Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 262 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,925,939. Deaths have reached 89,484 (+8), while recoveries have climbed to 2,819,688, leaving the country with a balance of 16,767 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 23,950,956 (+39,479).
- Coalitions: Leaders from South Africa’s smaller political parties are meeting today to discuss coalitions – however, the ANC and EFF have been sidelined from the talks and won’t be approached. Action SA, the DA, and many smaller parties like the Freedom Front Plus, ACDP, UDM and Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance are all meeting, hoping to decide the future of the many hung councils in the country following the elections, including major metros. Councils will start meeting this week to form local governments. They have 14 days from the declaration of election results to hold their first council sittings – with the deadline set for this week Thursday. [News24 – paywall]
- Water cuts: Some Gauteng residents will be hit with a 54-hour shutdown of water starting today, with disruptions expected from Monday morning. Residents in the City of Johannesburg, Randburg, Soweto, Rand West, Mogale City, Merafong, Rustenburg, Madibeng, and Emfuleni will be affected. The bulk supplier will be installing a new pipe that will increase the amount of water drawn from the Vaal River into a treatment plant to increase supply to local municipalities. The work is expected to be finalised by Wednesday. A full list of affected areas can be found here. [EWN]
- Fourth wave: With the festive season nearly upon us, the government is banking on its Vooma Vaccine campaign to get as many people vaccinated as possible in a bid to delay the expected fourth wave of infections. Models point to a fourth wave occurring around or just after the festive season due to increased mobility of people as they go on holiday and more social gatherings. Variants of concern are being monitored, and the health department reports that no alarm bells are ringing at present. Also, good news is that health facilities are addressing things like oxygen supply and bed capacity ahead of the expected increase in cases. [Daily Maverick]
- Medical schemes: Despite finance minister Enoch Godongwana putting South Africa’s National Health Insurance on the back-burner for now, the fund’s developer, Dr Nicholas Crisp, says that the scheme can be affordable – as long as the government stops wasting money elsewhere. Crisp says that the R250 billion that the government spends on public healthcare already is enough to keep the NHI going, and when the savings from medical aid schemes are thrown in, 8.5% of GDP spent on healthcare in South Africa will be available for the fund. Crisp says medical aids should only play a ‘top-up’ role in healthcare in the country and that 74 private schemes are too many. [Fin24]
- Markets: The rand slipped to a low of R15.485/$ last week in the wake of high US inflation news but managed to recoup some of the losses after the South African Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, tabled his first Mid-term budget policy statement. The MTBPS predicted South Africa’s debt to GDP percentage will peak in 2025/26 at 78.1%. The rand’s behaviour has been tracking global market events more than local factors. On Monday, the rand was at R15.33/$, R17.57/€ and R20.59/£.