Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 13,751 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,422,151. Deaths have reached 71,431 (+523), while recoveries have climbed to 2,194,762, leaving the country with a balance of 155,958 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 7,279,912 (+214,480).
- Handicapped: National police commissioner Gen Khehla Sitole says that police are handicapped by their inability to use lethal force – even when their own lives are at risk. Speaking to a parliamentary portfolio committee on the apparent failings of officers to act during the recent riots, Sitole said that police had to withdraw from mobs because they are simply not allowed to open fire on looters, even if they are armed and shooting at police. He said since Marikana, police have been under heavy scrutiny and regulation, and often restricted at the expense of their own lives. He said the current laws, human rights prescriptions, and public perceptions stop them from acting. [TimesLive]
- Mkhize: The Special Investigative Unit wants Digital Vibes to pay back the R150 million it scored from a health department communication contract, which is said was awarded irregularly. The unit has filed papers with the Special Tribunal, seeking to review and set aside the contract. The unit has also reportedly made adverse findings against health minister Zweli Mkhize, saying his conduct in the matter was unlawful and improper, and that his family should pay back R4 million. Mkhize was placed on special leave over the contract after his family was found to have benefitted from his ties to Digital Vibes. Two of his close associates have been linked to the company. [ENCA, BusinessLive]
- In it: Property and business owners say they won’t be abandoning South Africa’s townships over the recent wave of unrest – because the returns are too good to pass up. Property developers in areas affected by the riots and looting say that such events are largely priced into the risk profiles of doing business there. The return profile for some of these areas is significant and quite resilient – pointing to township retail showing returns of 5.7% in 2020, versus -6.7% for suburban retail over the same period. Fixing the damage done will take time, but any resistance to developing new businesses in the areas falls on the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown, not the unrest. [Reuters]
- Boastful: Whistleblowers within the ANC have shared images, videos and WhatsApp posts of party members boasting and proudly sharing images of arrest during the July riots, as well as text and voice messages allegedly planning shutdowns and attacks on trucks. The information further corroborates the theory that the riots started as a politically motivated event, which quickly spiralled out of the control of any one group. The whistleblowers want the ANC to take action against the instigators and have compiled a list of names of those they say are responsible. This is yet to be handed to the police, however. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Emerging markets investors are increasingly concerned about the outlook for economic growth in developing countries and are clinging to high cash levels with scarce plans to deploy funds in the months to come. The rand continues to take its cue from international movements, closing stronger on Thursday, as the market watched for EU business confidence data, followed by inflation expectations & the ECB policy statement minutes. On Friday the rand was trading at R14.57/$, R17.30/€ and R20.31/£.