Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 300 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,919,632. Deaths have reached 88,925 (+11), while recoveries have climbed to 2,811,439, leaving the country with a balance of 19,268 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 21,321,996 (+21,898).
- Manipulation: A News24 investigation alleges that reporting systems implemented by former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko may have incentivised managers to under-report problems during his tenure to artificially inflate system performance – all to the detriment of the grid and possibly exacerbating the issues the power utility faces today. According to the report, the system rewarded managers for meeting generation targets and threatened suspension without pay if expectations were not met. Historical data shows that reported data during Koko’s tenure and under the system is inconsistent with data before and after this period. Koko denied the allegations. [News24]
- Petrol problem: Economists widely agree that petrol prices are going to keep increasing from current record highs – and that the South African Reserve Bank is likely to hike interest rates at every monetary policy committee meeting next year. The rising oil price is placing immense inflationary pressure on local markets, and current trends could see CPI push past 6%. Petrol prices are expected to increase by around R1 per litre in November, and economists say that R20 per litre may be a reality very soon. Fuel has already climbed by 20% this year, and higher transport costs are expected to drive near-term inflation even further. [Moneyweb]
- Election map: The Mail & Guardian has published a visual guide to the 2021 elections, showing the ruling or coalition parties across the country’s municipalities. The maps show the most hotly contested areas, with major metros like Joburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay emerging as key battlegrounds for political parties. Interestingly, the Western Cape, which has always been the Democratic Alliance’s stronghold, is also under the spotlight. Many political analysts believe that the party is losing its vice grip on municipalities in the province. Other areas to watch are regions of KwaZulu Natal, where the IFP is expected to try and make inroads against the ANC. [Mail & Guardian]
- Anti-vax: As South Africa continues to get as many people vaccinated as possible before the end of year festive period, all signs point to the country missing its vaccine target of 70% of the population by Christmas. However, analysts believe that this result should not be too surprising, given how vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccination dogma has become an effective political tool for those looking to cast doubts and aspersions on leaders and authorities. From political parties to individuals who seek to use vaccines and vaccine mandates as springboards, people’s mistrust of the government is being exploited to meet their self-serving ends. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: The South African rand was trading around R14.80 against the US dollar by the close of the week, after hitting its strongest level since September earlier in the week, assisted by soaring commodity prices and broad-based dollar weakness. On Friday, the rand lost its momentum and ended weaker as the euphoria around Chinese developer Evergrande’s last-minute interest payment gave way to caution. As the dollar gained against a basket of currencies, investor sentiment switched from risk-on to risk-off. On Monday, the rand was at R14.79/$, R17.24/€ and R20.38/£.