Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 1,367 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,898,888. Deaths have reached 87,417 (+201), while recoveries have climbed to 2,765,700, leaving the country with a balance of 45,771 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 17,176,603 (+176,881).
- Politicking: Ministerial Advisory Committee insiders have expressed disappointment at the recent handling of the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa, saying that politics is now taking centre stage and is the main driving force behind how the regulations are being handled. Laws have been introduced under the Disaster Management Act to reduce the blow of the pandemic but are not being enforced as political leaders pander to voters. They say that the declaration of the end of the third wave was also premature and that the expected move to lockdown level 1 in the coming weeks is also being used as a political tool. [Paywall – News24]
- Strike: The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) is planning an ‘indefinite’ strike next week after wage negotiations with engineering industry employers deadlocked. Numsa wants a salary hike of 8% for 2021 and a CPI+2% increase for two years after that. Businesses are offering a 4.4% increase for 2021, a CPI+0.5% increase for 2022, and a CPI+1% increase for the year after that. The union said that employers were offering ‘the middle finger’ to workers, having frozen salaries in 2020 while still earning profits in the business. For their part, companies have said they have to balance the uncertainty that persists in the market. Numsa plans to start the strike on Tuesday, 5 October. [Daily Maverick]
- Digital Vibes: President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the release of the Special Investigating Unit report into the Digital Vibes saga at the Department of Home Affairs. The report focuses on the irregular awarding of R150 million in contracts to Digital Vibes by the department. The contracts were found to be fruitless and wasteful expenditure by the SIU, and that close associates of former minister Zweli Mkhize had engaged in fraudulent activity. Mkhize himself has also been implicated in the report as, at best, being ‘improper’ and, at worst, being engaged in unlawful activity. The full report can be accessed here. [Presidency]
- Red List: South African Medical Research Council CEO Dr Glenda Gray says that meetings with the UK over the country’s continued placement on the travel ‘red list’ were mostly for South African medical experts to demonstrate to the UK government that we have the capacity and expertise to monitor the Covid-19 virus and all the variants of concern at all times. It was a push from local scientists to show the UK that South Africa has its affairs in order. The UK officials assured that the data and meetings would be carried over to the next review of the red list. The recognition of vaccine certificates is also under consideration. 
- Markets: A bias for a weaker rand remains in play in the market, with the US dollar and US treasury yields continuing to gain momentum on Tuesday. The rand’s woes have been closely tied to turmoil in China, which is one of South Africa’s biggest commodity export markets. Markets have been shaken by a slowdown in China’s growth, while concerns have been raised about rising authoritarianism by its government. The Chinese government has come down hard on cryptocurrencies and gaming, which has sent panic through the tech sector. On Wednesday, the rand was trading at R15.09/$, R17.64/€ and R20.45/£.