Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 1,504 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,884,134. Deaths have reached 86,216 (+42), while recoveries have climbed to 2,735,340, leaving the country with a balance of 62,578 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 16,162,887 (+170,513).
- Red list: South Africa’s continued presence on the UK’s red list for travel has been questioned by several experts and business leaders, saying it makes no sense. According to the UK High Commission in Pretoria, the country is being kept on the red list over concerns of the beta variant (i.e., the ‘South African variant’) of Covid-19 in the country. However, local scientists have called the reasoning nonsensical and outdated, given the clear and widely published data showing that the delta variant is dominant in local samples. Acting UK High Commissioner to South Africa Adam Bye said the country was in discussions with the health department over the matter. [ENCA]
- Dodgy business: Questions have been raised around yet another case where an unknown company with no track record in the field scored over R500 million from government contracts to supply PPEs to the SAPS. The company in question was operating under two names and was listed twice under Treasury’s Covid spending dashboard. Investigations into the company revealed that it was the largest supplier of PPEs to the SAPS but had no formal business addresses. The group was operating out of two residential addresses. The SAPS has spent R1.56-billion on PPE, sanitiser, disinfectants and other items. No trace of a formal investigation into the group could be found. [Daily Maverick]
- Crunching numbers: While the IEC pats itself on the back for processing 1.7 million voter registrations over the weekend, analysts point out that the numbers are far from a grand success, with only about 430,000 registrations being new voters. When combined with previous reports from the IEC that the voter’s roll declined by 1.1 million people, it would appear that the 2021 elections will have 650,000 fewer voters than in 2016. Analysts say the low numbers could reflect an even lower turnout on voting day – driven by general voter apathy, concern over the pandemic, or failure by political parties to deliver on promises. [Paywall – News24]
- Zuma: Jacob Zuma’s corruption trial will proceed without him present. The case is expected to continue on Tuesday. While Zuma has been granted medical parole from serving a 15-month prison sentence for being in contempt of the Constitutional Court, he will not be present at proceedings. In the corruption trial, Zuma is accused of taking bribes from French company Thales and receiving over 700 payments amounting to R4 million. He is facing charges of corruption and racketeering. The former president has maintained his innocence and has accused the country’s courts of manipulating and bending the laws against him. [EWN 1,2]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand weakened on Monday, tracking other risk and commodity currencies, as concerns about property group China Evergrande’s solvency stoked risk aversion, while traders awaited the outcome of this week’s US Federal Reserve policy meeting. Investors will be closely watching the South African Reserve Bank’s monetary policy meeting news conference on 23 September to get a steer on where interest rates are headed in the continent’s most advanced economy. On Tuesday, the rand was trading at R14.73/$, R17.29/€ and R20.15/£.