Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 172.4 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.7 million. In South Africa, there have been 5,782 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,675,013. Deaths have reached 56,711 (+110), while recoveries have climbed to 1,565,684, leaving the country with a balance of 52,618 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 1,117,569 (+72,465).
- Corruption: The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) says that it has never before seen such an immense scale of corruption in one investigation, as it has with South Africa PPE fraud during the Covid-19 pandemic. The unit has prioritised R14.3 billion worth of alleged corruption around PPEs in the country, reasoning that this type of activity did the most harm to citizens. The unit is actively investigating 2,695 cases of contracts worth R7.6 billion, with close to 2,000 more cases still to be looked at. Gauteng accounted for the majority of the cases, with 1,832 contracts worth R5.6 billion being investigated. [TimesLive]
- Power ships: Two senior officials from the minerals and energy department have confirmed under oath that they met with the losing bidder in the power ships deal and two alleged associates of Gwede Mantashe at an upmarket restaurant, where they discussed a tender worth billions. The bidder claims he was pressured to engage in a corrupt scheme – while the officials say they merely assured him that the tender process would be clean. The multi-billon rand power ship deal ultimately went to a Turkish company who scored a long-term contract to supply the bulk of the 2,000MW on offer. [amaBhungane]
- Scandal: President Cyril Ramaphosa says that he has spoken to health minister Zweli Mkhize about the Digital Vibes scandal, saying that minster is cooperating fully with the Special Investigative Unit on the matter. Ramaphosa described the accusations against Mkhize as disturbing, saying that the SIU’s investigation needs to be completed without delay so any due legal processes can be followed. The president said he will deal with the matter once all the facts are available. Mkhize is accused of being complicit in an irregular R150 million communications contract given to associates, which he benefited from. [EWN]
- Racism: The allegations of racism levelled against Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter have been dismissed by an independent investigation, which called the allegations “wrong, egregious, false, baseless and without substantiation”. The investigation also found no evidence of the other allegations against de Ruyter, which included maladministration, abuse of power, and irregularities. The claims were made by former chief procurement officer Solly Tshitangano, who was fired of a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of poor performance in the role. The investigation was carried out and compiled by Advocate Ishmael Semenya. [Eskom]
- Markets: The South African rand rallied to its highest in more than two years against the dollar on Wednesday, as investors cheered the latest evidence of a sustained rebound in global economies and as US Treasury yields pulled back. With the local economy remaining weak and facing power cuts, the rand’s recent rally has been mainly on the back of global factors, including higher commodity prices which benefit resource-rich South Africa and expectations US lending rates will stay lower for longer. On Thursday the rand is trading at R13.52/$, R16.50/€ and R19.15/£. [Reuters]