Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 5,575 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,461,758. Deaths have reached 72,437 (+246), while recoveries have climbed to 2,238,388, leaving the country with a balance of 150,933 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 7,769,799 (+202,042).
- Confusion: There is widespread confusion among primary schools over the newly announced social distancing protocols, which suggest that pupils be kept at least 1 metre apart in classrooms, as they return to full-time learning. The protocol was hastily changed over the weekend, as schools prepared to implement the full-time teaching order on Monday. However, many schools report that they are unable to comply, as classes are overcrowded. They say they were told that returning to full-time teaching takes precedence over social distancing; however, as many as 500 township schools could not open because they could not comply. [TimesLive]
- Reshuffle: Reports indicate that a cabinet reshuffle is on its way, with key changes coming. Aside from filling vacancies, such as minister in the presidency, portfolios such as health are also expected to see a new minister take the role, particularly in the wake of Zweli Mkhize’s Digital Vibes scandal. While analysts and commentators are getting impatient, president Cyril Ramaphosa has reportedly already made up his mind on the changes but needs to brief other members of the tripartite alliance. However, some ministers have apparently already been told to prepare handover documents. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- All plan no action: Business experts say that South Africa doesn’t have a jobs problem – it has a skills problem; the country – the government in particular – is very adept at planning, but fails when it comes to executing them. This puts long term growth at serious risk, because the planning pushes all the attention to fixing problems ‘one day’, but not dealing with the issues that we are facing right now. And when one day comes, the plans fall through. The situation calls for public and private partnerships to make changes now to form a strong foundation for long term plans to be executed. [Cape Talk]
- Zuma: Jacob Zuma continues to play hardball with the country’s courts, even while incarcerated for being in contempt of the Constitutional Court. Zuma is now demanding that his ‘special plea’ in the arms deal corruption case be held in person, refusing a virtual hearing. The NPA says there is no reason to risk security or Covid-19 infection by holding the hearing in person, but says the case must go on, no matter what, in person or not. Zuma’s special plea is for the entire case to be dropped and for him to be acquitted of all charges because he claims the NPA is biased against him. The NPA has labelled the move ludicrous and says it should be dismissed. [News24]
- Markets: The rand remains on a steady footing, following the risk rally from last week. The focus is on data that could see the US Fed change its stance on monetary policy this week. A $1 trillion infrastructure plan announced by the US boosted general sentiment for emerging markets, putting investors in a risk-on environment. This boosted the rand among other emerging market currencies – but the local unit came out as one of the strongest. On Tuesday the rand was at R14.42/$, R17.14/€ and R20.05/£.