Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- The World Health Organisation has declared the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak a global healthcare emergency, with the death toll now over 215, more than 10,000 people infected, and over 100,000 under observation. The declaration will bring countries together to unify in their attempts to combat the virus and stem its spread. There is no global travel ban to China, however many countries are urging their citizens to steer clear of the country where possible. [ENCA]
- While more South Africans now have access to water than in 1994, when looked at as a percentage of the population, fewer households have reliable access to water than before the dawn of democracy. This is an admission hidden in the Department of Water and Sanitation’s R900 billion master plan to resolve the country’s water crisis. The ANC campaigns on 95% of South Africans having access to water. The real figure is 87%. In terms of households, it’s only 65%. Access to water is the worst in the Eastern Cape (49%) and Limpopo (53% of households). [Mail & Guardian]
- SAA says the cancellation of 48 domestic and international flights in February is part of its business rescue plan. It said demand for the flights is low, and the practice is not uncommon in the industry. It said it was trying to minimise the impact of the cancellations on customers, and would accommodate and transfer customers where possible. Affected routes include Johannesburg and Durban, Cape Town and East London, and those going to Livingstone, Washington DC, Nairobi, Kinshasa, Dar Es Salaam, Windhoek and Accra. [EWN]
- South African assets could see a first quarter rally, but with Eskom’s load shedding and other economic pressures, it is not going to last, according to the Bank of America. The group sees SA’s economy expanding just 0.8% this year, more pessimistic projection than the central bank’s 1.2% forecast. They also foresee the government dragging its feet in making changes needed to spur the economy, with a lack of clear policy direction set to hurt sentiment among consumers, businesses and investors. [Bloomberg]
- South Africa’s rand weakened by more than 1% on Thursday, as dampened risk sentiment over the coronavirus outbreak in China added to worries about the local economy after state power firm Eskom announced the resumption of rolling blackouts. On Friday the rand was at R14.76 to the dollar, R19.34 to the pound and R16.28 to the euro.