Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have now hit 18 million confirmed, with the death toll rising to 690,000. In South Africa, 516,862 people have been infected with the virus, with 8,539 losing their lives as a result. 358,037 have recovered, leaving a balance of 150,286 active cases in the country.
- Trouble brewing: Following the announcement that SAB would be halting R5 billion in investments in South Africa due to the country’s alcohol ban, beer maker Heineken followed up with a release clarifying its position on local investment. It said that it has had to reassess expansion in South Africa, specifically a new brewery in KZN, to better focus on job retention. However, it says that it remains committed to the country and still holds it as a long-term investment destination. [BusinessTech, Heineken]
- Caught out: The Competition Commission as received over 1,600 complaints about price gouging by companies during lockdown. Many companies are being nailed on ‘market dominance’ terms, which has caught many small businesses off guard, since they are too small to exert any real market power. However, because of lockdown, even small companies have dominance over customers, who are restricted in movement and cannot shop around for better pricing. It’s in these exceptional circumstances that they’re getting caught out by authorities. [Daily Maverick]
- Getting weaker: A new report by local rating agency Ratings Afrika shows that South Africa’s eight metropolitan municipalities are getting weaker, financially, and this art of an ongoing trend. The City of Cape Town has the strongest performance, and has shown growth over the last 5 years, despite the latest dip due to Covid-19. It is the only metro considered financially sustainable. Meanwhile, all other municipalities are unsustainable, with the Free State’s Manguang being considered “seriously unsustainable”. [News24]
- Follow the lead: Civil group Outa says that all state companies should follow Eskom’s lead in its bid to claw back billions of rands looted from the power utility its former managers and dodgy contractors – mainly those lead by the Gupta family. Outa says that there are many examples of the exact same dodgy behaviour at other state companies and government departments, and urged them to follow suit. Outa itself has laid charges against individuals involved in the looting. [EWN]
- Markets: It was a tough start to the week for emerging markets, with the rand losing over 1% to trade as low as R17.35 against the dollar before taking a breather. The dominant themes remain intact, with uncertainty and concerns heightened around global economic growth. We start the day on Tuesday at R17.20 to the dollar, R20.25 to the euro and R22.50 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]