Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 50.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,255,800. In South Africa, there have been 1,247 new cases, taking the total reported to 738,525. Deaths have reached 19,845 (a daily increase of 36), while recoveries have climbed to 680,726, leaving the country with a balance of 37,954 active cases.
- Unthinkable disaster: Deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo has lambasted government’s handling of state companies, saying it is simply unacceptable that every major state-run company is in distress. Zondo has been hearing testimony around state capture, which has delved into mismanagement and corruption at SOEs like Eskom, SAA, Transnet, Prasa, Denel and others. The latest testimony – about Denel – led the DCJ on the rant, describing the situation as an “unthinkable disaster”, with no one held to account. [TimesLive]
- Overpaid: Business Unity South Africa says public service workers are paid too much for what they do – and with the public wage bill now taking up half of all government spending, the country is at risk of losing its sovereignty, faces further downgrades, and becoming another failed African state, because parties cannot have a rational discussion about cutting spending. Research conducted by Intellidex shows that government workers are paid an average of R400,000, and have seen increases far above anyone else. [702, BusinessTech]
- Clear as mud: The Gauteng government’s transparency reports are getting less transparent, with the province now not delivering detailed figures of spend related to the state of disaster. The latest report left out spend from the province’s health department – such as an update on Gauteng’s field hospitals, which are still not complete even though the peak of the Covid-19 spread is long past. Insiders say that an SIU investigation has led to some suspensions at the department, though more details will only be forthcoming once it is complete. [Daily Maverick]
- Discovery blow: Financial services group Discovery has been dealt a blow by a ruling from the Council for Medical Schemes, preventing it from expanding low-cost medical aid services. The group had planned to grow this sector, but the CMS has revoked its permission to sign new members to these types of packages. The issue is with the regulatory framework of low-cost options – which is not yet in place – as they provide less coverage than industry regulations, and require an exemption to operate. It is expected be resolved in May 2021. [Business Day – paywall]
- Markets: News of a potential Covid-19 vaccine with a 90% success rate in third-round trials made headlines yesterday, seeing markets jump across the board and extending the risk rally. Chinese CPI eased to 0.5% in October year-on-year, from 1.7% in September. UK unemployment, local manufacturing production and US JOLTs job openings are due today. The rand rallied to levels last seen pre-local lockdown, before running out of steam. We start the day at R15.41 to the dollar, R18.23 to the euro and R20.32 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]