Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 149.3 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.15 million. In South Africa, there have been 880 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,577,200. Deaths have reached 54,237 (a daily increase of 51), while recoveries have climbed to 1,502,986, leaving the country with a balance of 19,977 active cases. The vaccine rollout is expected to restart today.
- Restart: South Africa’s Johnson & Johnson Sisonke trial is expected to restart today, continuing the first phase of the country’s vaccine rollout. The trial was expected to conclude at the end of April with 500,000 healthcare workers inoculated, however, international concerns over blood clotting resulted in the programme being paused. It is now expected to finish on 16 May, with the next phase of the rollout – targeting the elderly, those with co-morbidities, and essential workers – to start thereafter. South Africa has secured enough vaccines to meet targets. [ENCA]
- Cluster outbreaks: Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has noted that there have been cluster outbreaks of Covid-19 in three provinces – particularly around mines, schools and townships in the Northern Cape, North-West Province and the Free State. The minister said that these spikes in infections could also be attributed to the Easter weekend. Despite the outbreaks, the national picture is looking relatively stable, with the number of active cases dropping slightly. However, Mkhize warned South Africans not to get complacent, as the risk of the virus flaring up again is always present. [EWN]
- Interdict: Solidarity and Afriforum have won a court bid to interdict the R1.2 billion relief funding for the South African tourism sector. The two organisations launched an urgent application to the court after the Minister of Tourism announced that the department’s fund for the recovery of the tourism sector is only accessible to people who qualify for BEE. The groups said that using relief funds to force transformation in an industry that has been decimated by government’s lockdown is morally unjustifiable. [Afriforum]
- Gigaba: Former minister Malusi Gigaba’s estranged wife, Norma Mngoma has presented damning testimony at the State Capture Commission, which paints the politician as a Gupta lackey, who bent to the will of the family and former president Jacob Zuma. She testified that Gigaba – who served as a minister of home affairs, finance, and public enterprises – had received a massive amount of money from the Guptas, and his government positions and duties were heavily influenced by them, as well as known allies. Mngoma said Gigaba would often complain about their interference. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Rand trading restarts on the back foot today, as India, Japan and Brazil all remain in Covid-19 crisis, with travel to and from India being largely shut down. It’s all eyes on President Biden for the first joint session of Congress when an increase in taxes is expected to be announced, while the Fed is likely to maintain its dovish stance during the FOMC interest rate decision and statement this evening. The ECB president Christine Lagarde is also expected to maintain the current position. We start the day at R14.39/$, R17.38/€ and R19.97/£. [Citadel Global]