Ramaphosa to announce limited international travel, Level 1

 

*Cabinet is expected to decide on Wednesday on the resumption of

international travel.

*But there are strings attached.

*The NCCC has recommended strict visa requirements for anyone

entering the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet is expected to agree to the

resumption of international travel and the reopening of borders on

Wednesday.

However, News24 understands that the Natjoints have warned against

opening up South Africa’s borders for international tourists en masse,

citing fears of a second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Ramaphosa is expected to announce the move to Level 1 of the lockdown,

including the lifting of the curfew, among others, once Cabinet gives

the plans a green light.

The president is also expected to announce a stimulus package for

economic recovery.

Sources say the National Coronavirus Command Council has deliberated

restricting international tourism but allowing movement through permission.

According to the recommendation Cabinet will decide on, people will be

allowed to enter and exit the country with strict visa requirements.

This is to ensure that travellers from high-risk countries will be

excluded from travel to South Africa.

 

As part of this plan, only three international airports will be open,

subject to strict conditions, insiders say.

Land borders will only be opened to those who have visas – in contrast

to the usual free flow of travel between SADC countries

 

Holders of Zimbabwean Special Dispensation and Lesotho Special

Dispensation permits will be allowed to travel easily.

Two insiders privy to the deliberations said the Natjoints raised

concerns about a second wave of the virus due to possible imported cases.

As a result, the country will not be open for all tourists.

The list of countries that will be restricted from travelling to South

Africa is expected to be finalised on Wednesday.

It has also been recommended that state-sponsored quarantine should be

done away with and that international travellers should carry their own

costs.

It is understood that foreign nationals who have work visas will be

allowed to enter, as well as family members of people who have work

visas and South Africans who are abroad and want to come home.

www.samigration.com

Level one loading: Cyril Ramaphosa set to lift travel ban tonight

While borders and other points of entry will reopen under level one, government has decided to retain the ban on travellers from the US, UK, Spain and Italy – which are key markets for the revival of the tourism sector.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will tell the nation on Wednesday night that he is moving the country to Level 1 of the national lockdown and opening up international travel – with provisos.

Travel from high risk countries such as the United States and some of the major EU countries will remain banned.

Controversially, however, arrivals from India and Brazil – which have the second and third highest infection rates in the world – will be permitted.

People arriving from countries permitted into SA will have to produce a negative test result taken 72 hours before travel, which will grant them access without having to quarantine first.

According to top insiders who attended meetings of the Presidential Coordinating Council on Tuesday, Cabinet – which is meeting on Wednesday – is expected to endorse the decision to move to Level 1 of the lockdown and the resumption of international travel. The president would then address the nation afterwards.

Travellers who display symptoms will have to quarantine at own cost, even if they produce evidence of having tested negative 72 hours prior

Acting presidential spokesperson Tyrone Seale could not immediately confirm this when contacted on Wednesday morning. “We do normally make announcements before the President addresses the nation,” he said.

A member of the National Coronavirus Command Council said the decision to move the country to Level 1 and allow international travel, was supported by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who cited declining daily infection rates and the availability of beds at trauma units and quarantine facilities as evidence that South Africa was ready to open up.

A senior government official privy to discussions said the decision to open up was premised on a risk-based approach.

“We have a very low number of hospital admissions, very low numbers in critical wards. Our equipment such as ventilators are in abundance and quarantine sites are laying empty at the moment. We are seeing low admissions and low infection rates on a daily basis. Less than one thousand people per day are contracting the virus.

“Should there be an case upsurge at Level 1, based on empirical evidence around the world a second upsurge is never as big as the first one. We have enough equipment and facilities to handle it.”

An NCC insider said while borders and other points of entry would reopen, government had decided that travellers from high risk countries not be permitted to enter South Africa. These include the US, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy – which are key markets for the revival of the tourism sector. But arrivals from India and Brazil, each with 4.3-million and 5-million infections respectively, will be allowed. “India and Brazil do not present high numbers for us.”

Travellers who display symptoms will have to quarantine at own cost, even if they produce evidence of having tested negative 72 hours before they travelled.

www.samigration.com

‘Gear up for easing of lockdown': Winde to push for Ramaphosa to lift curfew and overseas travel ban

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde wants the curfew lifted and a date

for international travel to resume.

