Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 648 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,912,145. Deaths have reached 88,317 (+25), while recoveries have climbed to 2,791,256, leaving the country with a balance of 32,572 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 19,041,535 (+24,917).
- Looting: Both the Hawks and SARS are circling in on companies that scored millions from dodgy PPE contracts in South Africa, with at least 33 companies connected to ‘politically exposed individuals’ in the crosshairs. Despite the SAPS’ claims that it has been cleared of wrongdoing in the rampant looting of PPE contracts, the Hawks have announced that investigations are underway. SARS, meanwhile, is looking at 52 companies that received money from PPE contracts and have been non-compliant in their tax affairs. The companies in question received R1 billion in contracts. [Daily Maverick]
- Significant loss: Road agency Sanral has posted an annual loss of R14.5 billion, which the Auditor General says puts into question the company’s ability to continue as a going concern. Adding to this issue is the continued uncertainty around the e-tolling project, it said. The government continues to dither on the matter, while Sanral’s debt continues to be a glaring issue. Sanral’s total debt at the end of the financial year was R45.9 billion – down from R47.8 billion last year. However, the group’s total liabilities are at a massive R140.4 billion. [Moneyweb]
- Unrest reactions: The unrest that swept through areas in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal in July have drawn a mixed response from businesses, with some looking to rebuild as quickly as possible, while others are not keen on returning at all. Economic experts say that the areas hit by unrest still present an attractive investment case for businesses willing to take on the risk of the degree of instability present there. However, should a repeat of the July riots occur, they stand to lose a lot more money. Companies like Shoprite are keen to get back to business in the areas and take the risks head-on. [Mail & Guardian]
- Electioneering: South Africa’s politicians are into full campaign mode, with parties spreading out over the weekend to shoot their shot with the electorate. The DA’s campaigning around Cape Town hit a hurdle when the party contradicted statements from its leader, John Steenhuisen, about using golf courses as land for development – while the ANC has continued its strategy of admitting it has not done enough and promising to do more. However, the ruling party made it clear that it is not looking at coalitions or partnerships in any municipality, saying it’s all or nothing for governance in the country. [News24, ENCA, EWN]
- Markets: After spending much of last week above R15.00 to the dollar, the rand clawed back some of its value, closing at R14.95/$ – a depreciation of only 0.6% over the week. The improvement in the Bloomberg Industrial Metals Index could explain some of the mid-week recovery. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) reiterated its concerns around inflation, citing price pressures from SA’s solid recovery in the first half. The SARB prefers to use interest rates proactively to control price increases. On Monday, the rand was trading at R14.98/$, R17.34/€ and R20.44/£.