THE government has opened up Covid-19 vaccinations to those aged between 18 and 35. Goitemang Ndlovu, 19, from Roodepoort was excited to take her first jab yesterday. Picture: NOKUTHULA MBATHA African News Agency (ANA)
THE government has opened up Covid-19 vaccinations to those aged between 18 and 35. Goitemang Ndlovu, 19, from Roodepoort was excited to take her first jab yesterday. Picture: NOKUTHULA MBATHA African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng mulls ways to incentivise jabs

By Rapula Moatshe, Duncan Guy, Sameer Naik, Norman Cloete Time of article published Aug 21, 2021

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COVID-19 incentives are gaining momentum in both the public and private sectors to encourage citizens to take the Covid-19 vaccine.

This week Gauteng Premier David Makhura expressed his support for the incentives to those vaccinated as a way to ramp up the inoculation campaign.

However, Makhura was mindful of the fact that the incentives must be used in such a way that would not trample on human rights.

He cited an example of having a football match between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, where it will be “open for everybody provided you have vaccinated”.

“We are also going to be engaging with those running the liquor outlets and shebeens and restaurants to look at other incentives without violating human rights. We are sensitive to that,” Makhura said.

His spokesperson, Vuyo Mhaga, yesterday told Saturday Star the idea was still at an embryonic stage, saying it wasn’t something “concrete”.

Mhaga said the Gauteng government was “starting to think about what ideas we need to encourage people to vaccinate but also start opening up the more people get their vaccine shots”.

Joburg mayor Jolidee Matongo toyed with the idea of having a car competition as one of the incentives.

He said the idea was suggested to him by a doctor, who thought that someone in the motor industry could donate a car to be used in a competition for people who were vaccinated.

Tshwane Health MMC Sakkie du Plooy believed that incentivising people could be a good idea to deal with vaccine hesitancy.

“The resistance is so big and the losers are people who don’t come for vaccination,” he said.

He welcomed the idea of a car competition. He also applauded Wimpy and Game, which recently introduced incentives for their vaccinated customers.

For weeks, Wimpy has been offering free regular filter coffee to people who have just got vaccinated.

Wimpy marketing executive Jacques Cronje said: “We respect that everyone has the right and freedom to decide whether or not to get vaccinated, but we are rewarding those who are taking a stand in combating the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Game stores have from August 18 been giving a 10% discount to those fully or partially vaccinated.

The campaign, called “Vax Appreciation Wednesdays”, promises anyone who can produce a vaccine card and ID at a till point can claim the discount every Wednesday until September 15.

Game marketing president Katherine Madley said this was to say “thank you for the role they are playing in keeping our stores, and Mzansi safe”.

“We absolutely respect people’s freedom of choice to receive the Covid19 vaccination, and by no means oblige our customers to share their vaccination status with us.

“However, we have seen first-hand the effect Covid has had on the consumer budget and lifestyle and aim to support South Africa and its people in the recovery from this. This is our way of thanking customers for making our stores safe,” said Madley.

Despite the good intention of Wimpy’s and Game’s vaccination campaigns, there had been some backlash by social media users, with some customers threatening to switch their loyalty from the stores.

Brother Faith wrote: “I will no longer buy from Game store period, vaccination is choice now if this is an indirect plan to force people or show favouritism I will longer shop at Game store. Period.”

Others believed the move was wrong and unfair because it amounted to discrimination against unvaccinated customers.

However, many showed support for the campaigns and promised to take advantage of them.

Magda Ann Liedeman-vaas wrote: “Wimpy Swellendam do you also have the free coffee after the vaccine? I don’t want to go and the branch staff is clueless.”

Meanwhile, the City of Tshwane this week announced that it has increased its vaccination sites from 41 to 43.

One of the two sites, the Zwartkops Raceway drive-through, will administer vaccinations on weekdays and Saturdays from 9am to 3pm. On Fridays, the site will operate from 2pm to 4pm.

