MUNICIPAL BUILDINGS RE-OPEN FOR ACCOUNT PAYMENTS AND ENQUIRIES

May 14, 2020

The municipality’s income section, including the cashiers at all units, is once again open to the public.

The Jeffreys Bay unit opened for business yesterday. All other units will be open from today (Thursday, 14 May).

The operating hours during the Covid-19 lockdown will be as follows:

* Mondays to Thursdays: 08:30 – 15:00
* Friday: 08:30 – 13:00

While this means residents can once again pay their accounts at the cashiers, we would like to encourage those who can, to make use of the online options instead.

EFT account payments can be made into the following bank account:

* Name: Kouga Municipality
* Bank: First National Bank
* Account number: 52540033504
* Reference: Your municipal account number and surname

Payments can also be done online through pay@.

This service can be accessed through the following link, including the unique code given to each account – https://payat.io/qr/yourcode

Your unique code can be found on page two of the municipal account next to the pay@ option. For example: https://payat.io/qr/1137400000.

Balance and general account queries can also be made by contacting the municipal call centre at 042 200 2200 (option 3).

Cars can be serviced, bought and sold in Level 4 lockdown

May 13, 2020

Car dealerships in Kouga can get back to work and buy and sell new and used cars.

Roadworthy assessment and testing centres will also be permitted according to Regulation R524.

Vehicles can also be serviced under strict conditions.

All dealerships and used car outlets will operate with up 60 % capacity until 8 June 2020.

However, under Phase 1, only 30 % capacity is allowed, subject to a maximum of one employee or customer per every 9 square metres of floor space.

The majority of car sales have be done remotely via the internet, eCommerce or telephone.

Personal contact has be kept to a minimum and only upon appointment under very strict hygiene and social
distancing conditions in line with the Regulations.

Test drives will be conducted on appointment only and home delivery of vehicles with full sanitisation will be mandatory.

Where possible, electronic, or virtual signatures will be used for finance and insurance documentation.

All car maintenance and repairs will have to be confirmed through appointment only.

Unsolicited walk-ins will only be allowed under exceptional and emergency circumstances.

Members of the public will not be allowed, under any circumstances, to enter the workshop environment. These workspaces will exclusively be reserved for technical and support staff.

Car owners are to maintain or service their cars within their own municipal boundaries unless in case of extraordinary circumstances.

The following categories are not classified as emergency car repairs:

  • Cosmetic repairs, such as minor scratches and dents or cosmetic enhancements;
  • Voluntary or routine servicing that is not overdue in terms of manufacturer’s service intervals; and warranty campaigns of a cosmetic nature unless the warranty is due to expire within 30 days of the intended repair date.

Minister Patel gazettes ‘Alice in wonderland’ clothing list

May 13, 2020

The Democratic Alliance is stunned by the bizarre and extraordinary clothing list that has been gazetted by Trade, Industry and Competition Minister, Ebrahim Patel which seems to have been plucked from Alice in Wonderland.

These new clothing regulations are frankly mad and seem more at place during the 1980’s under the Soviet Union than they do in a democracy like South Africa.

There is simply no justification for the Minister to be determining what clothes people can buy and worse, how they should wear them.

According to the regulations:

  • You can buy shirts so long as they are promoted “to be worn under jacket coats and/or knitwear” which is ridiculous and insulting to South Africans’ intelligence;
  • You may only buy crop bottom pants so long as they worn with boots and leggings which is just ridiculous;
  • And finally, you can only buy “closed toe” shoes which is just laughable.

To put it bluntly, Minister Patel has become the laughing stock of South Africa with these regulations.

These regulations are nothing other than the continued paternal obsession by Minister Patel and the ANC to dictate to South Africans what they can and can not do.

It is reminiscent of how people were forced to live during the existence of East Germany. It may be acceptable in a communist state but not in a free country like ours.

“The DA believes that people should be able to buy whatever they want, as long as it is done in a safe way with health protocols. There is no rationale for a clothing list,” said Dean Macpherson – DA Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry.

“It is now beyond doubt that Minister Patel is running amok without any restraint from President Ramaphosa.

He has been allowed to pick winners and losers in the economy, to determine what is “fair” and now has gone to the extreme to determine what clothes people can buy and how they should wear them.

The President should now step up to the plate and sack Patel without delay.

