Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have increased to 12 million reported cases since the start of the year, with the death toll at 550,000. In South Africa, number have continued to rise rapidly, now at 238,339 confirmed with 3,720 deaths. There have been 113,061 recoveries to date, leaving the country with a balance of 121,558 active cases.
- Vaccine: Africa could have a Covid-19 vaccine in the first quarter of 2021 if human trials underway in South Africa succeed, says Shabir Madhi, professor of vaccinology at University of Witwatersrand who is leading the South African trial. Out of the 19 potential vaccines being tried out, the most positive outcome would be if even two succeed. Trials will depend on 2,000 volunteers aged 18-65 years who will be monitored for 12 months after vaccination to asses its efficacy. Early results could be seen by November or December. [Reuters]
- Contraditory: Chair of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, Prof Salim Abdool Karim says that while many of the actions currently being taken seem contradictory, South Africans need to learn how to live around the virus. Risks involved with children returning to school, restaurants being reopened and life moving towards some semblance of normalcy are all factored in, and the number of Covid-19 cases are in line with predictions. However, smoking is still not on – given the “increased health risks”, he said. [TimesLive]
- Joburg tariffs: The City of Joburg has narrowly avoided potentially being placed under administration, having now tabled its budget after delays due the hung council. However, while good news for leadership, residents will face a pinch, with rates and taxes now confirmed to be rising. Property rates tariffs will be increased by 4%, while water tariffs will increase by 6.6% and electricity tariffs will go up by 6.23%. The city said the increases are necessary to avoid an economic crisis in the region. [EWN]
- SAA appeal: The Labour Appeal Court has affirmed that SAA cannot retrench employees without first engaging in a S189 consultation process and tabling a business rescue plan before doing so. This is another blow to the failed airline’s business rescue practitioners and their bid to salvage the business. The entire process has been hampered by delays due to Covid-19, as well as the group being unable to find consensus between stakeholders, including unions and government. [ENCA]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar on Thursday thanks to a rally in riskier assets globally even as poor manufacturing data at home highlighted the blow to the economy from a coronavirus lockdown. The rand largely ignored data showing South Africa’s manufacturing output fell 49.4% year on year in April, reflecting the impact of a nationwide lockdown on the recession-hit economy. On Friday the rand was at R16.98 to the dollar, R21.25 to the pound and R19.03 to the euro. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]