5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: Globally, the total number of coronavirus cases is at 3,220,847, with deaths at 228,239. However, total recoveries have now also passed the 1 million mark (1,001,008). This leaves 1,991,600 active cases, where 59,813 people are in serious or critical condition. In South Africa, 5,350 cases are confirmed, with 103 deaths. 2,073 people have recovered, leaving 3,174 cases active.

  • Prohibition: Government has defended two controversial lockdown prohibitions, saying the ban on alcohol sales has greatly reduced the pressure on South Africa’s healthcare system, and the ban on cigarettes is for health reasons. People have pushed back against the bans, calling them draconian, however with alcohol sales off the table, there have been fewer injuries and violent crimes taking place – and allowing smoking didn’t make much sense in the middle of a viral outbreak that damages respiratory systems, government said. [ENCA, EWN]

  • Deeper into junk: Ratings firm S&P Global has downgraded South Africa’s credit rating further into junk, completing a trifecta of downgrades from all major global ratings firms. The group raised concerns that the Covid-19 pandemic will send the economy into a sharp downturn, as well as pointing to the massive public wage bill which is expected to grow. The firm now rates South Africa three notches below investment grade. It follows a downgrade to junk from Moody’s and another downgrade by Fitch in March. [Bloomberg]

  • Heavy handed: Political parties are pushing back against what they call a ‘surprise military curfew’ which is set to come into effect from Tomorrow. They say that the order for a curfew came out of nowhere without any prior warning from government, and the fact it will be enforced by the police and military opens citizens up to further abuses at the hands of law enforcement. There is already a long list of people arrested for not being home during the lockdown when they should be – almost 23,000 at last reporting. [Daily Maverick]

  • Tshwane woes: The North Gauteng High Court has overturned a decision by the Gauteng provincial government to place the City of Tshwane under administration, calling the move unlawful. But the fight is not over yet, with the court saying parties will need to meet and resolve the matter after the national lockdown has ended. In the interim councillors were reinstated and the administration team appointed by the provincial government will remain in place. The DA is now considering further legal action against the Gauteng government. [Mail & Guardian]

  • Markets: The rand’s rally intensified on Wednesday as optimism continues to overshadow the imminent rebalance of the World Government Bond Index (WGBI) which will see South African bonds fall by the wayside. The local unit gained over 2%, with the US Federal Reserve’s commitment to do whatever it takes to support the US economy driving the rally further during US trade. On Thursday, the rand was at R18.17 to the dollar, R22.65 to the pound and R19.73 to the euro. [XE]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today