Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: To date there have been 381,755 cases reported around the world, with 16,558 deaths. 102,429 have recovered, but 262,768 cases of infection are still active, where 12,062 are in serious or critical condition. South Africa has 402 confirmed cases with 4 recoveries.
- National Shutdown: South Africa will enter into a 21 days shutdown from midnight, Thursday 26 March 2020 until midnight, Thursday 16 April 2020. The shutdown is in place to prevent further spread of the coronavirus, while the government, assisted by the army, will rapidly increase testing in the country. Under the lockdown, citizens are to remain in their homes, leaving only for urgent needs (food, medicine, medical care), and business will close. Only essential workers and companies will be exempted from this. Read more here: BusinessTech.
- Cancelled: Consumers are protected under the Consumer Protection Act from being left out of pocket due to the cancellation of events because of the national restrictions like the lockdown, according to the consumer goods ombudsman. However, in the spirit of keeping the economy going and not causing distress in hard-hit sectors, like wedding planning, tourism, etc, consumers are urged to consider accepting postponements rather than demand refunds during this time – even though they are likely entitled to a full refund. [TimesLive]
- Now virus free: With the number of coronavirus cases in South Africa expected to increase as government ramps up testing during the lockdown, it’s important to note that 4 of the initial cases have already recovered and tested negative – while no deaths have yet been recorded. The KZN man who first tested positive for the virus, and his wife, have now been given the all-clear, joining two others who tested negative recently. [Enca]
- Mkhwebane vs SARS: Public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has suffered yet another legal blow, with a new High Court ruling against her – this time in her battle with SARS. Mkwhebane had tried to subpoena former president Jacob Zuma to access his tax records, however SARS sought an order stating that her powers do not extend that far. In a scathing ruling, the court said she acted in bad faith and improperly in flagrant disobedience of the Constitution. She was ordered to pay 15% of costs in her personal capacity. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa will be entering a 21-day national lockdown from midnight on Thursday, and the prospects for an already struggling local economy are now even more bleak, as all businesses except for essential services and goods are to be halted. The JSE and other essential banking services are among the few that will remain open. The rand has already been testing lifetime weakness levels. On Tuesday the rand was at R17.67 to the dollar, R20.54 to the pound and R19.07 to the euro. [XE]
Load shedding: Eskom says it does not expect to implement load shedding today, but warns that the system remains constrained and vulnerable. Emergency reserves are being used to supplement power supply. The power utility has offered to buy surplus electricity from existing generating plants, an indication it thinks it will continue to struggle to meet demand on its own in the short term. [Reuters]