Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 31.1 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 961,000. In South Africa, there have been 725 new cases, taking the total reported to 661,936. Deaths have reached 15,992 (an increase of 39), while recoveries have climbed to 591,208, leaving the country with a balance of 54,736 active cases.
- More taxes: The Gautrain Management Agency wants to milk motorists for more money, saying that vehicle owners in the province aren’t paying their fair share in taxes – made worse by the non-compliance in paying e-tolls. The agency is looking for funding to further expand the Gautrain, and has approached National Treasury with proposals, which include a host of possible new taxes. This includes a potential fuel levy, other fuel taxes, higher vehicle licence charges or even a congestion tax. [Moneyweb]
- Strikes: President Cyril Ramaphosa will meet with unions on Wednesday, as Nehawu continues its protest action over wages and lack of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. The union has plotted several days of action across the country, backed by union federation Cosatu. President Ramaphosa briefly spoke to the unions, but could not meet with them. Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu said the president was feeling ill, and had to postpone. [TimesLive]
- Pyramid scheme warning: Data published by an anonymous ‘hacker collective’ has blown the lid on what appears to be bitcoin pyramid scheme operating in South Africa. The company involved is under investigation by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, and has been flagged in several other countries. The scheme claims to use a bitcoin-based forex trading bot to trade on international foreign exchange markets. It promises unrealistically high returns, while ‘founders’ draw excessive bonuses from the pool. [MyBroadband]
- Plot thickens: Public Works Minister Patricia de Lille says she is being targeted by her detractors for her campaign to clean up her departments and ‘disturbing the crooks’. The minister has faced accusations of abuse of power and mismanagement from within her own department. The department was responsible for the Beitbridge fence fiasco where over R40 million was paid for a border bridge that did not meet standards and did not work. An investigation commission by De Lille cleared her of any wrongdoing in the saga. [ENCA]
- Markets: Following the bloodbath witnessed on Monday, the rand held steady in the overnight session. Major international banks accused of processing illicit transactions rattled the market over and above the risk-off environment created by fears of renewed hard lockdowns. Europe is experiencing a second surge in Covid-19 cases, which has had a knock-on effect on the rand. On Tuesday, the rand starts the day at R16.81 to the dollar, R19.77 to the euro and R21.54 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]