Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 10,139 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,605,586. Deaths have reached 77,141 (+272), while recoveries have climbed to 2,375,633, leaving the country with a balance of 152,812 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 9,387,129 (+13,786).
- Third Wave Continues: The Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are now driving the third wave of Covid-19 in South Africa, with a spike in cases in the latter province as a result of riots and looting in huge crowds in mid-July. Of the 10,139 new cases recorded, the Western Cape added 2,600 while KZN added 2,900. KZN premier Sihle Zikalala has blamed the province’s high number of active cases – currently the highest in the country at over 44,000 cases – on the recent rioting and looting. The Western Cape warned that hospitals are coming under severe strain and filling up quickly. [TimesLive]
- Closures: The Restaurant Association of South Africa has called on the government to remove all current restaurant restrictions after 1,100 eateries were forced to close during the third wave in South Africa. At the current adjusted lockdown level 3, restaurants are still prohibited from operating past 21h00, and limits are still in place around the number of patrons they can serve. The association said that most revenue comes from the evening dining period, and requests for financial relief for the sector have landed on deaf ears. The group wants all the restrictions removed. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- Looted: SARS’s Criminal and Illicit Economic Activities division has reportedly traced stolen VBS money through two front companies into EFF deputy leader Floyd Shivambu’s FNB Private Wealth bank account and is demanding R28.2 million from his brother Brian Shivambu. The revenue service slapped two companies – of which B Shivambu is the sole director – with the R28.2 million bill as penalities for evading tax in 2017, 2018 and 2019. SARS said B Shivambu defrauded VBS out of R16 million rand, didn’t declare the income, and was combative and obstructive to the revenue services’ investigations – resulting in 125% and 200% tax penalties. [Daily Maverick]
- Power Ships: Public hearings into the Turkish power ship contract will launch this week, with energy regulator Nersa looking for input around the multi-year contracts to procure 2,000MW of emergency power. The bulk of the contracted power is associated with three ship projects, which will see floating storage and regasification units parked in South African ports for as long as 20 years. Although the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy appears to be going out of its way to ensure they happen, these projects are being challenged on environmental grounds. A ‘non-negotiable’ deadline for the project to be cleared has now been extended. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: The South African rand hovered around the R14.70 against the greenback last week, down from a three-week high of R14.30 hit in the previous week, amid lower commodity prices and general dollar strength. Locally, investors continued to digest the latest political developments after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced several changes to government structures and a cabinet reshuffle in certain departments, including a new finance minister. On the pandemic front, the newly appointed Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, expressed concern about the rising number of Covid-19 infections in the Western Cape, which has, once again, become the country’s epicentre. On Monday, the rand is at R14.73/$, R17.37/€ and R20.41/£.