Premiers are meant to meet with President Ramaphosa and the NCCC to

discuss the lockdown.

 

Winde also hopes to have clarity on events and sporting businesses.

 

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and other premiers will be meeting with

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the National Coronavirus Command Council

(NCCC) to discuss the next phase of the lockdown on Tuesday.

 

In a video statement released on Tuesday, Winde said he would be pushing

for three main agenda items that his government felt would allow for

more economic activity in the country.

 

Winde said he would be asking the president to lift the curfew and give

clarity on international travel, as well.

 

“We need a date that international travel opens, in October, so that the

bookings can be made by international travellers who want to come into

our country for business or vacation for the next few months,” he said.

 

“We need to make sure that we open up on our events, sporting

businesses, and churches must be able to open up more carrying

capacity,” added Winde.

 

Winde last week also pleaded with Ramaphosa to fight the “second

pandemic” – unemployment – by opening up all sectors of the economy on

Friday.

 

According to a statement by the presidency, the meeting would be chaired

by Ramaphosa and was expected to focus on a report from the NCCC on the

country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

This, as Ramaphosa hinted in a meeting with the South Africa National

Editors Forum last week that South Africa could be going into Level 1

lockdown soon.

www.samigration.com

DA calls on education MEC to intervene so Zim teachers can return to SA

The DA says Zimbabwean teachers locked out of SA due to Covid-19 restriction should be allowed to return to SA.

According to the provincial education department, four teachers who were locked out have since been assisted.

The department says teachers who are still outside SA’s borders are

on unpaid leave.

The DA in Limpopo is calling on Education MEC Polly Boshielo to

intervene and approach the home affairs department to help Zimbabwean

teachers return to SA.

According to the party, an education portfolio committee meeting last

week revealed that about 400 gateway subject teachers, mostly from

Zimbabwe, were unable to enter South Africa due to border restrictions.

Gateway subjects include mathematics, physical science, economics,

agricultural sciences and accounting.

“The failure of these gateway subject teachers to enter the country and

resume work will have an extremely negative effect on the preparation of

learners for their final exams and their chances to achieve good marks

for admission into institutions of higher learning.

“The impact of the failure of these teachers to resume work is further

compounded by the fact that almost half the school year has been lost

due to Covid-19,” DA provincial legislature member Jacques Smalle said

on Tuesday.

According to the provincial education department, of the 379 foreign

teachers who teach maths and sciences at high schools in the province,

only 20 were locked in Zimbabwe due to the lockdown.

The Department of Home Affairs has since assisted four teachers to

return, Limpopo education spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said.

 

Sixteen remain outside the country and processes are under way to ensure

they return to classes, she added.

“These educators are appointed in temporary posts due to the nature of

their citizenship. They are paid a normal educator salary through the

PERSAL system.”

Meanwhile, those who remain outside of South Africa’s borders are

“deemed to be on unpaid leave”.

Chuene said the department stopped their salaries and substituted them.

 

But Smalle said the teachers should be allowed to enter the country as a

matter of urgency, given their contribution to the vital subject areas

they teach.

 

He added that, in the 2019 final matric exams, the province achieved

lower percentages than the national average of pupils who achieved above

30% in all 11 gateway subjects.

 

www.samigration.com

Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan gets the green light from business, labour

 

* *The National Economic Development and Labour Council has agreed on

an action plan for the country’s economic recovery.

* *President Cyril Ramaphosa met with the council on Tuesday.

* *Details of the plan will be announced once it is finalised by Cabinet.

The National Economic Development and Labour Council has agreed to an

economic recovery plan for South Africa.

According to a statement issued by the Presidency on Tuesday, following

a meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nedlac – a body

comprised of representatives of government, business, labour and

community – the details of the plan will be announced once it is

finalised by Cabinet.

The country’s economy is set to contract anywhere between 7% and 13%

this year due to the damaging impact of the lockdown that was instituted

to curb the spread of Covid-19. Most recent data from Stats SA showed

that the economy contracted by 51% quarter on quarteron

an annualised basis as a result of the lockdown, which saw economic

activity grind to a halt for five weeks.

The country has had to borrow from multilateral institutions such as the

International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and the New

Development Bank, in order to fund responses to the pandemic as well as

buoy the economy.

