Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global coronavirus cases have surpassed 4.86 million confirmed, with deaths pushing past 322,000. In South Africa, cases have moved over the 18,000 mark at 18,003, with deaths at 339. Total recoveries increased to 8,950, leaving the country with 8,714 active cases.
- Mkhize hits back: Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has moved on the offensive against the health expert who accused government of making lockdown decisions without any scientific basis, and other claims about the worsening situation at the country’s hospitals. Mkhize called the conduct unprofessional, and the claims based on anecdotal evidence with no base in reality. He also said that government had 50 different advisories for the Covid-19 crisis, and that the expert’s comments were unnecessarily sensationalist and destructive. [TimesLive]
- Cape Town is us: Medical experts say that Cape Town is the precursor to the challenges the rest of the country will likely face with the coronavirus pandemic. Professor Salim Abdool Karim says it is just a matter of time before the rest of the country faces the similar pattern of cluster outbreaks, while government has made it clear that the city and the Western Cape province will put its processes to the test, serving as the testing ground for how to handle outbreaks in the rest the country. [TimesLive]
- SME trouble: South Africa’s small businesses are in deep trouble, with a new survey showing that as many as 75% could face closure as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. Echoing previous SMME research, the survey found that most small businesses will be unable to survive another month under lockdown, and the majority are close to being forced to cut salaries or retrench their staff. Small businesses account for 28% of jobs in South Africa, and with informal traders included, this is estimated at 47%. [Daily Maverick]
- Common currency: Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo says that Africa adopting a common currency would boost intra-continental trade, and boost supply chains and businesses across Africa. This is not an official South African government position or recommendation, he said. However, Masondo said that in a post-Covid-19 world, countries will look inward to protect themselves, which would present the perfect opportunity to get the jump on global powers by opening up trade. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand edged up on Wednesday as global risk appetite improved on hopes of an economic recovery, though investors remained cautious a day ahead of a central bank rate decision. The day saw broad-based dollar weakness with markets focusing on potential swift economic recoveries globally as lockdown draws to an end and central banks continue to stimulate. On Thursday, the rand is at R17.99 to the dollar, R21.95 to the pound and R19.72 to the euro. Comment by Reuters and Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]