Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 7,773 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,391,223. Deaths have reached 70,388 (+370), while recoveries have climbed to 2,180,494, leaving the country with a balance of 140,341 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 6,854,667 (+240,963).
- Receipts: The SAPS, aided by the SANDF, has embarked on a retrieval operation in townships, seeking out looted products and goods. However, the constitutionality of their actions is being questioned. The police are demanding receipts for anything from appliances and clothing to alcohol – and if residents fail to produce them, the items are confiscated. Some people are able to show they purchased their items, but those who cannot, end up with nothing. The action has been criticised, with many saying that receipts often get thrown away after purchase, and items like food are being torn away from people who already have little to eat. [ENCA]
- Not over: While the government has apparently won the latest battle with public-sector unions, the war is far from over. The acceptance of the 1.5% wage offer is being described as an interim agreement and a stepping stone to future negotiations. Unions were left with little choice in the matter, as the economic reality in South Africa means the government cannot budge in its offer and Covid-19 restrictions prevent workers from gathering from strike action. While not ideal, unions say it places them on the front foot and gives leverage for the next battle for higher wages. [News24]
- R350 grant: President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the R350 social relief grant will remain in place until the end of March 2022. However, a report from human rights group Black Sash shows that millions of eligible South Africans are still being left in the lurch due to logistic, administrative and social barriers around the grant. Notably, there are language barriers due to the system being presented in English only – while its online nature already discounts a lot of people. The group also highlighted that the Post Office has been inefficient in doling out the grant, and people living outside of urban areas struggle the most to get access to it. [TimesLive]
- Africrypt: The South African-born crypto-investigator looking into the alleged Africrypt heist says that the founders’ claims they were hacked and victims of theft do not add up. Africrypt is mired in a scandal where investors are claiming billions of rands worth of crypto assets have been stolen. The local founders, who have fled the country, say that only a few million were stolen and that they were robbed in a hack that originated from Ukraine. The Crypto Investigative Bureau looking into the case says the hack claim appears shaky at best, with the alleged perpetrators needing to break several layers of security in minutes. Meanwhile, money was being taken out of Africrypt accounts for months preceding the supposed attack. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: The rand remained under pressure on Tuesday as risk appetite in the global market environment remained fragile. The Delta variant continues to rear its head, bringing with it many uncertainties and fears about the future and effectiveness of some vaccines. The main focus this week will be on the US Fed as it provides crucial guidance on their monetary-policy approach and timelines. On Wednesday the rand was trading at R14.80/$, R17.49/€ and R20.52/£.