Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Load shedding: No load shedding is planned for today, but the risk of it being implemented has increased due to a loss of generating units.
- BEE gone mad: The Department of Labour is reportedly threatening to take a business to court for hiring “too many black women”, after an inspection found that its employee base did not reflect the provincial demographics, in which only 37% of the people and black women. It wants the company to hire more black men, instead. Cabinet has approved the submission of the Employment Equity Amendment (EEA) Bill of 2020 to Parliament, which will regulate the setting of sector-specific employment targets. [City Press]
- Crisis at Stats SA: Stats SA’s council is ready to resign as a last resort to get government’s attention – the group is facing a funding crisis, and needs R250 million to keep operating. Without it, it won’t be able to do its job, and South Africa’s most reliable source of data on all things, like inflation and census, will collapse. The group said it needs government funding, as raising revenue independently comes with “conditions” attached, which taints the objectivity of the data it produces. 
- Covid concerns: Analysts have expressed deep concern about the spreading of the Covid-19 virus to Africa – particularly the devastating impact it would have on countries ill-equipped to deal with it, and economies that can’t afford the same hit seen in China. The virus has killed almost 1,900 people and infected over 72,000. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases says there are still no confirmed cases in South Africa, with 87 people tested, all with negative results. [NICD]
- Parliamentary circus: Parliament descended into chaos and cheap politicking once again, as ANC MPs clashed with the EFF – not over the president’s SONA, but over continued, spurious points of order, accusing each other of domestic violence. The EFF again honed in on former president FW de Klerk, while the DA took the debate more seriously and targetted Ramaphosa’s “fantasies” about economic growth and employment, when neither are on an upward trajectory. Day two of the SONA debate continues today. [Mail & Guardian]
- Markets: The rand extended losses on Tuesday to touch a fresh one-week low after rating agency Moody’s cut its economic growth forecast for South Africa, raising fears that the country may lose its last investment-grade rating. Globally, the effects of the Covid-19 virus are coming to the fore as tech giant Apple missed its earnings target, with many more such instances expected to follow. On Wednesday the rand was at R14.98 to the dollar, R19.47 to the pound and R16.17 to the euro. [XE]