Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 9,149 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 1,722,086. Deaths have reached 57,410 (+100), while recoveries have climbed to 1,593,059, leaving the country with a balance of 71,617 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 1,619,011 (+93,740).
Load shedding: Stage 2 load shedding is expected to continue through to Sunday.
- Third wave: The National Institute of Communicable Diseases says that South Africa is now officially in a third wave, with the latest numbers meeting the technical requirements to declare as such. While provinces have been declaring a third wave over the past few weeks, the national picture had not yet met the requirement of having the national seven-day moving average incidence of cases above 30% of the peak incidence of the previous wave. Over 9,000 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours, with Gauteng being hardest-hit, carrying over 5,000 of those cases. [NICD]
- Energy changes: Energy experts and analysts have described president Cyril Ramaphosa’s move to allow up to 100MW of private power production as a positive move for South Africa – though caution that it’s more of a long-term plan, and will be less impactful in the near-term. However, it is also an indication that the president and government are shifting away from ‘Eskom protectionism’, and are finally putting the South African economy before political interests. The policy change is aimed at large companies and entities, and should alleviate pressure on Eskom’s grid – but at the same time, putting its revenue in jeopardy. 
- Desperation: Jacob Zuma has launched a desperate and ‘unprecedented’ special plea to the Pietermaritzburg High Court, seeking to be acquitted of all charges against him, and for an investigation to be launched into the National Prosecuting Authority. Zuma claims ‘foreign intelligence agencies’ are acting against him. The former president is facing multiple charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering, but says that the state cannot prosecute him. He claims, without any evidence, that prosecutors have tainted investigations against him, and that the NPA is biased against him. Zuma maintains that the charges against him are political. [News24 – paywall]
- Guptas: The extradition treaty signed between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates will come into effect on 10 July 2021, says justice minister Ronald Lamola. This will clear the way for South African authorities to execute arrest warrants for the Gupta brothers, their wives and business associates, who have been ‘hiding out’ in the UAE since fleeing South Africa in the wake of the breaking state capture saga. While the Guptas will be the obvious focus of the new treaty, it applies to all ‘persons of interest’ the South African government is tracking. The treaty ensures co-operation between South Africa and the UAE in tackling corruption and security threats across borders. [ENCA]
- Markets: Markets responded favourably to president Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that energy regulations will be relaxed to allow businesses to produce up to 100MW of power without Nersa licensing. However, the news has been tempered with the reality that South Africa is still years away from realising the benefits of the move – and until then, the economy will continue to be ravaged by load shedding. The rand is still riding the commodities wave, and is largely taking direction from international events. On Friday the rand is at R13.58/$, R16.55/€ and R19.25/£.