Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 26.9 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 882,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,633 new cases, taking the total reported to 638,517. Deaths have reached 14,889 (an increase of 110), while recoveries have climbed to 563,891, leaving the country with a balance of 59,737 active cases.
Load shedding: Eskom will move to multi-stage load shedding this week, starting with stage 1 load shedding from 08h00 to 16h00, thereafter moving up to stage 2 load shedding until 22h00.
- Sanral sunk: On top of the costly e-toll system that motorists refuse to pay for, road agency Sanral has taken another hit – losing R640 million during lockdown due to low traffic. Sanral said that at level 5, traffic volumes dropped to 25%, costing the group R300 million in toll fees. At level 4 another R140 million was lost, and at level 3 the group lost R200 million. These losses are on top of the money owed by Gauteng motorists for e-tolls. [EWN]
- Seized: Eskom has seized the bank accounts of another municipality that owes it billions of rands in unpaid bills. The account of Matjhabeng in the Free State has been attached, as the power utility seeks to claw back some of the R31 billion owed to it by municipalities. Matjhabeng owes R3.4 billion. Eskom has taken a harder approach to municipalities as its own debts continue to mount, now standing at R488 billion. It has threatened to shut down power supply to these regions as a negotiating tool to get funds back. [Eskom]
- Stay cautious: Officials warn that South Africans shouldn’t become complacent because the country’s Covid figures are declining – and that the wearing of masks, social distancing and good hygiene should be maintained. Active cases and new daily infections are dropping in South Africa’s ‘hotspot’ provinces, with KwaZulu Natal the latest to report a continued decline. The province, which has the second highest number of infections, reports higher recoveries and lower new infections. [TimesLive]
- Fight ahead: While Covid-19 infections are declining in countries like South Africa, another fight lies ahead – this time over the vaccine. Once a viable vaccine is available, middle-income and lower-income countries like South Africa will have to compete with high-income countries to get hold of enough doses to treat their populations. This puts the former at a massive disadvantage, that could potentially leave them fighting the disease for much longer, putting more lives at risk. [Bhekisisa]
- Markets: As we head into the new week, the rand will look for new momentum from global events, following a week of wide, but range-bound trading. On Friday the rand firmed, supported by the lure of higher yields and a slide in the dollar after jobs growth slowed in the United States. The currency starts the week on a steady footing at R16.60 to the dollar, R19.63 to the euro and R21.97 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]