Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 27.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 893,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,079 new cases, taking the total reported to 640,441. Deaths have reached 15,086 (an increase of 82), while recoveries have climbed to 567,729, leaving the country with a balance of 57,626 active cases.
Load shedding: After cancelling load shedding on Tuesday, Eskom says that it plans to only implement stage 1 load shedding today, from 16h00 to 22h00.
- Real GDP: Some economists disagree with Stats SA’s view that South Africa’s economy contracted by 51% in the second quarter, arguing that the stats body’s adjusted and annualised data is not representative. They argue that because Covid-19 and lockdown is an anomaly and not a seasonal thing, the data should not have been presented in that way. The reality, in more nominal terms, is that GDP was down only 16% in the second quarter, which is still bad, but less sensational than 51%. 
- Action needed: Calls for action on the economy are growing louder, with commentators saying president Cyril Ramaphosa needs to do more to kick-start the economy. With a panic-inducing decline in GDP in the second quarter, the lack of reforms in South Africa’s economy are more apparent than ever, and government’s feet-dragging on key projects are taking their toll. While the president has outlined upcoming projects – such as employment plans and relief measures – economists say government’s coffers are empty and we lack the funds to provide needed stimulus. [EWN]
- Myeni meddling: New allegations have emerged that disgraced former SAA chair Dudu Myeni, got intimately involved with operations at Eskom, even though she was not in the utility’s employ. Testimony at the state capture commission alleges that Myeni, with former president Jacob Zuma’s support, had suggested and orchestrated the removal of key executives – including CEO Tshediso Matona – to prevent interference with government machinations at the utility. Myeni was declared a delinquent director earlier this year. [TimesLive]
- Clicks drama: The EFF is calling on its members to continue protests against retail group Clicks, despite the courts awarding the group an interdict against the party to cease its campaign. The EFF maintains its protests are peaceful, however Clicks provided enough evidence showing that stores were damaged, and employees were threatened by protesters. Meanwhile, the group has also agreed to pull the shampoo product at the core of the controversy off the shelves. [Enca]
- Markets: Dollar strength, coupled with the second quarter’s atrocious economic contraction, saw the rand lose significant ground yesterday, making its way above the R17.00 to the dollar mark in the overnight session. The currency pulled back to slightly below those levels early on Wednesday, where it is now trading at R16.97 to the dollar, R19.99 to the euro and R22.00 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]