Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global coronavirus cases have reached 1,431,973, with deaths at 82,096. While 302,209 people have recovered, over 1 million cases remain active, with 47,895 people in serious or critical condition. In South Africa, the health department has confirmed 1,749 cases, with deaths now up to 13.
- Lockdown: President Cyril Ramaphosa says he does not yet know whether or not the nation-wide lockdown will be extended – but data coming in the next few days should give us an indication of how the lockdown has worked. The president said that the lockdown has definitely reduced the spread of the virus, as new cases are lower than anticipated – however, more testing needs to be done. Every country that has implemented a lockdown so far has extended it, analysts have noted. [BusinessTech]
- Downgrade/Upgrade: Junk status is not the end for South Africa – in fact, economists note, the country could fall even further into junk, or be a ‘comeback kid’ and work its way back above investment grade. However, South Africa has been on a downward path to junk over 8 long years, and was not able to reverse the trend during this time despite the many warnings from the ratings firms themselves. Strong institutions will need government to step up policy reform and counter political interference to achieve a stable outlook and start reversing the trend. [BusinessLive]
- Co-parenting changes: In yet another flip-flop on the lockdown regulations, divorced parents can now move their children between households, on condition that certain requirements are met. There needs to be a court order allowing the movement and a parental responsibilities plan that is registered with a family advocate. Previously the moving around of a child between parents was prohibited, and the child(ren) would have to wait out the lockdown with the parent they are currently at. [TimesLive]
- Lawyers’ legal troubles: The High Court has reminded lawyers that they are not above the law, and should lead by example and uphold the country’s lockdown regulations. This after 9 out of 10 lawyers crossed borders to attend to legal matters without permits. The presiding judge scolded the lawyers, revoked their fees, and sent the matter to the provincial legal practice council for further action. The judge said that the legal profession must be seen to adhere to the country’s laws – not flout or advocate against them. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed by more than 2% on Tuesday, in line with a broad rally in emerging market currencies and other riskier assets on hopes of a slowdown in the spread of the coronavirus in some countries. Stocks were also significantly higher, as investors who had kept on the sidelines through recent volatility re-entered the market to take advantage of historically low prices. On Wednesday the rand was at R18.32 to the dollar, R22.56 to the pound and R19.90 to the euro. [XE]