Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global coronavirus cases are around 5.4 million confirmed, with deaths approaching 345,000. In South Africa, another 1,032 cases have been recorded, taking the country’s total to 23,615, with deaths increasing to 481. Recoveries have also increased to 11,917, leaving the country with 11,163 active cases.
- New approach: Economists say that South Africa’s approach to opening the economy needs to be reworked – moving away from centralised regulation of each sector at any given level of alert, to a more enabling environment where businesses are given the knowledge and tools to better identify and manage outbreaks of the virus should they occur. Early alerts and effective procedures will be better at securing jobs and boosting economic development while balancing the necessary health needs. [Covid-19 Economic Ideas]
- Teacher block: Teacher unions are now approaching the courts to try and block government from re-opening schools from 1 June, arguing that schools are nowhere near ready to do so. They argue that the Department of Basic Education has misled the nation by saying that personal protective equipment is being delivered to thousands of schools and that teachers and children will be safe. Surveys conducted by unions show that over 90% of schools are not yet ready to provide adequate protection for educators and learners. [ENCA, Mail & Guardian]
- Airline woes: SAA’s business rescue practitioners have been granted leave to appeal the Labour Court ruling that blocked them from retrenching staff. The BRPs of SA Express meanwhile, are also looking to approach the courts to gain rights to sell assets, so they can pay creditors who are owed R2.5 billion. The two state-owned airlines have an uncertain future, but government’s focus is more on SAA, which it wants to salvage in some capacity to build a new state airline. There is no clear path for SA Express. [Daily Maverick]
- Trial pause: The World Health Organisation has paused all Covid-19 drug trials using malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, over safety concerns. The drug is being punted by US president Donald Trump as a key treatment for the coronavirus – however, the WHO has warned against using it outside of clinical trials. The trials have now been suspended out of “an abundance of caution” over patient safety, and is currently being reviewed. Other drug trials to treat Covid-19 are continuing. [Reuters]
- Markets: The optimistic recovery narrative is holding within markets, keeping the dollar subdued and seeing the rand remain on a stable footing following last week’s rally. While there are looming geopolitical risks, it seems as though markets are currently pushing them onto the back burner, and will likely continue to do so until there is a new escalation or increased threat. On Tuesday the rand is at R17.54 to the dollar, R21.44 to the pound and R19.16 to the euro. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]