Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections have hit almost 14.5 million cases, with a death toll of 606,000 people. In South Africa, the country has seen a further 9,300 infections, with the total to-date at 373,628. The number of deaths has risen to 5,173, while recoveries have climbed to 194,865. This leaves a balance of 173,950 active cases.
- Unaffordable: Government says that giving public sector workers inflation-based in creases (before inflation dropped to record lows) would be unaffordable and unjust during the time Covid-19, as it fights unions in court over the suspension of the wage agreement which would have seen wages increase by 4.4% since April. Unions are taking the matter up in court saying that the increases were written into contracts and are thus owed. Government says it simply does not have the money. [Reuters]
- No-tels: South Africa’s hotel industry collapsed in April and May 2020, with occupancies dropping to nearly zero, and the sector losing R3.8 billion due to the nationwide lockdown. The sector has effectively been shut down completely since the national state of disaster was declared, only allowed to accept business travellers since June. The sector continues to lose over R750 million a day, as it remains closed to leisure travellers. [Moneyweb]
- Waste of time: Education unions have accused minister Angie Motshekga of wasting their time, by setting up a task to team to request proposals from them for why schools should be shut down – after unions had already given those proposals to her the day before. The unnecessary back and forth is prolonging the process, with the task team now having to assess the proposals, report back to the minister, who will then take it to cabinet. Meanwhile, Covid infections in South Africa continue to climb rapidly – including in schools. [TimesLive]
- Double blow: The alcohol industry has already suffered a blow from the recent reintroduction of the sales ban – but now it may be hit a second time, having to pay R5 billion in excise duties on alcohol produced before the ban came into effect without warning. Alcohol producers are pleading with government to defer the payments, which are due in June and August, with the industry already crippled by the ban. 
- Markets: South Africa’s rand edged up in subdued trading on Monday as a global surge in coronavirus infections put the brakes on demand spurred by hopes that the European Union would agree on a recovery fund to rescue the worst hit members of the union. Locally, positive cases approached the 340,000, with nearly 5,000 deaths. Investors demand for yield has been restrained by the upcoming lending rates decision on Thursday. On Tuesday the rand was at R16.62 to the dollar, R21.04 to the pound and R19.00 to the euro, Commentary by Reuters. [XE]