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South Africa's unemployment rate soars amid pandemic

Vumani Mkhize

BBC Africa Business

A man holds a mannequin as he sells wigs to a customer, openly flouting lockdown regulations amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 6, 2020.
Reuters
Businesses have been struggling since the outbreak of Covid-19

South Africa’s unemployment rate has increased to 30% as the country continues to battle the biggest Covid-19 outbreak on the continent.

The figure reflects the first three months of the year, before the country went into lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

So the real rate is probably much worse.

South Africa’s downward economic spiral is clear. For the first quarter of this year nearly 350,000 people joined the ranks of the unemployed, which now means there are more than seven million people without work.

Most sectors of the economy suffered job losses, the worst affected included; banking, community services and agriculture, which saw losses between 20 000 to 50 000 people.

Since the lockdown began on 26 March, economic activity has been restricted, resulting in numerous job losses across the board.

The national treasury projects that up to 1.8 million jobs could be lost as result of the pandemic, and the unemployment rate could reach 50% in the worst-case scenario.

More bad news is expected on Wednesday when Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tables his supplementary budget, where he is expected to announce the biggest budget deficit on record and a massive contraction of economic growth.

Malawi's president appeals for calm amid tight vote

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

An electoral official (L) checks the voters" roll while people queue to vote at the Malembo polling station during the presidential elections in Lilongwe on June 23, 2020
AFP
Malawians are voting after months of controversy

In Malawi, where a re-run of last year's election is taking place, President Peter Mutharika has appealed for calm after accusing the opposition of stirring up violence.

His narrow victory in last year's poll was annulled in February after judges ruled that there had been evidence of vote tampering.

The incumbent is facing a strong challenge from an opposition coalition led by Lazarus Chakwera.

The African Union's Human Rights Commission has accused the government of foul play ahead of the vote by trying to replace the Chief Justice and another judge in the Court of Appeal.

Rwanda woman fighting against expensive periods

Yvette Kabatesi

BBC Great Lakes Service, Kigali

Blandine Umuziranenge shows off one of her pads
BBC

Blandine Umuziranenge is determined to make affordable sanitary pads for girls and women in Rwanda.

A packet of 10 pads costs around $1 (£0.80) in Rwanda. Despite the government promising to drop vale added tax (VAT) in December, the prices have not yet fallen.

“I wanted a sustainable, safe and affordable solution for us,” she told the BBC.

Her organisation, Kosmotive, started making reusable sanitary pads three years ago called KosmoPads.

Workers at Kosmotive
BBC

“After each use, the pad can be washed and reused. One can last for two years,” Ms Umuziranenge said.

A pack of five sells at between $3 and $6, saving users money over the long term.

Health experts warn there are risks in reusing a piece of cloth during menstruation, but Ms Umuziranenge says the KosmoPads are made with menstrual hygiene in mind.

Production has slowed since the outbreak of coronavirus as the cost of importing materials from China has tripled.

Kosmo pads pack
BBC

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