Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 16,078 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 1,877,143. Deaths have reached 59,406 (+148), while recoveries have climbed to 1,675,827, leaving the country with a balance of 141,910 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 2,550,248 (+237,375).
- Gauteng crisis: With 74,000 active Covid cases in Gauteng, government officials and medical professionals are pleading with citizens in the province to adhere to the ‘basics’ to prevent the virus from spreading. Premier David Makhura blamed lax attitudes and non-compliance to social distancing and sanitising protocols for the surge in cases. Meanwhile, the province is facing a crisis at healthcare facilities with hospitals running out of beds, and staff burn out due to long, taxing hours. Makhura said the province will do everything in its power to ensure that healthcare worker numbers of boosted and more beds made available – but asked that citizens meet government halfway. [EWN, News24]
- Torpedoed: The R225-billion powerships deal may finally be sunk by the environment department’s refusal to authorise the Turkish-led consortium’s projects. It failed to deliver adequate environmental reports or listen to warnings from specialists, the department said. The Turkish-led Karpowership SA consortium needed to secure environmental permits to moor its powerships in three ports for the next 20 years: Coega, Saldanha and Richards Bay. It failed to get any. The consortium now says that South Africa will suffer prolonged load shedding because of the decision, and plans to appeal it. [AmaBhungane]
- Can’t escape the taxman: South Africans are warned that they cannot escape SARS’ reach, and the revenue service will catch up with anyone who is trying to get away with undeclared income. Such is the case with a 2009 tax return of an individual who sold shares to the tune of R66 million and did not disclose this on their tax return that year. The taxpayer tried to argue the gains away, but the courts concluded that they had ultimately made capital gains during the process – siding with the revenue service. SARS is placing a particular focus on going after wealthy individuals who may be evading tax obligations in South Africa – even if it’s taking on cases over a decade old. [Moneyweb]
- ANC vs ANC: The ANC continues to battle itself in court. Suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule is arguing that his constitutional rights have been infringed upon by the ANC, as his suspension came without following due process or having a pre-suspension hearing where he could argue his case. His legal team say that the step-aside rule that his suspension was based on was not aligned with the country’s Constitution. He wants his suspension overturned, the step-aside rule declared unconstitutional, and his suspension of president Cyril Ramaphosa upheld. Ramaphosa and deputy SG Jessie Duarte will respond to the arguments today. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand was flat on Thursday, with investors weighing conflicting signals from the US Federal Reserve that pushed the dollar away from two-month highs. Data on Wednesday showed consumer inflation hit a 30-month high in May, but economists are not predicting the South African Reserve Bank will raise interest rates any time soon. Statistics South Africa also published data showing that producer price inflation quickened to 7.4% year-on-year in May, from 6.7% in April. On Friday the rand was trading at R14.18/$, R16.93/€ and R19.75/£. [Reuters]