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Testing time ahead for South Africans


South Africans face a testing time ahead as the number of covid19 cases increases and the economy takes another bash.

The government is expected to revise its strategies after day one of the 21-day lockdown saw large queues of people forming outside supermarkets across the country and more than 50 people being arrested for breaching lockdown regulations.

This, as the confirmed number of covid19 cases, rose to 1170 with one death reported.

Initially, there were reports of two fatalities but the government subsequently announced that one of the deceased is suspected to have died of ailments linked to the disease.

At the same time, Moody’s Rating Agency became the third to downgrade South Africa to junk status, dealing the already ailing economy another devastating blow. 

The National Treasury said that the downgrade could not have come at a worse time.

“The sovereign downgrade will only add to the prevailing financial market stress. These two events will truly test South African financial markets,” according to a Treasury statement. 

The DA called on Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, to table a new “emergency budget” in Parliament when the current national lockdown is over.

“This is necessary now, as none of the revenue and growth assumptions on which the February budget was based still survive. Revenue and growth projections are collapsing,” said MP, Geordin Hill-Lewis.

Meanwhile, several government ministers briefed the media on Friday on some of the issues highlighted during the first day of the lockdown, which included long queues forming at supermarkets across the country and matters related to the transport of workers in essential services.

Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula said the country’s taxi industry was concerned about regulations limiting passenger numbers to half of the legal capacity.

He said other transport operators complained about the limitation of cargo movement to only essential cargo.

Trade and Industry Minister, Ebrahim Patel, has called on supermarkets to manage crowds better.

He also said that most of the companies in the sectors of the economy that are not essential, obeyed the call to close.

The Minister also said that food production from farms to logistics to retail remained open to continue supplying food during this period.

"Retailers are restocking their shelves in the next two days to ensure that those who need to shop next week have basic and essential goods available,” Patel said.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, said there were 172 roadblocks across the country on Thursday night, with just under 24,000 deployed men and women, not all in blue this time.

He said they included the metro police and other law enforcers. 

Cele said 55 people were arrested for breaking lockdown and other regulations.

“In Free State, we arrested five, in Gauteng, we arrested 20, we arrested seven in KwaZulu Natal, ten arrested in Limpopo, North West 11 and in Western Cape we arrested two.”

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Police also arrested a tavern owner. 

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