Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global cases of Covid-19 have increased to 18.5 million confirmed, with the death toll now over 700,000. In South Africa, the number of cases has increased to 529,877, with deaths now at 9,298. Recoveries have climbed to 377,266, leaving the country with a balance of 143,313 active cases.
- Missed goal: South African wine farmers argue in court that government’s blanket ban on the sale of alcohol overstepped the line it said it was treading – in that it wanted to balance saving lives and livelihoods. They say that if government wanted to achieve this goal, and reduce alcohol consumption, it needed to only restrict sales, not ban them outright. The farmers are trying to get the ban declared unconstitutional. They accuse Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of only using studies and reasoning that pushed her agenda, ignoring counter data. [TimesLive]
- Smoking gun: Batsa used its first day in court over the tobacco sales ban to blast the decision from government and the ‘science’ it used to reach the conclusion that it should happen. Specifically, the group said there was no real science that supported the ban, and in fact there were studies out showing that smokers were less likely to catch the virus. It says the ban in unconstitutional and unjustifiable. It further said that government was now relying on illicit trade to stop people from smoking. Government said the ban won’t last forever. [ENCA]
- Sinking feeling: A new survey has found that trust in president Cyril Ramaphosa has dropped by 20% since the start of lockdown, as South Africans fear unemployment more than they fear contracting the Covid-19 virus. Previous surveys found Ramaphosa enjoyed an 80% trust rate among South Africans at the start of the pandemic, but this has now dropped to 57%. Analysts have noted the president’s apparent weakness and inability to control his party, who continue to loot state contracts and bat away his attempts at reform. [702, BusinessTech]
- Stalled: Having secured all the necessary documentation and commitments to get its business rescue plan approved, SAA’s administrators now sit and wait, the process stalled, while waiting for funding to come through. The administrators cannot hand over an insolvent company to managers, so it has to wait the funding which Treasury has promised to “mobilise”. The SAA rescue plan – which will see a new state airline set up – requires at minimum R10 billion to execute. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- Markets: With poor economic performance in the US and ongoing concerns regarding the pace of the recovery, the general consensus is that additional stimulus in the US is imminent. The currency market remains on edge, as the dollar faces pressure, while gold continues to rally. We start the day at R17.35 to the dollar, R20.55 to the euro and R22.73 to the pound, with a broad trading range of R17.18 to R17.50. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]