March in Cape Town saw a focus on port processes and improvements and taxi strikes over the issuing of operating licences, while Clover’s strike in Johannesburg continued into its 4th month with workers striking over planned retrenchments and pay cuts. Meanwhile, all of South Africa saw an easing of COVID-19 restrictions from 22nd March 2022 onwards as part of a nationwide Adjusted Alert Level 1. With some two million jobs lost due to COVID-19 (by 22 March 2022, as reported by the ZA government), the public is welcoming the easing of restrictions.
Cape Town airport has seen a promising increase in traffic, with Emirates, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Kenya Airways and Turkish Airlines having resumed services to CTIA. United Airlines announced that it will resume direct flights between Cape Town and Newark/New York from June 2022 and has applied for regulatory approval in the US and South Africa to introduce year-round flights to and from Washington DC.
Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal, a coastal South African province with Durban as its main city, is focusing on the manufacturing of halal products as an economic growth opportunity, with the sector having already created 12 000 new jobs in the space of three years as a result of a surge in demand for halal product nationally and internationally.
Durban also saw a major diesel spillage as a result of attempted fuel theft on the multi-product pipeline between Durban and Heidelberg, with the spillage making it into the Meul River where environmental teams were doing their utmost to bring the contamination under control.
Rising fuel costs is just one of the points raised by the trucking industry, where disruption and strikes continued into March, with voices growing increasingly louder in calling on South Africa’s highest office – President Cyril Ramaphosa - to step in.
Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations cause disputes and impact businesses
As per the South African government’s advisory, the number of people immune to COVID-19 and living in South Africa is around 60% to 80%. In light of the need to focus on economic stability and connected supply chain flow, increased focus has turned to regulations of vaccinations.
The South African government is currently reviewing the possibility of introducing a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all workers, having recently ruled in favour of two employers who fired contract workers that refused to get immunised. Draft regulations proposing that any person with a ‘notifiable medical condition’ may not refuse to submit to mandatory prophylaxis, treatment, isolation or quarantine in order to prevent transmission, were introduced as part of a number of codes and regulations dealing with the various aspects of the pandemic published between 15 March 2022 and 23 March 2022. Response to the draft bill has been mixed with many workers and businesses questioning its supposed positive impact - The public has a period of 30 days to comment on the Draft Bill, which will lapse on 14 April 2022.
Ukraine - Russia conflict
While South Africa hopes to be largely self-reliant and thus unaffected by the global impact on available wheat produce as a result of the Ukraine crisis, an increase in cost of fuel and fertiliser will still drive cost up and sustain current high inflation for even longer. Significant concerns have been raised however, expecting millions of people to be in hunger due to the strong trading relationship between Russia and Africa, especially in regards to the importing and exporting of food stuffs.
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