Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 44.6 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching over 1,175,000. In South Africa, there have been 2,056 new cases, taking the total reported to 721,770. Deaths have reached 19,164 (a daily increase of 53), while recoveries have climbed to 649,935, leaving the country with a balance of 52,671 active cases.
- Wage freeze: Union federation Cosatu says it’s not going to accept a wage freeze – a strategy cemented into the budget this week by finance minister Tito Mboweni, as the main consolidation item in his bid to cut government spending. Cosatu says only overpaid politicians and top-level workers should have salaries cut, while government should save money by stopping irregular, and wasteful spending. Public service union the PSA has already threatened to down tools if government proceeds with the wage freeze. [Moneyweb]
- Bailout: Despite protests from finance and public enterprises ministers, Mboweni and Gordhan, that the R10.5 billion allocation to SAA is not a bailout – the market, analysts and economists are calling a spade a spade, and see the money as undeserved funding from the public pocket. The technicality, the ministers say, is that the funds are not a cash injection, but rather part of a business rescue process. However, even a ‘rescued’ SAA is expected to face nearly R60 billion in losses over the next five years. It has received R57 billion in bailouts since 1994. [Daily Maverick]
- Qualifications: People are left unable to get jobs due to a backlog of over 40,000 higher education certificates that have not been issued. Engineers, artisans and business students have been left in the lurch, only able to get low-paying jobs with a matric certificate to get by, as the Department of Higher Education has failed to address the backlog. Some qualifications stretch back to as far as 1992. Higher education minister, Blade Nzimande told parliament that he was ‘ashamed’ of the situation. [Mail & Guardian]
- Tracking: Vodacom and MTN have launched investigations into the potential abuse of their location-based services by third-party Wireless Application Service Providers. This follows reports that cellular location-based services were used to plot the assassination of Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, who was murdered outside his home on 18 September. WASPs were given full access to subscribers’ sensitive location data in “good faith”, with the understanding that they will not abuse this data. [MyBroadband]
- Markets: News that Singapore will start allowing visitors from the Chinese mainland, coupled with positive GDP numbers from the US, helped to bolster sentiment slightly as markets head to the end of the week. Sentiment however remains on knife edge as Germany and France both reintroduce restrictions on the back of rising Covid-19 cases. The rand remains steady as it awaits momentum from the US election next week. The rand starts the day at R16.35 to the dollar, R19.10 to the euro and R21.13 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]