Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 106.7 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.32 million. In South Africa, there have been 2,435 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,476,135. Deaths have reached 46,290 (a daily increase of 110), while recoveries have climbed to 1,360,204, leaving the country with a balance of 69,641 active cases.
- Plan B: The government has had to shift to Plan B on its Covid vaccine rollout, as the distribution of the AstraZeneca doses was put on hold over concerns about its efficacy against the local variant of the virus. Further complicating matters is that the vaccines received in South Africa expire in April – a few months earlier than expected. Government said the plan has now shifted to getting the Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer vaccines to health workers. [Daily Maverick]
- Déjà vu: South Africa’s schools are set to open in a week’s time, and are facing the same problems they faced last year when they were trying to re-open for the first time. Schools are reporting that they are not yet ready to open – however, politicians are pushing the opposite message. Last time, schools were forced to find money to fund their own PPE procurement, and in many provinces school openings had to be delayed. This time around, analysts are expecting much of the same as the target date of 15 February approaches. [Mail & Guardian]
- Cause and effect: Authorities have recorded a spike in accidents and domestic violence cases after the nationwide ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted last week – with medical experts expecting to see an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks as well, as South Africans disregard regulations against social gatherings. The number of alcohol-related traumas has closely tracked the restrictions on alcohol sales in the country, with Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma stating in court documents that further bans are not out of the question. [TimesLive]
- State capture links: A new investigation by amaBhungane has found questionable ties between Nedbank and state-captured-linked Regiments Capital, relating to contracts and millions of rands in commissions paid pushing Nedbank accounts to state-owned companies. Wherever investigators looked in Regiments’ business operations, Nedbank was close behind offering products such as loans and complicated financial services in its wake. The bank has denied any unlawful activity. [amaBhungane]
- Markets: After struggling to break below R14.90 tot he dollar last week, the rand found a different momentum during the US session on Friday. It’s a quiet day on the data front with only EU consumer confidence due today. The rand starts the week on steady ground at R14.87 to the dollar, R17,90 to the euro and R20.42 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]