Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 90.8 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1.94 million. In South Africa, there have been 15,046 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,246,643. Deaths have reached 33,579 (a daily increase of 416), while recoveries have climbed to 973,265, leaving the country with a balance of 239,799 active cases.
- Schools reopening: Questions remain over whether or not schools will reopen amid the second wave of Covid-19, with president Cyril Ramaphosa indicating only that the issue is currently sitting with the NCCC for discussion. Teacher unions have said that the matter needs to be approached with clear heads, and with consideration to the fact that many learners did not complete the 2020 academic year. The new school year is currently expected to start on 27 January. [TimesLive]
- Desperation: Following shocking images of Gauteng hospitals treating Covid patients in makeshift tent wards in the pouring raid, doctors in the province have broken their silence about the conditions they work in. Gauteng is seeking a spike in admissions for Covid, and hospitals are rapidly filling up. Doctors say the conditions under which they are treating patients may not be ideal due to desperate circumstance, but they are saving lives. However, the cost is great, with many suffering trauma from the experience themselves. [Daily Maverick]
- Wealth audit: Tax Review Committee Chairperson Dennis Davis says that all wealthy South Africans should be audited by SARS, as a growing tax hole will require the revenue service to go for easy pickings and shake out more money from the rich. Davis said that there are approximately 6,000 people who are earning over R5 million a year, and many are not disclosing everything. He said if all is above board and within the law, they will have nothing to worry about – but going after tax dodgers is part of SARS’ mandate. 
- Plan B: Medical aids in South Africa are currently grappling with the question of a plan B for Covid vaccine procurement, should government’s plans fail. Government has claimed the monopoly on the sourcing and distribution of vaccines in South Africa, with president Cyril Ramaphosa claiming that 20 million doses have been secured, though with no further detail. Medical aids will be helping to fund the procurement, but have been left with no capacity to secure doses themselves, leaving members vulnerable to the tenuous capabilities of the state. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: The rand continues to face pressure, while the country braced for Ramaphosa to take the stand once again on Monday as SA’s Covid-19 cases continue to rise, with global cases surpassing the 90-million mark and deaths nearing 2 million. Following the break above R15.50/$, the rand’s new trading range is R15.50/R15.69. The rand starts the day on Tuesday at R15.55 to the dollar, R18.89 to the euro and R21.03to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]