Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 116 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,924,072. Deaths have reached 89,352 (+20), while recoveries have climbed to 2,818,236, leaving the country with a balance of 16,484 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 23,264,992 (+113,169).
- Energy crisis: More than half of Eskom’s installed capacity was offline on Monday, necessitating the move to stage 4 load shedding for the rest of the week. As the country is plunged into darkness at least three times a day, president Cyril Ramaphosa, his deputy David Mabuza, and cabinet ministers in charge of the state-owned power utility have failed to turn up with any plan of action or solution to the problem. Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says that government needs to move with a sense of urgency, but no plan has been forthcoming. Energy experts, meanwhile, say that the government’s dithering and corruption involved in the new station builds like Kusile are to blame for the ongoing crisis. [News24 1, 2]
- Sandton hijacking: Prime property in Sandton worth R230 million was hijacked by state capture players and now stands empty and undeveloped, out of the control of the City of Johannesburg. A new investigation reveals that the prime land was sold through politically-connected agents for an asking price of R230 million in 2008. Even though the land was handed over in 2013, the payment was never made. The development project eventually went into liquidation and now sits in limbo. The deal was processed under the ANC government in Gauteng, with family members of the mayor at the time scoring millions. The city, under ANC leadership, still stands by the deal. [amaBhungane]
- Ivermectin: Studies and meta-analyses have found that ivermectin does little to nothing to prevent Covid-19 infection or to treat the virus. A meta-study, covering over 24 ivermectin trials, was published in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases, initially showing that the parasite treatment boosted people’s chances of surviving Covid by 51%. However, one of the biggest trials used in the analysis was retracted as a fraud, bringing this rate down to 38%. Other ivermectin trials have also since been retracted due to bad data, fake results or outright bias, with the meta-analysis not showing only a 4% benefit. The drug only had an impact on Covid when researchers included the data of studies with a high risk of medical fraud in their analysis. [Bhekisisa]
- Post-election: Coalition talks among South Africa’s political parties are heating up, with the ANC now hitting back at the opposition parties who say they will not work with them. The DA and Action SA have publicly boasted that they will not enter into any partnerships with the ANC in hung councils. ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, however, said that the party was not on its knees and desperate to work with the opposition anyway. Ramaphosa reiterated that the ANC was the biggest party in every metro except the City of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay, though conceded that it was a difficult election. He said the ANC would be open to coalition talks but wouldn’t make casual agreements, opting for formalised contracts. [TimesLive]
- Markets: The South African rand firmed in early trade on Monday, as investors’ risk appetite improved ahead of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s maiden medium-term budget speech this week. In recent sessions, the rand has been volatile, with price swings driven by domestic politics and US monetary policy. While the global market focus was on Wednesday’s US inflation data, South African-focused investors are also awaiting the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement and mining and manufacturing, all due on Thursday. On Tuesday, the rand was at R14.93/$, R17.32/€ and R20.26/£. [Reuters]