Moyane in relations to a number of matters, including his treatment of Mr Makwakwa and his failure to report this issue to the Minister of Finance but also management of it in that regard have brought SARS into serious disrepute and this is what the president was acting against.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) says the suspension of Moyane is a start towards restoring confidence in the revenue service and improving tax morality.
Outa’s Wayne Duvenage says this decision will also improve relations between the finance ministry and SARS.
“We get the reporting lines right between the minister of finance and SARS which was removed when Jacob Zuma was there and he had direct control there. I think we’ll start to see accountability improve, performance improvement and efficiency at SARS and we’ll get back to an efficient organisation that collects taxes well.”
Meanwhile, on Monday night Treasury announced Mark Kingon as acting commissioner for SARS.
Kingon has been serving as acting chief officer of business and individual taxes at the revenue service.