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 4,514 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,590,399. Deaths have reached 94,491 (+94), while recoveries have climbed to 3,429,498, leaving the country with a balance of 66,410 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 29,626,329.

  • Grant: A presidential advisory panel has warned against a basic income grant for South Africa, telling president Cyril Ramaphosa that the grant would be incredibly risky and detrimental to the country’s economy. It also questioned a report commissioned by the Department of Social Development, which said that such a grant would be sustainable. The experts on the panel said the report was technically flawed and vastly underestimated the risks involved. Ramaphosa has been under pressure to introduce the basic income grant to replace the temporary R350 Covid relief grant. The basic income grant has been suggested to start at R350 and gradually scale up to the food poverty line. [News24]

  • Rates: The South African Reserve Bank is expected to hike interest rates today, with economists anticipating a 25 basis point rise in the repo rate to 4.0%. Higher inflation supports a move to hike rates, analysts say, as the SARB looks to keep prices in check. The result for consumers will be higher interest on investments and savings, but also higher payments on outstanding debt like vehicle finance and home loans. Economists also anticipate that this would be the start of a hiking cycle, with more rate hikes likely to follow in subsequent Monetary Policy Committee meetings throughout the year. [ENCA]

  • Guns: Police minister Bheki Cele says that his department is fighting a losing battle trying to keep unregistered firearms out of the hands of criminals. The minister said that there are plans afoot to digitise the registration process. In the meantime, high calibre firearms like R5 rifles are being used by criminals in South Africa to commit murder. Only police and military personnel are authorised to use those weapons. Investigations revealed that these firearms were stolen from police stations, aided by SAPS members. Cele said that the digitisation of the firearm registry would speed the process and assist in keeping track of guns. [TimesLive]

  • Mandates: While the CCMA has ruled on the first case of an employee fired for refusing to vaccinate, conflict resolution experts and legal advisors have warned companies to tread carefully. The CCMA sided with the company that dismissed the worker, but this is expected to only be the beginning, with the matter likely to move to the Labour Court, Supreme Court or even the Constitutional Court. The experts also said that the specifics of the employee’s relationship and history with the company are not known. Companies are being advised to move forward with consideration and tact when dealing with workers who refuse to vaccinate. [702]

  • Markets: The South African rand strengthened on Wednesday as global risk appetite improved before the outcome of a closely watched US Federal Reserve meeting. Supporting the rand, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is widely expected to raise rates on Thursday at its first policy meeting of 2022. Economists polled by Reuters predict a 25-basis-point increase in the repo rate to 4.00% in what would be the second successive increase after one in November to fight rising inflation. On Thursday, the rand was trading at R15.42/$, R17.30/€ and R20.72/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today