Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global coronavirus cases have hit over the 1 million mark, sitting at 1,015,877 on Friday morning. 53,218 people have died from the virus, while 212,993 people have recovered. In South Africa, 1,462 cases have been confirmed, with 5 deaths (possibly 7) and 45 recoveries.
- One week later: South Africa’s lockdown has been going for a week, and results have been a mixed bag. While health minister Zweli Mkhize has lauded the country’s commitment to staying home, which is evidently leading to a new cases of the coronavirus being lower than anticipated, government is facing its fair share of criticism: flip-flopping on regulations, and an arguably muted response from National Treasury and local banks on assisting South Africans hit by the lockdown. [Business Day]
- Too soon to tell: One question on everyone’s mind – will the lockdown be extended? According to COGTA minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, it’s too early to tell. She said that it was still early days in terms of the outbreak in South Africa, and that government still does not have all the facts yet. Mass testing is still taking place, and only after the results come in will government have a better idea of the next move. [TimesLive]
- Force majeure: More companies are having to declare force majeure (unable to pay contracts due to unforeseen circumstances) in the mining sector, as operations wind down due to the lockdown. A similar path was followed by Eskom with independent power producers in the wind energy sector earlier in the week. This time around groups like Anglo American and Impala Platinum and a host of other mining groups are having to follow suit, putting added strain on the sector. [Moneyweb]
- Making good use of lockdown: Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says that Eskom is making good use of the time it’s been given by the lockdown, and is focusing on catching up on maintenance – something it is difficult to do when it also has to meet demand under normal circumstances. He said around 10,500 staff are still working, and doing everything they can to ensure that once lockdown is over, the group will be able to meet demand. 
- Markets: Yet another bumpy week has come and gone, bringing South Africa to the end of the first week of our national lockdown. The total impact of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown on the economy is yet to be understood, although most can agree that the effects will be dire. Having reached a new all-time low of R18.65/$ yesterday, the rand remains in fragile terrain today. We start the day trading at R18.58 to the dollar, R20.16 to the euro and R22.99 to the pound. [XE]