Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 21.7million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 770,000. In South Africa, there have been 2,541 new cases, taking the total reported to 589,886. Deaths have reached 11,982, while recoveries have climbed to 477,681, leaving the country with a balance of 100,223 active cases.
- Permanent damage: Experts say that the damage done by the smoking and alcohol ban has been vast, and in some cases will be permanent. Illicit tobacco expert, Telita Snyckers says that market share lost by big companies during the ban is likely to stick now that it’s lifted. with access to all sorts of tobacco products easy and cheap. The local wine industry, meanwhile, says the lift of the ban came too late, with jobs already lost, and future production already negatively impacted. Lifting the ban was no quick fix – and one doesn’t exist. [702, Moneyweb]
- Reboot: While gyms and health clubs can open from today, Virgin Active, the biggest health club chain in the country, says it will still take a while to get there. The group said government has to first approve its Covid-19 protocols and social distancing plans, a process which it said should take around 5 days. This reflects other industries as well, which cannot simply pick up where they left off under the lockdown, and will need to take time to get back into operations. In many cases, government gave no advance warning of its plans. [ENCA]
- Dipping into pensions: The ANC wants easier access to South African pensions – but it insists that it doesn’t want to use the money to bail out state companies. Enoch Godongwana, head of the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee, says that the push to change laws around state access to pension funds is to give funds the opportunity to invest in infrastructure projects. He said it’s not enforced prescribed assets, and it’s not an attempt to finance a state bank either. [TimesLive]
- Infrastructure fund: Three government departments have signed a memorandum of understanding to kickstart a R100 billion infrastructure fund over the next 10 years. The aim of the fund is to reduce fragmentation in infrastructure projects and speed up the processes involved. It also wants to be a driver of job creation and economic growth, and to work with the private sector to ensure ‘good’ projects are greenlit. The signatories are department of public works and infrastructure, national treasury, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. [Mail & Guardian]
- Markets: Poor data continues to plague hopes of a US economic recovery, while politics continues to interfere with the relief packages required by many businesses to ensure ongoing payment of their employees and other obligations. Trade tension between the US and China takes a back seat for now, with the market’s focus remaining on US politics and potential Fed action. The rand remains in a narrow trading range, starting the day at R17.50 to the dollar, R20.82 to the euro and R22.98 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]