Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 62.3 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,453,000. In South Africa, there have been 2,563 new cases, taking the total reported to 787,702. Deaths have reached 21,477 (a daily increase of 38), while recoveries have climbed to 730,633, leaving the country with a balance of 35,592 active cases.
- Resurgence: Health minister Zweli Mkhize says that the resurgence of Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape appears to be worse than the initial wave of infections in the middle of the year. The minister is in the Eastern Cape to support health workers, which he admitted are struggling as hospitals get fuller. Sources on the ground in the hotspot areas report flagrant disregard for social distancing and mask wearing protocols, with a sense from some in the communities that they simply don’t care. [TimesLive]
- Not off the hook: While South Africa’s Covid-19 TERS payments are coming to an end, the payments already made are not yet in the clear, with the Unemployment Insurance Fund now appointing independent auditors to track where all the money has gone. The payment scheme has suffered a number of setbacks, with technical issues and fraudulent claims. Authorities say arrests have already been made related to employers making fraudulent claims. [ENCA]
- Going nuclear: As energy minister Gwede Mantashe signs off the process to build 2,500MW of nuclear energy projects, investigations warn that South Africa is about to be hit with a massive PR campaign from Russian energy interests to sell the country on the idea. This is similar to a previous push during the Zuma administration, when Russian suppliers were said to be frontrunners to lead the local build. South Africa has been consistently warned against nuclear energy due to the costs involved, which the country simply cannot afford. [Daily Maverick]
- Collusion: Only 2 of 7 JSE listed companies, who entered into a Voluntary Rebuilding Programme (VRP) settlement agreement with government, are up to date with their payments. The VRP was established in 2017, as part of a settlement reached when the companies involved were reprimanded by the Competition Commission for bid rigging and collusion in builds for the 2010 World Cup. The companies who are not up-to-date with payments say they have been aversely impacted by Covid-19 – though each must argue their own case. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: Heading into the new week, as the year winds down, the landscape remains steady as the transition of power continues in the US while vaccination hopes remain high. Chinese PMI remains in line with market expectations, as the Asian economy continues its recovery. Local PMI and trade balance data are due today, followed by US pending home sales. The rand starts the day at R15.23 to the dollar, R18.24 to the euro and R20.33 to the pound.