The Refilwe Community Hall vaccination site, which has only been operating on weekdays, will also offer weekend vaccination on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.

This week Tshwane mayor Randall Williams said Covid-19 active cases continued to drop in the metro, dipping to below 4 000. | Additional reporting by Goitsemang Tlhabye and Jonisayi Maromo

THE government could not be trusted to manage the new proposed state pension fund that would increase taxes by up to 12%.

Economists, civil organisations and opposition parties slammed the plan to tax taxpayers up to 12.5% more to fund the plan, citing a lack of trust in the government and the extent of corruption.

This week the Department of Social Development, under Minister Lindiwe Zulu, published its Green Paper on Comprehensive Social Security and Retirement Reform. It proposed the creation of a National Social Security Fund (NSSF).

This NSSF would provide pension, disability and unemployment benefits.

“That it’s to be administered by government worries me,” said economist Mike Schussler, sentiments echoed by Wayne Duvenhage, CEO of Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Duvenhage said: “This is also no secret when it comes to general public sentiment, especially on the back of state capture, the ongoing bungling and misuse of state funds for many years now.

“Add to this a number of poor and dubious investment decisions made by the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) who are supposed to look after government pensioners’ interests, along with the problems related to the UIF payments during the pandemic crisis, the Road Accident Fund debacle (which is proposed to be incorporated into this new fund); these are just some of the red flags that raise serious concerns.”

Corruption Watch’s Karam Singh, head of legal and investigations, said: “A major threat to the realisation of these policy proposals, as has been the case in relation to the realisation of basic socio economic rights over the last 27 years, as enshrined in the Constitution, is corruption.”

Trust aside, commentators questioned the economic sense of the proposal, saying the tax base was already stretched and that, if implemented, these ideas would chase taxpayers out of the country and make South Africa less attractive to foreign investors.

“Ideally it’s wonderful to have, but where is the money going to come from?” asked Azar Jammine, chief economist at Econometrix.

Schussler said asking up to 12% extra in tax was “a tough ask” on the formal middle-class already paying for welfare beneficiaries.

He estimated someone currently earning R276 000 a year would be asked to pay the same tax as someone currently earning R600 000.

He said it would discourage people from investing in private pensions and reduce spending power, causing chaos in the retail and wholesale sectors.

“It will be disastrous for the industry. We had the eighth largest pension fund in the world. There were more than 11 million accounts in 2017. If we have something successful, why not build on it? Put a small amount like 5% and later 7.5% and leave it there.

“Why do we want to keep on taxing when we should be creating more jobs and therefore more taxpayers? We should aim to have fewer people receiving welfare,” he said, calling the proposal “unsustainable”.

Duvenhage added that, in general, there was a low savings rate in South Africa which left many people unable to survive in their retirement years.

“This, in turn, adds more pressure to the state’s ability to provide for their citizens.” He said the biggest hurdle was the public’s lack of trust in the government to manage such a fund.

The IFP said it had strong reservations about the green paper. “Ïn particular, based on the track record of the Department of Social Development and government in general as pertains to the management of public funds,” said the party’s social development spokeswoman Liezl van der Merwe.

Good secretary-general Brett Herron said it supported a basic income grant. “Our economy is not creating enough jobs and no adult can be expected to live their lives without access to any income.

Both Outa and the IFP said they would make submissions before December while the green paper was open to public comment.

The DA wrote on its Facebook page it “has rejected and will oppose the ANC'S ridiculous proposal to tax South Africans an extra R3000 a month for those earning R275000 a year”.

“Taxpayers should never bail out the ANC for bankrupting the state.”

Anyone wishing to comment on the green paper may send a written submission to: The Director-general: Department of Social Development, 134 Pretorius Street, HSRC Building, Pretoria; Private Bag X901, Pretoria 0001. For attention: Mr John Tebeila, Acting Director: Retirement Reform. Email: [email protected] Tel: 0127416820. The closing date is December 10.

IOL

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