Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Load shedding: No load shedding is expected today, but Eskom again warns that things could change at any point as the system remains vulnerable, and emergency reserves are being used during peak periods.
- New coronavirus laws: Government has published new regulations empowering it to act on declarations made to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the state of disaster. Authorities can now break up unsanctioned gatherings, and take legal action against those who endanger themselves and others. This includes people who spread fake news, fake illness, deliberately infect others, or business who sell alcohol after 18h00, or don’t limit crowds. [BusinessTech]
- A year of decline: With the coronavirus panic gripping almost every sector, it appears that GDP decline in 2020 is inevitable, with several economists now slashing forecasts to show overall growth in the red. BNP Paribas was first to predict GDP to sink by 0.2% this year, with more bearing views following suit. Efficient Group chief economist Dawie Roodt expects a decline of between 1% and 3%, while Intellidex analyst Peter Attard Montalto sees a drop of 2.3%. [Business Day, BusinessTech]
- Waiting on rates: The South African Reserve Bank will deliver its rates decision today, with almost everyone expecting a cut to be announced in the wake of the economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The question then is not will governor Lesetja Kganyago cut, but rather by how much. Predictions are for 50 basis point cut today at least, with further rate cuts to come at a future date. Finance minister Tito Mboweni has warned, however, that rate cuts are not a panacea for the economic troubles South Africa faces. [Moneyweb]
- Sour milk: A new report delves deeper into the role South African banks played in enabling money laundering around the Estina dairy project – which ultimately served as a way for the Guptas to extract government funds from the Free State. It revisits the fraud that took place, which forms part of the greater state capture saga, but homes in on two South African banks and their response – or lack thereof – in taking accountability for the millions of rands stolen. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Yesterday saw the rand breach R17.00/$, as the coronavirus-driven sell-off of riskier assets continued aggressively, leaving carnage in its wake across all asset classes as investors scrambled to get their hands on cash. The rand lost even more ground in the overnight session, with little attention to technical levels. Analysts warn, be careful when looking for a bottom, as the market bloodshed caused by the pandemic does not seem to be over just yet. On Thursday the rand started at R17.47 to the dollar, R20.07 to the pound and R19.03 to the euro. [XE]
Coronavirus: There have been 219,332 coronavirus cases reported around the world. 85,745 of these cases have fully recovered, and 8,969 have died. 124,618 cases are currently active, with 6,814 in a serious or critical condition. 116 cases have been confirmed in South Africa, with the number expected to rise.