Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 5,552 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 1,752,630. Deaths have reached 57,879 (+114), while recoveries have climbed to 1,611,447, leaving the country with a balance of 83,304 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 1,777,288 (+3,871).
- Power crisis: The City of Joburg is facing a deepening power crisis, with electricity problems leading to more blackouts that take days to repair. The problems extend beyond just outages, with delayed maintenance, tampering and illegal connections now putting lives at risk. Numerous reports of live electricity running through the water system have been made, and such an event reportedly led to the deaths of Joburg couple this week. Meanwhile other reports point to substations being short-staffed, power issues that would usually take hours to resolve now take days. The City said it is investigating the problems and working on maintenance issues. [TimesLive, 702]
- Spy hard: The SAPS has blown R102 million on sophisticated ‘spy devices’, which they cannot use and have been gathering dust for over year. News24 reports that the matter is currently being investigated. The devices are precise mobile trackers that can purportedly intercept cellphone calls and messages – however, the SAPS did not acquire the appropriate permissions and exemptions to allow the devices to be used legally. The devices were procured to replace limited and ageing equipment at the SAPS. [News24 – paywall]
- Power grab: Suspended ANC secretary general Ace Magashule insists he has the power to suspend the president of the party, and is asking the courts to not only set aside his own suspension, but to uphold the suspension of president Cyril Ramaphosa. Magashule is arguing that the power given to him as his role as SG, as well as the ANC’s own constitution, that he can unilaterally suspend party leaders. Magashule made the bold move to suspend Ramaphosa after the president got backing from the ANC’s decision-making bodies to suspend the SG over his refusal to step aside voluntarily. [EWN]
- Factions: Further divisions within the ANC have emerged, with the MK military veterans association refusing to disband as ordered by the party’s leadership. The MKMVA, which acted as a personal army to Jacob Zuma and has now rallied support behind Ace Magashule, is at odds with another military veteran group, the MK Council. The MKMVA has accused the ANC of being a dictatorship, and refuses to abide by the process of disbanding both groups and setting up a panel to form a new, united one. It said that the ANC leadership is divided along factional lines. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: The rand opened the week on the back foot against the dollar, following weeks of gains. The currency lost almost 2% against the dollar, largely due to international factors – such as investors pulling out of riskier emerging markets. Local factors are also at play, with analysts marking continued power supply interruptions, ie load shedding, and the third wave of Covid-19 infections as a drag on local markets. On Tuesday, the rand is trading at R13.78/$, R16.71/€ and R19.45/£.