Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- President Jacob Zuma is grabbing power in the Sassa crisis, heading up an inter-ministerial committee that will ensure beneficiaries get paid. The committee includes finance minister Pravin Gordhan and social development minister Bathabile Dlamini, who still refuses to take full responsibility for the crisis, instead saying that the blame is shared. Sassa employees fear that Zuma will again take power out of their hands, and they will be subject to the whims of his deployees.
- The suspected kingpin in the OR Tambo heist, where as much as R200 million was stolen, has apparently been outed – by himself – after boasting about a Lamborghini that he purchased. The suspect was already under watch by the SAPS, and was arrested hours after posting picture of his new car on social media. There were reportedly suspicions around his transactions, and police found large amounts of money during a raid on his property.
- In what is being seen as worrying direct attack on South Africa’s judiciary, the offices of the Chief Justice have been robbed, and 15 computers with sensitive information stolen. Experts are worried that the proximity of the crime to recent cases where the chief justices have opposed high-profile officials indicated that the judiciary is now a target. Some have suggested that the crime was not ordinary, and may have been orchestrated by those in power.
- Investors appear to be enamoured with the rand, with several charts published by Bloomberg showing that the planets are aligning for a further rally in the rand, and investors are keen to ump back into the market – however, there are still some lingering doubts among pessimists that the recent rally is almost too good to be true, and they’re just waiting for the bubble to burst.
- South Africa’s rand firmed to a near 19-month high on Friday over dovish comments by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which gave impetus to emerging market currencies against the retreating greenback. On Monday the rand’s rally extended even further, trading at R12.68 to the dollar, R15.72 to the pound and R13.65 to the euro.