Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit over 18.2 million confirmed cases, with the death toll at 694,000. In South Africa, cases have reached 521,318, with casualties now at 8,884. Recoveries have risen to 363,751, which leaves a balance of 148,683 active cases.
- Idle state: Analysts have been left scratching their heads at government’s slow reaction to mass disinvestment from South Africa, which is exacerbating the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. Notably, the drinks industry has announced a halt on over R13 billion in investments in the past week, with zero response from government to try and save jobs and capital in the sector. Executive director of the Centre for Development and Enterprise, Ann Bernstein says the state should have jumped into action, but instead sits idle. 
- Clapback: Former Eskom executives including CEOs Brian Molefe and Matshele Koko and CFO Anoj Singh have slammed the power utility and the SIU’s move to sue them for their alleged role in corruption in at the group. They said they have not yet seen the documents which contain the charged levelled against them, so they cannot yet comment on the matter – however, they proclaim their innocence. Eskom is trying to recover R3.8 billion from parties, including the Gupta family, for money stolen via state capture at the power producer. [TimesLive]
- Property slump: South Africa’s listed property sector is trading 40% weaker since the beginning of the year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This puts it on track to be the worst performing asset class this year – a trend which has continued for the last two years. The sector took its biggest knock in the first quarter of the year, when much of the country was shut down due to Covid-19, and experienced a rebound in June. However, second quarter numbers remain lower, starting off on a negative note. [Moneyweb]
- Beruit explosion: A port in Beruit has been hit by a massive explosion, killing at least 78 people and injuring over 4,000 others. Authorities said the explosion occurred at warehouses carrying chemicals used in fertiliser and bomb production, with nearby witnesses saying it was sparked by welding work being done. Emergency workers are still aiding affected areas, with the death toll expected to rise. The explosion dampened risk appetite, which affected global markets, including the rand. [Reuters]
— Fady Roumieh (@FadyRoumieh) August 4, 2020
- Markets: The gold price soared above the $2,000/oz mark yesterday as caution continues to dominate markets, while the rand saw yet another 2% weakening to R17.53 to the dollar, as risk-off sentiment is revived, aided by the Beirut explosion. Global sentiment continues to drive the local currency, with little optimism about in the short term. The rand is now mustering momentum to break above R17.50. On Wednesday, the rand is at R17.35 to the dollar, R20.50 to the euro and R22.70 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]