Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 159 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.3 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,778 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,596,595. Deaths have reached 54,735 (+11), while recoveries have climbed to 1,516,256, leaving the country with a balance of 25,604 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 382 480 (+0).
- Variants: The second batch of the commercial run of Covid-19 vaccines has arrived in South Africa, with 325,000 more Pfizer doses landing at the weekend. The vaccines will be arriving in batches of this size until the end of May. The second phase of the vaccination programme is expected to start on 17 May. Experts have called for caution as two dangerous variants of the Covid-19 virus have been detected in South Africa – the variant first discovered in the UK, and the one first discovered in India. The former is already being transmitted at community level, while the latter is still contained. [ENCA, NICD]
- More tax: ‘Affluent’ households in Johannesburg will be charged an additional recycling levy of R50 from July – in an attempt to solve a problem that already has a solution. The levy will purportedly finance the contract of a recycling company – however, it has been argued that informal waste pickers who rummage through household waste already do the job, and earn a small but reasonable living doing so. These waste pickers already collect around 80% of recyclable material, making the need for the city to contract a company and charge overburdened households 25% more on waste collection fees, nonsensical. [Moneyweb]
- ANC battle: Suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule remains defiant of the party’s order that he step aside, claiming that he is still in the position, despite being booted from the party’s NEC meeting this past weekend. Magashule says he is appealing the order, thus has not vacated the position. The ANC NEC met this weekend to discuss the matter. Magashule’s supporters are pushing for an early conference to elect new leadership of the party, saying the current leaders have spent the last 4 years on factional battles, leaving the party in ‘auto-pilot’. A majority of the NEC support the step aside rule and the suspension of Magashule, however, showing strong backing for president Cyril Ramaphosa. [Mail & Guardian]
- Zuma: Former president Jacob Zuma has lost another legal team, this time being the lawyers representing him in the personal costs case. Zuma is in the process of appealing a personal costs order against him, made by the High Court in 2017. This is the third legal team to abandon the former president in recent months, with the team helping him fight corruption charges dropping him in April, and another legal team terminating its mandate with him in October last year. [EWN]
- Markets: The rand gained strongly on Friday, hitting its highest level against the dollar since January 2020, hours before Moody’s was scheduled to publish a review of South Africa’s credit rating. The review, which was expected late on Friday, has instead been skipped by the agency, with the next scheduled review now in November. South Africa’s economy was junked in 2020, with prospects looking bleak – however, the economy is performing better than many economists expected. On Monday the rand was at R14.05/$, R17.10/€ and R19.73/£.