Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 472 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,920,581. Deaths have reached 89,049 (+62), while recoveries have climbed to 2,813,218, leaving the country with a balance of 18,314 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 21,924,915 (+203,061).
- Crisis: Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan tried to assure South Africans that the lights would be on for election day, saying that load shedding would not disrupt voting. Gordhan hastily called a briefing on load shedding after the country moved to stage 4 on Wednesday due to further breakdowns at Eskom power stations. The ANC condemned the load shedding, despite South Africa’s power crisis happening entirely under its governance. The ANC said the load shedding could be an act of political sabotage. Gordhan noted that hundreds of mobile generators have been rolled out to election stations in case of a power emergency on election day. [Moneyweb]
- Tenders: Dodgy payments, first revealed by amaBhungane in September 2019, were at the time the strongest indication of the EFF taking kickbacks in metros where it emerged as kingmaker after the 2016 local government elections – now the Hawks are asking questions. The City of Tshwane awarded a portion of a suspect fuel tender to a company that paid millions to accounts linked to EFF leaders. A court set aside the “irrational” and “unfair” tender, but not before the city paid massively inflated fuel prices. A police investigation is now looking into the tender. [amaBhungane]
- Run deep: While South Africa’s almost quarterly truck driver protests may seem like xenophobia on the surface level, drivers themselves have said that the problems have many layers and run deeper than simply foreigners taking local jobs. Speaking to the Daily Maverick, the drivers have highlighted problems ranging from the increase in foreign drivers to corruption at local departments, inefficiency in government, and the dire unemployment situation in the country. Drivers are angry that, amid the worst levels of unemployment ever in South Africa, the country’s porous borders allow workers from neighbouring countries to enter and start working. [Daily Maverick]
- Conspiracy: The Gauteng government is taking Independent Media to court over the allegation levelled by the media group that the provincial health department was involved in trafficking babies. The allegations came after Independent published a story about decuplets allegedly born in Tembisa but provided no proof of their existence. At the time, the provincial government said it could find no record of the births. The media house conducted its own investigations and found that the proper processes were not followed in compiling the story but insisted – again with no evidence – that the babies were born, alleging that there is a conspiracy involving government officials to traffick babies. [EWN]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand slipped more than 1% on Wednesday, hit by subdued precious metals prices and deeper power cuts by state utility Eskom. Eskom regularly implements outages because of faults in its ailing coal fleet, which has held back economic growth. It ramped up scheduled power cuts from midday on Wednesday. The outages increased from Stage 2 to Stage 4, requiring up to 4,000MW to be shed from the national grid. Spot gold, platinum and palladium all slipped as strong tech earnings prompted some investors to opt for riskier assets. Precious metals count among South Africa’s major exports. On Thursday, the rand was at R15.09/$, R17.51/€ and R20.74/£. [Reuters]