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 868 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,948,760. Deaths have reached 89,635 (+51), while recoveries have climbed to 2,838,524, leaving the country with a balance of 20,601 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 24,874,528 (+120,212).

  • Clean sweep: With councils now established in all three major metros in Gauteng, the DA has emerged as the biggest winner, taking leadership roles in Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. However, the victory comes with the caveat that the roles come as a result of smaller political parties, with no formal coalition agreements in place. The party will need to lobby smaller players to pass important things like budgets and policies, and this could result in very volatile governance over the next five years. The ANC, meanwhile, has been left licking its wounds, with reports of infighting and turmoil within its ranks in Gauteng. [News24 – paywall]

  • Alcohol ban: Liquor traders are again appealing to the government to proceed with caution when dealing with the fourth wave of Covid-19, which is expected to hit South Africa in the coming months. Having been slammed with several outright bans on alcohol over the last 20 months of lockdown, traders again fear the heavy-handed tactic striking the industry once again. The National Liquor Traders’ Council says it’s willing to work with the government to fight the pandemic but pleads with authorities to follow science in determining lockdown restrictions and to properly consult with businesses in making decisions that could once again cost people their jobs. [ENCA]

  • Bold: The Department of Home Affairs is fighting to stop fraud-accused Atul Gupta from attaining a South African passport, saying that allowing such would be akin to enabling him to travel and, in effect, assist him in escaping criminal prosecution in South Africa. Gupta is currently a fugitive from justice with a warrant out for his arrest. He faces charges of fraud and money laundering under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. An application for a new South African passport was dismissed earlier this year, and Gupta’s legal team has applied to have this decision overturned. Home Affairs said that fugitives have no standing to litigate in the country’s courts. [Daily Maverick]

  • Zuma: The Helen Suzman Foundation, the DA and AfriForum have approached the courts to have Jacob Zuma sent back to jail, saying that there has been absolutely no indication that the former president is terminally ill, making the granting of his medical parole unlawful. The groups argued in court on Tuesday that the medical parole was granted against the recommendation of the medical parole board, and Zuma’s outings after being released were proof that he was fine. Zuma’s lawyers called the applicants racist and right-wing. No specific ailments were mentioned, but the legal team said he needs 24-hour care, and he couldn’t get it jail. [BusinessLive – paywall]

  • Markets: The South African rand slipped further on Tuesday, trading at a one-year low, as the dollar held firm on bets for US interest rate increases after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell was nominated for a second term. US President Joe Biden on Monday nominated Powell over another candidate who markets considered more dovish, reinforcing market expectations of US rate rises next year. Higher rates in developed countries tend to drain capital away from higher-yielding but riskier emerging markets such as South Africa. Riskier assets have also been shaken up over recent sessions amid surging Covid-19 cases in Europe. On Wednesday, the rand was at R15.85/$, R17.82/€ and R21.21/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today