Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 2,334 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,662,032. Deaths have reached 98,868 (+64), while recoveries have climbed to 3,526,115, leaving the country with a balance of 37,049 active cases and a recovery rate of 96,3%. A total of 31,123,187 vaccines have been administered.
- Budget Speech: Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana will present the 2022 budget speech today at 14h00. The minister faces a long list of demands from different sectors of society and is expected to cover a host of topics ranging from tax reform, social grants, civil service wages, and the government’s capital expenditure for the next three years. Analysts foresee a fairly ‘boring’ speech, with no big surprises anticipated. However, investors will look out for talk of economic transformation that will decrease long-term risks linked to expanding the social welfare net, public-sector pay negotiations and debt-laden power utility Eskom. [BusinessTech]
- City of Joburg rebates: The City of Joburg has given property owners over R2.2 billion in rebates over the last financial year. The city says that the rebates attempt to offer business and property owners relief during a tight economic period. The City of Joburg stressed that this forms part of its plans to make Johannesburg a “business-friendly city”. The announcement of the rebates comes a week after the city terminated services to properties that were in arrears, up to the value of R38 billion in unpaid rates, taxes and levies. [Moneyweb]
- ‘Sin tax’: Ahead of today’s budget speech, the National Liquor Traders Association (NLTA), which represents nearly 300,000 workers, has called for the government to keep sin taxes unchanged following months of losses during the hard lockdowns. The NLTA said that any increase of excise duty would result in the rise of the illicit trade of alcohol valued at R20 billion. Similar pleas were made by South Africa Breweries and the Beer Association of South Africa earlier this week. [ENCA]
- Blame game: Former state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo has washed her hands of the responsibility for the intelligence failures during the July 2021 riots that shocked the country. Testifying before the SA Human Rights Commission this week, Dlodlo said she was not responsible for other departments’ failures to deliver intelligence reports to the ministers or officials in charge. She also said that she did not have the authority to ‘declassify’ information. Dlodlo and police minister Bheki Cele were implicated in the failures that enabled rioters and looters to rampage through KwaZulu Natal and parts of Gauteng. So far, no officials have taken ownership of these failures nor been held accountable. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South African stocks and the rand strengthened on Tuesday, as investors hoped that war in Ukraine could be averted despite Russia’s deployment of troops to two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine. Attention today will be on the 2022 budget speech presented by the finance minister. Analysts expect an improved short-term picture from the speech but are concerned about the country’s long-term fiscal trajectory. The rand is currently trading at R15.05/$, R17.04/€ and R20.46/£. [Nasdaq]