Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections are now passed 17 million confirmed cases, with the death toll not over 666,800. In South Africa, cases have hit 482,169, with deaths now up to 7,812. The country has recorded 309,601 recoveries, however, leaving a balance of 164,756 active cases.
- Not enough: New regulations published on Thursday to further open up the tourism industry may not be enough to rescue many ailing businesses in the sector. For South Africa’s restaurants, in particular, the extension of the national curfew by one hour to allow more operation time will only help a few businesses. An extension by three hours would have been ideal, industry reps say – but even then, without alcohol sales being allowed, many restaurants won’t be able to open up anyway, no matter how late government makes the curfew. [EWN]
- Naughty chair: While many have welcomed the move to force high-level politicians to take a ‘leave of absence’ amid corruption allegations related to Covid-19 tenders, analysts note that such a move means very little in reality. One has described a leave of absence as ‘being put in the naughty chair’, because the move has no material impact on the official, monetary or otherwise. Meanwhile, taxpayers continue to foot the bill for corrupt activities that benefit the political elite. 
- Tank is empty: South Africa has no more room to entertain politicians at state owned companies, says think tank Business for South Africa. The group has published a post-Covid-19 recovery proposal that calls for a review of all SOEs in the country, and government’s active role in them. It says boards have the mandate to run successful companies, but are undermined by political interference from government reps. Either government has to butt out, or companies need to be shifted off its books. [Mail & Guardian]
- Massive hit: We always knew that the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown was going to take a heavy toll on businesses, but new surveys and studies are showing how badly it has hit. A new poll of local businesses shows that 80% of them took a major knock to operations during lockdown, with a third seeing their sales drop by more than half. Most business have a bleak outlook, too, with 81% saying they do not expect consumer spending to return to normal in the near term. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: The rand gave up ground on Thursday as global markets ‘de-risked’ in the face of continuing Covid-19 uncertainty, geopolitical tension and the bid by President Trump to delay elections. The US reported another steep rise in positive cases, on top of dismal economic growth figures. Although the rand is softer, it remains within its broader range of R16.35 to R16.80, starting the day at R16.72 to the dollar, R19.88 to the euro and R21.95 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]