Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 10,346 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,708,951. Deaths have reached 79,953 (+369), while recoveries have climbed to 2,464,609, leaving the country with a balance of 164,389 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 11,076,106 (+285,605).
- Crisis: With the latest data from Stats SA showing that at least one-third of South Africans are now jobless, analysts warn that the picture will get a lot worse in the third quarter data once the impact of the July riots and the level 4 lockdown are taken into account. South Africa’s jobless rate hit a new record high of 34.4% using the narrow definition of unemployment. In broader terms, including those who have given up looking for a job, the number sits at 44.4% – a figure that economists describe as a sign of economic depression. Youth unemployment remains at critical levels, with 64.4% of those aged 15-24, and 42.9% of those aged 25-34 years unemployed. [BusinessLive, EWN]
- Alcohol ban: State lawyers have hit back in the court case brought by wine producer organisation Vinpro, seeking to lift all restrictions on the alcohol trade and prevent future bans from happening. Responding to Vinpro’s arguments that the state cannot interfere with provincial licencing rights and that not enough consultation took place before the bans, the state said that the regulations under the state of disaster didn’t restrict any licencing, only trade. The lawyers also argued that Cogta minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did comprehensive consultation ahead of any bans, that the bans are only in place for as long as needed, and that the whole case is moot because the government lifted the ban months ago. [News24]
- Herd immunity: Discovery Health chief actuary Emile Stipp said Covid-19 is becoming endemic and that people should forget about herd immunity. He said that it is estimated that the coronavirus has infected between 70% and 80% of South Africans – close to so-called ‘herd immunity’ levels estimated by the Infectious Diseases Society of America at between 80% and 90%. However, Stipp said that current data shows chances of reinfection are around 20% – and unless an entire population is vaccinated and vaccines offer complete protection, the virus will keep being spread. Vaccines do protect against serious health problems, though, and Covid-19 with a vaccine is less harmful than the flu, he said. [MyBroadband]
- Emergency funds: National Treasury has submitted the Second Special Appropriation Bill to parliament, seeking to unlock R32.9 billion in extra funding. government departments will use the money to finance insurance claims related to the July riots, the deployment of soldiers and security forces to keep the peace after the riots, and to pay out social relief grants to those whose livelihoods were impacted and affected by the riots. Money will also be funnelled to the state’s other problem areas, with an additional R1.25 billion for Covid-19 vaccinations and R2.8 billion for the R350 Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress Grant. Money will also be shifted to SAA. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Local unemployment hit the highest on record, reaching a massive 34.4% in Q2 in 2021. The release had little effect on the local currency that continues to take its cue from global factors. Tuesday saw the recent dollar gains unwind with the largest one-day drop in the dollar price since May. US allies are pressuring President Joe Biden to extend the Afghanistan evacuation deadline. On Wednesday, the rand is trading at R15.01/$, R17.63/€ and R20.61/£.