He has been a deadweight on this government during this crisis, lurching from one crisis to another and should finally be put out to pasture before he wrecks any further damage on our economy,” said Macpherson

The DA’s level 4 lockdown proposals to save lives and livelihoods

May 6, 2020

The DA has welcomed Government’s decision to ease the hard lockdown from level 5 to level 4. We are however concerned that there has been no real evidence produced by Government on which the risk-adjusted strategy has been based.

This means that the decision to not open certain sectors of the economy have quite possibly not been based on research and fact, but rather on Government’s need to exert authority over South Africans.

“We are of the view that there is a need for the economy to be opened across a much wider spectrum as Government’s draft regulations does not go far enough to prevent an economic meltdown post-lockdown,” said Dean Macpherson – DA Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry.

Here are some of the DA’s proposals on the draft risk-adjusted level 4 Covid-19 lockdown regulations:

  • No curfew. There has been rationale reason presented for this.
  • All shops allowed to open subject to mandatory health protocols, masks for all customers.
  • E-commerce able to sell all goods to consumers online.
  • Beauticians and hairdressers to be open subject to health protocols.
  • Screening regime and workplace testing stations in the manufacturing sector.
  • Transport of all goods allowed for export.
  • Mask wearing on all public transport as well as sanitising on entry and exit.
  • Car services allowed.
  • Outdoor exercise and dog walking allowed.
  • Alcohol sales allowed Mon-Fri until 3 pm. Limit on stock allowed to be bought.
  • All agriculture allowed subject to health protocols.
  • Mining activity to resume with the use of respirators, sanitised transport, and deep cleaning of residential units.
  • Construction sites allowed to be open (similar to open-cast mining due to the open nature of the site).
  • R1000 top-up for all grant receivers as opposed to caregivers only.

A full document on the DA’s inputs and comparison between National Government and the DA’s proposals can be accessed here.

Level 4: A copy and paste of Level 5 – disastrous for livelihoods

April 30, 2020

Ultimately, there is not enough to distinguish lockdown Level 4 from Level 5.

This will be disastrous for millions of lives and livelihoods. Government has essentially smuggled through an extension of the hard lockdown under the guise of easing restrictions.

If government had gone with the DA’s Smart Lockdown proposal, more of the economy could have been opened without compromising safety.

Government’s approach is unnecessarily blunt and restrictive, with simply no justification for many of the arbitrary rules and restrictions.

The DA proposed an incentives-driven approach in which government specifies the safety measures that must be in place before a business can open, and businesses then decide if they are willing or able to meet the required safety standards.

This empowers employers, employees and customers within a reasonable set of safety rules. Reasonableness and compliance go hand in hand. Government’s unreasonable approach may undermine the whole Covid-19 response by generating an explosion of non-compliance.

The DA’s approach incentivises businesses and people to comply, maximising jobs and tax revenue. Government’s forces many to remain closed, potentially forcing them underground – to trade illegally or die.

By way of example, no-one will now be able to legally sell or pay for a haircut, which will have devastating consequences for many working class people who run salons and barbers out of their homes to support their families. The DA’s Level 4 would allow hairdressers to operate, as long as they can meet a specified level of safety.

Some of the decisions are draconian, such as the continued ban on smoking and sale of hot food. Will sugar and fatty foods be next?

The President told us smoking would be allowed in Level 4 – but the command council has now backtracked on this.

Others are simply irrational – not based on a consideration of public safety at all, which is the whole purpose of a lockdown.

E-commerce (online shopping with delivery) for example is not allowed.

Other countries are looking to e-commerce to keep their small businesses afloat, save jobs and service customers.

Here we’ve chosen arbitrary ministerial diktat over harnessing individual creativity and decision-making.

Surely the only criterion that matters here is the risk of spreading the virus. If this risk is minimal, then the business should be allowed to trade. Any other decision is purely authoritarian.

One gets the sense that the call for comment was merely a box-ticking exercise, since little has changed from what the government proposed last week, notwithstanding the 70 000 submissions.

Except on the matter of exercise, for which the solution is incomprehensible.

Government seems to have forgotten the whole reason we locked down in the first place – to ensure our wellbeing.

Now citizens are told they can only exercise between 6am and 9am – as if exercising after work in the evening is somehow bad for them. If anything, this is less safe, as people will all be out at the same time.

And what of those who need to leave home at 5am to get to work? But then again, the ANC has long-since stopped caring about poor people. Or perhaps, for them, the working day doesn’t start before 9am?

Other restrictions are well-intended, such as the continued ban on alcohol, but will have severe negative unintended consequences. This will broaden business opportunities for the mafia and starve our fiscus of needed revenue.

