Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 164.3 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.4 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,757 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,615,485. Deaths have reached 55,260 (+50), while recoveries have climbed to 1,526,638, leaving the country with a balance of 33,587 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 478,733. New vaccination numbers are still being consolidated.
- Phase 2: Health minister Zweli Mkhize says that South Africa’s first day of the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout went relatively well, barring challenges presented by nationwide load shedding, and violent protests in the Free State. The minister said that ‘a large number’ of vaccinations were administered, but the figures were still being consolidated as the numbers of elderly given the jab at old age homes were still coming in. The health department has given a 24 hour window for the numbers to be properly tallied before releasing the figures. A dashboard will be launched for the tracking of vaccination numbers in real time. [Mkhize]
- Delaying: Jacob Zuma’s latest delaying tactic to dodge his day in court to face corruption charges, is to try and get state prosecutor advocate Billy Downer to recuse himself. The case has already been delayed this week due to Zuma’s troubles with legal representatives, but the former president is now also looking to frustrate the process further with the recusal bid. Zuma’s day in court has been a decade in the making, where he faces hundreds of counts of fraud, corruption, racketeering and money laundering. Downer has spent 15 years trying to bring Zuma to book. [TimesLive]
- Paused: Eskom has paused load shedding on Tuesday, after some of its units returned to power. However, it said that load shedding will continue again on Tuesday evening from 17h00 to 22h00, as the grid remains under severe pressure due to other breakdowns and a lack of capacity to deal with the evening peak. Load shedding returned this week after Eskom lost 10 generating units at seven power stations. While some capacity is back, Eskom warned that the outlook for the rest of the week remain unpredictable – though things are expected to improve. [Eskom]
- ANC battle: The ANC has appointed a legal team to challenge suspended secretary general Ace Magashule’s challenge to its decision to give him the boot, based on the party’s ‘step aside’ rules. Magashule is seeking to have his suspension set aside and declared invalid on the basis that the ANC’s step aside rules are unconstitutional and executed with political bias. He also wants the court to put aside the ANC’s order that he apologise to Cyril Ramaphosa for trying to suspend him as president. The ANC said that its decision-making bodies agreed to oppose the court bid. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed against the dollar in afternoon trade on Monday, recovering from losses earlier in the session as fears of a new wave of Covid-19 infections in Asia dampened demand for emerging market currencies. There was mixed trade in the rand in the previous week, breaking below the key R14.00 technical on its way to a 16-month best before retreating as fears over a return of inflation in the United States sparked worries about higher lending rates there. On Tuesday the rand was trading at R14.06/$, R17.11/€ and R19.93/£. [Reuters]