Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 49.9 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,250,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,392 new cases, taking the total reported to 737,278. Deaths have reached 19,809 (a daily increase of 20), while recoveries have climbed to 679,688, leaving the country with a balance of 37,781 active cases.
- Wasteful spending: While much of the ‘flagged’ dodgy spending when it comes to Covid-19 funds has been concentrated in the Department of Health so far, the latest Expenditure Disclosure reports the Gauteng Department of Education shows that education may be getting in on the feast as well. The report shows R98 million paid to 28 companies to “sanitise” buildings – despite this process not being recommended by government or supported by the scientific community. Spending was up from just R14 million a month before. [Daily Maverick]
- Critical shortage: South Africa’s economic recovery plan is pinning its hopes on major infrastructure projects – but economists and industry analysts are warning that the construction sector is facing a critical shortage of building and construction materials. Companies report that they are struggling to source sufficient stocks of steel products; bricks; cement; timber; and many imported products, including plumbing, power tools and electrical products. [Moneyweb]
- SA on Biden: South African officials and organisations are reacting to the victory of president-elect Joe Biden at the weekend, with president Cyril Ramaphosa congratulating him for the win, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation saying the president-elect has a difficult path ahead of him, restoring the USA after the Trump administration did the works to tarnish its image as a human rights leader. Biden is making preparations for the presidency, however, Trump is yet to concede and continues his claims of fraud – though he is yet to provide evidence of this. [EWN]
- Tshwane mess: The new mayor of Tshwane, Randall Williams says the administrators appointed by the Gauteng government managed left the city’s finances a mess, and managed to spend R4.6 billion in three months. Williams has now launched an investigation to find out what happened. The provincial government placed the DA-led council under administration in March after a standoff between political parties which prevented the approval of budgets and affected key services. [TimesLive – paywall]
- Markets: The Joe Biden win saw risk assets gain momentum, with markets banking on more stability, while a divided congress will still ensure low interest rates for longer and potential fiscal stimulus. Markets will be keeping an eye on Christine Lagarde from the European Central Bank today as she makes her statement, while lockdown situations in Europe and the UK remain on the radar. The rand starts the week on the front foot at R15.55 to the dollar, R18.49 to the euro and R20.50 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]