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 125.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.75 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,048 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,540,009. Deaths have reached 52,372 (a daily increase of 121), while recoveries have climbed to 1,466,595, leaving the country with a balance of 21,042 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 207,808.

  • Not a rollout: The Medical Research Council has again reminded South Africans that the current distribution of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine is not a rollout, but a “3B open-label study”, which replaced the government’s vaccine rollout when it was paused in February. The study aims to vaccinate 500,000 healthcare workers, while government waits for doses to arrive as part of its rollout plan. It is not clear when these doses will be available, but various options should be abundant after July. [TimesLive]

  • Shuffle: A major cabinet reshuffle could be on the cards in government, with insiders telling the Mail & Guardian that the shake-up is most likely to be felt most in the Department of Public Enterprises, which is currently juggling some major issues with SAA and Eskom. It has been said that these failed SOEs will likely be moved to better-suited portfolios – transport and energy, respectively. President Cyril Ramaphosa hasn’t made any sweeping changes to his cabinet for some time, and has made no major move to shrink it since the initial downsizing when he was elected. [M&G]

  • Rates: The Reserve Bank is expected to make a rates announcement today, with expectations that rates will be held at current levels. The decision will come after inflation figures came in below the targeted range of 3%-6%. Economists say that while this would usually signal room for a cut, because the drop in inflation is weighted towards infrequent purchases (clothing, footwear, appliances), while things like food, electricity and fuel are much higher (5%+), the SARB will be mindful that consumers remain under pressure. [702]

  • E-tolls: Roads agency Sanral has fallen silent on both the status of e-tolls, as well as allegations of corruption related to the failed system, where R40 million was said to be paid to a sub-contractor two weeks after toll collection company ETC scored contracts with the agency. Sanral’s official line on the matter is that it cannot comment on anything until transport minister Fikile Mbalula has made an announcement on the future of the e-tolling system. [Moneyweb]

  • Markets: The rand continued its see-saw battle during most of Wednesday. It started on the back foot, gained during European trading and weakened again after hours in moves that were mostly flow driven. Today sees the release of local PPI data and US GDP and payroll data while local interest rates are expected to remain unchanged during today’s interest rate announcement. The rand is trading at R14.92 to the dollar, at R17.65 to the euro and at R20.45 to the pound. [Citadel Global]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today