5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Load shedding is back: Stage 1 load shedding will be implemented from 09h00 until 23h00 today, due to the unplanned loss of generating units. Eskom warned this trend may continue until Thursday. [Eskom]

  • Rand collapse: It’s a dark Monday for the rand as we kick off this week. Markets are clearly in panic on the back of not only the Covid-19 virus, but an oil price war that has just flared up between Russia and Saudi Arabia, while India has confirmed a bird-flu outbreak in Kerala. In this environment, data will have little effect on currency markets as moves as big as 10% were witnessed in the overnight session. On Monday the rand was at R16.20 to the dollar, R21.18 to the pound and R18.48 to the euro. [XE]

  • Covid-19 in SA: Provincial emergency response teams have activated in South Africa, after a third South African has been confirmed to be infected. The department is waiting on the test results of six others who were with the three patients on the trip to Italy. While the SA government moves to evacuate South Africans in Wuhan, China, some have chosen to stay behind, feeling more confident that China is able to deal with the crisis better than South Africa would. [City Press]

  • SA Express grounded: Business rescue practitioners and government have reportedly hit a stalemate at SA Express, with the administrators wanting to ground the airline’s entire fleet because it is unable to finance insurance and salaries. Government was supposed to support the airline as it works to restructure, but the finances have not materialised. Despite this, government and SA Express’ management do not support the plan, with the relationship between the parties described as ‘hostile’. [Daily Maverick]

  • Treasury hits back: National Treasury has refuted claims by its critics that the budget, and the country, is entering a cycle of austerity – seen in countries like Greece, when on the brink of financial collapse. It said that the budget delivered in February was one of stimulus, with measures trying to push people into spending more and igniting economic activity. Austerity would look like social grants being cut, wages being cut and other extreme measures. The wage bill cut isn’t a reduction of wages, but lower increases, it said. [Business Day]

  • Going for gold: While global markets take a beating, gold is having a great time. Seen as a safe haven asset, the price of gold has shot up to the highest levels since 2013, pushing past $1,700 an ounce. This is being heavily aided by the spread of the coronavirus and collapse of oil prices, but continues a trend seen in 2019 when prices were up 19%. Analysts see the value of gold rising even further in 2020, expecting it to hit $1,800 an ounce. [Bloomberg]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today