The DA suggested reasonable restrictions on times and quantity of legal alcohol sales.

The common thread running through all the restrictions is government’s fundamental lack of trust in the people of South Africa, who are being treated as children rather than adults.

People are not being trusted with data or empowered with any reasonable degree of personal decision-making.

The curfew demonstrates this best of all. The DA will consider challenging its legality.

President Ramaphosa’s cabinet seems to be indulging in all its nanny-state fantasies. It may soon find itself having to justify these in court, where reasonableness still prevails.

Regards

John Steenhuizen

Leader of the DA

Level 4 Lockdown: DA proposes wider opening of the economy

April 27, 2020

The Democratic Alliance has today submitted our comments to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and Trade & Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel in response to their request for comments around the Draft Framework for Sectors – Level 4 only – of their risk-adjusted strategy.

We submitted two documents, one responding to their Level 4 proposals (including two attachments) and the other to their proposal for a curfew.

The move to Level 4 of the lockdown was meant to allow for a greater level of economic activity, but there is far too little to distinguish Level 4 from Level 5, and thus Level 4 inadequately balances the looming economic crisis.

The DA supports a much wider opening of the economy. Firstly, there is no evidence to say why this should not happen.

There has been little to no transparency around the data or analysis being used to guide government’s response.

Secondly, a wider opening can still achieve the same level of public safety if the government changes its approach from one based on force to one based on trust.

Furthermore, government has taken the approach of state control using force, choosing to centralise draconian powers in the hands of incapable ministers and enforce compliance by deploying 75 000 ill-trained South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members, many armed with live ammunition.

Instead, it should be providing direction by harnessing the creativity, incentives and goodwill of everyone, within a reasonable set of rules.

At the heart of both our submissions lies the clear lack of trust on the part of government towards citizens.

This supposed move to a “softer” version of lockdown has exposed the fact that government does not trust citizens and stakeholders to make a smart lockdown work. It does not trust them to make sensible decisions in the workplace, it does not trust them with the data on which it supposedly bases its decisions around the lifting or imposition of restrictions, and it doesn’t trust them with their personal movement and physical distancing.

The DA supported the initial call for a hard lockdown of the country and economy. It was the right thing to do, given the urgent need for time to prepare our healthcare response to the imminent threat of the pandemic.

We also supported, in principle, the announcement last week of a move towards a softer phase of this lockdown to allow for some economic activity to return and for people to return to work. This was in line with our consistent call for the protection of lives and the protection of livelihoods to be carefully balanced.

We did, however, state that we would reserve further comment until we had seen the details of this risk-adjusted, phased approach. And it is indeed in the details where it has become clear that this is nowhere near the opening of the economy that is required.

Regarding what government has called “System 1” – the alert system that determines which level of restriction should apply nationally, in provinces and in districts – there is simply no way for anyone to know why a decision to move up or down between the levels is taken because the full data is not known.

These decisions must be based on accurate, localised data on both community transmission as well as healthcare capacity, and yet government does not make this data publicly available. It expects citizens to trust its decisions, but it does not trust citizens with the information.

The DA has consistently called for the regular publication of this data, ever since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in South Africa on 5 March. We sent the Presidency the requirements for such a data dashboard. If government wants buy-in and compliance, it must return the trust.

The classification of industries that are allowed to trade under this supposed softer level of lockdown – what government calls “System 2” – also has fundamental flaws.

Firstly, it is far too incremental. In other words, there is not nearly enough of a difference between levels 5 and 4, and there will be no meaningful increase in economic activity, leaving millions locked out and destitute.

Secondly, the sector-wide approach, where the risk assessment is applied to an entire industry and not the many and varied types of businesses inside that sector, is far too blunt a tool for the job.

And thirdly, the criteria whereby industries can return to work are too subjective. While we agree that having an acceptably low transmission risk is crucial, the second and third criteria – whether a business is “of critical value to the economy”” and whether it is “under severe near-term economic stress” – leave far too much room for subjective interpretation.

If it is the risk of transmission that is keeping the economy closed down, then surely only the first criteria should matter. All businesses are of critical importance to the economy and most of them are under economic stress. If they can operate safely, they should be allowed to open.

Our second submission, dealing with the unjustified imposition of a curfew, could not have happened on a more symbolic day.

As we awake to the news on Freedom Day that thousands of prisoners are to be released from jail and granted the freedom to terrorise South Africans, responsible citizens will now be subject to a curfew enforced by 75 000 soldiers.

