Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 92 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1.97 million. In South Africa, there have been 13,105 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,259,748. Deaths have reached 34,334 (a daily increase of 755), while recoveries have climbed to 1,019,123, leaving the country with a balance of 206,291 active cases.
- Anti-vaxxers: Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, has slammed a misinformation campaign being perpetuated by those he believes are against vaccinations in general. Fake news about being forced to take the Covid vaccine, or somehow getting Covid from 5G, are being spread on social media, prompting response from various experts and officials. Karim says the misinformation is about fearmongering, and spread by a small, but vocal group of people who are ‘deliberately anti-vaccine’. [ENCA]
- Alcohol ban: With the alcohol ban in South Africa extended indefinitely, the alcohol industry is now asking government to cut it some slack by giving another deferment of excise duties so that the sector can mitigate some of the damage being done. The request comes as brewers suffer job losses, and major industry players take government to court over the ban. The industry pays approximately R2.5 billion a month in excise duties. It also contributes about 3% or R172 billion to GDP. [Moneyweb]
- Cutting down: Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the rapid rise in Covid-19 infections and a number of deaths at the department’s branches means that some services will have to be put on hold for now. Home Affairs will no longer do smart ID applications and collections, nor birth and marriage certificates until further notice. These services make up the bulk of reasons people flock to branches. Only matric students will be allowed to apply for IDs for the time being. [M&G]
- Shocked: Former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko claims that he had no idea that an email address he was sending confidential information about the company to, belonged to Gupta associate Salim Essa. He told the state capture commission that he was told the email address belonged to Eskom chair at the time, Ben Ngubane. The email address used had no indication of identity, and Koko never greeted Ngubane by name in any correspondence. A number of Eskom executives and authorities communicated with the address, sending confidential information, apparently not knowing exactly who it belonged to. [EWN]
- Markets: As the dollar rally lost steam, overnight trade saw the rand claw back just shy of 2%, with US treasury yields falling back and the greenback suffering its sharpest daily fall against the euro in over a month. The local unit continues to experience volatility. EU industrial production numbers are due today followed by local retail sales and US CPI. The rand starts the day on solid ground, trading at R15.19 to the dollar, R18.56 to the euro and R20.80 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]