Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Load shedding: No load shedding is expected today, with generating units returning, and emergency reserves at adequate levels.
- Budget day: Finance minister Tito Mboweni will deliver his budget speech today at 14h00. The wish list from stakeholders – from consumers to businesses and labour unions – is incredibly long, but the minister will have very little room to manoeuvre, and few options left to balance the country’s books. South Africans can expect tax hikes, and big promises to address government expenditure, but doubts remain that it will be enough to appease ratings agencies. [Enca]
- Mulitchoice under fire: Former communications minister Yunus Carrim is testifying at the state capture commission, and has accused media group Multichoice of ‘policy capture’ – using its contract negotiations with the SABC to push certain policies which would see it maintain its monopoly in the pay-TV market. Carrim also accused Naspers chair and billionaire Koos Bekker of fighting government on policies that would introduce more competition to the market. [MyBroadband, TimesLive]
- Medical aid mess: The health insurance industry is very confused about the Council for Medical Schemes’ (CMS) latest move to set up two advisory committees to come up with a framework for low-cost medical schemes in South Africa – this after announcing last year that it planned to scrap such schemes by March 2021. It now appears that the CMS is approaching the industry for comment and insight on a decision it has already taken, instead of doing that before making the announcement. [Business Day]
- Covid-19 spread: The Chinese consulate has updated South Africa about the state of the Covid-19 virus, revealing that its spread is slowing in China, and that none of the 3,000 South Africans living in China – 500 at the epicentre of the virus – have been infected. Concerns remain about the spread outside of China, however, especially in South Korea, Italy and Japan. So far, 77,780 people have been infected, 2,824 have died, and over 27,000 have been cured. No cases have been found in South Africa. [Mail & Guardian]
- Markets: The South African rand weakened on Tuesday, reflecting nervousness before the budget speech today, and global worries about the spread of coronavirus. Traders were nervous that a bleak fiscal picture in Wednesday’s budget speech by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni could trigger a downgrade to “junk” of South Africa’s credit rating by Moody’s. On Wednesday the rand was at R15.24 to the dollar, R19.79 to the pound and R16.56 to the euro. [XE]