Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Load shedding: No load shedding is expected today with a more positive outlook – four generating units are due to return to operation.
- Budget Speech: Most of the attention this week will be directed to Finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech on Wednesday. Mboweni is expected to deliver a speech focused on averting a credit rating downgrade by Moody’s – however, analysts are questioning whether he could say anything at all that would put South Africa off the path to junk status. As many economists have already pointed out: most investors already consider the country junked. [Daily Maverick]
- E-toll silence: Gauteng Premier David Makhura will deliver his State of the Province Address on Tuesday, where opposition parties expect silence on e-tolling. Makhura has been trying to fight e-tolling in the province, however this goes against the position of national government – particularly National Treasury’s support of the user-pays system. All talk of e-toll alternatives has fallen silent, with more pressing issues, such as failing SOEs, load shedding, and other more politically popular schemes like the NHI taking precedence. [IOL]
- Job cuts at SAA: Unions are waiting for SAA’s business rescue practitioners to start handing out retrenchment notices, after they failed in a bid to preemptively block the process before it had started in court. Job cuts are part of the SAA business rescue plan, which has not yet been publicly published. Unions want the appropriate processes to be followed, and jobs to be retained where possible. The administrators have until 6 March to publish the plan. [Mail & Guardian]
- Lights out in Soweto: Eskom has started cutting power to certain areas in Soweto, due to non-payment of electricity bills. Collectively, Soweto owes Eskom over R18 billion – the largest single amount owed by a town. Eskom recently announced plans to start cutting municipalities’ power off for 14-hour periods over non-payment, until all debts are paid up. One of the key drivers behind increased electricity tariffs for the rest of the country is for Eskom to recover money lost due to non-payment. [ENCA]
- Markets: The South African rand recovered from a four-month low on Friday as the US dollar fell on weak survey data, but traders are cautious before a closely watched budget speech this week. The rand had been under pressure because of fears over the spread of Covid-19 and concerns over the country’s stretched public finances. On Monday the rand was at R15.07 to the dollar, R19.50 to the pound and R16.31 to the euro. [XE]