Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 7,502 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,554,240. Deaths have reached 75,774 (+573), while recoveries have climbed to 2,337,591, leaving the country with a balance of 140,875 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 9,002,052 (+380,120).
- Shadow state: President Cyril Ramaphosa’s testimony at the state capture commission has exposed deep tranches of the ANC’s ‘shadow state’ – a set of parallel party practices that are often obscured from public view. This was most evident in the ANC’s deployment committee, which the commission’s evidence leader described as having ultimate decision-making power over who serves in government, effectively overriding the public processes. Whoever the ANC picks behind closed doors, gets the job -and according to minutes from these meetings, party loyalty wins out. [Daily Maverick]
- Big blow: It could cost R2 billion and take 2 years to repair the damage done to the Medupi unit that exploded at the weekend, CEO Andre de Ruyter says. He said the power utility is currently assessing the damage and investigating events that led to the explosion. At this stage, he said there is no evidence pointing to the explosion being a result of sabotage or any nefarious actions. It has led to a loss of 700MW of power, putting further strain on the national grid, which is barely avoiding load shedding as it is. Eskom celebrated the completion of all Medupi units just last week. [News24 – paywall]
- Condemned: Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development Tasneem Motara says that if the government were to obey the letter of the law, most of the hospitals in the country would have to be shut down and condemned. This is not because they are structurally unsound – but having been built during the apartheid era, many do not comply with today’s building regulations, as they did not have any at the time. This is why the re-opening of the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital is taking so long, she said – getting approval and passing the checks is not as straightforward or as easy as it was hoped. [EWN]
- Promises, promises: Newly-elected Johannesburg mayor Jolidee Matongo says that the city is paying R1 billion a month to cover the electricity bill for those who are connecting illegally – and officials are aware of illegal land invasions in the region which have, until now, not been dealt with. Matongo says he and his team are going to hit the ground running to deal with the many issues raised by residents in the city. Huge problems have been highlighted for years, including billing issues, a lack of fire engines, land invasions, illegal connections, water disruptions and administration problems. 
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed against a weaker dollar on Wednesday after data showing US consumer prices rose at a slower pace in July eased concerns that the Federal Reserve would taper its economic support sooner than expected. Riskier currencies such as the rand thrive on US interest rates staying low because they benefit from the rate differential that increases their appeal for so-called carry trade, in which investors borrow in a low-yielding currency to invest in higher-yielding assets. On Thursday the rand was at R14.66/$, R17.21/€ and R20.33/£.