Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 54.1 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,313,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,842 new cases, taking the total reported to 751,024. Deaths have reached 20,241 (a daily increase of 35), while recoveries have climbed to 693,467, leaving the country with a balance of 37,316 active cases.
- Cluster outbreaks: As Covid-19 cases continue to climb in South Africa at a rate of over 1,000 new cases a day, health minister Zweli Mkhize said that it is not a sign of a second wave sweeping the country, but rather as a result of cluster outbreaks in areas that need special attention. The Eastern Cape remains a particular concern, he said. In these areas, testing is being ramped up, hence the rising number of cases. In any event, it is still to early to tell whether these spikes are pointing to a second wave, the minister said. [EWN]
- Ace in the hot seat: The ANC’s top 6 will meet today to discuss the arrest of its secretary general Ace Magashule. The party’s NEC meets at the end of the month, where a debate is expected to rage over the party’s position on officials charged with corruption and other crimes stepping down. The party said it is still ‘finalising’ the rules, and as such Magashule will continue as is. Reports indicate that Magashule’s supporters are not only seeking for all charges against the SG to be dropped, but there are also calls for the party’s ‘leadership issues’ to be addressed. [TimesLive]
- Covid vaccine: Experts have poured cold water on the hype surrounding the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, saying that realistically it will take years for it to be rolled out – and high-income countries have already bought up most of the doses. For a place like South Africa, we lack the equipment necessary to produce it ourselves, while we also do not have the expensive storage capabilities. Then there is the question of price. The pandemic is not over, and will likely be around for a long while yet. [Mail & Guardian]
- State capture: Former president Jacob Zuma is pulling out all the stops to not appear before the state capture commission. Not only has he applied to have the commission’s chair, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo recuse himself over a tenuous family link, Zuma is now also attacking former public protector Thuli Madonsela, who sought to have the commission established, chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who selected Zondo as chair, and the entire process – seeking to have it declared unconstitutional. Zuma is central to accusations of state capture. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Asian equity markets rallied in overnight trade, as hopes of a vaccine bolstered risk appetite. Uncertainty around the US election is now diminishing while strong economic data from China and Japan both added fuel to the fire. Following strong employment and industrial production numbers from China this morning, the focus shifts to EU CPI due later today. The rand starts the day on the front foot at R15.46 to the dollar, R18.32 to the euro and R20.45 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]