Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 35.8 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,048,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,913 new cases, taking the total reported to 685,155. Deaths have reached 17,248 (a daily increase of 145), while recoveries have climbed to 618,127, leaving the country with a balance of 49,780 active cases.
- Strike: Unions have given the government 14 days to respond to their demands, following the nationwide strike on Wednesday. Union federation Cosatu said that failure to meet its demands would result in more strike action. The group was joined by other federations in protesting government’s failure to honour wage agreements and a host of other concerns, including corruption, poor working conditions and gender based violence. [Moneyweb]
- Closing in: National Prosecuting Authority head Shamila Batohi has warned that the days of criminals acting with impunity are drawing to a close, as the prosecuting office circles in on high profile cases. She noted that the NPA was tasked with prioritising cases, of which 33 were identified. The Hawks added more cases, and the NPA is now focused on 87 cases. Batohi said it has been challenging, and the wheels have been turning slowly – but actions in recent weeks show that they are turning. [TimesLive]
- VBS Looting: High profile heads are expected to fall after former CFO of VBS Mutual Bank, Phillip Truter was sentenced to 10 years in jail this week, having turned state witness to help bolster the case against those who orchestrated the looting of over R2 billion from the group’s coffers. Investigative journalists speculate that Truter turned state witness to set the record straight over how much of the looting had been attributed to him. He is said to have only managed to steal R2 million from the accounts, off of R5 million offered. 
- Borderline: Calls for action against public works minister Patricia de Lille are growing, as the wasted R40 million at Beitbridge border fence fiasco continues. ANC MPs have called for de Lille to be held responsible for the issue, which falls under her portfolio, saying there is enough evidence to lay the blame at her feet. Investigations have found that the 40km fence was not fit for purpose and amounted to wasteful spending. The ANC MPs said that de Lille issued an illegal directive. [News24]
- Markets: The rand remains steady, trading within the R16.55/R16.72 range for the most part. The overnight session saw little movement, even as hope of targeted US stimulus provided some upbeat sentiment. Markets will be keeping an eye on local manufacturing data today, as well as US jobless claims. On Thursday, the rand is trading at R16.66 to the dollar, R19.57 to the euro and R21.51 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]