Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections are now at 12.9 million confirmed cases while the death toll approaches 569,000. In South Africa, cases have climbed to 287,796, with 4,172 casualties. There have been 138,241 recoveries to date, leaving a balance of 145,383 active cases in the country.
Power: Eskom says Stage 2 load shedding will continue on Tuesday from 09h00, however it has managed to return generating units to service, and has also synchronised unit 2 of the Koeberg power station to the grid. Load shedding is to reduce the impact from morning traffic peak.
- Alcohol ban: Government’s decision to reinstate the alcohol sales ban has left the industry reeling, with talk of job losses and the shutting down of businesses. 117,000 people reportedly lost their jobs after the first alcohol ban, while the restaurant industry says few businesses will survive if they are not able to sell alcohol with meals. The ban is in place to lower the burden of alcohol-related trauma cases at hospitals during the Covid-19 peak – but the industry says that, like with cigarettes, the illicit trade will pick up the slack, and become stronger. [ENCA, 702]
- Basic income grant: The possibility of a basic income grant for South Africa’s poor has again been mooted, with the Department of Social Development saying discussions were underway on how the poor can continue to access support even when the Covid-19 crisis is over. The grant has been pushed by the ANC, which suggested qualifying people be given R500 every month. The grant would be funded by putting an additional levy on those earning an income. [Daily Maverick]
- Big shrink: South Africa’s economy will contract by more than initially projected, likely shrinking 6.9% in 2020 compared to an earlier forecast of a 4.5% contraction, ratings agency S&P Global Ratings says. The pandemic situation in the country has worsened since the group’s previous macroeconomic update, leading to a further hit to confidence, which was already low before the pandemic, amid lack of growth and concerns about the fiscal trajectory, it said. [Reuters]
- Frustrations: The tourism industry has once again be left frustrated by government’s lack of communication and flip-flopping on policy related to the sector, after Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma finally clarified its position on leisure travel within provinces. In short, it’s not allowed. However, this comes weeks after president Cyril Ramaphosa sparked hope that the sector could get back to work during an address in mid June. The tourism continues to lose R750 million a day, as it stays shut to anything except business travel. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed on Monday, helped by increased risk appetite as investors bet again on a global economic recovery. The gains have been driven mainly by global sentiment rather than domestic factors, with investors searching for high yields on hopes for a quick economic recovery despite a global surge in Covid-19 infections. On Tuesday the rand was at R16.86 to the dollar, R21.16 to the pound and R19.12 to the euro. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]