Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 17,493 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 1,861,065. Deaths have reached 59,258 (+166), while recoveries have climbed to 1,671,391, leaving the country with a balance of 130,416 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 2,312,873 (+83,631).
- Trillions lost: A new report from a group led by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants has calculated that the country has lost over R1.5 trillion to corruption between 2014 and 2019 – with even more lost over the last year due to the personal protective equipment (PPE) tender fraud that took place during the Covid-19 crisis. Worse still is the fact that no one has yet been arrested for any of this, which means that the trend of corruption and stealing – despite being well known and out in the open – will not stop, the group said, as there is simply no legal consequence for it. [News24]
- Warnings ignored: The situation at Gauteng hospitals is dire, with many people facing certain demise – and doctors and advisors are placing the blame at the government’s feet, saying that it did not heed warnings about the third wave, and dragged its feet in preparing for it. Government officials were repeatedly told about the impending third wave and were advised to set up field hospitals to bolster medical capacity, but this was ignored. Now hospitals are filling up rapidly, and some patients will die before even being given a bed, doctors say. The problem with capacity and lack of government action is particularly egregious in Gauteng, they said. [TimesLive]
- Bad Vibes: The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) has frozen the assets of Digital Vibes – the communications company that scored R150 million in contracts with the health department, where its executives have close ties to Zweli Mkhize. The SIU was granted an urgent order to freeze R22 million in the group’s bank and investment accounts – including money in related business accounts tied to the people linked to Mkhize. Mkhize is on special leave, pending the outcome of the SIU investigation. A report on the SIU’s findings is expected to be delivered to the president by the end of the month. [Mail & Guardian]
- Coincidence: Former minister Malusi Gigaba says it is simply a coincidence that much of the state capture looting and corruption that is now known took place under his watch, while he occupied the top spot on many of the implicated portfolios – including Public Enterprises, Home Affairs and Finance. He has denied having any knowledge of being a part of the Gupta saga – despite evidence to the contrary, particularly where he, as a minister, appointed many Gupta-linked persons to positions of power. Gigaba said that simply being there at the time, and knowing the Guptas and being friends with them, does not mean he was implicated. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Emerging markets stocks jumped 1% on Wednesday after US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell calmed concerns over policy tightening, while a surge in inflation in South Africa lifted the rand on hawkish central bank expectations. South Africa’s rand rose up to 0.9% to hit session highs after data showed headline inflation in May soared to a 30-month high of 5.2%, as expected but above the mid-point of the central bank’s target range of 3%-6%. On Thursday the rand was at R14.23/$, R16.97/€ and R19.86/£. [Reuters]