Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections are now at the 10 million mark, with the death toll reaching 500,000. In South Africa, cases continue to rise at an alarming rate, with a total of 138,134 cases now confirmed in the country. Deaths have increased to 2,456, and recoveries are at 68,925, leaving a balance of 66,753 active cases.
- The next big battle: South Africa can’t afford to pay public servants promised salary increases in 2020 – but unions aren’t having it. Finance minister Tito Mboweni is not budging on plans to cut the public service wage bill by R160 billion over the next 3 years, but with court cases looming, and wage negotiations for the sector coming in October, the minister will have his work cut out for him. Economists have highlighted this as one of the biggest liabilities in the budget, with doubts that any cuts can be implemented with ease. [Daily Maverick]
- Fight or flight: The Department of Public Enterprises has pulled out of the council set up to help restructure SAA into a new airline. The forum was established so that government and SAA could communicate with workers and unions over the plans to restructure the group – but unions have opted to ‘put the airline on the path to liquidation’, the department said. Unions and some creditors have delayed the implementation of the business rescue plan to July, looking for parts of it to be reviewed. [ENCA]
- Taxi threats: Taxi association Santaco says that taxis will start operating at full capacity from today, whether government says its okay or not – and if vehicles are impounded for it, get ready for another taxi strike. The group has also rejected the conditions attached to the R1 billion relief fund for the industry, which requires beneficiaries be registered as a business. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula, meanwhile, has pleases with the taxi bodies to not break the law, and to consider the impact of their course of action on the spread of the virus. [TimesLive,1,2]
- Dine and no wine: As restaurants wait for Friday night’s rules around re-opening to be gazetted today, they demand answers from government about the elephant in the room – why no alcohol sales? Some in the sector say they will be unable to open if alcohol sales are banned, as they make up large parts of revenue and it would be unfeasible to do so, otherwise. The industry wants reasoning from government, and is even threatening further action against the move. [EWN]
- Markets: We start the week with the rand in stable terrain as markets seek a new catalyst to give it fresh direction. While Covid-19-related risks remain a reality, they have become less pronounced in the currency market in the recent short term. We turn our attention to the local trade balance today, and the key event for this week is local GDP, that is due for release tomorrow. On Monday the rand starts the week at R17.28 to the dollar, R19.45 to the euro and R21.40 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]