Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global infections have now passed the 16 million mark, with the death toll rising to 645,000. In South Africa, there are now 445,433 cases confirmed since the start of the outbreak, with 6,769 deaths and 265,077 recoveries. This leaves the country with 173,587 active cases.
- School challenge: Government’s decision to shut schools now faces a court challenge, with several schools also set to defy the instructions from government with plans to re-open earlier. The DA’s court challenge is on the basis that closing schools will be detrimental to children – while the defiant schools say they are within the bounds of the law because the previous directive published by the education minister is still in effect, with the latest decision not yet gazetted. [TimesLive]
- Sour grapes: Wine farmers – predominantly small business owners – are pleading with government to walk back in its alcohol sales ban, or else they will be forced to shut down due to the devastating effect of the prohibition. While local producers are begging international buyers to take up their stock to see them through the ban, most are reliant on local buyers. Alcohol has been banned to reduce trauma cases. However, experts have noted that restricting movements, not banning alcohol, may be the more effective solution. [M&G, BusinessTech]
- Business help: South Africa has doubled to 6 months the term of loans to small and medium-sized businesses to help them survive the Covid-19 recession and made other changes to make the credit easier to access. Changes to the R200 billion loan scheme include making bank credit assessments and loan approvals more discretionary and less restrictive, according to National Treasury. The draw-down period and the interest and capital repayment holiday is now 6 months, and the R300 million turnover cap is now R100 million. [Reuters]
- Insurance concessions: Some insurers are now agreeing to pay out to business who have lost revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown – however other still face court challenges after refusing to do so. One of the bigger players says it will pay out over R1 billion to businesses, but other say the court process is vital in finding legal certainty over whether they should pay. They argue that business losses are not due to Covid-19 (which is covered), but rather the lockdown (which is not). [Moneyweb]
- Markets: There has been little movement in the rand overnight, as markets wait to see what the US and China have in store for us. Key events this week include the US Federal Reserve interest rate decision while in the calendar for today we have US durable goods orders. We start the day at R16.62 to the dollar, R19.43 to the euro and R21,32 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]