Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 27.6 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 898,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,990 new cases, taking the total reported to 642,431. Deaths have reached 15,168 (an increase of 100), while recoveries have climbed to 569,935, leaving the country with a balance of 57,328 active cases.
Load shedding: After cancelling load shedding for a second day, Eskom says that there will be no load shedding tomorrow – though the risks remain high.
- Feigning ignorance: New guidelines published by the Auditor General of South Africa aims to cut off one avenue politicians use to avoid accountability in dodgy deals – feigning ignorance. The guidelines are set up to support financial officers and other government entities – even top leadership – in following proper procurement processes, limiting excuses of ‘not knowing what processes to follow’. The hope is that these good governance guides will make fraud and corruption around procurement more difficult to shrug away. [TimesLive]
- Presidential frustrations: President Cyril Ramaphosa is just as frustrated as the other South Africans over the slow turning wheels of justice, saying he would like to see prosecutions around state capture and other forms of corruption happen more swiftly – however, he does not want to get too involved in the processes, saying it is a dangerous thing for any head of state to meddle with such things. The president was speaking in a Q&A with the South African national editors forum. [Moneyweb]
- Last chance: State-owned airline SA Express has been granted a last-chance extension to avoid final liquidation, with the High Court granting its administrators an almost two-month period to finalise talks with potential investors to sell the group. The airline owes creditors over R2.5 billion, and administrators say it has zero prospects of rescue, having run out of cash and getting no more financial support from government. However, there is one final ‘pending sales process’, expected to be concluded by 6 October. [Daily Maverick]
- Worse than Covid: Following almost six months of economic crisis brought on by Covid-19 and resultant lockdown, focus is now shifting back to South Africa’s other crises – with load shedding top of mind for investors. Mining executives say that increasing disruptions to power supplies from Eskom will impacts plans to invest in the sector, saying that the impact from rolling blackouts is far more pronounced than the Covid-19 pandemic. [Reuters]
- Markets: The rand staged a decent recovery to the R16.60 to the dollar level on Wednesday, tracking the euro stronger, as the focus shifts to the European Central Bank meeting today. This will set the tone for any clear move away from the broader R16.45-R16.95 range that we have seen over the past two weeks. On Thursday, the rand is steady at R16.66 to the dollar, R19.69 to the euro and R21.64 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]