Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 116.2 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.58 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,404 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,517,666. Deaths have reached 50,462 (a daily increase of 96), while recoveries have climbed to 1,436,101, leaving the country with a balance of 31,194 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 92,029.
- Bad vibes: Further investigations into R82 million worth of communication contracts for the Department of Health have revealed that the director of the company involved was working at a petrol station, full time, when the contracts were undertaken. Instead, insiders at the department were under the impression that two close associated with the health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, were running the show. The associates, who were paid as contractors, deny acting as fronts for the company. The company has no web presence and an office address in a residential area. [Daily Maverick]
- Name game: The ANC in the Free State says that the renaming of streets, towns and cities needs to be ramped up in South Africa, claiming that it has a direct impact on service delivery – such as response times of emergency services. Government’s renaming programme has been in focus in recent weeks after several villages and towns were renamed in the Eastern Cape, including the main metro, Port Elizabeth, which is now called Gqeberha. [News24]
- Spending spree: Government is fast-tracking a number of development projects, with a R2 billion office for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform being approved for engineering group WBHO. The group said there has been a noticeable increase in South Africa in the availability of new projects from state-owned entities, including national roads agency Sanral, Eskom, Transnet, passenger rail agency Prasa and Rand Water. [Moneyweb]
- One year later: Today marks one year since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in South Africa, with health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize saying that despite difficulties, the country has remained resilient during the pandemic. However, he warned that the pandemic wasn’t something that happened, but something that is still happening. He called on South Africans to continue standing strong and adhering to all protocols that help prevent the spread of the virus. [ENCA]
- Markets: The dollar spiked to a three-month high as the US Fed maintained its dovish stance and US bond yields remain high. The rand buckled under the pressure, losing significant ground against the greenback. US unemployment is due today, followed by US imports and exports. The rand starts the day at R15.30 to the dollar, R18.20 to the euro and R21.27 to the pound. [Citadel Global]