Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 8,929 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,311,232. Deaths have reached 67,676 (+596), while recoveries have climbed to 2,085,119, leaving the country with a balance of 158,437 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 5,558,378 (+230,268).
- Bickering: Statements from South Africa’s security cluster continue to flip-flop, as the government remains divided on who or what was behind the wave of violence that rocked South Africa in July. Defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has made a U-turn on her position that it was not an insurrection – now saying that she stands by president Cyril Ramaphosa’s position. She characterised the violence as a ‘counter-revolutionary’ wave but said this may as well be an insurrection. However, Ramaphosa’s critics within the party have used her comments to rally against the president. Other ministers in the cluster, meanwhile, continue to bicker among themselves. [TimesLive]
- E-tolls: Government is once again promising that an announcement on e-tolls is imminent – with transport minister Fikile Mbalula setting yet another deadline for an answer: ‘later this month’. Mbalula has set and missed several deadlines already, and given the government’s timetable, is likely to miss this one as well. Mbalula said that the e-toll answer would come after meeting with National Treasury and getting an endorsement from cabinet. However, there is no cabinet meeting scheduled for this week, and the meetings will only return in one or two weeks – pushing into August. Mbalula promised the NCOP an answer on e-tolls in May. [Moneyweb]
- Hazard: Aside from the economic damage caused by the violence of the past week, the looting and riots have also caused environmental damage. A chemical factory in Durban that was torched during the riots has continued to smoulder for several days, releasing hazardous fumes into the surrounding area. The plant housed 1,600 hazardous materials and is situated near the Umhlanga lagoon and the Ohlanga River, which feeds into the Indian Ocean. Water in the area has turned colour, and dead fish are washing ashore. A pesticide plant was also hit. Experts are warning of short and long-term health and environmental issues as a result. [EWN]
- Hopes dashed: A R1.2 billion Ekurhuleni waste management project to upgrade small-scale community operators into viable businesses has ended in acrimony over broken promises, dashed hopes – and a puzzle over where much of the money went. Community operators complain they were short-changed by companies appointed to mentor them. At fault is the city’s failure to monitor companies that provided mentoring, or to keep watch on how the funding was allocated. Money was paid to middlemen, not the companies themselves, with little to no oversight from the municipality. [amaBhungane]
- Markets: The rand tracked the euro weaker on Tuesday, as renewed risk aversion bolstered the demand for dollars. Rising concerns over the Delta Variant, coupled with reflationary concerns all added to the slide in risk appetite. Investors are looking to economic data to set the tone for central bank policy. Locally, the unrest seems to have simmered down with instigators having been arrested and charged. On Wednesday the rand was at R14.68/$, R17.28/€ and R19.99/£.