5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 110.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.44 million. In South Africa, there have been 2,320 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,496,439. Deaths have reached 48,478 (a daily increase of 165), while recoveries have climbed to 1,399,829, leaving the country with a balance of 48,132 active cases.

  • No shots: South Africa’s medicines regulator has reportedly blocked attempts by politicians to jump the queue and get the Covid vaccine early. Government’s initial plan was to get various VIPs and high profile politicians to take the vaccine publicly, so they could demonstrate trust in the treatment. However, the regulator has shot this plan down, saying the first phase of the rollout is focused on healthcare workers. The vaccines currently being rollout are limited, and part of a tightly-controlled research programme. [BusinessLive]

  • UIF fraud: Authorities say they are closing in on officials and citizens that benefitted unduly from the Covid TERS scheme, including those who purposefully defrauded the system. Investigations have found a number of irregular payments in the scheme, including cases where UIF officials paid themselves or their friends, beneficiaries double-dipping with various grants, and amounts being too high or too low. Lifestyle audits of UIF officials are underway. [Moneyweb]

  • In the dark: While the ‘new SAA’ reportedly makes progress in becoming a new entity, many of the SAA subsidiaries have been left in the lurch, uncertain about their futures and whether they will be paid. Some groups like SAA Technical are still waiting to be paid full salaries, and are trying to meet with the Department of Public Enterprises to get clarity on where these groups – which were not included in the SAA business rescue proceedings – fit into the refinancing and bailout picture. [Fin24]

  • Vaal pollution: The South African Human Rights Commission has warned that government could be facing legitimate civil claims against the Department of Water and Sanitation over the pollution of the Vaal. An investigation into a sewage spill in 2018 has found that the pollution remains a crisis, and that failure by government to address it has led to adverse consequences which could see the department in the Constitutional Court. [EWN]

  • Markets: The vaccine program in South Africa is finally underway, with vaccines making their way to local hospitals last night. China is back in the mix following the week-long Chinese New Year shutdown, while the recent rise in US treasury yields and the expected “faster-than-its-peers recovery” kept the rand subdued. US jobless claims are due for release today as well as EU consumer confidence. The rand starts the day at R14.70 to the dollar, R17.60 to the euro and R20.26 to the pound. [Peregrine Treasury Solutions]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today