Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections now exceed 5.55 million, with deaths past the 350,000 mark. In South Africa, the number of cases has increased to 25,937, with deaths up to 552. This is a jump o 1,673 and 28, respectively. There have also been 13,451 recoveries, leaving the country with 11,934 active cases.
- Hope and prayer: Reaction to government’s decision to re-open churches in South Africa has been split, even within the country’s religious community. Government is expected to explain exactly how and why this decision was made when it delivers more information on level 3 regulations today (14h00). However, ahead of the briefing, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu insists government was not pressured into making the decision. Critics have argued that allowing religious gatherings will increase risk of Covid-19 infections. [ENCA]
- Eskom losses: A new presentation by National Treasury to Parliament shows that Eskom is still in deep financial trouble, with the power utility reporting a loss of R16 billion in the 2019/20 period. This follows a R20 billion loss in the previous year. Worryingly, money owed to Eskom by municipalities remains shockingly high, increasing by R8 billion over the last year to R28 billion. Eskom has made some concessions with municipalities, but the latter have not come to the party. [Reuters, EWN]
- Eating anger: The South African restaurant industry has been left fuming by government’s move to open churches saying that whatever methodology used to reach that outcome should be used for restaurants to re-open fully. The sector says that restaurants have been bending over backwards to ensure they work and comply with government regulations and even readjust business models – describing being left out in the cold with a decision like this as a slap in the face. 
- Delinquent: Former SAA chair, Dudu Myeni, has been declared a delinquent director for life. The former chair has been placed at the centre of SAA’s woes, accused of maladministration, corruption and abuse of power. Outa and the South African Pilots Association took Myeni to court, and despite the process being dragged out for months due to her failure to turn up on several occasions, the judge in the case ultimately ruled against her. [TimesLive]
- Markets: Tension between the US and China is growing and President Trump has alluded to some drastic measures against China in response to the Hong Kong security bill. In spite of this, the rand is holding rather firm, trading in a range of R17.30/R17.50, while seeking momentum to break another leg stronger in the short term. On Thursday, the rand is trading at R17.37 to the dollar, R21.28 to the pound and R19.12 to the euro. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]