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 6,762 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,540,891. Deaths have reached 92,830 (+181), while recoveries have climbed to 3,309,735, leaving the country with a balance of 138,236 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 28,585,930.

  • Hit the gas: With companies and residents facing a 20% to 40% hike in electricity prices in the coming years, industrial gas users also face a massive pricing problem, with a body representing these users claiming that prices could shoot up by 220% because of a ‘flawed’ pricing methodology by energy regulator Nersa. The Industrial Gas Users Association – Southern Africa (IGUA-SA) has challenged Nersa in court to set aside a maximum price application which could see prices escalate. It argues that using international prices as a reference point is a major flaw, as these prices have no bearing nor reflect local market conditions. International prices have rocketed due to factors that have nothing to do with the local market. [News24]

  • Fight back: Businesses are joining the fight against the South African Local Government Association (Salga), which is trying to get a court order to allow municipalities to gain the exclusive right to distribute electricity. Currently, both Eskom and municipalities are allowed to provide electricity to end-users. However, getting power directly from Eskom is cheaper than paying a ‘middle-man’ like a municipality. Salga argues this is discriminatory and, if successful in its court bid, would see municipalities either take over distribution or allow them to add a surcharge to Eskom’s pricing. Business group, the Business League, is joining Eskom in its fight against this, arguing it would be highly detrimental to end-users. [Moneyweb]

  • Driving licence: Transport minister Fikile Mbalula recently confirmed that South Africa would get new driver’s licence cards aligned with international best practices. Tender documents published in November 2021 reveal how the new card should look. The new card will require a special printer capable of engraving a colour or greyscale image of the licence holder. Mbalula said the only hurdle to introducing the revamped driver’s licence and procuring a new card printer is obtaining Cabinet approval. South Africa’s only printer capable of producing the current cards is broken and in for repairs in Germany. [MyBroadband]

  • Sisulu: Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has heavily criticised tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s recent opinion piece where she challenged the effectiveness of South Africa’s Constitution. Zondo called a press conference on Wednesday evening, calling Sisulu’s words an unwarranted attack on the rule of law, the judiciary, and black judges in particular. Zondo said it crossed a line and expects further action against her. Sisulu says she is conferring with her legal team over the press conference and has since penned yet another opinion piece in response to some of the criticism she has received, saying she is protected by freedom of speech in the Constitution. [EWN]

  • Markets: The South African rand advanced on Wednesday as the dollar fell against other currencies, following US inflation data which was in line with economists’ expectations. The rand added to gains made a day earlier on comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell that allayed market fears of a sudden withdrawal of US monetary support that had weighed on riskier assets. The rand, which is highly sensitive to shifts in sentiment on global markets, has tended to track overseas drivers in recent sessions, with relatively few domestic economic data releases or speeches by local policymakers. On Thursday, the rand was at R15.32/$, R17.54/€ and R21.02/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today