Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 113.5 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.52 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,676 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,509,124. Deaths have reached 49,667 (a daily increase of 144), while recoveries have climbed to 1,424,401, leaving the country with a balance of 35,056 active cases. 52,647 people have been vaccinated.
- Here to stay: Health experts warn that people need to face reality and start coming to terms with the fact that Covid-19 is not going to go away, and that vaccines will not be the silver bullet to eradicate the virus among the global population. They said that the virus is one of hundreds that exist today, and will likely be around for the rest of our lives. The vaccines and non-pharmaceutical actions like wearing masks and social distancing are our best bet in building tolerance for the virus and life getting back to normal. [TimesLive]
- Enough: Another citizen group has had enough of their local municipality failing to deliver services, and is now taking it to court to get the municipal manager removed, claiming he is unqualified and has run it into the ground. Citizens are getting fed up with government’s repeated failure to deliver basic services, either trying to take over service delivery themselves, or staging localised tax revolts to force municipalities to do their job. So far, the High Court has sided with at least one group of citizens. [Moneyweb]
- Big Brother: The State Security Agency says it is no longer using ‘bulk surveillance’ methods, following the Constitutional Court ruling overturning key aspects of government’s RICA surveillance laws. The Act failed to have vital safeguards in place to notify people when they had been under surveillance, lacked ways to prevent collected data from being used unlawfully, and had no confidentiality protections in place, putting legal clients, whistle-blowers or other journalistic sources at risk. [Daily Maverick]
- Probe: Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is leaving it up to the Special Investigative Unit to complete its probe into allegations of irregular contracts between his department and people close to him. He told parliament that the contracts – worth R82 million – were flagged by the auditor-general, so the department was already aware of them and was investigating them, but he welcomed added scrutiny by the SIU. He said he would make the findings from the investigations public when they are available. [EWN]
- Markets: Thursday was a tough day for the local currency, as it tested the R14.80 to the dollar level during the afternoon, but soon broke past the R15.00 mark in the overnight session as a spike in US bond yields added pressure to the rand. The local trade balance is due today as well as personal spending and consumption numbers in the US. The rand starts the the day at R14.99 to the dollar, R18.25 to the euro and R21.00 to the pound. [Citadel Global]