5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 19,506 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 1,973,972. Deaths have reached 60,647 (+383), while recoveries have climbed to 1,748,042, leaving the country with a balance of 165,283 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 3,026,636 (+125,970).

  • Vaccine boost: The World Bank, France, Germany and the US are pumping about R10-billion into the South African pharmaceutical company Aspen Pharmacare to boost its production of Covid-19 vaccines for Africa. The money will allow Aspen to continue producing Johnson & Johnson vaccines under licence, which can then go on to be distributed in South Africa and the rest of Africa. The country is facing a vaccine shortage in the face of the third Covid-19 wave, which is being driven by the highly infectious Delta variant. The boost for Aspen will extend beyond just Covid vaccines, however, and will allow it to produce other treatments for the continent. [Daily Maverick]

  • E-tolls: Road agency Sanral appears to have again delayed the awarding of a tender for e-toll collections, ostensibly to wait for official word from the government on the future of the system. The tender was initially put up in 2019 before being cancelled. It was again put up in 2020, with an award expected in September that year, but this was again delayed pending the outcome of court processes.  While those processes are now complete, the tender has still not been awarded, with Sanral only having until December 2021 to do so. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has promised a solution to the failed e-toll system but has long missed the promised deadline, with millions of Gauteng motorists still waiting for an answer. [Moneyweb]

  • Water crisis: South Africa needs R120 billion in the next 10 years to ensure water security, according to water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu. The money is needed to complete a number of infrastructure projects which are essential to ensuring South Africa has enough water supply for agriculture, industry and residential consumption. South Africa faces severe water supply issues due to being a water-scarce country, as well as failing and poorly maintained infrastructure. Water quality in the country is also dropping, with the minister noting that South Africa is also losing all the necessary skills and expertise required to improve things. [TimesLive]

  • Rejected: Jacob Zuma says the Constitutional Court ruling against him is unconstitutional, and his legal team is looking at what options are available to him. The former president said that the ruling – which found him in contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison – was emotional and biased. He insists that he does not believe himself to be above the law – however, all his actions thus far have shown the opposite to be true. Despite being legally required to do so, Zuma has refused to take part in the state capture commission and has simply ignored court orders at his own whims. The Constitutional Court ruling is just one on a long list of orders Zuma ‘rejects’. [News24]

  • Markets: The rand firmed on Wednesday after data showed the country recorded a larger-than-expected trade surplus for the month of May. The currency mirrored gains in most emerging market currencies, with traders eyeing U.S. jobs data due later this week for clues on the economic recovery there and the Federal Reserve’s stance. Data from SARS showed that the trade surplus widened to R54.6 billion in May from a surplus of R51.25 billion in April. Market expectations were for a trade surplus of R46.5 billion. On Thursday the rand was trading at R14.30/$, R16.93/€ and R19.75/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today