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 71.5 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,612,800. In South Africa, there have been 5,163 new cases, taking the total reported to 866,127. Deaths have reached 23,451 (a daily increase of 175), while recoveries have climbed to 762,746, leaving the country with a balance of 79,930 active cases.

  • You will pay: Eskom needs money, says CEO Andre de Ruyter – and one way or another, South Africans are going to pay up. The chief executive said it is a choice between continued taxpayer subsidies to fund the company, or it adopts more cost-reflective tariffs. A tariff hike to meet these levels would see prices increase 28% – though de Ruyter says that it should be implemented in a staggered way. The group forecasts a full year loss of R22 billion as it continues to struggle to get its finances under control. [702]

  • Matric rewrite: Basic education director general Mathanzima Mweli says that the High Court’s decision to set aside the matric rewrite for maths and science has plunged the department into crisis, with uncertainty around what will happen with the certification of the matric results. The court ruled that it was unfair to make hundreds of thousands of matric students suffer a rewrite when the extend of the exam leaks is not known and cannot be determined. Mweli said the department is awaiting response from Umalusi. [Mail & Guardian]

  • Lockdown winners: The latest Essential Food Pricing Monitoring Report prepared by the Competition Commission shows that food retailers reaped the benefits of the national lockdown, as panic buying and shopper behaviour shifted in response to the pandemic. Sales revenue was up 10% plus, while margins were also up significantly. However, concerns were also raised by the report, particularly around price increases, which were apparently out of synch with wholesale prices. Worryingly, prices are yet to return to pre-lockdown levels. [BusinessLive]

  • Zuma dodge: Former president Jacob Zuma is successfully dodging the state capture commission, refusing to engage with any process initiated by the commission to get him to appear before it and answer questions on fraud and corruption. Zuma absconded from the commission last month, and in the latest move of defiance has refused to respond to a Constitutional Court bid to get him to appear. 34 witnesses have named him as being central to state capture. There are no indications he will cooperate. [Daily Maverick]

  • Markets: The rand firmed 0.6% ahead of the address by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the government’s response to the pandemic on Monday, settling within the trading range it has held since the weekend. Some additional restrictions have been put into place, with effort to mitigate any major damage to economic activity. Meanwhile, global markets have eyes on the Covid-19 vaccine and rollout plans. On Tuesday the rand is at R15.06 to the dollar, R18.29 to the euro and R20.07 to the pound. [XE]

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5 Important things happening in South Africa today