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 4,100 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,594,499. Deaths have reached 94,651 (+160), while recoveries have climbed to 3,432,829, leaving the country with a balance of 67,019 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 29,702,542.

  • Licences: Motorists who need to renew their driver’s licences will be left in limbo for an indeterminate amount of time as the Traffic Department remains tight-lipped about how long it will take to get through the backlog created by the broken printing machine this past month. Estimates put the backlog between 500,000 and 1 million cards that need to be processed, which would take at least four months to get through in optimal conditions. Meanwhile, transport minister Fikile Mbalula has not announced any licence validity extension to compensate for the lost time due to the breakdown. The last extension ends in March 2022. [Moneyweb]

  • Lost: Valuable records in parliament’s library are likely to have been damaged or destroyed in the fire earlier this month. A project about five years ago was supposed to create a digital store of parliament’s archive. But quality-control samples suggest that nearly half the pages were not scanned properly, and there are troubling questions about how the project was managed, especially by parliament itself. Over the course of two years, an outside company was paid millions of rands to scan parliament’s collection of about 7,000 volumes of material or seven million individual pages. Much of this collection was unique to parliament — no other store of archival material in the country has a copy. [GroundUp]

  • Leak: President Cyril Ramaphosa is in the hot seat, with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts giving him just ten days to respond to and explain a leaked audio clip that purportedly has the president admitting to abuse of public funds. Adding to his woes, the office of the Public Protector has also launched an investigation into the matter after receiving a complaint from a member of parliament alleging that he breached the executive ethics code. The Public Protector investigation will be carried out over the next 30 days. Ramaphosa’s team has said the audio leak, while authentic, has been misconstrued. [ENCA]

  • Sisulu: Tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu met with a businessman tied to the Gupta family and State Capture in December during a tourism expo in Dubai. Statements from both parties say the meetings were short and strictly about tourism. The businessman in question said he has since cut all ties to the Guptas and has continued to invest heavily in South Africa. For her part, Sisulu has not been linked to the Guptas, even during the height of the state capture saga. However, the minister is purportedly actively running for ANC president and has already taken a stance on matters counter to the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa. [Daily Maverick]

  • Markets: South Africa’s rand weakened on Thursday as the central bank raised interest rates by the expected margin and suggested it would only increase rates gradually in the future. The South African Reserve Bank called the decision to increase its repo rate by 25 basis points “measured”. It said its monetary policy committee believed “a gradual rise in the repo rate will be sufficient to keep inflation expectations well anchored”. Governor Lesetja Kganyago told a news conference that a hike larger than 25 basis points was not discussed at this week’s monetary policy committee meeting. On Friday, the rand was trading at R15.44/$, R17.22/€ and R20.71/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today