Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit over 26 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 864,000. In South Africa, there have been 2,420 new cases, taking the total reported to 633,015. Deaths have reached 14,563 (an increase of 174), while recoveries have climbed to 554,887, leaving the country with a balance of 63,656 active cases.
Load shedding: Eskom will implement load shedding at stage 3 from 08h00 until 22h00 on Friday.
- RAF insolvency: Attorneys have moved to have the Road Accident Fund shut down, through a court bid to have the scheme wound up. The scheme, which pays out funds to those involved in accidents, is insolvent, with liabilities exceeding assets by over R260 billion at last reporting. This deficit is expected to get significantly worse, projected to reach almost R600 billion by 2023. Maponya Attorneys says having the scheme wound up would be the fairest outcome for stakeholders. [Moneyweb]
- Power play: As South Africa is again plunged into darkness due to load shedding, deputy president David Mabuza has assured the nation that the days of rolling blackouts are numbered. The deputy president says his confidence is rooted in the fact that there is a new power build programme in the works which will address the country’s electricity needs. In the meantime, we should be patient, as Eskom’s restructuring will take another two years to complete. Eskom says load shedding is here to stay until 2022. [TimesLive]
- Cannabis: South Africa is one step closer to having its private cannabis use rules in place, with the portfolio committee on justice being briefed today on the content of the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill, which is expected to pass. The bill will then go through a public consultation process before being signed into law. The bill has been two years in the making, and has passed every step of the process. The rules allow South Africans to cultivate and consume limited quantities of cannabis in their own private space. [Enca]
- Spectrum auction: Telecoms regulator Icasa has delayed the auction of high-demand spectrum to March 2021, after problems issuing invitations to apply. The spectrum is essential to expanding broadband services in South Africa, and for bringing 5G to the country. Mobile operators have said that access to the spectrum would have the effect of bringing data prices down – something consumers and regulators have been pushing for. The spectrum has been stuck behind government red tape for well over a decade. [MyBroadband]
- Markets: It has been a quiet week, with little to provide any real momentum to the currency markets. Dollar sentiment remains weak, helping the rand stay below R17.00 to the dollar, with the local unit operating in a wide trading range of R16.48 to R16.96 throughout the week. On Friday the rand starts the day in the middle of the trading range at R16.77 to the dollar, R19.82 to the euro and R22.23 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]