Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 165.5 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.43 million. In South Africa, there have been 3,522 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,621,362. Deaths have reached 55,507 (+167), while recoveries have climbed to 1,528,868, leaving the country with a balance of 36,987 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 558,170 (+39,031).
- Retrenchments: Lockdown retrenchments have increased six-fold, according to data published by insurance group, Liberty. The group said that at the start of 2020 it was processing around 10 retrenchment claims a month – but five months after Covid-19 hit the country, the number had increased to over 60 a month. Liberty’s clients represent middle-to-high income earners, showing that no one was spared by the ravages of Covid and nationwide lockdowns. The spike was noted in other kinds of claims as well, such as death claims, which tripled during the same period. [TimesLive]
- No fault: The Public Health Association of South Africa wants government to include a ‘no fault’ compensation fund as part of the NHI, saying that pooling all the health resources together in the country – as the bill intends to do – would open it up to a flood of legal cases. The group pointed out that all current claims against provincial health departments would total R105 billion if they were all to be paid out. A no-fault compensation fund would be able to pay out some form of compensation to patients who may be injured during the ‘care process’, without having to drown the NHI in litigation. A similar fund has already been established as part of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout. [News24 – paywall]
- We were busy: South Africa’s former Speaker in Parliament, Baleka Mbete, told the state capture commission that parliamentarians simply didn’t have the time to address “noise” and “rumours” of state capture. This was in response to questions around why there was a major lack of parliamentary oversight and action when it came to the presidency of Jacob Zuma – who has been deeply implicated. Mbete said that there were not enough resources or capacity among MPs, who were very busy, while the allegations of state capture were scattered and spread thin among various portfolios. She said ti was only after the murmurs became shouts, post 2016, that parliament started taking action. [Mail & Guardian]
- ANC vs ANC: The ANC is gearing up for a massive legal battle with itself in the coming months, and the party pulls in heavy-weight legal representatives to take on the team for suspended secretary general, Ace Magashule, who is challenging the party’s step-aside rules in court. The party that once dealt with its many divisions behind closed doors at NEC and NWC meetings, will now be airing its dirty laundry before the courts. Magashule wants the step-aside rule to be declared invalid. While he is not presenting the case as the ANC, he represents one of the known, informal factions within the party. The ANC, as an entity, is opposing him in court. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand weakened on Wednesday as data showed consumer price inflation rose to its highest in more than a year, but not too high to dampen expectations that the central bank will not raise interest rates on Thursday. Headline CPI quickened to 4.4% year-on-year in April, its highest since February 2020 and close to the mid-point of the central bank’s target range. On Thursday the rand was trading at R14.08/$, R17.15/€ and R19.87/£. [Reuters]