Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 126 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.77 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,554 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,541,563. Deaths have reached 52,535 (a daily increase of 163), while recoveries have climbed to 1,467,254, leaving the country with a balance of 21,774 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 220,129.
- Delays: South Africa’s Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine procurement could be facing delays over the government’s failure to meet contract conditions, News24 reports. The delivery of 11 million doses of the vaccine are reportedly contingent on government setting up a no-fault compensation fund, which would allow anyone negatively affected by the vaccine to quickly receive compensation without lengthy court processes for the manufacturer. Government has not yet set this up, and so delivery schedules are being withheld. [News24]
- Grounded: SAA’s business rescue process is almost at an end, but despite billions in money forked over by government in bailouts, there is still no real plan to get the restructured airline off the ground. Discussions with possible equity partners have still not been concluded, and other necessary processes have been “sabotaged” by the pilots association, government alleges. R7.8 billion of the R10.5 billion bailout has been handed over. Government says it will cover the full cost of the restructure, but needs an equity partner for future capitalisation. [Moneyweb]
- Come arrest me: Jacob Zuma says he is ready to go to jail, and that he has lost faith in South Africa’s judges and courts, including the Constitutional Court. The former president, who has a long history with the country’s courts, is refusing to abide by a Constitutional Court ruling that he appear before the state capture commission, where over 40 witnesses named him as being core to the saga. Zuma accused the commission of bias and being incompetent, and said Constitutional Court itself is made up of people who have it out for him. [ENCA]
- Easter: South African churches are worried about talk of tighter lockdown restrictions, after recommendations were made this week that the country move to a higher level of lockdown to avoid super spreader events at Easter gatherings at the end of the month. The South African Council of Churches says that it is talking to its members to ensure that gatherings are monitored and restricted, but believes that religious celebrations can still take place as they did in 2020. 
- Markets: The rand broke through the key R15/$ level yesterday after the Reserve Bank left interest rates unchanged, despite the more optimistic growth forecasts from the central bank. The unit has clawed back some lost ground in the overnight session to dip back below R15 and, as the week draws to a close, it will be an important marker to watch, setting the tone for the coming week. It’s a thin day on the data front with only US confidence figures worth mentioning. The rand is trading at R14.96/$, R17.62/€ and R20.58/£. [Citadel Global]