Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections have hit over 9.2 million total since the start of the year, with the death toll over 477,000. In South Africa, a new record daily increase of 5,688 cases has pushed the country’s total to 111,796. Deaths have risen to 2,205, and recoveries have moved to 56,874, leaving a balance of 52,717 active cases in the country.
- Budget reaction: Response to finance minister Tito Mboweni’s emergency budget on Wednesday has been a mix of expecting more, and understanding that there was no room for more to be done. Mboweni hammered on the point that South Africa has run out of runway to take off, and needed to act now to prevent economic collapse. However, some analysts have pointed out the the budget continues to rely on the few that pay tax – a number that will be declining over the coming months. [702, Daily Maverick]
- Get on with it: Despite announcements that restaurants, hotels and other sectors of the economy can re-open under ‘advanced lockdown level 3’ – these industries are still waiting to be told when, and how they can do it. So far, only the personal care industry has had a directive published. Hotels have said they’ve been left hanging on the rules that govern how they can re-open – although they have plans in place – while restaurant bodies have again implored government to release the directives so they can get back to work. [ENCA]
- Reality: The harsh reality of the Covid-19 crisis is hitting home in the Western Cape. Nurses at hospitals in the province have given their account of what it’s like dealing with patients who have the virus – speaking about high stress environments with packed wards, fewer staff to help them, and the tragic situation of having patients suffering alone without any physical contact with family members allowed. The province is the epicentre of the outbreak in South Africa, and experts say serves as a precursor to what will happen in the rest of South Africa. [TimesLive]
- SAA: The creditors meeting that is part of the process fur the future of SAA – or the restructuring of the group into a new airline – can proceed. This, after the courts dismissed an application by one of its creditors to shut down the process. SA Airlink approached the courts to halt the process, claiming that the business rescue process has been usurped by government, with the original plan to wind down or liquidate the airline having been turned into a plan for a new airline. The courts said the application was not urgent. [BusinessLive]
- Markets: Despite the bleak picture painted by Wednesday’s emergency budget of the South African economy and the road ahead, the local currency remained within its range, weakening by just over 1% during the day, reaffirming that the rand is currently largely driven by global sentiment. The rand dipped during and after the speech, but later recovered as investors looked beyond local issues. On Thursday the rand was at R17.44 to the dollar, R21.65 to the pound and R19.61 to the euro. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]