Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 156.7 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.27 million. In South Africa, there have been 2,149 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,590,370. Deaths have reached 54,620 (+63), while recoveries have climbed to 1,511,905, leaving the country with a balance of 23,845 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 366,101 (+12,920).
- Vaccine rollout: President Cyril Ramaphosa says that a comprehensive vaccine plan in in place to roll out the Covid-19 shots to South Africans. As part of the campaign, over 3,300 vaccination sites have been accredited, with goal still to inoculate 40 million people by the end of the year. The president said South Africa has secured enough vaccines for 41.5 million people, but warned that delays could hit, due to factors outside the government’s control. To date, vaccinations have been slow, with the Sisonke programme averaging 6,000 healthcare workers a day. However, in recent days the pace has picked up, with more than 10,000 vaccines being administered a day. [EWN]
- Packaged: Regulator Icasa says it is not explicitly supporting the South African Post Office in its bid to stop private couriers and postal services from delivering letters and packages under 1kg – but it is instead simply following the rule of law, which currently grants exclusive rights to deliver such items to SAPO. It said a court would need to determine whether Icasa’s interpretations of the laws are accurate and in-line with SAPO’s reading before it could be considered support. Icasa in 2019 sent cease and desist notices to private companies who were delivering mail. SAPO wants its exclusive right to these services upheld, despite its reputation for slow and failed delivery of post items. [MyBroadband]
- Transparent: Civil action group Outa is taking Sanral to court once again, this time in a bid to get the roads agency to hand over documents and information relating to long-term road contracts with private companies, where taxpayers are footing the bill for work being done to upgrade and maintain major routes. The contracts are in place for 30 years, and Outa suspects that billions in profit are being made. The request for information went unopposed by Sanral until the 11th hour, when its lawyers suddenly moved to block access. Outa now wants the courts to force Sanral to be transparent in its dealings and hand over the documents. [TimesLive]
- Showdown: The ANC faces a showdown between factions at its NEC this weekend, with supporters of suspended secretary general Ace Magashule squaring up to take on those who gave him the boot this week. However, supporters on both sides are also calling for calm and for ‘cooler heads to prevail’, lest the issue lead to a split in the party. Magashule was suspended this week, and sent shockwaves across the political sphere by attempting to oust president Cyril Ramaphosa by flexing powers he does not have. Analysts say that the suspended SG, who faces corruption charges and is out on bail, doesn’t have much support within the party. [ENCA]
- Markets: The South African rand rallied on Thursday as the governing African National Congress (ANC) stood by a decision to suspend one of its top officials charged with corruption and global risk appetite was strong. Other emerging market currencies, including the Russian rouble and Turkish lira, also gained as investors took comments by Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday to mean that U.S. interest rates would stay low despite the risk of higher inflation. On Friday the rand was trading at R14.20/$, R17.14/€ and R19.75/£. [Reuters]