The DA is alarmed by the lack of trust demonstrated by the government in the people of South Africa through the imposition of this curfew, likely backed by military force.

This is an extraordinary limitation of civil liberties that should meet an extraordinarily high threshold before it can be justified. It does not meet that threshold in this case, and the DA is vehemently opposed to the curfew as a matter of principle.

Research by the Human Sciences Research Council showed that, during the first month of hard lockdown, 99% of citizens did comply with the lockdown regulations. This shows that the people deserve to be trusted, not coerced.

However, mere days before the curfew was announced for the first time, South Africans learned that the government had resolved to deploy an additional 73 180 soldiers onto the country’s streets, bringing the total number of soldiers deployed to 75 460.

This means that nearly the entire South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be on the streets of our communities.

It is therefore highly likely that the SANDF will be used to enforce the curfew between 20:00 and 05:00 every night.

This would mean that soldiers are granted the discretionary power to decide whether someone who travels between 20:00 and 05:00 faces a bona fide medical emergency or is performing an essential service. This grants far too wide a scope of powers to the SANDF.

Given that we have already witnessed horrendous acts of abuse, torture and even alleged murder by the SANDF when only 2 280 soldiers were deployed, the use of nearly the entire military to enforce the curfew is likely to unleash a wave of abuses by the security forces.

Instead of a military curfew, we need to dramatically enhance social mobilisation efforts through education and raising awareness.

There is no need for militarisation and a formal curfew when citizens understand and trust the need for the limitations on freedom of movement. No amount of force or coercion will bolster compliance in the absence of understanding and trust.

If the government fails to heed our warning to rescind the planned enforcement of a military curfew, the DA reserves our right to challenge the move in court, because we place our trust in citizens rather than in coercion.

Funeral guidelines during Covid-19 Lockdown

April 25, 2020

Funeral parlours, bereaved families and mourners are asked to keep the following guidelines in mind if they are burying a loved one this weekend in Kouga:

1. No more than 50 people may attend a funeral, according to lockdown regulations.

2. Funeral services can be held at home or at church.

3. It is recommended that attendance be limited to close family only, especially for home services.

4. All safety precautions must be followed.

5. Church funeral services must provide hand sanitiser, attendees must wear face masks, maintain social distancing and take extra care not to be put each other at risk of contracting the coronavirus.

6. The funeral procession and service should be finalised within an hour.

7. No night vigils, overnight church service, after tears or other gatherings are allowed before or after the service.

8. No mass catering is allowed nor the serving of refreshments.

9. The funeral service provider must ensure that an attendance register is kept of all those present.

Let’s work together and stop the spread.

The DA has a plan to avert Day Zero in Kouga

April 24, 2020

The dams that supply Nelson Mandela Bay and Kouga Municipalities are close to empty, with very little rain expected over the next few months.

The supply dams are at 22.16% of capacity.

The Kouga dam is at 12.29%, followed by the Impofu dam (16.45%), Loerie dam (29.44%), Groendal dam (37.20%), and Churchill dam at 68.93%.

“The last 10% of water in any dam is unusable, which means that, technically, dam levels are at 12.16%

The Metro is also using 300 megalitres of water per day while the daily consumption level should be 250 megalitres, said DA Eastern Cape leader, Nqaba Bhanga.

Bhanga said that since August 2018, the NMB Municipality has been aware that a barge is needed to extract what is left of the potable water in the Impofu dam.

“The barge will take five weeks to become operational but nothing has been done to make this happen.

The DA-led Kouga Municipality stand in sharp contrast with the failures of Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and has been doing excellent work in spending a R151-million drought disaster grant.

The municipality has already spent more than R108-million (71.79%) and still has R42.6-million available,” Bhanga added.

“The remaining funds have been committed to projects that were due for completion by mid-June 2020, but have now stalled due to Coronavirus lockdown regulations.”

Kouga successes:

  • Developing new boreholes at Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, Patensie, and Hankey.
  • The Jeffreys Bay Water Treatment Works and Kruisfontein Water Treatment Works are being upgraded.
  • Ongoing interventions to improve Water Conservation and Demand Management include extensive leak repairs.
  • Through extensive communications and awareness campaigns daily water consumption has been reduced from 30 megalitres to 17 megalitres.
  • “Contractors have closed all drought project sites due to lockdown regulations. The municipality has started a process to fast track drought relief projects by recalling the contractors and facilitating the successful procurement of goods and services.”

