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Eskom, South Africa’s main electricity provider, urged South Africans to continue using electricity sparingly to help them limit the impact of loadshedding as it will be implementing stage 2 loadshedding from 10pm tonight until 5am tomorrow morning.

Eskom spokesman Sikhonathi Mantshantsha said that stage 2 loadshedding will be repeated again Wednesday night starting at 10pm and 5am in the morning.

“This loadshedding is necessary to preserve emergency generation reserves in preparation for higher demand expected in January when economic activity resumes. During this period Eskom will continue to pursue increased reliability maintenance as planned and previously communicated to the public throughout the year,” said Mantshantsha.

He added that Eskom currently had over 9 700 MW of capacity on planned maintenance while another 11 300 MW was unavailable due to unplanned maintenance.

Eskom said their teams were working around the clock to return as many of these generation units to service. Mantshantsha said they would communicate timeously should there be any significant changes to the power system and to the loadshedding as planned today.

About two weeks ago, Eskom implemented Stage 2 loadshedding that started Secember 12 at 6am until 11pm. At the time, Eskom said it needed to implement the loadshedding in order to replenish the depleted emergency generation reserves for the coming week.

“As Eskom ramps up its planned maintenance during the lower demand summer period, as previously committed, it has had a large number of unforeseen breakdowns from the ageing, unreliable plant over the past few days. In addition to this, Eskom has taken two generation units at the Kendal Power Station offline in compliance with environmental legislation. Similarly, four generation units at the Camden Power Station have been taken offline to conserve the integrity of the ash dam facility,” said Eskom at the time.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

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1 March 2021 marks a watershed for retirement funds in South Africa, says Jean du Toit, attorney and head of tax technical at Tax Consulting South Africa.

Most are focused on the annuitisation rules that have been pending since 1 March 2015, otherwise known as ‘T-day’.

While these reforms are significant, retirement fund members need to understand them in the grand scheme of things.

T-day reforms

Back in 2013, the then minister of finance, Pravin Gordhan, tabled proposals directed at the governance, preservation, annuitisation and harmonisation of retirement funds.

Initially, T-day was earmarked for 1 March 2015, but was postponed as a result of ongoing “consultations” with stakeholders.

Many will be aware that from 1 March 2021, members of retirement funds will be subject to the annuitisation rules, which means that they will only be able to withdraw one-third of the value of their retirement fund by way of a lump sum, where the balance must be withdrawn as an annuity.

The annuitisation rules do not apply where the retirement interest does not exceed R247,500, or to amounts contributed on or after 1 March 2021.

Withdrawal on emigration

Currently, members of retirement funds can immediately access their funds in a preservation or retirement annuity fund when they emigrate from South Africa, if such emigration is recognised by the SARB.

In terms of the latest Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, from 1 March 2021, withdrawal will only be permitted if the member can prove they have been non-resident for tax purposes for an uninterrupted period of three years.

This means an effective three-year lock-in of retirement funds from the effective date.

Importantly, for those who plan on leaving in the near future, in terms of National Treasury’s response to public comments on the amendment, members will be allowed to withdraw their funds under the current dispensation if they file a complete application before 1 March 2021.

Prescribed assets

The ongoing whispers of “prescribed assets”, where the government effectively wants to unlock retirement funding for investment in government projects have made South Africans very anxious. The government’s main hurdle in implementing this policy is Regulation 28 under the Pension Funds Act No. 24 of 1956.

Regulation 28 would have to be amended to effect this policy, as it requires a fund to act in the best interest of its members.

The ANC’s stance on this has not been consistent, but the latest hereon can be drawn from the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement where the minister of finance said that “government has initiated a process to review Regulation 28 to make it easier for retirement funds to increase investment in infrastructure – should their board of trustees opt to do so.”

He further noted that a draft gazette will be published in due course for public comment, so it seems that this policy will be implemented in some shape or form.

Rules that remain unchanged (for now)

It is important to understand that the annuitisation rules are largely directed at aligning retirement funds with respect to annuitisation; but this should not be conflated with the idea of compulsory preservation.

