Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 566 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,926,914. Deaths have reached 89,515 (+11), while recoveries have climbed to 2,820,514, leaving the country with a balance of 16,885 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 24,346,917 (+130,303).
- Impunity: Covid-19 tender issues continue unabated, as response from authorities remains scarce, and implicated companies remain in business with the government. SARS has published a list of companies that have been convicted and sentenced for dodging taxes on Covid-19 contracts, but many escaped with a slap on the wrist fine of as little as R4,000. Several companies have been tied to individuals who scored hundreds of millions of rands in contracts for ‘fogging’ and unnecessary sanitisation at Gauteng schools. While authorities say that action is being taken, no disclosure reports have been published, and on the face of it, nothing is being done. [Daily Maverick]
- Vaccinate: South Africa’s hospitality industry is pleading with South Africans to get vaccinated so that the country can avoid another hard lockdown over the coming festive period. The industry has been one of the hardest hit by lockdown in the last 20 months, with tourists spots, hotels, restaurants and other businesses severely impacted by regulations that limit travel and gatherings. Co-operative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has extended the national state of disaster for another month, spurring fears of more restrictions over December. Analysts expect Covid cases to start increasing as the year draws to a close. [ENCA]
- Coalitions: Today marks the 14th day after the local election results were declared and serves as the deadline for municipalities to elect or set up dates to elect new leadership. Councils can convene a meeting and postpone it to a later date. However, despite the looming deadlines, many hung municipalities have still not reached any coalition agreements, and some major metros like Joburg and Tshwane still haven’t found any stable ground. Despite claims from political parties that the electorate would be placed at the forefront of negotiations, most discussions have degenerated to horse-trading and bickering over political positions and who gets to be in power. [EWN]
- Fraud: Thousands of government employees fraudulently received Covid-19 relief grants, according to a report from the Special Investigating Unit. The unit was tasked with investigating and recovering money from the relief fund that went to undeserving individuals. In one case, a single individual submitted over 6,000 claims for a company where he was the only registered employee. In other cases, the ID numbers of dead or incarcerated individuals were used to claim money. Six thousand government officials in 24 departments also made claims. So far, R23 million has been recovered, and cases have been handed over for criminal investigation. [News24]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed on Wednesday, as traders awaited consumer price inflation and retail sales data, as well as an interest rate decision on Thursday. CPI came out unchanged at 5% compared to September. While analysts remain split on whether the Reserve Bank will hike rates on Thursday, the relatively high inflation rate makes it more likely, they said. Last year, the central bank slashed its repo rate by 300 basis points to a record low as the economy battled the coronavirus crisis. However, inflation has accelerated since July’s 4.6% year-on-year to 5% in October. On Thursday, the rand was trading at R15.47/$, R17.51/€ and R20.86/£. [Reuters]