Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 55.15 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1.33 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,987 new cases, taking the total reported to 754,256. Deaths have reached 20,433 (a daily increase of 119), while recoveries have climbed to 696,820, leaving the country with a balance of 37,003 active cases.
- Presidential talk: President Ramaphosa has congratulated US president-elect Joe Biden on his victory in the US elections, and has wished him and the vice-president-elect Kamala Harris well on their transition to power in the states. Ramaphosa held a phone call with Biden, one of the official processes in place once a new leader takes power – this despite the Trump administration refusing to acknowledge a loss. Ramaphosa and Biden discussed strengthening ties and agreements between South Africa and the US. [The Presidency]
- Covid insurance battle: Short-term insurers were dealt another blow by the courts this week, with the Western Cape High Court ruling in favour of insured businesses, ordering that Santam pay out Covid-related claims without limitations, covering the entire policy period. Similar rulings against insurers are being appealed. Insurers have argued that coverage only applies to losses directly as a result of Covid-19, not subsequent or indirect circumstances such as lockdown. However, the courts disagree. [Moneyweb]
- Taxi strike: Taxi commuters will be left stranded or risk running extremely late on Wednesday as National Taxi Alliance operators march on Pretoria. The alliance represents 10,000 taxi operators, 3,000 of which are expecting to strike. Operators have been gathering for the march since 07h00. They will march on the capital and hand over a list of grievances, including demands for the promised Covid-19 relief to be issued. Commuters have been warned to find alternative transport. [EWN]
- Job cuts: The SABC has stopped issuing retrenchment letters to staff, following heated meetings with journalists and employees on Tuesday. The workers have made it clear to management that they won’t accept the retrenchments. The broadcaster said that it had no choice but to cut around 400 staff from its operations due to financial and operational constraints. However, the company still paid its top executives millions of rands in salaries despite a net loss of R511 million over the last financial year. [ENCA, MyBroadband]
- Markets: The vaccine euphoria is once again blowing off some steam, with markets looking for the next focal point to drive a direction. US retail sales also dampened the mood, indicating that the US economy has a long way to go in its recovery. UK CPI and PPI, EU CPI and local retail sales are due today. The rand is trading slightly weaker but remains range bound. It starts the day at R15.40 to the dollar, R18.26 to the euro and R20.40 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]