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 312 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,930,174. Deaths have reached 89,584 (+10), while recoveries have climbed to 2,821,481, leaving the country with a balance of 19,109 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 24,754,316 (+108,263).

  • Volatile victory: The DA has swept the mayorship of Ekurhuleni and the City of Johannesburg, with the City of Tshwane expected to go the same way. The results surprised both the DA and the ANC after coalition talks between the former and smaller parties broke down over the weekend, and no formal agreements were signed. While the DA looks to be upsetting the ANC by taking as many as five of the eight major metros in South Africa, with no formal coalitions, the position of power is volatile, and the opposition party will be forced back to the negotiation table with the parties it rejected, to ensure stable governance. [News24 – paywall]

  • Fourth wave: Wits University vaccinologist Prof Shabir Madhi says that South Africa is in the early stages of a Covid-19 resurgence and warns that the fourth wave of infections will likely hit different parts of the country at different times. Gauteng currently makes up around 80% of new infections, and Madhi said there would likely be an uptick in hospitalisations in two or three weeks. The current positivity rate is 3.4%, and hard lockdown is only recommended once this passes 5.0% for two weeks. However, experts warn against complacency, saying that the fourth wave can be delayed by observing non-pharmaceutical protocols, and most importantly, getting vaccinated. [TimesLive]

  • July riots: Former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told the South African Human Rights Commission how there was a breakdown of communication between local authorities and the national security cluster during the riots and looting that swept through KwaZulu Natal and parts of Gauteng in July. The province’s police commissioner was described as “uncooperative”, and there were no early intelligence reports shared with the defence or police ministry. The commissioner also took paternity leave as the drama was unfolding. With no cooperation between authorities, police were unprepared, overwhelmed and largely absent, allowing thousands of looters and rioters to cause R50 billion-plus worth of damage. [Daily Maverick]

  • Untouchables: Tax experts say that South Africa’s tax secrecy laws contribute to public mistrust of the South African Revenue Service. While SARS is tasked with reporting criminal activity to relevant authorities and investigating tax crimes, there is no way for the public to know whether this is happening. The public has seen SARS go after compliant taxpayers through audits, but there is little to no evidence that something is being done to target actual tax evaders and other criminals. Over the years, an impression has been created that politically-connected individuals are ‘untouchable’ – and the fight against transparency exacerbates this. [Moneyweb]

  • Markets: South Africa’s rand dipped on Monday as the US dollar rose on Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s nomination for another term. In the absence of local drivers, the rand takes its cue from global factors, with the outlook for US monetary policy a significant theme. Some analysts said Powell staying on as Fed chair would mean greater scope for US interest rate hikes. The SARB raised its primary lending rate last week for the first time in three years, but that has done little to bolster the rand, with some traders instead focusing on the fact the SARB appears to favour a gradual tightening path. On Tuesday, the rand was at R15.86/$, R17.82/€ and R21.25/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today