Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 2,197 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,886,331. Deaths have reached 86,376 (+160), while recoveries have climbed to 2,743,865, leaving the country with a balance of 56,090 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 16,358,076 (+195,189).
- Power ships: Energy regulator Nersa has approved three licences for power ships in South Africa – a controversial move, given the legal battle surrounding the matter. Generation licences have been approved for Saldanha Bay, Coega and Richards Bay, where the ships will be parked for as many as 20 years if the deals go through. Civil action groups have questioned granting the licences, and lenders have reportedly said they would not finance these projects until the court battles have played out. The power ship deals are being challenged by opposing bidders, with allegations of corruption and tender fixing thrown around. [BusinessTech, ENCA]
- Delta: The World Health Organisation says that the delta variant of Covid-19 has all but wholly replaced most other variants of concern in testes samples across the world, with the alpha, beta and gamma variants only turning up in around one percent of samples, each. Delta has become more fit, it is more transmissible, and it is out-competing – replacing the other circulating viruses, the WHO said. Following the global trend, delta samples in South Africa also make up >99% of tests done, according to local experts. The beta variant, first discovered in South Africa, has not been detected for months. [EWN]
- Empowered: The Pretoria High Court has set aside some critical aspects of the Department of Mineral Resources’ controversial mining charter, ruling that once a company is empowered in terms of the country’s BEE rules, it is always empowered. The legal proceedings over the charter have been going on since 2018 after the government tried to force companies to continue maintaining their BEE credentials in perpetuity, even if their current investors sold off or moved away. Critics and opposing litigants argued that these rules would come at a high cost and encourage disinvestment in one of South Africa’s most vital economic sectors. [Daily Maverick]
- Medical records: Jacob Zuma’s lawyers are fighting tooth and nail to stop his medical records from being handed over to the judge presiding over his corruption case. The NPA’s medical teams have cleared the former president to stand trial. However, Zuma was absent from court proceedings to receive medical attention, according to his lawyers. Zuma’s legal team has also tried to derail proceedings by focusing on their bid to have the state prosecutor in the case recused. They have also entered a ‘special plea’ to have the entire case thrown out and have Zuma acquitted. He argues that the NPA doesn’t have the legal right to prosecute him. He has been dodging the courts for over a decade. [Paywall – News24]
- Markets: The South African rand fell to more than three-week lows on Tuesday, hurt by subdued risk appetite and after ratings agency Fitch said Africa’s most industrialised economy would continue to face challenges as it seeks to stabilise debt. Fitch said even though stronger-than-expected fiscal revenue in recent months meant that South Africa’s budget deficit would be smaller than earlier Treasury projections, the government would still face challenges stabilising debt. On Wednesday, the rand was trading at R14.78/$, R17.33/€ and R20.19/£.