For example, currently, you are permitted to take your full withdrawal benefits from your pension fund in cash upon termination of your employment. Some may understand the new rules to mean that this would no longer be possible, but this is not the case – this rule remains intact – for now.

More changes coming

Further to his comments on Regulation 28, the minister of finance also said that “Government will present legislation next year to allow for limited pre-retirement withdrawals under certain circumstances linked to mandatory preservation requirements.”

National Treasury mentioned this policy will allow access to retirement funds during times of crisis, but mandatory preservation, which was part of the agenda initially, looks like it will be part of the equation.

While changes are implemented progressively, fund members should keep their ears to the ground, as the government’s policy on retirement funds appears to be a moving target.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

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The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), will pump R25 million towards the KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) as scientists grapple with the new Covid-19 variant.

Higher Education, Science and Innovation minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced this on Friday, during a joint briefing with the Department of Health and scientists.

“This was in the wake of the latest surveillance results that shows a worrying trend of the highly transmittable Covid-19 variant first identified in Nelson Mandela Bay, Eastern Cape, and moved to the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and is now the dominant and possibly the only Covid-19 variant responsible for the current surge,” said the department.

According to the department, the R25 million of the R45 million required over the next 12 months will help scientists to complete the sequencing of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) 10 000 genomes in South Africa and Africa.

A group of scientists discovered the new “unusual” coronavirus variant called 501.V2, which is spreading rapidly in the country.

According to health department minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, this variant is seeing a larger proportion of younger patients with no comorbidities develop serious illness.

“The evidence that has been collated, therefore, strongly suggests that that the current second wave we are experiencing is being driven by this new variant.”

The department said the grant will be used to understand the spread of Covid-19 and other virus lineages on the continent while also supporting the clinical and laboratory investigations of the genomic variation in the country.

“This is in line with the use of pathogen genomics for monitoring of transmission dynamics of infectious agents and potential vaccine escape is of crucial importance to South Africa, Africa and the world,” said minister Nzimande.

Nzimande said that these funds will be used to acquire equipment to automate the sequencing system and to buy reagents and other laboratory consumables.

Meanwhile, in April 2020, DSI through the Strategic Health Innovation Partnership funded KRISP for the project, ‘Spatial and Genomic monitoring of COVID-19 cases in South Africa to fight the flames before they become a wildfire’ to a tune of R10 million.

“This resulted in the establishment of the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa in June 2020, with the goal to sequence the genome of at least 10 000 SARS-CoV-2 samples to inform the public health response in South Africa, and to use spatial and genomic monitoring of Covid-19 cases to help the government to identify hotspots of transmission and control the local epidemic.”

Meanwhile, the minister said the next step is to get a better understanding of whether there is any clinical and epidemiological evidence to suggest increased transmissibility and/or pathogenicity of the virus and/or vaccine escape.


KRISP was established in 2017, situated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine.

The department describes KRISP as a cutting-edge genomics centre offering a range of DNA sequencing, precision medicine testing, bioinformatics services and technologies to academic, industrial and commercial users.

The centre is a platform of the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), an agency of the DSI – a flagship programme of the South African Medical Research Council has established an excellent scientific infrastructure.

“Their vision is to challenge the status quo and establish one of the worlds most advanced and respected genetic sequencing platforms, to enable and support world-class genomics research and diagnostics services in Africa,” he said.

Nzimande said the consortium capacitated five key National Health Laboratory Services and their associated academic institutions to produce and analyse completely viral genomes in South Africa in near real-time.

The main investigators include Professor Tulio de Oliveira, Professor Carolyn Williamson, Dr Jinal Bhiman, Dr Nokukhanya Msomi, Professor Diana Hardie, Dr Marvin Hsiao, Professor Nicky Goedhals and Professor Susan Engelbrecht.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced new lockdown measures at both national, and district level for South Africa.

In a national address on Monday evening (14 December), the president said that the country has been hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections with nearly 8,000 new cases reported on Sunday.

