Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global confirmed cases of the coronavirus have increased to 3,823,013, with deaths rising to 265,084. Recoveries are also rising, with the latest figure at 1,303,018. This leaves 2,254,911 active cases, with a decreasing percentage – 48,208 people or 2% – in srious or critical condition. In South Africa, cases have climbed to 7,808, with 153 deaths. Recoveries in South Africa have also increased to 3,153, leaving us with 4,502 active cases.
- Jobs bloodbath: New research, conducted by B4SA, estimates that the country could see between 1 and 4 million job losses as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, with the warning that many more businesses are going to go bankrupt and will shut down. Businesses have been hit by 5 years of low growth and now a recession, and are in no position to ‘ride the lockdown’. SAA, Edcon, SA Express and Edcon are just the start of the wave of business woes. [Daily Maverick]
- SAA must stay: South Africa does not want a fire sale of the assets of troubled national airline SAA nor for the carrier to be liquidated, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday. He said government was in talks with rescue specialists in charge of of the failed airline on how best to still save it, adding that liquidation wasn’t what they expected from the process. Government wants SAA restructured into another airline, while unions are taking the administrators to court to block retrenchments. [Reuters]
- SARB jibe: Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago has taken a subtle jibe at deputy finance minister David Masondo, indicating that he is not on board with the latter’s idea that the central bank should be investing in more government bonds to help fund the current economic crisis. Kganyago said that instructing the Reserve Bank to fund government would be like a banking customer instructing a bank to lend them money. [Business Day (paywall)]
- Food parcel politics: More accusations of ANC councillors using food parcels as a political tool, this time in Alex, where the local councillor has been accused of only distributing the much-needed parcels to ANC supporters, and chasing away NGOs who are trying to distribute aid. In KwaZulu Natal, councillors are filming themselves distributing parcels and uploading it to social media to score political points – while others have been accused of just outright stealing the parcels for themselves. [ENCA]
- Markets: The role of the dollar as a safe haven currency was reiterated yesterday, as poor economic data saw investors pile back into the greenback. Emerging markets are under pressure as a whole, dragging the rand back into weaker terrain. South Africa’s rand weakened against the dollar, with market sentiment bruised by indicators painting a bleak outlook for the economy both at home and globally amid the coronavirus crisis. On Thursday the rand was at R18.66 to the dollar, R23.00 to the pound and R20.15 to the euro. [XE]