Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 4,215 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,873,415. Deaths have reached 85,779 (+311), while recoveries have climbed to 2,706,293, leaving the country with a balance of 81,343 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 15,683,797 (+236,763).
- Mandatory: Businesses will be meeting to discuss and possibly build a framework for mandatory vaccinations in the coming weeks. One of the factors being considered is how to effectively deal with workers who do not comply – either by firing them or sending them for weekly tests. Several business groups have in principle thrown their weight behind mandatory vaccinations, while some major listed companies have already announced their position. Legal experts warn that businesses need to weigh worker rights and operational needs when considering their position. [Daily Maverick, TimesLive]
- Disappeared: SARS is going after a cigarette importer, which it has accused of being involved in the illicit tobacco trade. The tax agency alleges that the group imported 30 tons of tobacco from Zimbabwe between 2016 and 2019 but refuses to say what happened. SARS suspects it ‘disappeared’ into the underground tobacco economy. The revenue service is holding the company liable for billions of rands it says it is owed. This includes R18.8 billion in unpaid customs duty, R31 million in VAT, R73 million in income tax and R477,000 in PAYE. [Paywall – News24]
- Corruption: Despite the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) finalising Covid‑19-related procurement corruption investigations worth R3 billion, national and provincial departments have failed to discipline 63 of the 127 officials implicated in the alleged graft. The SIU said 60% of those flagged for procurement corruption were senior managers who brazenly flouted government regulations. [Paywall – Mail & Guardian]
- Zuma: Three organisations have launched court bids to get hold of the reasoning used by Correctional Services National Commissioner Arthur Fraser to grant Jacob Zuma medical parole. Fraser has admitted that he overruled the medical parole board’s advice against it and released Zuma from prison. Zuma, meanwhile, will hear the verdict in his court bid to have his prison sentence rescinded today. Zuma’s legal team argued that the sentence was an infringement on his right to a fair trial. [ENCA, EWN]
- Markets: The rand weakened on Thursday as investors re-evaluated their stance on potential US tapering. The weakening of the rand is considered a correction of the recent risk rally, with tapering remaining the key theme in markets. Earlier in the week, JP Morgan recommended to investors that the rand should be sold saying, key terms of trade were starting to look less favourable. On Friday, the rand was trading at R14.58/$, R17.16/€ and R20.13/£.