“The social partners’ action plan is founded on significant convergence

on what needs to be done to set the economy on a new, accelerated,

inclusive and transformative growth trajectory.

“Social partners have identified priority areas for rebuilding the

economy as well as structural reforms and other programmes which will

enable sustainable and inclusive growth with an intensive focus on job

creation,” read the statement from the Presidency.

 

Notably, Nedlac agreed on a social compact to mobilise funding to

address Eskom’s financial crisis “in a sustainable manner”, according to

the statement. Eskom is facing a growing debt burden which currently

stands at some R480 billion. It’s been battling with operational

challenges, impacting its ability to supply power with detrimental

effects on business confidence and economic growth.

Commenting on the agreement and the commitments made by social partners

to implement the plan, the president said it “is a great achievement

that rises to the challenge of the moment”.

 

www.samigration.com

The new tax and emigration change South Africans should know about

The draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill (TLAB), which is open for public comment, will introduce changes for South Africans looking to take their retirement funds abroad.

In an analysis of the proposed change, law firm ENSAfrica said that the changes primarily deal with formal emigration with the draft bill suggesting a much stricter process from 1 March 2021 onward.

“Members of preservation funds and retirement annuity funds may withdraw from such funds if they formally emigrate from South Africa for exchange control purposes and their emigration is approved by the South African Reserve Bank,” said ENSAfrica.

However, it was announced in the 2020 Budget Review that the concept of emigration for exchange control purposes will be phased out.

“As a result, the requirement of formal emigration will be removed and a new requirement for the withdrawal of lump-sum benefits from these retirement funds is proposed, effective from 1 March 2021 – namely, that the person is not a resident (i.e. for tax purposes) for an uninterrupted period of three years or longer.

“It appears that this requirement is intended to apply to three consecutive tax years, although the amendment refers simply to years.”

Changes 

Jean du Toit, head of Tax Technical at Tax Consulting SA, said that under the current rules taxpayers can withdraw their retirement funds prior to their retirement date, upon emigration for exchange control purposes.

This emigration process must be recognised by the South African Reserve Bank in a process known as ‘financial emigration’, he said.

Du Toit said that under the new bill, reference to the emigration process is substituted with a new test that requires a person to prove they have been non-resident for tax purposes for an unbroken period of at least three years.

“This new test will apply from 1 March 2021. How this must be proved other than ‘financial emigration’ remains unclear at this stage.

“Practically, after the effective date, your retirement benefits will be locked in South Africa for at least three years. The proposed amendment signals a big policy shift from a fiscal perspective, but this is one piece to a bigger puzzle that should have those who seek to emigrate on high alert.”

Based on daily interaction with employers, executives and expatriates, Du Toit said that the following groups of people should give this change careful consideration:

  • Does it remain prudent for South African executives to keep taking a tax break and maximising their South African approved retirement savings?
  • Where you have large retirement savings, the opportunity will soon be over to make best possible investment decisions – soon some will go towards cheaper access to finance.
  • South Africans looking to leave in the next couple of years will benefit from at least expediting their process on retirement savings, being they are locked in for 3 years.
  • South Africans who have already left, but who have not yet done financial emigration, should consider doing this within the next 6 months before the window closes.
  • Those who have already financially emigrated, but left investments behind, should reconsider their position.
  • South Africans with children or other foreign beneficiaries, should relook at their investments and to align with this new landscape

www.samigration.com

International travel ‘top of agenda’ as Mbalula looks into airlines breaking Covid-19 regulations

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says some airlines are not

complying with Covid-19 regulations.

 

He says there is no enforcement of the use of masks and sanitisers.

Mbalula says government is considering allowing international travel.

 

 

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula says concerns have been raised

regarding Covid-19 non-compliance on certain airlines.

 

Mbalula was speaking at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg

on Saturday where he inspected its adherence to Covid-19 regulations and

directions.

 

 

“I received a complaint that some of the airlines are not observing the

regulations on board and they have totally lapsed in relation to the

regulations.

 

“There is no enforcement of masks, there is no sanitising and all of

that, we want to deal with that,” Mbalula said.

 

“We can’t allow airlines to break the measures

have been set by government in relation to observing stringent measures

when it comes to safety on board.”

 

www.samigration.com

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