5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 356 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,924,978. Deaths have reached 89,452 (+17), while recoveries have climbed to 2,819,130, leaving the country with a balance of 16,396 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 23,684,440 (+143,893).

  • Mixed review: Finance minister Enoch Godongwana’s maiden budget received a mixed response, with markets welcoming the decision to stick to his predecessor’s tight grip on spending, but many stakeholders and analysts left scratching their heads about big-ticket items like e-tolls, the basic income grant and national health insurance. The decision to feed excess revenues into servicing debt was welcomed, but many analysts noted that there was no clarity on how to boost post-pandemic growth. While the minister identified many of South Africa’s problems, there was no certainty provided on challenging issues. [EWN]

  • Load shedding: Eskom is being widely criticised by municipalities after it claimed earlier this week that only two metros were playing ball when it came to the power utility’s requests to switch off power. The City of Cape Town and the City of Joburg – which Eskom implied were not doing their part – slammed the utility’s comments, insisting that they do exactly what is required. Meanwhile, the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities said that allegations should have been investigated before making them public. The body said that Nersa should investigate the claims. Eskom said that it was forced into stage 4 load shedding because municipalities were not complying with load shedding guidelines. [ENCA]

  • Taxman coming: SARS’ job has been made all the tougher by finance minister Enoch Godongwana budgeting in an additional R120 billion in tax collection for this financial year. SARS head Edward Kieswetter said that the minister has given him a tough task, but he is confident that the revenue service will be able to collect the funds. Kieswetter said that mining companies have benefited greatly this year due to the commodities boost, which will lead to higher taxes paid. He said that further investments into people, technology, and data have also helped the tax collector identify areas where revenues fall short. [Moneyweb]

  • E-tolls: With no clarity or new announcement on Gauteng’s e-tolling in the budget, civil action group Outa has called on the small portion of highway users that still pay their e-tolls to hit the final nail in the troubled system’s coffin. Outa CEO Wayne Duvenage said the organisation was not surprised that there was no mention of e-tolls in the latest budget speech and said it was just another in a long line of missed deadlines and failures by the government to answer the call to have the system scrapped. Outa urged the 15% of people and businesses still paying to “come to their senses”, adding that when another 5% drop off the scheme, the state will have no option but to pull the plug. [MyBroadband]

  • Markets: South Africa’s rand strengthened on Thursday ahead of the mid-term budget policy statement to be presented by the country’s new finance minister Enoch Godongwana and maintained its position around R15.30 to the dollar throughout. State-owned power utility Eskom had sometimes been implementing up to seven hours of power cuts in the country, which had unsettled investor sentiment, hitting the rand in the last one week. The weakness in the local currency was further exacerbated by the biggest jump in US inflation in the last 30 years, which stirred fears of sustained inflation and forced investors to take refuge in the dollar. On Friday, the rand was trading at R15.30/$, R17.50/€ and R20.44/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today