Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 3,962 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,572,860. Deaths have reached 93,846 (+139), while recoveries have climbed to 3,394,527, leaving the country with a balance of 84,487 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 29,251,262.
- Cheap: Eskom says its electricity is cheap compared to other countries, as it continues to push for a 20.5%+ increase to tariffs in the coming year. The power utility presented comparisons at hearings on Thursday, showing that electricity prices in South Africa are lower than in many regions, including South and North America, Europe, and North Africa. Critics have pushed back against the comparisons, however, pointing out that electricity is actually delivered in those countries, while other presentations highlighted the massive mismanagement of funds by Eskom locally. [Moneyweb]
- Matric results: As basic education minister Angie Motshekga hails the ‘best matric results in the history of the NSC’, political groups and organisations are calling for standards to be lifted – specifically, that pass marks be raised from 30% to 50%. The One SA movement has published a 10-point ‘education rescue plan’ which aims to uplift and improve the quality of education in South Africa. One SA has heavily criticised Motshekga, saying she has failed to improve education in the country. It says 20% of learners who enter schooling don’t make it to grade 3, and 80% of children can’t read for meaning by 10. [ENCA, OneSA]
- No place: The EFF claims it was on a parliamentary oversight visit when its members stormed private businesses, threatened their staff, and in some cases forcibly shut them down. The party’s actions fly in the face of three previous court orders and judgements that condemned it for interfering in private business operations. The EFF previously looted, vandalised and shut down stores belonging to Clicks, H&M and Vodacom in similar acts of intimidation. At least three rulings have said the EFF has no place in employee relations at private businesses, in their operations, or their labour disputes. The EFF has ignored these rulings. [Daily Maverick]
- Sisulu: Tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu has effectively called president Cyril Ramaphosa a liar after the presidency issued a statement on Thursday saying that she had retracted and apologised for her comments criticising South Africa’s constitution and judiciary. However, following the statement’s release, Sisulu published follow-up comments distancing herself from the claims, saying that she stood by what she had previously stated and only discussed one aspect of her position in meetings with the president. [News24]
- Markets: The South African rand forged higher on Thursday, extending strong gains made a day earlier when inflation figures bolstered the case for the central bank to raise interest rates next week. The South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB’s) first rate decision of 2022 is due on 27 January, with economists polled by Reuters predicting a 25 basis point increase in the repo rate to 4.00% and three further hikes before the end of the year. On Friday, the rand is trading at R15.21/$, R17.23/€ and R20.68/£. [Reuters]