Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 3,699 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,864,534. Deaths have reached 85,302 (+300), while recoveries have climbed to 2,688,692, leaving the country with a balance of 90,540 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 15,188,787 (+265,833).
- Welfare state: More South Africans are dependent on social grants and welfare from the state than in jobs getting a salary, economists note – with as many as 20.5 million people living off grants. At the same time, only 14.9 million are formally employed. Even with official statistics published by the government, this rings true. The latest employment data points to 14.9 million people employed and 7.8 million jobless; however, with the extended definition, the jobless number climbs to 16.8 million. The government is now mulling another basic income grant which will put even more people on the state’s tab. [Paywall – News24]
- Elections: The Independent Electoral Commission has hit back at the DA’s court bid to have the candidate registration processed closed for the 2021 elections, saying that the party’s allegations are based on speculation and have no merit. The DA has accused the IEC of favouring the ANC and prejudicing other political parties by extending the deadline for candidate registrations. The ANC failed to meet the previous registration deadline in 93 wards but can now complete the process thanks to the IEC re-opening registrations. The IEC made the decision following a Constitutional Court order saying the body should re-open voter registrations and change the election timetable as ‘reasonably necessary’. [TimesLive]
- Exodus: Financial services providers raise red flags around an apparent mass exodus of high-earning and skilled individuals from South Africa. The country has seen a sharp decline in the number of taxpayers earning R750,000 a year or more in the past two financial years, with companies warning that the loss of skills will damage the economy, which is already struggling with a shrinking tax base and record levels of unemployment. The loss of the individuals is bad enough, but these people usually support other jobs and wealth creation in the country. [Paywall – BusinessLive]
- Battle within: The ANC’s infighting continues with fired employee Carl Niehaus pushing ahead with fraud and corruption charges against the party’s top six. Niehaus – who worked under suspended secretary-general Ace Magashule and remains a staunch ally of Jacob Zuma – was fired from the party last week after he sent out a media invite for journalists to watch him lay charges against the party’s leaders. The charges relate to the non-payment of salaries, and Niehaus accusing the party of pocketing benefits and PAYE taxes docked from salaries for years. The ANC had warned Niehaus over his belligerence towards the party and its leaders for years, and the latest move was the last straw. [EWN]
- Markets: The greenback climbed to a two week high against a basket of currencies during trade on Monday, with the rand clawing back some of its lost ground against the dollar on Tuesday. However, after opening strong yesterday, volatility struck as the dollar continued its stronger path, pushing the rand back a bit. Markets are keeping a close eye on US inflation data to indicate when the US Fed will start tapering its stimulus. For now, the latest number is only down slightly from the 5.4% recorded in July. On Wednesday, the rand was at R14.35/$, R16.93/€ and R19.80/£.