Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavairus: Globally there have been 422,959 reported cases of the coronavirus, with 18,907 deaths on record. 109,144 people have recovered, but 294,908 cases remain active, with 13,095 people in serious or critical condition. In South Africa there are 554 confirmed cases, 4 recoveries, and 2 people in ICU.
- Stop panic buying: Calls to citizens to stop panic buying and stockpiling are falling on deaf ears – but government stresses that supply chains and stocks are running as normal in South Africa, so there is no need. Food stores, all the way to the farms producing food are open and exempted from the lockdown. In fact its the act of panic buying and stockpiling that is disrupting the normal supply chain by creating artificial demand, creating the impression of shortages, which then feeds further panic. 
- Global tanking: Last week, economists and analysts were pegging South Africa’s GDP decline to be in the region of 1% to 3% in 2020 – but now, with a three week lockdown, and the baseline view of a global recession on the cards, some bearish projections now put our annual growth at -10%. Restaurants, retail, hotels and tourism will be the hardest hit, though every segment will likely be affected. [Moneyweb]
- Supporting all SMEs: Government is implementing a host of measures – from payment holidays to support of spaza shops – to help all small businesses in South Africa. Contrary to false documents being spread on social media, the aid is not based on BEE status. One of the measures is a new SMME fund, which will be available to 100% SA-owned businesses that employ 70% locals. The funding will be available for six months, at prime less 5% from April 1. [Enca]
- Grounded: SAA will join other locally-operating airlines in shutting down all flights from Friday, in line with the national lockdown. SAA said it will offer one free travel change between Tuesday and Thursday – but no flights are happening until April. SA Express shut down operations last week, while SAA stopped all international and regional travel. Comair announced it would stop its local flights as well. [Reuters]
- Markets: South African stocks rebounded sharply on Tuesday, along with global markets, on new stimulus from the US Federal Reserve and resource firms soared on higher palladium and platinum prices following the announcement of a 21-day lockdown. The rand ended the day stronger, after pushing towards R18 to the dollar, which would have been its worst level on record. On Wednesday the rand was at R17.58 to the dollar, R20.73 to the pound and R18.99 to the euro. [XE]
Load shedding: No load shedding is anticipated today, but Eskom warns it is using emergency reserves to supplement power. Rolling blackouts could be implemented on short notice if the system degrades.