Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 146 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,919,778. Deaths have reached 88,934 (+9), while recoveries have climbed to 2,811,928, leaving the country with a balance of 18,916 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 21,514,033 (+192,037).
- Tariffs: Eskom says that energy regulator Nersa’s proposed changes to how the power utility can structure its tariff increases will ultimately result in South Africans paying more for power. Nersa wants Eskom to move from a structure where the utility can recoup money based on missed revenue targets – to a more activity-based costing, where Eskom charges based on the type of activity or power being used (industrial, emergency, etc.). However, Eskom says that industrial power users have been subsidising residential users for years, and switching to Nersa’s system could offload those costs to households. It also noted that implementing changes all at once would cause instability. [Moneyweb]
- Vulnerable: The South African Policing Union says that the country faces a policing crisis as many stations are short-staffed, and the police come under constant attack by criminals. This past weekend, a police station was robbed at gunpoint, where the thieves made off with weapons and other equipment. SAPU said that police stations are vulnerable to attack as there is a shortage of resources in terms of human capital and equipment, especially at night when they are left with only a handful of staff. The union said criminals know of these vulnerabilities and take advantage of them to get hold of guns. [EWN]
- Costly trip: Flights between the UK and South Africa could soon be more expensive. The UK government expected to introduce flight reforms that will hike air passenger duties on planes travelling to destinations 5,500 miles (8,850km) away. London and Johannesburg are just over 9,000km apart, putting South Africa outside this range and potentially drawing the highest flight charges. Under the current system, the UK charges between £84 and £185 for standard flights to destinations outside 2,000 miles. Changes are expected to be announced in the UK budget being tabled this week. [The Guardian]
- Zuma: The Pietermaritzburg High Court will rule on Jacob Zuma’s application to be acquitted of all corruption charges before his trial. Zuma submitted a “special plea” to have all the charges dropped, claiming that the NPA has no right to charge him. He alleges that the NPA and its prosecutors are biased against him, and he even laid criminal charges against lead State advocate Billy Downer, who he accused of leaking confidential medical information to the media. Legal experts say the application will most likely be dismissed, calling the former president’s allegations inconceivable. [News24]
- Markets: The South African rand opened slightly stronger on Monday, supported by higher precious metals prices and erasing some of Friday’s losses. Major South African exports, gold and platinum, were up 0.3%, lifted by a weaker dollar as investors assessed how the US Federal Reserve could respond to inflationary pressures. Higher precious metals prices have helped cushion the economic shock from the Covid-19 pandemic by providing Africa’s most industrialised nation with bumper tax receipts. On Tuesday, the rand was trading stronger at R14.70/$, R17.05/€ and R20.22/£.