Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 117.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.6 million. In South Africa, there have been 862 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,521,068. Deaths have reached 50,678 (a daily increase of 31), while recoveries have climbed to 1,440,874, leaving the country with a balance of 29,516 active cases. The number of vaccines administered is 101,841.
- Exposed: Police reports and documents provided to the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) have brought grave allegations against Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) and its parent company, Kapsch TrafficCom. Among the allegations are that ETC, with full knowledge of Kapsch, made payments totalling R10 million over three years to a company called ProAsh Business Services without receiving any services or deliverables from the company. [MyBroadband]
- GDP: South Africa’s Q4 GDP data will be published this week, with economists expecting a significant contraction for the year. Current expectations are for around a 7% decline in GDP for the year, though this is based on forecasts of around 5% to 5.5% growth in the fourth quarter. While the big drop is due to the economic turmoil brought about by Covid-19 and lockdown, South Africa had entered into recession before the Covid crisis hit. [Moneyweb]
- Divided: The ANC’s factional battles are again in full view as the party’s secretary general Ace Magashule told MPs to vote against the DA’s motion to remove Pubic Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, supported by the ANC Women’s League and MKVA. However, other party members, including cabinet members, have rebuked Magashule’s demands, telling him to stay in his lane while criticising him for calling opposition parties enemies. Magashule is also said to be friends with Mkhwebane. [TimesLive]
- Vulnerable: Police officers have expressed concern for their own safety, after a string of police killings in the Western Cape. Seven officers have lost their lives in the past two weeks, with some voicing concerns over poor working conditions – including having no electricity – which makes them vulnerable to attacks. Police minister Bheki Cele recently told officers to use deadly force when dealing with threatening situations. [ENCA]
- Markets: The US Senate finally passed the highly anticipated $1.9 trillion stimulus bill that will see most Americans receive $1,400. The gold price has managed to gain back some momentum, while the dollar has taken a slight blow. Local business confidence is due today, as well as US wholesale trade sales and inventories. The rand remains on the back foot, trading at R15.37 to the dollar, R18.30 to the euro and R21.25 to the pound. [Citadel Global]