Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 136.64 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.95 million. In South Africa, there have been 931 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,558,458. Deaths have reached 53,322 (a daily increase of 66), while recoveries have climbed to 1,483,296, leaving the country with a balance of 21,840 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 288,408.
- Double tax: Civil groups are starting to push back against proposed tariff increases in Johannesburg, saying that the rate hikes are coming at a time of economic sensitivity, with many households unable to afford the jumps. While massive increases to water and electricity tariffs are unavoidable, questions have been raised around the R200 residential prepaid metre surcharge, as well as the R50 ‘recycling’ levy that the city wants to impose. These have been described as egregious and unreasonable ‘double taxes’ being levied on the population. [TimesLive]
- Bittersweet: South Africa’s sugar tax – under the health promotion levy – is working, according to new research published by Wit University. Researchers assessed purchasing habits nationally, of both taxable and non-taxable beverages, before and after the tax was implemented, with the results showing a positive move away from sugar-filled drinks. The sugar tax accounts for around 11% per litre of the price of sugary drinks, with the researchers suggesting the data could be used to apply sugar taxes more broadly to change behaviour. [Moneyweb]
- Spies: Former intelligence minister David Mahlobo is facing a police investigation over illegal spying activities on critics of former president Jacob Zuma. The Hawks are reportedly closing in on Mahlobo and have already interviewed key witnesses in the matter. A state security operative said people targeted in the spying activities included former Sygnia CEO Magda Wierzycka, journalism professor Anton Harber, and finance minister Tito Mboweni. [MyBroadband]
- Zuma: South Africa’s courts are dealing with two matters relating to former president Jacob Zuma. The first is a Constitutional Court decision on whether to jail the former president for being in contempt of its rulings; the second matter is with the Judicial Services Commission which must determine whether it will impeach Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe for trying to swing a court ruling in Zuma’s favour back in 2008. The ConCourt has asked Zuma for his own input on its decision, while the JSC just received the recommendation to impeach, and is assessing the findings. [News24 – paywall]
- Markets: As we head into the new week the rand is maintaining a measure of stability, despite giving up some ground to kick the week off above R14.60/$. While we wait for a new catalyst to provide the local unit with direction, markets will be keeping a close eye on US inflation due later this week. Retail sales from the EU are due today. We start the week at R14.62/$, R17.38/€ and R20.01/£. [Citadel Global]