Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 136 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,926,075. Deaths have reached 89,489 (+5), while recoveries have climbed to 2,819,870, leaving the country with a balance of 16,716 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 24,082,686 (+131,730).
- Load shedding: South Africa is under constant risk of load shedding, with power utility Eskom dancing around failing equipment, explosions, fires, leakages and a host of technical problems, barely keeping things together. Poor condenser vacuums, poor coal mill performance, fan vanes saturation, thrust bearing issues, demineralised water shortages, turbine steam leaks, condenser tube leaks, and boiler tube leaks are just some of the faults registered at power stations that recently led to stage 4 load shedding in the country. [News24 – paywall]
- Covid corruption: Covid-19 tender fraud appears to be continuing unabated, with allegations of corruption levelled against companies involved with a R50 million refurbishment of a hospital in Carletonville, Gauteng. The Special Investigating Unit alleges that the companies involved abused tenders, with the refurbishment costs ballooning from the initial R50 million to over R500 million with no explanation. The SIU said Treasury’s instruction notes were ignored, and procurement rules were violated. [Moneyweb]
- Grounded: Low-cost airline Mango will be grounded until it can find an equity partner – scrapping the plan in its business rescue roadmap to be back in the air for the lucrative festive season. According to the business rescue practitioners, worse news comes for the airline’s 708 employees, more of whom will now have to be let go. The original plan was to have the airline up and running by December, with more jobs intact. However, its largest shareholder – SAA – requested all plans be put on hold until a suitable equity partner was found. [TimesLive]
- Junk food tax: Businesses have hit back at proposals to introduce a ‘junk food tax’ in South Africa, saying that the additional tax burden would sink many small businesses and franchises. The Healthy Living Alliance recently proposed that South Africa’s health promotion levy be expanded to include ‘ultra-processed foods’. This would allow the government to collect more tax revenue which could be spent on various grants. However, businesses say it would do untold damage to the economy, with costs already escalating due to Covid-19 and the poor economy. [EWN]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand rose on Monday, buoyed by improving global sentiments as upbeat Chinese economic data eased concerns about a slowdown in the world’s number-two economy. In South Africa, investors were waiting for domestic inflation data, due alongside retail sales data on Wednesday and the central bank’s monetary policy meeting. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) starts its three-day monetary policy committee meeting on Tuesday, with the decision on interest rates due on Thursday. On Tuesday, the rand was trading at R15.20/$, R17.30/€ and R20.42/£. [Reuters]