5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 56.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1.35 million. In South Africa, there have been 2,514 new cases, taking the total reported to 759,658. Deaths have reached 20,671 (a daily increase of 115), while recoveries have climbed to 702,544, leaving the country with a balance of 36,443 active cases.

  • Downgrade: South Africa faces more ratings downgrades in the coming weeks, with the first possibly coming today in a Moody’s review of the country post-budget and MPC meeting. S&P Global is also expected to provide a review soon. South Africa was downgraded to full junk status in March, with ratings agencies highly critical of South Africa’s slow pace of reform, needed to turn the economy around. While firms will be sensitive to the global context of Covid-19, South Africa’s fundamentals have long been performing poorly. [EWN]

  • Hit pause: The SABC has again suspended its retrenchment process – this time for 7 days, to allow the various stakeholders to engage on the matter. This follows interventions from the Department of Communication, after a fierce fightback was launched by newsrooms within the broadcaster. Some employees refused to go on air in protest. Unions say the suspension of the retrenchments, but not withdrawing retrenchment notices, rings hollow and is effectively meaningless to those affected. [News24]

  • Eskom: While electricity theft and illegal connections are typically associated with townships and informal settlements in South Africa, Eskom says the problem is far more widespread than that, with the utility recently uncovering bypassed metres in the more upmarket Waterfall Estates. While most residents are compliant, Eskom said it has found a number have illegally bypassed their meters. The power utility is on a campaign to clamp down on electricity theft to help its financial losses. [702]

  • Zuma out: Former president Jacob Zuma has given the middle finger the state capture commission, absconding minutes after deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo read out his decision to not recuse himself from proceedings. Analysts have called the move a delaying tactic, pulled from Zuma’s old book of tricks to avoid accountability. Furthermore, it is a violation of the summons against him, opening him up to further legal action – which experts say should be pursued by the commission. [Daily Maverick]

  • Markets: The rand remained on the backfoot ahead of and after the SARB MPC meeting, with sentiment unchanged on the expected holding of rates. The dollar ended its week-long slide as the US Treasury Secretary announced that certain stimulus would cease by year-end. It’s a light data calendar today, with UK retail sales due for release. The rand starts the day at R15.42 to the dollar, R18.31 to the euro and R20.45 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today