Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 145.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.09 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,413 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,571,348. Deaths have reached 53,995 (a daily increase of 55), while recoveries have climbed to 1,496,756, leaving the country with a balance of 20,597 active cases. The vaccine rollout is still paused.
- To war: As unions wait for government to respond to public wage demands today, there is a view from leaders that a ‘war’ with government is unavoidable at this stage. Government has taken a position that public servants should not get a wage increase in the coming year due to budget constraints. Unions, meanwhile, are demanding increases as least above inflation, with a host of other add-ons. Union leaders are already seeking strike certification ahead of government’s response, believing that their demands will be ignored. They are planning major strike action if demands are not met, including work stoppage. [ENCA]
- No go: The South African tourism industry wants the United States to explain its decision to put the country on a level 4 advisory, which recommends that US citizens steer clear of South Africa and change travel plans. Tourism leaders said that while South Africa has its problems, the USA was not much better off, and South Africa did not restrict its citizens from travelling there. The industry has called on the US ambassador to South Africa to explain the reasoning behind the move, and what data it was based on. The local tourism industry has been devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and subsequent bans on local and international travel. [EWN]
- Tokyo: Businessman and ANC veteran Tokyo Sexwale has doubled down on his claims that billions of rands were looted out of a ‘heritage fund’, which was meant for philanthropic causes. The SARB and National Treasury have countered his claims saying there is no record of the fund or the money therein, saying Sexwale was scammed. However, the businessman says that he has a case number and documents relating to it that prove that money has been stolen. The Hawks have confirmed that there is probe into the claims, but it was launched only recently, and is still in the early stages. [TimesLive]
- To the skies: New SAA’s interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo says that airline could be flying in again commercially by July, with the group targeting a two-month window ending in August to once again take to the skies. In May and June, the group wants to kick start chartered flights. However, this plan is contingent on cooperation from pilots and the resolution of the dispute the airline has with them. Pilots have been locked out of the company since December, and have not been paid full salaries since then. They have launched action at the Labour Court against this. Kgokolo said if the dispute cannot be resolved, the airline will hire pilots from ‘the aviation market’ if needs be. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: While markets remain cautiously optimistic about economic recovery prospects and the vaccination rollout programmes, concerns around rising Covid-19 cases are increasing. It has been a quiet data week, although the calendar is slightly on the heavy side today. Retail sales and PMI are due from the UK, while the EU is also due to release PMI. The US will follow with PMI and new home sales. The rand remains range bound, but trading to the weaker end of the range this morning, starting the day at R14.30/$, R17.19/€ and R19.82/£. [Citadel Global]