The Eyewitness News Breakfast Brief

Eyewitness News previews a selection of the news that you will find on the website today.

Picture: Stephanie Albert/Pixabay

On EWN.co.za this morning, economists have called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to speak less and instead make bold decisions for the country’s economy to recover. They acknowledge there are no easy solutions to the cumulative pressures of high unemployment, poverty and inequality but point out that instead of showing commitment to addressing these, Ramaphosa and his Cabinet have been sitting on the fence. The president will deliver the State of the Nation Address tomorrow night, where reference will be made to economic reconstruction and recovery, however, the experts warn that, so far, only a hollow plan has been on offer.

Labour and economic experts are warning President Ramaphosa to steer clear of the temptation to make bold pronouncements about government’s creation of hundreds of thousands of jobs that have yet to materialise. Over the past decade, the country’s presidents and most recently Ramaphosa have used the State of the Nation Address and other platforms to promise that billions of rands would be invested in key interventions to create jobs. With the official unemployment rate edging closer to the grim 35% mark, experts say it's clear that government is failing and it's time to change tack.

Meanwhile, the Employment and Labour Department has equalised the minimum wage for all employees, including farm and domestic workers. The department increased the minimum wage to R23.19 from R21.69 last year. The adjustment comes into effect on the first of next month.

DA leader John Steenhuisen says the ANC has become a self-serving organisation - and following countless exposés - is closer to a crime syndicate. Yesterday he delivered what the party calls 'a true State of the Nation Address'. Tomorrow President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his Sona at the City Hall in Cape Town.

More than two weeks after Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz was suspended, the investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against him are still under way. The premier's urged those who've made the accusations to go to the police, while the internal, independent probe is also still ongoing. Fritz has also stepped aside as interim DA provincial leader.

The defence in Ntuthuko Shoba's murder trial says it's disappointed that the State is wasting time after failing to brief the court about its problems with securing a witness. Shoba returned to the dock yesterday for a brief appearance. He is the alleged mastermind behind Tshegofatso Pule's murder, whose body was found hanging from a tree in Durban Deep in June 2020. The young woman was 8 months pregnant at the time.

The NPA's Investigating Directorate says it believes one of the accused in the case of 15 people linked to the alleged R1.9 million police PPE corruption was used as a front in companies that profited from several multi-million rand contracts. 67-year-old Salamina Khoza has told the court she is unemployed and survives on the Sassa pension grant but the State says she is the sole director in at least three companies, of which one has done business with the police. Khoza is one of three accused granted R5,000 bail in the Palm Ridge Magistrates Court yesterday. They all face charges of theft, fraud, corruption, and forgery in connection with a country-wide scheme to unlawfully benefit from a third-party supplier of latex gloves for the police. Bail proceedings for the remaining 12 accused are expected to continue today.

The ongoing audit by the Health Department has confirmed 268 more COVID-19-related deaths here on home soil. It's a significant increase compared to the figures we've been seeing this year. 20 of these fatalities were recorded over the past 48 hours, meaning the vast majority of these people died sometime before Sunday. We also racked up 2,824 more infections, which works out to a positivity rate of 8.2%. On the vaccine front, just over 30.3 million jabs have been rolled out in the country since they became available.

Higher Education deputy minister, Buti Manamela, will embark on a country-wide roadshow today to raise awareness around so-called bogus colleges. This, as the number of unlicensed and fake tertiary institutions has been on the rise.

Inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour in KwaZulu-Natal have ordered businesses that are subjecting workers to poor working conditions to rectify this or face prosecution. Yesterday, inspections were conducted in some retail and wholesale companies in Phoenix, north of Durban. Officials were told of the poor and unfair treatment of workers.

A survey has been rolled out to gauge the current extent of the HIV pandemic in the country. The Human Sciences Research Council launched the 6th South African HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey yesterday. Data is used to inform government policies and other strategies to tackle the epidemic.

In international news, European leaders on Tuesday pledged unity in their goal of averting war on the continent, as France's President Emmanuel Macron said he saw a path forward on easing tensions with Russia over Ukraine after an urgent round of shuttle diplomacy.

Canada's Saskatchewan province announced on Tuesday the lifting of all COVID restrictions including wearing of masks and proof of vaccination for indoor dining as truckers continued occupying Ottawa with similar demands.

A UN judge has ordered that eight former members of the Hutu government in power in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis be sent to Tanzania from Niger, which refused to keep hosting them.