Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 6,787 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,540,222. Deaths have reached 75,012 (+199), while recoveries have climbed to 2,308,054, leaving the country with a balance of 157,156 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 8,602,124 (+13,660).
- Deadly: Health officials say the number of deaths that can be attributed to Covid-19 in South Africa is likely multiple times higher than what is officially reported. The latest figures from the South African Medical Research Council and the Department of Health show that the country has recorded 222,500 ‘excess deaths’ from natural causes since May 2020, with spikes in the number aligning with spikes in Covid-19 deaths. While officials cannot place the exact cause of death beyond natural and unnatural means, the data points fairly confidently to an under-reporting of Covid-19 deaths. [Moneyweb]
- Power: Analysts say that Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to move the State Security Agency points to the consolidation of power under the presidency. With the move, almost all aspects of government administration are now sitting with presidential oversight, including intelligence and security under the National Security Council; various economic committees looking at 4IR, job creation and climate change; and also special governance structures focused on state-owned enterprises. However, while this gives the president more control, and leaves him less prone to interference, it also poses risks as there is little parliamentary oversight for it. [Daily Maverick]
- Medupi: Energy experts say that the problems for the Medupi power station are far from over and that the explosion at one of the station’s units this past weekend was proof enough that the build is nowhere near complete. This is contrary to celebratory announcements from Eskom last week, saying that the much-delayed and over-budget project was finally done and operational. Information on the explosion is scarce, but the experts said it would take some time to get the affected unit back in action. Adding to the problems, the power station has years of repairs and fixing design faults ahead. [EWN]
- Zuma: There has been yet another delay for Jacob Zuma’s appearance in court for corruption charges, with the former president’s legal team requesting a postponement due to Zuma’s ill health. Zuma was admitted to hospital in the last week, following his arrest and imprisonment for being in contempt of the Constitutional Court. Security officials were warned this week to be on high alert for the court proceedings. Zuma supporters were threatening to gather in numbers. However, the gatherings have been called off with the news that Zuma will no longer appear. [News24]
- Markets: The South African rand, and the greater emerging market basket of currencies, used the earlier parts of last week to take advantage of a weaker US dollar. By the end of the week, the rand had strengthened against the US dollar, mainly helped along by the uncertainty on the Fed’s timing of monetary policy intervention heading into the next two years. Following a break on Monday for Women’s Day, the rand on Tuesday is trading at R14.78/$, R17.35/€ and R20.46/£.