Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 150.2 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.16 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,250 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,578,450. Deaths have reached 54,285 (+48), while recoveries have climbed to 1,503,611, leaving the country with a balance of 20,554 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 298,153 (+5,530).
- Deployed: President Cyril Ramaphosa has tried to distance the ANC from its members and high-ranking officials who have been implicated in state capture, saying that even though some of the party’s members have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar, it does not mean the party as a whole is corrupt. The president danced around the issue of cadre deployment, saying that the party was trying to reform and deploy people who are ‘fit for purpose’ to serve government. However, he acknowledged that there are many views within the party – different factions – and some of these carry certain economic interests. [Moneyweb]
- Vaccines: South Africa’s Sisonke vaccination programme restarted without issues on Wednesday. 3 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines are expected to arrive in the country over the next two months, with phase 2 of the rollout starting around the middle of May. 95 vaccination sites are gearing up to roll out the vaccine en masse, but government has to pick up the pace of administering the jab to hit its targets. To meet the Sisonke target of 500,000 vaccinated by 16 May, government needs to vaccinate 12,000 people a day. So far, it is managing only 6,000. [EWN]
- Deadlock: With wage negotiations between government and public sector unions in a deadlock, South Africa is one step closer to a massive strike. However, the unions involved have indicated that strike action will only proceed if it is protected. This means they will have to go through a lengthy process in getting the necessary certificates and permissions to do so. Alternatively, they could go into mediation with government, with a third party appointed to try and break the deadlock. Government has made the unprecedented move to ask the nation at large for help with breaking the deadlock, seeking input from anyone who will give it. [Daily Maverick]
- Hazard: The Gauteng government admitted that it hasn’t made much progress in addressing problems at 32 hospitals in the province, where it has been known for several years that hazards and maintenance issues exist. One of the hospitals in question is Charlotte Maxeke, where a fire broke out earlier this month. A report presented in March revealed that of 32 hospitals flagged as being hazardous, only two had any critical repairs done. In 2017, government was warned that these hospitals were in a perilous situation and needed urgent maintenance. The province is only now at the stage of tendering for repair work. [TimesLive]
- Markets: The rand recovered ground as the Fed reiterated its expected dovish stance, noting that it is still too early to consider tightening monetary policy, while President Joe Biden moved to unveil his plans for a further $1.8 trillion stimulus package. As usual, the anticipation of massive amounts of liquidity for several months provided support for the rand and other risk assets. Local PPI will be published this morning, to be followed by US GDP and initial jobless claims this afternoon. The rand is back on track for a potential leg stronger, opening at R14.22/$, R17.27/€ and R19.85/£. [Citadel Global]