Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 13,672 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,652,652. Deaths have reached 78,694 (+317), while recoveries have climbed to 2,411,753, leaving the country with a balance of 162,205 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 10,167,749 (+205,638).
- Social security fund: Treasury says that the social development Green Paper published this week was not approved by cabinet and is not government policy. The paper introduced several controversial proposals, including adding a ten percentage point increase to income taxes to fund a national basic income grant and forcing all workers to contribute 12% of their salaries to a state-controlled fund to encourage saving and provide a social security net. A senior treasury official said that the paper was gazetted without consensus from stakeholders and took the government by surprise. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- Power ships: Turkish power ship company Karpowership is arguing for its 20-year deal to provide power to South Africa to go ahead. However, the group has been blocked from docking its ships in South Africa’s ports on environmental grounds, and critics want to know how much the project will cost the country over the next 20 years. Estimations put the cost to South Africa at between R160 billion and R218 billion. However, the company has not revealed any official figures, saying it is not the right party to do so. Energy regulator Nersa needs to grant the company a generating licence for the bid to progress. [News24 – paywall]
- Elections 2021: The Constitutional Court will hear the bid to postpone the 2021 municipal elections on Friday, brought by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). The IEC wants to postpone the elections because of research that shows that, should it proceed at the declared date – 27 October – it would not be free and fair and safe due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The group is asking the court to postpone the election to 28 February 2022. The bid is being opposed by the Western Cape but is being supported by the ANC and the IFP, though the latter parties believe the elections should be delayed to April or May 2022. [TimesLive]
- Spoken: Former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has been pushed through as the National Assembly Speaker by the ANC’s majority in parliament. Mapisa-Nqakula’s appointment comes despite corruption allegations against her. Reports this week alleged that the former minister received R5 million in bribes and used state funds to live a luxury lifestyle. A parliamentary commission is reportedly investigating her. Shrugging off the allegations, Mapisa-Nqakula said all parties would get a fair shake in parliament, and she urged greater co-operation in the National Assembly. [ENCA]
- Markets: On Thursday, the rand slumped to its weakest level in more than five months, crumbling to R15.26 during the day. The weakness followed the strengthening of the dollar after the US Fed released its minutes last night, indicating that asset tapering could begin later this year. The dollar responded positively to the news and reached a nine-month high against most currencies, including the rand. On Friday, the rand was trading at R15.24/$, R17.80/€ and R20.76/£.