Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- Eskom says it will implement stage 1 load shedding on Friday until 23h00. This follows as extended load shedding period on Thursday, which carried overnight. The downgrade to stage 1 is as a result of the group successfully restoring some generating capacity, as well as being able to replenish its reserves. [Eskom]
- The World Bank’s move to cut South Africa’s growth forecast for 2020 to below 1% is bound to put even more pressure on South Africa’s final investment-grade rating from Moody’s, economists warn – making a downgrade to full junk even more likely. Moody’s has stated that slow growth is one of the biggest negative factors acting against South Africa, with the group expecting 2020 growth at between 1% and 1.5%. It is set to review South Africa’s rating in March, after the Budget speech. [Fin24]
- Finance minister Tito Mboweni has emerged as a strong advocate for the full legalisation of cannabis, saying that he will put forward a proposal to cabinet to that effect. This comes after a candid survey of responses to a thread of tweets on his Twitter profile. The Constitutional Court ruled that the private use of cannabis was legal in September 2018 and gave lawmakers two years to bring the country’s laws in line with the ruling. Parliament has yet to do so, with the deadline less than nine months away. [Daily Maverick]
- US lawmakers have voted to try and prevent US president Donald Trump from escalating conflicts with Iran, after he ordered that a top official be killed, risking all-out war. The vote, largely symbolic and again running along party lines, sought to force Trump to seek approval from congress before launching attacks. However, the vote cannot be made law, and is seen as largely political. Tensions between the US and Iran have had a wide-reaching impact on global markets. [EWN]
- The South African rand weakened slightly against the dollar on Thursday, as power cuts, weak manufacturing data and a trimmed World Bank growth forecast weighed. The currency had steadied against the dollar earlier in the day as fears of a fresh conflict in the Middle East following the killing of Tehran’s top general in a US drone strike abated. On Friday the rand was at R14.22 to the dollar, R18.60 to the pound and R15.80 to the euro.