Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global cases of Covid-19 have hit over 9 million, with the death toll shooting past 471,000. In South Africa, there are now 106,108 total cases, with 111 new Covid-19 related deaths, taking the total up to 2,102. Recoveries increased to 55,045, leaving a balance of 48,961 active cases.
- Budget: Finance minister Tito Mboweni will present his supplementary budget speech today in parliament, scheduled for 15h00. All eyes will be in the minister to break down how government will be financing its coronavirus response plan – including the breakdown of the R500 billion stimulus. Given the realities of South Africa’s strained economy, and little room for improvement, market expectations are low, with no surprises expected to emerge from the speech. [Parliament]
- Decimating: Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says South Africa is heading into a devastating and decimating storm, as the country marches at pace towards what is believed will be the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in the country. Cases have been increasing rapidly, with the minister noting that the Western Cape and Eastern Cape are likely to be the first provinces to hit their peaks. And despite concern over available beds, the minister pointed out that the data shows a vast improvement on what was initially modelled. [Daily Maverick]
- Supply: South African pharmaceutical major Aspen could provide 10 million dexamethasone tablets within a month, Chief Executive Stephen Saad said on Tuesday after the World Health Organisation cautioned about the drug’s supply. Results from a study showed the steroidal drug reduced death rates by about a third in severely ill, hospitalised COVID-19 patients, University of Oxford scientists said last week, calling it a major breakthrough. [Reuters]
- Two more years: Former president Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial could face yet another delay, after his co-accused – French arms company Thales – moves to challenge the NPA’s decision to charge it with racketeering. A delay in the case – which has been in the making for almost two decades – would benefit Zuma, who wants to be seen as eager to have his day in court, but will give him another reprieve. Racketeering is the most serious charge the accused face. [Business Day – paywall]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand edged up on Tuesday as risk appetite improved after President Donald Trump offered reassurance that a US trade deal with China was on track, quelling market concerns that Washington may be ditching the agreement. Locally, on the radar is Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s emergency budget in response to the Covid-19 crisis, that is expected to show a markedly wider budget deficit. On Wednesday, the rand was at R17.21 to the dollar, R21.54 to the pound and R19.47 to the euro. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]