Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 35 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,034,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,573 new cases, taking the total reported to 681,289. Deaths have reached 16,976 (a daily increase of 38), while recoveries have climbed to 614,781, leaving the country with a balance of 49,532 active cases.
- Strike: Union federation Cosatu says it has been left no choice but to strike this week. The group plans national action on Wednesday, leading protests against corruption, wage issues and health and safety issues among the country’s workforce. Cosatu says the government is unable to lead the country out of the current crisis, and while workers will be withdrawing their labour, the impact on the economy will be small, as the Covid-19 crisis and government’s inaction has already put the economy on its knees. [EWN]
- Land expropriation: Government’s policy of land expropriation without compensation is under the spotlight once again, with critics highlighting that recent revelations show that the move is purely political, and unnecessary. This is because government itself is about to auction off about 900 under-utilised or vacant pieces of land – while Eskom has just attached 139 farms in the Free State for unpaid electricity bills. Critics say this shows that government has plenty of land at its disposal for land reform purposes. [Moneyweb]
- Corruption: Head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Advocate Andy Mothibi says that corruption has always been part of South Africa’s healthcare sector – where corrupt officials act with impunity, believing nothing will happen to them. The Covid-19 pandemic ‘hoisted the flag’ and brought the corruption into the spotlight. The SIU head said action is being taken against people in high positions. Aside from tender fraud, other corruption, like ‘ghost’ employees getting paid, are also being discovered. [TimesLive]
- Flight risk: South Africa’s new air travel rules have caused some confusion among operators and travellers, leading to some flight delays, and in once case, a cancellation. The confusion comes as South Africa treats flight crew the same as other passengers in the regulations. Crew members are allowed into the country, but do not have freedom of movement due to travel risks. While this has caused some pressures with incoming flights, authorities assure that these are just wrinkles that will be ironed out and normal services will resume. [ENCA]
- Markets: The rand starts the week on a strong footing against major currencies, holding its own below the R16,50/$ threshold, after gaining 0.65% in the overnight session, as mounting uncertainty in the US continues. Eyes remain on US president Donald Trump’s condition, the lead up to US elections, as well as the Eurogroup meetings. On Monday, the rand starts the day at R16.42 to the dollar, R19.26 to the euro and R21.26 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]