Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 168 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.5 million. In South Africa, there have been 2,383 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,637,848. Deaths have reached 55,874 (+72), while recoveries have climbed to 1,541,250, leaving the country with a balance of 40,724 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 651,628 (+3,645).
- Looted: The full extent of the Gupta family’s profiteering from state capture is yet to be determined, but from the funds that can be traced so far, investigators says that it is at least R50 billion that filtered its way to the family. Investigators not only revealed the figures involved, but also some of the processes, showing how government contracts were won and paid out in a couple of weeks. Also revealed, the extent of the network of companies used by the family to allegedly launder the funds – making use of no fewer than 14 companies to serve as vehicles for the money. The three main sources of looting: Transnet, Eskom and the Free State provincial government. [Daily Maverick]
- Rollout: The South African Medical Association has raised concerns about South Africa’s capacity to vaccinate the population at the rate required to meet government targets – even with the private sector slowly coming on board. While vaccination sites have grown in number, the number of jabs being administered is not growing – sticking to just under 40,000 a day. South Africa needs to vaccinate at least 100,000 people a day to meet the phase 2 target, and nearly double that to meet the 40 million target in early 2022. There have been delays in the distribution of vaccines, while some sites are only now starting the second part of phase 1 vaccinations, targeting healthcare workers. [ENCA]
- Third wave: Netcare says that South Africa needs to brace for the third wave of Covid-19 infections, with the country likely to meet the technical requirements for the label within the next week. Several provinces in South Africa have already declared a third wave – including Gauteng, the Free State and the Eastern Cape – with others, like the Western Cape, giving a broader window. The WC says it is expecting to hit a third wave within two weeks. Echoing other analysts and health experts, Netcare raised concerns around Gauteng, saying it is at risk of being overwhelmed, especially as we enter the winter months. [BusinessLive, 702]
- Irregularities: The health department has admitted that there are ‘glaring irregularities’ with contracts won by Digital Vibes – a purported communications agency with personal ties to health minister Zweli Mkhize. The SIU is investigating a contract worth R82 million that was secured by the group, where media reports have highlighted little work being done. The SIU has asked for patience and time to investigate the matter. Media reports, meanwhile, continue to flag issues with the contracts, including how millions of rands were filtered to two people tied to Mkhize – his former personal assistant and a ‘close friend’. [TimesLive]
- Markets: The rand extended gains on Monday, passing the 18-month best reached on Friday as the currency drew strength from rating agencies holding the country’s credit rating and outlook at current levels. S&P Global Ratings affirmed South Africa’s long-term foreign currency rating at BB-, three notches below investment grade, and kept local currency debt at BB. It predicted a stable outlook for both. Fitch also affirmed South Africa’s long-term foreign currency issuer default rating at ‘BB-‘ on Friday and maintained a negative outlook. On Tuesday the rand was at R13.90/$, R17.00/€ and R19.71/£. [Reuters]