Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 1,332 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,582,691. Deaths have reached 94,265 (+88), while recoveries have climbed to 3,413,926, leaving the country with a balance of 74,500 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 29,452,653.
- End: South African scientists and medical experts are adding their voices to the call for the government to end the country’s national state of disaster and lockdown regulations, saying that the world is entering a new phase of dealing with the Covid-19 virus and that being on a permanent ‘code red’ is no longer effective. In an op-ed addressing the issue, the scientists said the focus needs to shift to the continuing vaccine rollout, upholding non-pharmaceutical measures of control and turning to other health issues that have been pushed aside by the focus on Covid. They also said that the state of disaster has allowed politicians to act in irrational and unscientific ways, without any accountability or transparency, and it was time this came to an end. [Daily Maverick]
- Decline: Veteran tax expert and National Treasury’s deputy director-general for tax and financial sector policy, Ismail Momoniat, says that gains to South Africa’s economy were completely undone under former president Jacob Zuma, taking it to levels far below 1994. South Africa recorded negative GDP growth in the early 90s, but fortunes changed in the new democracy. However, when Zuma took over as president, high levels of corruption and erosion in prudent decision-making reversed the post-1994 gains and pushed the country back into sub-investment grade at rating agencies. This impacted all aspects of South Africa, including education, health and service delivery. [News24]
- Lifeline: Shoprite has thrown South Africa’s sugar industry a lifeline, committing to promote the sale of locally-produced sugar on its shelves at all 1,189 Shoprite and Checkers stores across the country. The South African sugar industry employs around 65,000 people and competes with cheaper imports from countries like Brazil. The industry says that opportunities to export products to regions like Europe have diminished, while local policies like the sugar tax have placed the sector under immense pressure. The Shoprite deal will help provide certainty and security for the 21,000 small-scale growers. [CapeTalk]
- Go slow: As the ANC battles infighting and factionalism in its vital elective conference year, the problems keep mounting for the party as a protracted go-slow or stay-away by workers at Luthuli House could impact its regional and provincial conferences. ANC workers have been picketing and striking for months over unpaid salaries. They agreed to suspend the strikes ahead of the local government elections in November 2021 but continued with the stay-aways after they took place. They claim the ANC itself has largely ignored their plight. The party will hold its elective conference in December, electing leaders for the 2024 national elections. [EWN]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand and stocks weakened on Monday on concerns about a potential conflict over Ukraine and ahead of central bank meetings this week that could influence the trajectory of domestic and international interest rates. Rising tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine encouraged investors to take refuge in the safe-haven dollar. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) will announce its first rate decision of 2022 on Thursday, with economists polled by Reuters expecting a 25 basis points increase in the repo rate to 4.00%. On Tuesday, the rand was trading at R15.33/$, R17.33/€ and R20.63/£. [Reuters]