Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 110 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.43 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,210 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,494,119. Deaths have reached 48,313 (a daily increase of 219), while recoveries have climbed to 1,396,951, leaving the country with a balance of 48,855 active cases.
- J&J vaccines: South Africa has received the first delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines at OR Tambo International Airport last night. The consignment will be moved to a secure facility in Gauteng before being distributed overnight to the various vaccine centres in all provinces – marking the official launch of government’s rollout strategy. Health minister Zweli Mkhize said an additional 500,000 J&J doses are expected to arrive over the next four weeks, with another 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine expected to be received at the end of March 2021. [Gov]
- Unused AstraZeneca: South Africa will give its unused doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the African Union. Use of the vaccine as part of the local phase 1 rollout was abandoned after it was found that it was ineffective against the local strain of Covid-19. The 1 million doses will be distributed by the AU to countries that expressed interest in acquiring the stock. This will reportedly be done at no cost to the fiscus. [ENCA]
- State capture: Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says that all the money stolen through state capture at state owned companies will be recovered, and that criminal charges will be brought against perpetrators. The minister said that SOEs were ‘honey pots’ for corruption, but remain a vital part of the economy. He said that for SOEs to be effective and to not be susceptible to the same activities, they need to be restructured – something government aims to do in 2021. [News24]
- Corruption: ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina says the party has never ordered MPs to defend or hide corruption, dismissing allegations by former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza, and testimony from ANC MP Dikeledi Magadzi at the state capture commission. Khoza claims that caucus leaders put the protection of the executive above parliamentary duties, and those in the party who did their jobs were punished. Magadzi previously testified that MPs knew to toe the party line in all matters, even if it meant ignoring red flags in spending and operations.[TimesLive]
- Markets: After reaching a high of R14.40 to the dollar, the rand’s rally petered out, with the dollar clawing back lost ground as market participants start to bet on a US economic recovery and a rise in inflation. UK CPI and PPI are due this morning, followed by local CPI and retail sales. The rand starts the day at R14.69 to the dollar, R17.76 to the euro and R20.40 to the pound. [Peregrine Treasury Solutions]