Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 137.3 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.96 million. In South Africa, there have been 655 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,559,113. Deaths have reached 53,356 (a daily increase of 34), while recoveries have climbed to 1,484,356, leaving the country with a balance of 21,401 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 289,787.
- Collapse: Civil group Outa says that government has completely lost control of the Road Accident Fund, which is R300 billion in debt and reportedly on the brink of collapse. The group noted that the fund has grown from R9 billion a year to R45 billion a year, and is being plundered by unscrupulous lawyers and officials that enable them – all while taxpayers keep footing the bill. If the fund collapses, motorists will be left to fend for themselves in accidents and many will never receive compensation. 
- Risk: South Africans will be taking on certain risks when procuring power from so-called ‘power ships’, the Department of Energy has warned. Among other things, fluctuations in the international price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and the dollar/rand exchange rate will be passed on to consumers, while things like carbon taxes and environmental levies will also be factored into the end-price. This should raise some red flags, as government is entering into a 20-year agreement with the ships, which would be difficult to renegotiate once sealed. [Moneyweb]
- Illicit: A new Ipsos survey shows that the sale of illicit cigarettes in South Africa have spiked following an 8% increase in taxes on tobacco products, with even more worrying findings about retailers carrying these illegal products. The survey found that 74% of retailers are selling illicit brands, for far less than the minimum taxable amount. Tobacco producers say they are outraged by the findings. The results follow tobacco bans under lockdown in 2020, where groups warned that the result would be consumers looking for black market alternatives. [Fin24]
- Delinquent: Delinquent director, Dudu Myeni, has lost one of two appeals she lodged with Supreme Court of Appeal to try and reverse being labelled a delinquent director for life. The dismissed appeal related to the delinquency order itself, while an enforcement order is still to be heard. If both appeals fail, she will likely head to the Constitutional Court next. Myeni, who is strongly tied to former president Jacob Zuma, was declared a delinquent director over abuse of power, maladministration, dishonesty and interference during her time as SAA chair. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: US earnings season is underway, with markets keeping a close eye on the performance of US organisations as that country continues to claw its way to a recovery. Locally the loan guarantee scheme, that forms part of the Covid-19 relief package, has been extended by three months in an effort to continue supporting the locally driven recovery. Trade from China outperformed expectations, while we will look towards UK GDP, as well as local gold and mining production numbers later today. US CPI will be carefully watched this afternoon. The rand remains steady but on the front foot, trading at R14.56/$, R17.33/€ and R20.01/£. [Citadel Global]