Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 27.9 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 904,000. In South Africa, there have been 2,007 new cases, taking the total reported to 644,438. Deaths have reached 15,265 (an increase of 97), while recoveries have climbed to 573,003, leaving the country with a balance of 56,170 active cases.
Load shedding: No load shedding is expected today.
- Economic sabotage: An economist has characterised Stats SA’s ‘misleading’ announcement of 51% GDP decline as ‘a form of economic sabotage’ – saying the methodology used to reach that figure was warned against by the OECD, and that it is not reflective of the state of the economy at all. While the country’s GDP did decline by some 17.1% quarter-to-quarter, this was anomalous, and other indicators – such as sales figures for general retailers – already pointed to recovery, growing 2% even amid lockdown restrictions. [Moneyweb]
- Under siege: Truck drivers and freight companies say they are under siege by criminals, with hijackers targeting fleet operators and already over 1,000 incidences recorded this year. Trucks transporting food and other goods are being targeted, with criminals striking at toll gates and known truck stops. Criminal syndicates show up with their own trucks to attach trailers and steal entire loads. The trucking industry recently suffered losses and damage amid nationwide strikes and protests. [TimesLive]
- Clicks protests: Unilever and the EFF, who were leading protests against the group, reached an agreement for the offending products to be pulled from shelves for 10 days, and for the protest action to cease. The director involved with the campaign has quit the company and left the country. Small Business Development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says this is not good enough, and has called for more action, saying stores should replace the brand with South African products. [Reuters, EWN]
- Private flying: Opposition parties are taking the ANC to task over its use of official state air travel for party-related excursions. Several ANC leaders used a SANDF jet to travel to Zimbabwe to discuss the economic and social crisis in the country. Parties are now accusing the ANC of abusing power – as use of SANDF jets are reserved for official use – as well as possibly flouting lockdown protocols. A formal complaint is being laid at the Public Protector. [Enca]
- Markets: The rand weakened on Thursday as data showing contractions in mining and manufacturing in July pointed to a slow recovery in the domestic economy. Thursday’s European Central Bank meeting did little to shift the rand out of its recent R16.45-R16.95 trading range where it has been lodged for several weeks. On Friday the rand is trading at R16.86 to the dollar, R18.96 to the euro and R21.61 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]