Zweli Mkhize. Picture: AFP/PHILL MAGAKOE
Zweli Mkhize. Picture: AFP/PHILL MAGAKOE

The economic and labour effect of the rapidly spreading coronavirus will come under the spotlight when the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) discusses the matter on Monday.

Mitigation measures to be taken by its government, business, labour and community stakeholders will also be discussed at the special executive committee meeting, to be held in Johannesburg.

On Saturday, health minister Zweli Mkhize announced that the number of Covid-19 cases in SA had risen to over 50, and confirmed the country’s first case of coronavirus in a child, a 14-year-old from the Western Cape.

The virus has killed more than 5,800 people globally, rattled investors and put markets in a tailspin.

The UN World Tourism Organisation said on March 6 that global international tourist arrivals could fall 1%-3% in 2020, down from the estimated growth of 3%-4% forecast in early January 2020. This could translate into a loss of up to $50bn in spending by international visitors, the agency said.

On Tuesday, the high court in Pretoria is set to hear an urgent application by the DA for the court to review and set aside the decision by the Gauteng provincial government to dissolve the Tshwane council.

In court papers filed on Friday, the official opposition also asked the court to instruct the ANC and EFF councillors to attend council meetings.

The metro was placed under administration after months of political turmoil that has caused the capital city to be without a mayor, mayoral council and city manager.

The dissolution of the council is set to take effect this week, after which fresh elections would have to be held within 90 days. This will happen a year before the next local government elections in 2021.  

The DA has ascribed the collapse of the council to actions by the ANC and the EFF, while the two opposition parties have blamed the DA-led coalition for the metro’s dysfunction.

Also on Tuesday, the high court in Cape Town will hear the public protector’s bid to contest the parliamentary process to remove her as unconstitutional and unlawful.

Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, who has had several damning court rulings against her, wants the process stopped and will be arguing against National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise.

Modise wants the court to throw out the application, saying that Mkhwebane will have the opportunity to present her case once the parliamentary process gets under way.

This is the last week of parliament before it goes into a three-week recess from March 23 to April 13. The portfolio committee on mineral resources and energy will meet for an introductory meeting with the newly appointed seven-member board of the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) on Tuesday.

The previous Necsa board resigned in January, citing a dysfunctional relationship with minister Gwede Mantashe. Necsa is the custodian of SA’s nuclear programmes, which include a medical radioisotopes business used in cancer treatment and fluorochemical manufacture.

On Wednesday, the same committee will be briefed by state-owned companies the Central Energy Fund and PetroSA on their respective turnaround strategies.

Also on Wednesday, co-operative governance & traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will appear in parliament to field questions from DA MPs, among others, who want to know on what basis her department paid out about R4m “in performance rewards” to employees in the 2018/2019 financial year, despite her department obtaining a second consecutive audit disclaimer.

The other questions she will have to answer are whether the department will take any steps to recoup the R664,570 paid to “deceased beneficiaries of the Community Works Programme in the 2018/2019 financial year”, and what steps she has taken against departmental officials who “permitted irregular expenditure amounting to R151m” to be incurred in the 2018/2019 financial year.

On Thursday, Deputy President David Mabuza will answer questions in the National Assembly. EFF deputy president and MP Floyd Shivambu will ask Mabuza for the identities of the people he said had misled President Cyril Ramaphosa about load-shedding in December.

Freedom Front Plus MP Wouter Wynand Wessels will ask Mabuza what measures have been taken to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on SA’s economy. 

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