Eyewitness News previews a selection of the news you will find on the site today.
On EWN.co.za this morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced a ‘military operation’ in Ukraine and called on soldiers there to lay down their arms, defying Western outrage and global calls not to unleash of war.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s first budget speech was mainly praised for its balanced approach that brings much-needed relief to struggling consumers. Presenting the national budget yesterday, Godongwana announced no major tax increases, saying now was not the time given South Africa‘s fragile economic recovery. With the mining commodities boom generating much higher than expected tax revenues, Godongwana used the projected R182 billion windfall to pay off some of the government’s R4 trillion debt, increase support for the poor and unemployed and hard to increase the coffers of the ministries. -hit by budget cuts. It puts over R5 billion back into people’s pockets through tax breaks and has kept fuel prices low by not increasing the general fuel or Road Accident Fund tax. But smokers and drinkers will pay more, and sugar and carbon taxes will also increase.
Economists have expressed concern over Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s approach to public entities such as Eskom in his budget. To date, Eskom has received R136 billion to repay its debt until the 2025/26 financial year.
Some economists have also questioned whether this will be enough to provide the boost of confidence that South Africa so badly needs.
The DA says Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s budget speech did not go far enough to meet the vision presented by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation address. Godongwana delivered his first budget speech to a joint session of parliament yesterday. He also warned that if economic growth does not strengthen in the coming period, the country will face more difficult fiscal adjustments. Opposition parties widely welcomed his proposals, describing them as balanced, however, most argued that political constraints prevented the minister from taking even bolder steps to reduce the debt.
While the national treasury has used the tax revenue windfall to pay down some of the country’s debt – which crippled the economy for decades – Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said the burden remained a serious matter. concern. The government will spend R302 billion in 2022/2023 on debt service, also confirming that it will seek more loans to finance some of its spending. This is amid an outcry from some sections of society who have called on the government to refrain from borrowing more from international lenders who some say could put pressure on South Africa to renounce its sovereignty.
Police have received a much-needed boost to help tackle crime with an additional R8.7 billion added to the police budget. In tabling his first budget yesterday, Finance Minister Godongwana said R1bn of the allocation will go towards recruitment or ‘staff reforms’. This follows an earlier announcement in Sona by President Cyril Ramaphosa that resources will be made available to recruit and train an additional 12,000 new police officers.
One of the suspected criminals linked to this week’s dramatic shootout with police in Rosettenville has been arrested in Tembisa. The suspect is believed to have opened fire on a police helicopter during the chaotic exchange in which 8 of his alleged accomplices were killed. Four police officers were taken to hospital after the shooting. Law enforcement said 8 of the gang members escaped and now with this latest arrest officers are still looking for 7 criminals. Four rifles and ammunition were seized during Tembisa’s arrest, along with police vests and G4s.
The KwaZulu-Natal Democratic Alliance says it expects Premier Sihle Zikalala’s state of the province address today to include economic growth plans and a jobs plan. Zikalala is about to deliver its Sopa to the Royal Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg. The program will not feature an address by King AmaZulu as per the norm as there was no coronation of the king.
Durban University of Technology has clarified its vaccination policy. This after photos of students camping outside Steve Biko’s campus this week made the rounds on social media. The students claimed that the university did not allow them to enter because they were not vaccinated. But the institution claims to have given options when it comes to vaccination.
Trust in the South African police to deal with cases of sexual violence is at an all-time low. This is the message from several anti-GBV activists, including Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust, following the release of the latest crime statistics. For the 2020-2021 fiscal year, police recorded the lowest number of sex offense case openings in the past 10 years. But Rape Crisis believes that instead of a drop in offenses being committed, it actually indicates a drop in the number of people willing to come forward. Council coordinator Ronel Koekemoer says they have been inundated with survivors seeking help – many of whom say their pleas were initially ignored by police.
As field workers struggle to go door-to-door, the 2022 census has been extended until March 20. Over the past 3 weeks, workers have attempted to collect data on everyone currently living in South Africa, including foreign nationals and homeless residents. The population of the country is counted every 10 years. Statistics SA spokesman Trevor Oosterwyk said logistical problems had seriously hampered and delayed the start of this year’s campaign.
South Africa’s recording industry has joined fans across the country in sending their condolences to Riky Rick’s family and friends. The multi-award winning rapper died yesterday at the age of 34.
In other international news, oil prices topped $100 for the first time in more than seven years on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ‘military operation’ in Ukraine, seemingly realizing fears he would invade.
Britain’s Prince Harry has launched new legal action against one of the country’s biggest media groups, a spokesman said on Wednesday.