Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 8,791 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,456,184 Deaths have reached 72,191 (+178), while recoveries have climbed to 2,230,871, leaving the country with a balance of 152,122 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 7,567,757(+23,218).
- Daily lessons: South African primary schools are expected to return to daily lessons from today, with the situation being monitored by authorities. Most schools report being ready to move away from the rotational and split schedule teaching that has happened over the last year – but some schools still face overcrowding issues. Some Covid-19 regulations have also been relaxed for schools, including cutting social distancing requirements from 1.5 metres to 1 metre, while teachers have been encouraged to give learners a ‘mask break’, every 2 hours. [EWN, TimesLive]
- Medupi: After years of delays and overrunning the budget by billions of rands, the Medupi power station is now officially complete. Eskom has announced that the sixth and final unit of the power station has now achieved commercial operation. However, work remains, with repairs to design flaws expected to be carried out over the next two years. Medupi was initially expected to be completed in 2015 – making the project 6 years behind schedule. The station also had an initial expected cost of R80 billion, but reached an estimated cost of R234 billion in 2019. [News24]
- Mkhize: The Special Investigating Unit’s report into the Digital Vibes contract has shone a light on Zweli Mkhize and his family’s role in the saga, alleging that his son, Dedani, collected boxes and parcels stuffed with cash from the group. The SIU is following money trails which it says amounts to R3.8 million that made its way to Mkhize and his family. Dedani has denied receiving such a large amount, saying the most he got was R300,000 after a car accident. The SIU claims that Digital Vibes is being run by two close associates of Mkhize’s, while someone else fronts as director. [Daily Maverick]
- Land expropriation: Meetings between the ANC and the EFF over the terms of Constitutional changes to enable land expropriation without compensation have reportedly ended in a stalemate, with the former losing support from the latter in trying to push the changes. This would result in the ANC presenting changes that could be rejected by the DA and the EFF, without enough of a majority to pass. However, the ANC has vowed to proceed with the plans alone, if needs be. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- Markets: The dollar fell against a basket of currencies last week following the weaker than expected GDP data. The greenback was already under pressure, following the dovish Fed comments with GDP numbers just worsening the position. Before the weakening of the dollar, the South African rand traded around R14.80 for a large part of the week, as the country grapples with the third wave of Covid-19 restrictions and the recent unrest in parts of the country is likely to slow ongoing recovery. On Monday the rand starts that week at R14.62/$, R17.35/€ and R20.32/£.