Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 40.9 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,126,000. In South Africa, there have been 2,055 new cases, taking the total reported to 708,359. Deaths have reached 18,741 (a daily increase of 85), while recoveries have climbed to 641,706, leaving the country with a balance of 47,912 active cases.
- Lockdown legal action: Civil groups have had enough of lockdown in South Africa and have written to co-operative governance minister Dlamini-Zuma, demanding reasons for why the state of disaster continues to be extended, backed by evidence and input from experts. Failing that, the groups will approach the High Court to challenge the whole affair. South Africa has been in lockdown since 27 March. While it is currently on the lowest level, restrictions are still in place, preventing the normal flow of business for many sectors. [Moneyweb]
- Ramaphosa’s recovery: President Cyril Ramaphosa has pushed past criticism of his economic recovery plan, and called on opposition parties to stop grandstanding and come together for a single purpose under the plan. He said the country needed to act with urgency to create jobs. The president’s recovery goals have been met with a largely cold response, calling it a rehash of the same plans presented by him and the ANC in the past. It was also deemed unachievable due to the ANC’s poor track record with implementation and corruption. [ENCA]
- SAA bailout: The R10.5 billion bailout of failed state airline South African Airways is cabinet-approved, says public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, so that means there are no differences between himself and finance minister Tito Mboweni over the issue. Mboweni has to find the funds in the current budget for the bailout, which is expected to be detailed in next week’s MTBPS. Mboweni has stated in the past the he does not support the continued bailing out of the airline. Government wants to reboot the airline. [Business Day – paywall]
- Rising power prices: Residents across the country are increasingly flagging rising electricity prices that seem out of whack with the increases announced by Eskom. While the power utility’s granted increase was below 10% (and it is fighting Nersa for an increase of 15%), residents in different provinces report experiencing increases above 50% in some cases in the past year. This is putting municipal price hikes in the spotlight, following previous claims that users were getting ripped off. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Wednesday saw a great performance by the rand, reaching as strong as R16.28 to the dollar in late afternoon trade, as the risk rally continued with market participant hopes still on a stimulus deal by the US. UK retail sales and US initial jobless claims are due for release on Thursday. The rand slipped back overnight and is trading 0.5% weaker than the high we saw yesterday, at R16.37 to the dollar, R19.39 to the euro and R21.40 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]