Kouga Action Plan:

  • Urgently confirm that drought projects are essential services in order for the municipality to legally complete work in line with current legislation. The municipality will write to DWS to obtain guidance in this regard.
  • Consultants and contractors must make preparations for the re-commencement of construction work.
  • Consultants must provide the municipality with an updated project cost that reflects the anticipated impact from claims and provide possible mitigation measures.

“If we all work together we can avert this water crisis and successfully fight the Covid-19 pandemic,” Bhanga said.

All feeding projects must register via Kouga Municipality

April 23, 2020

All organisations and individuals that have started food relief programmes in Kouga have been asked to register with the local Joint Operations Committee (JOC).

“There are a number of groups that have been distributing food parcels to families in need during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“There is a desperate need for this in our communities and we applaud the fine work that is being done,” Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said.

“However, most of the groups and individuals involved, are not registered as essential services, as required by law.

“This means that, strictly speaking, they are in contravention of the lockdown regulations when they leave their homes to distribute food parcels.”

He said in order to legalise food relief initiatives a resolution was taken that all such projects should register with the JOC for authorisation.

“The JOC is officially in charge of coordinating local Covid-19 efforts and consists of various state roleplayers, including, the municipality, police, Department of Health and Social Development,” Hendricks explained.

In terms of the resolution food relief programmes are required to register with the JOC by sending an email to ajonck@kouga.gov.za.

The email should include the following information:

• The name of the food drive or organisation in charge of it
• The names, surnames, addresses, ID numbers and vehicle registration numbers of all those required to leave their homes for the purpose of arranging or distributing food parcels
• The distribution programme – preferably for the next three weeks, but weekly programmes will also be accepted if submitted on the Thursday preceding the planned week of distribution.
• The distribution programme should include the number of beneficiaries who will be reached, the area of distribution and method of distribution (eg, door-to-door).
• Ideally, the names and addresses of beneficiaries should also be included to help avoid the same households receiving more than one food parcel while others receive none.

The deadline for groups wanting to distribute food parcels next week (27 April to 3 May) is 12 noon today (Thursday), 23 April.

The submissions will then be consolidated and tabled at the local Command Centre meeting on Friday, as resolved by the JOC.

Hendricks said in addition to ensuring all such projects were operating legally during lockdown, the registration process would allow law enforcement authorities to support groups when distributing food in potentially volatile areas.

“Many people are desperate for assistance, which increases the safety risk to groups involved in distributing food.

“We want to ensure such groups are protected, both in terms of the law and their physical well-being, as the support they are offering to those in need is of great value and importance to our region.

“We are deeply grateful for all they are doing and want to encourage them to continue their incredible efforts to help all Kouga families make it safely through the lockdown.”

To register or for further queries email ajonck@kouga.gov.za

Increase of COVID-19 cases in Humansdorp

April 20, 2020

With three more Covid-19 cases having been confirmed at Humansdorp this past week, a renewed call has gone out to residents to stay home to avoid contracting or spreading the coronavirus.

“We started the week with five cases in Humansdorp. This has now increased to eight,” Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said.

“All indications are that the first two patients were infected at a funeral in Port Elizabeth.

“The virus then spread through local contact, with the extra cases being identified by the Department of Health through contact tracing and the mass screening programme.”

He said the patients all resided in KwaNomzamo, where more than 9 500 residents were reached last week through the Department’s mass screening and testing campaign.

“Of concern is that one of the new patients is a security guard at Shoprite in Humansdorp,” he said.

He said the municipality had met with the management of Sarah Baartman District Health and Humansdorp Shoprite over the weekend to discuss strategies and interventions to mitigate the possible spread of the coronavirus.

Sarah Baartman District Mayor Eunice Kekana and East Cape MPL Virginia Camealio-Benjamin were also present.

The Department of Health said they welcomed the swift closure of the shop and were satisfied that Shoprite had been implementing the necessary precautionary methods to minimise the potential spread of the virus.

They will be working with Shoprite to ensure all employees and contract staff are tested.

Shoprite said in a statement that the shop would be sanitised and deep cleansed before re-opening. This will be done in consultation with the Department of Health.

“An employee screening programme, supported by the company’s mobile clinic, has been put in place and those staff members who had close contact with the infected person are now self-quarantining for 14 days.”

Hendricks said the rise in cases emphasized how important it was for all residents, not just those from Humansdorp, to stay home.

He said the Joint Operations Committee (JOC) would be meeting daily to coordinate all anti-Covid-19 efforts in Humansdorp.

According to the Department of a Health, the total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Kouga is nine – the first in St Francis Bay, followed by eight in Humansdorp.