Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 90.2 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1.93 million. In South Africa, there have been 17,421 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,231,597. Deaths have reached 33,163 (a daily increase of 339), while recoveries have climbed to 966,368, leaving the country with a balance of 232,066 active cases.
- Level 4: Health experts have echoed calls from government officials that parts of South Africa be pushed into a higher level of lockdown, with Gauteng seen as a key target for this measure as it grapples with a rising number of cases. This has been exacerbated as people return from holiday destinations, leading to infection across provincial borders. It has been speculated that a level 4 lockdown would once again limit interprovincial travel. [TimesLive]
- Boots on the ground: The SAPS has confirmed that the South African National Defence Force has been deployed in limited number to help enforce lockdown rules in hotspot areas. The SANDF has been deployed since at least Tuesday. It was initially reported that the army was around only to keep people off the country’s beaches, but it has since been revealed that they are also out in force to uphold the 21h00 to 06h00 curfew. [News24]
- Same scam, same people: The latest bitcoin trading scam to collapse in South Africa has been found to be similar to a previous scam that followed the same pattern, and involved many of the same people. Mirror Trading International has unravelled, with members losing money invested, and the founder disappearing. This is exactly what happened with another scheme, BTC Global, which collapsed in the same way in 2018. Investigations by MyBroadband explore the links between the two. [MyBroadband]
- Internal issues: President Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly taken exception to the ANC’s Integrity Committee, claiming that the body is misrepresenting his submissions around the funding of his 2017 campaign, and giving the impression that he was delinquent. While the president has publicly praised the committee for its work in dealing with corrupt party officials, a letter has surfaced which shows a different picture behind closed doors. [EWN]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar on Friday, recovering ground after a torrid week in which the country recorded a peak in daily Covid-19 infections and doubts over its vaccine supplies came to the fore. The rand was partially helped by the dollar softening after a weak US jobs report, though news that South Africa would get an initial batch of vaccines from the Serum Institute of India also comforted investors. On Monday, the rand was at R15.41 to the dollar, R18.77 to the euro, and R20.80 to the pound. Commentary by Reuters. [XE]