Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 16.7 million, with the death toll now over 660,000. In South Africa, total confirmed cases have now risen to 471,123, with deaths at 7,497. Recoveries have risen to 297,967, leaving the country with a balance of 165,659 active cases.
- Not a good thing: Treasury secretary general Dondo Mogajane says that government and the country shouldn’t be happy about getting money from the IMF, because taking on more debt isn’t necessarily a good thing. Ideally, he said, South Africa should be decreasing its debt burden, not increasing it through more loans. However, he said the country had little choice, and he noted that the low interest loan from the IMF came cheaper than having to raising funding. [New24]
- Backfired: Former SARS lawyer Telita Snyckers says that South Africa’s cigarette sales ban is terrible legislation on the part of government, and has completely backfired. She says that illicit cigarette trade in the country has always been big, and has involved both criminal networks and ‘big tobacco’ companies for years. With the ban in place, the entire market is now an illicit one, with companies reaping massive profits from it. The only effect the ban has had, is to rob government of taxes. [Daily Maverick]
- Dry and desperate: South Africa’s liquor traders are looking for alternative solutions to help support over 34,500 taverns across the country, which are struggling to survive following the re-banning of alcohol sales in the country. The industry is seeking to raise R100 million to support these businesses, saying that government hasn’t taken their plight seriously. It wants to try and help itself, to avoid going the route of the taxis, and forcing their demands on government through protests and breaking the law. 
- Insurer support: More insurance companies in South Africa are now settling with businesses over Covid-19 claims. Old Mutual and Guardrisk are to offer settlements to small business clients fighting rejected claims related to the impact of the country’s coronavirus lockdown. In line with the industry globally, South Africa’s insurers have declined to pay out under business interruption policies they argue did not cover coronavirus lockdowns. [Reuters]
- Markets: A rather uneventful Fed statement saw the US central bank act in line with market expectations, with the rand staying well inside its broader trading range. Despite continued weak local fundamentals, the rand continues to enjoy the current dollar weakness, starting Thursday at R16.58 to the dollar, R19.53 to the euro and R21.53 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]