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South Africa in a whirlwind – Covid-19

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The Rainbow Nation is paying a heavy price for the novel coronavirus which threatens to plunge it into its worst recession in nearly a century.

South Africa crossed the half-million mark last Saturday, with its 53.5% of Covid-19 cases recorded on the African continent. On March 27, 2020, the country recorded its first death linked to the coronavirus. The virus has since claimed the lives of more than 8,000 people.

Last week, on average, nearly 10,000 cases were diagnosed per day. The accumulation of infections makes the country of Nelson Mandela the most impacted in Africa, far ahead of Egypt or Nigeria.

Gwede Mantashe and Thembelani Thulas Nxesi, respectively South African Ministers of Energy, and of Employment and Labor have even contracted this contagious disease which does not care about social status.

“South Africa can unfortunately be a precursor, it can be a warning for what will happen in the rest of Africa. We need to take (the situation in this country) seriously, ”warned Michael Ryan, the Emergency Director of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Globally, this state of fifty-eight million inhabitants is the fifth country most affected by the pandemic behind the United States, Brazil, India and Russia. Gauteng province, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located, is the epicenter of the epidemic in South Africa. More than a third of the individuals who test positive are located there.

In this rich province, the skyscrapers contrast with the shanty towns where thousands of families are crammed together.

To curb the circulation of the virus, the government had to apply, in March, strict containment. This health measure, lifted two months later, weakened the economy of the most industrialised country in Africa.

According to the South African Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate was estimated at 30.1% of the working population in the first quarter of 2020. Its highest level.

Worse, according to the Chamber of Commerce, this figure could reach 50% because of this unprecedented health crisis. At the end of this year, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of South Africa is expected to fall by 7.2% according to the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni.

To recover, this emerging country will implement an economic recovery plan costed at 30 billion dollars and financed by equity. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) also granted emergency aid of $ 4 billion to the rainbow nation.

But in recent weeks, the management of this financial windfall has exposed the flaws of the South African political system. Khusela Diko, spokesperson for President Cyril Ramaphosa, is in the hot seat. Her husband’s business is suspected of overcharging the supply of surgical masks to Gauteng province.

Worth a total of $7 million, the contract of the offending company reveals that these masks were sold for $3.40 per unit while the law in the matter indicates that they should cost 70 cents. A financial scandal that would happen without the successor of Jacob Zuma who has made the fight against corruption a priority.

– APA

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