Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 122.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.7 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,464 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,533,961. Deaths have reached 51,724 (a daily increase of 90), while recoveries have climbed to 1,459,894, leaving the country with a balance of 22,343 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 177,275.
- Third wave: Finance minister Tito Mboweni has warned that the third wave of Covid-19 in South Africa could lead to more credit rating downgrades for the country, as any move to shut down the economy via lockdown could destabilise government’s capacity to manage the economy. Ratings firms are keeping a close eye on Treasury’s moves to fulfil its budget promises. Experts expect a third wave of Covid-19 to hit the country in May, but say it could happen a lot sooner – like in April, after Easter – depending on people’s behaviour. [Reuters, BusinessTech]
- Fraud: Labour minister Thulas Nxesi says that the UIF has recovered over R2 billion in fraudulent or ‘glitched’ payments made during lockdown. Additionally, over 1,000 cases have been referred to authorities for criminal investigation. The minister said that money is being recovered on a daily basis, and investigations both inside and outside the UIF are being conducted. The Auditor-General last year found that billions in fraudulent payments were made to underserving beneficiaries, including the deceased. [News24]
- Load shedding: Eskom has implored South Africans to use electricity sparingly, as it continues to struggle to meet demand. Stage 2 load shedding is currently in effect, and is expected to last until 05h00 on Saturday. However, the power utility warned that the grid remains vulnerable, and things could change very quickly. Any deterioration in generation could result in the load shedding being extended further. Load shedding has been in effect for 10 consecutive days. [EWN]
- More protests: Letters asking government to fix roads in smaller towns in South Africa have failed, so now residents, farmers, workers and taxi drivers are taking to the streets in protest. The people of Ficksburg, Fouriesburg and Clocolan in the Free State have had enough of the lack of action over what they call the worst roads in the country. The protests drew out the province’s MEC for Police, Roads and Transport, who had to drive out and experience the 18km stretch of road for himself. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: Having finally broken below the R14.80 to the dollar mark after repeated testing, the rand held onto its gains this week, as the US Fed maintained its dovish stance. With no key data for release today, markets will continue to monitor the Eskom and strike action locally, while keeping an eye on global growth and inflation. We start the day at R14.76 to the dollar, R17.58 to the euro and R20.52 to the pound. [Citadel Global]