Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 30.8 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 958,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,555 new cases, taking the total reported to 661,211. Deaths have reached 15,953 (an increase of 13), while recoveries have climbed to 590,071, leaving the country with a balance of 55,187 active cases.
- Suspicious banking: Global banks, including several from South Africa, have been linked to illicit money transfers, according to leaked documents that have made their way into the hands of global media. The transfers were identified as suspicious activity reports by the banks, with the list of transactions compiled and submitted to US Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. Over 2,100 such transactions were identified. [Reuters]
- E-toll urgency: Sanral sits with a no-win scenario around e-tolls, with the agency urging government to make a decision on the matter, as it battles with liquidity issues. The decision on what to do with the system rests with president Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet. If the system is scrapped, debt tied to the project jumps from R40 billion to R67 billion – however, if it remains, the fact that only 20% of people are paying makes the system unsustainable. [Bloomberg]
- Gupta tax: The Guptas and companies linked to them are being slapped with a massive tax bill, related to payments made around events such as the Gupta weddings – which was paid for with money that was supposed to be used for a dairy farm project in the Free State. One of these companies faces an effective tax bill of R80 million, while the wedding – which cost R30 million and was declared as a business expense – has now been made taxable. [Daily Maverick]
- Covid contracts: Major anomalies are turning up in investigations around PPE procurement, with one such contract increasing ten-fold. The SIU are investigating a contract where the price ballooned from R87 million to over R800 million, before being chopped to R5 million. The owner of the business involved said that he was confused by the amount, as he had never put in a tender for that amount, saying that the respective department’s confirmation letter was where the increased amount came in. [TimesLive]
- Markets: The rand gets off to a slightly weaker start to the week than the highs experienced last week. Markets will be closely watching a new wave of Covid-19 in Europe, with a resurgence of the virus posing enormous risk to the global economic recovery. On Monday, the rand starts the day at R16.28 to the dollar, R19.31 to the euro and R21.09 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]