Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 31.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 966,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,346 new cases, taking the total reported to 663,282. Deaths have reached 16,118 (an increase of 126), while recoveries have climbed to 592,904, leaving the country with a balance of 54,260 active cases.
- Gautrain taxes: Critics have called by the Gautrain Agency CEO that motorists should pay more taxes – some of which should be used to expand the train system – as ‘laughable’ and simply not possible. They hold that motorists are actually over-taxed, contrary to the Gautrain’s comments, and adding more pressure is untenable. The agency has since clarified the CEO’s comments to say that it was in reference to carbon taxes and ways to mitigate the harm of congestion in cities. [EWN]
- On the mend: South Africa’s economy is on the mend, according to the South African Reserve Bank’s business cycle indicator – but the bank has said it’s still too early to tell how long the country’s economic recovery will take. The indicator saw an improvement in 8 of the 10 economic components it tracks, pointing to an upswing in the economy following the months of lockdown. While this is a positive sign, there are no indications yet that the economy has swung back to levels before the lockdown. [Moneyweb]
- Corruption: With former president Jacob Zuma skipping his turn at the Zondo commission, attention has turned to fraud and corruption in the Free State, with testimony heard about over R600 million in state funds disappearing – almost a decade ago – with zero consequence. The funds were to be used for RDP housing which never materialised, with allegations that ANC MP and former MEC for human settlements in the province, Mosebezi Zwane, masterminded the scam. Zwane has also been implicated in Gupta dealings during his turn as mining minister. [Daily Maverick]
- Vaal mess: 26 municipalities are directly polluting the Vaal River integrated system, with raw sewage spilling into the system. Authorities say it will take 3 years to reduce the pollution and clear it up. The system consists of 14 dams, and are integral to the supply of water to residents and major industries. While blocked manholes are one cause of the pollution, the main cause of the spillage is from congestion of the main networks. [TimesLive]
- Markets: While markets wait to see whether or not the EU will implement new lockdown measures to contain the virus, US president Donald Trump has added tension with China to the mix, stating that the country has to be held accountable for unleashing the virus. The rand has come under pressure amid the global tensions, starting the day on Tuesday at R16.83 to the dollar, R19.65 to the euro and R21.40to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]