Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 144.5 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.07 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,569 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,569,935. Deaths have reached 53,940 (a daily increase of 53), while recoveries have climbed to 1,495,864, leaving the country with a balance of 20,131 active cases. The vaccine rollout is still paused.
- Ignored: The government has ignored many scientific recommendations it has been given in making decisions around lockdown. The health department has released advisories supplied by scientific experts, which reveal that many of government’s recent actions actually went against their advice. This includes when the experts called for some restrictions on alcohol sales, and government implemented a complete ban. Or when the experts recommended a quicker return to school, and government extended closures for a longer period. Government also sometimes took a softer approach, like increasing the size of gatherings over Easter, against advice. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- Withdrawal: Questions are being raised around Jacob Zuma’s imminent court battle on corruption charges, after his legal team withdrew as his representatives at the 11th hour. The court battle was expected to start on 17 May, but with no legal team, doubts are being cast on the case getting off the ground. The process has been delayed countless times over the course of a decade. Critics say it is a calculated move on Zuma’s part to keep delaying the process – however, other experts point out that there could be a host of valid reasons for Zuma’s legal team to dump him, including inability to pay. Zuma recently lost an appeal to get the state to pay his legal costs. [ENCA]
- Bogus: The latest from investigations into a digital communications company – tied to associates of health minister Zweli Mkhize – is that the group submitted allegedly fraudulent information in bid documents for government deals. The company is under scrutiny for winning over R82 million in government contracts, with little to show for it. Two close associated of the Mkhize are linked to the company, having been paid as contractors. However, the latest findings are the the group submitted bogus details about team members and previous experience, in documents seeking government contracts. [Daily Maverick]
- Battle: The ANC is preparing to go to court against itself, with the Free State branch of the party apparently defying the national working committee by challenging the nullifying of its provincial executive committee (PEC). The Supreme Court of Appeal found the 2018 election of the PEC was unlawful and unconstitutional set aside with costs. The ruling was seen as a major blow to Ace Magashule, who used the PEC as his centre of power. Magashule faces suspension from the party if he does not step aside by the end of the month, and is reportedly scurrying to find support to push back against this. [EWN]
- Markets: The global backdrop remains uneventful, with markets waiting for new events to provide them with direction. It’s all eyes on the ECB today to see whether it will reiterate the stance of its US counterpart, as the European bloc continues to grapple with high Covid-19 infections, lockdowns and resulting economic fallout. This afternoon will see the release of US jobless claims, as well as the US leading index. The rand remains range bound, starting the day at R14.25/$, R17.16/€ and R19.87/£. [Citadel Global]