Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 cases have increased to 6.35 million confirmed, with the death toll rising to over 380,000. In South Africa, the number of confirmed cases jumped by 1,713 to a total of 37,525, with deaths increasing to 792. Recoveries have also risen to 19,682, leaving the country with 17,051 active cases.
- Constitutionally speaking: Legal experts are not convinced by the High Court ruling against South Africa’s lockdown regulations, which declared them unconstitutional and invalid. Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela said the ruling lacked clarity, accuracy and persuasive reasoning, and would likely not withstand the scrutiny of a higher court. Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos, meanwhile, said that the sweeping judgement, invalidating all regulations, would likely be overturned. [ENCA, Daily Maverick]
- Backlog: South Africa’s Covid-19 test backlog continues to sit at around 80,000, with no indication from the national laboratory service on when it will be resolved. The labs have for months denied any backlog, only to admit in a recent presentation that it was feeling the pressure of the testing numbers. A large number of the backlog are reportedly in the Eastern Cape, which health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has warned is facing a similar infection pattern to the Western Cape, needing more interventions. [Mail & Guardian, TimesLive]
- Contempt: COGTA minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could face a contempt of court order for missing a deadline to submit an answer to one of the many legal challenges she and her department are facing surrounding the nationwide ban on tobacco. The minister had until close of business on Wednesday to submit the documents in her battle against fair trade group FITA. The case is due to be heard next week. [Business Day – paywall]
- Unbundling: Eskom says that it may miss its 2022 target to unbundle the group into separate companies, noting that the legal processes involved may take longer than expected. CEO Andre de Ruyter said that the process is complicated, and some deadlines have been ‘aggressive’, but he had no doubts that the outcome would be achieved. Eskom is splitting into three different units to better manage operations and finances, and to help get a grip on its over R450 billion in debt. [EWN]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand extended gains to a fresh 11-week high on Wednesday in a broad emerging market rally spurred by investor bets that a global economic recovery was taking hold after the coronavirus fallout. The rand’s gains this week are around 4%, in-line with majority of emerging market currencies, with rising appetite for risk assets outweighing signs of an ailing local economy. On Thursday the rand is at R16.98 to the dollar, R21.29 to the pound and R19.05 to the euro. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]