Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 155 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.24 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,187 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,586,148. Deaths have reached 54,511 (+59), while recoveries have climbed to 1,509,656, leaving the country with a balance of 21,981 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 339,655 (+10,557).
- Threat: Unions are threatening South Africa’s water supply, as they gear up to go on strike over wages and and incentive bonuses. While the municipal worker union Samwu has not stated that it will actively disrupt essential water services, it has made veiled threats to that effect, saying it “cannot guarantee” that water supplies won’t be disrupted, and that residents should “pray for rain”. Rand Water has assured South Africans that it is highly unlikely that water supply will be impacted by the disputes, but unions have again taken an ominous position, saying it’s a case of “wait and see”. [Fin24]
- Delay: As the ANC solidifies its position that corruption charges members step aside from their positions in the party – and now has the backing of top officials and various committees to put it into effect – there is another move in the party to delay or halt the process, as many of those in the spotlight want to appeal the decision. This has left party leaders scrambling to set up some sort of appeal process. If members do not step aside willingly and go the route of appealing, they may end up being suspended, which could lead to yet another appeal process, significantly extending the 30-days given to vacate the position. High profile members charged with corruption have not stepped down voluntarily. [TimesLive]
- Co-payments: The Council for Medical Schemes has indicated a possible move against ‘co-payments’ as part of medical aid plans, calling them “undesirable”. Members of medical schemes are often required to make additional payments when visiting pharmacies, doctors or health professionals that are not part of a network tied to any given scheme. This has led to many smaller, independent or community healthcare services being prevented from forming part of daily healthcare for members. The CMS will be publishing new guidelines on co-payments in the coming months, with a report expected by August. [ENCA]
- SAA: Subsidiaries of South African Airways will finally be getting some financial relief, with a Special Appropriation Bill signed by the finance ministry allowing them to have access to R2.7 billion of the R10.5 billion allocated to the failed airline as part of the business rescue bailout. SAA Technical (SAAT) will receive R1.7 billion, Mango Airlines R819 million, and Air Chefs R218 million. The money will come as a relief to Mango, in particular, where worries about continued operation were widely reported. SAA has received close to R50 billion since 2008 from the government in the form of guarantees, and will continue to need support as it ‘relaunches’ as a new airline. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: The South African rand weakened against a dominant dollar on Tuesday, erasing the previous day’s gains as investors awaited upcoming data and policy speeches. A survey also showed South Africa’s manufacturing activity grew less quickly in April, but it did little to affect the rand. Market focus is on a scheduled review of South Africa’s sovereign credit by Moody’s on Friday. The rating agency already has the country’s debt in “junk” status, and the question is whether it will cut that rating further still. On Wednesday the rand was trading at R14.44/$, R17.35/€ and R20.06/£. [Reuters]