Here’ what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Globally, confirmed coronavirus cases have shot past 1.27 million cases, with 69,480 deaths recorded. 264,838 people have recovered, but 940,028 cases remain active, where 45,898 are in serious or critical condition. Grabbing headlines is news that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to hospital over coronavirus symptoms. South Africa has 1,655 cases, 11 deaths, and 51 people recovered.
- Loans: South Africa is turning to financial powerhouses for loans to help deal with the coronavirus crisis and the market fallout. The government is reportedly ready to take a $1 billion loan from the New Development Bank, with another $1 billion possibly coming from the BRICS bank. It has been floated that government may also approach the IMF and the World Bank for any coronavirus aid (not a bailout) they might make available. [ENCA, Business Day]
- Arrested reception: The SAPS are not kidding around when it comes to arresting those who ignore the lockdown regulations. Over 50 people – including the bridal couple, their priest and guests – were arrested at a wedding for contravening the new laws on gatherings – while a Rea Vaya bus has been impounded in Johannesburg for overloading, after new regulations were published last week. Police are urging South Africans to take the lockdown rules seriously, as it is protective measure to help every citizen. [ENCA,1,2]
- Fake news fight: There has also been a marked movement against the spreading of disinformation, with police going after people who are creating and spreading misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak – as well as those who are travelling around and openly mocking the regulations. A Gauteng man is among six people arrested for creating a viral video mocking regulations. Some legal experts are arguing that the regulations against fake news may go too far, as they are incredibly vague. [702, Mail & Guardian]
- In case you missed it:Ratings agency Fitch has downgraded South Africa’s already junked economy, pushing it even further into sub-investment grade. The downgrade comes a week after Moody’s cut South Africa to full junk. Fitch set the country to a negative outlook, saying that there is no clear path to recovery following the coronavirus crisis, and expects the economy to retract even further as a result of the loss of productivity during the lockdown. [BusinessTech]
- Markets: The sell-off of the rand continued in early morning trade on Monday, rapidly weakening from the initial lows of Friday. The sell-off is attributable to both the risk aversion caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the country’s downgrade by two rating agencies in the span of a week. The rand is in a particularly vulnerable position, with some analysts warning of a move beyond R20 to the dollar. On Monday, the currency was trading at R19.28 to the dollar, R23.58 to the pound and R20.87 to the euro. [XE]