Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 13,143 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,051,222. Deaths have reached 90,002 (+27), while recoveries have climbed to 2,864,648, leaving the country with a balance of 96,572 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 26,639,293 (+148,877).
- Land debate: The ANC’s bid to change the Constitution to make room for the expropriation of land without compensation has failed. The proposed law could not garner the required two-thirds majority in the 400-seat Parliament, with 204 MPs voting in favour and 145 against. The ANC said that the changes are needed to manage the land issue, which the party had failed to address in the last three decades of power. Opposition parties like the DA have dismissed the proposed changes as damaging property laws and clouded with uncertainty. The EFF, which supports land expropriation, says the proposed changes do not go far enough. [EWN, News24]
- Vaccine mandates: The debate around mandatory vaccinations is polarising citizens and businesses alike, with a growing number of people, groups and organisations voicing their support or opposition to the policies. The National Economic Development and Labour Council has come out in support of the mandates, joining business groups like BUSA and unions like Cosatu – but industries like the National Liquor Traders Association have voiced opposition to mandates without consultation. At the same time, the SA Federation of Trade Unions says the mandates will just be used as an excuse to cut jobs. Presidency Cyril Ramaphosa will be meeting with the NCCC this week to discuss the topic. [News24, 702]
- Into the ground: Investors and energy experts are worried about Eskom’s use of its ageing fleets, saying they’re being run into the ground. The international benchmark for using coal fleets is around 70%. However, in South Africa, Eskom is using its units at a rate of 90%, leading to about three boiler tube failures, per unit, per year. At the same time, Eskom’s maintenance expenditure remains low – meaning the power utility is not getting around to doing the necessary maintenance to take the load off its units, stressing the system even more. Investors say Eskom is about two years too late to plan and prepare for suitable maintenance programmes. [Moneyweb]
- Covid looting: The Special Investigative Unit (SIU) says it is investigating almost R15 billion worth of alleged PPE tender fraud related to the Covid pandemic, describing the corruption as a crime against humanity. Between April 2020 and June 2021, Covid-related expenditure was about R138.8-billion – 11.8% of this is now under investigation for irregularities. Thousands of contracts are being probed from over 2,000 companies, and cases are constantly being fed through to the National Prosecuting Authority. The SIU flagged many government departments and provincial structures in the looting but also noted that many officials were resigning before facing disciplinary action. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: The South African rand weakened on Tuesday, as data showed the economy contracted more than expected in the third quarter after civil unrest in July hit output. The economy shrank 1.5% in the third quarter, hurt by some of the worst unrest of the post-apartheid era that affected sectors like agriculture, manufacturing and trade. More than 300 people were killed and thousands of stores were damaged in the riots that started as sporadic protests over the arrest of former president, Jacob Zuma, but broadened into a general outpouring of anger at poverty and inequality. On Wednesday, the rand was at R15.84/$, R17.88/€ and R20.99/£. [Reuters]