Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 12,771 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,734,973. Deaths have reached 80,826 (+357), while recoveries have climbed to 2,485,108, leaving the country with a balance of 169,039 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 11,648,851 (+285,041).
- Anti-vaxxers: Western Cape provincial health minister Dr Nomafrench Mbombo has lashed out at anti-vaxxers, saying non-expert medical opinions about the Covid-19 vaccines are putting lives at risk by spreading misinformation. She said that vaccination efforts are being undermined by those who believe their opinions constitute expert advice and challenged people spreading conspiracy theories about the virus to go to the health facilities and “see the bodies”. The government is ramping up its education campaign around vaccines, trying to douse rumour and speculation and stamp out vaccine-hesitancy. [TimesLive]
- Covid looting: Little progress is being made in bringing Covid-19 looters to account, with investigations into millions of rands spent on fogging and sanitising crawling at a snail’s pace. The SIU is investigating over R630 million worth of contracts at Gauteng departments, where money was given to companies with no track record of doing the business they were hired for. Progress is being made in money spent by the Gauteng Department of Education, but this is not the case with the wasted funds at the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. [Daily Maverick 1,2,3,4]
- School holidays: The Department of Basic Education is reportedly considering three new options to help schools catch up on lost teaching time. This comes after minister Angie Motshekga put a stop to talk of cancelling the October holidays. The first option is to use the Heritage Day weekend to make a new holiday period to separate the third and fourth terms; the second option is to incorporate the public holiday into a holiday period between 20-26 September; while the third option is to leave the calendar as is and leave it to schools to catch up the teaching time themselves, through weekend classes or extended hours. [News24]
- No privatisation: Deputy president David Mabuza says that the government has no plans to privatise Eskom. The power utility is currently in the process of being unbundled into three different entities, and Mabuza acknowledged speculation from the public that one or more of these unbundled entities will end up in private hands. However, he said that president Cyril Ramaphosa has assured him that this will not happen. National Treasury has expressed a desire for all state companies to draw private investment. The government recently changed regulations to allow private groups to generate up to 100MW of their own power without needing a generation licence. [EWN]
- Markets: Markets are again taking direction from US interest rates, with the dollar at its lowest level on Thursday. This week, a rebasing of South Africa’s production number showed that the country’s economy is larger than previously thought, which injected rand bulls with renewed confidence, pulling the rand back below R15 – a position it has held until early trade on Friday. The rand starts the day at R14.90/$, R17.53/€ and R20.41/£.