Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 142.7 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.04 million. In South Africa, there have been 744 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,567,513. Deaths have reached 53,575 (a daily increase of 21), while recoveries have climbed to 1,490,876, leaving the country with a balance of 22,880 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 292,623.
- Scammed: National Treasury has refuted claims by businessman Tokyo Sexwale, that billions of rands had been looted from a “heritage trust”, with national government and the finance minister fully aware of it. Treasury instead said that Sexwale was scammed, and that the trust he was referring to was not a known entity to SARB, and that government had received allegations of money been taken from the trust several times before. The trust, described as a common internet scam, has attempted to scam money out Treasury in the past, but has always been rejected. [Daily Maverick]
- Backlogs: Home Affairs is negotiating with workers to extend operating hours into the weekend, to allow the department to deal with a growing backlog of documents being processes. Government has promised in the past to deal with queueing, technical issues and corruption at the department, but problems remain evident. Offices currently close at 15h30 and do not operate over weekends, but minister Aaron Motsoaledi says that he wants this to change, with a potential shift system coming. [ENCA]
- Liquidation: A consortium of SA Express workers is asking for another 100 days to raise funds to buy the beleaguered SA Express, having already missed the deadline to do so. The airline’s liquidators gave an initial deadline of 11 August 2020 for the consortium to raise a 10% deposit for the transaction, which was later extended to 29 April. It is now seeking the further extension so that it can effectively ‘crowdfund’ the capital needed to put in a bid. If the extension is not granted, the airline will likely enter into final liquidation. [Moneyweb]
- Cape Town fires: Winds have subsided in Cape Town, giving exhausted fire fighters the opportunity to bring the Table Mountain fire under control. The fire, which started on Sunday, ravaged parts of Cape Town on Monday, causing thousands to evacuate their homes and doing untold damage to landmarks and institutions like the University of Cape Town’s Jagger Library. The fire is still raging, and firefighters say it will take several days to control, though it is contained for now. Over 250 firefighters have been battling the blaze, while one person has been arrested on suspicion of arson. [EWN]
- Markets: The rand is seeing largely range-bound trading, following the gains witnessed last week, operating in a range of R14.18/14.29. A break below R14.18/$ will open the door for levels closer to the R14.00/$ mark. With little global activity that could really move markets substantially at this point, it’s all eyes on tomorrow’s local CPI data and interest rate guidance from the BoE and ECB later this week. On the data front, it’s another quiet day today, with the only key release being employment data from the UK. We start the day at R14.21/$, R17.12/€ and R19.89/£. [Citadel Global]