There can no longer be any doubt that South Africa has entered a second wave, said the president. “If we do not act urgently, the second wave will be even more severe than the first wave.”

The president pointed to four provinces leading this second wave, including:

  • The Western Cape
  • The Eastern Cape
  • KZN
  • Gauteng

There are probably many reasons for this massive spike in infections, but some key contributors are now becoming clearer, the president said.

Ramaphosa said that most cases are reported in young people between 15 and 19 years. He said that one of the main reasons for the massive spike in infections are social gatherings and parties- particularly the matric rage event.

“In many of these gatherings, social distancing is not being observed, venues are crowded and not adequately ventilated, hand sanitiser is not readily available, and people are not wearing masks,” he said.

Many people consume alcoholic drinks at these ‘super-spreader’ events, with the result that people become less careful about taking measures to protect themselves and prevent infection.

“We now know that nearly 1,000 young people from Gauteng who attended the event have tested positive for the coronavirus. What we don’t yet know is how many more people each of them has infected.

“It is said that up to 300 families could in turn have been infected. The sad truth about is that festivals, concerts & parties – which should be occasions for fun & joy – are proving to be sources of infection & illness and may even lead to deaths.”

Other reasons behind the rise infections include increased travel between provinces and a relaxed attitude to current lockdown regulations such as wearing masks.

“The more we travel, the greater the potential to spread the virus,” the president said.

He said that the relatively low rates of infection over the last few months have made us more relaxed about wearing a mask over our nose and mouth every time we go out in public.

“Another factor in the rise in infections is increased travel with many people not observing prevention measures as they move within cities, towns and rural areas, and between different areas.”

“The festive season now poses the greatest threat,” the president said. “Unless we do things differently, this will be the last Christmas for many South Africans,” he said.

Local restrictions

Ramaphosa said that it is necessary to take extraordinary measures to save lives, while still protecting livelihoods.

These measures include local lockdown restrictions for the Sarah Baartman District in the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route District in the Western Cape, which have been declared hotspot regions.

From 00h01 on Tuesday, until a drop in infections is seen, the following additional restrictions will take affect in these areas:

  • Hours of curfew will be from 22h00 – 04h00 except for essential workers and emergencies;
  • The sale of alcohol will only be permitted between 10h00 and 18h00, from Monday and Thursday at retail outlets;
  • Alcohol use will be banned in public places such as beaches and parks;
  • All gatherings, including religious gatherings, may not be attended by more than 100 people for indoor events and 250 people for outdoor events;
  • At all times the total number of people may not exceed 50% of venue capacity;
  • All post-funeral gatherings are now prohibited.

National lockdown

Ramaphosa also announced that further national restrictions will be reintroduced from 00h01 on Tuesday.

These restrictions will be reviewed in early January based on the state of the country’s coronavirus cases, he said.

The new restrictions include:

  • Stricter enforcement of existing level 1 lockdown restrictions – This includes that people in public buildings and public transport wear masks.
  • Gatherings – Gatherings will be further restricted to 100 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor events. The total number of people in a venue may not exceed 50% of the capacity of the venue.
  • Funerals – All post-funeral gathering are prohibited across the country.
  • Beaches – Ramaphosa said that a differentiated approach will be used for the country’s beaches and public parks. In areas with high coronavirus cases beaches and parks will be closed from 16 December to 3 January – this will apply to all of the Eastern Cape and the Garden Route. Beaches will also be closed in KZN on days which are seen as particularly busy. These include 16 December, 26 December, 31 December, 1 January, 2 January, and 3 January. Beaches and public parks in the Western Cape and Northern Cape will remain open for now.
  • Evening – South Africa’s national curfew will be extended: 23h00 until 04h00. This means that non-essential establishments such as restaurants will have to close at 22h00 so that staff and patrons can go home before curfew. The curfew is in full effect on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
  • Alcohol – The sale of alcohol will only be permitted from 10h00 – 18h00 from Monday to Thursday at retail outlets. Wine farms can remain open and sell alcohol for off-site consumption as per their licence hours.


For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email info@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].