Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 41.3 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,133,000. In South Africa, there have been 2,156 new cases, taking the total reported to 710,515. Deaths have reached 18,843 (a daily increase of 102), while recoveries have climbed to 642,560, leaving the country with a balance of 49,112 active cases.
- Increase in Covid cases: Co-director of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory council, professor Salim Abdool Karim, says that South Africa has seen a slow and steady increase in the overall number of cases nationally, since the start of the month. He said that the politicking around the increase in the Western Cape – whether it’s 20% or 42% – is largely irrelevant as the factual situation is that cases are increasing. The Free State, the Western Cape and the Northern Cape are the largest contributors to the growing numbers. [ENCA]
- Corruption clamp-down: The National Prosecuting Authority promises more ‘developments’ related to tender corruption in Gauteng, saying the two more people will join the four former health officials who have already been brought to court to face allegations of wrongdoing in awarding tenders 11 years ago. The NPA said the two directors in question would have already been in court with the others, but arrest warrants could not be issued as they were overseas. [TimesLive]
- Budget watch: Businesses and investors will be looking out for key decisions in finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech next week – looking for signs of greater private sector participation and curtailing of the country’s growing debt burden. More than anything though, markets will want a clear plan with specifics on how government will deal with the things highlighted by the president’s economic recovery plan. [Daily Maverick]
- Load shedding: Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter says that the power utility was forced into load shedding in July and August – despite expectations that it would limit it to 3 days – because of ‘the worst winter in 10 years’. The CEO said that during cold snaps, demand exceeded what the utility had anticipated, even before lockdown began. High demand due to the cold weather exceeding expectations and available capacity, and so load shedding had to be implemented. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: The US presidential debate comes into focus today, as Joe Biden and Donald Trump battled it out one last time before the November 3 election. The dollar is on track for a weekly loss as the stimulus prospect continues to add pressure to the greenback. The dollar hitting a 7-week low has helped the rand gain momentum, breaking below key technical levels after numerous attempts. The rand starts the day at R16.22 to the dollar, R19.15 to the euro and R21.21 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]